Despite conceding the most goals in the Premier League, injury setbacks and players off form… Liverpool are back on top after West Ham victory and are ready to battle it out again with rivals Man City
- Liverpool came from behind once again to beat West Ham 2-1 on Saturday
- Jurgen Klopp’s side have leaked goals for fun and hold the league’s worst record
- Despite this they have also scored the most and sit top of the Premier League
- Liverpool now prepare for their next league game against Manchester City
They are conceding goals at a rate not befitting Premier League champions, offering their opponents hope each time they play.
The man whose job it is to knit the team together is currently enduring his worst run of form for five years, while the defensive rock around whom recent success has been built is out of the equation, most likely for the remainder of the season.
When you consider those elements — no Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino horribly out of sorts, one clean sheet in the Premier League — Liverpool should really be struggling. Yet they keep winning, climbed to the top of the league on Saturday and showed in abundance a quality that will be needed more than ever: the ability to street fight.
Despite a turbulent start to the season, Liverpool have kept their winning formula this season
New signing Diogo Jota has made a huge difference and helped his side to beat West Ham
Liverpool now gear up for a clash against their title rivals Manchester City on November 8
We have been spoilt in the last three seasons by the levels Manchester City and Liverpool have shown, as they amassed points totals that would once have been scarcely believable.
The unrelenting consistency they have shown has broken the hearts of their pursuers.
This campaign, however, is going to be defined by whichever team has the most robust resolution. Of course, all teams are blessed with quality performers — no more so than Liverpool and City — but technical ability will only carry teams so far.
West Ham, who led through a Pablo Fornals strike, asked significant questions of Liverpool. Without the contentious penalty Mohamed Salah won and converted, David Moyes was on course to record his first win at Anfield. Even late in the second period, it seemed their desire would secure a point.
Had they made off with a share of the spoils, it would have been reward for the progress they have made since the opening weekend capitulation against Newcastle. West Ham’s opening schedule was unforgiving yet they have dug out foundations to move forward.
But Liverpool kept going and, once again, found a way to win. Jurgen Klopp was helped by the fact he called upon substitutes of the quality of Xherdan Shaqiri and Diogo Jota, who combined beautifully for the decisive goal, but it was Liverpool’s patience and desire that made it possible.
Liverpool have had many setbacks already including the injury to defender Virgil Van Dijk
They have lost just once in the league though ahead of the crucial Manchester City game
It would be easy for footballers to lose concentration and heart in an empty stadium when they are chasing a game and being frustrated by a well-organised side but, once again, Liverpool overturned a deficit and put down a marker in the process.
‘To believe in a thing doesn’t mean it happens all the time but that’s how it all started with our improvement — with our success, if you want,’ said Klopp. ‘The basis for all what we do and did is the character of this group, that’s how it is.
‘I cannot convince them to fight if they are not fighters, that’s not possible. If they are not ready to put all the desire in the game and show all the determination, I cannot do that for them. I can find reasons why they should do it but I cannot convince them.
‘It was always easy with this team to show them the right path and then they follow it but, again, it’s an incredibly difficult time. It’s really demanding, the number of games we have to play and all that stuff.
Klopp will hope his side can avoid a repeat of the 4-0 defeat they suffered by City back in July
‘That’s why — and I spoke before the game to David Moyes about it, about the five subs and things like this — it still would be incredibly important if we could do that (permit five subs in Premier League matches) because you can only fight when your body is ready.’
And fight they did. The tenacity was embodied by Nathaniel Phillips, the 23-year-old defender who looked certain to be sold before the transfer window closed but could end up facing City next weekend after this robust display that was full of towering headers and timely interventions.
‘We have faith in our own abilities that we would get that winner,’ said Phillips. ‘We’ve done it before, so why couldn’t we do it again?’
There was a bear hug from Klopp at the final whistle, the kind he offers when he knows someone has put everything on the line. This wasn’t a victory that will make it in to any classics compilation but the manner will have warmed the German. His team are ready for the grind.
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