John Gibbons: The whole country is desperate for Liverpool to bottle this lead

But they don’t look to be feeling the pressure!

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Well that was an unexpectedly brilliant weekend to be a Liverpool fan, wasn’t it?

Not Liverpool winning, of course. That is fairly standard now. The Reds have now won 17 Premier League games in-a-row across two seasons.

It might get tense on occasion, and they might need the odd last-minute penalty, but Liverpool always win in the end.

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There is an old joke that goes something along the lines of “my football team were so rubbish growing up, I thought they were called ‘Everton Nil.'”

You might have heard it with different teams, but the joke remains the same.

For young Liverpool fans, they might start expecting to see ‘Liverpool Win’ on scarfs around the Anfield.

The last league game we lost was on the 3rd of January. The time before that was May 2018. The last time we lost at home in the Premier League was April 2017. If a young kid got a season ticket in the summer of 2017, they might never have seen Liverpool lose.

Which, as someone who got his first season ticket in the Graeme Souness years, is very hard to imagine.

Liverpool have become so adept at winning games of football, that it alone can no longer guarantee a brilliant weekend, just a happy one.

It was the other results that meant Reds fans all over the world were bouncing into work Monday morning, feeling on top of the world.

I don’t know if you have heard. But Liverpool are eight points clear, Everton are in the relegation zone and Manchester United are absolutely crap.

Until then, I am going to enjoy it.

Both Liverpool’s relentless pace, and everyone else’s inability to keep up with it. That Liverpool are eight points clear is meaningful, because it is bigger than any lead they truly had last season.

Much is made of Liverpool “blowing a 10-point lead” last year, but it was only because of the Christmas fixtures and the TV schedule that it was ever that much. 24 hours later, once Manchester City had played their game, it was back to seven. That was the true lead Liverpool had, and ultimately lost.

This eight-point gap is significant, but also therefore adds pressure.

We know the whole country will be desperate to see someone, anyone, put a run together to overtake Liverpool. So, the bottler jibes can all come out again and rival supporters can sing “you’re gonna win f**k all” at us in May when their teams are 14th.

But, the most significant thing is that Liverpool actually look the best team in the league now.

I always, quietly, suspected that, for all the brilliance, points and heroics last season, Manchester City just slightly had the edge on us.

That’s not to say I wasn’t dreaming of titles when City lost back to back games in December, of course. However, it always just felt we were up against it.

David vs Goliath is massively pushing it, so maybe, to use Jurgen’s favourite analogy, Rocky vs Ivan Drago. The hope that guts, heart and talent could overcome all.

Now Manchester City seem to have dropped a level, while Liverpool have kicked on with the swagger and confidence that being European Champions brings. Sure, City have had injuries, but it feels a little bit more than that.

Maybe the idea of slogging yourself to 100 points no longer has the same appeal. I’m not saying they aren’t motivated to win a league title, just maybe not quite as motivated.

In contrast, this Liverpool side that have largely remained together throughout the period, seem even more driven this year.

Powered by the victories and the disappointments of last season they look determined, maybe even feel destined, to bring the league championship to Liverpool for the first time in 30 years.

They no longer just have the greatest desire, but they also have the greatest desire on top of all the other gifts that they have.

This adds pressure, no more excuses after all. But no one seems to be feeling it at Liverpool.

They just keep on going…

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