The Premier League Table is looking good isn’t it? Well it is if you are a Liverpool fan.
To be fair, I bet it looks very nice if you are a Leicester City or Sheffield United fan too. Also, congratulations to Manchester United who have managed to get out of the bottom half and climb all the way to seventh.
Their fans must be buzzing.
"We controlled the game for 70 minutes"
Jurgen Klopp hails his players after their victory over title-rivals Man City
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) November 10, 2019
But Liverpool being eight points clear at this stage of the season is obviously what the red half, and no doubt the blue half, of Merseyside are focussing on.
To be this far ahead so early in the season is incredible, and Liverpool’s form is making fools of those who predicted the team couldn’t continue the pace they set in the last campaign.
On a game by game comparison, they are actually six points better off this year than last. Improving results against three opponents, most recently Manchester City.
But as opposition fans are very keen to point out, Liverpool had a healthy lead last season as well, and couldn’t hold on to it.
So, should Liverpool fans be confident or cautious? I would argue the former. It feels different this season. Here is why:
1. We are European Champions
For all the progress made under Jurgen Klopp, the lack of trophies was the most common, and understandable, criticism. You can only prove you are real winners when you win, and now this Liverpool squad have won the biggest trophy of them all, it should be the first of many.
You ask any multiple winning star of any sport and they will tell you the first was the most important. The one that silenced inner doubt and took some of the pressure off for future success.
This Liverpool squad have that now and everyone is walking taller as a result.
2. Sharing the goals around
There was statistic before the Manchester City game that the 10 previous Liverpool goals had been scored by nine different players.
The opener on Sunday was scored by Fabinho, to make it 10 out of 11.
In the past Liverpool had a reputation as being overly reliant on Mo Salah, or the front three in general, but great teams get goals from everywhere and Liverpool are managing that at the moment.
3. Greater squad depth
Liverpool were criticised in some places for not spending more in the summer, but Jurgen Klopp was confident in what he had and, perhaps more importantly, what was coming back.
Rhian Brewster and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the majority of last season through injury, but Klopp knew both could add so much to the team this season. Oxlade-Chamberlain in particular has proved that already, scoring for fun in recent weeks.
Some of the old guard, written off or sold off by many in the fan base, have also proved they have life and value in them yet for Liverpool. Dejan Lovren came into the season as fourth-choice centre half, but was excellent against Manchester City at the weekend, while Adam Lallana scored the equaliser against Manchester United to ensure Liverpool remained unbeaten.
That back-up goalkeeper wasn’t bad either. was he?
4. Everyone else looks a bit rubbish
It is only November and Manchester City have lost as many league games as they did in the whole of last season. The highest placed team they have actually managed to beat this season are Bournemouth in 9th.
With tougher fixtures on the horizon, the gap between Liverpool and Manchester City looks more likely to grow rather than shrink. Away from City, Spurs, who looked the best of the rest for most of last season, are now 14th and Arsenal remain fully committed to being very Arsenal for the foreseeable future.
It actually looks like Brendan Rodgers might give us the biggest challenge to the title. Which is rather unexpected, but fair play.
5. Everyone has calmed down a bit
Liverpool fans have waited a long time for a league title. It has become something of an obsession.
Which is fine when we are winning, but less so when we aren’t. As the pressure mounted up last season, it is fair to describe some of the atmospheres as “edgy” in the ground. Leicester at home in particular, where Liverpool unexpectedly dropped points, was one where players have privately said it became almost impossible to play in.
When every misplaced pass was treated like the end of the world.
I don’t know what has changed this year. Maybe the Champions League win has reminded everyone that the league isn’t the be-all and end-all, or maybe this group of players have earned enough trust through so many big wins, but there does seem to be a determination amongst the crowd to just enjoy it a bit more. Not before time.