Liverpool came from behind to complete a 2-1 win at Swansea to move second top of the standings. Judging by their attacking instincts, they are the real deal in the race to win a first domestic title since 1990.
1. They score goals for fun
It would be fair to say Liverpool’s defence is not exactly a pristine example of how it should be done. Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip are not exactly Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson from yesteryear, but who needs to worry about preventing goals when you appear to score when you want?
Jurgen Klopp’s team trailed 1-0 at Swansea at half-time, but found a way to win at the Liberty Stadium with Roberto Firmino and James Milner scoring to leave Liverpool only two points behind leaders Manchester City before Pep Guardiola’s side visit Tottenham on Sunday.
Funnily enough, Liverpool resemble City in their pressing, attacking approach to the game. They have scored 26 goals in nine outings so far this season. They are well in the hunt, and they are well in the mood too. And to think they welcome Manchester United to Anfield next time out on October 17. Interesting times.
2. They have the flair of Firmino and Coutinho
Liverpool are worth pondering over when they are on it. And when Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho are on it, there is no finer sight in football. Whatever is said about Firmino’s mood swings, you cannot dispute the Brazilian forward’s quality. He is a rather exciting player to witness, and he also works brutally hard for his team.
He scored a lovely goal against Swansea and earned the penalty that led to James Milner slotting the winning goal for the visiting side. Signed for £29m from Hoffenheim last year, Firmino is a figure who continues to improve. He is a matchwinner in every sense of the word.
His fellow Brazilian Coutinho is back to the same level that almost hoisted Liverpool to the title two years ago. In the second half at Swansea, he was all over the pitch as Liverpool showed their class to finally quell Swansea. With Coutinho coming deep to fetch and supply the forwards, Liverpool are a match for anybody in the final third.
3. They have Jurgen Klopp, a manager who players respond to
Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer treatment is perhaps from a bygone era, but Jurgen Klopp can still bellow. Klopp admitted afterwards that he had a few stern words for his team after watching them limp tamely to half-time trailing 1-0 after Leroy Fer had scored the opening goal for the Welsh team. They failed to muster a shot at goal in the first period, and a repeat of the 2-0 loss at Burnley appeared likely until Klopp intervened.
“We could have done so much better in the first half. It’s not allowed that we accept a bad day. Even on a bad day you have to fight against the start in this game, you have to strike back in the game. You have to cool down.”
What is important in the German’s narrative is not so much being angry, but his players responding to the dressing down in the dressing room. That is the ultimate sign of respect, and while Klopp was displeased about the passive nature of the first half, he will be happy with the response. Liverpool are full of Teutonic technical goodness.
4. Liverpool are brimming with options
Liverpool have options in their pursuit of the Premier League. While two years ago under Brendan Rodgers, there were reliant, probably too much, on the goals and inspiration emanating from Luis Suarez, this season they have bodies who can be trusted when there is need for an alternative.
Sadio Mane grew into the match at Swansea, but Liverpool can thrive when such a figure is not at his brilliant best.
Liverpool could afford to leave Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi on the substitutes bench. Ragnar Klavan, Lucas Leiva and Emre Can also watched from the technical area, and can all be called upon when Klopp has to change matters. Which he will.
5. Jordan Henderson is extremely influential and understated
Jordan Henderson was a pivotal part of Liverpool’s push for the Premier League in 2014, but there are signs he is returning to some of his very best form in the early moments of the season.
Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson celebrates after the game.
He is a midfielder who links well with defence and midfield and his passing statistics are symbolic of a player who is approaching prime form. Good news for Liverpool and England.