Liverpool’s recent winning run – helped by a 2-1 victory at Bournemouth – has cemented the belief that Jurgen Klopp has finally installed a winning mentality into the Reds, just at the right time.
A much-changed Liverpool line-up triumphed on the south coast with goals from Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge and, despite featuring a host of second-choice names after the previous week’s heroics in the Europa League win over Borussia Dortmund, it was a routine victory that was marred only by an injury-time strike from Joshua King, which served as a mere consolation for the Cherries.
With the business end of the season well and truly upon them, Liverpool fans are anxious for signs that Klopp’s much-lauded managerial methods are finally delivering consistency and an end result.
Liverpool lie in eighth position in the Barclays Premier League, at the time of writing, just two points behind West Ham United in the Europa League places for next season, but, crucially, with a game-in-hand over the Hammers.
Six games remain in the Premier League for Liverpool to clinch a Europa League place for the 2016/17 season, in the event that they don’t win the trophy in May and automatically earn the right to defend it. However, having gone five games unbeaten since that horrifying 3-2 defeat to Southampton – after having lead 2-0 – Liverpool are now beginning to convince their expectant fanbase that they are the real deal.
Since letting that two-goal lead slip at St Mary’s, Liverpool have earned a credible draw at home to title-chasing Tottenham Hotspur, successfully navigated the home and away legs against Borussia Dortmund, and earned wins at home to Stoke City (4-1) and away at Bournemouth (2-1).
Liverpool face a tough run-in to the end of the season, including the Europa League semi-finals. The latest Europa League odds show Liverpool and Villarreal can barely be separated and, while the former have hit form at the right time, the Spaniards have also won four successive games and sit fourth in La Liga, a full six points ahead of Athletic Bilbao below them.
But with the crucial and potentially season-defining semi-final tie with Villarreal less than a fortnight away, Liverpool can’t afford to lose their focus and have two critical Premier League games before then in which they must maintain their upwards momentum. Klopp will have been delighted with the performances of second-string youngsters such as Brad Smith, Connor Randall, Kevin Stewart and Sheyi Ojo in the win against Bournemouth, but he is sure to restore the majority of his big guns for the passionate local derby with Everton, followed by another home game with relegation-haunted Newcastle United also coming up soon.
The energy-sapping drama of Liverpool’s epic win over Dortmund certainly affected some of Liverpool’s key players, but it has energised their fans, and now the players must truly deliver.