October 24, 2019, 0:05

Pressure on Liverpool? What can go wrong for Jurgen Klopp’s side?

Pressure on Liverpool? What can go wrong for Jurgen Klopp’s side?

Liverpool are 30 games away from ending a 30-year wait. What can go wrong between now and May for Jurgen Klopp’s side? Adam Bate poses the question after their 17th straight victory…

Jurgen Klopp had praised just about everyone. There was a word for the “exceptional” Sadio Mane and, upon request, another short monologue on the qualities of the other scorer against Leicester James Milner. The Liverpool manager mentioned the positivity of the Anfield crowd and the insatiable appetite of his players. Then came the briefest of pauses and the flash of a smile.

“But 30 games still to come.”

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He’s right, of course. And yet, what if? What if Liverpool can negotiate those next 30 games in anything like the manner that they have the last 30 games? His side have won 25 of those. In fact, Liverpool have won 32 of their last 37 games, including each of the last 17. They have been beaten just once in 47 attempts. Dropped only 11 points in their last 37.

The lead is already eight points as it is, meaning that the destination of the Premier League title is now technically out of Manchester City’s hands. The reigning champions could beat Liverpool twice and still not catch them. If Klopp gets those two games right then the title will surely be coming back to Anfield. Thirty games away from ending a 30-year wait.

2:57 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Leicester

That is the mathematics of it all but there are other reasons for optimism too. Liverpool are consistent. There have not been the same highs this season but they have cut out the lows. They have become a relentless winning machine, doing enough time and time again. It is a habit and it is a good one. There is confidence. No panic when things do go against them.

There is comfort too in the knowledge that Liverpool came through the test of last season’s title race even if they did not come out with the trophy. Seven times in the final eight games they won to move back top. They did it under pressure. Now the challenge will be to do it again and maintain the pressure on a Manchester City showing rare signs of weakness.

What can go wrong?

Manchester City’s defeat to Wolves on Sunday will have been greeted with almost as much excitement as Milner’s late winner against Leicester the previous afternoon. The result will have been the chief source of satisfaction, of course, but so too will have been the latest evidence that the irresistible force can in fact be resisted. If it bleeds, we can kill it.

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The accepted wisdom is that it is City with the greater squad depth but that theory is being tested. The departure of Vincent Kompany followed by injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones has left Pep Guardiola short in the centre of defence. Fernandinho has had to switch position. Nicolas Otamendi has been called upon and looks less than reliable.

It is all good news for Liverpool but much like the old cricket adage about adding two wickets to the score and considering how the situation would appear then, it would be wise to wonder where Klopp’s team would be without some of their key performers. They have shown they can cope without Alisson. Could they do it without Virgil van Dijk?

Nobody is under any illusions about the importance of Van Dijk but Liverpool supporters will have been encouraged by the efforts of Dejan Lovren alongside him against Leicester. Now seemingly the fourth-choice centre-back option, the Croatian produced some booming headers and did well to cut out one James Maddison pass to Jamie Vardy.

Klopp said afterwards that he had never seen any team defend better against the Leicester striker and Lovren’s performance will inspire belief that the depth at the back is there. An injury to Andrew Robertson could prove more costly but the hope is that in Milner, another senior man, they have the individuals in the squad to manage Liverpool through it.

Can the same be said further forwards? It was Divock Origi and Adam Lallana in support of Mane at the death against Leicester and the back-up options showed that being without Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah need not prevent Liverpool from turning a game in their favour. But it would be a concern to be without their best players for a longer period.

Their indefatigability has been a big factor in Liverpool’s success. Klopp has been able to start with at least two of the front three in 49 of the last 51 Premier League games. The other two, away to Huddersfield and Burnley last season, were both won – but the latter came only after Firmino and Salah came off the bench to help. They will need to stay fit.

But those are hypothetical concerns for now. Stay fit. Stay focused. This is there for Liverpool. That’s why Klopp declared himself “not fussed” about this winning run. What matters to him is that his players maintain the right attitude. He knows that they cannot win every time. But he knows that if they do that then they might just win enough of the time.

Sourse: skysports.com

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