THE city of Liverpool is currently basking in the glow of positivity. It is a joy to see, as both Liverpool and Everton are currently enjoying a rich vein of form which has seen Everton sitting pretty in second on 13 points from the first five games, and Liverpool sat in sixth on 10 points, writes PHILIPPA SMALLWOOD.
However, this does not tell the full story.
We all know that Liverpool have played four away games against Arsenal, Burnley, Tottenham and Chelsea. All of them tough games in different ways. It is easy to suggest we should beat teams like Burnley, but facing a newly promoted team early in the season away from home is never an easy task. If only Anfield had been ready a few weeks earlier, ey?
It is about learning from our mistakes that will determine how far this team can go this season. The early signs are positive. Our team appears to now be working as one. From front to back, everyone understanding their role in what is developing into a well-oiled machine.
Joel Matip is rightly earning early plaudits for seemingly settling into the back four like he has been there for years, dealing with Diego Costa at the weekend with minimum fuss. Confident and comfortable on the ball. Heading, what seems like, every dangerous ball away from danger with aplomb.
Alongside him, Dejan Lovren is probably being overlooked because the new guy is getting the headlines, but he seems a completely different animal to the one we saw in his first season at Anfield. I am hopeful this could blossom into our best defensive partnership since Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia. With Ragnar Klavan, Lucas Leiva and even Mamadou Sakho as backup, ensuring they need to keep up their current high levels.
James Milner looks like he has played left back for years, and now the supposed weak area of our side is no longer being spoken about in negative terms. In the past two games he has managed to see off Riyad Mahrez and at different stages of the game against Chelsea, Willian and Eden Hazard. Something which may have been lost due to the other stand out performances, but that is an impressive collection of players to keep relatively quiet.
Nathaniel Clyne also dealt well with Willian and Hazard at the weekend, and he is a proper steady Eddy. You often don’t notice the work that he does, but it is very rare you single him out as having a poor performance. I can only think of Old Trafford last season. That, in itself, is no mean feat. Every team needs it’s ‘seven out of 10 every week’ performers and Nathaniel is definitely one of those.
In the middle of the park, Jordan Henderson appears to be back to his 2013/14 season form. Shaking off his injuries of last season and running the midfield like a General orchestrating his troops. Nothing pleases me more than seeing a player prove his doubters wrong. Fingers crossed this continues, and we get to see more wonder goals like at the weekend.
Slightly further ahead of Jordan, Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana are the workhorses who enable the forwards to shine. Pressing the opposition into coughing up possession, playing it simple and keeping everything ticking along. Both of these lads join the attacks at different times and keep everything flowing, linking from defence to attack.
Up front we have a very fluid forward line which consists of any three from Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane. The interchanging of the forwards means opposition defences never know who they are marking. All four capable of winning games with moments of brilliance, or such intricate interplay that defences are struggling to cope. There seems to be a real understanding developing with this team. Mane has slotted in effortlessly.
I’m not going to leave out the much-maligned Simon Mignolet. He is playing his part making some crucial saves, and although he may be a dickhead sometimes he is still our dickhead! Hopefully having a settled back four will help him — let’s face it, it can’t be easy if you have different players stood in front of you every week.
When I look at the players who haven’t got a look in so far, it only makes me feel even more positive. Emre Can has been struggling to get fit at the start of the season, but he was our best midfielder last season and at 22 you can only see him getting better. Having options of Henderson, Can, Lucas, Wijnaldum and Lallana doesn’t quite seem as lightweight as when the transfer window shut.
Divock Origi is another who hasn’t really got going yet, but could prove to be an important player in the right games. With his power, pace and impressive finishing last season, I am sure he will play his part at some point. Let’s not forget he is only 21, and is still learning his trade.
There is another youngster who could well play his part later on in the season as well — Sheyi Ojo. At just 19 he came across as a very exciting prospect when given a chance last season. The hesitancy of the frustrating Jordon Ibe was replaced by a young lad who looked like he wasn’t afraid of the round thing at his feet. Maybe the rest his injury has given him will repay him with freshness later on in the season, when we may need him to step into the breach.
When I look at things as a whole, we have a young squad with an average age of under 25. I am excited by what the future may hold for them, and for us! If these lads can outwork, and even outmuscle, the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Leicester and Spurs, while also playing with a freedom and fluidity in attack that can leave you breathless, then surely we cannot be anything other than optimistic.
In the past I have been guilty of downplaying our successes and waiting for the inevitable bubble to burst. Not enjoying wins because I felt it might have meant we lose the next game, because I was being too happy.
But, do you know what? Sod that! I am going to change my way of thinking. It may fizzle out and come to nothing, but if we cannot enjoy the good times then why even bother going to the games?
We could just be onto something here, Reds — so let’s roll with it and enjoy the joy ride!
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