MARIBOR, SLOVENIA - Monday, October 16, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp gives a team-talk during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between NK Maribor and Liverpool at the Stadion Ljudski vrt. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

WE’RE not back but we will be soon. A bit of trust is required.

Liverpool are a good team playing as well as it can, absent the confidence and concentration that only winning brings. One win in eight games sounds bad. It is bad. But if there’s a way to be as good as you can possibly be while only winning once in over six weeks then The Reds have found that method. No neutral, without the bias of context, could have watched Liverpool’s games and not felt that Liverpool have been the better football team (the mad match at Manchester City aside).

No point in bleating any more about the hand fate has dealt us, it’s just what fate does with football teams. The key, as ever, is about what happens next. A cheerier stat is that Liverpool are unbeaten in six league and European games. In other OK news, only three of the big six have more points than Liverpool. One win in eight games has not ended Liverpool’s season before it has got going. All remains before us.

Talking about competing for titles is a bit silly while a side like Man City are just winning for fun. No draws (well, just one). No defeats. Just wins. I believe Liverpool should always be aiming to win the league but let’s not waste our time talking about it until it’s a realistic proposition again. And it can be so. It’s not beyond possible that City stumble and Liverpool build a winning run. But let’s wait till that happens before worrying.

A season of Champions League and Champions League-related fun can still be at the forefront of our minds. I’d take getting to the quarter finals and finishing top four in the Premier League. Bolt on the possibility of winning the FA Cup and you’ve got me. Lots still to keep us interested and excited.

And so to Slovenia where Maribor live. Google image search Maribor. It looks lovely. The team that play there aren’t very good, but they have enough about them to stop a nervy Liverpool winning and to make us start to sweat on qualification from the group stage of the Champions League. I’m not sure if they’re equivalent to a crap Premier League side or a half decent Championship one. Either way we need to beat them at least once in the two scheduled encounters.

My scantily thought out theory is that a win in Slovenia on Tuesday night all but qualifies Liverpool for the knockout phase. Here’s how it goes – we beat Maribor and we have five points with our two rivals for our minimum requirement (second place in the group) both still to come to Anfield. Beating Maribor would see them four points adrift of us, with the knowledge that they’d have to travel to Liverpool and win. Fat chance. Lose at home to Liverpool and the Slovenian underdogs are kennelled. They’re going nowhere.

MARIBOR, SLOVENIA - Monday, October 16, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between NK Maribor and Liverpool at the Stadion Ljudski vrt. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Liverpool win in Slovenia it increases the likelihood that Liverpool win the return two weeks later. That happens and The Reds are on eight points with two to play. Spartak Moscow would do well to hold Sevilla twice. If they do they’d be on four points with two to go. That would be four adrift of Liverpool and still to visit Anfield. When that happened a draw would see Liverpool qualify. Liverpool’s trip to Seville relevant only if finishing first is a marginally better way to enter the knockout stage than finishing second.

A draw on Tuesday would be no calamity, except for in the minds of an anxious public. The fans badly need Liverpool to win again. I want Liverpool to win again, but I’m prepared to be philosophical if we don’t. The fact that we have been plain unlucky in about six of the last eight matches does not mean we suddenly get to be luckier against Maribor. It would help encourage the virtuous cycle the club needs, if all could cool their jets come what may.

Liverpool should win in Maribor. You’ll get better than 20-1 on the home side to emerge on top. That tells a tale. The temptation for Jürgen Klopp would be to experiment with team selection and rest key men. He won’t though. He knows what the win brings and to that end will take no chances. I expect him to only show caution around selecting those who might be carrying knocks. He has protected Dejan Lovren and Emre Can in previous games and it’s possible he may do so again. Losing Lovren for a lengthy spell would not be good and there’s a good chance Ragnar Klavan gets to see some action in Slovenia.

In midfield the Liverpool manager knows he can count on a James Milner who will be champing at the bit having fallen behind in all the pecking orders going. It’s possible that Can will make way for him. There’s also a chance that Klopp goes bold and restores Phil Coutinho to central midfield, and in doing so vacates a berth for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chambo cost big dollar just over a month ago and the pressure to use him is mounting. He was a focused and dynamic substitute at the weekend and has earned his opportunity.

If Jürgen retains Coutinho as a front three man then then it’s reasonable that Mo Salah’s leg’s are spared for the weekend game against Tottenham at Wembley. That feels more the winger’s stage than Maribor. Regardless, Liverpool need any kind of a win at the moment, and if Slovenia isn’t exactly the dream setting for a red resurrection, the game is still one in a big competition. The world will seem a whole lot better a place with the pressure reduced in the Champions League, at least. I’d take 1-0 with a deflected cross from Albie Moreno that bounces in off the ‘keeper’s head last minute.

From small acorns mighty oaks grow. Go get that acorn, Reds.

Predicted 11: Karius; Gomez, Matip, Klavan, Moreno; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Coutinho; Salah, Firmino, Chamberlain.

Kick off: 7.45pm on BT Sport

Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)

Odds: Maribor 22-1, Draw 29-4, Liverpool 21-100

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