previewident

THE Reds standing on the edge of a cliff.

They daren’t look down. Only look across, to the horizon, to the biggest prize. It’s time for all to show faith. The faith that Liverpool will win the Premier fucking League.

That’s how I’d feel if I was a Liverpool player. About to face Manchester City in their lair, now, on the cusp of all this. The wind is at their backs, pushing them ever forward. If it were me I would find it difficult to stay cool. I’d be too giddy. I’d get angry, happy, frustrated, bereft with anticipation. But these Liverpool lads are the best in the business. The very best. They’re about to prove it beyond doubt.

A month ago we’d never have dreamed how things would play out. We were on Manchester City’s coattails and grateful just to be in the same room. We were sighing that in any other season or era that it would be us at the top table. Not cast in the role of plucky seconds, but the real deal. Then crazy things happened. We got better. Much better. And they got worse. Much worse.

And here we are. Liverpool seven points ahead of the 100-point champions. Liverpool, 91 points in their last 38 games. Liverpool scoring, scoring, but barely letting a goal in. Liverpool, Liverpool, top of the league.

And on Thursday night it could well be City’s night and they could make us look like shit for that night. But when we wake up on Friday morning and wipe the sleep from our eyes, the worst, the worst of it, is that we will lead this league by four big points. Do your worst Manchester City. Do your fucking worst.

This must bring an end to the sense that it’s now or never for Liverpool. Every title challenge we’ve mustered since 1990 has felt like a smash and grab affair. Like, if we don’t seize our chance now, we never would. That realisation tainted all of those ventures. I’m not in it just for the pot, of itself, I want us to be the best. The best team in the land.

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We were once, and it made me feel proud. It made us all feel so very proud. We knew it was the lads on the pitch, with their talent, their style and their goals, but they knew too that it was all impossible without us. It’s always been this way. And you, me, we know, that if and when this current crop of Reds bring it home, that it will be because of all of us.

Jürgen Klopp has navigated the Christmas fixture programme by keeping players focused only on the immediate challenge in front of them. He’s preached “one game at a time” in every press conference, but all the while he’s been readying his side for the Manchester City game.

Legs will be weary, some changes are possible, but key men will be asked to go round once again. That front three and big Virgil are playing every game. They’ll get best part of 10 days off after City, surely rested in the FA Cup, but they will need to summon every sinew for one last big push.

I think we’ll win at the Etihad. Champions, at some point, definitively win their biggest game and leave no room left for doubt.

We’ve arrived at that defining moment.

Predicted 11: Alisson; Trent, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Kick off: 8pm, Thursday

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Odds by Redsbet: Man City 1-1, Draw 53-20, Liverpool 12-5

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