Having gone five league matches without a win and four without scoring, Jurgen Klopp’s team epitomised a wounded animal.
Hurt by media and opposition criticism that claimed this was the perfect time to face off against the champions.
However, Liverpool showed fight and resolve to triumph 3-1 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against José Mourinho’s Spurs to get their title hopes back on track.
As it unfolded
Much has been made of Liverpool’s lack of creativity and goals up front having not mustered a goal in four league matches.
And the visitors nearly made the worst possible start, as a fine one-two between Spurs strikers Son Heung-min and Harry Kane saw Son slot past Alisson as he wheeled away in celebration.
However, the South Korean’s heel was a fraction offside as VAR correctly chalked off the goal.
Liverpool and Klopp were left to breathe a huge sigh of a relief.
The champions kept pressing and got the goal they so richly deserved just before half-time as Jordan Henderson’s chipped ball over the top of the Spurs defence, was chested down by Sadio Mane, who swept a delightful ball across the box for Bobby Firmino to tap home.
The second half had barely started when Hugo Lloris palmed Mane’s curling effort was into the path of Trent Alexander-Arnold who finished with aplomb to put Liverpool in the driving seat.
Spurs hit back though through an opportunist effort from the impressive Pierre-Emile Højbjerg who fired in a 25-yard blockbuster to keep the hosts in touch.
Liverpool looked like they had bagged a third as a fine breakaway move saw Mane tee up strike partner Mo Salah who rifled in…only to be overruled by VAR.
The technology ruled that Firmino had deliberately moved his arm towards the ball in the build-up to the goal.
Klopp’s men weren’t to be denied though, as a fine lobbed cross into the box by Alexander-Arnold, was slammed home by Mane to ensure Liverpool of a much needed three points.
Big performances all over the pitch
Boss Jurgen Klopp would have been delighted by the performances of all his players.
With a goal, an assist and a hard-working shift from local hero Alexander-Arnold, he was full value for man of the match.
However, he was not the only eye-catching performance out there, as captain Henderson was instrumental in rallying his troops, and dragging them over the line.
James Milner the workhorse, also worked tirelessly in midfield, as did Dutchman Gini Wijnaldum.
While Firmino and Mane quickly looked back to their very best.
They did not look like a team that took 482 minutes of Premier League action before finding the net.
All of a sudden, the gloom was lifted around the Anfield club as they swept to their first win in the Premier League since the 19th December’s 7-0 demolition of Crystal Palace.
It does make you wonder how good this Liverpool team would have been had it not lost injured stars Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Diogo Jota through injury.
Klopp’s men capitalise on rivals slip-ups
Having seen Leicester and Everton draw, as well as Chelsea and Wolves, the biggest shock of the mid-week fixtures had seen Sheffield United stun Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Liverpool did not disappoint as they went back to Merseyside with all three points to go fourth in the Premiership.
The victory puts them seven points off top spot Manchester City, but quite crucially, only two points off Leicester City and three off United respectively.
Injury FC as defensive crisis mounts
The main downside for Klopp’s men was the loss of defender Joel Matip, with the Cameroon international coming off at half-time with an ankle injury to add more injury woe to Klopp and his players.
They had also lost midfielder and makeshift centre-half Fabinho to a minor muscle issue in training shortly before kick-off.
With no first team centre half’s spare rookie pair, 19-year-old Rhys Williams and the inexperienced Nat Philipps, pressure has mounted on Klopp and the club to dip into the transfer market with only two days left till the close of the transfer window.
The club has remained reluctant to sign anyone until the summer, prioritising signing the right player at the right price.
It appears a short-term solution may be in the offing.
If rumours are to be believed, 28-year-old German World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi, seems the most likely. With his contract up in the summer, an early release settlement may be enough for Arsenal to part with the defender on the fringes of first team action.
A sale to Liverpool would free up the wage bill at the Emirates especially after the absence of crowds due to Covid-19.
Other options have also included Southampton’s 24-year-old Polish centre back Jan Bednarek, West Ham’s Issa Diop, as well as free agents Neven Subotić, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, and former Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay, the experienced Argentinian all under consideration.
A more costly option would be Lille’s Sven Botman with the Dutchman valued at around 18 million.
While the club has reportedly made contact with Champions League knockout stages opponents, Leipzig, over the availability of defenders Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konaté.
Whether any of these deals come to fruition though, remains to be seen.
West Ham preview:
Your only as good as your last game.
Liverpool’s primary focus will be to pick up maximum points this week and make it six points out of six with a win against David Moyes’ in form side.
Thursday night’s performance showed Liverpool were invigorated and the entire team were driven on by the ever-vocal Henderson.
However, West Ham had temporarily risen to fourth prior to Liverpool’s visit to Spurs, after an entertaining 3-2 away victory at Crystal Palace, showing they will be no pushovers.
Moyes appears to have finally found his feet again after some turbulent spells in management at Manchester United, Sunderland and in his first stint with the Hammers.
Liverpool are again likely to deploy Henderson in the heart of their defence, with Philipps most likely to slot into the back four alongside Andrew Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.
With Alisson in goal, the midfield should see Thiago Alcântara play a more advanced attacking role, as he did against Spurs, with Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner accompanying him.
The attacking trident of Salah, Firmino and Mane should again feature up front.
This will be a tough game for Liverpool, make no mistake about it. Especially with only a three-day turnover after Thursday night’s endeavours.
I do however think the champions can pull of a 2-1 win, but much of this depends on them playing with the same fire and intensity they showed against Spurs.
It promises to be an exciting match.