You could almost hear the sighs of relief following Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Anfield. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s late winner secured the three points for Jürgen Klopp’s side and brought an end to Liverpool’s horrific run of six successive defeats at Anfield, something that would have been unthinkable at the beginning of the season.
Now Liverpool can put that unwanted record behind them and focus on salvaging a top-four finish in the Premier League. At the moment, the Reds are in with a shout according to the Premier League – top 4 finish betting odds, but they’ll need to sustain the good results they have posted in the league of late. Successive wins against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Arsenal and Aston Villa have eased the pressure on the team after a shocking run of form since the festive period.
It seems strange that we are talking about Liverpool’s prospects of finishing in the top four when you consider that they were top of the league on Christmas Day. A 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park seemed to signal that Liverpool were about to put together a similar dominant run to the one that saw them lift the Premier League trophy last season. It hasn’t worked out that way, but with a strong end to the season, Klopp would have a platform on which to rebuild and improve his team in the summer transfer window.
If Liverpool are to finish in the top four then they need to rediscover the winning mentality which brought them so much success in seasons gone by. In both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns, it simply felt like Liverpool couldn’t lose, and so to see that mentality erode over the course of this current season has been strange.
There are several factors that have contributed, one being the emotional hangover of ending the club’s 30-year wait for another English league title. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there was no opportunity for the club to properly celebrate that herculean achievement, and as a result there has been a strange sense of fatigue within the team this year. Of course, there is only so long a team can perform to those exceptionally high standards, and some kind of comedown was inevitable, but no-one could have foreseen Liverpool’s title defence falling apart so quickly and so easily.
The fact that fans have been absent from stadiums for the vast majority of the last year or so is another reason why Liverpool have struggled. So many of the club’s greatest results have come amid fervent atmospheres at Anfield, and with the stadium standing empty, it’s been difficult for players to muster the same energy that powered much of last year’s title charge.
But there have still been glimpses within this run of poor form that Liverpool still possess the means to dominate as they did last season. Successive wins against Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United in January, along with this current run of victories, demonstrate that within the turmoil there have been moments of supreme quality. For Liverpool to finish in the top four and salvage something this disappointing campaign, they’ll need to find that way to show that quality consistently between now and the end of May.