10 Liverpool statements as Klopp and Co. stand on brink of glory

Our Liverpool blogger Dave Tindall looks at how Liverpool’s season teeters on the brink of greatness with 10 statements from a memorable season.

August 15: It’s 11 minutes into the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League qualifier away to German side Hoffenheim – the team everyone wanted to avoid – and Dejan Lovren fouls former Arsenal forward Serge Gnabry in the box. Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers points to the spot. Penalty Hoffenheim.

Here we go. The nightmare scenario of Liverpool failing to even make it into the group stage is about to creep closer. These lot look useful and we’ve already conceded three in our Premier League opener against Watford.

Had we frozen time at that very moment and been asked to predict what may lay ahead for Liverpool this season, I can guarantee that absolutely no-one would have come up with what has unfolded in the 258 days since.

If you want evidence that fact is stranger than fiction, it’s Liverpool’s 2017/2018 season.

On that August night in south-west Germany, Simon Mignolet saved Andrej Kramaric’s spot-kick and Hoffenheim were denied a crucial early goal.

And then the magic started to happen.

Teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold planted a superb right-foot free-kick into the bottom corner, we won 2-1 and nerves gave way to excitement. The Reds completed the job with a 4-2 victory in the second leg at Anfield and into the hat we went.


What has happened since borders on incredible. Fast forward to the current day and, amazingly, the 10 following statements are all true:

1. Mo Salah has scored 43 goals. Our new Egyptian King had netted 14 and 15 goals respectively in his two seasons at Roma.  A similar tally of around 15 in his first campaign for us would have represented an excellent return. Twenty would have been fantastic. Thirty and we’re into the realms of absolutely astonishing. Forty +? There simply are no words. It isn’t possible. We were hoping for a winger with an eye for goal. We ended up with Messi. 43 goals in 48 games. Does. Not. Compute.

2. Roberto Firmino has scored 27 goals. Previously, we’d kind of tolerated his 1-in-3 goal output due to all the pressing, tireless running, link play and assists although 12 goals last season and 11 the year before did feel short of expectations. Early in this campaign, LFC fans wondered whether a proper 20 goal-a-season striker would be better than Firmino’s ‘false nine’. Now, we have the best of both worlds – a frontman who does all the dirty work but still bangs goals in at an excellent rate. And what a boost that he’s just signed up at Anfield for another five years.

3. Sadio Mane has scored 18 goals. Last season, there were times when he was our Elvis – the star man, who left a huge void when taken out of the team. Now, he seems more of the George Harrison to Firmino and Salah’s Lennon and McCartney. And yet, despite apparent runs of iffy form, he’s just two away from reaching 20 goals having only scored 13 in his debut season when we all raving about him.

4. We’ve scored 128 goals in all competitions. Only twice in our history have LFC netted more.

5. We’re just one match away from going through the entire Premier League campaign unbeaten at home. If we don’t lose to Brighton (more on that later), we’ll have achieved the feat for just the second time in the last 30 years.

6. We’ve taken 37 points since Christmas Day. That’s just a point less than Manchester City over the same period. They’ve been amazing but are we a million miles away from them?

7. Talking of Manchester City, we’ve beaten them three times out of three since the middle of January – a 4-3 Premier League win when we led 4-1 and a 5-1 aggregate victory in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. That’s nine goals we’ve blasted past them in 270 minutes – one every half hour.

8. We’ve signed one of the best defenders in Europe. Virgil van Dijk’s impact has been obvious. The towering Dutchman has played 18 games for us and we’ve kept clean sheets in exactly half of them. He talks, he points, he commands. He’s 26 years old and only going to get better.

9. Left-back has become a position of strength, not a glaring weakness. Andy Robertson has been an absolute revelation since being promoted to the first team. His story is reminiscent of how Liverpool used to do things. Sign a player, force him to wait, let him learn the club’s ways and style of play, make him hungry and then give him his chance. The Scot has taken it in stunning style.

10. Finally, of course, we’ve set the Champions League alight with a string of scintillating displays. The numbers, as with Salah’s, are in the realms of fantasy. We crashed in 23 goals in the group phase, scoring seven in a match twice (away to Maribor, home to CSKA Moscow) and that was just the warm-up. With a 5-0 romp in Portugal we registered the joint-biggest away win in the Champions League knockout phase and condemned Porto to their heaviest ever home defeat in Europe. And after winning both legs against Man City when expected to bow out to the then tournament favourites, we became only the second team in Champions League history to score five in a semi-final match when crushing Roma 5-2 last week.

So far we’ve scored 38 in 11 games, with Salah (10), Firmino (10) and Mane (8) sharing 28 between them. Oh, and James Milner has contributed nine assists, a new record for the competition. This is all genuinely ludicrous.

Imagine if I’d written the above as a list of predictions ahead of our first game of the season. I would have been a laughing stock. A ridiculous fan taking optimism to absurd and even surreal levels.

And yet, all the above has happened.

And yet, fellow Reds, we are still dancing a fine line between glory and heartbreak. This coming week for Liverpool is huge.

On Tuesday night we take a three-goal lead to take to the Eternal City of Rome – a place that has long been in Liverpool folklore due to our European Cup final wins there in 1977 and 1984.

On Sunday, we go to Chelsea for our penultimate Premier League of the season.

On Monday morning we could be high on expectation ahead of the Champions League final in Kiev, knowing that we’ll get to have another crack at Europe’s elite competition again next season.

Alternatively, we could be in shock having somehow lost a two-legged semi-final in which we were 5-0 up whilst also deeply fearful of a spectacular failure to reach next year’s Champions League.

Defeat at Stamford Bridge and a failure to beat Brighton at Anfield on final day and we’ll be football’s Devon Loch – all set for glory before an astonishing collapse just yards from the finish line.

Such disappointment now is unthinkable but so are the 10 points above.

Existing anxieties can grow and swirl around your mind with greater intensity when something seems too good to be true. The brutally harsh realities of sport can kick back.

However, whenever my faith has wobbled over the last few months, I’ve always said that if we get Salah, Firmino and Mane to the start line we’ll be okay.

And then I replay in my head the numerous Jurgen Klopp interviews about seeing these games as opportunities not potentials for disaster.

We’ve come so far. It’s been truly incredible. I just want this amazing season to get the grandstand finish it deserves.

Dave Tindall