Stalemate, stalemate, stalemate.
We were poor going forward again. We should have taken advantage again. We drew 0-0 again. It’s disappointing. But we go again. We could talk about dropped points and missed opportunities till we’re blue in the face or we couldn’t. The only reason there was an opportunity to be missed was because of Manchester City’s slump in December that we capitalised on with a run of 9 Premier League victories on the spin. The winner of this title would have either lost 3 games in 4 in December or drawn 4 games in 6 now. It’s almost as if dips in form are normal over the course of a 38-game season. In fact, if you don’t believe that, we may as well throw all of Fergie’s medals in the bin and label him a fraud, because he’s never had 70 points from 29 games. The only difference between City’s blip and ours is that ours came after. Imagine how you’d be feeling now if ours was in December and theirs was now. Yet points wise it makes no difference. Looking at their fixtures, they will drop points again. In truth, going from the leaders to the chasers may be a blessing in disguise. Over those 6 games Klopp was faced with the dilemma of risking a loss to chase a win. On all 4 drawing occasions he was pragmatic and took the draw. That dilemma has been taken from him and given to Pep. If we are level with Burnley next game, everyone knows a point won’t do, so expect to see all the attacking options on the pitch with the urgency that we’ve been lacking, should it come to that. Guardiola though, if it’s 0-0 with 20 to go at Old Trafford, does he go for it and risk Lukaku fumbling one over the line or does he take the draw? We shall see
While the attacking options have been somewhat misfiring, the same cannot be said for the other end. Virgil Van Dijk is the greatest player in this division, certainly over the course of this season and whether the title gets won or lost he deserves that accolade. Against Everton he was there to cancel out and kill any sign of an attack before it got going. By doing this so successfully every game it crushes the confidence of the premier league’s attacking players who just seem to lack any sort of belief when coming up against him. Van Dijk continues to win his battles so convincingly both physically and psychologically that it gets easier and easier for him each time he does and so he only gets better and grows in stature. He had become the unrivalled best centre back in the division within only a few months of joining the Reds. That quickly became the best centre back in the world and now in the eyes of most he is the best player in the league. Against Everton he recorded a pass accuracy of 86 per cent and made 3 interceptions. He won 10 aerial duels out of 13 which was more than anyone else on the pitch and made 13 clearances, also the best on the pitch and more than any Liverpool player this season across 90 minutes. How could anyone write off Liverpool’s title chances with this man in the side.
Next up is Burnley at home then Fulham away. 6 points is needed and is very probable. The blip ends now. The hardest fixtures are largely done with the exception of Spurs and Chelsea, both at Anfield, both very winnable. It’s time for the run. We use the next 2 to put the draws behind us and to regain our momentum. After that, anything is possible, including winning the lot. Though the likelihood is we won’t’ have to, City’s fixtures are not easy, and their calendar is only getting more congested. Pep’s head is a mess right now as he fights on three fronts with some big names missing. He would have hoped to be 15 clear by now, instead he’s just the one. All is left to play for, points can be dropped against anyone at any time. Keep the faith Reds, it’s all downhill from here.
City’s battle is just getting started.