Coming off an incredible victory over reigning champions Leicester City and a demolition of Hull, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be hoping his side can continue their strong start to the Premier League season and begin to build momentum heading into Christmas.
The Reds began the season with what initially looked to be an emphatic victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, leading the Gunners 4-1 after just 63’ minutes.
But Liverpool couldn’t simply cruise to an easy win, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers scoring late for Arsenal to ensure a tense finish.
While Klopp’s men certainly made it difficult for themselves in the end, standout performances from Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane did enough to secure all three points.
Looking back on the game, it accurately represents a microcosm of Liverpool’s season so far: Impressive in patches but also leaving a lot to be desired.
The Reds finished the game having created 13 chances, and currently lead the Premier League with 64 overall. While only a handful of games have been played, it’s clear that Jurgen Klopp’s high-tempo attacking style of play has been well and truly implemented.
However, what’s most concerning for Liverpool fans is the abysmal game that followed – a miserable night at Turf Moor where Burnley ran home 2-0 winners despite Liverpool maintaining nearly 70% of possession.
What should have been a routine victory for any team with top four aspirations quickly crumbled as Sam Vokes scored inside the first five minutes of the game.
A careless giveaway from Nathaniel Clyne gifted the ball to Burnley who made them pay for the error and, while Liverpool continued to press for a goal of their own, there was no denying the mental anguish once Vokes’ shot hit the back of the net.
Liverpool’s chances of victory became even slimmer after Andre Gray scored Burnley’s second in the 37th minute, meaning Simon Mignolet had conceded an astounding five goals from the last five shots on target.
Liverpool fans will be lamenting the fact they missed out on signing another competitive first-choice goalkeeper, with German youngster Loris Karius yet to prove his calibre at EPL level and former Arsenal stopper Alex Manninger a suitable mentor for the Belgian.
In fact, research from The Sun shows Mignolet was directly involved in nine errors last season with just two months left to play, and if such costly errors hadn’t occurred, the Reds would’ve finished second behind Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City.
If Liverpool are to have any chance of competing for a Champions’ League place this season, they’ll need to learn how to win tough, even with their backs against the wall.
In their third game of the season against Tottenham Hotspur, they came out firing and were unlucky to only score the one goal in the first half as Coutinho came close a number of times.
It was this kind of first-half performance that made fans and critics believe that Liverpool had finally turned a corner in regards to rebuilding their team following the loss of Suarez and legend Steven Gerrard.
But it was a lacklustre second-half performance that reminded pundits of just how much work still needs to be done, as Spurs tore apart Liverpool’s Gegenpressing with some deft movement down the wings, which eventually led to the equalising goal from the unlikely Danny Rose.
The 4-1 dismantling of Leicester will undoubtedly be one of the biggest wins of the season for Liverpool, however it’s maintaining such ruthless efficiency that remains to be the big question for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
If Liverpool are to regain their status as one of the biggest clubs in England – dare I say Europe – they’ll need to develop the mental fortitude and physical presence of a team that steps up to the big games and isn’t frazzled by challenges from those below them.