By Connor Varnish – @cvarn4
Liverpool’s defeat on Thursday to Manchester City marked their first loss in the Premier League this season, but despite this defeat, the Reds still sit in first place with a four-point margin.
While plenty outside of the club will question the Reds’ resilience and mentality after such a setback – Liverpool must still be quietly relishing their standing in the table after a difficult festive period.
Let’s look back to the month of December. The Reds impressively managed to remain unbeaten all month across all competitions including the late dramatics of the Merseyside Derby winner, a tense 1-0 victory in the Champions League over Napoli, followed by the dismantling of United.
Capped off by a 5-1 smashing of Arsenal at Anfield – it’s been just about as perfect a month you could have asked for if you’re Liverpool.
January, in contrast, has come as a shock to those including myself who have become accustomed to a kind of hushed confidence when it came to the prospect of Liverpool pulling away with the league.
City reminded everyone that they are the reigning champions in England and that they’re certainly not going anywhere anytime soon.
But don’t get be too discouraged, Reds, there’s certainly no shame in losing by a goal to the defending Premier League champions particularly after a decent team performance – what’s most important now, of course, is how Jurgen Klopp’s men react to this defeat.
Liverpool played rather well barring a few mental lapses from our Croatian in defence that proved costly in the end. The Reds were unlucky to not find the back of the net after a John Stones clearance off the line in the first half, and on another day Alisson gets a hand to Aguero’s shot that found the roof of the net – ultimately it turned out to be one to forget for the Reds.
It will be interesting to see how much Jurgen Klopp values the FA Cup this year especially after Liverpool’s progress domestically as well as in the Champions League so far. Liverpool have Brighton, Palace, Leicester, West Ham, and Bournemouth in the Premier League before their clash against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
While those teams certainly pose a threat to the Reds – particularly after Palace and Leicester mustered all three points against Man City – these are games Liverpool must win if they want to remain top of the league come May.
On the other side of things, City have a much more difficult run in between the Champions League fixtures in February, as they play Wolves, Huddersfield, Newcastle, Arsenal, and Chelsea.
Had you asked any Liverpool fan if they’d taken four points clear of the top going into the second week of the New Year every single one would have taken that and ran. Although the Reds left an opportunity on the table to go 10 points ahead of City this past week, I feel as though the mood around the club won’t change.
This is a special team that knows how to get results. Now is the time to shake off the dust, bounce back, and focus on getting maximum points in the league before we host Bayern mid February.