By Connor Varnish – @cvarn4
Liverpool will once again host Chelsea at Anfield this coming Sunday in yet another crucial, potentially title-deciding tie.
While we don’t have fond memories from this exact fixture from the title charge of 2013/14, Jurgen Klopp has built a side that has what it takes to make things right this time around.
José Mourinho sides have a history of frustrating Liverpool, usually content on sitting back and hitting the Reds on the counter. Perhaps the most devastating of them all occurred on April 27, 2014, a Sunday afternoon at Anfield with plenty of sunshine and high hopes of Liverpool making another step towards their first Premier League title since 1990.
The Kop were up for it, the players were up for it, but it just was not meant to be. The infamous slip from captain Steven Gerrard continues to haunt Liverpool supporters to this day, and likely will for quite some time.
Images of Mourinho beating his chest as he galloped toward the away end at the final whistle will never leave my memory, for all the wrong reasons – a date with such promise and prospect ultimately ended with weak stomachs and deflated spirits.
Fast forward to April 14, 2019 – another Sunday at Anfield with the title stakes on the line again as the Reds welcome Chelsea, and Liverpool’s last big test against a top-six side on their road to glory as they again seek to capture that elusive championship.
This time, however, feels different for a couple of reasons.
We are not built around one player anymore – it’s been done to death but this Liverpool side rely on each and every player out on the pitch, from our custodian in Alisson, to our ‘Rolls Royce’ in Virgil van Dijk, to our prolific front three of Sadio Mané Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
You simply cannot cancel out all of the strengths this team possesses to inflict damage against opposition teams.
The mentality around Liverpool feels different this time around. Brendan Rodgers delivered that terrific season and he is remembered fondly by many for that exact reason, but the relationship Jurgen Klopp has built with the fans has been spectacular and is something that the man from County Antrim never had.
“From doubters to believers” is the ethos that his German successor has been preaching since day one.
I’ve been supporting Liverpool for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never felt a connection between the manager, players, and fans such as this one – everyone appears to be fully up for the challenge, everyone fully believes this team has the mental fortitude as well as the talent to win major trophies.
Klopp has instilled a belief that we’re on the verge of juggernaut status – exactly where a club with the rich history – and the loyal fanbase – that Liverpool possesses belongs.
The progress Liverpool have shown since Klopp took charge is staggering and, while we have yet to win silverware under his management, there’s no denying we’re close.
The former Dortmund boss has guided the club to three cup finals – the League Cup, Europa League and Champions League – and now it seems like we have the squad to finally get over the line and etch our great name on a few trophies.
So, as another Sunday in April awaits Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in a game that has huge implications for the Premier League title race, it feels like the tide has finally turned in the Reds’ favour.
This team still has the backing of millions as before, but feels much more prepared and battle tested than the side we nervously watched in 2013/14. Now is the time to put things right in the history books when we look back on Liverpool and Chelsea title deciding moments.