Liverpool really shouldn’t need extra motivation when going out at Anfield against Aston Villa this afternoon.
There will be a desire to make amends for the desperately disappointing performance at Real Madrid four days earlier, which left hope for victory in the seventh European Cup.
The need to start collecting victories in the Premier League has become acute: the games are over to regain a place in the top four and secure the Champions League qualifiers for the next term.
Finishing the re-victory at his own stadium before Christmas – and during his first appearance at Anfield in more than a month – will also be a driving force.
Ah, and there is a small affair of revenge for the worst defeat in the league since 1963, when the Reds on a marvelous evening in October struck 7-2 at Villa Park.
But there is another aspect that Jürgen Klopp must take. And it’s never been more common than during their trip to the Premier League to the Midlands last season.
In the afternoon of November 2019, Liverpool were mostly out of sorts, and with three minutes left, they were heading for a defeat in which Manchester City could have scored nearly three points at the Premier League summit.
Then it happened. First, Andy Robertson greeted at the far post to head to Sadio Mane’s deep cross for a level.
And then, four minutes later during the stop, Manet looked to the right into the corner of Trent Alexander-Arnold to capture an unlikely and remarkable victory.
The following week, Liverpool beat City 3-1 at Anfield, scoring nine points, and were never in danger of being caught again as they left for the first league in 30 years.
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The late double at Villa Park was perhaps the best example of the faith instilled in the Reds by Jurgen Klopp and his coaching staff – never giving up until the final whistle.
However, this was not always the case.
“We decide when it’s all over,” Klopp said, seeing his side collapse before his first defeat as Liverpool coach with a home reversal against Crystal Palace in November 2015. “Between 82 and 94 minutes you can score eight goals I want! But you have to work hard.
“Great decisions are made when you’re tired and stressed and we have to learn that.”
“Liverpool” quickly learned, ranging from the vocal celebration of the equalizer of Dywok Origa against “West Bromwich” and to the dramatic decision of Dejan Lawren against “Borussia” from Dortmund.
Indeed, last season the Reds scored 23 goals in the 76th minute or later.
These strikes brought them an additional 14 points, the turn of the “Villa” was joined by winners against “Tottenham”, “Palace”, “Leicester City”, “Wolverhampton Wanderers” and “Norwich City”, as well as the equalizer “Manchester United”.
Late efforts also secured the Community Shield against Manchester City, and the League Cup match with Arsenal went to penalties and won over Monterey in the World Cup final.
Such interventions were not fortunate, but emphasized the strong mentality and suitability of Klopp.
This season, Liverpool have scored just 13 of 80 goals in all competitions in the last 15 minutes.
In terms of the percentage of total goals scored the shortfall may seem insignificant – 20% last season compared to 16% this season – but the real difference is shown in the sense of the points won by such strikes.
This campaign, scoring goals, brought only an additional seven points – Mohamed Salah’s decisive penalty on the opening day against Leeds United, Diogo Giotto’s winner at home to West Ham, Robert Firmin’s shot after injury against Tottenham and Salo, who equalized number in Fulham.
It is noteworthy that no one has come since December 16th.
There are obvious reasons why the “reds” withdrew in those uncertain first days at Klopp, not least the lack of fans, especially at Anfield, while the continuing indifferent results eat away at self-confidence and faith in the process.
But with eight games left in the Premier League, there is time to address that shortcoming, especially at Anfield, where the triumph over the Spurs is an incredible last win at the stadium.
The villa this afternoon will be a good place to start eliminating this shortcoming.
After all, if Liverpool take any tangible reward for the tortuous campaign, they have no chance, and now to show that he can once again finish the case strongly.