If Liverpool’s recent away wins at Manchester City and Chelsea felt like incredible victories, Wednesday night’s 6-1 League Cup triumph over Southampton was the stuff of dreams.
The players knew Ronald Koeman’s side would serve as tough opposition but did not panic after conceding in the first minute and rallied on, to produce a masterful performance of world-class attacking play and progress to the semi-finals.
We did not put a foot wrong after Southampton’s goal, and completely overwhelmed the home side with incisive finishing and pinpoint passing, almost reminiscent of the dominant Liverpool teams of the 1980s.
The sight of Daniel Sturridge exceptionally taking his two goals gave new hope that he is ready to play an important role this season and that he has not lost his goalscoring touch despite his injury troubles.
Divock Origi looked a completely different player at St. Mary’s, scoring a brilliant hat-trick that will undoubtedly boost his confidence and increase his contention for a place in Jurgen Klopp’s starting 11. His was a performance of pure raw power and fantastic finishing that lifted the team to another level during the contest.
The result on Wednesday stands as the embodiment of Klopp’s impact on Merseyside after 11 games in charge. He has brought in an ethos that stands for refusing to lay down and breaking down opponents methodically with his famed ‘Gegenpressing’ style of play. Having lost just once under Klopp so far, he has also transformed the team into one that is difficult to beat.
But it is his man-management that is probably the most important aspect of his impact; the morale of the squad is at a new high, and they have begun to play with confidence and assurance, with extreme faith in the manager’s tactics.
Klopp projects pure energy on the touchline, applauding his players when they do well and yelling when they don’t, and his unrivalled enthusiasm has rubbed off considerably on the players. What can usually be perceived as an initial lift in results and morale following a managerial switch does not apply to Liverpool, because recent results have the former Borussia Dortmund boss’ imprint all over them.
Against Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton, the Reds pressed high up throughout each contest, unsettling our opponents and forcing mistakes, with an admirable intensity, and penetrating defences with rapid counter-attacks. We have become a force away from home and these victories, particularly against the Premier League’s top teams, brings about a newfound belief that success is possible under Klopp.
The euphoria around the club will be flying high when we make the trip to Newcastle on Sunday. Steve McClaren’s men have not had the best run of form as of late, but still possess talent within their ranks who will make the contest a difficult one.
Georginio Wijnaldum represents much of Newcastle’s creativity and energy going forward, and minimising his impact on the contest will be key. Papiss Cisse is also unpredictable in the Tynesiders’ forward line, and the likes of Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren will be aware of this potential threat.
Klopp also faces a selection dilemma in the front line, having seen both Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi flourish at Southampton, with Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino also in contention while Emre Can, excelling in his natural central midfield position, warrants a place in the starting 11.
As thrilling as our performances have been under Klopp, he will be the first to reign in all of the excitement, but a win at St. James’ Park on Sunday will prove further that evidence that Liverpool are truly on the up.