Last time out in the Premier League, Liverpool laboured to a 1-0 victory over Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium. A first half Mohamed Salah strike ultimately proved the difference between the two sides, ensuring that the Terriers’ winless start to the new campaign endured.
The home side can take a lot of heart from their performance, though, as the Reds by no means cruised to victory. In the second half, David Wagner’s men were aggressive and attacked in numbers, whilst Liverpool looked devoid of creativity and struggled to pose a threat on the counter-attack – usually such a strength of theirs.
Yet, despite being far from their scintillating best, Liverpool never looked to be particularly close to losing their three points. Of course, Huddersfield attacked and pushed forward but Liverpool remained calm, composed and compact. Recognising they weren’t on top form, Jurgen Klopp’s side played a limited, controlled and less expansive game and sensibly ground out the result.
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It is fair to suggest that in the same scenario last season, Liverpool would have contrived a way to concede a goal. The Reds have regularly been criticised for their inability to win ugly or find a route to victory when struggling to find their rhythm against dogged and defensive opposition. Against Huddersfield, however, they were able to do exactly that.
With a clash with Cardiff City at Anfield next on the agenda, Liverpool may have to prepare themselves to win ugly once again. The Bluebirds will be arriving on a high having secured their first win of the season last time out and they’ll certainly be up for taking Liverpool’s scalp. Neil Warnock’s side play a very physical, industrial style of football and if Liverpool aren’t at their best, then the Welsh outfit will delight in making the match a very difficult, gritty slog for the home side.
If, should those above circumstances arise, Liverpool can still prevail with a victory then they ought to take such a result as a major positive, whilst Manchester City should see it as Klopp’s side laying down a marker and making a statement of intent of how serious they are about challenging for the title.
It is often said that the mark of champions is the ability to win whilst not playing well. For the first time in recent memory, that is a skill that Liverpool look to have in their locker. If that is indeed the case then it could have huge implications for their title credentials.
Far more than the batterings of West Ham and Southampton this season, or even their triumph over Spurs, Liverpool’s hard-fought win over Huddersfield was the greatest example they have given so far that they’re up for a sustained title tilt.
Manchester City will in all likelihood still win the league, but at least now it finally feels safe to assume that the chase is on.