Liverpool was climbing out of a deep hole the last time it earned back-to-back Premier League wins on the road.
The Reds repeated the trick again by beating Manchester City 4-1 on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium, but this time is different from the Feb. 22 and March 16, 2015 triumphs over Southampton and Swansea City. Not only did the Reds beat stronger opposition in Chelsea (on Oct. 31) and Manchester City, but they swept last season’s top two finishers aside.
Sure, Manchester City was missing key players like captain Vincent Kompany and playmaker David Silva. The hosts also could have used the protection of defensive midfielder Fernandinho for more than 45 minutes, and Sergio Aguero was playing in his first game in seven weeks (he scored Manchester City’s only goal on a wonder-strike). Those factors can’t detract from the fact Liverpool routed the title-favorites on its home turf.
Liverpool’s win also came in response to the loss to Crystal Palace on the other side of the international break. We wondered how long manager Jurgen Klopp would need to correct the mistakes that led to the Nov. 8 defeat. The answer: less than two weeks.
The modest road winning streak provides further evidence of Liverpool’s new beginning under Klopp. The result and manner of Liverpool’s victory suggests any concerns it might fall back into the pit like last time are unfounded. Klopp’s changes have taken root, and the Reds are on their way into a bright future.
The Etihad visit marked the end of the seven-game, season-opening stretch of road games that we expected would define the Reds’ season. Liverpool has emerged from the gauntlet scathed but armed with renewed confidence about the next stage of the season.
Home games against struggling Swansea City and West Brom and trips to lowly Watford and Newcastle offer Liverpool the chance to start banking points and climbing the standings quickly.
Liverpool sits ninth in the standings with 20 points after 13 games. Only eight points seperate Liverpool from first-place Leicester City. Klopp’s group conceivably can have 32 points when it host the Foxes on Boxing Day.
Liverpool’s top-four challenge is back on, and we don’t expect it to stutter — not with strikers Daniel Sturridge and Christian Benteke returning to full fitness and captain Jordan Henderson following closely behind them.
The UEFA Europa League, Capital One Cup (Football League Cup) and FA Cup offer the Reds more chances for success in 2015-16, and they might have enough quality, depth and momentum to achieve one or more of these objectives.
That is, as long as Klopp doesn’t allow his Reds to fall back into that hole.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@marca