The Last Stretch

As I’m writing this, its been nearly 24 hours since Liverpool earned a point at The Etihad in one of the most intense games I’ve seen in a while. Having had time to settle down a bit and the Lallana miss is no longer running through my mind, I can take time to reflect on our current situation. An end-to-end game of goals, pen shouts, bad challenges, good football, terrible misses… everything. Liverpool may have just narrowly missed out on another brilliant win at The Etihad but you certainly cannot complain about the attitude and performance of the boys in red, but as I’m sure many other people had predicted, that was the Liverpool I fully expected to turn up.

I was walking to Anfield the other week with a hint of scepticism as to which Liverpool were going to arrive, it didn’t take long for Burnley to confirm my concerns following a slow start and an early goal for the visitors. Luckily, for the first time this season, I saw a side of Liverpool that I wasn’t sure we had, grittiness, a willingness to play scrappy and nick a goal where you can, “a goal down? No problem” sort of attitude.

I’m mentioning that game, as I believe it may have to be the mentality we adopt for the remainder of the season. As we come into the final stretch of fixtures, we come up against the likes of Stoke, West Brom, Watford, Middlebrough with not one game against the so called ‘big six’ and an absolutely vital showdown against Everton in 2 weeks time. Its going to be a hard slog if we a are to get back to those famous European nights, thankfully Arsenal look to be continuing on their downward spiral for the foreseeable future, however, just to add the to the excruciating intensity the finale to this season will provide, its United who are breathing down our necks.

Not going to be pretty

Don’t expect pretty football for these final 9 games, Its going to frustrating, tense and painful to watch sometimes but it can be done. Jordan Henderson, a player who we appear to miss in those dogfight games, will soon return to fill the midfield. Should Emre Can continue to perform like he did against City, aggressive, forward thinking and all-round bullying of the opposition, he may play a key role in the coming games, the same can be said for Wijnaldum, who I believe has been outstanding as of late. It’s also worth noting that Simon Mignolet has recently improved his game somewhat, still by no means a peak Pepe Reina, but one less area to worry about so much. As for Phillipe Coutinho, a lot has been said about his poor performances following his injury; it’s a difficult situation as we are all aware of the quality he can show so the possibility of leaving a player like Phil out must be headache for the manager, we’ve just got to have faith that he’ll return to form sooner rather than later, a hat-trick against The Ev would be nice!

Get behind The Reds!

To help ease the nerves of the upcoming games, its worth bearing in mind that United still have to come up against City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton with a few Europa League games thrown in the mix. Its also maybe worth mentioning that United’s record against the top 6 is poor, having won only one so far this season. So let’s recharge over the international break, take a breather, hope the players come back fit and healthy and prepare to support until the end. The Anfield Wrap recently produced a great video before the Burnley game, the message was – “Go to the match and be positive. Get behind the Reds. Let’s get in the Champions League!”.

That message applies to every single game – Up The Reds!

Written by Sam Halliwell

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