LIVERPOOL — To win championships you need luck. Liverpool are getting plenty of it this season.
[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]
Seconds before Mohamed Salah‘s 90th minute header somehow crossed the line and secured a win for Liverpool against Tottenham, a steward at Anfield shrugged at a group of fans heading to the exit.
“Oh well, there’s always next year I suppose…” Hold that thought. It seems like this year could finally be Liverpool’s year.
Any manager will tell you that luck is earned, and that is true. But you can work hard and play well and still lose. At the moment Liverpool are grinding away and lucky breaks are going their way.
It seems like fate is playing an increasingly key role in why they are currently top of the Premier League table. Call it luck. Call it the rub of the green. Call it what you will. Right now it seems like Liverpool are destined to at least push Manchester City all the way this season.
That won them the game against Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, as Mohamed Salah’s 90th minute header was tamely tipped out by Hugo Lloris and deflected off Toby Alderweireld and dribbled over the line.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Jurgen Klopp acknowledged luck played its part to push Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League table with six games to go.
“Of course it was a lucky punch and a header and the ball rolls in off of Alderweireld,” Klopp said. “I told the boys after the game, there are 500,000 different ways to win a football game and today was rather ugly. No problem. We take that. Without a bit of luck you cannot be in the position we are in. The boys work so hard. They deserve a bit of luck. Again today. I am obviously very happy about the result.”
With luck on their side, Liverpool now sit two points ahead of second-place Man City. The latter have a game in-hand, but it will be a psychological blow for City to see Liverpool grab victory from what was starting to look like a defeat, or at the very least two dropped two points.
Liverpool will have to watch on as City play Cardiff City on Wednesday, as Pep Guardiola‘s men could go back top of the table if they win. But with Liverpool playing against Southampton at St Mary’s on Friday, they will have another chance to go back to the top and grab the initiative again.
Is fate playing its part as they head towards a first-ever Premier League title, and a first league title since 1989-90?
“I don’t go that far but you go through the season of other teams, you will find these things as well. For all the points we have now, we worked really hard. It is not important when you score but what it is on the scoresheet afterwards. Today that is obviously a nearly perfect result for us. That is clear,” Klopp explained. “We take all of that before the game. We spoke about it. Momentum is not a coincidence, it is something you take, you keep and you use. That helped today. We play in five days again against Southampton, they are in a really good moment, Ralph is doing a brilliant job. It is tough place to go. They are fighting to stay in the league. We know they will give us no presents. But, we showed again that the boys are ready to fight and we will be ready again.”
Klopp did admit that winning in this way, at home, against a top four team in Tottenham, thanks to a dramatic late winner, will do wonders for the confidence of his side.
And those dramatic late winners, against Everton earlier this season, and now Tottenham, are stacking up.
“One hundred percent. Of course. If you win today 5-0, I didn’t see that as possible, but if, it could lead you on the wrong path,” Klopp said. “Nine months ago, we started and wanted to go for the highest stakes in two competitions. We did it our way. The boys improved so much. It feels like we always have to apologize a bit that the football last season because people always want the 100 percent package. We have to find a way to win more games than last year. It is all good. If we would be first of the table after the last match of the season, it would be a championship of will. That is how it is. We want it. We get used to situations, step by step. The whole stadium today. It was 1-1. I am here in three-and-half-years, that was the best performance of a Liverpool crowd since I am in after an equalizer. They gave us, but it was completely front-footed, the atmosphere was front-footed. They celebrated when they didn’t score, when you concede a counter-attack like we did, nobody can be completely happy but I am really happy about the attitude.”
Klopp’s opposite number, Mauricio Pochettino, was asked if a feeling of fate is fuelling Liverpool’s title push.
He didn’t want to take anything away from Klopp’s side, but admitted that luck is needed to come out on top after the long slog of a nine-month season.
“In football, sometimes you deserve to win, like us today. Sometimes, in another game, it happens the same, maybe we won when we didn’t deserve too much. It is impossible for Liverpool to play every game and sometimes you cannot keep the performance how you want,” Pochettino said. “They deserve a lot of credit. The manager Jurgen is doing a brilliant job. It is going to be tough, Liverpool and City fighting for the Premier League. It is a shame we are not close. We were but in the last few weeks, our reality, our place but knowing the circumstances, we must be happy.”
Tottenham played well and deserved to win. Liverpool didn’t play well but won.
That is what happens when luck, and perhaps fate, is on your side. It is the one thing we cannot measure or account for in sports, or in life. Just enjoy the ride. Liverpool certainly are.