Before Sunday when Liverpool dispatched what is apparently now the worst Manchester United side since the dawn of the industrial revolution, the now unemployed Jose Mourinho labelled this Liverpool side as ‘the lucky ones’.
As is often the case with Mourinho soundbytes these days, they were taken a bit out of context by the media.
“Of course, they are very confident about themselves. They are top of the league, they have this feeling of – I know that feeling well – the feeling of the lucky ones where everything goes in your direction.”
“They know how they beat Everton, they know that the last match, the opening goal was offside, and they know that against Napoli in the last seconds they could be out.”
Mourinho’s quotes may have been blown out of proportion, but there’s no doubt some other supporters and even sections of the media do see Liverpool as ‘lucky’. Not least Everton fans who seemingly believe that the 21 point gap currently stretching across Stanley Park is a temporary misrepresentation, and will level itself out by May.
That goal sums up Liverpool’s season most lucky horrible club
— Simon J Villiers (@sjv_simon) December 16, 2018
Truth be told, Liverpool haven’t had any more luck than the average Premier League team this season. The league table will always level out fairly by May, but so far there’s very little luck owed to or from this irresistible side. 45 points after 17 games is about as fair a total as Liverpool could have.
While not looking even close to last season’s scintillating best from day one in the league right up until the derby two weeks ago, the name of the game is to win matches. And very few sides can rightfully consider themselves ‘unlucky’ to lose at the hands of Jurgen’s Reds.
Liverpool have been relatively comfortable in sweeping aside West Ham, Palace, Southampton, Cardiff and then Watford with a bit more difficulty.
A late consolation goal from Tottenham made the Wembley clash look tighter than it ever was with the Reds always keeping Spurs at arms’ reach. They again deserved three points at the King Power for their first half performance.
Last year, Karius’ infamous errors in Kyiv saw both him and Jurgen Klopp branded as ‘professional fools’ by experts such as Tony Bellew, yet when Alisson is signed and makes crucial late saves against Burnley and Brighton to win Liverpool the points, it’s just typical lucky Liverpool. Funny that.
The Brazilian shot-stopper also played a huge part in the derby win a fortnight ago, winning points and justifying the club’s decision to spend big on him in the summer.
In the derby, Liverpool were by far the better team anyway. Everton supporters paraded their ‘we had a go’ trophy around the city centre, but ultimately for every clear cut chance they created at Anfield, Liverpool had three at the other end on a day when the front three just couldn’t find the net.
Liverpool only just about deserved to win against Fulham and Huddersfield, but that ‘just’ is all that matters.
Slaviša Jokanović couldn’t walk away from Anfield truly believing his side’s performance warranted a point, and as abject as the Reds were at The John Smith’s Stadium, it was a classic example of a game being won simply due to having lads who know where the back of the net is on your team.
Unlike Liverpool, Huddersfield could have played for that entire evening without ever scoring. It wasn’t ‘good fortune’ going to their place on a night they weren’t firing in front of goal. Every team who have gone there have got that luxury treatment so far this campaign. They’ve scored ten all season. Ten.
Riyad Mahrez misses a penalty at Anfield in October late on, but considering we’re literally about to go the entirety of 2018 without getting a spot-kick at home in all comps, I think it’s fair game.
An offside goal for Mo Salah away to Bournemouth gave supporters who can’t bear to see this Liverpool side win, an excuse as to why they unjustly now sit top of the league.
Was it just another example of the endless fortunate strokes of serendipity bestowed upon the Reds by the football Gods this season?
No, the ensuing hat-trick from last year’s Player of the Year and general passiveness in response from the men on the south coast should’ve left no doubt that Liverpool aren’t relying on luck.
With the possible exception of the draw at Chelsea, Liverpool have deserved every single point they’ve earned in the league this season.
The 3-1 victory over United on Sunday proved it again. While Liverpool have been that dominant against the Red Devils plenty of times before and haven’t been worthy of anything more than a solitary point, it was a different story at the weekend.
Fabinho’s pass followed by Mane’s finish alone is enough to earn the win. It’s the type of ball you dream of when playing against a packed defense, but it is also the type of ball that 99 percent of the time is over hit and lands in the hands of the keeper, or is flagged offside.
But it’s not. Sadio Mane buries it without any help from lady luck and sends the Reds on the march.
And throught all of this, right in the middle of these first seventeen hurdles of the nine-month chase, Jurgen Klopp has had to bring his side to play Paris Saint-Germain home and away, Napoli home and away and what turned out to be a rather surprisingly not-so-shit Red Star Belgrade, home and away.
Liverpool have won games by tight margins, with big late saves and a glorious late Divock Origi goal, correct. But don’t get confused in between luck and subtle brilliance from what is a wonderful football side.
On we go.