“It changes the mood, for sure,” said Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool’s Rangers hammered Ibrox 7-1.
‘It’s completely different. We usually drink a beer after away games, but that’s how long it takes [since we won away] that I’ll probably be drunk after an hour.’
An evening when everything clicked, smiles returned to faces and there was an air of joviality in the dressing room.
Liverpool set up attacking clinic to dismantle Rangers 7-1 in Champions League
Jurgen Klopp called it a ‘freak’ result and he refuses to get carried away after one game
But if Liverpool want to change their season – for the long term and not the short one – they cannot get ahead of things because they punished a remorseful Rangers team in that second half.
Liverpool beat them 2-0 at Anfield last week and followed that up with a 3-2 defeat at Arsenal. They followed a 2-1 win over Ajax with a stuttering 3-3 draw against Brighton. They followed up a 2-1 win over Newcastle with a dismal 0-0 against Everton in the Merseyside derby.
One swallow, as they say, does not make a summer.
Klopp knows there is little better preparation to take on Manchester City than scoring seven goals.
Mohamed Salah’s confidence is skyrocketing after his six-minute hat-trick; Buy club record Darwin Nunez was among the goals; Roberto Firmino’s grin is back after his brace.
But it is, in Klopp’s words, a ‘freak’ result and for 45 minutes there was much concern that there might be a long night ahead in Glasgow, especially as Scott Arfield put the Gers ahead.
Liverpool’s problem is following up on good wins with another (Image: Arsenal defeat)
Of Liverpool’s 12 appearances in all competitions this season so far this season, Klopp’s side have netted their first goal in eight of them – Fulham, Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Newcastle, Napoli, Brighton, Arsenal and Rangers – and it is a trend that the alarm for facing City.
Pep Guardiola’s squad is too good to get a lead. In the eight games Liverpool have played behind, they have taken 11 points out of 24 – three wins, two draws and three defeats.
Manchester City are unbeaten in all competitions and have only conceded their first goal twice this season – at home to Crystal Palace and Borussia Dortmund. Both times City turned those games around for wins.
So the way Rangers are leading the way is something that needs to be scrutinized – and will undoubtedly happen – during training for Liverpool this week.
Giving a leaking Rangers a head start is one thing, giving one to Erling Haaland and Co is a whole other level of punishment.
“We all know who we welcome on Sunday and this will be a different game,” Klopp accepted. “But it’s better to go into the game with the feeling we’re doing tonight.”
Champions Manchester City are next when Pep Guardiola’s side heads to Anfield on Sunday
He added: ‘I’m always ready for a change in the right direction, but we’ll see.
“The best football team in the world right now is coming to Anfield on Sunday.
“It’s not that we come out with a big mouth and say, ‘We’ll wait and see’. This was extremely important to us for several reasons.’
When the defeat to Manchester United was followed by a 9-0 routing from Bournemouth, Liverpool’s season had to start.
But they have only won once in a row so far this season – they needed an injury time winner from Fabio Carvalho for a come-from-behind win against Newcastle after that result in Bournemouth.
The challenge now is to support this display at Rangers in what would be a huge statement for the rest of the league.
There is a lot of talk about Klopp and his future detracts from both the work he has done and the work he can still do with countless world-class players at his disposal.
Liverpool’s attack scores goals, but their habit of conceding first remains a concern
Mentality is an important part of playing under Klopp and although it was a mixed start to the season, they refused to go down at halftime on Wednesday night at 1-1.
“We had a very positive conversation at half-time,” Klopp said.
“We showed the boys in which areas we could play. In the end we had to become clearer in the last third part and of course we succeeded.’
One of City’s greatest strengths lies in midfield, with Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne all operating at an elite level.
Klopp’s midfield was simply not itself, not at its potential, whether that was due to disruptions caused by injuries, aging players or simply a gradual decline from the level they qualified to quadruple in last season.
They haven’t effectively pressed the ball all season – not even in some of their wins – and finishing second in second ball duels remains a concern.
Rangers folded in the second half and Liverpool were able to knock them off the attack, easing the tension in midfield, but Manchester City cannot afford similar luxuries.
City are ruthless – much more than Rangers – and will punish mistakes by Klopp’s side
The big positive about Sunday’s blockbuster game at Anfield is that Liverpool can score – a lot.
Two or more goals in their last four games means they can’t be short of confidence that they can score against City.
City are good, but not bulletproof, as Crystal Palace showed by leading 2-0 at the Etihad, before falling off to lose.
Salah is the key, which sounds obvious as the defending Golden Boot winner, but he is.
Since he has not scored in the league since the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, that will of course have crossed his mind.
And so if anyone’s mood has improved, it should be Salah with a six-minute hat-trick, a sign he’s got his mojo back – and Klopp knows it.
‘Mo Salah? Special,’ he mused.
It is now up to the German coach to encourage his team to win in a row on Sunday
“Very important, that’s all. I can’t think of a single player who didn’t play a good game.
“It’s a bizarre result and we don’t make more of it than we should, but it’s the best we could have asked for.
“I couldn’t see Mo partying because he was always running in the corner, but you could tell with Darwin that it meant the world to him. The relief is great.’
Klopp is too smart to run too far ahead as he knows the juggernaut rolling into town on Sunday.
Back to Rangers defeat on Sunday and Liverpool’s season can finally kick up a gear. Lose and it all starts to become a much too familiar story.