Something special brewing at Liverpool as winning mentality shines through

It’s not going to be another 60-odd game season, is it? Can we really all handle that again?

Liverpool’s trip to Arsenal in the FA Cup on Sunday didn’t feel like the most important game of the season beforehand, but by the time the final whistle blew at the Emirates, it was hard not to be dreaming big.

It was the latest sign that this is a Reds side who are threatening to do something truly special in 2023/24, with their hopes of a quadruple still alive, and confidence growing by the week.

As has been the case in plenty of games this season, Jurgen Klopp’s side were below-par for large chunks of the action, and while some may perceive that as being too negative about a side who are flourishing so much, it is hard to ignore.

Whereas last season Liverpool would simply have lay down and taken a pasting by Arsenal, though, this is a side whose winning edge has returned in force, winning matches they don’t always deserve to, and delivering at key moments.

The "Mentality Monsters" are back after a year off.

Having somehow avoided going behind in the first half, you could see the Reds’ belief grow as the minutes ticked by, while the Gunners started to wilt.

This has been a sobering few weeks for the north Londoners, and a reminder that they remain a level down from Liverpool and Manchester City, both in terms of ability and getting over the finish line.

With a dreaded replay looming on Sunday afternoon, Klopp’s men got the job done in ruthless fashion with two late goals, and the post-match celebrations felt significant.

The FA Cup isn’t the most important competition this season – it could even be fourth on the Reds’ list of priorities, considering they are already in the EFL Cup semi-finals – but after the game, you could see in Klopp and his players that they believe something special is brewing.

It feels similar to the 2021/22 season, when Liverpool weren’t playing particularly well at this point in the campaign, but suddenly found their groove, helped greatly by the arrival of Luis Diaz from Porto.

Talk of a quadruple started to grow and the Merseysiders found themselves seeing off endless teams across four different competitions. In the end, they missed out on the two main prizes, but it was an unforgettable ride, nonetheless.

With each match that passes, the more Liverpool look like a side who will be hoisting more silverware aloft this season - frankly, it would be a big disappointment if they won nothing at this point, such is their form and growing aura.

Let’s not forget that the Reds were missing a host of vital players against Arsenal, including Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andy Robertson, yet they still ground out a victory at the home of one of their biggest rivals.

The great teams find a way to win, not always playing sparkling football, and that is the comparison that stands out the most between this season and 2021/22.

There were lots of iffy performances two years ago – who could forget a woeful first-half showing at Villarreal in the Champions League semi-finals, for example? – but Liverpool had a stunning knack of coming through moments of adversity and ending out on top.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 7, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Even in the title-winning season, there were afternoons when they flattered to deceive, eventually stealing wins late on, such as away to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

There is nothing lucky about this, with Liverpool’s winning mentality eventually grinding opponents down, and as mentioned, it was an attribute that completely went missing last season, when they became painfully easy to beat.

When you look at the hurdles standing between the Reds and genuine greatness in the coming months, there is only City to genuinely fear.

Pep Guardiola’s side are predictably clicking after Christmas, and will no doubt go on one of their depressing relentless winning runs in the Premier League at some point, aided by the return of the annoyingly-brilliant Kevin De Bruyne.

City are the favourites to win the title, but Liverpool look primed to go toe-to-toe with them, and their performances should only improve when the likes of Robertson and Thiago are back in the fold.

In the Europa League, the Reds are the team to beat, and it is easy to envisage them stealing glory in Dublin in May, while EFL Cup success once again feels close.

Fulham may provide them with a stern test over two legs, but should be overcome, while a likely final against Chelsea would see Klopp’s team go into the showcase event as favourites.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 7, 2024: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (C) celebrates their side's openimg goal during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is impossible to predict what will happen between now and the end of the season, with injuries something that can end up defining a campaign so easily, but it does feel as though Liverpool are starting to purr at just the right time.

They eased their way into the season, allowing City, Arsenal and Tottenham to dominate the headlines, but with the business end of things now in sight, Liverpool are coming to the fore, once again threatening to win trophies galore.

The Reds do still feel flawed in aspects of their game, whether it be the lack of an elite No.6 or the continued inconsistent end product of Diaz and Darwin Nunez, but they are a team that everyone fears again.

Much of that is down to the quality they possess, including from the substitutes’ bench, but their winning mentality is their most potent asset.

It feels unrivalled currently.

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