The return of the Premier League always provokes mixed feelings. On the down side, it heralds the onset of long winter nights with nothing to do but watch football; on the up side, it heralds the onset of long winter nights with nothing to do but watch football.
Liverpool's final performance never hit the heights of earlier in the competition, but few Reds fans will care after an early Mo Salah penalty and late Divock Origi strike saw Tottenham beaten 2-0 in Saturday evening’s far from classico Champions League final at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid.
Jurgen Klopp is closing in on an historic season for Liverpool, as he again steered his side into the semi-finals of the Champions League. Only this time he returns to Premier League action this weekend top of the table and in a position to make a mockery of the fantastical claims surrounding Pep Guardiola brilliant Manchester City side.
There has been plenty of talk of Liverpool ‘bottling’ this title race, largely from those who wish ill upon them. But we can put that to one side for now. Facing Chelsea at Anfield, five years after Steven Gerrard’s fateful slip and on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Hillsborough, created a pressure that would make many teams crumble. But not them.
The 24th change in top place in the Premier League did not come without the predictable healthy dose of nerve-shredding drama as Mohamed Salah’s 90th minute header forced Toby Alderweireld to turn the ball into his own goal, gifting Liverpool a sorely-needed victory.
It wasn’t as exhilarating as many of this season’s remarkable last 16 ties and it certainly didn’t have the quality of football that’s been on show over the last fortnight; but Liverpool’s wonderful victory in Munich, inspired by two-goal Sadio Mane, has nevertheless put down a marker that is hugely significant.
As acts of vindication go, Jordan Pickford’s game-saving block to deny Mohamed Salah as the prolific Liverpool forward looked poised to open the scoring in the first half of a tense Merseyside derby was up there with the best of the Premier League this season.