Despite joy at our stumble, we belong in this title race

I knew it was too good to be true. Having ended 20 league games claiming “this can’t last”, my sense of vindicating satisfaction is tingling…

Despite joy at our stumble, we belong in this title race

I knew it was too good to be true.

Having ended 20 league games claiming “this can’t last”, my sense of vindicating satisfaction is tingling…

Okay, enough sarcasm.

This was the moment we knew had to come, to quote Ian Curtis. That we delayed it so long is immense credit to these players and this manager.

It turned on the minutest of differences. Sané not Mané, hitting the post and going in or staying out, a centimetre that meant Stones didn’t score an own goal.

The home advantage that kept Kompany, Fernandinho and persistently niggly Bernardo Silva on the pitch, fingertips on a goal-bound Salah shot. Your choice.

You can get irked by City’s metamorphosis. After several exposés in Der Speigel, they were the enemies of football, a national blight.

They lose a few, we win a few, now they’re all that stands between England and Armageddon.

Nice to be loved.

That concern for human rights in the Middle East, not so important after all, eh?

Liverpool inadvertently provided them with the sort of PR that money can’t buy, even if it did buy everything else.

In the scheme of things, it’s just a game of football, a hard-fought one where the hundred-point champions would’ve expected to win based on their previous record.

Even before Sheikh Mansour, we never liked going there. It isn’t like Anfield for them of course, but what is?

Just like PSG, our previous defeat nine games ago, there was desperation and cynicism and eventual euphoria not consistent with a narrow win over us.

Use that for sustenance if you wish. If it’s what Klopp harnessed for his players just before December, there’s no doubt it worked.

Like City losing their unbeaten record last season, this is where you prove what went before was no fluke.

That would be aided by a swift return for Joe Gomez. People say I rant about Lovren too much, but he was poor again here and no amount of rib-tickling braggadocio on his part can ever fix that.

There’s no point having a Rolls Royce on one side and a Lada on the other, even if for purely aesthetic reasons.

Klopp needs to trust Shaqiri more too, because it feels like only the fans do. At a time when Fabinho was acquiring the necessary fortitude and composure for this league, the manager again reverted to his bizarrely-trusted workhorse triumvirate in midfield ensuring Liverpool never really gave them the true examination required.

Once we desperately needed to get a goal, they looked more than capable of getting one. How Klopp threads that particular needle against the top quality sides is something that can move him and us onto the next level.

Honestly, I never thought we’d be having this discussion this season, which shows you how far we’ve come already.

A lot of the above is nit-picking, during a moment of equally-natural despondency. Whatever the nation seems to believe, Liverpool are still clear by four points.

I’m sure everyone will claim they just didn’t want any team walking away with it, but everyone still sings about Gerrard falling over five years after the fact so I’ll take that with a pinch of salt.

The snark is everywhere, with claims that we already thought it was over. You have to want that soooo badly to even think it, never mind say it out loud. We need to do that Star Wars thing, feeding off the anger of others and getting stronger ourselves, but I’m not sure Klopp is the type.

People despise winners, and while even City’s natural foe in Manchester puzzlingly regards them as the lesser of two evils, it’s a sign they’re worrying about us most of all.

In December I was dreading City were like that kid in The Incredibles; deliberately holding back to make the whole contest at least appear close. That was just cynicism.

We belong in this race.

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