Sadio Mané scored his 16th goal of the season on 71 minutes to give Liverpool the lead against Aston Villa and the scoreline was doubled a minute from time with Toxteth-born academy graduate Curtis Jones scoring his first Premier League goal for the club.
Despite the victory, many thought the 4-0 thumping at the hands of Manchester City would have spurred the Reds on to produce a real champions' performance against 18th-placed Villa but that was far from the case.
Liverpool had a somewhat rotated side for the tie, resting captain, Jordan Henderson, as well as Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino.
Despite the change in personnel, the Reds possessed a far stronger line-up than their Villa counterparts, however the performance from the home side was a million miles away from what you would come to expect from the Champions of England.
A lot has been said in years gone by regarding the drop off in performance once the team at the top are confirmed as champions. There seems to be a subconscious psychological change in the players' mind-set that for whatever reason can’t be altered. Whether it’s the fear of over-exerting themselves and risk getting injured in what are ‘nothing’ games’ or just a general change in attitude towards their work, there has definitely been a significant drop off since the Reds were crowned champions.
Whatever it may be, the club's 'Performance Psychology Consultant', Lee Richardson MBPsS, will be hard at work in trying to get the players previously dubbed as ‘mentality giants’ back at peak performance for the remainder of the season.
The records are still there to be broken…
If the players are to live up to the ‘mentality giants’ title given to them by manager Jürgen Klopp, they must strive to be the greatest the league has ever seen for 38 games, not just the 31.
There are still a number of records there to be broken, most significantly the record points tally which was set by Guardiola’s Manchester City in 2018. The 100 points that the Cityzens set two years back can still be surpassed with five games to go. Should the Reds win all their remaining games, they will possess 104 points, meaning Klopp’s side can afford to lose one of their next five fixtures and still better City’s 100-point record.
In addition to the points record, the Reds can still record the most home wins in a single campaign, a feat previously set by Chelsea and matched by both Manchester United and Man City. The record stands at 18 home wins which again is certainly doable, with the Reds needing to beat Burnley and Chelsea at Anfield to break the record.
Curtis Jones impresses yet again
The academy graduate has shown himself to be a real asset to this legendary Liverpool side and when the talks of transfers come around, this young man always seems to put in a performance that makes you remember exactly why Klopp is reluctant from entering the transfer market.
The simple truth is, the club have one of the best academies in world football and it would be foolish not to utilise it to both allow the young players to showcase their talent and also save significantly on transfer fees.
Since his introduction to the first-team fold, Jones has impressed greatly with his excellent footwork and eye for goal which was shown by his performances against Everton and Villa respectively.
When asked about the youngster, Klopp said, "There's no lack of confidence… he wants to be there, he wants to be decisive and that's really good, he deserves the goal and the appearance and I'm really happy for him."
With the likes of Jones, Harvey Elliott and Neco Williams coming through the ranks, the Reds look to be in a really healthy position and what better way to learn the craft than to play with the World, European and English champions.