After Liverpool’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton at the weekend, they moved into first position in the Premier League, with the only perfect record in the league. The Reds’ start to the season has been nothing short of impeccable. Whilst Jürgen Klopp’s team have failed to hit anywhere near the free-flowing form we all know they are capable of, they certainly have made ginormous strides forward in several departments since the start of the campaign…
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have forged a formidable centre-half partnership that has dominated every opponent it has faced; Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner are playing arguably the best football of their careers, and Trent Alexander-Arnold has put in performances way beyond his years. However, this article will try and look at another aspect of the Merseyside club’s game that has improved so drastically, that it’s really quite frightening.
Liverpool’s new deadly weapon
Last season, Liverpool scored six goals from corners. Joel Matip’s thumping header on Saturday was already The Reds’ fourth goal from a corner this season. While it is difficult to say why Liverpool’s corner routines have proven so much more fruitful in the opening six games, it is an attribute every title-winning side requires. The Reds’ now have a wealth of gifted dead ball experts. Alexander-Arnold’s fabulous delivery has already been a huge asset this season. Furthermore, Xherdan Shaqiri’s eye for goal from freekicks looks to be of the highest standard, after his effort rattled the bar against Southampton before Salah followed up with the easiest of tap-ins. Last but not least, James Milner’s corners seem to have reached the upper echelons of quality, much like the rest of his game.
The key to success?
During that famous 2013/14 title challenge under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool scored an incredible 26 goals from set pieces. Most notably, during the first few games, Sturridge scored the winner against Manchester United following Daniel Agger’s flick from a corner. Other key clashes in Rodgers’ search for supremacy, such as Arsenal at home, saw Martin Škrtel power in a quickfire double in the opening 10 minutes of the game. Steven Gerrard’s strong leap from a corner kicked things off in a 4-0 drubbing against bitter rivals Everton.
Not only did these goals give Liverpool a crucial lead in each of these games, but they set Brendan Rodgers’ Reds on the path closest to success a team can go on. Already this season, we have seen Liverpool take the lead against top 4 challengers, Tottenham Hotspur in one of the hardest away fixtures in a Premier League team’s schedule. Wijnaldum’s header gave Jürgen Klopp’s team the necessary impetus to go on and claim all 3 points, in a game in which goals were not all that forthcoming for the fabulous front three.
If Liverpool are to break their Premier League duck, then set pieces will prove to be key in their success. They’ve certainly started well. Let’s hope it continues.