When Andy Robertson slipped on the Anfield turf late in the second half of Liverpools victory over Chelsea on Sunday, there was a brief silence as the ghost of 2014 reared its head.
Liverpool might have been leading 2-0 at the time, but after constant reminders of the same fixture five years ago when Steven Gerrards fall gifted Chelsea their opening goal on the way to a victory that undid the Reds title challenge, it was clear some of the scars remained.
So when Liverpool finally recovered the ball and danger was averted, it was no surprise that a cheer rang around the stadium. Jurgen Klopp even smiled on the touchline.
Everyone knew the significance of the moment. After watching Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah score within the space of two minutes to earn a 2-0 lead, it was final confirmation that this time, it would be different.
Mohamed Salah downs Chelsea and keeps Liverpool ahead of City
Liverpool passed the test that wracked the nerves of so many fans beforehand. Klopp said on Friday that the game in 2014, which helped Manchester City to the title, had no bearing on his team this time around. And he was right.
From their tactics, to their personnel and an unwillingness not to be distracted by outside forces, Liverpool banished the memory of the slip forever, according to the German.
Jonathan Walters, who played with Given for Stoke and Ireland, posted the video alongside the words: Getting that last meal in before summer training.
(Video) – Fabinhos epic early tackle on Hazard gets Anfield on its feet
“We can finally close the slipping book,” Klopp said. “Robertson slipped and nothing happened, so its not a Liverpool thing. Done.”
In one of the tightest title races in years, it was another sign that Klopps side might have enough going for them to win a first league championship in 29 years.
There are many ways in which this Liverpool team is different to the 2014 one, not least in terms of experience, but the approach of fans and the club has changed too.
Klopp implores Reds to harness the power of Anfield against Chelsea
By the time of the match in 2014, which was later on in the season, Liverpool had won 11 successive league games, and looked to be closing in on the title.
Ashley Cole admits he did NOT think Mohamed Salah had what it takes to become world class
The fans could sense it and they let it show. For home games, they surrounded the team bus down the Anfield Road approach to the stadium, lending matches a carnival-like atmosphere.
Being in the hunt for this years Premier League appears more normal. Of course the club are desperate to end their long wait, but with Manchester City two points behind with a game in hand, there are no premature celebrations.
Even at the end of Sundays game, the Kop sang about Liverpool being top of the league, not winning it.
Back in 2014, the carnival atmosphere proved a misjudgement, aggravating then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who brought his usual gift for tactical controversy to the encounter.
He described the pre-match party a “circus” and complained his team had been cast as “clowns”. Reds boss Brendan Rodgers said their opponents had “parked two buses” that day and admitted his team could not cope.
(Video) Mo Salah thumps Goal Of Season contender with jaw-dropping blaster
Klopps side now, like Rodgers then, are arguably the best attacking team in the league, but they are more tactically flexible and also know when to bide their time rather than getting frustrated if they cannot score early.
Liverpool have scored a league-high 21 goals in the final 15 minutes of games this season, but they did not need to wait that long as Mane and Salah struck in the space of two minutes shortly after the break.
Not for the first time this season, Liverpool also responded to a City win by holding their nerve to produce three points of their own.
City have a game in hand over Liverpool and if they win their remaining five fixtures they will retain their title. However, they have arguably a tougher run-in with matches against Tottenham and Manchester United to come.
Liverpool may have been helped by coming up against a Maurizio Sarri side more focused on their own style than disrupting the opposition but, mentally, Klopps team look stronger than their predecessors.
Critics often point out that Klopp has yet to win anything with Liverpool despite a hefty budget but the German has been here before.
With Borussia Dortmund, he twice held off German giants Bayern Munich to win successive Bundesliga titles,
Klopp said after the game: “What we want to do is collect as many points as possible. Thats 85 points now, so with four games to play that means [we can get] 97.
Klopps 200th in charge of Liverpool & how Anfield has become Roberto Firminos domain
“Lets try that and if thats enough, perfect. If its not, we cannot change it. We didnt lose it here or there. Very smart people say if youd beaten Leicester youd be champions and stuff like this.
Klopps side are now one point short of the title-winning total City reached in 2014 with four games remaining.
These Reds are absolutely class, Conquered the occasion – Liverpool fans react to 2-0 win over Chelsea
Whether that offers any genuine solace if they finish second remains to be seen, but Klopp was at pains to suggest it will.
Bournemouth emphatically put five past Brighton on Saturday and left the Seagulls to sweat on their future in the Premier League, while moving themselves into 12th. Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser both scored and assisted at the Amex Stadium, meaning they have combined for 11 goals in the league, the most between two players since Nicolas Anelka and Dennis Bergkamp for Arsenal in 1998-99 (10).
“We expect Manchester City to win all their games so we just need to get as many points as possible and if were champions then great but if not it is still a really good football team.”
With his wonderstrike against Chelsea, Mo Salah bagged his 19th goal in the Premier League so far this season. This makes him the current joint top scorer in the division and surely dispels talk that he’s had a pour campaign. Since the start of 2017/18, Salah has scored 66 goals in all competitions, more than any other Premier League player.
An awesome goal from Mo Salah ensured an ultimately comfortable victory for Liverpool, who blew Chelsea away at the start of the second half
Liverpools Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their second goal. Photograph: Matt West/BPI/REX/Shutterstock Rob Smyth
Felipe Anderson had gone 14 Premier League matches without finding the back of the net, but was on target to equalise at Old Trafford. In doing so, he became the first player since Jermain Defoe back in 2001-02 to score against Manchester United in both fixtures, having netted at London Stadium in September.
Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea Our Anfield match report has landed, so Ill leave you with that. Thanks for your company and emails. See you soon for the next instalment in this immense title race.
What did the manager say at half-time? I cant tell you that! I thought there was a period when we blew them away a bit, but then they had a couple of good chances. Overall its a good performance because Chelsea are a good side. Ive moved a little bit further forward in the last few weeks, which Ive enjoyed. Its really big for us to be in the title race. Weve got a few big games coming up, and were enjoying it.
Jürgen Klopp wipes away Liverpools painful memories | Sport
What happened five years ago didnt matter today. It was a totally different game, totally different circumstances, and we are very happy with the three points. We managed to put Chelsea under pressure and they didnt play their usual game at times, so all credit to us. We just focus on our games, not City. Well see, well see.
It encapsulated the task Liverpool face to dethrone England’s champions. Their struggles in Europe should not be ignored but City have now dropped 30 Premier League points since the start of last season; Tottenham (32), Arsenal (33), Chelsea (34) and Manchester United (35) have all dropped more this campaign alone. Palace themselves have dropped 27 since beating Pep Guardiola’s side in late December.
Liverpools remaining games are Cardiff (A), Huddersfield (H), Newcastle (A) and Wolves (H). They should win all four; if they do, Manchester City will have no margin for error. There has never been such a relentless title race in English football.
Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea: Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah puts Reds top of the Premier League table
Liverpool go back to the top of the table and get another tricky fixture out of the way. They blew Chelsea away at the start of the second half, when Sadio Mane and Mo Salah scored in the space of three minutes. Salahs howitzer went into Anfield folklore even before it hit the net.
Chelsea did plenty of good things, but they picked the wrong team and then Eden Hazard missed two excellent chances to make it 2-1 and give Anfield the heebie-jeebies. Its a big blow to their hopes of finishing in the top four.
Juergen Klopp celebrates after Liverpools 2-0 victory. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters Updated at 6.27pm BST
89 min An electric bit of play from Mane, who roars past Christensen and smacks a rising shot that is pawed behind by Kepa. Before the corner is taken, Xherdan Shaqiri comes on to replace Mo Salah, whose memorable heatseeker ensured victory for Liverpool.
87 min Kepa comes out of his area to meet an up and under from van Dijk, makes a Horlicks of his attempted clearance under pressure from Mane, and is a bit fortunate to see the ball drift behind for a goalkick.
Chelsea warned it could get messy v Liverpool… if they dont deal with key threat | Daily Star
86 min Chelseas race is run. They have played better today than during those pitiful defeats at Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester City, but they couldnt cope when Liverpool increased the tempo for 10 minutes at the start of the second half. That has been the difference.
Salah wonder-strike sends Liverpool top of the table as he haunts old club Chelsea at Anfield
Yes, Jamie Carragher made the same comparison on Sky. I suppose Salahs was a more spectacular finish, because of the way it rose into the top corner, but I prefer Fowlers goal overall because of the skill that preceded it.
81 min All this talk of Liverpool fans being somehow different, says Niall Mullen, is not really dampening my sense of Liverpool exceptionalism.
80 min A stinging shot on the turn by Firmino is well held by the diving Kepa. Chelsea scraper down the other end, where Hazards ball into the six-yard area is kicked behind by Alexander-Arnold.
76 min A substitution apiece. Ross Barkley replaces the disappointing Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and James Milner comes on for the excellent Jordan Henderson.
74 min Liverpool are playing on the counter-attack now, which makes sense in the circumstances. Salah leads a four-on-three break and finds Henderson, whose cross from the byline is over the head of Mane at the far post.
71 min Alexander-Arnold, still on the left after taking a corner, Cruyff turns sweetly past Higuain before driving a low shot straight at Kepa. I have no idea what position hell end up in, because he has such ability. Hes almost too good to be a full-back, even in a post-Pep world.
Chelsea player ratings: Loftus-Cheek shines, Hudson-Odoi fails to produce after well deserved start and
70 min Matt Dony not really on the point I think – United, Chelsea fans etc during their better years were nowhere near the righteous levels of Liverpool fans in their barren years, says Andrew Hurley. This feeling of being superior fans is unsettling, as it implies something not right to need to want to be seen by others in such a light. The question is though – why does it bother everyone else!?! 🙂
68 min Liverpool have started to calm the game down after that madcap 10 minutes, when they were almost too emotional to function.
67 min David Dein, with the sentiments I expected in answer to Andrew Hurleys question, says Matt Dony. Its a line of reasoning Ive heard a lot recently. I can only assume that no one remembers meeting a United fan during the peak Fergie years. Insufferable barely scratches the surface. And, yes, I freely admit I will be a tiny, tiny bit smug if Liverpool win the league. But, no more so than, say, Chelsea fans who suddenly appeared during Joses first stint. Anyway, its all moot. Liverpool winning today will just make the final day, when City confirm the title, even more sickening.
Salah scores screamer as Liverpool beat Chelsea to return to top
64 min In answer to David Dein, just this, begins Hubert OHearn. Piers Morgan. Now, you were saying something about insufferable fans?
63 min Its all Chelsea at the moment. What a strange game. If Chelsea get one, it will be squeaky-bum time in excelsis.
62 min If Liverpool do win the league opposition fans are convinced that we are going to be a nightmare, says Niall Mullen. I will be a nightmare. Im gonna come around all your houses, steal your shoes and make you sit an exam for which youre completely unprepared.
61 min After a cagey first half, this is turning into a slugfest. Azpilicueta breaks into the area and slides a ball right across the six-yard box. It was begging to be finished.
60 min: Another great chance for Hazard! Willian had loads of space on the right and curled a superb ball into the middle. Hazard got behind the defence and dragged a first-time shot that was smartly saved by the diving Alisson. He didnt quite get hold of it, though it was a difficult ball to take first time because it bounced just in front of him.
Hazard shoots, buts its saved by Alisson. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters Updated at 5.54pm BST
59 min: Hazard hits the post! A Chelsea corner was cleared to the halfway line, where Emerson drove a speculative ball back over the top. Hazard, who was just onside, took the ball down beautifully on the run and slipped it through the outrushing Alissons legs – but it bounced off the face of the near post.
59 min As a Gooner I can tell you why so many, myself included, do not want Liverpool to win the league, says David Dein. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the clubs achievements, they were absolutely fantastic throughout the 70s and 80s. An absolute joy to watch. Their fanbase, however, are insufferable. The idea of millions of gloating Scousers with zero sense of perspective does not bear thinking about. Come on Chelsea!