Momentum is an enormous thing in football.
Leicester City showed it last season, winning week after week and never looking like dropping points, and Liverpool did exactly the same for a few months back during that wonderful 2013/14 campaign.
There is a buzz that runs through the team, with every big chance converted, every tackle made to perfection and every slice of luck going your way. The new Premier League season is now less than a fortnight away, and the Reds’ opening showdown with Arsenal lurks on the horizon.
With news emerging that the Gunners are likely to be without key men such as Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, it gives Liverpool a great opportunity to get their campaign off to an absolute flier.
Their record at the Emirates is woeful, in fairness – they have won only once there since the stadium opened in 2006 – but all bad runs have to come to an end at some point.
This full-on pre-season, which has included a record nine matches and a tour of the United States, has been designed to make Jurgen Klopp’s squad the fittest in the country, and the hope is that they take Arsene Wenger’s perennial slow starters to the sword on 14th August.
The momentum and belief that a win would give everyone associated with the club would be huge, and it would make others sit up and take notice.
You only have to look at past opening days to see how important three points can be.
In 2013/14 at home to Stoke City, Simon Mignolet’s last-gasp penalty save to deny Jon Walters preserved Liverpool’s lead, and it felt like a huge moment, even that early on. It would be ridiculous to say that Mignolet’s memorable debut was the reason the Reds so nearly won the title that year, but had Walters converted in that lunchtime kickoff at Anfield, I firmly believe things may have been different, and confidence would have been severely dented.
Equally, in 2008/09, a late Fernando Torres strike at Sunderland saw Liverpool clinch a hard-earned 1-0 victory – and it just felt big. It felt like the start of something.
It helped pave the way for a glorious campaign that saw them lose just twice in the league all season, and the Stadium of Light triumph showcased the winning mentality within that squad.
The upcoming Arsenal game feels massive, in terms of keeping the fans united and continuing on an upwards trajectory under Klopp. The result can have a huge bearing on Liverpool’s opening month or so of the season.
A victory will make anything will feel possible. The squad will believe they can go anywhere and win, and they will have jumped a huge mental barrier in overcoming their Emirates curse.
Defeat, meanwhile, would knock plenty of stuffing out of Klopp’s men, especially against what could be a second-string Arsenal line-up. This may all sound a little knee-jerk, considering this is just one of 38 Premier League matches to look forward to, but so much of football is centred around momentum and confidence.
Liverpool seem to thrive in this respect more than most – the club is famed for its passion and potential for drama – and under the managerial powerhouse that is Klopp, that can really come to the fore more than ever.
I’m already shredded with nerves thinking about what might happen against Arsenal later this month, but if the mighty Reds can see of the North Londoners, it will feel like those aforementioned wins over Stoke and Sunderland, but even better.
Perhaps I’m just getting over-excited.
Written by Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87)