Mike O’Brien ‘23
In their last three Premier League games, Liverpool F.C. have given a new definition of what it means to be “comeback kids.” With an 85th minute equalizer against Manchester United to earn a 1-1 draw, a 75th minute penalty against Tottenham to secure a 2-1 win, and two improbable goals in the 87th and 94th minutes to complete a 2-1 comeback against Aston Villa, Liverpool have proved that they should never be counted out.
In a Premier League season in which every point is vital, especially after falling short of the league trophy to Manchester City by just one point last season, Liverpool have played like they will refuse to be denied the title this year. With Manchester City already having lost two games on the season, Liverpool now sit atop the league table by six points, which could prove to be vital later in the year.
In their Oct. 20 clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford, which is never an easy stadium to play at, Man U opened up the scoring late in the first half with a 36th minute goal from Marcus Rashford. VAR replay technology was not in favor of the Reds in the first half, as Man U’s chance was created from a potential foul on Liverpool’s Divock Origi, as well as VAR taking away a potential equalizer away from Sadio Mane, whose goal was called back due to a handball.
However, Liverpool kept pressing on. In the 71st minute, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp opted to substitute captain Jordan Henderson for Adam Lallana, which proved to be a wise decision. After taking the pitch for just 14 minutes, the ball found Lallana after a gorgeous cross from left-back Andy Robertson, which Lallanna tucked by Man United keeper David de Gea. Although Liverpool’s streak of 18 straight EPL games with a victory came to an end, picking up a point in such a competitive league was vital. Although it felt like Liverpool should have won this game with a dominating 67.9 possession percentage, one point is better than none.
Next up was a clash with Tottenham at Anfield on Nov. 27, their first meeting since Liverpool’s triumph in the Champions League Final in Madrid. Tottenham came out swinging, with Harry Kane scoring the opener in the first minute of the game after heading in a rebound that came off the post. However, this proved to be one of Tottenham’s only bright spots on the day with Liverpool again dominating possession with a percentage of 68 as well as completing 631 passes compared to Tottenham’s 298.
After giving up the early goal, Liverpool came back into the second half on a mission to secure at least a point. In the 52nd minute, Fabinho saw a cross into the box that found Jordan Henderson to volley into the back of the net. After 23 more minutes passed by, Sadio Mane found himself streaking into the box to establish a promising scoring chance, but was fouled by Spurs defender Serge Aurier to draw a penalty shot for the Reds. Liverpool winger Mo Salah stepped up to the spot and buried a shot into the bottom right corner of the net for the eventual game winner.
After one last gasp for Tottenham which saw Danny Rose sail a shot over the crossbar in the 89th minute, the final whistle blew and Liverpool emerged victorious. With yet another comeback win at Anfield, this was Liverpool’s 10th straight game at home that saw them eventually win or draw after giving up the first goal of the game. Comebacks seem to be in the Reds’ blood throughout this impressive stretch.
This theme of comebacks was not lost in Liverpool’s Nov. 2 match against Aston Villa at Villa Park, and was perhaps their most dramatic come-from-behind victory in quite some time. In a game that saw Liverpool dominate offensively yet again with 25 shots compared to Villa’s four and a whopping 74 possession percentage, it seemed that Liverpool would not be rewarded for their efforts.
In the 21st minute, a cross into the box found Villa’s Mahmoud Hassan for an early lead that stuck with them for the majority of the game. Just when it seemed that Liverpool would be upset for their first loss of the season, against a team fighting off relegation nonetheless, the Reds came alive in the 87th minute off a beautiful cross from Sadio Mane that found a streaking Andy Roberston for a header that Villa keeper Tom Heaton could only get a small piece of before it headed into the back of the net.
When it seemed that Liverpool were just about settled for coming away with a point on the road, they shocked the soccer world yet again. After a 94th minute corner kick was taken by Trent Alexander-Arnold, the ball caught Sadio Mane’s head just enough to trickle into the bottom left corner. Mane was later deservedly named the Man of the Match for his clutch assist and goal to give Liverpool the win.
During this incredible stretch of comebacks, it just seems to be in Liverpool’s DNA to score late winners. This was the club’s 35th game in their history in which they have scored a winning goal in a league game in the 90th minute or later, which is ten more than the next team. Excluding their tie with Manchester United, Liverpool have had a near perfect start to their season with ten wins in 11 matches. While it may be too early to tell, the Reds are playing like true European Champions, and look like they could well become the kings of English soccer come springtime.