Liverpool played their first home game in a month last night, and it's fair to say that Anfield was on edge.
Around Anfield last night you could really feel that the title run-in had begun in earnest. It may not have been Liverpool at their best last night by only scoring the two goals, but it was enough to keep the pressure firmly on Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the table.
At 2-0, it seemed to be a regulation win, the job was apparently done but then Ki Sung-Yeung capitalised on the home side’s failure to deal with a corner at the near post. Then the nerves came about properly.
There were nerves prior to that of course as Gus Poyet came with a clear plan to frustrate Liverpool, to prevent Suarez and Sturridge from getting in and behind their defensive line, and it worked for long periods.
Until Steven Gerrard’s strike, Anfield was edgy. The goals weren’t flowing, in fact Liverpool hadn’t even had a shot on target until the Liverpool captain’s terrific free-kick brought a sense of relief about the place, then there was a sense that Anfield was more relaxed when Daniel Sturridge’s deflected effort doubled the home side’s advantage. There was even the odd shout of 'we're going to win the league'.
But late on into the game, Liverpool were in a tricky situation as Sunderland kept coming at them. There are going to be moments like these if Liverpool are to end their 24 year wait for a top flight crown. There are going to be performances that don’t quite hit the heights of the 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal or the 3-0 procession at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
Somehow Liverpool found a way to win again, and they have got to take confidence from that. For sure, there issues that need to be addressed such as conceding from set-pieces but now they’ve been in that situation, they have an idea of what to expect for the rest of the season, and what is expected of them.
As for the Liverpool fans they need to take a deep breath. When it got really nervous last night there was gasps, painful expressions on some faces, and in the end some vocal support. The last of which their side could do with.
Last night Liverpool’s players learnt what to expect in the closing stages when they’re in the title race with a real chance, and the fans learnt for the first time in five years what it felt like to have your side in with a real chance. The red half of Merseyside might need to find ways of controlling their heart rates effectively between now and 11th May.