With something close to optimism sweeping through our barren and lifeless souls over the past week, you'd be forgiven for expecting some sort of catastrophe to follow closely after Wednesday's win. A victory amid reports of cannibalism in the changing room. A well-struck penalty suspected of being guided by a boot with a secret sandpaper layer. The traveling supporters in full voice but chanting in an effort to summon the spirit of Pol Pot. Just basic stuff for Liverpool.
* So to get news that Steven Gerrard extended his existing contract to ensure that he ends his career at Liverpool and continues on in an ambassadorial role once he's done playing felt like a relative embarrassment of riches, even if the second half of Wednesday's victory made you question whether or not vision is all it's cracked up to be and there's still lingering concerns about just how much he'll be able to actually play during the time he has left.
At any rate, that he's returned with some sort of permanence over the past few weeks has been positive enough, and that he's made it through a full ninety twice in one week, netting from the spot against both Oldham and City, is even better. There's no denying that Liverpool are miles better with him on the pitch---more composed, more dynamic, more assured, and actually able to convert a penalty. His impact on those around him has been apparent as well, and as the club has started to integrate younger talent, there's no better player to have involved on a day-to-day basis than Gerrard.
"There will be more highs and lows, there's no doubt about it as that's part and parcel of being a football player at a top club. The important thing is that you react well to the lows and experience more of the highs. I'm confident moving forward that the club is going in the right direction. We've got a fantastic team, we've got the right owners in place and the right team behind our team, so I'm really confident we'll have more good experiences in the future."
It's an attitude that, despite his faults on and off the pitch at times, makes Steven Gerrard such an important part of Liverpool Football Club. A continued role in the club's future can only be a good thing, and while there's certainly a limit on his days as a player, it's nice to know that his impact will be felt for years to come.
* One player that most agree could benefit from a prolonged run in the squad alongside Gerrard is Andy Carroll, who was simultaneously the aim of praise and criticism for his performance at the Etihad. It'd be unfair to judge anything he did in a second half that saw Liverpool barely take a glance down City's blouse, leaving most of the attention on a first half performance that was mostly a mixed bag. He muscled past Stefan Savic early and had his effort well-saved by Joe Hart, but frequently showed the heavy touch that's wasted at least a few clear chances throughout the season.
What's been encouragingly consistent, without being any sort of apology for his shortcomings, is the impressive workrate and commitment to the cause. It's that same commitment that saw him put in a clumsily and nasty-looking challenge on Gael Clichy early in the first half, which found its way into a discussion that would later include Glen Johnson's ball-winning intervention near Joleon Lescott. Any way you look at it, there's been a trend of highlighting the young striker's effort above all else, and yesterday that was furthered by Kenny Dalglish.
Which again has plenty of truth to it, but for those already convinced that Carroll has no future at Liverpool it's not likely to change any minds. And in that case, rest easy knowing that you're only strengthening my spiteful desire to see Andy Carroll have a long and successful career at Liverpool, starting with the expected string of appearances while Luis Suarez sees out the remaining days of his ban. Or not that.
* Lastly, one of the remaining unanswered questions about Wednesday's win is just what in the shit was actually happening when the majority of the players on the pitch were defenders and does Glen Johnson actually know what he's doing and I thought I saw Jamie Carragher doing something outside of the penalty area why?
Thankfully nate at oh you beauty decided to undertake the responsibility of breaking down how Liverpool lined up throughout the match, shifting from a few variations on a 4231 to a 541 to just a hair away from what Noel proposed with "five defenders put the five attackers on their shoulders and stand on the goal line. Reina to striker." And it was all very ugly and negative, drawing criticism for an overly defensive and anti-football style when Liverpool are supposed to be a big side that does big things against other big sides.
Like handing the league leaders only their second loss of the season at home and their first goalless performance at the Eastlands since 2010, and putting themselves in the best position possible for a chance at their first trip to Wembley in 16 years. Horrible stuff.
That's all for now, and I'll be back later in the afternoon with the preview for the visit of Stoke City and their supporters, who, based on available evidence, might actually be cannibals and/or summoners of the souls of deceased dictators. In the meantime, celebrate the news of Steven Gerrard's extension
with a view of his display against Manchester City by cursing the far-reaching arm of the FA. Bastards.
Video by N7Hristov via YouTube