Liverpool 3 Sturridge 50’, Firmino 58’, Wijnaldum 75’
Huddersfield Town 0
One of the problems of underperforming in football is when you finally start meeting expectations again it feels like an achievement. And it shouldn’t. The postman doesn’t celebrate making a delivery. We don’t give awards to teachers for resisting the urge not to burn their school down. It’s good to do your job satisfactory, to do what’s expected of you, but below a certain threshold most praise just comes off as unseemly.
All things being equal, Liverpool shouldn’t be praised for beating Huddersfield Town by three goals to nil. This is them delivering the mail. This is what’s expected of them. But the past season has seen a dearth of wins, while featuring heavy losses against Manchester City and Tottenham. So today’s 3-0 win at home against Huddersfield feels like an achievement, and a deep sigh of relief. That’s not good. We shouldn’t be celebrating this.
So look, I’m never going to laugh at anyone’s injury or other serious misfortune, buuuuuut
I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but Klopp definitely changed his mind at the last second and ran through Dejan with a two-footer— Alex Barilaro (@Alex_Barra12) October 28, 2017
I’m not too proud to admit I almost snorted coffee out of my nose reading that one.
So yeah! The Ragnar Klavan era is upon us! It came like a thief in the night! Dejan Lovren was originally slated to start— to the consternation of many— but hurt himself in warm-ups. No time like the present to explore alternatives, I guess.
I think it’s easy to get hung up on our recent heavy losses and point to them as representative examples of What’s Wrong With Liverpool. But I actually think the opening 30 minutes today against Huddersfield is more indicative of this team’s maladies. They’re at home against a newly promoted side, and their play consisted mostly of attractive midfield passing and absolutely no bite up top. I mean look, I’m an art school kid and I’m a sucker for pretty things. You can get pretty far with me by focusing on aesthetics. But Liverpool’s passing game just seems so empty at times. Intricate ball movement with no real purpose. It’s the worst kind of modern art— pretty objects that abdicate responsibility.
If you’re relying on James Milner to get you goals, it’s probably time to rewrite your artist statement.
As it is, Liverpool spent most of the first half treating an acute allergic reaction to the goal. They had a chance to take the lead late in the half when Kevin Friend awarded Liverpool a penalty. But Mohamed Salah’s spotkick was saved, and Jordan Henderson’s shot on the rebound careened wide of the post. This is clearly a team that was told to never look a gift horse in the mouth and stammered in reply, “no one tells US what to do!”
The whistle blew and both sets of teams went into the tunnel for the break. I put my head in my hands and pondered my life choices. I suspect Liverpool players did not.
"You are just a Sh*t David Wagner" Huddersfield Town fans sing at Jurgen Klopp for much of a dismal first half— roger bennett (@rogbennett) October 28, 2017
Or maybe they did! The team that came out for the second half clearly had a mission to complete. Maybe they ate some spinach in the dressing room. Maybe they all got texts from their moms telling them how proud they all are. I dunno, whatever, the point is Liverpool looked like a team that can win games again.
Five minutes into the second half, Daniel Sturridge gave Liverpool the lead with a cheeky side-footed chip over the goalkeeper. If you were going to imagine the kind of goal Daniel Sturridge should score after not scoring in a very long while, it would almost certainly look like that.
And then less than ten minutes later, Roberto Firmino doubled the lead with a glancing header off of a corner kick. Good ol’ Bobby Firm.
And then, Gini Wijnaldum finished the game off with 15 minutes to play with a facebusting strike into the roof of the net.
At that point I truly did not know what to make of this team. Like, I could not, and still cannot, reconcile the fact that the Liverpool squad from the first half and the squad from the second were, in fact, the same team. The same exact players, in fact. How could they be so hapless for the first 45 minutes and so lethal for the second 45? What changed?
The whistle blew three times and confirmed three points for Liverpool. But this is a team that still has a lot of unanswered questions hanging over it. We should be beating Huddersfield Town 3-0 as a matter of course. The fact that this is such a relief, and that the result was definitely not a sure thing as recently as halftime, is a problem. I don’t know how to solve this problem. Neither do you. And horrifyingly, it’s possible Jurgen Klopp might not know either. Maybe it’s just something that needs to be ridden out, and things will correct themselves in the fullness of time.
I just don’t know if we can afford to wait.