Liverpool 2 Salah 52’, 76’
Leicester City 1 Vardy 3’
We don’t always get advance warning of major changes in our lives. But sometimes we do. Enough notice that we are aware of some kind of dividing line between Before and After.
Today’s game is the last of the time before the Van Dijk Era. Everything from here on out, everything on the other side of 2018 and beyond, will happen in a time when Van Dijk was among us. When his presence was manifest in the fullness of time. Today, he not yet among us. We are left to await his arrival with quiet anticipation. Like Advent, but for centre halves.
But while we wait, there’s Leicester. And while it looked grim for a while, the Mighty Mighty Reds managed to pull it together enough to secure a 2-1 win and close out 2017 on a positive note.
If the yearning for VVD to pull on a Liverpool shirt and play for us now wasn’t loud before, it took on a different tenor and tone early in the game. Emre Can’s poor positioning as the #6 presented an early opportunity for the visitors, which Jamie Vardy capitalized on to give the deposed Premier League champions an early 1-0 lead.
From then Liverpool were left to chase the game— a situation which does not suit them and generally does not lead to healthy outcomes. Philippe Coutinho hit a free kick that should’ve gone in but was caught decisively by Kapser Schmeichel. Mohamed Salah had some inviting chances but squandered each one. A Sadio Mane goal was ruled offside.
I could go on like that, but the details don’t matter, ultimately. The Reds had a dismal first half, with plenty of chances and no follow-through, and went into the tunnel down 1-0. Even with fatigue, even with playing Karius, there’s no reason this team should’ve been hapless. But here we are.
The break must’ve done our boys good, though. They came out for the second half ready to work. And it didn’t take long to get their reward, with Mohamed Salah bagging the equalizer less than ten minutes into the half.
It took about 20 minutes of work and missed opportunities, but Liverpool finally got their breakthrough. Once again, Salah came to the rescue with a clever beat on his defender and a clinical finish.
The last 10-15 minutes were dicey. Anyone who’s followed this team for more than a month could be forgiven for bracing themselves for the worst. But Liverpool hung on, sealing their come-from-behind win to close out a rollercoaster 2017.
We’ve got Burnley in two days and then the Derby next week in the FA Cup. Then the cursed festive season will be over. We just have to find a way to make it through this last bit.