Liverpool 3 Firmino 9’, Mané 40’, Wijnaldum 90’ + 1
Arsenal 1 Welbeck 57’
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My birthday is on Monday. The whole getting older thing has me feeling some kind of way but mostly I like having an excuse to hang out with friends and maybe indulge in a bit of self care. (This year I dyed my hair blue and green and it looks great.) I know better than to expect such a thing but I like it when my teams win on my birthday weekend.
I had sort of prepared myself emotionally for that not happening this weekend. Liverpool have had a difficult start to the year, they just came off a tough loss at Leicester, Jürgen Klopp is under inexplicable pressure. It had all the makings of another embarrassing loss and quite possibly the bitter end of our Top 4 hopes this season. And so I had braced myself for a modest draught of disappointment and heartbreak to go with the cocktails and birthday cake this weekend.
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
Maybe it was just the past few month but the game felt a lot closer and more tenuous than it actually was. Roberto Firmino scored in the first ten minutes, but it didn’t feel like the start of a good evening. It felt like luck. It felt insecure. Even though Liverpool had the run of things in the first half it all felt very fragile. Sadio Mané’s goal shortly before halftime helped settle some nerves— even if it did create THE MOST DANGEROUS SCORELINE— and Simon Mignolet’s save was truly something else. Still, both teams went into the tunnel and it felt like we were getting away with something.
When Alexis Sánchez came on for the second half you could sense the change in the air pressure. And when Danny Welbeck pulled one back for Arsenal right before the hour mark, the first big thunderclap exploded over our heads. We all sense it. We’ve seen this movie before. The visitors had found a way back in and all we could do was hold on to something and pray. None of this was going to end well. Of course we were going to piss it away late. Of course we were going to choop this. How else could this all go?
That disquiet, those furtive glances we cast at each other. We know. We know.
Adam Lallana getting the ball in the center circle. The turn. The pass to Divock Origi. The run on the right wing. The cross to Georginio Wijnaldum. The one-time shot. The look on his face. The sound we all made and hoped no one else noticed. (Of course we noticed.)
Amidst all the fear and all the doubt, we— this team, this manager, these fans, all of us— got exactly what we needed. We braced for pain and our hearts were lifted. This was, in point of fact, a gift.
Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
A friend of mine refers to Liverpool Football Club as “The Love Of [Her] Life.” I think the love that supporters can have for their teams is largely misunderstood and criminally understated. It’s not quite the same as other kinds of love one can feel for someone or something but it does share one thing in common. Love is a conscious, deliberate decision. It’s not simple infatuation that comes and goes. You have to decide, every day, to love someone.
Every day, every matchday, we all make a conscious decision to love Liverpool Football Club. Some days it’s harder than others. But on days like this it’s easy like Sunday morning. For as aggravating and joyless and dour as modern football can be, some days you beat Arsenal in front of a roaring home crowd and your heart soars. As the season— and the years of our lives— stumble forward into uncertain futures, it’s worth remembering that days like this are not only possible, but inevitable. Love has a tendency to win out.
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.