Watford 3 Okaka 8’, Doucouré 32’, Britos 90+3’
Liverpool 3 Mané 29’, Firmino 55’ (Pen), Salah 57’
And we're off. 2017-18 is under way. I'm scared and/or excited.— Liverpool Offside (@LFCOffside) August 12, 2017
Same, Noel. Same.
I mean, look. There’s a lot of drama and uncertainty going on in Liverpoolandia right now. Coutinho did a 180 and is pushing for a transfer. Some key squad members are out hurt. Liverpool’s back line at kickoff looked... specious. There’s plenty of reason for concern.
But there’s always fucking reason for concern, innit? This is Liverpool Football Club. We never do things clean and easy. This is a ship held together by duct tape and prayer and a song from fucking Carousel. We’re a mess. We’ve always been a mess.
I’m making a conscious decision to not care about that. I’m making that decision right now, in the fourth minute, as Roberto Firmino tried to run onto a ball lofted into the box while the travelling Liverpool supporters belted out “Fields Of Anfield Road” at the top of their lungs.
This is all I want. Jürgen Klopp’s mad bastards kicking a ball around and putting the fear of Fowler into a bunch of scrubs who don’t know what they’re in for.
The Premier League is back and I really couldn’t care less about anything else.
And because football has a mean sense of humor, as soon as I type that Liverpool conceded a goal from a set piece. Stefano Okaka headed home off a corner we never should’ve given up in the first place. Not even 10 minutes in, down 1-0.
I don’t care. I really don’t care, because I get to see these boys in Red again. Alberto Moreno looks so happy to be back. Jordan Henderson too. Mohamed Salah looks so damn handsome in Merseyside Red. I don’t care. We’ll get the goal back. Or we won’t, and we’ll lose the first game, and we’ll be fine. I don’t care.
I don’t care that Watford looked so comfortable and confident on the ball. I don’t care that Liverpool spent some painful stretches in the first half running around like they lost their wallets.
This is a club that redeems the faith you put into it. You may have to wait, and it may not come in the form you were expecting. But on balance, this team makes good on its promises.
Right as YNWA Twitter plunged into despair, Sadio Mané came to the rescue. A gorgeous shot inside the box from an awkward angle and Liverpool were back in it.
Watford came right back. Abdoulaye Doucouré pounced on some sloppy defending following the equalizer and restored the lead for the host moments after. It was never going to be easy for the Mighty Mighty Reds.
But to their credit, they didn’t stop pushing for that next equalizer. Mohamed Salah came close a few times before halftime. Same with Mané. It didn’t come before the break, and Liverpool had to nurse a 2-1 deficit in the locker room.
The Reds started to reward our faith in the second half. Ten minutes in, Salah won a penalty after being taken down by Heurelho Gomes. Bobby Firm stepped up to take it and converted skillfully. We’re level. We’re coming back.
And then, barely three minutes later, Liverpool took control. Firmino lofted a ball into the far post and Salah rose to meet it, scoring his first competitive goal for the club and nudging Liverpool ahead.
Some missteps aside, the second half belonged to Liverpool. More chances. Better organization. Better movement. The team started to resemble more and more the side we lived and died with last season. Green shoots out of the warm August soil.
That’s going to be my takeaway. Sure, the game ended on a bitter note. Liverpool conceded a corner deep in stoppage time. You know what happens next. Miguel Britos capitalized on poor defending— and, arguably, an inattentive linesman— to steal a point for Watford at the death.
But I don’t care. We’ve got a long season ahead. There’s going to be missteps. There’s going to be moments where we wonder why we bother with this team, or this sport. We’ll hiss at Coutinho whether he stays or goes. We’ll harp on Klopp’s every mistake. We’ll flood our Twitter timelines with #FSGOut.
I’ll have plenty of time to be angry and sad and despondent over Liverpool Football Club. We all will. Right now, I’m just happy to have this team back, and for there to be Premier League football again. Nothing else matters.