It’s fair to say that going into this Saturday match, Liverpool were not sitting as pretty as they once were. Without a single win in four matches, and an outright loss to this very same team earlier in the week, the hunger for a win was there, gnawing at the back of everyone’s minds. A riot is probably not what any of us expected to come out of the second trip to Leicester City this week, but that’s about what we got.
Somehow, someway, Liverpool pulled a win from the skin of Jamie Vardy’s tiny weasel teeth, despite their best and laziest efforts. They were able to maneuver the ball over the line and past Kaspar Schmeichel, somehow, ridiculously.
It was needed, surely anyone would tell you that, but the fashion in which it was earned is still fantastic. Miraculous even. Did we do that? Did that really happen? How? Why? When?
How did Liverpool finally overcome their defensive failings during the week and manage to see out a win with three goals? Even as Emre Can rattled the post early on and Mo Salah missed an easy rebound shot, that feeling of resignation - “Oh this is how this match is going to be, again,” - started to make it’s way in. Another exhibit of all our attacking prowess, but none of the finishing quality. All of the possession, but none of the teeth.
Or worse. All of the possession, and none of the defending, letting Leicester score lucky goals when someone should be there, should be watching the likes of Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki. Both of whom made it their personal missions to destroy what little confidence we had left.
Little of that happened, today. Liverpool maintained possession. Salah scored shortly after missing that rebound - shortly enough for someone in my bar to counter someone else’s complaint of “Salah can’t finish” with “He’ll score soon, you’ll see.” And then Phil. Phil Coutinho, starting after his transfer saga, still hoping to win back the hearts of supporters. Phil Coutinho who knows exactly how to score a perfect, magical free kick to put Liverpool up two-nil.
Two goals up is certainly the most dangerous lead for Liverpool, and this time it took them twenty minutes to concede after taking that lead - which may or may not be a record, don’t quote me on that. An outcome anticipated and accepted long before it happened, really, and maybe even the shock is more that it took that long to happen. That we were able to maintain a two-nil lead for twenty minutes. The feeling of going into halftime at 1-2 was wholly unsurprising. Not welcome or comfortable, but just... there.
Simon Mignolet, to his credit, practically singlehandedly kept the game from going upside down. Leicester had many chances, and took them often. There can be some debate had over whether or not a certain free kick should’ve been given to Leicester, or even a certain penalty, but Mignolet was there to save our butts again. Leicester had the chance to truly ruin our day, having scored the second shortly after captain Jordan Henderson put the Reds up at three - another situation we’d all seen so many times before - but Mignolet was there.
The second half turned frantic after that, as both teams started to panic. Started to move faster, in an effort to find their niches. Liverpool trying to see out the game, maybe make that three into a four. Leicester attempting to equalize, to take one point instead of none. Again, chances to turn it around, to seize the day for either team. Liverpool were lucky to see it out, to finish without a soul-crushing equalizer to end the match, but unlucky to win more comfortably.
Did this win solve all of our problems, banish our demons, and breathe new life into a team in a rut? Not at all. The same goblins of our defense made a mess of what could’ve been an easy win.
But it was Leicester, away, and it was never going to be easy. It was never going to solve everything and it was never going to wipe away the gray fog of the last four matches. The points are nice, the win bittersweet. It didn’t help anything, though, and it didn’t answer any questions.
This match has been a complete clusterfuck for narrative. Too many storylines, not enough development of any, just an unsatisfying mess.— Liverpool Offside (@LFCOffside) September 23, 2017
Where do the Reds go from here? Up, probably, hopefully. Maybe. It’s only September after all, and no leagues are won in September. But they’re not won with our defense either, that’s for sure.