Leicester 1, Liverpool 2
There’s two ways to look at that match. One way to look at it is isolation, as a stand alone 90 minutes where Liverpool did enough to win 2-1 but weren’t that good. Another way is to look at it as one part of 4 games where the Reds have maximum points and are top of the league. Let’s look at that match both ways, shall we?
In isolation, that was not a good match. I would go as far to say that it was even downright poor for large stretches. The front three weren’t clicking. They still scored 2 goals between the three. The midfield was disjointed and couldn’t find a pass. They still grafted and did enough to alleviate pressure at the end. The defense was shaky. They still did made it incredibly difficult for Leicester to score, well, for the most part...
The first half could’ve been a lot better, and maybe it would have been if Mo Salah scores within the opening 240 seconds of the match. It looked to be a patented front three goal, but Kasper “The Friendly Ghost” Schmeichel makes a good save on Sadio Mane’s first effort, and Salah pushes his rebound just passed the post. Liverpool would find their first goal within the first 10 minutes, still. Andy Robertson picked up the ball on the left flank, charged forward, and like an American Football Fullback, plowed over the Leicester defender with ease. His cross finds Mane who, with a bit of luck and/or skill, controls the ball to slot it passed the keeper.
If the rest of the first half would’ve gone like the opening ten minutes, we’d be having a very different conversation about Liverpool’s performance. But here we are, in reality. And in reality, the rest of the first half was not ideal. Maybe the worst part about the first half being poor was that it was self-inflicted. Leicester weren’t really doing anything to cause Liverpool problems (in the first half), but Liverpool were doing everything to cause their own problems. Henderson was forcing passes he shouldn’t be forcing. Wijnaldum seemed to forget how to play further forward. The front three weren’t doing enough to put themselves in good positions to receive the ball. And yet — Liverpool entered the half up 2-0 thanks to a Roberto Firmino header from a James Milner corner.
I think the team goes into half time thinking there’s one of two ways to look at that first half. One way is that they weren’t good enough, can make corrections, and come out in the second half firing away. Another way is that they’ve done enough to see this game through and they just need to see the game away.
I fear the second half proves the latter was more of the case than the former. The second half was bad. Can I not talk about it? I’d really like to not talk about it. You saw it. I saw it. We all saw it. Let’s make our peace with it, repent for whatever we need to repent for in order to deserve that, and forever lay that second half to rest. Including that Alisson mistake.
That’s really what it was, wasn’t it? A mistake. There’s two ways of looking at that mistake. One way is to go the route all the pundits are going, and slaughter the keeper for having the audacity to come to The Best League in the Whole Wide World™ and try stuff like that. Fair play, I guess. You’re allowed to be upset, I suppose. There’s another way to look at it, I think. You can look at it through the lens of that flick last week. We don’t get that flick without this mistake, I don’t think. I’m not suggesting that the ratio is 1:1 here, actually far from it. What I’m suggesting is that this keeper is insanely talented, is going to pull off highlight reel moves, make mistakes, and be a very good keeper. Everything else he did today was excellent. If that mistake doesn’t happens, maybe he’s in the conversation for man of the match. Whatever. It’s just a mistake.
Now, let’s look at that game the other way. 25% of a 4 match stretch where Liverpool got 12 points from 12 and are top of the league. In a literal sense, the Reds have been very good. You can’t really ask for more than 12 points from 12, can you? Well, you can and you cannot. Liverpool have been perfect through the first 4 matches with being far from perfect, if that makes any sense.
Liverpool enter the first international break with a lot to improve on. They need to be more clinical in front of goal, especially Salah. He’s missed 4 of his 5 clear cut chances so far this campaign. They need to be more connected in transition. They need to not be so shaky at the back at times. There’s probably 19 more things I could rattle off here to show where Liverpool need to improve, and 31 more for you to list off in the comments. But I don’t see that as a negative, and I don’t think you should either. The best is yet to come, and boy when it does, this team will be something special.
One last thing — there’s not two ways to look at Joe Gomez. He’s 21 years old, has only started 4 games at CB for Liverpool, and has been absolute class. His best is yet to come too. Especially when one of those long throw-ins finds Virgil van Dijk’s big forehead for a goal. That’s why Jurgen Klopp brought in that throw-in coach, right?
See you on the other side of the break.
Up the Far From Perfect but Perfect Reds.