It was a close game. It should not have been a close game, but there we were, in the 75th minute bringing on the captain and Divock Origi to shut up shop. Liverpool had been the far, far better team but they were wasteful. We’ve seen this story before. Liverpool control the match, should’ve scored five, but walk away with a 1-0 win that largely flatters the opponent. Doesn’t bother us, does it? We’ve got a title to win here. 3 points are 3 points, after all.
Then all hell breaks loose in the 80th minute. James Maddison, the dollar store David Beckham, has the audacity to score with Leicester’s only shot on target. Like spitting in the face of God. Shouldn’t have done that, James. There’s only one way this match ends.
I had a really hard time during last Saturday’s game. It could’ve been the few hours of sleep I had to wake up for a 4:30am match. It could’ve been that Sheffield United are actually a decent. I let out a huge sigh of relief after that 1-0 result. It was visceral. No one should have to deal with that level of emotion so early in the morning. This hobby of mine (and really, it’s more than a hobby isn’t it? A different column, I suppose) is unhealthy.
Today’s let off, while similar, was a completely different reaction for me. It was James Milner’s crossed arms. It was Jurgen Klopp’s cupped hands to his ears. This let off was expectant. Teams don’t come to Anfield like Leicester did today and leave with a result. It’s an offense to humanity. It’s not right. What is right? Milner slotting his penalty at 90+5’. That’s right. Justice restored.
You’ll see the tweets and columns from fans of other teams. They’ll cry, “Liverpool are lucky!” I’ll say we’re the best team in the world. They’ll go on and on about us being the “Devil’s Club.” Perhaps they’re right, after all. Liverpool, Liverpool top of league. Nothing else matters.
Winners and Losers
I had a feeling yesterday that Lovren would get thrown in for this one. Klopp loves Lovren. You probably don’t, but that’s fine, because the manager loves him and backs him. Lovren was great today. He was the better of the two centerbacks, and the other one happens to be the Ballon D’or favorite. Weird how that happens sometimes, isn’t it? Might not see him play in another league match until December, but Degsy came in and did the job that was required of him.
What a fella. Another player the manager loves and backs. Could probably combine Lovren and Milner in the same talking point, but I’m the one writing this column so I’m the one making the decisions here. Milner rolled back the clock today and put in a shift that the best in the world would blush at. That ball he plays for Sadio Mane for the first goal may be the best pass I’ve ever seen. Watch the replay of it again and you can see the moment Jonny Evans realizes he’s been put out to dry by the best midfielder on the planet. At least in that moment.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t handle nerves well. I get really irritated and I get this feeling in my stomach that everything will go wrong. It’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anyways, Hamez Thrillner is the exact opposite of me. He’s cut from a different cloth. He’s got ice in his veins. The way he steps up and slots that penalty. Heavens me. He’s all the cliches. Long may he reign.
Everyone got something out of that game. Liverpool are a gift to mankind. You’ve got Gary Lineker tweeting about diving. You’ve got rival fans losing their minds. Klopp gets to talk about how the mentality monsters were in town. How can you not love this team?
Look, a lot of people feel a lot of different things about Rodgers. I found the build up to this match to be quite nauseating. Yesterday being the 4 year anniversary of his dismal as Liverpool manager, this being the first time he’s back at Anfield, you know, all of the stuff. It was tiring.
What was more tiring, though, was the cowardly way that Rodgers set his team up. I don’t think he’s a poor manager, but I think he managed poorly today. It would’ve been a crime against humanity if his side escaped with a point.
#PremierLeague— Infogol (@InfogolApp) October 5, 2019
FT: #LFC 2 (3.51 xG)#LCFC 1 (0.10 xG)
Liverpool miss a host of chances, but win it at the death through Milner's penalty. A fully deserved win and huge 3 points in the title race! #LIVLEI shot map https://t.co/HCnYsgQBpc pic.twitter.com/U9TIxxRWUQ pic.twitter.com/6b0R6xUwad
That this match was even a contest is an indictment of Liverpool’s poor finishing. This should’ve been a comfortable 4-0 win by halftime. Mo Salah’s played himself into poor form. The link up between Mane and him just hasn’t been happening. Playing him through the middle was the right call, but it meant Firmino was largely anonymous on the left. Whatever. Score more goals, please.
What Happens Next?
Liverpool head into the second international break with 8 wins from 8 matches. 24 points. One win away from tying the Premier League winning streak. They’ve earned a week off. The run of fixtures after the break is relentless and they’ll need to be on their top form. Perhaps we’ll see some changes. Maybe Klopp doubles down on trusted XI. We shall see.