It’s a bad day in a bad period, but here at TLO, we don’t shy away from the badness, we dive into the abyss, pen in hand, and moan about referees and such.
The Forces of Darkness: If you hate all things good and true and just, this is your night. Enjoy.
The Run: Let’s be real, it was always going to end like this. The last manager to take three points off Liverpool at Anfield in the league was Sam Allardyce, so naturally, the man to end the streak had to be — given Tony Pulis’ unemployment — the most gravel-chewing long ball merchant in world football.
68 games is a lot, and 1369 days is a long time, but the Reds will have to settle for the second longest undefeated in the history of the English game, falling well short of the 86-match standard set by Chelsea — and ended by the Reds — back in 2008.
We are unlikely to ever see such a run again, and it stings to have it end in such inglorious fashion, but this is why it is important to enjoy the good things while we have them.
Now let’s not start the bizarro version of that streak.
The State of Officiating: We here at TLO are old enough to remember when handballs were called as fouls back in the glory days of November. Complaints about VAR awarding too many penalties for players handling the ball in the box saw the Premier League adjust the intervention rate of the video assistance system, and now, we get to see once more just how good the English officials are at getting calls right the first time.
As was the case pre-VAR, the answer continues to be Not Very Good At All.
Substitute Erik Pieters’ handball was not some marginal call; the defender was six or seven yards away from the ball, had his arm at a 30 degree angle away from his body, and blocked a cross with his arm, the ball ultimately terminating at his wrist. The error is compounded not only by Liverpool’s profligacy in front of goal, but the ease with which Ashley Barnes was awarded a penalty at the other end, going down under the most miniscule of contacts from Alisson.
Liverpool aren’t great right now. The referees are abysmal.
The Replacements: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain appears, unfortunately, to be done at the level required to contribute for a domestic and European contender. The 27-year old’s athleticism has clearly been torpedoed by his numerous knee injuries, and without the drive and explosion that typified his game, Ox is just a fairly middling footballer.
Divock Origi, on the other hand, looked fresh and fit, gliding across the pitch, occasionally even flirting with taking up a dangerous position, and firing off four shots in the first half alone, but when he had the chance to — as in the past — be the hero, he failed, rattling the crossbar with an unnecessarily powerful effort after Ben Mee’s failed clearance put him through on goal.
(The Opposite of) Fun with Numbers
8: The number of consecutive clear cut chances the Reds have missed.
1.124%: Liverpool’s conversion rate since their 7-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace back in December. That’s one goal from 89 shots.
6.99: The expected goals that Liverpool have converted into zero actual goals since the record-setting Palace match.
0/3: The number of goals the Reds have conceded from open play since their 2-1 win over Tottenham five weeks ago. The three goals have all been conceded from set-pieces or penalties.
What Happens Next
It’s a meaningless FA Cup clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, hopefully populated entirely by children as the senior squad is left back at Kirkby to run shooting drills. Then, the Reds travel to London for their second league game with Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur next Thursday.