Liverpool FC came into the game with destiny all but in their own hands. Get a win, and the Reds would be all but assured a spot in next season’s Champions League. It was a bit of a slow start, but Liverpool ramped up the pressure as the first half went on, culminating in a scrappy goal off of a corner. From then on, it was relatively smooth sailing. In the other games, all of the results went Liverpool’s way as well, and Jurgen Klopp’s side somehow managed to finish in the third spot after a horror season.
Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Sadio has been rounding back into form in recent weeks, and he came up with a huge brace to fire Liverpool to the win today. He was a huge part of Liverpool’s late season resurgence, scoring four goals and providing two assists over the last seven games of the season. Beyond the goals today, Mané was fantastic with the ball at his feet today, turning defenders inside out on several occasions.
Man, what a difference maker Thiago has been once he was able to be paired with Fabinho (which is also a huge credit to the Brazilian). Thiago was spectacular once again today, showing the progression and evolution of Liverpool’s midfield under Klopp. The Spaniard completed 9 of 11 long balls while also leading the team in both tackles and interceptions on the defensive side.
Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold showed why they are considered one of, if not THE, best fullback pairing in the game. Robbo was his usual bundle of energey getting up and down the left flank. How he still has any energy despite starting every game in the league AND Champions League is amazing. He led the team with four key passes on the day, providing some great cut backs, and also delivered the corner kick that led to Liverpool’s first goal. Robbo also had one of the plays of the game on the defensive end, shutting down Wilfred Zaha while isolated 1v1 in the box...on the right side of the field.
Trent continued his resurgence during the second half of the season. He continued to tuck further inside at times to see more of the ball, and led the team with 95 touches on the day. The blustery winds made it difficult on some of his deliveries from the wing, but he still managed to get some extremely dangerous balls into the box. He also drilled a brilliant free kick just on the wrong side of the post.
Nat and Rhys
These two players were never expected to see the field for Liverpool this season. This unlikely center back partnership ended up being a huge part of Liverpool’s late resurgence. While it wasn’t always perfect, they ended up earning their third clean sheet in the last seven games of the season. They will likely not factor in as a major part of Liverpool’s plans going forward (or at all), but they have earned the respect from all fans for their gritty performances down the stretch.
This was the last game we will ever see Georginio Wijnaldum play for Liverpool, as he confirmed after the game.
Georginio Wijnaldum on Sky: "The people in Liverpool have shown me love during the five years. I will miss them, you know? I hope to have played many more years for the club but unfortunately things went different. I have to start a new adventure. I didn't sign somewhere else."— paul joyce (@_pauljoyce) May 23, 2021
It was great to see him get the arm band. He had some vintage Gini moments, holding the ball under immense pressure, somehow retaining posession. I’m so glad he got to receive a standing ovation from everyone present when he was subbed off, and only wish it could have been a packed Anfield singing his name.
The Foxes needed a win to have the chance of finishing in the top four. Twice they led against a reeling Spurs side, but they blew the lead both times, ending up with a 4-2 loss. They will finish in the fifth spot after the massive let down despite Chelsea also losing.
Dissecting the Narrative
Just a few weeks ago, Liverpool were languishing in 8th place in the table, looking like they were completely out of the Champions League, and were looking like they might end up in the new Europa Conference League. Many pundits were calling it “the worst title defence ever”. Today, the Reds finished off a stretch of 10 games unbeaten in the Premier League, including 8 wins. After what looked to be a lost season, Liverpool finished in an extremely respectable third place in the table with 69 points (nice). Liverpool ended up just five points behind a Manchester United side being lauded for having a fantastic season.
What Happens Next
This insane, horror filled season is finally over. While many of the players will now head off to play with their national teams this summer, it should be a much more “normal” offseason. All of these players, coaches, and the fans deserve some time away from the grind to recharge both physically and mentally.