Arsenal beat Liverpool 3-2. I began writing well before the final whistle. So, here’s that:
It’s the 76th minute and Arsenal have just made it 3-2 on a penalty. By the time you’re reading this you know the score but I’m fairly certain whatever happens doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Liverpool lose, win, or tie and life’s crushing reality moves forward. I’m mad about the referee just like you are, but I’m more upset at the manager and the sixteen players we saw today. The scoreline of 3-2 probably has more to do with Arsenal being in the midst of a false dawn more than it has to do with Liverpool being back to their best. Liverpool do not deserve anything from this and I feel like there are gods angry at us on a deeply spiritual level.
Dissecting the Narrative
Now that’s out of the way, I guess we have to talk about that game. The rot, currently, runs deep. There’s no one reason why any of this is happening. Football is a complicated game and when everything is going wrong it kind of feels like you’re spinning. 5 months ago we were on the brink of watching Liverpool do the unthinkable. They were 9 minutes and a toe away from doing the quadruple. They didn’t. They had like 4 minutes off because preseason began because Football is a crushing business first and foremost.
I don’t feel sorry for Liverpool. At least not in this moment. Because they aren’t just getting beat or outplayed by Arsenal, they’re beating themselves before and during every game. It almost doesn’t matter who they play because the same structural issues exist throughout the team. I believe the manager when he says they don’t have time to switch tactics, given they play every 3 days. But you have to wonder why they set up this way in the first place.
Overall, there’s interesting tactical things happening at a really basic level. For instance, what’s happening here? The buildup is slow and disjointed. Our attackers look like they’ve never played together. Virgil van Dijk is running into Alisson Becker. They can’t clear their lines. The captain, Jordan Henderson, is probably the worst player on the pitch. It’s all bad. They’re all making the stupidest decisions ever.
More so than just the tactics and dips in form, you worry about the vibes. The vibes have completely gone off the rails. So much of what is important comes down to the vibes and Liverpool aren’t even in the same zip code of good vibes. Look, objectively, I still don’t think there’s 4 teams in England better than Liverpool. But when you begin the season thinking that there’s another title challenge in this squad and you end up in 10th during the first weekend of October, calibrating the vibes becomes very hard.
Of course, teams have recovered before and won titles from positions like this before. It’s sports. Things can happen. However, before we ever discuss Liverpool being a title contender ever again — not just this season, but ever — they need a Great Vibe Reset. We’re not too far off from our experiences in 2021 and maybe those experiences are why we’re experiencing what now. But what’s happened and what will happen doesn’t really matter if the vibes are off.
Ultimately, these players and this manager have reset the vibes before. It’s completely within their capabilities. Whether or it happens is a completely different kettle of stew. Things can always get much worse, of course. There’s no such thing as cosmic balance in our cruel world. We aren’t owed anything good. Even if you believe in a Christian god, Job lived the life he did. What I do know is Liverpool needs to be much, much better on their own before they worry about anything else.
Anyways, up the Reds.