Well, we’ve reached the World Cup break. Which is a weird thing to say on the 12th of November. But with the way this season has been going for Liverpool, the six week break is welcomed or at the very least it’s an opportunity for a reset. Things haven’t gone as planned so far, but Jurgen Klopp and the Reds have white knuckled their way to the break with 22 points in the league (with a game in hand), advancing in the EFL Cup, and being in the round of 16 of the Champions League. All three of those things ensure that come the turn of the year, there’s everything to play for.
All we could ask for from the Reds today was to give us something to miss. That they did. Personally, I’m excited to not think about club football for a bit. It’s been a long season already, with some highs and lows (let’s be honest — more lows than highs) and it all felt a bit grim there for a little bit. I’d also be lying if I said that there’s been a bit of hope creeping back into the heart and mind over the last few weeks. It’s never as bad as it seems.
There’s 38 days until Liverpool play a competitive fixture, 44 days until their next league fixture. A bit weird a Manchester City vs Liverpool game is happening the day after a World Cup Final, but hey, when there’s a World Cup in November and December in the desert things are going to get a bit odd. Time to take a deep breath and figure it out. Whatever that means.
I was actually pretty surprised how normal and routine the victory over Southampton was. Sure, it wasn’t in the first 10 minutes, but it could’ve been much weirder and much worse and the Che Adams header was admittedly very good. Then, from there, it was the Darwin Nuñez show. Signs of a way forward come the other side of the break.
Alisson was excellent, of course, but I’m naive enough to believe that Liverpool would’ve scored seven today if that’s what the scoreline dictated, but it didn’t and we get the most routine of scorelines. The thing is it wasn’t going to be perfect and didn’t even need to be in the first place.
Now join us as we examine some of the narratives, tactics, reactions, and questions Liverpool will be dealing with and the fans will be talking about in the aftermath
Winners and Losers
I am no longer interested in talking about Nuñez through the lense of his detractors. There were previously, of course, reasons to be skeptical around how a player like him would fit into Liverpool’s systems. Most of the narrative, however, went well beyond reasonable skepticism and veered well into the realm of unnecessary hate. Well, those days are over. Those don’t get to define the terms of the conversation anymore. Darwin does.
Two goals on three shots. Two other chances created. Involved in the build up while winning his duels. Southampton’s backline today consisted of two guys going to the World Cup and another guy who feels hard done by not being selected by his national team. You’re free to ask them how happy they were to see Darwin’s number come up to be subbed off. I’m sure they haven’t experienced relief quite like that often in their young lives.
So, here we are at this stopping point. Nuñez has played a 880 minutes across all competitions. He’s netted eight goals and assisted three times. Pretty decent, if you ask me.
The Liverpool leftback started the season slowly and has had issues with injury. But, he’s pretty quietly become his old self in recent weeks. Two more assists today to double his season total. Go on, Andy!
So, after the FA waffled for a month — eight total matches — Klopp finally served his touchline ban for the red card he received against Manchester City. What happens? Well, his understudy Pepijn Linjders goes on and wins the match without him (Or, well, with Klopp in his ear because of technology). I’m just glad that’s sorted out and the FA can think of the children, or whatever it is they were clutching their pearls over.
What Happens Next
I don’t know if it can really be overstated how impressive it is that Liverpool were able to claw themselves back and rescue this season of sorts. Obviously, none of the work is done and it’s not even close to being over yet, but it could be unbelievably worse at this point. Just ask Chelsea.
So. Objective A is complete. But it won’t matter if everything else doesn’t come together after the World Cup. The margins for these things couldn’t be thinner. They’ll end the day 7 or 8 points out of fourth place (12 pts off the top). They have Manchester City in the 4th round of the EFL Cup and Real Madrid in the Champions League. You know, just the two teams that kept Liverpool from doing an unprecedented quadruple last season. At least at this point, it’s the cup competitions that provided the clearest path to silverware this season. Especially if Liverpool gets past those two teams in those two competitions.
We’ll likely see a healthier Liverpool team come the otherside of the World Cup. Inserting the world’s largest caveat here that the handful of Liverpool players going to the World Cup do not get hurt. Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz should be fit. As well as Joel Matip. There’s the opportunity (need?) for them to dip into the transfer market come January. It really, really is all there to play for thanks to this gang of lads and this manager. If they land someone with half the impact as Diaz had last season, well, I’d take the odds on them being in some conversations come may.
See you on the other side. Up the Reds.