The scoreline isn’t a surprise. Liverpool beat Norwich City 3-1 at Anfield. Our rivals will be out and about and look at the scoreline and not think twice about it. They’re not on the journey we’re on, however. They aren’t the ones who get to live the thrill of how the 3-1 happens.
Norwich survive the first half and then just three minutes into the second half they’ve done the unthinkable. They’re 1-0 up from the most fortuitous of deflections and I can’t imagine what’s going through their heads after the celebrations calm down. They poked the bear, walked into the lion's’ den, very much woke up the sleeping dog, etc. Did you feel it when Liverpool went 1-0 down? That’s the feeling of being alive. That’s the journey and that’s the thrill.
The away fans sang that daft “is this a library?” chant in the first half. Do you think they were singing it when Sadio Mane is swinging upside down to equalize? Do you think they’re looking for books when Anfield roars as Alisson, yet again, is picking out Mo Salah to score the winner? I don’t think they were. Anfield isn’t for them. It’s for us. They should be so lucky to witness greatness in the flesh.
It ends 3-1 thanks to Luis Diaz scoring his very first Liverpool goal. A routine scoreline, but the journey from A to B was anything but. It’s the goals and the points that matter the most, but staying and feeling alive matter a great deal. Let’s dig in to what makes us feel alive.
Winners and Losers
The Hope Renewed, Refreshed, and Recharged
Something special is happening right now with this Liverpool team. Glory is on the horizon but every single step matters to achieve it. It’s late February and four trophies can be won, with varying degrees of likelihood. There’s a cup final next Sunday for a trophy that was at best the fourth most important at the start of the season. But priorities don’t matter when silverware is on the line, and the three goals scored today after the scoreline goes 0-1 were about something more than just beating Norwich.
With each goal today it meant the hope for the future mattering. Every shot, an inhale. Every goal, an exhale. We’re living and breathing every step of the way. The moments make it the cumulative and it’s these moments that matter if glory is realized in May.
Jordan Brian Henderson, Captain of Liverpool Football Club
It’s exhausting that every minute and every pass is some sort of referendum on Henderson’s career, but solely based on today’s performance I suppose his detractors will need to accept that Hendo gets to keep playing for the Reds for another week. Just look at that pass for the third goal. The best midfielders to ever play for LFC make that pass, and he’s one of them.
The Liverpool Captain is about context. He’s about what else is going on. You need glue, tape, nails, and screws to hold everything together. That’s what Henderson does. It’s about his playing and but also about who isn’t playing. The combination of midfielders that started today may be among the least I’d like to see together (more on that in a bit), but Henderson makes it work together for an hour. Most importantly, that’s 90 minutes that doesn’t go into Fabinho’s legs. A fresh Fabinho makes the glory in May even slightly more attainable.
Henderson makes everyone else around him better at the sacrifice of himself. The midfield that starts the game doesn’t really work, but to the extent that it works is thanks to Hendo. Joe Gomez makes his first league start in 15 months out of position. When things got iffy for Joe he always had Henderson there to help him out. The graft, the passion, the suffering. That’s what Henderson is there for.
The Starting Midfielders
If the goal is to get through these 90 minutes with eyes on the coming week, I understand why this selection happens. Effort isn’t an issue for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but it’s becoming evident that a lot of other things are. It’s just not coming together for him and you have to wonder if it just isn’t going to.
Naby Keita was willing but it seemed like he lacked in decision making. Perhaps you can chalk that up to his side of the field being completely changed, but it was an opportunity for him to build on his performance against Inter.
You have to wonder about Curtis Jones, who has now missed out on being in the squad for the fourth consecutive match.
What Happens Next?
Liverpool’s goal in the league as things stand is to just keep it close. Keep it ticking. Keep applying the pressure. But there’s broader goals at hand, too. There’s a cup final next weekend. A trip to Anfield South (Wembley Stadium). A chance to lift a trophy.
Can’t forget about Leeds in the midweek, though. Keep on living. This is what it’s all about. Can you taste it? Glory in May.