The Community Shield is always a funny affair, especially when Liverpool and Manchester City are in it. Let’s face it, these are the two best sides in the world and football wins when they play each other. An empathic 3-1 victory over your title rivals the last half decade? Yeah, you’re taking that every day — even in a match that’s a glorified friendly.
In previous seasons, perhaps a curtain raiser like this wouldn’t hold much weight. Yeah, the winner gets to lift literal silverware and the loser gets to write it off as growing pains. However, this season is going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. There’s something to be said about starting out of the blocks strong.
Starting out of the blocks strong is exactly what Liverpool did. They came out flying against City in the first half. Mostly through Salah down the right hand side attacking Joao Cancelo, the Reds experienced a lot of joy in the early minutes. That joy resulted in a goal in the 21st minute through Trent Alexander-Arnold, a player who seems like he wants to prove a point to the entire world (and perhaps his national team manager?).
The second half was where things got spicy and the vibes controlled the game more than anything else. City were good, to be fair. Maybe they’ll think they deserve more than just a single goal in this one. But while City tried to put their stamp on the match, Liverpool ebbed and flowed like a seasoned boxer. Pep Guardiola has spent more money than God assembling this roster, it will punch you from time to time, but what matters is how you respond.
Liverpool now have the luxury of being able to respond with Darwin Nunez. A joy and a revelation. A constant threat and a different idea. More on that in a bit.
There’s luck that happens and there’s luck you make. There’s a bit of both in the penalty Liverpool gets rewarded. Look, it is literally a hand touching the ball. Nothing in 2022 is straightforward and we spent what felt like 90 minutes for the referee to make a decision.
And to top it all off, the big hunk from Uruguay got to take his shirt off after scoring a goal. A lovely Saturday afternoon on all fronts. 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
Let’s run the numbers. Darwin played 31 minutes, scored a goal, won a pk, and took four shots. That’s about a shot every eight minutes or so. On his four shots, he was able to generate 0.66 xG, an average of 0.16 xG per shot. Pretty, pretty good considering the opposition.
When you cost this much money the numbers are going to matter most at the end of the day. But he definitely offers more than just numbers. He’s another rapid player for Liverpool to use on the break and he’s a physical presence. It’s the type of forward Klopp hasn’t had at Liverpool.
I will always love watching this.
Look, he’s the third goalkeeper and the goal isn’t really his fault because Phil Foden kicks him in the chest. It’s something like 14 months since he’s played an actual competitive fixture for Liverpool. However, he’s just a mess. One minute and twenty seconds into the match Fabinho and Joel Matip were left flabbergasted by his decision makings. Really low down on the priorities of things to be worried about, but it’s important for Alisson and Caoimhin Kelleher to never be hurt at the same time again.
What Happens Next
Buckle up, this season is going to be a wild ride. We know what the challenge is in front of us, but with a World Cup in the middle of the season, no one can confidently say they know what to expect. From the turn of the year last season, Liverpool won 16 league matches, drew three, and loss none. There are 16 league matches before the World Cup break. If Liverpool can keep the form they ended last season with, well, they’ll be in a great position to lift their 20th league title.