They couldn’t have left it any later if they tried, but after an incredibly frustrating evening, Liverpool pulled out a well-deserved and absolutely delicious win in the eighth minute of stoppage time tonight, as Fabio Carvalho pounced on a bouncing ball in the Newcastle box and absolutely battered it into the back of the net via the crossbar.
Below, we dig into the narrative of the night and crown some winners and losers of the contest.
Karma: You couldn’t plausibly write a more deserved demise than the one Newcastle wrote for themselves here. After feigning their first injury in the second minute of play through goalkeeper Nick Pope, the Magpies continued their antics throughout, laying down with cramp on every possible occasion, happily obliged by a referee utterly disinterested in
When Pope sat down for a full two minutes in injury time — before continuing to play completely unaffected, of course — most people watching assumed he would get away with it, but Andre Marriner rightly tacked those minutes onto the five he had already added, and in the course of those extra two minutes, the Reds won the corner that would eventually lead to their winner.
Then the Newcastle bench got mad about the added time. Like, so mad. Scrumptious.
Yute szn: Once again, Harvey Elliott was one of, if not the best player on the pitch for the Reds, while his fellow Fulham prodigy Fabio Carvalho netted an orgasmic winner and his second Anfield goal in two matches. Celebrated by pretending to have a cramp, too, the scamp.
It’s probably not ideal that two teenagers are proving so important for a side that contains as many extremely experienced superstars as this Liverpool squad does, but then again, the point of adding players is that they make an impact, and the two 19-year olds are absolutely doing that.
It would not at all be surprising to see both players on the team sheet when the Reds take on Everton in the Merseyside derby on Saturday, but whether they start or come off the bench, fans are beginning to feel safe in placing expectations that they will affect what happens on the pitch.
Bobby Dazzler: He was good again tonight, the Brazilian, alternating between dropping deep, drifting wide, and attacking the box, and he scored yet another Anfield goal, making it three in as many days, after having gone nearly two years since his last one.
Darwin Núñez is still a serious threat to his position, but Roberti Firmino has certainly proved to his doubters over the past few days that he can remain an important contributor to the team as they continue to compete for as many trophies as possible.
Time Wasting: It has become increasingly obvious that the Let the Game Flow directive that took effect last season is mostly about letting has-beens pretend the sport hasn’t evolved in the past 60 years, rather than making it an actual meritocratic measure of talent or, you know, fun or pleasant to watch, which is why referees no longer consistently enforce rules regarding foul play whatsoever, but turn a blind eye to every single piece of game-disrupting time wasting strategy employed, whether it’s diving, feigning injury, interfering with free kicks, or goalkeepers spending full minutes keeping the ball out of play.
This has not been isolated to Liverpool games, of course, but has become a growing issue for anybody trying to watch the league, and especially in the opening weeks of this season.
The strategy did not win out today, thankfully, but one can only hope — certainly one can’t expect — that the league will take measures to stamp down on this sort of behaviour before it gets even further out of hand.
Clean sheets: One in five. Not great, that, and the tendency to concede the first shot on target — Liverpool have done exactly that in every game they’ve conceded a goal in this season — continues to put the team in losing positions to fight back from.
Be cool if we could halt this trend, is what I’m saying.
Credit to the Opposition
Absolutely not. Along with their constant late challenges, whining, injury feigning and general time wasting shenanigans, the blood money moguls of Tyneside played a dreadful game, failing to generate a single shot after scoring with their first one on target, one gifted to them by a combination of defensive errors.
The media has, predictably, given Eddie Howe a lot of credit for the job he’s done with the petrodollars provided by Saudi Arabia’s sports washing project, taking them from relegation quality to firmly mid-table, but they were cowardly and dreadful tonight, and left Anfield with exactly what they deserved; nothing.
What Happens Next
Merseyside derby on Saturday is it? Against probably the most frustrating and shameless time-wasters in the league? I’m sure that won’t be a maddening experience.