Liverpool did it again. Down a goal to a stubborn Crystal Palace squad and having spent nearly the entire match thoroughly dominating possession but with nothing to show, the Reds quality shown through.
To the eternal bemusement of former Liverpool coach Roy Hodgson (the architect of the notorious Hodgepocalypse), Liverpool equalized at the 76th minute on the strength of Mohamed Salah’s 200th Liverpool goal and a mere minute and change after Jordan Ayew was sent off for his second yellow card of the game. And then The Avatar, Harvey Elliott, popped up with an absolute cracker of a goal. Game. Liverpool top of the table. Everyone goes bananas.
And with Unai Emery exacting revenge on his former club via Aston Villa’s resolute victory over Arsenal, this meant that for the first time this season, Liverpool would end the week in sole possession of the top spot in the Premier League. City may still be the Champions, but this year looks as good as any to ensure that someone other than the Citizens will be claiming the big prize.
It’s tough to look at this weekend’s results and get too carried away; it’s only early December, after all. Though we’re near the end of the year, we still haven’t even reached the halfway point. There is, as they, still lots of football to be played. And at this stage of the season, one can really only play your way out of contention, not win it.
But reflecting on the match and the fact that this team is still so much younger than the one that limped through the season last year, it feels important to note what this result could mean when everything’s counted. Because another win snatched from the jaws of defeat feels very much the type of stuff you rattle off when talking about a Team of Destiny.
And while it may feel a touch superstitious to think in those terms, something that is tangible for fans to chew on is that this team is pulling off these dogged, determined wins - the kind that imply grit and strong belief in themselves - is in fact so young. We’re not seeing a Liverpool squad made up of aged veterans who’ve been through the wars. To paraphrase Rick Pitino, Jordan Henderson isn’t walking out of the Anfield tunnel.
No, Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, Jarrell Quansah, Joe Gomez, and, of course, Trent Alexander-Arnold had major contributions to this come from behind win. The young kids, along with young-ish players like Darwin Nuñez, Dom Szoboszlai, Cody Gakpo, and Ryan Gravenberch, make up the core of this team.
This run is special because the kids are driving the bus. And as a jazz man, their inspired play, steely confidence, and never-say-die attitude are a joy to watch.
The kids have ensured that we have all of it left to play for. On the early returns, then, it appears the kids might just be alright.