Pre-match, Darwin Núñez, the great footballing philosopher that he is, noted that sometimes football happens. And just as Liverpool was able to turn a 2-1 defeat into a 7-0 win at home, so too could Bournemouth bounce back from the 9-0 thrashing that Liverpool unleashed on them in the fall.
Wouldn’t you know it, but football, indeed, happened. And as the late, great Bill Shankly said, “Football was a mistake.” I know he said it, it was on a meme.
On a different day, this match could’ve ended 1-0 or 2-1 to Liverpool. A draw probably would’ve been the fair result. But that is not what happened. Football happened.
Penalties and Liverpool
Keen observers, a group which decidedly does not include Premier League referees, have noted that the Reds had gone 33 matches—nearly an entire calendar year—without having the ref point to the spot (in their favor). Even without putting a tinfoil hat on, this fact was weird for a team that spends as much time in opposition penalty areas as Liverpool.
Regardless, when the ref reluctantly pointed to the spot after a lengthy VAR review, Mo Salah—obviously out of practice from 12 yards out—blasted the shot high and wide of the target. It was a rare match where the Reds desperately needed a bit of luck, received it, and still failed to turn that luck into points.
Liverpool’s Top 4 Hopes
The Reds could’ve climbed into the coveted Top 4 for the first time all season with a win today. Win, they did not. It’s a blow, and one that isn’t likely to be softened by the next four matches: Real Madrid (away), Manchester City (away), Chelsea (away), and Arsenal (home).
The only good thing about Top 4 races—and the reason these are the teams vying for 3rd and 4th and not 1st and 2nd—is that dropped points happen all the time when you’re going for a 2 point per game pace. The Reds got themselves back into the conversation after 13 points from their last possible 15 (before today), and even including today, Liverpool are averaging 2.16 points per game in the form table. If they can get through the next 3 league matches with 5-7 points, they should be in good standing to make a late season run for Champions League qualification.
If Liverpool’s generosity toward teams in the relegation scrap has any positives, it’s that we keep giving points to Everton’s competitors. Go on, Blues. Let it happen. Let the sweet, sweet pull of the Championship lure you in...
What Happens Next
Well, we’ve already covered this, but yes, Real Madrid, Man City, Chelsea, and Arsenal.
Real Madrid first. The Reds go to the Santiago Bernabeu needing to win by at least 3 goals (and that still might not be enough). Reasonably, any victory on the night would at least give us some good feels about it all. Unless Liverpool want to do a madness.
Then there’s an international break, followed by yet another 12:30 kickoff away, this time to City. Then it’s away to Chelsea midweek, and Arsenal at home. That is a brutal return from international break. A real sink or swim moment.
If the Reds are still swimming, there could be a few better days left on the calendar than today.