The weekend started with a bit of nostalgia. Friday, October 4th, marked the 4-year anniversary of Liverpool firing Brendan Rodgers. And perhaps this is as good as any place to start, as a juxtaposition to the glory that we just witnessed.
Rodgers was canned after an uninspiring draw, away to Everton. Now, as we’ve seen over the years—including last year—a trip to Goodison Park isn’t always a barrel of laughs. But for Rodgers, and the run the team was on, it was actually a good result. And that was the problem. After 8 matches, the league table looked like this:
- Man City 18 (points)
- Arsenal 16
- Man Utd 16
- Crystal Palace 15
- Leicester 15
- West Ham 14
- Everton 13
- Spurs 13
- Southampton 12
- Liverpool 12 (-2 GD)
Take a look a the state of things. As they say on the Twitters: let that soak in. That’s how we went into the October international break four years ago.
We were behind City, sure. Arsenal and Manchester United. Well, OK. Spurs. It can happen. Everton. We were behind Everton. After they had pegged us back in their gaff, no less. Behind Southampton on goal differential. We were thoroughly midtable.
And we all know what Leicester would go on to do the rest of the way in. While the "Big Six" were all having varying degrees of down years, the Foxes would take advantage, lifting the Premier League trophy. It is a stick rival fans still love to beat us with.
And now we fast forward to right now. Lib’pool, top of the league! Lib’pool Lib’pool top of the league! And not just top of the league, but a perfect 24 points out of 24. Seventeen (17!) wins on the trot. With the greatest manager, possibly greatest human being, alive.
The weekend, the same matchday 8 as four years ago, got off to an auspicious start. Tottenham Hotspur, Jurgen Klopp’s first Premier League foe and our unlucky foil in the Champions League Final, desperately needed a result after their 2-7 humiliation at the hands (or rather feet) of Bayern Munich. Away to a flailing Brighton seemed to be just what the doctor had ordered. At least on paper.
And then 3-0 happened. It pulled Brighton temporarily out of the relegation scrap, and put Spurs in full-on crisis mode.
Do we need to add Spurs to the list of teams that Divock Origi broke, alongside the likes of The Ev and Barcelona? Early indications point to “yes.”
Moving on, we all know how we welcomed Rodgers back to Anfield. The game could have—should have—been put to bed early. It wasn’t. But unlike his teams in 2014/15, and 2015/16, when Klopp’s side was pegged back, they pushed on. They didn’t give up. They wanted those deserved three points more. And they got ‘em, by hook or by crook. Rodgers got a front row seat to see how Anfield has once again become a fortress under the new boss.
As Liverpool were doing the business against the Foxes, the Blues were losing yet another match of footy. It dropped them down to 17th, just two points above the drop. They were safe. For Saturday, at least.
As Sunday dawned, there didn’t seem much hope for anything too exciting. City would brush Wolverhampton aside, and United would somehow stumble their way to a result against Newcastle.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I had promised myself that I wouldn’t hate watch City. Nope. It wasn’t going to happen. The season is too long, and life is too short.
And then I peeked at the score at halftime. Nil-nil. Well, that changes things. I guess Wolves weren't too exhausted from their Europa League exertions. Two late goals from the visitors, and Liverpool extended their theoretical 5-point lead, first to 7 actual points, and then to 8.
Party time, and all Pep can talk about post match is Liverpool’s penalty.
The weekend wasn’t over just yet. Our old foes, with Ole at the Wheel, had one more gift. One, perfect, bright red cherry on top of this delightful cake from the football gods: losing 1-0 to relegation fodder Newcastle. It dropped United down to 12th in the table, on 9 points, just 2 points above the drop. Speaking of...
That rare Newcastle victory just so happened to be enough to drop Everton into the relegation zone. Two birds with one black and white stone.
There was a fear, if ever so brief, that this would be the result that did poor Ole in. After all, FSG took the international break as an opportunity to bring in the man who could right the ship four years ago. Perhaps United would do the same?
The difference, of course, is that Liverpool under FSG's stewardship have become a proactive and successful organization, not content to throw another season in the sink in hopes that the current manager could turn it around.
So instead of firing Ole hours later, we got club legends towing the club line about giving him more time. Gary Neville took to Sky Sports, talking points firmly in hand. And Peter Schmeichel took to Twitter to spread the Ole at the Wheel Gospel.
Before we all go mad about what needs to be done and gets carried away on how ‘bad’ it is, let’s just remind ourselves of how long it took SAF to create a winning team @ManUtd building success takes time!— Peter Schmeichel (@Pschmeichel1) October 6, 2019
Like four years ago, the "Big Six" are all off to relatively poor starts (with one notable exception). Hell, Manchester City in second are "only" averaging 2 points per game. That's Champions League qualification form at best most years. And the others? Arsenal and Chelsea? Dangerous, but inconsistent. Spurs and United? Floundering, and in crisis.
Unlike four years ago, Liverpool have actually positioned themselves to fully take advantage. There's a long way to go, and there will be sticky moments between now and the end of the season. But for now, we can kick back and enjoy the moment.
Happy days, Reds. Happy days.