GREAT games. To be involved in great games is a marvellous thing. Only good teams tend to get themselves in great games. Liverpool have been involved in two great games against Chelsea and one against Spurs recently. This, the fourth, is arguably the greatest and undeniably the one with the greatest result from Liverpool’s perspective.
The reason this Liverpool get themselves involved in so many great games is that they back themselves. They constantly look to play. Against Manchester City they went toe to toe with last year’s champions despite an early scare in both halves. They know they will get their turn to play and they know they have the ability to make it tell.
In the depths of November who could have conceived of a result and a performance like this? Today’s showing is the culmination of months of hard work. Manchester City posed Liverpool a host of questions and while some of the answers were improvised, they were indeed answers.
26 – Liverpool have taken 26 points (8W 2D) from their last 10 Premier League games. Charge.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 1, 2015
Liverpool showed a boldness, a ballsiness, a brassiness that was a joy to behold. They said to Manchester City, yes, we know you are good. We know you can play. But look at us. We’re good. We’re really good. We can really play.
There’s a security about Liverpool in and out of possession. There’s no sterner test than Manchester City and their impossible spells of penalty area dominance but Liverpool were just stout enough in opposition to it though it needs to be said that Aguero is magic. A magnificent footballer.
Lovren did his bread and butter well. Skrtel continues to look at his most impressive being able to see the whole pitch. Can, untidy in his positioning for the goal, epitomises Liverpool’s desire to back themselves and play. He is certain of his own quality and he is winning every battle he can find.
The game was one which continually developed, two sides posing and solving problems. Liverpool grew into the first period, Manchester City responded, their equaliser deserved. The impetus swayed back and forth, each side imposing their will for a period before being forced back as the opposition imposed theirs.
Second half City started quickly, Liverpool weathered the storm before imposing fifteen minutes of dominance on the Champions, leaving Pellegrini needing to add a midfielder. For the ten minutes that followed City had the momentum before Liverpool reasserted themselves, solving problems on the pitch. A tactical contest in the best sense, two sides looking to play, to dominate, no one looking to play dead.
Henderson scored a brilliant goal and was again a credit to himself but the midfield belonged not to him, not to Fernandinho, not Yaya Toure but to Joe Allen. This was the complete performance Southampton and the first half against Besiktas hinted towards. Allen led the way, solving the problems Manchester City posed with brains, feet and balls. He backed himself and his teammates, his manager’s representative on the pitch in the best possible way. You pose us problems. We’ll return them two fold because we will play.
It may be repetitious, but I’ll keep saying it: It’s all about playing. Months ago I hosted a Citytalk show where we had a good honest exchange about Coutinho. Alison McGovern held firm the lad would produce outstanding consistency and would add goals. I wasn’t sure. Undoubtedly brilliant, but question marks remained. Not any more. He’s Liverpool’s key man, he’s Liverpool’s long distance maestro. A man who has been on a journey, come of age in front of our eyes. He plays, astonishing technique and staggering workrate. It’s been a joy to watch the journey.
The whole side has journeyed together. A young team, a new team, a side who had lost their way has now found it with panache. The manager deserves enormous credit. He’s retained a faith in himself and his players when so many had deserted both, when fingers were getting pointed and axes were getting ground. He’s backed himself to the hilt and now he deserves full unequivocal backing. He’s come back from a brink no Liverpool manager in living memory has managed and he’s done so with brio. His principles are the soundest, his teams giddily pleasing. These are lads you can love, lads you can burst with pride for. A credit to both him and themselves.
By the time Bony elbows Lallana and Toure climbs all over Coutinho, City’s race is run. A great side can know when they’ve just been second best, can know when it isn’t their day. They knew; they were bowed. Liverpool’s will, their ability, their work, their 90 minutes work and their months and months of work, had won the day. It belonged to Phil Coutinho, to Brendan Rodgers, to Liverpool, to the 42,000 Liverpudlians in the ground and the millions the world over. All of their journeys continue as one.
When the Reds. When the Reds.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda