LIVERPOOL’S most comfortable league home performance of the season did everything Rob Gutmann told you it would. It announced one young talent, reaffirmed another and allowed the manager to experiment. Liverpool played as many shapes as they scored goals and this was the perfect springboard for a Thursday night that will be anything but comfortable.
Sheyi Ojo had exactly the sort of first half an 18-year-old quick talented winger should have. Some flashes of wonder, some demonstrations of weakness, but for the second he is unplayable, electric. He shakes it up and makes it fizz and the ball puts it on a plate for Daniel Sturridge. His finish simple and sumptuous. What proved to be the key goal in the game a peach.
Practically everything Sturridge touched was sumptuous. He was marvellous, by a mile the class act in the game.
What’s striking, what you forget, is how much he wants the ball, how hungry he is to be in possession. In a sense it could be misconstrued as a weakness — a striker who wants to be something else. In essence though he is the best player on the pitch and he wants to be the best player on the pitch. Would you tell him not to be?
The Sturridge issue is a brilliant problem for the Liverpool manager to have, especially this Liverpool manager.
Daniel Sturridge has had too many seasons where he hasn’t been the main man at any football club. Once or twice for good reason — there being a mainer man in Didier Drogba and Luis Suarez — every other season for bad reasons. Mis-management and injury.
His career had turned towards 2014-15 being that watershed and then it all went wrong one more time. It was his time. He was going to be the central force. He was mentally ready and then the worst thing that could happen did.
Now he looks to be almost the other side of that — putting games together properly. It’s down to Jürgen Klopp and his team to harness the player he was about to be into the squad as it is now and as it will be next season. Down to Klopp and his team to work him through the best years of his career.
This 90 minutes means something. It means quite a lot, especially after last week when he couldn’t properly get going. Clap clap, clap clap clap, clap clap clap clap Sturridge means something. It means quite a lot, very few players get it. It means you are the best player.
Meanwhile, Divock Origi got himself two goals. He looks a massive threat. Two or three times he doesn’t release the ball when he should but backing yourself is half the battle. Roberto Firmino only a bit part player. A cog in a functioning machine. What a lovely job being Liverpool manager all of a sudden.
All of this overlooks the impact of Alberto Moreno’s opener and his all-round performance. He impressed today. He appears to be improving. Kevin Stewart was able in centre midfield. An option.
Liverpool’s defending of set pieces hasn’t improved. Two conceded again in two games and it could have been more. Set up? Personnel? Pure luck? Opposition quality? Some combination of all the above perhaps.
Leave that for Monday morning. Let’s tonight enjoy the fact that no visit to Anfield is meaningless and enjoy what was on show. Seasons that stay alive are brilliant things. Matches that show a way marvellous things. Liverpool scoring four will never be out of fashion. Four celebrations wonderful.
Up the Reds. Up the one eye on Thursday Reds. Now I’ve got them both on Thursday. Let’s go Liverpool. No messing about.