THIS is what dominance looks like. What run of the mill looks like. This is routine. We haven’t seen a lot of it round these parts but I just wonder if we are going to start seeing more.
Sorry if you were a little bit bored at times. You weren’t alone. This is where we make our own entertainment, bellow out some songs, enjoy the fact this is what routine looks like. Liverpool being better than their opponents in all departments and a contest never really breaks out.
The second half became one which we all just get the other side of after Philippe Coutinho’s goal. That is the savage reality of football when you are good at it. It takes the drama out. 0-2 game over. 0-3 and it is time for them to go home. They are tired and they want to go to bed. They’re only half a football team…
(By the way, a note: I don’t want any player on any football team dominated by Liverpool having any orgasms, alone or otherwise. Not tonight. They don’t deserve them. Not on my watch).
What did the Reds do well, other than all of it? First thing they did neatly was get ahead. This is the important thing in these games. Take the essence away. Make it tough, make it look and feel like an uphill struggle. Ragnar Klavan converting makes all the difference; helps make it the stroll in the park it looked to be. Liverpool win the game in one move at that stage. Derby never had the improbable in them. They had to get ahead or hang on for dear life and unnerve Liverpool.
The language you use around games like this suggests it is easy. It isn’t actually easy. Derby have good footballers but all the hard work has been done in the weeks and months leading up to this game — the shape and the one-touch certainty of Liverpool; that they just look fitter and sharper than their opponents; that they can go to a place Derby can’t live with; that Derby’s only chance is to unsettle Liverpool.
This is hard, hard graft. This is 7am starts. This is a manager wanting you to be as fit as you can be before you go on a pitch for him. Liverpool’s players are better than Derby’s, and then there is everything else.
When you see that gap and gulf, when you see Liverpool ahead in a game they are expected to win, when you see Liverpool easing to victory…what do you do?
I did this: I watched Roberto Firmino. My lord. I can’t imagine a tougher footballer to play against who isn’t an acknowledged, nailed-on football genius (yet). The combination of the movement and quality is remarkable. Every darting move finds itself crowned by a touch.
His sheer inability to be picked up and his sheer ability to make defenders make decisions they aren’t sure of is different class.
He spends all his time on the pitch making you regret what you last did. He spreads doubt around the gaff like nobody’s business. Who looks after him? Who is responsible for him? You’ve got to work as hard as Liverpool, you are playing against the best technical footballers you have come up against in your life and there is this fella, making you make constant decisions, never being where he should be and simultaneously looking like he is having the time of his life.
He bamboozled them.
Joel Matip again looked assured, Divock Origi got his goal, Jordan Henderson gave Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum a rest and he and Lucas Leiva must have been ideal for Marko Grujic, who quietly got on with his full Liverpool debut. Grujic was the point of senior pros in a game like this.
Loris Karius had a wobble from one but that is to be expected. He’s a footballer of a goalkeeper, no doubt at all about that. I hope he starts at home to Hull City on Saturday but who knows. There is no definitive course of action for the manager here, just a man making the call he makes with all the information and with his wealth of experience.
Should Liverpool’s form continue — it’s the third win in September from three — into the autumn I hope Liverpool’s League Cup side gets weaker as they get closer to the final, but there is no doubt that Klopp is a manager who is all about momentum, all about getting his players doing the right things regularly and not changing what those right things are. Play his way and keep playing. Keep playing, young man.
I had a lovely evening. Quality time all round, too much white wine in all likelihood, a glorious amount of chatting to friends.
Liverpool can keep winning. I’ll happily chat away.
Up the routine Reds.