THERE are two important things to take from the game of football:
1. Liverpool are currently the best team in the country.
2. Liverpool think they are the best team in the country.
Both of these things are equally important. Don’t get me wrong – Liverpool have a ton of question marks still. That’s both football and life. Perfection is fleeting, rare. In football it should be impossible. The reason why this game is still rightly played by 11 is that it remains a man too few. The reason why this game is so pulsating is that your blanket can never be big enough.
Liverpool can be better. They can improve. They are the best team in the country. Do you think they will improve?
They dominated Crystal Palace in the first 45 minutes, yet they conceded two and needed to score two from set-pieces. Palace had seen this sort of Liverpudlian domination before, when Liverpool turned up needing to win the game by 10. All this Liverpool side needed was to win.
But the quality was evident. The shape deceptive. Philippe Coutinho deeper but constantly involved. Sadio Mane joining Roberto Firmino. Adam Lallana constant, smothering and probing. Liverpool rampant but not converting. Nil-three at half time wouldn’t have flattered the Reds. But they took two-three in their stride.
Dominance unconverted rattles many sides. Not this Liverpool, not tonight. They came out second half assured. The next goal was going to make all the difference and while Palace tried to pile the pressure on, Liverpool looked all the more likely. They looked like the side who would spring. And they sprang through their captain and most important attacker – the ball sumptuous, the finish divine. Two-four.
The scoreline is only half the tale. Because Crystal Palace played well. They are a decent side with some exceptional performers. Christian Benteke was excellent. Wilfried Zaha dangerous. James McArthur scores two. But what’s interesting is how Liverpool’s quality led to Palace compromising first half and led to Palace wobbling then, too. One close up through the screens on Scott Dann or Martin Kelly or Joe Ledley told a story – playing these Reds is a living hell for seasoned pros. They drain you physically and mentally. They take everything from you. There is always one more man and one more ball. The men in toxic thunder don’t stop.
The Reds are the best team in the country. This isn’t a result to thumb noses at. It’s a serious game of football in a serious ground and Liverpool dominate proceedings. For weeks, this: Liverpool are going to make mistakes. For weeks, this: how they cope with mistakes is what matters. For tonight, this: Liverpool can make mistakes and win well. Liverpool can make mistakes and win deservedly. Football teams will always make mistakes but Liverpool can still be so much better.
Liverpool’s level currently looks highest. Liverpool’s ceiling currently looks highest. Walk around that.
There remain 28 football matches and those games are now about one thing and one thing only – Liverpool reaching their ceiling and winning those games. One of the pressures of being the best side in the country is being the best side in the country.
Liverpool look up to that challenge.
It’s Saturday night. Liverpool are serious. Liverpool are the real thing. We know that now if we didn’t know before. Time for the night of your life. And plan for 28 more of them. Twenty-eight more nights of your life. Liverpool already are planning for that. These Reds want you to get naked and have a disco. Imagine looking Bobby Firmino in the eye in May if you haven’t.
Suddenly, overwhelmingly it is a joy to be alive my friends. These Reds.
Let’s go Liverpool.
Up the serious Reds.