YOU do wonder how you look to an outsider when you tell everyone how good your football team is. On Saturday, I thought we were sensational.
That opening 45 minutes is probably in the top 10 45-minute performances I’ve ever seen from a Liverpool side. It was that good. The crisp passing, the movement, the pace, the ability of the players to all somehow manage to be in the right place at the right time. If we had gone in four goals to the good I don’t think Palace could have had any complaints.
It’s saying something that you watch the players come off at half-time and you’re questioning how your side have only scored three. In an away game. In what is probably the toughest league on the planet.
But you wonder what people are thinking, watching either as a neutral or a fan of the opposing side, and how their less biased view correlates with yours.
Well, on Saturday, I had categorical evidence that I no longer care what other people think. We went for a pint in the Wetherspoons by Thornton Heath station after the game (I got change from £10 for three pints and nearly bought another one to pour over my head in celebration at that fact) and one of the lads got talking to a Palace fan at the bar.
This Croydon divvy’s assessment of the match was that Liverpool got lucky.
Read that back. Liverpool. Got. Lucky. At a quick totting up, I’ve probably seen Liverpool play in the flesh somewhere in the region of 600 times. I would genuinely put that in the top 10 first half performances I’ve ever seen. At a push, top five. We were that good.
Yet, we’ve got some idiot in a Wetherspoons in Thornton Heath convinced, without any hint of irony, without being on the wind up, in genuine seriousness, that Liverpool were lucky.
The only team who were lucky on Saturday was Crystal Palace. Lucky is Dejan Lovren sticking your central midfielder through one on one with the keeper, when you haven’t been in our penalty box. Lucky is Sadio Mané putting the ball over the bar from seven yards out, when it was genuinely easier to score.
They were lucky as they didn’t concede 10.
I’ve encountered a couple of absolute lunatics at Palace away the last couple of years though, I can only conclude that there must be something in the water around those parts. Last season someone told me that Christian Benteke was going to get a three-game ban for that dive where he got tripped up. That it had already been announced. This was about 25 minutes after full-time. I nearly moved to East Grinstead when I was about four. I’m glad I didn’t, to be honest.
This website, and our support in general, are pretty big on us winning the title this season. I’ve taken a step back at times and wondered if we look at bit ridiculous being so ‘in your face’ with it. Like we’re playing up to every cliché that gets wheeled out about our support. ‘It’s our year, lads’ has been a popular way of ribbing our support for years and, in all honesty, we’ve probably done all this before.
Some people could well be looking at this and thinking we’re all mad and a walking, talking, writing cliché. Well, who cares? It’s an exciting time to be a Liverpool fan so why can’t we be excited?
Read Neil’s match review from Saturday night and disagree with it if you want. But how can you? What is there to disagree with? I look at Manchester City and I see a good team, I look at Arsenal and I see a good team. I don’t look at them, or Spurs or Chelsea, and think they’re much better than us, if better than us at all, so why shouldn’t we talking ourselves up?
We seem to get thrown a challenge by someone every week. We beat Arsenal and Chelsea away from home and we get told: ‘Well, we need to look at how they’ll do against the lesser sides because that’s where they’ve struggled’, and then when we put one of these sides away we’ve got people on national radio saying that ‘it needs to be seen what Liverpool will do at the top sides’.
It’s the start of November and we’ve been to Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs and picked up seven points, so I’m not completely sure when we’re supposed to prove this if we haven’t already. City in March? United in January? I’m not quite sure that we’ll be proving much in March at City to be honest, we’ll either be out of it or very much in it given there’s nine league games after it. Go and look at the nine after that by the way. I don’t want to tempt fate or anything but if you were hand picking the last quarter of the season it would look something like that.
I wrote the other week that I’d be happy with being six points behind City after we play against Watford on Sunday. Thankfully they decided to drop four points at home to Everton and Southampton meaning that even if we lose this weekend, and City win, we’ll only be three behind. Handily positioned is the phrase I believe.
Rather delightfully, it’s Arsenal against Spurs on Sunday. That helps. We’ve got Watford straight after, as I’m sure you don’t need reminding. They’re a bit of a peculiar side, aren’t they? Their approach could be really interesting on Sunday – I’m not entirely sure they’ve got it in them to turn up and block off all of the passing lanes to frustrate us and I don’t think they’ve got the attacking players to turn up and dominate the ball and have a go.
It really, really should be a simple three points for the Red Machine. Football doesn’t always work like that but if we play our game, as with any game against the bottom 10 sides, we should pick up the maximum points.
At some point this week we’ll get told it’s another test we need to pass. It’s like being 16. I’m sick of tests. Can you not just let Liverpool go on the pitch and play football instead of turning it into a set of GCSEs?
These tests don’t matter. So a bit like GCSEs, in reality (stay in school, Reds).