DAMN these Reds. Damn them to hell.
They love looking a gifthorse in the mouth. They’ve not been short of gifthorses. Gifthorses coming out of their ears. They can’t look at a gifthorse without looking at it in the mouth.
Today the most direct. 12 yards. One kick. Truth be told James Milner had a shocking 90 full stop — he’s earned penalty grace. But the rest. Wowzer. He gets himself out of jail at least twice, gets bailed out on at least two other occasions and should set up the winner after missing a penalty. He spent a disproportionate amount of the game on all fours. That he did some of his best work on all fours is not a good thing. I’m no expert but I expect my outfield players’ best moments to come when vertical.
There is a problem, a real problem, a get it sorted in the summer problem, for Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool on what they do when a side comes and just isn’t interested. Let’s be clear — there is a difference between what Burnley do and what Crystal Palace and Southampton did. Burnley came to have a battle. The other two wanted to take all the sting out of the game. The onus on changing the tempo falls on Liverpool’s centre midfield and none of today’s three have, over a period of games, shown themselves able to do that for Liverpool in 2017.
Emre Can and Lucas Leiva played well broadly speaking. Today it was Gini Wijnaldum’s turn to be aggressively invisible. He was the essence of a midfield nothing. Not helping the set, not augmenting the attack. Neither proton nor electron. Just present, a neutron of a performance. Matter; shifting around the pitch.
This needs sorting both in terms of the generic and in terms of the specific. Can and Wijnaldum should be able to influence the pace of a game more. Lucas should perhaps find this a reason why he isn’t here next season. But in general Liverpool need to work on this pacing. They need to make the pitch bigger in an effective sense. They need to pass vertically more often. They would have been better served today by any of the starting three with Phil Coutinho and Adam Lallana in front to start; Marko Grujic even perhaps. This is a classic “not my job” shout. But Southampton’s approach should have come as no surprise; it’s our fourth meeting, our fourth goalless game against them.
Coutinho looked to be carrying a knock. Exhausting that sentence. It has been forever thus. It is my jam of 2017. Roberto Firmino willing. Daniel Sturridge is so good at football and so comparatively mediocre at running, it honestly, honestly, honestly makes me want to weep. He’s tragic and magic. More of this kind of thing.
We find ourselves in a bad place with Divock Origi, the poor love. He’s no fun to watch at Anfield. He’s little fun to watch away from home but at least he feels of some use in opposition grounds. In the current climate at Anfield he’s short of belief, quality and goals. He’s always had at least one of the three in the past.
But this is a Liverpool side set up to play away from home. The tempo is that of the away side. The line-up is an away line-up. The manager has kept it for four consecutive games. His side has had success on the road. His side has looked gifthorses in the mouth at home.
Gifthorses everywhere. Arsenal now doing Liverpool a favour while keeping themselves in touch. You would rather be in our position than that of either of the sides below us. But that is both very much the point and not at all the point. Very much because mission can be accomplished. Not at all the point because this needs sorting. It just needs sorting. It had looked sorted prior to Christmas. It might just get sorted by signing more very good, quick players. Most things get fixed by that. Ask Alex Ferguson. Today’s point might prove crucial, should this continue next season those singular home points will prove costly.
Up the gifthorse Reds. May they be getting all this out the way and still be managing to do the decent thing.