WE can and will talk about all of it but let’s start with the second half.
From the outset, when Liverpool could sit on a one-goal lead, they throw the kitchen sink at West Ham. They demonstrated enormous superiority over West Ham. Liverpool didn’t sit in and defend their lead, instead they did the thing that you should do when you pick your best players — send them out to be the best players on the pitch.
When in doubt, pick your best players. All the talent wearing toxic thunder. Comparatively less talent wearing claret and blue Union Jacks on their arms.
I’ve no doubt there is more to everything than just picking your best players. But as a starting point, when in doubt just do that. Just pick your best players. They will always help.
Phil Coutinho to Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge dropping every shoulder ever. The arms. The arms. My wiggly arms senses had been tingling since Friday, tingling even more from when the game kicked off. Sturridge offers you this knowledge that he is so superior to what he is up against. At the actual football, the thing when the round bit is at his feet, I think he is the equal of Alexis Sanchez. At lots of other bits, not least getting on the pitch, he doesn’t match up. But to see him receive the ball, manipulate the ball, shift and look and be alive, so alive, it’s remarkable, a reminder that while all these lads are elite at what they do, there is elite and then there is elite. There is something almost supernatural about the lads who are the very best.
Coutinho deeper was marvellous to see, not least because he still netted twice. He’s no less dangerous from deep, in fact he could prove more dangerous. Passing and arriving, dribbling and opening his body in the middle of the pitch. He’s too good to be wide and peripheral. He’s too able to supply.
Coutinho deeper is a great example of a lot of what we have seen in the last four away games — learning a way home for next season. Two up front is something that still surprises and hurts opponents, something they rarely have to deal with. Yes, a diamond exposes your full-backs at times, but the job is winning for Liverpool. It was their most expansive performance on the road against a bottom half side this calendar year. West Ham acquiescing to the inevitable easily helped, but then this is something which happens in the “normal” season. These lads, these opponents, they want you to prove your superiority, prove you are just better, walk back in the dressing room and shrug shoulders. Too good, boss. Too good, gaffer.
Emre Can, Joel Matip and Simon Mignolet all had tidy afternoons, better than their opponents, just in charge. Two or three very panicked moments aside this was the day. Liverpool running the show, toxic thunder resplendent. High visibility passing and moving.
The bigger picture — Liverpool are one more display of quality away from the target for the campaign. One more showing. Fair play to them, lesser sides would and have wilted in the circumstances. But they trusted what they do. They trusted their swagger. Popping it off, standing their man up and doing him. More of that next week.
Beyond this, I think I have a problem. Sturridge is probably my favourite footballer in the whole wide world. Favourite for all the weaknesses and all the issues and the intelligence. For all the reasons why people are on his back. For all the issues. For all the attitude but also for the smile when talking to Jürgen Klopp, for the sharpness and the goals, for the fact he is that good, for the fact he is tragic, for the fact he is magic, for the fact he lets you know what time it is.
I have a problem because he probably won’t be at Liverpool next season. My favourites will always be the 11 lads in Red. My favourites will always be Liverpool being better. Just better.
Up the superior Reds. May they always be by far the greatest team the world has ever seen.