THE first big league occasion of the season. The first big win.
Talking in general terms? Not quite. Last season last year’s champions beat last season’s runners-up but this feels like a north west kind of a season, a north west kind of a campaign. I could be wrong. We could all be wrong. But Liverpool today looked eager to run with that notion — to underline the gulf between them and last season’s fifth-placed side, to make a point, put down a marker, give you another reason to be scared if you are an opposition side heading to Anfield. Liverpool looked determined to make a point and take all three. They achieved that and then some.
I’m of the view that Mesut Oil and Alexis Sanchez are very good players, that Alexandre Lacazette is a good signing, that Olivier Giroud is a handful and that Danny Welbeck is reasonably tidy. But I wouldn’t swap them for ours, not for a big clock, not for a bag of cash.
Sadio Mane’s form is that of a would-be footballer of the year. It’s three in three and he has looked unplayable at times. His goal today was Arjen Robben-esque, albeit inverted. How many times have you watched Robben score the same goal and wonder why defenders can’t cope, can’t anticipate? It’s because he is just too good, just too quick. It’s a goal which has all that is seen and unseen, predictable and mercurial; Steve Graves next to me describing the action half a second ahead and there is nothing anyone could do about it. It’s the inevitability of the situation from when it is at Roberto Firmino’s feet to the point it is in the back of the net. The second hardest thing to do in football is score the goal everyone sees coming but Liverpool are determined to excel at that.
But Roberto Firmino. Liverpool’s number nine. That, just that, over and over again. There is nothing false about the man — the workrate, the ability in the air, the desire to bring players into play. The smile. The joyous football and the football which is about the joy. Firmino’s game is one to put smiles on faces, especially that of teammates. He wants everyone involved, him at the centre, the ringmaster, the lion tamer, the man who doesn’t need the whip-like speed; that’s how good he is. The player Alexis Sanchez dreams of being allowed to be, stuck on a wing wondering what Danny Welbeck has done to play through the centre.
Mo Salah Salah. Three goals for The Reds and it could be six and he has only just started. Getting going in this Liverpool side but being adored. His colleagues were delighted with his goal. Yes it took the game away but it also soothed the balm of the chances which had been missed. Liverpool’s footballers are desperate for one another to succeed — they understand that is how the whole succeeds. This time he ran through on goal for a quarter of an hour and slotted it home; deferred but inevitable.
There was a question on AFQ this week which was what does Heaven feel like? I didn’t get to it during the show but that’s Heaven right there. A Liverpool player running through on goal to make it three against a rival, to put the game to bed. Waiting for St Peter to check the list, clutching each other and then, there, sweet Heaven. Glory, Gloria, in excelsis deo.
Liverpool 4 Arsenal 0: Post-Match Reaction Show@Knox_Harrington
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— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) August 27, 2017
This is just the attack. Daniel Sturridge comes off the bench and has a slice of the action. Just the attack. Let’s be clear — it’s the attack where Arsenal are closest to Liverpool. The closest. And look at the gulf. Wouldn’t swap you theirs for ours in a million years.
Granit Xhaka is a shadow of the footballer Jordan Henderson is and Henderson hasn’t got going yet and again wasn’t excellent today. But you can see what he is capable of. Arsenal have a ton of centre mids. None look close to Emre Can or Gini Wijnaldum, both of whom would follow Liverpool Football Club to the very jaws of hell and look ridiculously cool while doing so. Emre Can goes past people like a 110m hurdler, Wijnaldum could hold the world off like Atlas holding it up. And their defence seems determined to underline my factual point that Liverpool’s troupe of centre backs are good enough to finish top four. Forget the fact that they did finish top four — these clowns came fifth. Never say a Liverpool defender isn’t top-four class while Rob Holding is running around for Arsenal.
Only their goalkeeper looked superior but he had more to do, still shipped four and we played our second choice for reasons I don’t understand and him with the ball at his feet was the most likely source of an Arsenal goal. Maybe we were feeling kind. I don’t know.
The crowd today was the business — sensing blood and enjoying the gulf. The Arsenal crew sang self-deprecating ironic chants the like of which a proper football club — which Arsenal THE MOST are — shouldn’t even conceive of. But here we are — a side dominated twice by Liverpool last season, a side which was done away at Liverpool and Chelsea in 2014 for 11 goals, a side which lost 8-2 at Old Trafford. All this, all of this creates something which just isn’t great. I never go early but I couldn’t believe how many of theirs stayed until the end.
Here we are. These finished one point behind Liverpool last season. And this is the kick in the teeth for this piece of writing really: Liverpool are 15 points better than these and were last season. The kick in the teeth is this — across thirty-eight games Liverpool put far more very good performances in than Arsenal. But they didn’t do the business often enough to underline the gap.
This thing of ours. Look at the gulf you saw today. Liverpool are 15 points better than Arsenal. If they finish in a manner which demonstrates that it could be a very exciting season. The gap between being able to say that and Liverpool going and doing is it smaller than the gulf but still the hardest thing in football. Liverpool should be in a title race. Liverpool kicked it off today.
We’re on the march.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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Sensational display. You underline the frustration of how we don’t finish 15 points above these perfectly. Is it the money men holding us back?
Because as good as this team is on its day – and we were excellent today- there are nagging doubts on how we cope with a long demanding season with that defence. Karius should not be allowed near the first team and I still don’t rate Lovren.
Bring in 2 players before deadline and this side has a real chance at the title.
Don’t blow it again, Liverpool.
Great stuff Neil. We were fab, while arsenal were obligingly awful. It’s like they were on tranquillisers or something. A few points:
We’re glossing over it because of the great result but I would love to know what sparked the goalkeeper switch today. It was still a mad one, unless something mental has happened like we’re selling Migs and surely we wouldn’t do that unless we were buying someone else? And if that’s not the case, dropping him won’t do his confidence any good and in a weird way playing today mightn’t have done Karius much good either. Odd. Let’s hope it’s resolved satisfactorily.
Albie’s renaissance continues but it might be a good idea to have the new left back on the bench in a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ scenario.
Mo was great but if we could get Rush or Robbie in to give him a few tips on finishing we’d have every game won by halftime.
Everything else was smashing but sign VVD (not the Ox – his audition was terrible) and maybe someone else and there might be no limit to what this team can do this season.
The only thing I can think of is Jurgen did it for Karius’s sake rather than Mignolet. To keep him match ready? Just a guess but it seem’s to fit.
Klopp said he wanted an attack minded keeper in this game. That is why he selected karius. I have been thinking that Klopp will play Karius in the champions league games since in europe keepers play under less pressure (see bravo in confederation cup). We will see how Klopp will use them.
After the game, Klopp said we shouldn’t make a story out of what Karius did. Klopp is right, we should not make it a story. There is no person in the world that learn something without making a mistake. We should be tellling karius that he will do better next time, not he will not be playing ever a game.
Can was imperious again today.
We need to get him signed up.
Anyone know what his reluctance is?
Is it money?
Pay the fucking guy.
Can’t be playing time as he starts nearly every game.
TAW guys can you address this in a podcast soon.
Needs sorted asap.
He’s a £50mil midfielder and we’re gonna lose him for nothing.
Couldn’t agree more
It’s not money. Both sides have said as much. I’d imagine it’s game time. Seeing Keita on the shopping list and wanting assurances.
Great game and great performance by the Reds and manager.
Karius wasted his opportunities by dangling on the ball and causing a bit of nervousness and Lovren is still average as he gets beaten in the air and does that stupid foot around the player bit.
Otherwise we let the Arsenal have it today for turning up to do their impressions of London traffic cones.
I am happy we did not concede but not confident enough to say we can win this or that. We need better leaders in the back and definitely need to cope in case of injury to Mane or Salah for example.
Early days still, let’s hope no injuries over the break and Klopp has something (Sanchez, Ox, VVD, Keita, Insert any other rumored player) to look forward to work with before 10 games are up.
Come on you Reds!
Liked this one more then the 13-14 season. That was 25 minutes of blowing them out of the water and then cruising. This was 90 minutes of domination. I reckon today will leave even more psychological scars. Up the beautiful Reds!
I think Migs needs genuine competition to keep him on his toes. Bringing in Karius (or Ward) for cup games against lesser opposition doesn’t really threaten Migs’ place, and doesn’t really show confidence in his replacement either. Bringing one of the others in against a proper rival (albeit maybe not for much longer at this rate) sends a big message to all concerned that the current No 1 can’t just take his position for granted, which will hopefully be to the benefit of the team.
If that’s heaven take me now! Bliss!
Danny Ward is the answer to our free kick and goal keeper woes. I’m predicting it now. The day Klopp lets go of his infatuation with Karius will be a turning point.
I finally get Bobby Firmino’s celebration! He is illustrating the point that he is not merely scoring against the opposition – that is simply one aspect of the way he is completely depantsing them.
Love the Mane guitar celebration, like he’s playing footie at a Hawaiian luau.
And Mo Salah is my new cult hero, even if he turns out to be everyone’s hero. Just love him to bits and bits. Unlike Sturridge, his name is endlessly singable. Despite Ocean Colour Scene’s best efforts, I find myself humming Volare: Mo Salah oh oh, Mo Salah oh oh oh oh.
I love pace. It absolutely killed me when we were so one-paced after Sterling left (that one pace being Milner’s). Surely Coutinho’s mouth is watering to play with these gents up front. This whole season could be a long sequence of through balls resulting in a 14:00 YouTube clip of just these passes resulting in goals. Come back to the fold, Phil. All is forgiven.
Now, please sign Van Dijk so I can stop checking the internet every few hours. There is nothing more tedious than addiction, so please help a brother out. By Thursday, if you don’t mind.
Checking the internet every few hours? I can’t go more than a few minutes and this week its gonna get worse. I normally lock my phone in the safe for my holiday, this year I took it on the lilo in the sea. Thank god for the new EU roaming laws or I’d be homeless by now. Good comment Walter.
And we being fully grown men and all!
Great stuff Neil. Smiled all the way through reading it. Icing on the cake of transported delight.
it was not bad,was it,hahahahahhahhaha.great to watch.keep going redmen
Whenever Neil uses Latin it means Liverpool have absolutely battered someone..
More Latin please.
Great piece Neil, if Coutinho stays then how does he get back in with the performances these lads are putting together ??? If he does come back in then what a prospect for the season ?!!! Anyway wrap Mane up in cotton wool, what a player, what a signing!!!! Ynwa
And I think we need to make a point with th coutinho thing and make sure the Spanish giants know we’re not a feeder club as it won’t be long before they start sniffing around Mane if he carries on this kind of form !
Agree with Timmo. We must send a clear message to Barca and any other so called giant clubs that we are not developing players for their benefit.
Great writing, great pod, as I have said before Neil talents should be being aired to a much wider audience, just glad we have him to ourselves!!
This game made a complete fool of me, Moreno not good enough, Gomez should go out on loan, cant play Hendo, Cann and Wijnaldum in the same midfield etc etc. Going to leave it to the experts in future!.
Although Arsenal were really poor which I think was as much to do with us than anything I feel an overwhelming feeling of pride and joy, not just in the team but also the crowd who have taken some stick, there was something about yesterday which took me back years, an expediency that at any given moment we could score and the rest of the league were watching thinking how the fuck can we cope with this.
Probably getting carried away but who cares.
Don’t forget Neil and Co. have actually TWICE beaten national press to Sports Podcast of The Year.
We need to keep Emre Can. End of.
Great performance, nice piece Neil.
Pies sold out again, although it was 15 minutes before kick off.
I’m beginning to wonder whether Joe G is being readied for a career at centre half. Looked solid and composed yesterday in a position he’s still adapting to. One great block when it was 1-0 (I think) and a number of timely challenges. Just needs to lose that habit of getting caught in possession once every game. Obviously bringing VVD in could restrict his chances this season, but I reckon we’re watching the development of a real player here.