THERE should be a word for the pain of a draw which feels like a defeat. In fact, there should be a word for the pain of a draw which feels like a defeat, after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Because that word is the word. That word is the most the relevant word.
It hurts. It hurts because of the recovery and the second-half performance and the wider context. The wider context has nothing to do with the game. The random masquerading as the meaningful. It feels like the consequence of a bad few days. But it isn’t.
Similarly there isn’t something inevitable about the nature of Watford’s equaliser. There really isn’t, however fatalistic we feel. But Liverpool themselves seemed to invite, believe in, that same false inevitability.
Liverpool’s footballers have defended thousands of corners, thousands of free kicks. But they let context in. They believed in their own accident-tinged narrative and then there was that nameless dread of an equaliser and all the pain that follows.
Manipulating the random is what both of these managers looked to do with their players. In the first half Marco Silva’s lot did it better, creating second-ball scenarios all over the place and winning most of them. Jordan Henderson left overwhelmed, a one-man midfield because Gini Wijnaldum and Emre Can were so advanced, playing on the opposition full backs at times.
That was where Jürgen Klopp wanted to win the random. Get his lads to go long over the top and either get in or win the scraps as they came back. Time and again Liverpool looked to unleash their pace but they only opened Watford up when they got it down and played, the goal a great example of what it should look like.
Nothing should look like the other end. Liverpool opened up too easily and then falling to deal with another set piece. Watford were enormous and far better at the mixer than Liverpool could hope to be.
In the second half Liverpool were unlucky from the mixer. They could have had two from set pieces but it makes little difference in the wider scheme of things. If you can’t deal with the mixer you are in the wrong league. This country has eight or nine sides in its bottom half that live for it. Others can adapt for it, for Liverpool. Not every side will be as big as Watford but will that matter? There’s enough in it for them at all times and Liverpool buy into their own bullshit far, far too easily.
But they also buy into their own potential majesty. Second half especially, the front three looked irresistible though the opening goal is everything in the right place. After half time they take Watford apart until 65 minutes and then they begin to tire. The midfield could offer them a bit more but injuries of the thigh and Barcelona variety meant Liverpool couldn’t shift the ball cleverly enough.
However, if there is a criticism of the attack it is that they don’t kill it, put Watford to bed with a fourth. They had the momentum, the chances and the ball. The front three cut a dash but not quite a swathe. That must surely come.
Fundamentally it is unfair to point at the attackers for not digging the side’s defending out. They did just enough. Liverpool as a whole did not.
We’re back. For better or worse we’re back and the better was it all going off like no one’s business when Mo Salah scored; worse when the uncoined word occurred.
It should hurt. It should blister and sting. What’s a song without you? The highs should be the highest. The lows should be the lowest. This Liverpool side can guarantee the former but it is a long way away from being able to guarantee none of the latter.
This thing of ours. Nobody said it was easy. And I’m telling you now it will be this hard. 37 more.
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