NIL-nil half time. Three-nil full time. The first half is turgid. Are you surprised? Were you angry? Don’t be angry. You are better than that.
Regardless, if you are a half-decent football team and you got carved apart time and again — it’s worth remembering that if 0-7 flattered anyone it was Maribor — in front of your own crowd two weeks ago then you will ensure that doesn’t happen again. You will work on shape, shape and more shape. You will take no chances. You will want to keep it tight. You will want to get to 45.
All this isn’t to say Liverpool shouldn’t do more, shouldn’t do better in the first period. They should. But while they are facing the same players as a fortnight ago, they aren’t facing the same team. These lads have been larruped 0-7. They don’t want that again.
The ball moves too slow for The Reds in the first 45. There are so many ways an upgrade at centre back would help Liverpool. One is just being a centre back, obviously. But someone who could quicken it through both passing and carrying would help massively.
So too would a centre back who carries a genuine threat from attacking set pieces. There’s always a worry the wrong battle is being fought with this but we really need to be getting upwards of seven from our central defenders across the course of a campaign. Seven important goals, opening goals, equalising goals, goals to lead would be verging on the promised land. We currently don’t look like getting one goal whoever plays there.
This doesn’t hurt Liverpool tonight. The goals were always going to come against Maribor, one way or the other. Liverpool do quicken after the break, as you’d expect and they get their expected reward. When the goals do come, the game is taken away from the visitors at pace. Another penalty missed, another irrelevance. Liverpool know they can come alive and punish the opposition but in relatively short order they no longer need to.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had another intriguing game. He looks like a player on the verge of something clicking. Mo Salah scores again, misses chances again. I’ve never seen a wide player for Liverpool have so many good chances. It’s unbelievable how dangerous he is, unbelievable how many goals he already has.
If Liverpool get a result, especially 1-0 against West Ham United, it really will be worth dwelling on how Rafa Benitez this week’s football has been. Not since Benitez himself was manager have Liverpool accrued deservedly such run-of-the-mill, mundane results. It’s the nature of many campaigns, that the mundane takes precedent over the miraculous. Sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a few months.
In this thing of ours, that’s often not bad. A few months of things as they should be can provide a springboard for an opportunity for the miraculous. Get to the international break almost intact, Reds, keep giving yourself every chance.
Going well in Autumn offers the chance of pushing on in April. Liverpool are a long way from perfect, a hell of a long way from it. But two home 3-0s are a variant on it.
There is suddenly nothing to be angry about and the sudden suggestion of a bridgehead.
Keep going, Liverpool. One more, then a breather and then everything.