LIVERPOOL buried a ghost this afternoon on the south coast.
A big Toxic Thunder-splashed ghost of Christmas past was well and truly consigned along with the memory of Ryan Fraser embodying a combination of Lionel Messi and David Fairclough at the mere sight of a Liver bird.
It can be as perplexing as much as it is enjoyable, given a week of frustration that amalgamated in two points out of a very gettable six against mediocre opposition. However you look at the current labyrinthine Liverpool, they are, without question, the second best side in the country on today’s form.
This was a return to the fantastic, free-flowing Reds that have left us craving more all season. Against a Bournemouth side who have remained a stern test for top six opposition all season, with only Arsenal conquering them by more than a one-goal margin, Liverpool set out to cast aside the challenge of The Cherries from the first whistle.
The cut loose, tops-off, dancing in the dark football coupled with a real determination not to concede and to stay switched on as a team all over the pitch will remind fans and opposition alike just what Liverpool can do to opposing sides, particularly on the road. Yet the question now being asked will undoubtedly be why Liverpool cannot show such vigour and suave on home soil?
Fixtures such as this, as well as the stereotypical Stoke, West Ham and insert newly promoted side (Brighton) away have sent shivers down the Kopite spine for many a year prior to this season. Even early on in Jürgen Klopp’s tenure, his Reds wilted at places like Watford and Newcastle in away performances so bereft of bottle yet somewhat oddly accepted around the club as just “one of them”. Something we always felt would rear it’s ugly head at least once or twice a season.
Yet this side isn’t interested in such a rhetoric away from home lately. We can look at the collapses against Manchester City and Tottenham as well as the frustrating draw at Newcastle, yet we know this side Klopp has created is a high-wire act and at times we have to accept the wheel may come off. What must be celebrated readily is days like today when Liverpool make winning 4-0 away from home an absolute formality.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 17 December 2017
The attention will obviously come back to the week past, where the Everton and West Brom results will be contextualised and compared against the result and performance today. It is interesting that Liverpool now have 17 points from nine games each home and away this season, yet the home form has yielded five draws. While away only two games have ended all square.
In 2008-9 Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool drew seven home games and four away. This is widely regarded by most as the reason we never triumphed to the title that year. Although the stakes are slightly less high given Manchester City’s steamrolling of the current campaign, the point remains that the current crop are also allowing a passiveness and stalemate element to their Anfield form that is in stark contrast to what is being produced away. Draws kill league campaigns a lot more than defeats that are taken in isolation, Liverpool have to buck that trend quickly if they are to find true momentum and consistency this term.
You felt amid the clobbering vanquishment of Spartak Moscow recently that the enjoyment was back at Anfield. An enjoyment we’ve not felt often enough amid a sea of anxiety and fictive narrative that has often played out. While it’s true Liverpool will undoubtedly be finding that teams are opening up a lot more away due to their own domestic pressures, they must also remember that the game doesn’t have to become attritional at home just because of the nature of the opposition. This is something the fans must also admonish on home soil.
Whatever the formula is, it feels like Liverpool need to now find a way to bring home the noise and erase the fear that has crept into home form. This is needed club wide, this is a side too good to be compared to narratives past. Looking at them today makes you more excited than ever for the next time you get to watch them play.
I saw a tweet last night, I can’t remember who from, that simply stated “Manchester City fans don’t deserve this kind of football”. Whatever your viewpoint on that, it serves that we should grasp and encourage every sinew of goodness this Liverpool side holds.
If this team can get it right in front of our eyes as well as on the road, the sky is truly the limit.
“He seems to have found what he knows he can be good at with the lads around him. I think that’s crucial and it means that Liverpool have got a very good footballer.”
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 17 December 2017