WHAT winning feels like.
Soul soaring. Heart pounding. Vaguely nauseous. Made of fists, made of hips, made of fuck off.
Just fuck off.
It should always feel like that but so often it doesn’t. A combination between great football and a great scrap. Tonight these lads, whether they played well or not, all fought for Liverpool. Not one of them hid. Not one refused to know. I saw 14 grafters, 14 Liverpool players, 14 players who had a gauntlet laid down to them and who ran it.
Revel in it. You don’t get many of them in any season. You never did. Don’t let them lie to you. But these days, when so few sides have a thought through go, Leicester deserve praise however brilliantly horrible they are. This is our second against Leicester this season. Something about Liverpool versus Leicester brings performances out from one another. I’d love to play them every week. Not because I think we would beat them every week but because they make football matches a live thing.
They have quality all over the pitch. Kasper Schmeichel, Harry Maguire, Wilfred Ndidi, Vicente Iborra, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy are all genuinely good footballers. They were outplayed and outfought in the end but they took a lot of outplaying and outfighting. Only the referee comes out of the encounter with little credit.
The approach from the outset made clear how tough a game the Liverpool manager thought this would be. The selection was very strong indeed. He wanted his best lads for this and the way the game played out vindicated that view. He showed Leicester the respect they went on to deserve.
But despite being one down at the break, Liverpool had shown they could create chance after chance. They could open Leicester up. There is a security in that, there is a fear in that. The security that we can create. The fear that too many chances have been spurned.
Liverpool weren’t downhearted. They kept grafting, kept creating and even after their second disallowed goal they still had the spirit to snatch their winner. Across the pitch they had the belief that comes from having scored 75 goals, from having one of the top scorers in the league, from the knowledge the quality is there.
This wasn’t just on the pitch. As a collective we believed. The crowd today wanted this, not least because we all remembered that Leicester City are a good football team. Nothing felt as though it was going to come easy, battling a side and a referee, battling too many home draws, battling time wasting. Nothing was easy but Liverpool had other ideas.
Emre Can’s performance veered throughout the game but he’s always so gloriously present. He frustrates at times but he frustrates because he wants to be everywhere, wants to be in charge. He wants to scrap as much as anyone. These are virtues on the whole. And what he does for the bounce ball at the end is glorious, one of the great moments in the history of this fabulous club. I could watch it over and over again.
Roberto Firmino drops to the ground at the final whistle. This is a flair player in theory but the sheer desire and needle he also shows is a delight. He makes a great foul at the final whistle.
Mo Salah though. Mo Salah. He believes in himself and believes in his teammates. He misses but knows he will score, knows it will come. There’s a trust he has, a trust which goes both ways. He will find chances if the ball gets into his feet and he will make it work, make good players look daft, make the net bulge. He will make sure.
It’s what winning feels like, what winning is, making sure, showing trust. Dropping to your knees at 90. Fouling. Needling. Getting the ball out of the net. Thanks to our opponents for reminding us of the key joys within this thing of ours. Come to Anfield and be good bastards. Make our Christmas.
Winning isn’t everything, not always, but winning like this, winning when it matters and when the game grows. Winning with perhaps a key goal. Winning in December when it will matter in March. Winning when behind. Winning.
Soul soaring. Heart pounding. Vaguely nauseous. Town. Let’s go to town. Drink, dance, sing and shout. Liverpool make your Christmas, make it a joy to be alive. We responded in the ground today. Let’s respond with our Saturday night. Let’s devote it to them. They can’t have a pint. We can have loads of them.
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 30 December 2017