IT’S all getting a bit too much.
I feel like Bobby Firmino. It would almost be relief to sit this one out. Happy to be half blind.
Liverpool’s intensity in these early league games has been something to behold. Sure, they haven’t yet been truly electric, but concentrated and focused. None of this is happening by accident.
The truth is that The Reds used to be “only half a football team”. It was some half, mind. A front-loaded portion that oozed goals and thrills. Now it’s different, though. Now they have the men at the back. Real men. The lads who can defend.
Virgil van Dijk has it in him to become a genuine Liverpool hero. Old men may come to tell their heirs and their offspring about the colossus from the Netherlands who came to save a city. Virgil, when he’s not leading from the rear, is coaxing incredibly high levels of performance from rookie Joe Gomez.
To the sides of Virgil and Joe are two young full backs with the world at their feet. We are destined to forever take Andy Robertson for granted, but let the record show that Robbo is already the absolute real deal. A rare talent. And if he was called Andre Robertsinho we would surely be lauding him as one of the greatest bargain signings in Liverpool’s recent history.
And then there’s Trent Alexander-Arnold. He’s as good as Steven Gerrard was at 19. He must eventually play further forward. For now though, he’s on a mission to become Cafu or a right-sided Roberto Carlos. And then there’s the ‘keeper. Alisson Becker. A force of nature. He just doesn’t give a fuck. He’s like Virgil. He’s like all of the new back five. They are players who are totally confident in their roles and abilities.
That Jürgen Klopp has turned Liverpool around defensively in such a short space of time is a minor miracle. It has shimmied under radars, but turned around the defence has been. Two goals conceded in five this season. And the tightening was happening post January last term. This isn’t all just suddenly coming together.
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So to Paris Saint-Germain, the next test of the all new, solid and focused from back to front Reds. The Parisians are no slouches. They’re stupidly rich and the quality in their squad bears testimony to that. They are exactly what we need and deserve at this moment in time. Bring PSG on. Come at us with ya Neymar and your Kylian Mbappe, lads. We fear no one and nothing.
To a degree, Europe is a free hit this week. We can lose to Paris and still shrug, and get back to the business of trying to win a title at the weekend. The Reds just need to be casual, knuckled down and ready to steam roller. There is zero to fear; just an occasion and a challenge to be relished.
Klopp won’t change much for Tuesday night. Firmino may miss out because some Tottenham prick half gauged his eye out. No matter. This time, refreshening is important anyway. The manager will be tempted to start Daniel Sturridge in Firmino’s place. It will be the perfect stage upon which Daniel can demonstrate that his rehabilitation is now in full throttle. Xherdan Shaqiri will also make his case. The Liverpool manager has options. And that’s why these are such exciting times.
It was a slight surprise that captain Jordan Henderson missed out against Spurs at the weekend. Was he being rested ahead of a busy programme, or was his omission simply a statement of just how high the standards are in Klopp’s squad nowadays?
There will surely be one change in midfield in the name of rotation and it should see the skipper back in the team, but at whose expense? None of Naby Keita, James Milner or Gini Wijnaldum will understand why they should drop out against the French champions.
Expect The Reds to throw the kitchen sink at PSG, but for the Parisians to be resilient and not easily impressed. It will be quite the titanic contest. Anfield will, of course, be rocking.
You sense The Reds readying themselves to go up a gear. I hope I’m right. It might be something to see.
Predicted 11: Alisson; Trent, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Keita; Salah, Sturridge, Mane
Kick off: 8pm, Tuesday
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)
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“It’s a fantastic time to be a Liverpool fan… I can’t see any negatives. This really is what you’re in it for.” 🙌
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 10 September 2018