YOU say you’ve got to go home.
It is always someone’s first game. Always someone’s first time. This is important to remember when you rock up to Anfield giving few fucks, striding through the gloaming as the nights draw in. Remember this is someone’s most special evening. Remember what we take for granted means the world.
I know of three people tonight for whom it was their first game at this ground. Three people who got the full hit. But it wasn’t the full hit — this is true: football without fans is nothing. This is true of home fans and away fans. A game without away supporters is odd and shouldn’t be encouraged.
Liverpool Football Club did the right thing in the way it reallocated the tickets, but football should be about us and them, not us and us. One is the lonelinest number you’ll ever do.
The best thing about scoring is scoring but the second best will always be their silence, their acceptance, their acknowledgement that Liverpool are superior, that everything is Red. I am an angry celebrator of goals and wins. I love the idea of sticking it, but where can it be stuck in an all Liverpool crowd? Coitus interruptus.
You say you’ve got to go home.
There was something sumptuous about Xherdan Shaqiri’s involvement in both goals. He wins it back for the first and weights his pass like Michael Laudrup in his pomp. Andy Robertson gets in and Liverpool flood the box in a manner which will delight their manager, Roberto Firmino converts a penalty from open play. The second is won back and propelled forward before the most sugared touch from Shaqiri sweetens the deal for Mo Salah’s right foot.
There is a boring but possibly accurate conversation to be had that the most important foot in Liverpool’s season is Salah’s right. If that foot has an above average season Liverpool will soar. For now though let’s talk about Shaqiri’s left, or more accurately his desire to use it, to get on the ball.
The most pleasing aspect of everything Shaqiri does for Liverpool is the sheer pleasure in the effort and expression. He’s enjoying himself without indulging himself. He’s enjoying the workload and the virtue that comes with it. Pleasure in the virtue. He got a deserved ovation halfway through the second half which suggests he starts against Cardiff. Good.
Around the 58th minute Fabinho won it back covering over at 3-0. The ball went forward, Roberto Firmino excelled in harrying and was backed up by Shaqiri. Liverpool built from the final third. The very best thing Jürgen Klopp does as a manager is make footballers not just understand the benefit of graft but to love both it and the possibilities it creates. To work is to live, is to love. It’s Liverpudlian to do a day. Liverpudlian too to enjoy a night. Pleasure in the virtue.
You say you’ve got to go home.
Fabinho enjoyed himself, the sheer excitement of starting, and playing, and seeing what can open in front of him stopped him from splitting the centre halves. Don’t worry about the centre halves, mate. These two are sound. You worry about the rest of it, revel in the rest of it.
He did that from the half-hour mark and surely also has to start against Cardiff off the back of it. He won tackles and played the sweetest first time ball to Sadio Mane. They coped with him by fouling him. He should play the return leg, because I am telling you they will hope he doesn’t.
Across the course of the game though, Gini Wijnaldum was the outstanding performer. Has he improved markedly or has our appreciation of him improved? I would suggest both can be true. He was better than we thought last season while him going up 10 per cent looks like 20, like 30. It was a performance of brain and brawn, engagement and energy.
It was a shame to see Mane’s penalty saved but marvellous to see his winner supplied by Daniel Sturridge. Even at four, Liverpool deserved a greater margin of victory. But occasionally this happens. There is nothing wrong with Red Star returning home very soundly beaten and simultaneously feeling like they dodged a bullet. It won’t be an easy team talk in a fortnight.
It was around this time last season your heroes and mine got their groove and started playing. They did Maribor for seven and never looked back. They reached the places so few teams ever go. Liverpool were marvellous tonight but they need to go there again and go there now. Now is the time to strike, to come alive, to have other ideas.
Liverpool in the box seat in the group. Liverpool probably able to contemplate February trips. Liverpool with so much more work to do and to enjoy.
The clocks go back Sunday. I can’t wait to watch them work and enjoy their work as autumn becomes winter. A lovely day of wintery boozers segued into a lovely night of cockle warming Liverpudlian football. Hold it close.
The joy is a furnace and it is always, always, always someone’s first time.
You say you’ve got to go home.
You’ll be late.
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As autumn becomes winter. Is right lad, and congrats on the nuptials.
” Shaqiri does for Liverpool is the sheer pleasure in the effort and expression”
Neil “I never want to see him play for liverpool” Atkinson ,I have never been so happy to hear a TAW rep so wrong especially one of the best he was milneresque tonight roll on the red carpet!
“It’s always someone’s first time”
For my grandson it was Watford at Anfield last season. Reds got five and Salah four of them!
Boy, was he happy!
There were away fans in the ground tonight. Loads of Serbians by me in the Upper Sir Kenny D Stand. In the Thomas Cook package deal seats. And they booed every touch that Shaqiri made, booed and whistled and shouted abuse at him because of his Kosovan-Albanian background …. and so he went and gave his best performance in a Red shirt tonight. Showed them what a lad from Kosovo can do. And it was beautiful. As beautiful as their racism was ugly.
No wonder they’re barred out of grounds!!
Chris Lawler recalling the Red Star match at Anfield back in November 1973:
“I have always thought it was a big moment. We thought we would beat them. Shankly built us up beforehand, although he did that every game to be honest.
“We always played as though we were trying to win 6-0 but, in Europe, we didn’t know the teams. There was no TV obviously where you would see clips of the opposition.
“So we just tried to score as many as we could and I think over the years we learnt our lesson. We needed to be more cautious and have a more patient style.
“They scored two fantastic goals at Anfield. One was a shot from 35 yards and the other direct from a free kick. When you think Ray Clemence was our goalkeeper, then it would take something special to beat him — and they were.”
Tonight the Reds and Shaqiri, with his tremendous show of technique, vision and skill, made me leave all of this behind.
Couldn’t have asked for a better response since Napoli.
And I know you’re gonna let him bore your pants off again.
Nothing boring about this display mind you. No negatives at all
Keep it going lads. Just as long as you save a piece for me
My son’s first time tonight over from Valencia. Loved it all
So happy to see Gini getting recognition.
It’s as if he’s finished honing indivisual skills one at a time in past seasons and now that he’s mastered them all he just brings the finished article every single time.
He’d be my player of the season so far if it wasn’t for Gomez playing like the love child of Maldini and Cafu.
Imagine if we had that ref every game, just imagine. I’d of been more than a little miffed if those type of pens had been awarded against us. The second one I thought was particularly harsh.
Surprised Fabinho didn’t get to take the last one. Saw his stats for pens scored and he’s up there with Milner. The one mane took was just to blam it. I suppose he hit the target, which was better than some players do (see Mahrez for City against us). At least that still makes the keeper work instead of the crowd ducking.
The scoreline last night could have been more. We played well. We will have tougher games.
Good to see Fabinho have a good run out. Good to see Shaq able to play a part in a couple of goals and Sturridge come on and instantly set up Mane in a nonchalant way.
I am hoping this is the catalyst that truly sees a fair few of our players kick on from here.
Gini has been a revelation this season. What a player!
As good a performance Fabinho had, I’d still need want Milly and Hendo back asap. The Premier League is a different kettle fo fish. If you mistime your tackles and give away needless set-pieces, then Englisch opposition can really hurt you.
I felt Gini was massively underrated last season and has basically just carried on where he finished off last term. As it stands his name has to be a 1st on the team sheet, so that leaves the others having to fight out for the remaining places and with Milner also performing out of his skin, then I be inclined to give Shaq the nod at present and play 4 2 3 1… then we can bring in Fabinho towards the end of games to get valuable PL time…. It’s great playing fantasy league isn’t it. No wonder Klopp was smiling and laughing so much last night.
On Shaqiri: Don’t you wonder sometimes about sound and vision?
We have Europe’s most potent attacking three up top, yet we are add a fourth attacker of the same elite echelons without feeling like we are porous in back. Almost feels unfair. At the same time, you could envision the media heralding a new “Fab Four” if this becomes a regular gig.
And can we talk about Sturridge’s pass to play Lallana in?