THE Title Truism…
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
It is a marathon and a sprint. It is an 800m race, two laps of the track where you run as fast as you can. It’s long distance, it’s dead fast. It’s tactical, it’s breakneck. It’s momentum and it’s momentous.
We saw both of those today. We saw Liverpool’s irresistible momentum, when Newcastle United became powerless to resist, when having worked so hard to keep Mo Salah quiet they just had to foul him and give up, when there was nothing to do but take 2-0 and finally there wasn’t even that.
Liverpool were both brilliant and grinding, and had the momentum with them. The momentum today was set from the back, from Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson. The former all assurance, the latter all demands of his teammates, of the referee, of himself. It was never going to drop with van Dijk on the pitch, never going to slow with Henderson.
We watch Liverpool, we love The Reds but we struggle to see at times how hard they are to deal with. Newcastle played well for 45 minutes, they worked really hard, kept shape, blocked passing lanes and all round were solid. They were 1-0 down and grafting like nothing on earth to do it.
We ask so many questions. Stop the main man, deal with Sadio Mane. To have a Mane solution, you need to have thought about Xherdan Shaqiri and Roberto Firmino. Want to stop the ball getting to them? Get on Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum. But what about the full backs? Sorted that? OK. What about van Dijk?
Rafa Benitez shared with us the metaphor of the blanket in football. Your blanket can cover your head or your feet but never both. There is no blanket equipped to deal with the irrepressible Reds.
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Today showcased momentum but was momentous. The rumble and roar from The Reds when the news spread that Leicester City had scored a second against Manchester City was spectacular. It showed how engaged this club is with the business in front of it. Anfield was suddenly red raw, adoring its heroes, screaming in defiance.
For weeks football’s punditry class has wondered if Liverpool can continue to match Manchester City’s pace. It was looking in the wrong place. Since Divock Origi’s header Liverpool have been simmering towards the boil, whereas Manchester City have been cooling. A late goal conceded at Watford, and then Liverpool won at Bournemouth, and nothing has been the same since. Liverpool doubled down at Wolverhampton and City have so far been unable to respond. So far.
They are an excellent side with fabulous players. Tottenham Hotspur the same. So far. But Liverpool kicked 50 metres ago, have heard the bell and glanced behind them to see they have some space. This Liverpool side will presumably at some point wobble, but it won’t be through nerves. They have shown magnificent bottle to this stage of proceedings and they have a sudden strength, as well as a strength in depth.
People will say the challenge changes once you hit the front but people will be wrong. The challenge for Liverpool remains the same — keep winning. The glory of needing 100 points is that the challenge never changes. Win. Nothing but that. There is no room to manoeuvre.
That’s the glory of the 800m race. It hurts, and it exhausts, and it goes so quickly, but there is little room for doubt. You run 400m as fast as you can. A bell rings. You run the next 400m as fast as you can.
No one this season has run as fast as Liverpool. Serious Liverpool. Loving their work Liverpool. Seizing the day Liverpool. Carpe diem.
Nineteen down. Sixteen won. Three drawn. Nineteen down and we know whatever happens against Arsenal we go to the Etihad ahead.
Nineteen down. Nineteen to go. Carpe diem? Carpe jugulum. These are our boys and they are showing their teeth.
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— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 26 December 2018
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Love the 800 m race analogy. Love the reds xxx
So far we are living the dream, however 19 to go and we now have Spurs hanging in there.
Next up Arsenal, at home. We need to keep going and beat those feckers… it’s all about the next game. That said I freakin loving today and how we played and City’s defeat. This is another good day.
Spurs have always been hanging in there, up until Arsenal beat them they were 3 off us and nobody spoke of them then. It seems since they’ve had a couple of emphatic wins people have suddenly started to take notice.
To win a league they’d have to firstly overhaul us and secondly, they’d have to stay there. They’re quality, but that’s a big ask.
You must not have been reading my comments as I been on about them for months. Maybe only now have they gained your focus. Mine has been on 4 of the other big 6. I discounted Man Utd a while back.
As for overhauling us, anything and everything is still mathematically possible with 57pts to play for.
Can we have it written in the marble annals of Footie History that our title challenge began properly in the 96th minute of the derby with a blue flare burning brightly?
We shall see what happens on the other side of Arsenal and City – much like City and Chelsea in 13/14 – but we no longer feel like our manager is building the aircraft while flying it. If we win this damn thing, I imagine that it won’t be by barreling a burning hull over the finish line. That might have been the case for last season’s Champions League, but this feels solid in its exhilaration. Solid as marble.
13/14 Season, those 2 games against Chelsea and City away around the New Year mark saw some disgraceful officiating that went against us. Let’s hope the 18/19 version of Arsenal at home and City away sees us take maximum points and see some fair officiating. Fingers crossed.
Solid performance, and solid writing Neil.
Re the blanket analogy, just buy a bigger blanket and you can cover both head and feet. ;o) Yes I get it.
Henderson was tremendous. MOM for me – not often coming from me at least.
As I’ve commented before I like him best in the Attacking Mid. He may not be Iniesta but he can contribute much more as an AM.
Everyone else, Klopp and Anfield were just magic. I got used to this in the 80s, now I wish to get used to it all over again.
Arsenal will come with everything as will City, but let’s take it one game at a time.
Come on you Reds!
Hendo played very well yesterday. Maybe the Barcodes being up against us brings out the best in him. If so we should just tell him that each and every game he up against Newcastle.
A bit weird today. Loads of strangers around me in the Kop. Mr “head in hands” absent but not a peep from the substitutes.
The bro-in-law, who hasn’t been for 30 years,is talking about coming to Munich!
It’s on. Let’s stay focused. Let’s keep at it. Let’s keep together when things don’t go right and we win this fucker.
I haven’t felt this way since 1977 and how that started to develop and how the feelings started growing. How we would all settle for a similar outcome to that season.
Halfway through the season and we are well placed. It is now as much us supporters getting right behind the team as it is the players themselves.
Great use of ‘Carpe Jugulum’ that I am sure that even the great man himself would have approved of.
We just need to make sure that we don’t let go!