LIVERPOOL go 0-1 down in the wind and the hail and you wonder if they are going to break.
It’s cycling up a mountain, a Tour de France stage with yellow jerseys and polkadot tops, loons running alongside the bikes. Cycling up a mountain and teeth are gritted, and then three weeks ago Tottenham faced Burnley and they broke. Left pedalling squares ever since. Not about bottle but about pace and not being able to handle it.
Liverpool go 0-1 down and you wonder if they will be pedalling squares for at least 85 minutes, headbanging in the face of Burnley and their elbows and the wind and the hail.
For the five minutes immediately prior to the equaliser I was staring into the abyss for the first time since October, let me tell you the abyss is deep. The weather pounded the Kemlyn, the stand itself moaned and groaned, grinding deep, the pathetic fallacy killing me, the prospect deep and hollow.
We are all allowed to wonder, to wobble, why wouldn’t you wonder? But, unlike last weekend, Liverpool themselves had other ideas, a mountain to climb not an abyss to fall into. Other ideas are all I can ever ask when my own turn as gangster as the weather.
Jürgen Klopp had other ideas and god bless him. The selection of Adam Lallana would always be controversial under the circumstances, but the other ideas came through him — a vertical press forcing Burnley into chaos at times, forcing Liverpool onto the front foot, forcing the issue.
Lallana’s slight frame and tender touch belies a smart aggression that, when fully fit, the Burnleys of this world struggle to live with. The equaliser and the second come from smart work leading to brilliant front-three quality. Mo Salah tortures a full back before throwing Tom Heaton into disarray. Sadio Mane’s finish sharper, sweeter and fruitier than lemon meringue pie.
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Roberto Firmino grew into the game to the point he began to run it. He ends up with a brace which rewarded the number nine side of his game, two tap ins, two triumphs for gambling; the other side of his game was pristine.
He loved the chaos — chaos of the conditions, chaos of Burnley, chaos of cycling the mountain. The game became one of his. That happening is among the best things in football.
The goal that opened the abyss, that made you wonder about breaking was a foul on Liverpool’s keeper but he responded brilliantly. He claims three or four very well indeed, commands and is certain with the ball at his feet. At some point the Anfield crowd will need to appreciate that he is going to play football.
What Liverpool do well through the game is keep playing, they manage it even at 3-2. They were a side confident in their football, backs never against the wall — as shown by Daniel Sturridge spraying it beautifully into space for Sadio Mane to keep his cool.
There is something so satisfying about that fourth, that “fuck off” of a goal. Liverpool will not be pedalling squares today. For the challenge to come, scoring four is the way forward. No, Salah doesn’t get his goal but apart from that it couldn’t be better. Liverpool have shaken off adversity marvellously and walk on through the wind and the hail.
The pace remains remarkable. This is the first title race since 2013-14 to be going into April and the demands are to break 90 minimum. It’s one hell of a mountain Liverpool are climbing but you listen to me, they are climbing it, they have gritted their teeth, they have other ideas. They will do for me.
Thirty gone. Eight to go. Liverpool bang on Manchester City’s wheel.
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Great piece as ever Neil, thanks! I read somewhere earlier that we’re level on points at this stage of the season with the great side of 87/88, who most supporters of my age would agree as probably the best ever Liverpool team. That side had years of previous success to develop on though& after the journey we’ve had since H&G, Hodgson et al, to be a point behind a -quite honestly- fantastic (& lucky!) City side with 8 to go after Juergen’s had such a relatively short time in charge with nowhere near the expenditure of some others is really a massive achievement. All the naysayers can do one for me, we should be proud, as fans, wherever we end up at in May.
I am going to be pedantic, it’s Jurgen. However good call. This is a great team who are challenging a financially doped City team who apparently don’t wish to adhere to the same rules as everybody else and keep getting all the softest of decisions from the officials while they they play get nothing. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you can foul our keeper and kick lumps out of us and we get yellow cards as some sort of bizarre irony.
It actually is Juergen, because the Umlaut ‘ü’ is often written as ‘ue’ in German…
Hi J, it’s actually jürgen klopp with the umlaut which is typically represented as ue. Anglised jurgen or juergen can both generally be used without issue, but lots of people who read/write German would use ue as it is more grammatically correct as a translation. Don’t mean to be rude, so apologies if it comes across that way. Thought you may be interested. I’m also trying to inform everyone I know to sing sim-senhor for Bobby rather than si senor as he’s Brazilian (hence speaks Portuguese not Spanish).
There’s part of me that is glad we didn’t concede a foul there, as it gave them the chance to prove how good they are and how good their collective attitude and mentality is. And these reds are the best I have known. That said, if we can avoid the terrible decisions and get the ones we deserve for the next 8 games that would be grand.
Neil, excellent writing as always. Many thanks, I look forward to next week’s 31 down, 7 to go edition.
I couldn’t get the umlaut on my keyboard… soz about that. Can do a mean Russian one though.
I’ve been wondering about the si senor bit. Have been meaning to look up what it should be.
I appreciate the info, personally. Bobby’d probably love it if it switched!
Impressed by your use of pathetic fallacy, or Fallás truamhéalach, the Irish version, with which I impressed a girl over 30 years ago. Happy memories, hopefully the Reds will soon bring more!
Hi piece, Love the TDF imagery.
You (or one of the boys, Andy Heaton?) ref’d Alisson backing himself on corners and not needing a teammate shield near him.
Might have to review that against the grock sides. Especially if the
ref doesn’t want to know.
I remember Neil, on several shows a couple of years ago, saying any team should get to 60 points with 8 to go and you’re in the mix. 73 is mental.
Thanks for the piece Neil.
Happy to see the Reds prevail without excuses. Bad weather? so what? Depends on how much you want it.
Lallana put in a shift and great through ball from Sturridge.
Even though Salah didn’t score, his tenacity to do so is what helped Mane and Firmino through on goal. Sometimes you just have to do that when you’re not scoring, yet.
Not sure about the right back situation. They were knocking down there a few times. Henderson is not the answer especially at the Allianz.
Looking forward to Bayern next.
Bloody hell Sash, you are finally looking forward to something. You on the happy pills there pal?
Again we had to deal with shithouse tactics and a set of officials who allowed the oppo to basically kick lumps out of us and get away with murder. Oh, how do I long for the day that we get the decisions that City get and that they get the type of officiating we endure.
It’s not enough that City cheat all the rules financially but seems the FA and the officials also bend over backwards to aid them. Today though we did make sure we sent some FUCK OFF statements, loud and clear.
TIA and TTT both now saying exactly what i am saying. For the article on the Tomkins Times please see https://tomkinstimes.com/2019/03/liverpools-incredible-season-rolls-on-despite-abysmal-refereeing-and-rivals-alleged-dodginess/
Time all spoke out about this. It has gone on for too long. We are being robbed.
Agreed a month ago the media bollox was about us ‘bottling it’. like it was a level playing field. Lazy shite journalism. We are having an unbelievable season, now 12 points clear of ‘the rest’ and pushing what increasingly looks like a financially corrupt City to the wire.
Remember that City bench for the midweek match at Goodison. De Bruyne, Sterling, Mahrez and Jesus. Yes, bench.
Time the media started doing their job properly. Klopp is building something incredible but doing it legitimately means it takes longer than the City route.
Let’s be angry and recognise how fucking hard every one of our lads has worked to get give us this shot at the Title. It’s still on.
Thanks for the incredible writing on TAW, keeping us all sane!
Great comment Paul. 100% agreed from me…
Thanks Paul. Massive thumbs up for saying it how it is.
I’ve said it here before, but VAR (for genuinely clear errors only) can’t come quickly enough. The standard of officiating in this league is genuinely fucking shocking. Watching Andre “the ancient” Marriner determined to show he’s not a homer and Jon Moss blowing from his ring piece after running 20 yards says all you need to know.
Let’s not get too carried away with thinking they’ve got it in for us. They’re (nearly) all just incompetent.
Just funny how we suffer more than most though Frank and City gain more than anyone. I’d like to say there wasn’t bais, but week in week out shows there actually is and incompetence has nothing to do with it, especially when twice we have a title run with them in 5 years and twice they select officials from manchester to officiate their home games and in both there is controversies a plenty and all go their way, every single effing one.
Let’s even the playing field and they get our shit for the remaining 8 games and we get their luxury of everything soft going their way.
Top writing as per usual Neil. Yep 30 down, 8 to go. What a win this would be.
Great writing as always Neil but please don’t let nonsense terms llike gambling creep in. Gambling involves stakes.
Anticipation by both Lallana and Mane (to be onside) exceptional for second. Going to have to rewrite a few more rules to stop these lads.