IT felt familiar, didn’t it?
A late goal to confirm a crucial three points against the sworn enemy. This time, though, it was oh so different.
Before Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Manchester United in October 2009, The Reds sat in eighth place while Alex Ferguson’s side were top of the table. It was around the time where things were all feeling a bit beginning of the end for Rafa Benitez at Anfield.
However, as they had done twice the season before, his lads found a way to topple United, with the now famous scenes of Pepe Reina running the full length of the pitch and being the first to join goalscorer David N’Gog in celebration.
It was nice then to hear that Alisson Becker was apparently paying homage to his Spanish predecessor when he replicated that run after assisting Mo Salah for Liverpool’s second goal against the same opponent.
It cemented the idea that this group of players understand what it means to play for this club, and that they don’t feel the weight of the shirt anywhere near as much as some of the past occupants appear to have done.
They understand the tradition of the club and show respect to it, but each and every one of them are here to make their own entry into the history books.
Alisson is right at the forefront of that with his succession of awards over the course of 2019, and if his performance against United is anything to go by, he’s showing absolutely no signs of letting up.
While his opposite number David De Gea also put in a performance he personally can be proud of, his was once again a standout display in a team full of players who look a number of levels below his.
By contrast, Alisson’s pass which set up Salah showed just how in tune he is with his teammates.
When the Brazilian was brought in it seemed a choice made by the recruitment team that was as much about his style of goalkeeping as it was about the obvious improvement he would be on the now forgotten Loris Karius.
But Alisson has perhaps surprised some supporters with just how good his shot stopping ability has been. His point-blank save against Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik was arguably the sliding doors moment that went Liverpool’s way, leading to the success we’re seeing now.
Against United his ability to catch and keep hold of whatever kind of effort on goals their attackers could muster up was there for all to see, but it’s often been his positioning which has gone somewhat under the radar.
Where in the past we’ve been left frustrated by a range of goalkeepers with poor positioning, poor command of their area and lacklustre distribution, Alisson has all three of those qualities in abundance.
No longer are supporters questioning whether Brendan Rodgers made a mistake in letting go of Reina at the time he did, and longing for the days of the Spanish fan favourite.
Now The Reds have a man between the sticks who may well go down as one of the greatest in the club’s history, and certainly eclipses the now Aston Villa man in terms of overall goalkeeping ability.
Alisson’s assist also sees him eclipse a number of notable outfield players who are yet to lay a goal on for one of their teammates – and you certainly wouldn’t bet against it being his last crucial contribution by putting Liverpool on the front foot.
The best is definitely to come as he continues on his upward trajectory as part of this side, and that alone should be enough to worry rivals still trying desperately to discredit this team.
All the most dominant teams throughout football history have had a solid spine, and that starts with the goalkeeper.
It goes without saying that The Reds are in safe hands for the foreseeable future.
"As much as it would have been great to absolutely smash them, there's nothing sweeter than a last-second clincher." 👏
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) January 20, 2020