Match preview before Fulham v Liverpool in the Premier League at Craven Cottage, where a win could bring it all flooding back for the better…
THIS is late so I’m sorry, but let me explain.
I write this as I sit down to watch Crystal Palace v Arsenal, and I can’t really believe it’s all come around again so soon.
I’ve loved watching The Reds in pre-season, and went absolutely wild when Darwin Nunez scored for Liverpool and Erling Haaland missed for Manchester City, and I’m absolutely buzzing to see our lads back in action against Fulham tomorrow.
And yet, I still don’t feel quite ready for the football to start again. It’s the weirdest thing, but the best way I can try to rationalise it is by describing my reaction to the events of Paris.
I class myself as one of the lucky ones, given I wasn’t physically harmed. I did still have to deal with the inexplicable closure of Gate Z, pushing and shoving from local chancers, getting into the ground after the time of the originally scheduled kick off through (over, aided by a steward) the wrong turnstile, and crippling fear during our long walk back to our hotel.
As I sat on the bus after the game, I was almost frozen. A great and important Post-Match Show happened around me, which I didn’t (and probably couldn’t) contribute to, and then as everybody slept I sat there wide awake for the whole coach drive back to Liverpool. This frozen state would continue to be a theme over the coming weeks.
I dragged myself to the parade and was glad that I did. Glad that I got to send off our lads the right way after an incredible season. Glad that we all got that experience together, because I’ve never felt quite as close to them.
And that, I guess, is why I’m pleased they’re back but actually not quite ready for football. Part of being caught up in something like Paris, but not actually being harmed like others – acquaintances, Reds, friends, family and loved ones – brings on that frozen state. Like you shouldn’t be the one to speak, even though at times it’s quite literally my job.
I just felt like I either couldn’t or, at the very least, didn’t really want to. And I do feel bad for that, to be honest, because of the great work so many close to me have done. It’s hard not to feel like I could and should have been a bigger part of that.
So I’ll watch Fulham tomorrow with a beaming smile on my face, but I sit here now and watch the Eagles and Gunners flying out the traps at each other while feeling a little unprepared for it all.
I imagine once I’m back inside Anfield – back among acquaintances, Reds, friends, family and loved ones – I’ll snap out of this funk, but for now the funk shall be within me.
Until that day comes, I’ll take my solace in these Reds. In Alisson Becker being back between the sticks, and Joel Matip back among the likely lads, and the captain alongside his trusty Latin counterparts, and more South American flavour upfront with Darwin and Luis Diaz joining Mo Salah in a refreshed front three.
Perhaps this refresh is just what we all need. Let’s hope our boys get their first three points on the board. Let’s hope it all just comes flooding back for the better.
I’m sorry this is late. Let’s go, Liverpool.
Predicted 11: Alisson; Trent, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Darwin, Diaz
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