Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Liverpool 2 Wolves 0 in the Premier League at Anfield…
IT was a straightforward 2-0.
But there have been so few straightforward 2-0s that straightforward forward 2-0s suddenly cease to feel like exactly what they are.
You wear them down. You give nothing soft away. You offer no release valves. You push them back. You hammer at the door.
You turn the screw.
Turning the screw is the most “eye of the beholder” thing in football. Sometimes you see it and it was never really there. Sometimes you experience it and watch the video and realise it was never there.
But sometimes there is today. Without ever becoming brilliant, Liverpool just made 0-0 unbearable, unsustainable for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The VAR disallowed goal has become an interesting development in football. What does it do to either side? There are times when it feels like the end of the affair, something that we could have had.
Then there are times when it is a catalyst. And there are just times when it is a signpost. Tonight it was a signpost, in my view. The better side making their point, telling you what’s coming.
Listen let’s accentuate some positives. Trent Alexander-Arnold was the absolute business. I love him, you know. When he is on he is the smartest man in show business. He is the guy you can turn up for. He is just so, so special.
There will come a day when he doesn’t play for Liverpool. I want that to be more than a dozen years from now. I want to watch and adore what he can do forever. Tell me about in behind. Bang on about the back post. I am watching a footballer who could prove to be the finest ever from an L postcode.
Fabinho arguably puts his best performance of the season in. It’s been a poor season, but tonight he is the business and he deserves love.
At times he deserves it on the pitch from his teammates; a man who is nailing the first thing but failing at the second, which will come. He should find Darwin Nunez first half to open the scoring. He wins it high over and over. But it is all OK. Because it becomes a straightforward 2-0.
This is the thing. When everything feels good, mistakes feel fine. They are inevitable. They are a cost of doing business, really.
You turn the screw.
And it comes. The opener is a mundane marvel. Virgil van Dijk. Diogo Jota. Van Dijk. It’s there. What Jota does is pure Jota. He takes the percentage course. What Van Dijk does is pure Van Dijk. He makes himself irresistible.
The high point of the game becomes Kostas Tsimikas running unerringly to the byline, picking out Mo Salah and hitting the hoarding at The Kop and giving it the big one like he is Slowthai. Salah gets to wheel away as Beyonce. Liverpool get the points and we all get the screw turned.
Let’s talk about the referee. When he booked Fabinho it could have been a red card for Mario Lemina. Could. Perhaps should. It was genuinely staggering the referee found a way to pin it all on Fabinho.
Amongst so many daft decisions he manages that one which was mindboggling. Being fair, in real time, I understood the Diogo Jota foul in the run-up to the Darwin disallowed goal. It was still odd, though. Why not just give it?
It’s important to talk about the referee when you win. It isn’t bitterness. He gives us something soft around Ibrahima Konate close to our area at the start of the second half. He just isn’t very good at it, this remarkably difficult job.
You turn the screw. Konate looked good. Jota looked good. Liverpool looked mundane and good.
Nothing will be easy. But to do what we need to we need to get back to doing what we should.
It is another hurdle down. It is 14 to go. It is part of you pours out in these lines from time to time. It is togetherness and only that. And that is straightforward. That used to go without saying. Let it go without saying again.
Four clean sheets on the bounce in the league. A box of paints. One foot in front of the other. Turn the screw. Prepared to bleed. Prepared to battle. Prepared to drink a case of you, darling. And still be on my feet.
Straightforward the whole thing. Promise.