Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Liverpool 2 Arsenal 2 in the Premier League at Anfield…
LIVERPOOL deserved nothing and then Liverpool deserved everything.
I love them and I hate them, but ultimately I just love them. And, upsettingly and crucially, I always will.
Nothing. It’s a terrible start. They are up against one of the two best teams in the country and they act like winning first balls is none of their business. But that’s nothing, that isn’t worth considering because they act like winning second balls is absolutely none of their business.
Everything was wrong. Starting position? Wrong. Desire? Wrong. Belief? Wrong. Touch? Wrong. Choices? Wrong.
They end up 0-2 down and they are lucky it is only 0-2. Arsenal are dominant in every way and, in hindsight, may well feel like they ought to have made more hay when the sun shone.
Because the sun would cease to shine. Cease to shine minimises what happened. Liverpool happened. But why.
Why? Well, then they decide they are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.
I mean, fuck off, Liverpool. I was mad as hell and not going to take it any more months ago. Wolves away, maybe?
Can we talk about being mad as hell? I mean, there have been hundreds of thousands of people in my mentions mad as hell. Mad as hell has been going around.
Granit Xhaka gets into nonsense with Trent Alexander-Arnold and suddenly we have a wholly different football match on our hands.
Liverpool are in the vicinity of becoming utterly indifferent. Liverpool could collapse. But they suddenly find a backbone, and a goal, and a weak spot. They suddenly find a side that can be weak, suddenly find a side that is scared of Anfield, and scared of their moment, and Liverpool are in the ascendancy, and find a goal by virtue of keeping the ball alive.
Keeping the ball alive is such a virtue. Sides want to kill momentum. Keeping everything going makes it impossible.
Mo Salah does brilliantly for the goal but so do Curtis Jones, Diego Jota and Jordan Henderson. Everything is kept alive and so are Liverpool.
Let’s talk about the referee and the linesman. The linesman just elbows Liverpool’s left back. Just elbows him. It is worse than what Mitrovic does for Fulham.
The referee, Wigan’s finest, is a disgrace and shouldn’t be near Liverpool games any more. Too much Greater Manchester.
In general, Arsenal have been a deeply likeable outfit this season but the time-wasting today was dreadful and unedifying and deeply unprofessional. Head injuries shouldn’t be exaggerated or feigned. Players need to push back against this in private amongst each other.
Second half, Arsenal start well but Liverpool are too strong. They are actually strong. From the back. Virgil van Dijk is great but Ibrahima Konate is incredible. It is Liverpool’s best half of the season from any individual player. He is first to everything, including things he should be nowhere near. He should eventually win the game for Liverpool, but Aaron Ramsdale is too good.
The game is Liverpool’s. Every inch of the park is theirs. Arsenal have threat on the break, but their players are at breaking point just dealing with The Reds. The game is at Trent Alexander-Arnold’s feet. He is magnificent in a way a full back shouldn’t be. He bestrides the contest.
Liverpool are getting in, or almost in, over and over. Liverpool dominant. Arsenal passive. These? These are your Champions Elect? But Gabriel stands firm for them. Ben White plays ever so well. And then Aaron Ramsdale comes into his own.
The penalty miss is a concern and after it Mo Salah is dreadful for 10. But the best pass played all day is his as he falls, but finds Darwin Nunez for the one on one.
Liverpool bang, bang, bang on the door, baby, but it takes Roberto Firmino to knock a little louder, sugar, and then you love them, love them all so deeply. They are our Reds again. Our heroes.
They should make it three. Salah, Konate, whoever else, should make it three. They should make it the greatest night of the year. Because, unlike Manchester United, Arsenal are actually good. I love them. They commit wholeheartedly to Zinchenko being wild. They choose to love, not hide Rob Holding.
They want to live so risk dying and their away end suffered and loved, from where I was sat. Suffered and loved. The away end loves their own players, and loves their club, and sings about that. They respected the silence, and they adore their own, and so they should. I feel a kinship with the Arsenal lot and I wish them all the very best.
However, the game was Liverpool’s second half. Thiago Alcantara dictated. Jordan Henderson managed. Trent controlled and I loved them, and the equaliser, and that they deserved all the points.
I mean, fuck off, Liverpool. Fuck off you magnificent, unfocused, off-kilter bastards. Fuck off for making me hate you and fuck off further for making me love you. Fuck off for being the best night out, and the worst date, and the best dancers, and the worst ride. Fuck off for playing when two behind and not to just win. Fuck off for leading me astray and pulling me back.
Fuck off, Liverpool, I love you. I love you. Keep doing this and then we can all see.
That is all you get from here.
“It was a season in a game.”
“The first 30 minutes they made you want to pack it all in, but when the players get going and the crowd get going, suddenly anything is possible…”
🗣 Post Match Show: Out Soon
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) April 9, 2023