Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Liverpool 4 Tottenham Hotspur 3 in the Premier League at Anfield…
A SEASON in 95 minutes. And a reminder of it all being a reason to live.
For 94 minutes the main protagonist in the contest was Tottenham Hotspur. In the first 30 they were a genuine contender for the worst team I have ever seen at Anfield. As bad as a Havant & Waterlooville. As bad as a Manchester United shipping seven. As bad as Everton. They were the worst. The very, very worst.
Then for 30 minutes they were quite good. Liverpool offered them the same encouragement they have offered too many this season, albeit from minus three. It sort of isn’t unreasonable by 30 minutes. Because Tottenham had been that bad. It felt almost unfair to keep playing, but keep playing they should have.
Encouragement for the opposition is a story of the season, perhaps the main one. It has happened in the micro and in the macro. In moments, Liverpool have offered hope and across whole games Liverpool have offered future opponents hope. In fact, what’s worse is they have offered reasons for belief and today is precisely that. Tottenham move from being the very essence of hopeless to being zealous in their belief. And there is no greater zealot than the freshly converted.
It was the essence of a lost cause, but they believed precisely at the moment they should have been being punished again. Liverpool were two ahead by five minutes and they were worthy of it.
Curtis Jones announced his man of the match performance with his backpost finish. He was incredible and the goal crowned a tremendous run of games. I’m so pleased he has been given them, he hasn’t just shown his own future, he has shown Liverpool’s future. Liverpool should still buy three midfielders, but these footballers need to be able to hit Curtis’s level.
It was wonderful to see Luis Diaz back amongst the starters and then back amongst the scorers. But the best bit was amongst the scorers at the near post to the right-hand side. This is part of Liverpool’s new-found flexibility and brilliant to see.
The penalty was a penalty and unerringly struck. It looked a red on Diaz not long after, but Eric Dier got away with it.
And then, nothing. And then Tottenham Hotspur filled the vacuum and Liverpool should have a good long look at themselves. As should the Tottenham Hotspur crowd. They did ironic chanting. They are a top six team. They have some of the best players on the planet. I despise ironic chanting. I hate “how shit must you be…” Have some self respect. Be angry. Walk out. Support wholeheartedly. But never, ever be ironic.
Not least because of what we get to see. Harry Kane is brilliant. Heung-Min Son is brilliant. They are constantly dangerous. Be angry or be supportive but never talk yourselves down.
Though they had been last.
The vacuum sort of continues even after 3-1 and is still filled by Tottenham Hotspur until the hour mark, then it seems like their legs have gone and Liverpool look home free. Still no longer actually good, but broadly in control.
Not grabbing the fourth proves very costly. There are moments it is just there, but Liverpool aren’t. Diogo Jota and Jordan Henderson come on. The latter is nowhere near getting going. He is dreadful bar one great ball recovery and turn.
But it goes 3-2 because Son is brilliant and Liverpool are rocked. They bring Richarlison on and he gets the crowd’s ire immediately. The crowd was odd through the contest — it had been too easy, Tottenham Hotspur too poor and so the lead was barely celebrated. Then the game was too trappy, Liverpool too nervy and the crowd reflected that. I understand all of this: I am literally part of the crowd after all.
The 3-3 kills, seeing Richarlison score or claim Darwin Nunez’s double error — the touch and being deeper than Olivia Laing’s “Funny Weather: Art In An Emergency” reminded you of the whole campaign. Liverpool allowing a team so much hope, offering so much encouragement and still sort of having hard lines.
This was Liverpool 2022-23 in a nutshell, a force of nature, something you can define almost through physics. But there is a force greater than that. A force the universe can barely understand. A force that takes your breath away. It is this…
“Once Everton has touched you nothing will be the same.”
The more Richarlison gloried the more he invited the inevitable. Tottenham Hotspur and Everton Football Club combined in a way which makes me believe Lucas Moura is going to do a season there when he is 36.
Diogo Jota was the coolest kid in town.
He is truly the one we have been missing and there he was, and there the manager was, and there I was, and there you were, and we were altogether. In rapture and in belief, and in the Big Nine, and in the tactical change, and in the visceral bloody pleasure, and I had Gibbons and Gutmann on top of me, and I thought only of you, and I thought only of us, and I thought only of believing until the bitter end, and I thought of bouncing in next season, and bouncing into tomorrow and bouncing.
Just bouncing because we are so lucky to get it and have it.
I thought about a season in one game and therefore an end which is a reminder of a reason to live wholeheartedly, open-heartedly, with kindness and belief at its forefront, with irony fucked off. Fucked right off.
For 94 minutes the main protagonist in the contest was Tottenham Hotspur. Then it was Liverpool and I thought this…
Our next moment of glory is only ever seconds away, because we are not ironic and we will live in the now, and believe in the achievable and the unachievable. Believe in what is seen and unseen. Believe in the paints mixing and believe in the massive nights, believe in the fact that God has given us these days of leisure and believe in the idea the universe will bend, eventually but inexorably towards Liverpudlian glory.
A season in 95 minutes. And a reminder of it all being a reason to live.
The Big Nine is the Big Five and let me tell you — I don’t give a fuck what anybody else is doing. Win the five. And bounce with me.
Just throw a couple shapes, put your skills on show.
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“If you want to talk about a way to win a football match, that is the way to win a football match!”
“They looked like they were down and out when it went to three all. Jota by the way, the coolest man in the fucking stadium!”
🗣 Post Match Podcast pic.twitter.com/N590TUQmaR
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) April 30, 2023
Love the Art in an Emergency reference. Jota provided that today.
We won’t get 4th and frankly, we don’t deserve it and if we do, it sends the wrong message to FSG. That said, yesterday was a laugh, back to the old days and MOTM was Richarlison for his pantomime moment which was as funny as it was inevitable.
You can take the boy out of Everton, but…
This sums up our season 15 minutes of greatness,then refusing to punish spurs further despite having opportunities to and then giving a battling spurs hope. Jota ,thank God, showing just how much he was missed this season. March on ye Reds.
Top 4 will not happen and we now need investment into the squad and not excuses.
No CL cannot mean lower budget, since FSG didn’t invest much even when we had CL revenues!
Else, its beginning to feel like FSG want top revenues with almost no investment!