Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Liverpool 3 Leicester City 1 in the 2023-2024 League Cup third round…
LIVERPOOL 3 A Decent Side 1.
It could be dour this sort of thing; third round, League Cup, 10 changes. But nothing is dour anymore. Everything is entertaining.
A thing happens tonight: a man kicks a football into the goal harder than I have ever seen. At least that I can remember. There is something so gloriously primal about that. I wanted it, me, the shooting sceptic, but it dropped, he set and as it left his foot I said “get in” and by the time the “in” dropped it had. And I speak fast. The keeper does everything right and he hasn’t left his feet by the time it hits the net.
It’s yet another brick, yet another building block, another on the list of what Liverpool players can do.
Liverpool players can do it all. “It all” is something that becomes broad because it isn’t always good. Arguably only Harvey Elliott comes away from this one without a couple of slightly wobbly moments. But the lot of them come away with good ones and this is becoming our defining dynamic. The scales always end up weighing in the favour of Liverpool’s players.
Nothing is perfect and everything changes as the game wears on but Liverpool end up smarter, more energetic, more determined.
Wataru Endo’s last half an hour is a perfect example of that. He wins everything and I hate his yellow and you can forget what precedes it, I don’t care about your sense. I love the blood and thunder precisely because that’s what we demand; because that is the job, what you sign up for and what we sign up for.
It could be dour but it is life affirming. It could be graft, but it is comfortable. It could be sticky but it slides.
Jarell Quansah could give away a penalty but gets an assist. Diogo Jota could nutmeg himself with the goal gaping but backheels the post and in. Cody Gakpo could be a frustrated centre forward but is a goalscorer.
It’s the oddest Gakpo thing. He wants to drop deep and drives you mad, but he kicks it in the goal with regularity. It shouldn’t work that way but it does with him.
Indeed, Liverpool managed – yet again – to not be fluent but constantly be in the opposition area. The oddness is that it just sort of happens. There it is, again, the ball in the danger area. In the danger area. Out. In. Out. In. Liverpool and then a centre half with an assist and Liverpool win the game.
Liverpool win the game because the chances just keep coming, because Ben Doak hits the bar when he should score, because the numbers demand it, because they are in the penalty area again and again, and they are good and then there it is.
Liverpool have made a calculation and it is working, but then I think it is an Alex Ferguson calculation: have the best attackers and worry about the rest later.
It could be dour. It’s not. It could be hard lines but the weight is too much. It could be that the decent side’s decency is enough. But it isn’t. They are knackered by 60 and Liverpool have the best attackers. They then win.
Let it not stop. Tottenham. They look decent.
All the best.