Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Bournemouth 1 Liverpool 2 in the 2023-2024 League Cup fourth round…
THROUGH the wind and the rain.
I mean, we sing it.
There was so, so much wind and rain and there Liverpool are – walking on.
Jarell Quansah was marvellous. He kept his poise and his calm. He won his battles and anticipated danger and looked after the ball. All the same applied to Joe Gomez whose goalline clearance was as good as a goal.
It was a night for the defenders to be pessimists and when they were it worked.
The wind and the rain.
It was an evening to remember it is a game and it can be a slog to win a game. The rawness of that was to everyone’s credit. I loved the captain first half. He was all action at every turn and all graft when it went the other way. I like the idea he loved the armband and I like the idea the weather deepened it. Football matters to him, you know. He’s the realest deal going.
The big man wins the game for Liverpool. Darwin Nunez is just the absolute business. I love the goal but I also love the yardage as the game wears on. He is a complete forward, capable of everything. That doesn’t mean capable of perfection in every moment and it never will. Kenny Dalglish wasn’t perfect. Mo Salah isn’t perfect. Didier Drogba, the footballer he most reminds me of, wasn’t perfect. But all the above were constant. Constant.
I see that Ben Johnson has done ratings. Your man there has scored the goal and Johno has got giddy I’m saying. And that is what he does. He gives you giddiness. He gives you vitality. He makes me (me!) feel young. That is this Liverpool. Taking the years off me, Johno and Jürgen Klopp.
Loved the opener. Harvey Elliott great. Cody Gakpo sharp twice. Suddenly a lead, but a lead that suited the conditions.
Caoimhin Kelleher had an awkward night. Ryan Gravenberch came on and made a million fouls. Alexis Mac Allister found it tough when he got on, which isn’t unreasonable. You get used to the wind and the rain, but you don’t want to just get thrown into the wave pool at times.
Liverpool stand together, though. They show and they fight and they back each other up. The game isn’t always meant to be easy and it certainly isn’t always meant to be pretty.
As this writing finishes it is reported that Liverpool can’t fly home because of the very storm they played in.
Football is a series of challenges and they aren’t straightforward. They aren’t narratively clean. They aren’t always building towards a bigger boss, not least when a draw opens up (this before the draw, by the way).
Football is gloriously a game and occasionally a slog and often both. I love them in a slog and in a torrent and through the wind and the rain.
They win and they deserve to win. And we deserve the sweet silver song of a lark.
Everything possible from here. Everything. Madness we are here again. But no one gets to stop us.
Everything, all this, is worthy of being embraced.