Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Sheffield United 0 Liverpool 2 in the 2023-2024 Premier League season…
I LOVE this city.
It seems like it shouldn’t be the point, but then again it sort of is. Getting to go to places is from time to time is sort of the point.
The other point is the points. And tonight becomes entirely about the points.
That’s clear when the ball leaves Virgil van Dijk’s foot. This isn’t going to be the sort of evening which is defined by the football of the gods. It isn’t going to be an evening about the beautiful game.
It’s about the points. The whole evening becomes about the points.
The manager has said a load of things in his tenure. But some of them stick. One is “they have our points”, the other is “drag them down to our level and beat them”.
Tonight Van Dijk takes ownership of the points and then from there Liverpool commit to them never being let go.
Or alternatively, Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp quite like being dragged down to their level and still beating them. We welcome the dragging. Perhaps welcome it too much. You want a battle? Well we want a battle squared. You want a fight? You’ve sharpened your studs? Well we’ve sharpened our studs but also 17 shovels and we’re digging ditches, so what next boys?
Or both. Or whatever, in that the result is the result and the game goes as it does, and we all have to roll with it because the league table goes as it does.
The league table becomes the focus of the night. And this is the point where you know a season is allowed.
Liverpool are standing firm. Liverpool stand firm. The back four play ever so well beyond just Van Dijk converting. They just win battle when battles are brought to their door.
Wataru Endo loves the scrap and doesn’t stop scrapping all match. It’s the essence of the game as well.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s game ends with the goal which wins it, but it is a slog for him. He never stops slogging, never gets near the divine but gets that moment which is the perfect crowning glory for the game.
None of the forwards shine and shimmer. They don’t get near it. But then, again, it isn’t that sort of night for them. They all plug away relentlessly, but that isn’t the same as making it happen.
Trent Alexander-Arnold shows so much fight and desire. He plays brilliantly as, well, a right back. He does strong right backing, covers the space, knows the ropes in terms of holding people up. He keeps Liverpool playing, but keeps battling himself. He is loving the scrap as much as the glory. They do, after all, have our points.
The truth of it all is that the scrap is part of the glory which is on offer. The points, our points, are what we need. This is game two of a trilogy where only the points matter and the next game kicks off in 60 hours at the time of writing. The challenge is the slog, is the scrap.
The points are the point.
And they will do, and let the city be the entertainment, let the city be the joy. A great day, a great night and three points in the boot coming back across the Snake Pass — our journey turbocharged by events in Villa Park — and the knowledge we can win this league, you know.
We can win this league, you know. One more slog. Then one big hug. Then we regroup.
I love this city. I also love points. I love collecting great days.
Ticking every box.