Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Liverpool 4 Newcastle United 2 in the 2023-2024 Premier League season…


YOU wanted a statement performance.

You wanted a hit.

Well, this is how we do hits.

You wanted a statement performance. What was the statement?

“Get on us.”

Get on us. Get on us is the most Liverpudlian of sentiments, the biggest possible swagger which needs your love, wants your love.

Tonight was the best attacking Liverpool performance seen at Anfield since the pandemic and perhaps for months before. Tonight Liverpool dismantled, absolutely dismantled the best the North East has to offer. They took them to the cleaners. They scored four, had a penalty saved by a goalkeeper with a genuine shout of being the game’s finest performer.

Liverpool offered wave after devastating wave. They looked at Newcastle’s gang of grocks and battered them, eroded them and defrocked them. They had their way with them, left them exhausted and made a point which goes beyond simple statement.

Liverpool are so much better than Newcastle United in every department. Every Liverpool player tonight outperformed their opposite number in a Newcastle shirt. They were nowhere. You wanted a statement? You wanted a hit? These are nowhere near us.

You wanted it real? I wanted it before my eyes. Liverpool are this much better than the eighth best team in the country. This much better.

You wanted it real,
But can you tell me what’s real?
There’s lights and sounds and stories,
Music’s just a part…

Get on us.

Then there is Mo Salah. Missing a penalty Mo Salah.

In the unlikely event that we live to be 100 years old, we’ll remember that we were lucky enough to watch Mo Salah play for Liverpool. A man who misses a penalty when he is expected to score it, and then keeps trying to score. And in a manner only Mo can, looks for all the world, relaxed, when another penalty is given. You don’t need to share his belief in the almighty to wonder at how he accepts all things, fights for all things, takes all things, persists forever and never gives in. Football and life on a higher plane.

There is a piece of street art in Liverpool City Centre depicting him. Painted shortly after he arrived in the city, it extols the virtues of his smile amongst other things. We see it tonight as he celebrates by perching on the advertising hoardings. So gentle. Incredibly strong yet gentle. In a world of toxic masculinity, he is a man who weighs his words, who finds the peace of prayer in a rabid and uncontrollable game of football.

He is the greatest living Liverpudlian. A man with a million identities, but within that is one who just belongs here. He always did. He is the best one, needly and brilliant, smart, savvy and swaggering. He loves himself as we should love ourselves. He is the best of us and the us part raises him.

Tonight Liverpool dismantled, absolutely dismantled the best that Saudi Arabia has to offer.

You wanted it real,
But can you tell me what’s real?
There’s lights and sounds and stories,
Music’s just a part…

Lights. Sounds. Stories.

You go through the 11 and there is the light – Virgil van Dijk. Remarkable once again in terms of running the show from centre back. Ibrahima Konate the business next to him.

You go through the 11 and there is the sound. The soundest, Curtis Jones of the City Centre, the lad with the earned swagger and certainty. The best of us, the back of Duke Street. Every touch certain, every shoulder dropped, a goal to crown it.

Then the story – Joe Gomez. Christ, I love him, you know. First to everything, progressive at every turn. He’s the tale of this season, one of a crew alongside Wataru Endo and Jarell Quansah to be counted at every opportunity. They make the most of their tale.

Luis Diaz and Darwin Nuñez pummelled Newcastle and then Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo came on and took advantage, Liverpool yet again showing their ability to twist is greater than any others.

When the second penalty is scored, there is only what there should always have been – Liverpool resplendent, Newcastle despondent. The truth is we saw the gulf in class that will take some crossing.

We can win this league, you know. But you do know, you always knew and this is why you wanted a statement performance. You wanted a hit.

You wanted it real,
But can you tell me what’s real?

The refereeing was unreal. There is a problem where these bald Mancunians rock up to Anfield and feel like they need to show they aren’t swayed by the crowd. That is making them make incorrect mundane decisions. It is a problem. I wish I had a solution. I don’t.

What’s real here and always should be in this place is “get on us”. Get on us in this city and get on us being the best version of ourselves. Decent, open, inclusive and certain of what we are. We have this city and this football club and this whole plaything, and it can and should and will belong to the world. What’s real is that this is a global city. What’s real is that the greatest living Liverpudlian was born in Nagrig, what’s real is that this place makes sense when it marries what is already here with what can see it for the first time.

Lights, sounds and stories and music plays its part.

What’s real is into these. What’s real is that this place can be itself and share itself. What’s real is that we can win the football league again and don’t you dare think otherwise.

What’s real is that the best attacking performance you have seen in your whole life dismantled Newcastle and we shared it.

You wanted a statement performance.

Get on us. Just get on us. The rest will keep.

Liverpool – top of the league.

Get on us.

Liverpool 4 Newcastle United 2: Post-Match Show

And so it was Christmas. And what had you done?

Forget that. It is over now and whatever shape you were in, you got to the end of it. We did it together.

I went on tour in November with three brilliant people and met a load of people. I bounce around the city and people come and speak to me and you know what loads say?

“You got me through Covid.”

Loads. Constantly.

You know what? You got us through Covid. We got each other through Covid.

We have so many sound subscribers, kind subscribers, open-minded subscribers. And I can’t thank you all enough. You are my favourite people.


Second favourite.

Because my favourite is always the contributors. It shouldn’t be, but the whole thing hooks on them. They give everything and I ask for more and I adore, adore, adore their every word. Sorry, but it will always be true. There is a Hold Steady lyric I like: “Yeah your friends are pretty cool and my friends were acting cool.”

My friends. Acting cool. Acting cool. The contributors.

God I love them, you know. And can never thank them enough. There was a load of us in The Central this afternoon and we laughed and talked and had murder with Kev Walsh, whom I love more than words can say, and toasted to a new year and the fabulous bar manager was worried she would run out of Guinness.

There was yesterday and Arsenal facing Fulham and all the chatter and care both in person and in the WhatsApp groups and everyone wanting and willing and needing and wanting. Wanting. Wanting.

There will be tomorrow when there is a Stoke supporter called Elliot on a call at 8.45am and there is Steve on Sunderland at 5.30pm and there is eight shows in the gap between the two and the door never stops revolving, the tea never stops coming and the care and love is there over and over again.

This is the love song we write, the one I write, the one that happens at the heart of the city and the one which explodes way beyond this postcode and we all need to thank you for that, for letting it explode, making it explode.

They and you love this place. I love them and this place. Everyone funny. Everyone pretty. Everyone heading towards the centre of the city. The dancefloor was crowded, the bathrooms were worse. We kissed in your car and we drank from your purse.

I’ll have the best of you, you know. Sweetness follows.

Happy New Year.

Into these.

All my love as per.

Download The Anfield Wrap’s free app for Liverpool FC podcasts, video and writing all in one place…

Recent Posts: