Liverpool may start games slowly but this season Klopp’s side never gives up – and are becoming ruthlessly efficient…
I love that Arsenal wore the all-white kit to highlight the knife crime issue.
Seriously. Third round of the FA Cup at home, live on normal telly and the biggest tie of the round and they chose that time to put it under the nation’s noses. All credit to them.
It’s not untypical either. In 2008 they helped my mates and I do a few things for the late, great Ray Kennedy, who played for both clubs, and they couldn’t have been more welcoming. They’re a class act.
But, as I said last week, this is all about Liverpool now. And what about them?
What of Jurgen Klopp who puts on two kids with 15 minutes left at 0-0? What of Ibou Konate who, this morning at least, might be the greatest centre-back in the history of the game? Joe Gomez? Again! The Scouse lads? Lucho and his finish?
I love that goal. The previous couple of hours were an Arsenal exhibition of hurried finishes or taking too many touches. Then Lucho gets one go and shows them what to do in that position. 0-2. Chaos. These are my favourite types of games. The ones where you shouldn’t even be in it after half an hour yet you end up with the win.
I suppose that’s because I’ve sat through the other side of that script too often. We’ve all seen Liverpool batter an opponent to bits, and then waited for the inevitable sucker punch. Anyone remember West Brom’s 1-0 win at Anfield under Kenny? I’ve just looked it up. 28 shots including shots against the post and bar. Then Glen Johnson lets their lad in and …
I used some language that day.
Such a huge win, that. I wasn’t even that arsed about it at kick-off. Then Alan Shearer got involved. And Odegaard. And then the concept of ‘dissent’.
For all the commentary about Arsenal’s dominance few pundits highlighted the quality of our game management and the mentality that supports it. Yeah, we were hammered in that first half but that’s never a problem with this side. This Liverpool looks at every passing minute of a bullied game and starts thinking about one chance. One chance is all it takes.
If I were being critical I would point out that we’re still starting too slowly but that’s compensated by the fact that we very rarely end that way. After 80 minutes I thought a win more likely than a replay.
Why? Because we’ve been here before under Jurgen. This side never gives up. The BBC showed a stat about us winning fifteen and drawing two after scoring the first goal since April. The commentator added that we even tend to win when we’ve gone behind.
Even when we’re not great (and I still don’t think we’ve been ‘special’ this year) we get through it. What a beautiful gift to have.
I’ve been listening to the BBC Sounds documentary about Everton this week. It’s a fascinating listen and not solely down to reasons of schadenfreude. After every defeat the players come on to talk about righting wrongs, ‘our wonderful support’ and how they have the faith to put it right, but you hear the bitten lips throughout. I mean, fair enough, they did get out of it more than once but there’s still an undercurrent of doubt. I don’t think we deal with doubt anymore.
It might be our most valuable commodity. Sheer bloody-mindedness. People talk about the old days—guilty—and wonder what made us so good when most of the first team were getting bevvied an hour after the final whistle. I think that was the attitude.
I can vividly remember standing on the Kop before we played the dead rubber game at the end of the 1987-88 season. We were waiting for the lads to come onto the pitch to receive another League trophy. I was staring at the tunnel and wondering if we’d put on a show against Luton Town or just go through the motions. It then hit me. ‘What if we lose today?’
I remember that because it might have been the first time that season where I seriously thought that was an option. What if we lose? We didn’t lose many then. Two in the league all season. So strong was the mentality and belief that the worst you could consider was a draw.
It finished 1-1, by the way.
Getting battered by an excellent Arsenal side and still knowing you’re going to win it. Football can change so much.
Keep talking about how ‘they should be four or five up,’ Alan. Keep doing an impression of a beetroot-faced windmill, Martin. Tell us again how you should have won both our recent games, Mikel, despite the evidence to the contrary and leave Liverpool be. Keep writing us off. Moan about Mo and Endo not being here. Do your bit about Darwin and Trent’s position. Shout at clouds. We know what the priorities are.
It’s all about Liverpool.