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


THEY play well.

It is the infuriating factor. They never ever play brilliantly, but brilliantly can’t be the bar. If a 90-minute game has 18 five-minute periods, Liverpool are the better side by some distance for any given 12 of them. Four are shared and two are lost.

The lost two result in West Ham United goals and, more than anything, it is this which needs to be addressed. It’s OK for Liverpool to be second best for a bit, but it isn’t alright for that period to be an amateurish mess.

It is this which marks both these periods out which do us in. Had Liverpool got to half time 0-0, had the same half time, then they find themselves 0-2 and West Ham have packed in.

Had Liverpool just dealt with basic situations, up to and including just giving a free kick away, at 1-2 then they see it out.

Instead, we end up chasing one more game after conceding first. We end up needing a goal with 10 to go yet again and playing well chasing it, but time ticking down. We end up with images of Klopp having murder with Salah. We end up with what could have been.

The key point is this – you just can’t keep conceding first. You just can’t. Today is sort of justifiable precisely because they play well, because it at least isn’t the first 30, but it adds to the general sense of insecurity.

Two things are true from this campaign – what has been achieved with this level of injury is exceptional. What has been achieved while conceding first so often is exceptional.

I am sympathetic (but not that sympathetic) about the former, but I am very short of sympathy around the latter.

And today is that day which tells precisely that story. West Ham are worthy of credit. They hang in and defend for their lives. Kurt Zouma is really good, as is Emerson. I like them an awful lot for a side of their level.

Liverpool are better. Cody Gakpo is really good, sharp and bright and just don’t fucking argue with me, you bore. Luis Diaz carries a constant threat, but should stay onside for the moment of a million penalties. I like Harvey Elliott an awful lot and Wataru Endo helps pen them in. Ryan Gravenberch shows a way home, while Andy Robertson loves Liverpool more than me – which takes some doing – but he has well and truly done it. He is the best of us, my favourite now, my warrior of choice.

Still, the key point for any Liverpool side is not just possible but likely: break 80 points. A memo to Arne Slot – break 80 for five consecutive seasons and you will win at least one title and likely two.

This season hurts because they had picked their moment and timed their run and then nothing. Or not nothing, but not enough.

We’ve asked the world of The Manager. Knocking around ours, I refer to him from time to time as The Manager. I think The Manager will want to do an early pre-season. I think The Manager will want to take them away late January.

Sam Brocklehurst, my partner, says, when I talk about him and his plans and his ideas “he’s not your manager”. But he is. He is and you know what? He always will be. I think what comes next can win more often, win more trophies, I genuinely think that. But there is only one Manager. Only one.

They play well. But they will only win one trophy and, all in, they should maybe only win one trophy. It could perhaps have another one, but we deal with where we are.

Three to go and two are homes. Listen – they should win today and they should be well better at Goodison. But the thing is this – the greatest ever Liverpudlian has to get off in three weeks; the thing about Liverpudlians is all the best ones come from outside.

Three to go and two are homes. We get to be the best version of ourselves. To be clear – I was livid Wednesday and am livid now, but my anger is empty, performative, useless. Like yours.

My jokes and my love is all about being open, welcoming, generous. So let’s emphasise the latter. Let’s emphasise the gift we have been given from here.

Liverpool should have beaten Crystal Palace. Should have beaten Everton. Should have beaten West Ham. They haven’t. What’s our next move?

We’ve three more to celebrate the best thing that ever happened to us. Not least because we got to fall in love. Imagine that. Jaded and exhausted and then suddenly in love. Still often exhausted, but invigorated because of love.

Basically this – we can go dancing three more times. Basically this – he is The Manager and we had him together. Basically this – they play well. But it isn’t now what it was then.

They play well and so do you and, frankly, I love you. Three to go. Come find me. I am not hard to find.

They play well.


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