A week is a long time in football. At Brighton, Luis Diaz was taken to the cleaners, and they recommended nothing should happen to the man who did it. At Forest, VAR was once again trying to drop trophies in our lap. Normal disservice has been resumed.
We beat Arsenal, and for perpetual gloom-mongers like me there was far too much clarion calling, “City will be bricking it” nonsense.
You’d like to think everybody was recharging their own fortitude, that they realise what we’re up against; a winning machine no-one’s ever seen in football before. But you can’t frown too much about our own chest-beating; a team that’s only lost two league games through to March isn’t too shabby, either.
There’s been yet more exaggeration of our opponent’s performances. Seems the more wins we get the luckier people think we are. The 1980’s finally make sense. Some of the reaction during and after the Emirates match, you’d think we were battered but for, y’know, the evidence of your own eyes.
They’re good, they’re in form, they were at home; expecting a stroll in the park was foolish, but once your heartbeat fell below 100 after Thiago’s madness and Jota was back on track, there was little to worry about. You knew my boy Diogo was going to go through a barren patch, because what had gone before was too good to be a fluke. We’ve said that about Mo for three years and still await a dip.
The first half was lame. Diaz is in form, but I wonder if Mane reacted badly to having his position taken off him quite so soon? Was this a response to Luis’ brilliance or Sadio’s current lethargy? This intricate thread of rotation, and competition for places, depends greatly upon footballer maturity, often in short supply, and Mane’s not exactly been the breezy sort where that’s concerned.
Robertson was exceptional, creating the second and dealing with Saka throughout. Trent had more problems with Martinelli, as might have been expected. Klopp got stroppy about his defending, inviting critics to “put ‘em urrrp”, like the lion in The Wizard of Oz. I had visions of him coming round to my house for a straightener!
You can’t complain about our collective defensive record, and Andy always has Van Dijk to rely on after the odd lapse. Everything’s good, but people are bound to focus on any weakness they can find, out of boredom, probably. We’ll soon find out what we’re missing, anyway.
You hope it’s one of those sly international ‘injuries’, followed by a coincidental miracle. Giggs did it all the time with United. If his replacement (probably Gomez) struggles, Klopp won’t be going “See? See?” for the Alexander-Arnold doubters, obviously, since he was the one who felt we could send Williams off to Fulham without a qualm. I don’t remember many complaints then, but the idea of a quadruple was laughable at the time.
So, to Forest, and a nice gesture for the Hillsborough memorial. It will only be bitter curmudgeons like me who remember what most of them were like in 1994, when Clough’s book came out. He opened the floodgates, and the bullshit poured out. He was their Shankly, so ambivalence might have been understandable, but it was as if they breathed a massive sigh of relief that someone had told it “Like it was” and reacted accordingly.
Their fanzine, which I’d swapped with until then, was full of it. Anyway, water under the bridge now. We’ve plenty of our own past disgraces to remain mute about, after all. The team selection again hinted at complacency.
It’s hard to believe any time Oxlade-chamberlain is selected, we’re respecting the opposition. He wasn’t up to much on Sunday either and still had the nerve to be grumpy about being replaced. We could introduce a new game, Ox Sub Lotto, although everybody would be lumping on 60 minutes.
Firmino’s deft touch at Arsenal wasn’t called for here. Just finish it, lad. The smartarse in him always wins out. Are they lackadaisical, or is this becoming so strenuous a challenge that occasional wilts are inevitable? Maybe we ask too much? Actually, there’s no “maybe” about it.
When the four subs came, it was hard to figure out how Jota wasn’t one of the replaced. Like Salah, he always has a goal in him and thus it proved.
As their team fell behind, they indulged themselves with “always the victim”. You knew it was all for show, in the end. TV commentators screamed for a home penalty, and now we must listen to more talk of referee bias. Craig Pawson? Seriously? So, two weeks to wait patiently before the impossible dream starts all over again. It’s not just the players who need a break.