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  1. So you will probably know that I've not been around much in recent weeks and that I have had some of the lads fill in for me on pods and match reports. I didn't elaborate on why that was as the situation , but the last four weeks or so have been a complete nightmare. Firstly, my mother-in-law passed away suddenly. So we were dealing with that but what I didn't know was that my mum was also really ill but had kept it to herself. The week of my mother-in-law's funeral, my mum had to be rushed into hospital. We weren't allowed in to see her for four days as she was in a&e because there were no beds in the ward she needed to be on. We were eventually allowed in because she took a bad turn and they didn't know if she would survive the night. She did, but it was touch and go and she was in ICU for a few days, where we were allowed to see her an hour a day. Initially there was some faint hope that they might be able to get her well enough to come home for however long she had left, but as hard as she was fighting she was in a really bad way and there were too many things going wrong with various organs. She was on a ward for a bit but for the last week me and my dad have been living in the hospital room they gave her. My dad was there virtually 24 hours a day but their dog is blind and deaf and can't go to stay with anyone else so I would go back to their house throughout the day to look after the dog while my dad stayed with mum. Yesterday morning when I was on my way back from sorting out the dog, my mum passed away. She wasn't breathing when I got to her but she had been seconds before, so maybe I got there for her last breath, I don't know. My dad was there though, which was the main thing to me. It would have been harrowing in any circumstances, but it's been even more difficult because I haven't been able to be there for Gail after she lost her mum. We can now help eachother through our losses and also make sure my dad is ok. For the time being I'm going to be leaning on the lads to keep things going on here with the pods and match reports, but I expect I'll be back soon as my mum wouldn't want me to be moping around for long. There are lots of things I want to say about how all of this went down, specifically the unforgivable negligence of her GP and the heroics of the NHS staff in Fazakerley, but that's for another day. Just wanted to let you know why I haven't been around and why I'll be away for a bit longer.
    120 points
  2. I’m going to start the report on this final by rewinding back 12 months to last year’s one. Specifically, the aftermath of it and Jurgen Klopp’s reaction to it. While the rest of us were still in a daze, trying to process the mad shit that happened and attempting to deal with the disappointment of it all, Klopp was on the ale with his mates, grinning and singing about how “we swear we’ll keep on being cool, and bring it back to Liverpool”. And he actually did it. He fucking did it. Not only that, he did it while also registering the highest points tally in club history. We’ve just witnessed the most impressive season in the entire history of the club. It might not have produced as many trophies as some of the memorable campaigns of the past did, but 97 points in the league and a European Cup in the trophy cabinet is a monumental accomplishment. It can’t be over-stated what Klopp and his team have done this year, especially in light of how last season ended. My memory is terrible these days but I remember how I felt a year ago as though it was yesterday. Initially it was anger and disappointment. The anger never really went away (fuck you, Ramos, you’re still a shithouse) but the disappointment was replaced by defiance and confidence within a day or two. On the Monday after the final I wrote something for ‘This is Anfield’ about how I wished the new season was starting there and then because I was sure we were going to make everyone pay for what happened in Kiev. I’ve just had a look back to see exactly what I wrote and here are a few snippets from it: “The loss to Madrid isn’t the end of the journey, it’s just a speed bump on the road to glory. We have a young and incredibly exciting team with the best manager we could possibly ever hope for. This defeat won’t break them and it won’t break us. It will be the fuel that fires us through next season. "I’m over it, and far more quickly than I ever imagined. I just wish the season was starting again this weekend because I’m raring to go again already. We were the best team in the Champions League this year and we’ll be even better next year. We aren’t going away this time; we’re going to come back stronger, better and hungrier than before. You only had to look at that video of Klopp singing with his mates at 6am after the final to know that. He’s not worried, he’s excited and confident. We should be too. "We’ll be really good next season no matter what, but depending on what we do in the transfer market we might actually be sensational. I expect mayhem from us next season. The disappointment of Kyiv should fuel the players and the new signings will hopefully bring a bit of nasty with them. Add a bit of devil to what we have and…well, look out. "The final is in Madrid next season, at Wanda Metropolitano, the home of Atletico. It’s a pity it isn’t at the Bernabeu because what better way of exacting revenge on Ramos & Co. than by taking their title off them in their own stadium? Beating them in their own city will have to do.” It's funny looking back at that, and uncanny how it played out almost exactly the way I predicted. We didn’t get to beat Real in their own city but that’s because they just turned to shit when they sold Ronaldo. We had to make do with smashing Barca instead, but Zidane, Ramos & co should be glad that Ajax humiliated them as it saved them from getting it even worse from our lads. The point I’m labouring to make here is that Klopp is remarkable. He's the reason I was so full of bravado after we lost to Madrid. He just inspires belief. If he had me thinking like that, imagine the impact he will have had on the players he mixes with every day. Actually we don't need to imagine, because we seen it. There just aren’t words to do justice to what this man has done, and how he’s done it. There’s nobody like him. Nobody. He's completely unique. That night a year ago just sums up why he’s so great. He’d just lost his sixth final, he knew he’d never hear the end of it because prior to that all he’d been hearing was how he’d lost his last five. But none of it fazes him at all. He doesn’t get disappointed, he just picks himself and starts throwing punches again. No wonder he loves the Rocky films so much. He lives his life by the code of the Italian Stallion. “You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!” You just can’t keep Klopp down. He just takes the punishment, smiles and comes back for more, determined to go one better. So I go back to that night when Klopp and his mates are singing, with beers in their hands, and then I fast forward to yesterday. Klopp once again singing, with a beer in his hand, only this time he’s hanging off the back of a big red bus doing a parade around the city in front of 750,000 fans. And he’s got ol’ Big Ears on the bus with him. How he got there is a tale full of ups and downs. We could have been knocked out in the group stages but survived. We won away at Bayern. Beat Porto comfortably. Lost 3-0 in the Nou Camp but still won the tie. And then there was this, a final against a team we know so well. Maybe that familiarity partially explains why it was such an abysmal game? In some respects though, this being a dull, relatively uneventful game shows just how far we’ve come. No drama, just a clean sheet and a win. You don't need to play well in finals, you just need to win them. I’d say there are a few reasons for how poor the game was though. The three week break definitely played a part as neither team had any sharpness at all. The heat didn’t help either, as both ourselves and Spurs like to play at a high tempo with lots of energy but that wasn’t really possible, especially with so many tired legs after such a long season. The tension of the occasion comes into it too, and I’d also say that us scoring so early played a big part in the flow of the game. That’s why I pay no attention to the talk from some pundits about Spurs being the better side. They weren’t, they were equally as poor as we were, it’s just that we had a lead for virtually the entire game so the onus was more on Spurs to make the play. As poor as our performance was with the ball, without it we were outstanding. Alisson barely touched the ball until the last 15 minutes when Spurs really had to try and push for a goal. Up until then we never let them near our goal. So while it’s fair to point out that a number of players looked well below par (Bobby was understandably well off the pace), it shouldn’t be overlooked that defensively they did exactly what was required. The midfielders were especially quiet I thought, but their work in filling spaces and making it difficult for Spurs was top class. The forwards weren’t at it either, but again, defensively they kept their discipline and it was a great team effort to keep the clean sheet. That’s the difference now. In Klopp’s first few years we were capable of great things but to pull it off we needed to play well and often it took a Herculean effort to get a result. That has completely changed now because we are just so hard to score against. We don’t need to play well because more often than not we’ll keep a clean sheet, and if you do that then winning games is obviously so much easier. The team is just so much more mature this year. Not so long ago, us scoring in the first minute would have probably led to a wild game that could easily have ended up 4-3 or worse. We would have just carried on trying to force it and score more goals, because that’s just what we did. What we had to do almost, because sitting back would only end in tears. Sometimes it would work and we’d win easily, other times it led to a basketball type game. That doesn’t happen anymore because we have the ability to just shut the game down if we’re not really on our game. If the goals aren’t flowing, no problem we’ll just make sure we don’t concede any. Virgil was just in cruise control for most of the game. He barely had to break sweat but the one time he needed to he was there to just step on the gas and take the ball off Son as he ran into the box. Robbo and Trent were excellent defensively and both managed to go close with shots from distance. If Robbo’s piledriver had gone in I honestly think that would have been my favourite goal of all time. The other member of the back four, ol’ Big Bird Joel, was once again just quietly efficient and did everything asked of him with no fuss. He even had an assist on the Origi goal. Ah yes, the Origi goal. As soon as he came on I said to the lads he’d score, partly because I’d had a few and was caught up in the moment, and partly because it’s just been that kind of season for him, so it almost felt inevitable. The unlikeliest of heroes was about to become an even bigger club legend, and it wasn’t even a surprise. After what he did against Barca it was written in the stars that he’d come on and score in this one. And it was a great finish. Good first touch, clean strike, right in the bottom corner. Left foot too. He might never do anything of any real significance for us again but it doesn’t matter now. In 50 years time Reds will still be talking in hushed tones about the night Big Divock demolished Barca, or when he came off the bench and clinched number six. And then they’ll follow it up by laughing uncontrollably about the time he won a derby six minutes into stoppage time and caused Klopp to invade the pitch. Any one of those moments would have guaranteed him a special place in Anfield history, but he’s had three of them in one season even though he’s hardly even played. It’s right up there with Alan Kennedy somehow being the man to score the winning goal in two European Cup Finals. This club though, it creates legends in the most unlikely of places. It’s easy to say now after the event, but really the game was over as soon as we scored that penalty in the first minute. I haven’t seen anyone from Spurs complain too much about it but Glenn Hoddle had the right hump and threw a strop when none of the other pundits agreed with his view that it wasn’t a pen. In fairness, I do sort of see his point, a little bit anyway. The ball hit Sissoko’s chest and then deflected onto his arm and then his hand. There was nothing deliberate about it, but why was his arm pointing outwards like that? It was stupid and unnecessary. I don’t like it when players put their arms behind their backs as I feel that’s overkill, but the reason they do it is because it eliminates the risk of a penalty. If the arm is in a natural position it’s not supposed to be a pen anyway, but I can understand why some have decided to remove that possibility altogether. What I can’t understand is anyone doing what Sissoko did. It looked as though he was pointing to tell a team-mate where there was danger coming, such a potential overlap from Robbo or someone running off the back of him, but when you watch it back there’s no-one near him so it’s just weird that he put his arm up like that. It’s a soft and needless pen to give away and I can see why you’d be upset as a Spurs fan. But the ref gave it. VAR agreed. The ex ref in the studio also agreed. Most pundits did too. Put it this way, if it hadn’t have been given then that would have been far more contentious. With no Milner on the field it was left to Mo to step up. I don’t usually fancy him on pens at all and I wasn’t exactly confident about this one, even though there was the obvious ‘redemption’ storyline waiting to be written. I strongly suspected he’d blast it up the middle and it was even more obvious by his run up that he was just going for power. Lloris should have just stood where he was, but keepers seem to hate doing that and thankfully he dived out of the way of it. I still think he should have saved it though as all he needed to do was raise his arm. No matter, it went in and that’s all that matters. The perfect start and already it felt like this year it was going to go our way. One of the big things for me in the build up was a feeling that it was our time, mainly because of the near misses and heartbreaks we’ve had in recent years. Spurs haven't had that, and my belief is that you don’t just turn up off the street and win a European Cup, you have to earn the right. That’s just how it works. You have to pay your dues. I feel really strongly about this as history backs it up. We were on the receiving end of it last year. What happened to us wasn’t fair. It was bitterly cruel in fact. Not so much that we lost, but how we lost. That was unnecessarily sadistic, but the truth is we were the ‘upstarts’ and Madrid had won it three out of the previous four years or something. They’d been there and done it and knew how to win. Yes, they had a lot of fortune, but that’s part of it really. The experienced team, the favourite, usually gets the luck. I look back now and think it just wasn’t our turn. We hadn’t served our apprenticeship (although we had been in the Europa Final two year earlier so it’s not like we came from nowhere). Last year was almost a right of passage for us though if you like. I didn’t feel that way at the time but it’s something I’d been thinking about a lot in the build up to this game, especially because we were playing Spurs who had never been near a final in decades and had been massively spawny to get as far as they had. I’d have felt majorly aggrieved if Spurs had won this because it would have felt like they’d jumped the queue, and there’s nothing more infuriating than queue jumpers. Those of us who were waiting to get in the Echo Arena beforehand can attest to that. I'll explain. We’d been queuing up a while and had eventually gotten close to the entrance, when all of a sudden a few hundred selfish pricks just ran up from the back of the queue on the outside into the space at the side of the line and pushed their way to the front. One of our lads (you know him on the forum as @Paul ) started shouting “Fucking Thatcherites!!” and “Selfish Tory wankers” at them. Most of them at least had the good grace to sheepishly just look straight ahead and avoid eye contact with those of us they’d screwed over with their selfishness and lack of respect for others, but one lad made the mistake of trying to justify his cuntery, so words were exchanged between him and a couple from our party. I initially held my tongue until I heard him say that he had been queuing up but it was “moving too slow” and he “got fed up waiting”. That set me off and it was all starting to get a bit heated, especially when his smirking gobshite mate kept blowing his ciggie smoke our way and I got into it with him too. Tempers were getting frayed but the queue then began moving and we were quickly shepherded into a different gate when the stewards apparently realised what had happened with the queue jumpers. I vowed to Paul though that if we lost I was going to find that lad and batter him. Bear in mind I haven’t had a fight since I was in school (and I didn’t win that), but as Anthony Joshua found out later that night, us big boned lads can pack a whallop, so I'd say the queue jumper should be as happy as anybody that we won. I don’t really know where I was going with all of that.... oh right, yeah, so Spurs would have been jumping the queue. That was the point, and I really do feel there’s something to all that. What happened last year increased our chances of winning it this year, for both logical and illogical reasons. There wasn’t really anything between the two sides as neither played well but we had the experience of last year and we’d earned our stripes. It was our time. I honestly don’t think anyone would have beaten us in the final this year as we were just ready to be European Champions. Last year maybe we weren’t. We were a really good team with flaws that were eventually exposed on the biggest stage. Those flaws? The goalkeeper and a lack of cover for the front three. What happened in this final? Alisson was arguably man of the match and Origi came off the bench and scored. Like I say, we were ready to win it this time. Of course I wouldn’t allow myself to say that before the game. I was ultra confident last year and it backfired on me. This time I made no predictions, didn’t run my mouth off, and braced myself in case something went wrong. Inside though, I was confident without being cocky about it. My logic was twofold. First, there was the ‘it’s our time’ thing I’ve just outlined, and secondly I felt that the players had it in hand. I trusted them because they’d earned it. There was a confidence and steely resolve about them in interviews and they seemed completely relaxed about the whole thing. They passed every test put in front of them this season so there was no reason to think they didn’t have this in hand. Anything can happen though and the fear of ending up empty handed despite all the heroic efforts of this season still loomed large in the background. I doubt the players allowed that to bother them, but as fans how can you not be worried about it? What made it worse was that we were facing another English club. That just kills the buzz for me. The fear of losing is just too great and makes it so much less enjoyable. If we’d been playing Ajax or even Madrid again, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as stressful because if we had lost we’d ‘only’ have had to deal with losing. You lose to another English club though and not only do you have to deal with losing, you also have to deal with them winning and then lording it over you for years. The risk / reward ratio is just totally different between facing a European side or going up against a team from your own league. Losing to Spurs would have been horrible, and yet for me there was no extra satisfaction in beating them. I took no added pleasure in the fact it was Spurs that we beat. None at all. I’m just delighted we won, nothing else. If we’d beaten City or United (or Chelsea too I suppose) it would have been the double whammy as it would have been extremely satisfying to stick it up them, but the only thing I feel towards Spurs is sympathy. Honestly. There’s no punchline coming, This isn’t a set up for a gag. I feel for them. Not for Harry Kane, obviously. Fuck him, I’m happy to see him suffering, the egotistical slobbering goon (I was made up he started instead of Lucas Moura). The rest though; players, fans, manager (especially the manager, he’s alright him), I genuinely have sympathy for them. We’ve been there and we know how it feels. It’s not nice. The other thing is that for years Spurs fans and players have had to live with that “bottler” narrative. Hell, I’ve joked about it often enough too, but we’ve been on the receiving end of that ourselves recently so I’ve got some empathy with Spurs on this. They’re going to be ridiculed for losing a final, much like we were ridiculed a year ago and for ‘losing’ the league despite ending up with 97 points. Spurs did something that most English clubs can’t even dream about doing, yet they’ll probably have fans from never-achieving clubs like Newcastle, Wolves and West Ham mocking them. Tottenham should be proud. They did something they’d never done before. Something that only half a dozen or so other English teams have ever done. So what if they got beat. Their fans have been to a European Cup final, which is something they could never say before. There is no shame in this defeat. They were playing a team with more experience, better players and who had finished 20 odd points ahead of them. They couldn’t pull off the upset, but they beat Man City on the way to the final so fuck anyone who thinks they can laugh at Spurs. The only ones who can laugh at Spurs are us, and I’ve yet to see any Red wanting to do that. By all accounts the two sets of fans got on great over there and I’ve seen lots of comments from Spurs fans talking about how respectfully they were treated by our fans afterwards. There was no gloating, no piss taking, just sympathy and respect. So much for us being ‘unbearable’ when we win something, eh? Tell you what though, I hope next season we ARE as unbearable as can be. I hope that every game next season we rub everyone’s noses in our success. Every game except when we play Spurs that is. It would be fucking boss if we didn’t sing about ‘number six’ when we play them, but ram it down the throats of everyone else. Especially smalltime gobshites like Wolves and Newcastle, as well as the obvious ones like the two Manc clubs and the Blues. After all the bollocks we had to endure from all of these dickheads from up and down the country chanting about Gerrard’s slip, and all the fucking nonsense this year when we were going for the title, there’s an awful lot of gloating to be done and scores to be settled. I hope we get Wolves first game of the season actually. although I’m just rambling now. I don’t know what direction to take this report now as my head is still all over the place. So many random thoughts are just popping in and out of my head and I’m just trying to type them up as they come to me. The game being so shit doesn’t really help with the flow of this either as there’s just hardly anything to say. Spurs barely laid a glove on us until they belatedly brought on Moura and then started to throw men forward late on. They had a fair few shots and some of them brought good saves from Alisson, but the weird thing is I never felt that worried that they’d score. Alisson was just giving off the kind of vibe that he wasn’t going to beaten by anything. Spurs have scored a lot of late goals this season though so that was always looming, but Big Div put paid to that when he added the second. The scenes in the Echo Arena when that went in were manic. Way more wild than when the first went in because we knew that this was it. Game over. Number six in the bag and a big fuck off to all the pricks who’ve given us so much shit, especially this season. There’s lots I could say about the aftermath and the parade the next day, but I’d be here all night. The one thing I can’t not mention though is the emotional scenes involving Hendo on the pitch afterwards. I love that lad and I’ve been saying for months that I want us to win something as much for him as I want it for myself and all of us. He’s had so much shit thrown his way over the years, some of it fair most of it not, and he’s constantly had to battle to prove himself. Even now, after this, there’ll still be people waiting to write him off or question his captaincy credentials as soon as he has a bad game. It’s a battle he’ll never completely win but at least now he can shrug off any shit he gets and just point to the picture of him lifting the European Cup. Although he’d never do that because it’s not who he is. He’s a much better person than I am. I'd be settling scores all over the fucking place! He broke down crying in Klopp’s arms and then went over to see his Dad and broke down again. Amidst a load of emotional scenes those were the two moments that really got me (Trent going over and having a picture taken with his parents and his brothers was a choker as well). If you didn’t shed a little tear at Hendo then you’re made of stone. Jordan Henderson, European Cup winning captain. Sounds great doesn’t it? I wouldn’t bet against him emulating Emlyn and doing it twice as there’s no reason to think we can’t be back here again next year. There’s no-one in Europe better than us and Klopp is yet to lose a two legged tie. Outside of another English club, who could beat us over two legs? I don't see anyone. We look set up to have a real run at this for the next few years and it’s certainly going to be easier to win this than the Premier League, unless of course the authorities actually step in and do something about City’s flagrant rule breaking. If they had been forced into playing by the same rules as the rest of us, we’d have been crowned Champions last March. That still stings, but not as much as us becoming Champions of Europe will sting them and the rest. City will have to retire their shitty cover of ‘Allez Allez Allez’ now too, otherwise they’ll look like even bigger bellends than usual. I won't hold my breath though. Had we not beaten Spurs next year would have just been week after week of listening to sad fucking ‘banter merchants’ taking the piss. Now, they’ll still attempt it no doubt (I expect a few “you nearly won the league” chants), but it’s like water off a ducks back now because we’re Champions of Europe, bitches. All of this will be covered in the special issue of the fanzine that will be out at some point over the summer. Yeah that’s right, TLW is coming out of the garage for another spin around the block. I always said I’d bring it back if we did something special and after twice being thwarted by losing in finals, it’s third time lucky. Star man is any one of Alisson, Robbo or Big Virg. Apparently Van Dijk got the official award, which I’d say stands him in very good stead for the Balon d’or now. I’ll not argue at all if Messi wins it, but it would be nice to see the big man win it on behalf of all the defenders out there who are always overlooked in these things. So that’s it then until August. All that’s left is to say thanks to all of you for continuing to support TLW, and hopefully you’ll keep your subscriptions going for the next few months as I'll still be adding members only content throughout the summer. Oh, and make sure you buy the fanzine for old time’s sake! SIX TIMES BABY!!! Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum (Milner); Salah, Firmino (Origi), Mané (Gomez):
    74 points
  3. And so it ends. In the most predictable way possible. It’s been obvious for weeks that we’d probably win all of our games and it wouldn’t be enough. Leicester were the last hope we had of taking anything off City, as Brighton didn’t have a meatball’s chance in Luke Shaw’s house. All we could do was make sure we didn’t allow some tinpot smalltime deadbeat club like Newcastle or Wolves to have the satisfaction of saying they cost us the title, and thankfully we did that. Nine wins in a row to end the season. Unbeaten at home for the second year running. 97 points. Only one defeat (courtesy of a ref from Manchester). Two Golden Boot winners. The Golden Glove winner. The Premier League and PFA Player of the Year. Trent smashing the assists record for a defender. Andy Robbo being the greatest human being on the planet. I could go on and on about this season, but it’s not over yet because we’ve still got a chance to come away with a big prize. That’s the very least these lads deserve from this incredible season. This game was tough though. Really tough. It’s the kind of game we’ve made a habit of losing over the years. Wolves packed the defence but posed a threat on the break. They’re set up perfectly to pick off good teams, but they’re shite when they have to make the play themselves. So playing a side with our attacking intent suits them perfectly. Throw in the tired legs from that Herculean effort in midweek and the whole distraction of what was happening at Brighton and this had the potential to go south for us. It didn’t though, because these players fought through the tiredness. They blocked out the disappointment they must have been feeling when they heard the City score, and they dug deep to win a game that was threatening to get away from them in the second half. The spirit of this group of players never fails to impress me. It would have been easy to stop fighting and give in to the fatigue when they knew the title had gone but instead they found something deep inside them to fight even harder. Wolves were pushing hard for an equaliser. Their fans were taunting us and the whole thing looked like it could fall flat. But the boys rallied, got the second goal to kill the game and ended the season in a manner befitting of everything that had gone before. They won the game for their own sense of pride and defiance. In fact, defiance was the tone for the majority of the afternoon, although it was briefly punctuated by hope, then confusion, then disappointment. Then back to defiance again. It was a weird day really. We started the game well and got an early goal when Hendo and Trent combined well to set up Mané to score at the Kop end. We were attacking the Kop end because Conor Coady won the toss and made us change ends. The fuck is that about lad? City have got their ex players deliberately missing chances against them while ours are pulling stunts like that? Anyway, we’re 1-0 up and looking good, and then the news comes through that Brighton have scored. Cue mass celebrations around the stadium. Personally I didn’t like it. It was too early and it meant nothing. I understand why people did it and got excited, I just couldn’t buy into it myself as I knew City would come back and I also knew it would be distracting to our players. Then it got really weird. From what I could tell, the original cheer had come from the Anny Road end of the Main Stand. Everyone else seemed to pick up on it from them. A minute later, another cheer went up so I looked to my left and saw the same section of the crowd going mad again. It couldn’t be 2-0, could it? Shit, even I was ready to go mad at that point. Still too soon, but a 2-0 lead would have been a whole different ball game. Then the cheering died down and there was just confusion. No-one seemed to know what was happening, but some of the Wolves fans were celebrating. Then a fella in front of me managed to get a signal on his phone and saw that it was 1-1. Word filtered around and the air was sucked out of the place. From what I can tell, the second cheer started in the away end but because the first one came from our fans down near that corner, people must have assumed it was them again and that it meant another Brighton goal. It was really deflating though. Wolves fans cheering Man City goals was just sad. For many of them I don’t even think it’s because they had a preference as to who won the title, I just think that, like fans of every other club from that part of the world, they’re unfunny 'banter' cunts. I’ll get to them later though. That whole episode absolutely killed the rest of the first half. The players lost their rhythm completely and we barely had another attack worthy of the name after that. Wolves were closest to a goal when Doherty hit the bar after a dangerous counter attack. It had gone flat and it was almost certainly because of what was happening in the other game. It was hard not to be invested in the events at Brighton though. It’s easy to say “just do our job and see what happens” but the fans are always going to be following the other game and it’s inevitable that news will filter through to the players. They’ll have known by the roar that City were losing but they’ll also have known by the way it just completely died down that it was either a false alarm, or that City had equalised. And it showed in the rest of the half. Klopp kept looking around at the crowd with a wry smile. He probably wanted to tell everyone to shut the fuck up about the City game and just worry about our own lads, but equally he’ll have known that he’d be wasting his time. I felt that we badly needed to get to half time though so he could talk to the players and get them refocused. The problem in the second half wasn’t focus though, it was legs. It looked to me like a few of our lads hit a wall. Wolves knew it too, and began to get more adventurous. In the opening half hour they basically played with a flat back five and three sitting midfielders. Their front two were left all alone and couldn’t get into the game. When it became clear that our energy levels had dropped though, their wing backs began pushing forward and they were giving us loads of problems. Alisson needed to come to the rescue a few times and we also had some good last ditch defending to clear the danger. We were offering nothing in attack anymore and Wolves had us on the back foot. The midfield lads may have been a bit leggy, and Trent and Robbo defo seemed to be flagging a bit, but the real problem was that the ball just wasn’t sticking up front. It kept coming back at us because the forwards weren’t holding it. Mo was especially poor. He never looked sharp all day and the week of training he missed with that concussion certainly seemed to have an adverse effect on him. Mané became very sloppy too in the early part of the second half, while Origi had faded after a brilliant start to the game. He looked great in the opening 20 minutes or so. Full of confidence and really positive. Like the Origi of the spring of 2016. Great to see. We didn’t get him the ball enough after that, but he did go really close with a volley following a move that he started. It looked like a defender managed to get something on it and deflect it over the bar, but it’s Martin Atkinson so I wasn’t surprised when he signalled for a goal-kick. I was surprised when Divock’s number was raised immediately after and he made way for Milner. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely needed Milner out there to settle things down and retake control of the game, but Origi can consider himself a little unlucky to be the one to make way. The change saw Wijnaldum go right, Milner left and Hendo and Fabinho sitting in the middle. I suspect the logic behind it was that Wolves are much better when the other team comes at them, so let’s sit in a bit and force them to make the play themselves, because they can’t, the counter attacking cunts. It worked well. Wolves were much less threatening after the change and some of the lads who had been flagging (most noticeably Trent and Hendo, who had become a little erratic with their passing) got their second wind. Trent then crossed for Sadio to put the game to bed. The goal brought him level with Mo in the race for the Golden Boot. We didn’t know at the time, but Aubameyang was also on 22 goals and all three players would share it. One thing I did know after the Mané goal was that nobody was getting a pass from Mo for the rest of the game. And they didn’t. A couple of times he went alone and incurred the wrath of team-mates, but it was always going to happen. Being top scorer means more to him than it does to Mané, who just seems a lot more laid back about the whole thing. Sadio has no pens in his 22 goals so for me he’s the real winner. He’s been brilliant this season, especially since the turn of the year when he’s taken up the slack when others haven’t been firing. I was rooting for him to get his hat-trick as it would have been well deserved. Maybe that’ll come in Madrid in a few weeks. He’s often been the man for the big occasion and scored in last year’s final. But then Mo will be itching to make up for what happened last year. I don’t really care which one is the hero, just as long as we win. The second half of this game was probably the least enjoyable experience I’ve had at Anfield all season. We knew City were finishing above us and I think everyone just wanted the game over with. What made it worse was that for a while it was looking like we might not even hold onto our lead, and all of this was being played out to a backdrop of the away end acting like, well, acting like Midlands fans. Wolves, Birmingham, Villa, they’re all the same really. Unfunny sad cunts. I’d happily see every Midlands team relegated and never come back up. The second goal did lighten the mood and the Kop refused to let disappointment put a dampener on the day. We’ve still got a European Cup final to look forward to and the Kop made sure everyone knew it. Maybe Sky were expecting to see some final day of the season tears? Usually you get it from the relegated sides, but they all knew their fate weeks ago. You know the rest of the country were hoping to see some crying scousers, but instead they got defiance. The win over Barca changed everything. Imagine how we’d have felt if we didn’t have that final to look forward to? It would have been heartbreaking watching Klopp and the players doing their lap of appreciation with nothing to show for it. Instead we were waving them off to their third European Final in four years. Usually at the end, you’ll get some fans nipping out to beat the traffic. That didn’t happen this time. I’m sure some managed to sneak out but as I looked around as we waited for the players to come back out, it looked as though everybody had stayed behind, and rightly so. The bond between team and fans is as strong as I can ever remember it. Maybe it was stronger in the 60s and 70s with Shanks, I don’t know, but this is something special. And it’s all down to one man. He made all this happen, and anyone who wants to bring up him ‘not winning anything’ can fuck off. Aside from it being not true (he won plenty at Dortmund), it’s completely missing the point. What he’s done here is incredible. It’s one of the greatest managerial feats of all time. Think about where we were when he arrived, and where we are now. And look at how he’s done it. He’s transformed some players that were here already, he’s brought in world class talent without needing the backing of an oil state to do it, and he’s done it without ever taking a backward step against any team, no matter who they are. That’s what I love most about Klopp. He’s the manager I always wanted. I hate pragmatic, defensive football. I want to see my team go on the front foot and take the game to everybody and play with no fear, and that’s what we do. The 3-0 defeat in Barca won’t be remembered because we lost the game (and because of what happened a week later), but put the scoreline to one side for a second and just think about how we played that night. Did you ever think you’d see a Liverpool side go to Barcelona and dominate them like that? We had more possession and more shots than them. At the Nou Camp. Nobody does that. We lost the game so you can say it counts for nothing, but to me it counts for an awful lot. Players know, you see. The Barca players will have come off the field that night buzzing about their result, but knowing that we’re better than them. Our lads knew it too. A week later it was proved beyond all doubt. My point is, if this team can go away to Barcelona and take the game to them and show no fear, they can do it any venue in world football against any team. The two best teams in the world right now are us and City. They finished on top but I’d much rather be us and I'm not envious of anything about them. There's nothing about City that makes me jealous. I prefer our team. I prefer our players. I prefer our club. I prefer our fans. It means more to us. There’s a bond between crowd and team that isn’t there anywhere else, certainly not at City. Our lads know it. Theirs do too. They’ve got the league title but it’s all just pretty hollow. If our players bring home a trophy they’ll be remembered forever. It’ll be an experience they never forget. It’s different here and that’s why so many want us to fail. It’s also why it will be so much more sweeter when we win something. And we will do. I’m not predicting when and I’m certainly taking nothing for granted against Spurs. Whatever happens, this team is going to be around for a while. We’ve got top class players in every position and they're all still young (apart from Big Games James). We have players other clubs would love to have, but we’re now in a position where we don’t need to worry about that. You’d have to be batshit crazy to want to leave Liverpool right now. The way this team plays, the way the crowd reacts to it, this fucking manager. Who wouldn’t want to play here? The scenes at the end were understandably a little bit subdued I thought. The players wanted to show their thanks to the fans (Hendo’s programme notes on that were fucking amazing by the way) and the fans stayed to pay tribute to the remarkable efforts Klopp and his boys have given us all year. Alisson got presented with the Golden Glove for his 21st clean sheet of the season, while Sadio and Mo got the Golden Boot. Mo’s little girl brought the house down by dribbling from the halfway line to score in front of the Kop. And then as they tried to bring her off the pitch she turned around and did it again. Then the rest of the players and their families came out. There were so many people on that pitch it was hard to even make out the players. That’s how it is now, every year there’s more and more. Trent’s brothers and mates were out there playing keepy uppy in the middle of the pitch, and long after everyone else had gone Trent was whipping crosses in for them to attack. Love that. The owners were out there too. I was taking some photos of Klopp and as I zoomed in I saw him go “WOW!!!”. Turns out he’d seen Linda in a bright pink dress with these big weird red gloves! Jurgen gave her a hug and then did the same for Henry and Werner, although they didn’t get a ‘WOW!!!” As I left Anfield I wasn’t disappointed, just sad. How can you be disappointed when the players have produced a season unlike any other. Not even the most decorated of Liverpool teams have performed at the level these lads have over an entire season. 97 points and a European Cup Final. Incredible. So I’m not disappointed. I’m just sad that this team (and manager) didn’t get what they deserved. Sad that we, the fans, are still waiting for that title. It’s doing my head in, it feels like we’re jinxed and will never win it again, but thankfully Klopp doesn’t see things that way and neither will the players. They’ll come back ready to do it all again next season. I’ve never been prouder of a Liverpool team as I am of this one. It’s hard to take knowing that we’ve had the greatest season in the club’s entire history and it’s STILL not enough to win the title. It’s even harder to take when you know that we’re Carl Lewis and we’ve been beaten by Ben Johnson. What rubs salt in the wound is when it seems like everyone is cheering for Ben Johnson and seeing him as the saviour, just because they don’t like Carl Lewis! It’s also galling how nobody in the media seems to want to even mention the complete disregard for the rules of the competition that everybody else is playing by. If that sounds like sour grapes it’s because it fucking is. My grapes couldn’t possibly be any sourer. I don’t know how Klopp can be so philosophical about it all. I’d be fucking steaming if I was him. Especially when that daft bald cunt is harping on about their ‘achievement’ and how they were the underdogs. Fuck off you stacked deck, shite cardigan wearing fucking egghead. And I don’t want to hear “if we’d beaten Leicester at home or West Ham away” or “drawing with United and Everton cost us the title”. We can nit-pick until the cows come home but it’s unfair on Klopp and the players. They didn’t win every single game, but who does? This City team who are being lauded the greatest ever lost four fucking games this season. FOUR! We lost one. So harping back to a few draws we had along the way as the reason we came up short just doesn’t feel right to me. I have no regrets about anything we did. None. Those draws didn’t decide the title, the defeat at Man City did. That was the game that did it. If we’d been able to avoid defeat that day we’d be Champions now, but that we didn’t was largely due to circumstances beyond our control. Everyone will remember the 11mm that denied Sadio a goal but that wasn’t decisive because we went on to equalise after that anyway. As I’ve said before, the reason we lost that game is that a referee from Manchester failed to produce a red card for bulb head Kompany when the game was 0-0. That’s it. It’s that simple. The title went City’s way because a local ref helped them out. How that was allowed to happen in the first place I’ll never understand, and it’s something that has been brought up before when the same ref shafted us against United a couple of years ago. You can’t have a ref from Manchester officiating City or United games. Just can’t have it. It’s nonsensical. Keith Hackett even brought it up on Twitter this morning, saying that Taylor’s incorrect decision decided the title. That tackle was worthy of two red cards, let alone one. It was an out of control, high lunge. That’s an automatic red. Plus he was the last defender, denying a goalscoring opportunity. Yet fuck all was said about it at the time and other than Hackett and bitter, resentful bastards like me who will never let things like this go, fuck all is being said now. Yet the media are all out to get City apparently. This despite the fact that no-one in the British media ever addresses the fucking massive FFP elephant in the room. “Oh what a great side” “Pep is the best ever” “Yes they’ve spent money, but what a wonderful team”. Just fuck off. Fuck right off. One day someone might call it like it is and expose Ben Johnson FC for the cheating cunts they are, but it won’t be any time soon though, not while they’re the only ones capable of stopping us from dominating the league like we always used to. Maybe if we fall back into the pack and the gap at the top is 30 points again, maybe then, maybe, people will realise what a fucking problem this is. While City are stopping us winning stuff though, they’re safe from any recriminations. Here’s the stupid thing though. All these soft cunts cheering for them don’t realise that it’s not just us that City are cheating out of trophies. It’s other teams. Brighton and Watford for example. Brighton were beaten by them in an FA Cup semi final, and Watford are about to be beaten by them in a final. Chelsea lost the League Cup Final to them. Burton Albion reached a semi but lost 9-0 because City rotated the squad and drafted in a load of £50m squad players. This shit affects everyone, but all these stupid cunts cheering for City can’t see the wood for the trees. Without us, City would be winning the league by a landslide. Ok, most of the other clubs in the league aren’t affected by that anyway, but they are affected by what is happening with the cups. City are hoovering up those as well. This means that there are no trophies for anyone to play for anymore, yet no-one is arsed. Why? How come we’re the only ones talking about City’s rampant rule breaking? I almost want them to beat Watford 10-0 next week just to emphasise the point. Fans of other clubs are, for the most part, morons. I don’t give a shit about Everton fans singing Blue Moon away at Spurs, as being a blue is such a miserable, joyless existence how can anyone blame them for revelling in us not winning the title. If we had won it their shitty lives would be almost unbearable. The only thing they have to cling to is hoping we aren’t successful, so I give them a pass for all their fawning over City. Hell, they did the same for United so why would this be any different? I remember them singing Glory Glory Man United at a derby game back in the day, so this is nothing new and I get why they are the way they are. Shit, United themselves are just as sad now. Cheering Man City’s goals while they’re losing 2-0 at home to Cardiff on the way to finishing sixth. Yeah, they should be laughed at. They don’t deserve anger, they deserve pity or ridicule, take your pick. So none of that bothers me, if anything it amuses me. Everton and United are our rivals, us winning the title would have been their worst nightmare. What about all these other whoppers though? Top of the list being Wolves, but you could probably replace them with half the teams in the league had they been playing us this weekend. They weren’t playing us though, Wolves were, so that’s who I’m going to focus on here, even though it’s a certainty there’ll be other ‘banter merchants’ following their lead when they face us next season. Cheering the City goals was bad enough, but “you nearly won the league” and “you fucked it up again”? Where to even start with that? I’m embarrassed for them, the sad bastards. I mean fucking hell, it was only a month ago that they blew a 2-0 lead with 10 minutes to go in an FA Cup semi against Watford. A MONTH!!! And they’re taunting us about ‘nearly’ winning something and ‘fucking things up’. We’ve lost one game all season, to the team who won the title, and even that was a fucking screw job. Having skidmarks like them taunting us is beyond the fucking pale, it really is. It bothered me. I wish it didn’t, because that’s the reason they do it. But it did. It fucking pissed me off big time. I’m still pissed off now and I won’t forget it. I still bear a huge grudge about Newcastle’s fucking lad bible, shitty ‘bantz’ at Anfield when we were at the height of the Gillett & Hicks saga. Fuck Newcastle and fuck Wolves. Fuck everyone who’s not us. All these sad, pitiful, desperate fucking losers, the same cunts who had the summer of their lives last year when their shitty England team reached a semi final after having the kind of easy draw normally reserved for Man City in a domestic cup, are taking the piss out of us? The team with the third most points in the history of football in this country? Fucking Brexit bastards. We’re failures but Southgate and Kane are national heroes honoured by the queen. This fucking country, eh? Next season we’ll be subjected to all that bollocks all over again, just like we had with the Demba Ba crap. So let’s just win that European Cup and then ram it down the throats of all these fuckers. “Oh Liverpool fans will be unbearable if they win anything”. You’re damn fucking right we will. You don’t even know the half of it. You’d better hope Spurs beat us next month because if they don’t, I promise you’ll never hear the fucking end of it. And when we eventually do win the league, you should probably go and live in another country or take up another sport, because we’ll be the most unbearable gloating cunts you’ve ever seen, and you’ll have brought it on yourselves. Star man is Alisson, just ahead of Mané and Matip. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson (Gomez); Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum (Oxlade-Chamberlain); Salah, Origi (Milner), Mané:
    58 points
  4. I don't know yet but I'm made up: just discharged from hospital after 3 months of chemo and feeling a bit sickly; but relieved another cycle of treatment wasn't booked in, as it could have run up to the game. Three weeks now to get fighting fit to get to a pub and be able to enjoy it. Allez Allez Allez!
    56 points
  5. How do you write something to encapsulate what we just saw? There’s a lot of hyperbole about modern footy where everything that’s pretty good will be labelled “the best ever” but what we witnessed at Anfield on Sunday is a genuine once in a lifetime occurrence. It’s literally never happened before. I don’t know if it’s fully sunk in yet and I can’t really process how I’m feeling about it. Beating them 7-0 wouldn’t have been a massive shock a year ago when we were flying and they were pathetic. We could have beaten them by more than that at Old Trafford if we hadn’t stopped playing at 5-0. We could have done it in the Anfield fixture too if the ball had broken a bit more kindly at times. This time the breaks did go our way. We’ve have won the game regardless, but you don’t get seven goals without some things bouncing the right way for you and a couple of the goals were like that. The other goals though? Fucking hell, this was us back to our best. The recent signs have been promising but I don’t think anybody other than maybe Graeme Souness saw this coming. He wasn’t thinking 7-0 but to his credit he did say that he believed we’d win well and that Anfield would drive us on to a performance. Keane and (especially) Neville were laughing at him but he was right and at full time it was Souey, Carra and Kelly who were laughing at Neville as he tied himself in knots trying to say Liverpool weren’t even any good. Keane was laughing at him too in fairness. Whenever there’s a result like this there are two stories to be told and usually the bigger story is just how shit the battered team was. And that’s fair. I’m fine if the wider football world wants to focus on them being a disgrace more so than us being outstanding. I don’t really care. The story for me is how good we were, but I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to put the boot in on Bruno Fernandes and co. We should not be able to beat any ‘top’ team 7-0 if they play the way they should but equally we know that if we play at our best then the only teams who can potentially live with it are City and Real Madrid. Everyone else is going to get blown away, even if they play well. Not 7-0, but they’re going to lose. But what we didn’t know is whether we were capable of hitting that top form anymore. It’s not been there all season except in flashes. The first half against Madrid was as good as anything we’ve produced in a long time, so despite what happened afterwards there was something to take from that. And it looks like we have taken something from it because this was like rolling back the clock. There’s so much to get into here that it’s going to be tough to keep any structure to it so I’m going to say whatever comes into my head and let it flow. Make yourself a brew or something, or if you’re reading it after work this evening get yourself a nice cold beer and strap yourself in as this is going to be a long one.
    55 points
  6. Friends and Comrades, I bring good news during these dismal times. On Tuesday, KMD7 (Declan) who is known to all of us after his many years of service, some of us better than others, had a life saving Kidney transplant in a hospital in Dublin. He hadn't wanted to say anything, or want me to say anything, but he has been ill for a long time now. Not only was the operation a success (fingers crossed for the long term), but better and more amazing than that, the donor of the Kidney was his wife Mary. She has been an absolute superstar, stood by her man and literally saved his life. She had her operation on Tuesday morning, Declan had his in the afternoon/evening and both have come through as well as could possibly be expected. I did say to him a while ago that it could be worse, he could be getting one of my Kidneys and I wouldn't recommend that to anybody. He is groggy and sore as you would expect and in good spirits. He is likely to be in Hospital until this time next week, depending on progress. Mary is due home this weekend, again, all being well. I'm sure you would like to wish Dec and Mary all the very best for a speedy recovery. Dec has been part of the furniture here for longer than the furniture. I thought it might be a nice gesture, in true TLW fashion to send Mary some flowers for her return home. I'm reliably informed that sending flowers to Declan is a bad idea as he will eat them. Being a dunce, I have no idea how we do a donation, a gift or whatever, so our lovely social secretary @Champ has kindly offered her expertise in this matter, so if anyone wanted to chip in, it would be a wonderful gesture and most appreciated. EDIT: You can send donations via paypal to cath.platts@sky.com Failing that, send @Champ a PM and she will give you details for a bank transfer.
    55 points
  7. I said during the week that when we missed out on the title last weekend I was gutted far more for Klopp and the players than I was for myself and the rest of the fanbase. After this one, I feel the opposite. I’m gutted for us. Proper gutted and down in the dumps about it. We needed this after last week and it would have been fucking amazing to add number seven and parade it around town. Last week the lads took care of business in their own game but they had no control over what happened elsewhere. They’d had an incredible season and did all they could in the run in but it wasn’t enough. That’s why I felt so bad for them. It wasn’t in their hands but they did all they could. There’s no regrets over the league, only resentment that we were beaten by cheats. This was different. This trophy was in their hands. All they had to do was go out and beat a team who they are clearly superior to. Sadly they couldn’t do it and therefore it’s not really like last week. Our players can have no complaints after this because the bottom line is they just didn’t do enough to win. It’s not that they were outplayed, far from it. We dominated the game and Madrid offered virtually nothing in attack. But they scored and we didn’t. Even though we were clearly the better side overall, Madrid played exactly the way they wanted to and I don’t think we can say the same. It’s massively disappointing and it’s a missed opportunity because we haven’t lost to a great team. We should be beating them but it’s Real Madrid in this competition and for whatever reason (not going to get into the “aura of the competition again” but it is a thing) it’s much easier said than done. Mind you, the whole night just had really bad fucking juju about it. There was the disgusting way the fans were treated which resulted in a delayed kick off, and all that drama with Thiago where it looked like he wasn’t going to play, then he was, then he wasn’t, then eventually he did. It just had a bad feeling before it even started. The most disheartening thing about the performance is that I never felt at any point in the second half that we would score. It wasn’t just me either, all the lads I was watching with had the same feeling. You could just tell we weren’t right in the final third and it was a tough watch. Everything up until there was sound, but it was one of those games we have from time to time where the decision making in and around the box is just generally awful. We picked the worst possible time to have one those performances. Courtois was man of the match but he only really had to make three real saves. Considering how dominant we were, three decent efforts on goal just isn’t anywhere near enough and we have to be better than that if we want to seize the moment and win the trophy. The players only have themselves to blame for not winning this game and I’d imagine it will stay with them for ever because they know what a missed opportunity this was. You only get so many of these opportunities so when its a game you should win, you have to win it. 2018 was different, it wasn’t a game that we ‘should’ have won. We could have if circumstances had been different, but you don’t look back and think ‘that’s a game we should definitely be winning’. This one is though. It’s not that I don’t feel bad for the lads. Of course I do. I’m gutted for them. I just feel worse for me and for you and for especially everyone who went over there and had to endure what they went through. It’s left a fucking sour taste in the mouth and although we’ve had 10 incredible months, inevitably it’s the pain of the last week that will be the thing that lingers for a little while until perspective is fully restored. Eventually we’ll look back on the season with real pride and fondness, but it will always feel like a missed opportunity because that’s what it was. We should be beating Real Madrid because we’re much better than them. We were much better than them in this game even though we did not play well at all. If we had played well in attack we’d have fucking destroyed them and that’s what hurts. That’s why this will always feel like Athens to me. That was another one we clearly should have won but we blew it. We blew this one too. I hate saying that but it’s true. It’s so frustrating because we’d started the game really well and looked like we might blow them away if we could score early. We flew out of the traps and had some early chances. Not exactly clear ones but we were threatening and it felt like a goal was coming. We started the FA Cup final in similar fashion and didn’t score then either. It’s costly. Watching on a big screen in an arena isn’t exactly conducive to taking everything in and assessing a game properly. It’s not like being there in person or watching at home on TV when you are able to focus a lot better on what’s happening. So my view on the game might be different than if I’d been in the stadium or at home watching telly. The commentary was on but I wasn’t really listening and tuned out to most of it. One thing I do remember though was Glen Hoddle saying after about 20 minutes that we needed to score while we were on top or we would regret it. I was annoyed at the time as it seemed like unnecessary scaremongering. We were in complete control of the game and the goal would come eventually. Sadly it turns out he was spot on. In hindsight we absolutely needed to score in the opening half an hour when we had them on the ropes. Madrid weathered the storm and just dug in, waiting for their opportunity. It came just before half time with their first real attack of the game and it ended with Benzema putting the ball in the net. I’m not sure why it took so long to disallow it as it was clear from the first replay that it was offside. I actually thought he was offside from the initial pass too but they didn’t show any freeze frames on that so presumably it was checked and was ok. The second one though, he’s a yard offside and the ball is played forward by Casemiro. Open and shut case, but it took them ages to come to a decision. The commentary team were adding to the confusion too, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but it needed Peter Walton to come on and set everyone straight. What’s the confusion? The ball bounces off Alisson and then Casemiro challenges for it with Fabinho and Konate. He plays the ball forward, it might have then taken a nick off one of our lads but that’s not relevant as they were simply making a challenge, not trying to make a play at the ball. It then falls to Benzema who is offside because Alisson is well out and Robbo is the only player between Benzema and the goal. It’s an easy decision that they made a right fucking meal out of. Even though it wasn’t a goal I felt that moment changed the game. It gave Madrid the confidence that their game plan would work. Keep doing what they’re doing defensively and wait for their one moment. It also maybe put the wind up us a little, as for all the dominance we’d had the closest either side had come to a goal was them from their one fucking solitary attack. It was jarring. The second half was basically the same only this time they scored from their one opportunity. I thought it was offside at the time and I haven’t seen any replays that convince me otherwise. That’s been noticeable in Europe this year. The threshold on offsides seems to be less tight than it is in the PL and we don’t always get the lines shown on TV either (we benefitted a few times from that). I don’t think that goal would count in the Premier League but I might be wrong. Until I see a replay showing that Vinicius Jr’s shoulder isn’t ahead of the last man though I’ll feel mildly aggrieved about that. I’m more aggrieved that we couldn’t score though. The worst part is that when that goal went in, deep down I knew we’d lost. Obviously you keep hoping, but I can’t explain why, I just knew in my heart that we weren’t going to score. It wasn’t just me either. Our entire group were the same. We all knew we were fucked if we conceded first as it never felt like we were going to score. Even when he had chances there was just no real conviction. And Courtois looked like he wasn’t going to be beaten by anything. He’d been running his mouth in the build up about how Madrid never lose finals. Carvajal made a jibe too about how he hopes Mo will be able to cope with losing to them twice or something like that. It pissed me off but it’s up to our lads to ram their words back down their throats and they didn’t do it. Courtois was right. He talked the talk but he walked the walk too. He did what Mo did except unlike Mo he backed it up with his performance. I’ve never liked that Postman Pat looking goon but he did go on social media this morning to say he felt bad for the Liverpool fans who were mistreated and he hopes everyone got home ok. He didn’t need to do that and I appreciate that he did. I also respect anyone who runs their mouth but then backs it up. It’s just so galling that we lost to a team who basically approached the game like Everton, Newcastle, Villa and all those other inferior teams do when they come up against us. This isn’t sour grapes as I’m more disappointing in what we did than what they did. I’m not criticising Ancelotti for those tactics because it fucking worked and in a final winning the game is the only thing that matters. It’s no fluke either, he’s like Kryptonite to Klopp. He clearly knows how to stifle Klopp teams because he’s done it before with players who aren’t as good as he has at Madrid. I don’t know exactly what went wrong. We did create some chances but I think the writing was on the wall from the moment Courtois made a great save to tip Sadio’s shot onto the post, and then got incredibly fortunate when the ball bounced back and hit him but stayed out. They almost always end up in the net but it’s Real Madrid in the European Cup. Bad fortune just never comes their way does it? It’s weird that we had loads of shots but most of us probably felt that we were never going to score. There were too many bad crosses, the set-pieces were fucking woeful and when we did get good opportunities we just weren’t clinical enough. The one moment when it looked like maybe this would be it was when Mo went through late on. His first touch was sensational and he did everything right. Actually going on the outside for once instead of cutting back in. Courtois made a great save and that was that. When that didn’t go in I knew it was all over. Mo had six shots on target apparently. I barely remember most of them. There was one when he arrived at the back post and was blocked by Courtois. That annoyed the fuck out of me because instead of just attacking the ball he adjusted his run to get on his left foot and that split second could be the difference between Courtois making the save or not. I don’t think the subs helped us at all either, although I understand the logic behind it as something needed to change. Thiago was never going to play 90 minutes but I wouldn’t have subbed Hendo. Certainly not for Keita, but that’s probably my bias kicking in. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a position where I’ve thought “bring Naby on, he’ll sort this out”. Maybe it’s just me though. I’m going for Milner all day when the stakes are this high. Tell you what though, when Keita fucking skied that shot I’d have subbed him on the spot, not just for Milner, but for Curtis or Harvey. Even Ox. I know that’s the meathead in me talking and that’s not the right thing to do and would never happen, least of all with Klopp making the decisions. But I was - and still am - disgusted at how shit that was. This is harsh based on that one moment, I know that and don’t need telling. Nevertheless, I really hope we sell him this summer. I know this is knee jerk and it probably seems like I’m making him a scapegoat. I admit I am definitely lashing out at an easy target, but I’m not making him a scapegoat for this. Far from it. Let me make this clear; we did not lose this game because of Naby Keita. On a list of reasons why we lost it, he isn’t even on it. I’m not blaming him for anything. I just want us to fuck him off as I’ve seen enough. I just can’t warm to him at all and it’s been four years now. After four years we shouldn't still be waiting for him to really show what he can do. We've seen who he is now and he's just ok. I want better than 'ok' for my fourth midfielder. I want someone amazing who will put pressure on or even displace one of the other three. That chance he put into orbit, did anybody actually think he would put that away? He’s literally the last person in the entire squad I would have wanted that falling to in such a big moment. Cometh the hour cometh the man, and he’s most definitely not the fucking man. The fact he’s wearing the number eight shirt just makes it more galling. We have a squad full of winners. Lads who delivered for us on the biggest of stages. Mentality Monsters. And then there’s Naby, who is an Arsenal player in all but name. A flakey, inconsistent, unreliable, lightweight, fair weather player who can look good when things are going well for the team but shrinks like a set of bollocks in the cold when the pressure is on. As I say, he’s an Arsenal player. Get rid and bring in a top player who will deliver every week and put genuine pressure on the established three. A midfield version of the Diaz signing. Enough of that though, I don’t want to be singling Naby out when he is most definitely not the reason we were so disappointing in the final third. That's not on him, despite his heinous shooting. I always say that we’ll only go as far as the front three (whoever they are) takes us so therein lies the big problem we had here. I say that because the rest of the team tend to perform virtually the same way every week. Our performances don’t fluctuate too much, we control almost every game we play, dominate possession and we’re really hard to play against. How successful we are largely depends on what happens up top and whether they take their chances. So many times I can remember writing stuff like “we won 2-1 but this was really a 5-1 game”. Too often we let teams hang around in games where they've been played off the fucking park. When they don’t take their chances we often find it difficult and have to grind it out. Usually we find a way but our fate generally depends on if the front three are at it or not. They usually are but this time they just weren’t really at the races. Mo did what he’s been doing ever since he got back from AFCON. He’s had fucking loads of these games where it just hasn’t happened for him. He’s not glaringly bad and his finishing hasn’t been terrible, but for whatever reason he’s just not getting it done. With pre-AFCON Salah we win this game. No question about it. But he’s just been very average in front of goal now for four months. And he looks a bit daft after all of his “revenge” talk. There was nothing wrong with anything he said but if you’re going to talk like that you need to deliver in the big game. The greats do that, in whatever sport. The greats say what they’re going to do and they do it. Bottom line, Mo just didn’t deliver. That might seem harsh but when you call yourself the best player in the world (as he has) then you have to show that in the biggest moments. Three finals, no goals. Hmmm. Not good. Diaz did even less. Seriously disappointing display from him against a full back who really shouldn’t have been able to live with him. Carvajal completely marked him out of the game though. Diaz is probably my biggest disappointment as I expected so much from him in this game. He’s shone in both cup finals prior to this but the game looked too big for him. It was his first CL Final though so that's his excuse. What's the excuse for the other two? Sadio wasn't great but he was easily the pick of the forward line. I’m damning him with feint praise there though. It’s like being the least bitter Evertonian. Not the swansong he wanted, although I'm still waiting for clarity on what the fuck he meant by "I have great news". I had absolutely no faith in Jota bringing anything from the bench because he’s done nothing for months now. Bobby was sent on as a last roll of the dice but he was never going to do anything either. I thought he was alright in fairness. I don’t have any complaints about him but he’s just not someone I ever see as being a game changer off the bench late in games. In hindsight though if we could do it all over again I’d start him and have Diaz coming off the bench. God I wish Divock had been available. The front five have been a huge reason for us going as far this season as we did and I love them all. But we’re at a crossroads now and there are questions that need answering. Firstly, Mo’s contract. His demands are beginning to look stupid now based on his form in 2022. You can ask for 350-400k a week when you’re doing what he did from August to December, but you’ll get laughed out of the room based on what we’ve seen since. Personally I’m probably not giving him what he wants, on principle as much as anything else. “You want to be paid like “the man” then fucking play like “the man” and deliver in finals like Gerrard did. Then we’ll talk about that massive salary”. But if he’s adamant that he’ll be here next season no matter what then something has to give, either with him or with the others. My preference would be to call Mo’s bluff and give him a final take it or leave it offer. If he refuses then I’d invite bids for him. I really want Mané to stay but if Salah is determined to do a Bosman then the club might look to recoup some cash by allowing Sadio to go. Bobby should go now too really, simply because we can’t extend his contract on the current terms as he’s no longer worth that kind of money. I'm happy for him to stay his final year though, especially as I doubt he'd bring in that much of a fee in the current market. Jota is worrying me slightly now. Which is the real Jota? Is it the Fowler clone we saw in the first half of the season, or the pale imitation of it we’ve had since? Ideally I’d want to keep all five but the contract issues make that impossible really. It must be giving Julian Ward sleepless nights but big decisions are needed now. This is going to sound ridiculous considering how many goals we’ve scored and how many games we’ve won, but we’re really not that clinical. We score so many because we create so much. It feels like we miss too many chances though, so in games like this one when we don’t create unlimited chances that can be a problem. That’s three cup finals in a row where we haven’t scored. In the two domestic ones we created fucking loads of chances and didn’t take any. In this one we weren’t at our best but still had loads of shots. No goals though. I feel like a twat for even bringing this up when we’ve had such an amazing season. I love this team. It’s the best we’ve had and I love watching them. It’s all about context really. What they’re doing is unprecedented but that’s part of the frustration. These lads should be seen as the greatest team to ever play the game but to do that they need the silverware. They’ve won plenty but, and this will sound ungrateful when it really isn’t, they should be winning more. They should have won this, which would then have led to opportunities in the Super Cup and World Club Cup. Klopp will feel the same way, as will the players. They may never say it publicly but they will 100% be thinking they’re a better team than the trophy haul shows. Because they are. I’m by no means complaining about what they’re giving us, I’m merely talking about what is needed for them to get that little bit extra that would have secured a quadruple and made them immortals. Becoming more clinical is top of the list for me. Klopp has evolved the team every summer by making adjustments and improvements to the playing style as much as to the personnel. What is the plan this summer? There will be one, because Klopp and his staff are always looking to make tweaks and evolve our style. The uncertainty surrounding the original front three really complicates things and my gut feeling now is that we’ll probably break them up and bring in a clinical centre forward type. It won’t be Kane despite recent rumours, but maybe it will be that someone like that Darwin Nunez lad, who looked like a good finisher when he played against us. The midfield also needs bolstering. Bellingham would be nice but that seems unlikely now Dortmund have lost Haaland. The lad at Monaco has been strongly linked but might be headed to Madrid. Clearly we need something there though because there’s no point keeping Ox as he never plays, Milner is not going to feature much and Keita either needs a new contract or he needs to be moved on for whatever we can get for him (please God be the latter). Those are questions for another day though really. I’m probably not in the right frame of mind to be objective on it either. I’m not thinking straight really. For example, I’ve got a downer on Mo right now, partly because it looks like Sadio is going to leave even though we’re no closer to getting Salah tied down. Haggling over money and having your agent act the twat when the goals are no longer flowing isn’t especially endearing, but if I’m honest then had we won this game I wouldn’t be arsed about the contract situation. We didn’t win the game though and he didn’t score, so yeah I’m lashing out a bit in his direction. I may feel bad about that in a day or two but that’s how I feel right now. I hope Mo has learned a lesson from this. I know I have. I too was full of bravado and all that “I want Madrid, it’s payback time”. You know what though, fuck all that. I want no part of them ever again because there’s something intangible about them and this competition. There is with us too, it’s just stronger with them unfortunately. We’d have beaten anybody else in this final. Anyone. It might have needed penalties again but we’d have won. Not Madrid though. 14 wins from 17 finals is mental, and it’s been obvious for months that their name was on this trophy. I dismissed it because we’re clearly a better team, but there’s something in it because they’re really not that good yet they somehow overcame PSG, Chelsea, City and us despite being outplayed by all of them. So forget all talk of “we owe them” and revenge missions. I’ve learned my lesson now, I want to avoid them if at all possible, the arrogant fucks. Of course now we’ll have to endure the mocking from all the sad little banter cunts throughout the nation. The worst will of course be the Bluesers. Bottom line here is we won half of the competitions we were in, we lost another by one point and we also got beat in a final. Some failure that, eh? These are rich people problems. We’ve been swimming every day in our indoor heated pool, while the next door neighbours look on enviously from the paddling pool they got from Lidl which they have to keep topping up with hit water from the kettle. Then they couldn’t even use the paddling pool because the dog shit in it. Instead they stood with their snotty little noses pressed up against our window, watching us having a great time for 10 months in our lovely, warm, private Olympic sized pool, Then the filter broke and we couldn’t swim for a week, and suddenly the neighbour is there banging on the window, pointing and laughing his scruffy little fucking head off. Sad cunt. I hope his house burns down next year. With Richarlison trapped in it. It’s not just Everton either, most of these other knobheads too. Our ‘failures’ would be their greatest achievement. So all of that is like water off a duck’s back. I don’t care about anything these dickheads want to try and throw at us as it means nothing. It’s like the mocking of the parade. No-one else would have had that and they know it. Klopp knows it too, as do all the lads. And that just gives them more fuel for next season. They were on the floor, then 24 hours later they’re on a massive high because of the homecoming they got. Anyone trying to take the piss at that is merely highlighting the jealousy they all feel because they could never have that, either because their team would never be good enough or because their fans just don’t have that in them. In most cases it’s both. I’ve said nothing so far about the events before and after the game because what is there for me to say? It’s a scandal, we all know what happened and who is and who isn’t to blame, but that won’t stop the bellends around this country ignoring facts to try and smear us with shit. Thankfully there were so many journalists caught up in all that shit beforehand that the story is being reported far and wide and accurately. UEFA tried blaming the fans but they found it’s not so easy to do that when loads of journalists are present and there’s camera phone footage all over social media. When the proposed Super League thing came about the only objection I had with it was that they wanted a closed shop with the same teams playing every year. That was stupid and unworkable so I was out. The basic concept of it though, I could have got on board with that. A new league that has fuck all to do with UEFA, with much better ticket allocation for teams who reach the final, what’s not to like about that? That Super League could have worked if they hadn’t been such greedy self preserving dickheads wanting to prevent other clubs gaining access. Fuck UEFA, fuck the French police and fuck the local PSG rats who were at the heart of most of the shit that went down. This is why I have no interest in going to finals. Athens was bad enough, after that I’d rather just stay here and watch in town with my mates. More power to anyone who goes though, but it’s not for me as the potential for this kind of shit looms large. So what now? A summer that could have been the greatest ever, basking in the glory of four (or even ‘just’ three) trophies now feels pretty flat. It shouldn’t, because what we’ve done this year has defied belief really as we still have two pieces of silverware. But it’s human nature isn’t it? It’s also recency bias. We’ve had two disappointments in a week and we’re also having to deal with the probable departure of Sadio now, while Mo continues to fuck about with not signing a contract. We should be buoyant, celebratory, but instead there’s a bit of a shadow over us this week. It will be lifted, Klopp will have something lined up to raise everyone’s spirits but I’m not really handling this well at the moment and just feel like licking my wounds for a bit. It’s been a long season and we all need a rest I think, not just the players. Just realised I haven’t done the star man. For me it’s Konate who was completely flawless. I’d have started Joel but that decision was vindicated spectacularly by that performance by Ibou. The kid is fucking amazing. Tell you what was weird about the game though. I barely remember even seeing Virgil. Has he ever had less to do in a game? Any defending we had to do came down the other side with Trent and Konate, who were both brilliant. Trent maybe got caught out on the goal but sometimes there’s really not much you can do. Usually he’s the one delivering crosses like that. Overall he defended Vinicius superbly I thought. As a team we did a brilliant job of not letting them counter attack. They hardly had any attacks but ultimately they didn’t any more because they scored from one. That’s what I mean about the performance was good aside from when we got in the final third. To restrict Madrid to as few counters as we did shows we did a lot right, but it’s fine margins in these big games and we’ve just got to find something to give us a little edge. We played Chelsea four times, City three times and Spurs twice. We also played Real Madrid once. Those were the best opponents we faced and in ten games we only won one of them. We only lost one too, so we’re really, really close to perfection here. That’s the only thing lacking really; in the tightest games against the best opponents we didn’t quite have enough. It’s not going to take much to tip the balance in the right direction for next season, but we need to get our business right and hopefully Klopp and the staff will add another wrinkle or two into our game to make us even better. They do that every summer. Whether it’s the high line, the introduction of Thiago or changing Trent’s role to get him on the ball more in dangerous areas, there’s always something and there will be again. We’ll see what that is, but I’m excited about it already. Reading this back, this report has probably been more downbeat than I’d like but the funny thing is that I don’t feel as bad at the end of it as I did at the beginning. I’ve watched the parade and seen the interviews with Klopp and the players and it’s taken a bit of the edge off the disappointment. I know in a few days I’ll be over it and looking forward to what we do over the summer, but this was a tough one to accept because as I said earlier, it’s just a huge opportunity missed. Klopp said afterwards to “get the hotels booked” for Istanbul next year. He has history for that kind of thing and it usually ends up going exactly the way he said. When they come back after their holidays Kloppo will have the squad absolutely fucking champing at the bit for next year and the hurt they’re feeling now will no doubt spur them on, as will the reception they got when they came back for the parade. So that’s it then, another season over with and it was a fucking long one. Two games a week for virtually the whole season. That’s a lot of reports and podcasts we’ve had to do this year but it’s been great fun. Only four defeats in the entire season is incredible really. Hopefully it’s a similar story next season. Thanks to everyone for reading / listening. Your support for TLW genuinely means a lot to me. Have a great summer and let’s go again in August. Up the Reds! Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson (Firmino), Thiago (Keita); Salah, Mané, Diaz (Jota):
    54 points
  8. How do I even begin to describe that? Some will say it’s the greatest comeback in our history. Not for me. Istanbul is the greatest comeback because it was a final and because we only had 45 minutes to turn it around. Also, that team (with all due respect to them) were massively outgunned. That Liverpool team were vastly inferior to AC Milan. Hell, that 2005 team finished below Everton in the table. What they did was a miracle. This wasn’t a miracle, it was just the best performance in the club’s illustrious 127 history. It wasn’t a miracle because these boys are so good. They’re better than Barcelona and they should be beating them. They proved it last week, despite the scoreline. And they put that injustice right at Anfield with a performance that, for me, blows away anything else I’ve seen. To win 4-0 without Bobby and Mo and with absolutely no margin for error just makes it even more of an accomplishment. Seriously, tell me a performance better than this? I'll wait. You can come up with some heroic against the odds wins (we’ve had plenty) but you can’t tell me that the team has ever played better than this, against world class opposition, while needing to score four goals without reply to win. The best player in the world, perhaps of all time, came to Anfield and was kept quiet. An away goal might have killed us off but it didn’t come because the entire team defended like heroes. The entire team attacked like heroes too. This was a complete performance and it was as close to perfection as you’re ever likely to see. Honestly though, I wasn’t surprised. That’s not to say I expected the lads would do it, but it didn’t shock me that they did. Klopp’s pre-match rallying cry to them summed it up. “It’s impossible, but because it’s you, there’s a chance”. And also because it’s Anfield. My expectations prior to the game were that we’d win and that we’d score at least three or four. I was just as convinced that we wouldn’t be able to keep them out though, so whether we would go through would depend on if we could get five, which I saw as probably being a bridge too far. Going into the game I’d have given us a 20% of going through. After the early goal, it was up to 50%. By the time it went to 3-0 it was up to 85% and when the fourth went in I’d have put it at 95%. How could I be that confident with a 3-0 deficit and Messi and Suarez in opposition? It sounds corny, it sounds like a cliché and everyone who isn’t us absolutely hates it being mentioned, but it’s proven fact that there is nowhere in the world quite like Anfield on a European night. Nothing is impossible. We've seen the impossible before, so why would we not think it could (though not necessarily 'would') happen again? If we’d needed to score five to win this game we probably would have. Maybe even six. No Salah or Firmino? No problem. You could have taken Mané out to and started Rhian Brewster, and the outcome would still have been the same because it’s us, at Anfield. Barcelona will get stick for collapsing, but the Spanish media shouldn’t be too harsh on them. They played as well as they were allowed to. This wasn’t about them and their ‘failings’. It was about our lads. These incredible players who are doing superhuman things. Remember when we thought they were mentally weak? Not any more. There's no-one like these lads. To quote Klopp they're 'fucking unbelievable'. There seems to be no hurdle they can't overcome. I’ve genuinely never seen anything like this. 94 points with a game to go and they’re in second place. They saw City scrape a spawny win the night before thanks to a one in a million pot shot from a player who normally couldn’t hit Romelu Lukaku’s arse with a cricket bat. It knocked the stuffing right out of me, so it has to be demoralising for them. Yet 24 hours later they take to the field, 3-0 down against Messi’s Barcelona, and they do THAT?? No wonder Klopp can’t stop dropping F bombs everywhere whenever a microphone is put in front of him. How do you describe these lads without swearing? Somehow ‘they’re unbelievable’ or ‘I love them’ just doesn’t cut it. It needs a ‘fucking’ thrown in there for added emphasis. Ask the Pope what he thinks of this team and I expect his response will be “yeah they’re fuckin’ boss aren’t they?”. Barca rested all eleven starters at the weekend in preparation for this game. Good job they did, imagine how many they’d have lost by if they didn’t have fresh legs. Our boys, meanwhile, were travelling up to the North East for an energy sapping, emotionally draining, roller coaster of a game with Newcastle. Most of the starters from that game started this one too, and tired legs will have been a concern. Yet at the end they were all still flying around, fuelled by the manic atmosphere inside the stadium. You what makes this even more impressive? Barcelona lost a three goal lead last year at Roma, so it’s not as though we could rely on them being complacent. It's happened before and they were determined to avoid it happening again. Ooops! They knew what to expect from us and they knew the tie wasn’t over. If you think back to last week, remember how Messi reacted when Dembele missed that late sitter? Not the reaction you’d expect at 3-0 up. But he knew. They all knew. It wasn’t over, but if they could score at Anfield it probably would be. That was my concern, not whether we could score enough goals. Anfield would take care of that side of things but if Messi was Messi then it wouldn’t be enough. He wasn't though. He wasn’t allowed to be. The tone was set very early when Milner clattered him. Fabinho then dumped him on the floor with a perfectly timed challenge as Messi drove towards the box. As he sat on the floor, Robbo shoved the back of his head on his way past. Messi was furious. He was rattled. Why? He has to deal with rough stuff every time he steps onto the field. When you’re as incredible as he is opponents will always try to get physical to even the odds. He’s used to it but this got to him because he knew he was in a real game. Even with a 3-0 lead, he knew. After last week’s game Barca’s players were reportedly shattered and Messi told them it was because they played the game at Liverpool’s pace, and they’re not physically equipped to do that. He wanted them to play at their pace in the second leg. At Anfield? Yeah good luck with that. You can’t play out from the back when you’ve got opponents flying at you from all directions and sixty thousand fans screaming. Even the best, most composed of players are going to struggle with that. We were right in their faces, playing the game in their half and it took no time for us to get that early goal we needed. Matip’s cross field ball wasn’t the best but Mané anticipated what Alba was going to do and he seized onto his poor header. His touch to get the ball into Henderson’s path was world class. Hendo took it beautifully, shifted it out of his feet and hit a low shot that Ter Tegen could only parry into the path of the lurking Origi. The man on the spot. Again. That was just what we needed and the players wanted to capitalise on it immediately. With so much time still to play it’s easy to say they should play patiently, but when you’ve got this kind of momentum and the opposition are rattled, you need to take advantage of that. If a boxer has his opponent reeling in the first round he’s not going to hold back because there are still another eleven rounds to go. No, when their legs are wobbling you go for the knockout. We went for it and we almost had them a few times but the second goal didn’t come and Barca were able to weather the initial storm. In fact, the last fifteen minutes of the half saw them get a lot of the ball and cause us some problems. Most annoyingly though, many of our problems (just like last week) came from our own corners. They kept clearing them and getting the ball to Messi to start counter attacks. Messi will be criticised for his performance but I still thought he was brilliant. His balance when running and the perfect weight on his passes are almost taken for granted. If he doesn’t score two or three goals everyone wonders what’s wrong and says he had a bad game. He didn’t have a bad game, we just did a hell of a job of keeping him quieter than anyone usually manages. In the first half alone he forced a save from Alisson, had two shots fizz just wide and put chances on a plate for Coutinho and Alba. And this is while we’re playing him brilliantly. That’s how good he is. His influence waned in the second half as we just wore him down in the end, but in the first half he was a constant danger. Let’s face it, he’s good. He’s one of only a handful of players out there who might improve our starting eleven. He’d need to up his work rate though as all that standing around on the halfway line with his hands on his hips wouldn’t fly here. We’d played really well in the first half but I was glad to get to half time because it looked like we’d dropped a bit of intensity and needed to regroup. We also had a couple of injuries that needed dealing with. Hendo took a bang to the knee and looked in trouble initially, but he was able to resume after lengthy treatment. The same thing with Robbo. He looked really bad at one point but he managed to finish the half. I thought he’d be ok, but sadly he wasn’t. That was such a massive blow because after 3/4 of this tie he’d been the outstanding player from either side. Suarez did for him, but I’ll get to him later. Ironically, without that injury things may not have turned out as they did, as it was Robbo’s replacement who turned the tie on its head with two goals in as many minutes. He’d only been on ten minutes and he’d scored twice. The first came after some dogged play by Trent. Initially he gave the ball away to Rakitic with a poor header, but he quickly closed down Alba to win it back before running down the line and whipping a low ball in to Gini, who arrived at the perfect moment to rifle in first time. Tell me again how Alba is the best left back in the world? He's a rich man's Moreno and a B&M Bargains Robbo. Mad celebrations after that goal, but nothing like what would happen a couple of minutes later. Shaq whipped one in from the left and Gini soared like Michael Jordan, hanging in the air and planting a header in the top corner. It’s only when you watch that goal in slow motion you see how beautiful it is. Like Gini himself, the beautiful bastard. Is there a more beautiful man on the planet? Not for me. If you were designing the perfect face, it’d be Gini’s. The bone structure, the hairline, the smile. Beautiful. Anyway, I digress. All hell broke loose when that went in and Lovren led the charge of the subs to get there and celebrate with him. He was fourth to arrive on the scene, which is quite impressive. He loves a celebration does big Dejan. When the winning goal went in, only Shaqiri got to Origi before Lovren did. He might not have got on the pitch but he was still the king of the post match celebrations and he’s still at it today, posting his mad shit on instagram. That fourth goal though. Bloody hell. The presence of mind of Trent to do that, in that situation, is just astonishing. Initially I assumed that was a planned training ground move as they sold it so well. No-one was in a rush to get to the box, Shaq trots over slowly, Trent looks like he’s going to leave it to him and then BAM! Fooled you all, suckers! All except Divock. And this is one of the most impressive things for me. It would have been a great goal if it had been planned and practiced, but it’s even better because it wasn’t. Origi wouldn’t have been expecting the ball, but he reacted brilliantly and that was a fucking brilliant finish because it would have been easy to smash that over the bar. Great ball, great improvisation and a hell of a finish. One of my favourite goals of all time. Suarez said Barcelona defended it like kids and he’s right. You know why though? Anfield. When it’s like this, even the most experienced players can get rattled and forget how to do the most basic of things. It wears you down. It’s how we were able to score three in 25 minutes against Dortmund the other year too. Having gotten in front the only worry was that we might sit back and invite pressure. They had to come at us which meant Messi would see more of the ball. They didn’t really threaten though. Messi had one sight of goal in the second half when he shot straight at Alisson from a tight angle. Other than that he was completely Fabinho’d. The one time he got away from the big Brazilian his run was brought to an unceremonious halt by Matip who gladly took a booking. Even though it meant a free-kick from the exact same spot he scored from last week, it was a better scenario than letting him run any further. This time the wall blocked the free-kick, and Lineker and Ferdinand had to put their cocks back in their trousers. I loved the way we saw out the final few minutes. The defending was brilliant. Blocks and interceptions all over the place, and we did well to counter and get the ball up the other end of the pitch. Milner managed to waste at least a minute all on his own by taking the ball down the line and winning a free-kick. Big Games James coming through again. The scenes afterwards just make me well up. I’ve watched them over and over last night and today, and each time it’s something different that gives me a lump in my throat or just has me laughing. There was Des Kelly from BT Sport going the full Brendan Rodgers and getting handsy with all the lads. I thought he was going to try and snog Divock. Not that I blame him. Getting anything out of Sadio was an uphill task though. He just stood there grinning before eventually blurting out “I don’t know what to say” and having Gini come in and take over. That was funny, as was Lovren’s instagram afterwards and his dance off with Brewster. He’s off his head him. I know a lot of fans don’t like him but he’s a big part of that dressing room and the great spirit they’ve got. I’d like to go for a pint with Dejan as I reckon he’d be a laugh and we’d hit it off just by bitching about Sergio Ramos for an hour or two. I’d prefer an Irn Bru and a Suarez rant with Andy Robbo, but Dejan would be sound too. There was loads of other stuff I loved as well. Bobby hugging Origi (the man who took his place in the side). Mo just casually strolling around, smiling, in his ‘never give up’ t-shirt. Shaq’s muscle flex to Sturridge when he was being replaced. Mignolet’s tweet about Alisson (what a fucking team man Mignolet is, a pro’s pro). Klopp lining everyone up to sing YNWA in front of the Kop. Spine tingling. Gini crying at full time. Milner crying at full time. Trent’s lap of honour when everyone else had gone. Hendo struggling to get through his interview without crying, and then marching across the pitch singing ‘Allez Allez Allez”. Hendo. Fucking Hendo. I love that lad. All the weird criticism he gets from LFC Twitter. All those doubters who don’t want him in the team, let alone as captain. And he plays like THAT. In a game like THIS. If you still can’t see his worth then you never will. Yes, Van Dijk is the most suitable captain candidate at the club all things being equal, but taking it off Hendo would be fucking criminal. It doesn’t matter who has the armband wen you've got as many leaders as we do now. Jordan Henderson - captain, leader, legend. Ok, I’m getting a little caught up in the moment here but I'm just so happy for him. And then there was Suarez, who couldn’t get off the field quickly enough. Something upset him on the way off but the camera didn’t pick up what it was. One report I read claimed it was Sturridge just letting out a huge roar as Suarez went past. I really hope that’s true. I’d like it even more if was something Robbo had said though. He’s a complex character though isn’t he? Before the game he genuinely thought he’d be applauded because of all that he did for us. On the surface, it wasn’t an unreasonable assumption, or at least it wouldn’t have been if he hadn’t acted like such a twat last week (and I don’t mean the goal celebration) and then again this week. He was rolling around and constantly calling for the referee to book our lads. That’s how he plays and he did the same for us, and he said exactly that in his pre-match interview with BT (“I fight everybody, and when I was at Liverpool I fought everybody too”). His attitude is that he’ll do anything to win and that won’t change because he’s at Anfield. Fair enough. He’s a Barcelona player and his time at Liverpool wasn’t going to influence how he approached the game. So why should it influence how the fans approached it? Any player who acted the way he did would have incurred the wrath of the crowd, so no special dispensation is going to be given to him because he was once a great player for us. He was booed as he prepared to take the opening kick off but that’s normal. Whoever was taking it would have had the same treatment as the opening exchanges in these games are always like this, with loud booing any time the other team has the ball. The longer the first half went though the more Suarez incurred the wrath of the crowd with his typical Suarez shenanigans. When he backed into Van Dijk and then hurled himself to the floor before turning to the referee and demanding a yellow card, that was the final straw for most people. The general jeering and whistling when any player - not just Suarez - had the ball, morphed into "cheat cheat cheat" and then repeated chants of “Fuck off Suarez”. It peaked when he was stood in front of the Kop during a break in play, and I’m fairly sure it got to him as he will clearly have heard it. At one point he apparently made a hand gesture behind his back (flicking the v’s?) to the Kop as he made his way up the field. Maybe the message hit home because I thought he toned down the shithousery in the second half, although it may just have been a result of the ball hardly ever coming anywhere near him as we were so much on top. I bet he was hurt by it though, especially as his wife and kids were there watching. Tough shit. It wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t acted the way he did. What he did to Robbo was genuinely next level stuff though. Shit, I’m not even mad, I’m impressed. You’ve almost got to admire the absolute snidery of that (is snidery a word? It is now). Managing to take out an opponent by kicking back at them while you’re running? Dastardly bastard. I can laugh about it because we won. If we’d lost I might be on the next plane over to Spain to smash his goofy teeth down his throat with that stupid fucking flask thing he’s always carrying around. Now I just think it’s funny, unless of course Robbo is missing for any length of time, in which case I might just have to book that flight. I’m genuinely intrigued by how that happens though. Does he practice it? Was it instinctive? Has he done it before? He must have, I suppose. I bet Robbo didn’t even know it was deliberate until he saw it afterwards. Suarez even went over to check if he was ok. As I say, that’s next level shithousing that. Him and Robbo were going at it last week too and reportedly had to be separated in the tunnel. Apparently Robbo was calling him a fat bastard. Just when you think it isn’t possible to love that lad any more he goes and does something like that. The thing with Suarez though is this kind of thing isn’t personal for him. It’s all part of the game. He probably admires and respects Robbo for the way he went back at him. Maybe when he was checking on him to see if he was ok, he actually meant it. It wouldn’t surprise me. Suarez would do that to his own Granny just to get an edge, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her. I’d be interested to know what he said to our lads afterwards. I did see that during the post match interviews on LFC afterwards he interrupted both Van Dijk and Shaqiri to shake their hands and say “congratulations”. That’s him though, he’s an absolute fucking bastard on the pitch but a completely different guy when it’s all over. What we see as shithousery, to him is just how the game is played. Anything to get an edge. It’s why I loved him. Once. I don’t love him anymore, but I don’t hate him either. I did last week but now it’s over and we won, I bear him no ill will. Same with Coutinho. I almost feel sorry for him actually. Almost. I don’t like the way he left but I understand that it was always his dream to play for them. It’s turning into a nightmare though and there must be a part of him that wishes he’d stayed. If he had we probably wouldn’t have Alisson and Fabinho. I wouldn’t swap them for Coutinho, but I would still have him back at a discount price if it’s in any way possible. I understand why not everyone feels that way but we need another match winner and I’d happily welcome him back if the deal was right. With Moreno leaving the Brazilian's need another playmate. Back to Suarez taking out Robbo though. Nobody in the ground will have even known about that, least of all the officials. I don’t expect anyone to see that in real time and realise what happened, but you do have to wonder what the point of VAR is though. In the last World Cup he’d have probably been sent off for that as they were going to replays for every little thing. Now they aren’t even checking for penalty incidents. At least not when it’s us anyway. Mané should have had a pen last week but didn’t get it. He had another decent shout early in this game, but I don’t think they even looked at it. They did, however, look at ‘a potential red card’ after our second goal, related to Gini trying to wrestle the ball away from the keeper and get the game restarted. I’ve watched it from a few different angles and there’s an accidental clash of heads, but there was nothing in it really. They also looked at a tackle by Fabinho (or it may have been Hendo, I can’t remember) to see if that should have been a red. Yet there was nothing when Virgil was manhandled as he tried to get on the end of a corner. I don’t have a clue how it’s supposed to work, as it seems completely random. The referee was hopeless in the first half and was falling for all their antics, particularly those of Suarez. After the break he seemed to get wise to it and was much better. He had a big grin on his face when Klopp went to see him at the final whistle too. I think he was just pleased to be part of such an incredible occasion. Not the best ref we’ve ever had but nowhere near the worst either. Give me him over most of the turds we get in the Premier League anyway. As for the star man, it genuinely could have been any one of nine. Ten if you include Robbo. In my player ratings for ESPN I took the unprecedented step of handing out 10’s all over the place. Only Robbo and Shaq got less and in hindsight I should have given Robbo more than a nine as it’s not his fault he only played one half. Shaq only played one half too, albeit in different circumstances. He was well off the pace in the opening 45 and he put us under pressure a few times with his sloppiness in possession. It’s understandable though really. He hadn’t started a game for three months and now suddenly he’s thrown into a game like this? He was much better in the second half and he put in one hell of a shift without the ball. He also set up Gini’s second. Overall he was good, while everyone else was great. Just incredible to a man. Origi has scored four of the most important goals of the season and three of them will be remembered for decades to come. Hell, if things go our way this weekend then the Newcastle goal will be up there too. His impact has been as unlikely as it is incredible. It’s mad to think where he was going into the season. Not wanted, couldn’t even get on the bench, but look at him now. It’s to his eternal credit that he’s in this position because he got there through working his arse off in training and earning his shot by contributing any time he got any minutes on the pitch. There’s clearly a drop off in quality between the first choice front three and Divock, but the lad has delivered for us spectacularly. When we’ve most needed him he’s nipped into the phone box and put on his Superman costume and saved the day. These two goals earned him a place in Anfield folklore whatever his future holds. Mané didn’t score but it would be wrong to forget about his contribution, which was immense. No goals or assists, but he ran the Barca defence ragged all night. They’ll be having nightmares about him. The constant trouble he was giving them all goes towards the general sense of unease and panic that we saw from them. I thought he was sensational. Rio Ferdinand was raving about him both before and after, and said that out of him, Mo and Bobby, Sadio is the one he’d least like to face. He’s no longer in their shadow, that’s for sure. At the back, Trent was incredible at both ends of the pitch. He’s almost too good to be a right back as it sort of feels like a waste of his talent, but then this team relies so much on creativity from the full back positions maybe this is where he needs to be. Full backs are more important in this team than they are in most others, that’s for sure. Robbo on the other side was phenomenal until he had to go off, and then Milner just took the reigns and carried on where he left off. Let me say here and now that James Milner is a fucking hero. He’s everything I want in a footballer and in a human being. He deserves to be classed as a Liverpool legend and if he is part of a team that wins a European Cup (and who knows, maybe a title) he will be. He’s been a huge part of what this team has done over the last couple of years. In the middle, Virgil showed again why he’s the best defender in the world. There are some who would say that honour belongs to Gerard Pique. I pity those people. Those people are idiots. Virgil completely dominated this game and on the rare occasions Barca threatened he was usually the one cutting out the crosses or attempted through balls. He also brilliantly dispossessed Messi in the box as he attempted to cut back onto his left foot and shoot. It was offside anyway, but no-one knew that at the time. World class. And what about ol’ Big Bird alongside him? Sensational again, just as he was last week. Aside from one tiny lapse in judgement when he tried to play Suarez offside, Matip didn’t put a big foot wrong all night. His form since he got back in the side at the turn of the year has been majestic. It would need to be to keep Gomez out though. Alisson too. Fucking hell. We did so well to restrict them to the handful of chances we did but they could easily have sneaked that away goal had it not been for the big man. The saves weren’t necessarily spectacular, but he was just there, making sure nothing got past him, just being a big imposing bastard. The save from Alba was great. Then there’s the midfield. Hendo was incredible. Even in the closing minutes he was pressing their centre backs on halfway and winning the ball back. He ran and ran and ran, and he was a threat in their penalty area. He made the opener with a surging run into the box and he was still making those runs at the end. At half time he needed tablets and an injection because his knee was giving him hell. What a guy. Made up for him and Milner more than anyone. Gini came on and was unreal. Two goals within ten minutes, and then after that he was taking the piss with some of his footwork. That bit when he had three of them hanging off his back and he just spun away from everyone was unreal. His pressing of the ball and filling spaces was massive too. Clever, beautiful bastard. He said afterwards he was pissed at Klopp for not starting him but he wasted no time in showing why he felt he shouldn’t have been left on the bench. We’ve got…. *counts on fingers* six midfielders (including Ox) who all deserve to start every game. Only three can though and Klopp generally manages it superbly. Who does he pick in the final though? Fucking hell, I wouldn’t want to be making that call. Naby’s injury makes it easier, but (assuming Robbo is ok and Milner isn’t needed at full back) one of Hendo, Fabinho, Gini and Big Games James is going to be on the bench. Whoever it is will be desperately unlucky. It’s not going to be Fabinho though is it? Fuck me, he’s an absolute monster. He’s not like this in every game, but he doesn’t always need to be. What he did here though was something else. I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the best midfield displays I’ve ever seen. To be able to play like that, against Messi, despite being on a yellow card for 80 minutes almost defies belief. He’s just a tackling machine. He’s like Hamann, Vieira and Mascherano all rolled up into one big boss cynical South American package. The tackle he was booked for was fucking ace. He took the ball and cleaned out Suarez. It was never a booking and he was quick to let Suarez know what he thought. Like Robbo, he was in a running battle with Suarez all night. It was how he dealt with Messi that was most impressive though. You’re never going to stop a player like that from having the odd moment but most of the time that Messi was able to get involved it was because Fabinho wasn’t around. Like second balls from set-pieces for example, when Fabinho has to leave him to do another job. Messi had some dangerous moments then. In open play though he was barely able to get the ball, because Fabinho was always around to make sure it didn’t reach him. And when it did, he was there harassing fuck out of him. Either he’d dispossess him or he’d realise that he couldn’t and he’d pull away and let someone else deal with it. It would have been so easy for him to dive in, or to pull Messi back or even just inadvertently get too close and accidentally clip him. That never happened though because Fabinho’s game management was off the fucking charts. And look at him deep in stoppage time, winning the ball and powering past three players before being brought down by Messi. Unbelievable. He’s my star man. He even yelled at the ref and gestured towards Messi as if to say “are you not gonna book this little prick?”. I loved it. Almost as much as I loved him giving Suarez the hairdryer in the first half. Give them back what they gave us. Last week they were all cock a hoop after stealing a 3-0 win despite being outplayed. So much snide, arrogance and cockiness. I wrote recently that ‘cheats always prosper’. I was wrong. Not always, just most of the time. Sometimes they get what’s coming to them. This was one of those times. All that shithousing from them last week came home to roost in a big way. I’d imagine that there will have been several conversations between the lads about some of the shit that went down last week and how payback was due. You could see the aggression in them and the desire to just get stuck right into them. The physicality was just too much for Barca. The speed, intensity and desire of our lads just ground them into the dust and the noise inside the stadium shook them to their core. I’m not the kind of guy to say I told you so, but this is EXACTLY why I’ve wanted to play them for so long. This is just what I anticipated we’d do to them. Last week was the same, only for the freakish scoreline. Bottom line is that a team that plays like Barcelona just isn’t equipped to cope with a team that plays like us. That’s why I wanted to play them, and why it’s a damn shame we didn’t get another crack at Real Madrid because we’d have fucking smashed them too. Maybe next year. Now it’s just a case of seeing it through and winning the final. What happened last year should help us, and besides, Dejan said on LFC TV last night “don’t worry, we’ll win”. That’s that then, that’s me convinced. Of course there’s the small matter of our final league game before that. Legs will be weary but Tuesday / Sunday is usually fine so we should be recovered in time, injuries notwithstanding. We just need to win that game and see how the cards fall. I have no expectation for Brighton to do anything and I’ve made my peace with that, especially after we managed to salvage our season with this result. Maybe this will have an effect on City? Will they start to think that we’re a team of destiny? You never know, if they were to fall behind or suffer some kind of misfortunate, it might play on their minds, but for now I’m not even going to waste time thinking about it. Just bask in the glow of this, the greatest performance in the history of this great football club, by what, in my opinion at least, is the greatest team we’ve ever had. If they can go and collect Big Ears in a few weeks I don’t even think that’s a debate, but each to their own. That’s me finished anyway, I’m off for a lie down and then another watch of all the post match celebrations and interviews. Can’t wait for the ‘Inside Anfield’ tunnel footage. Just a shame there wasn’t an ‘Inside Camp Nou’ one last week, as I’d give anything to see that exchange between Suarez and Robbo. From the abject despair of Monday night, to this 24 hours later. What a time to be alive. Up the Reds!! Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson (Wijnaldum); Fabinho, Milner, Henderson; Shaqiri (Sturridge), Origi (Gomez), Mané:
    52 points
  9. Well that went well. Makes you wonder what we were worried about really, doesn't it? Pressure? What pressure? These players are incredible. The composure and mental strength we're seeing from them is something to behold. Whether they go on to win it or not, this is a truly great Liverpool side we're watching right now. If they carry on like this and win their four remaining games, it may or may not be enough to win the title but it will definitely be the highest points tally the club has ever amassed. There are no open top bus parades for that but it would still be a phenomenal achievement. Winning this game was a significant step as you know everyone (especially City) was looking on expecting this to be the game when it all went wrong for us. It was uncanny really, us playing Chelsea on the same weekend City were at Palace. Just like in 2014. Except it wasn't just like in 2014 because we won. If we win the title then this will be a significant victory, but even if we don't it still goes some way towards setting the record straight. It doesn't make up the heartbreak of the Gerrard slip, but it's a significant barrier that has been overcome. Next time we play Chelsea this late in the season with a title on the line, hopefully Sky Sports news will have the Salah thunderbolt on a loop instead of Demba fucking Ba. Ok, probably not, but it at least changes the narrative somewhat and banishes a few ghosts. The win was well deserved. The clean sheet was somewhat fortunate as we could easily have conceded, but ultimately this was a test that the lads - and the fans - came through with flying colours. There was no edginess or nervous tension in the stands, although scoring early in the second half obviously helps with that. The first half atmosphere was good too though. We weren’t creating too much and given the high stakes some tension would have been understandable, but there was no sense of panic and I thought the crowd were great from start to finish. What happened in 2014 will have been in the back (and in some cases the front) of all of our minds, but Klopp had done his best to dismiss that in the build up and it was clear that to him and the players it was a complete non-factor. When you think about it, why would it be? The one player who might have been thinking of it was Hendo, who was sat in the stands that day unable to do anything about it as he was suspended (thanks to Victor fucking Moses and his hospital pass. Twat). Given the way the skipper has been playing of late and the desire and determination he has, I was convinced he’d put in a big performance. He did. They all did. Trent was in the stadium that day too. He was a ball boy. He knew what that result did to the psyche of the fans as he’s one himself. Now, as a player, he was in a position to help slay that demon. He’s still only a kid himself, but what a performance he put in. I genuinely don’t think most people realise just how good he is you know. He’s incredible. He’ll be one of the best players in the world one day, regardless of what position he ends up in. So gifted. For the rest of the lads though 2014 had no relevance. It’s the fans who were scarred by it, not these players or this manager, and it showed by the calmness and maturity in their performance. The first half was fine, not a great deal wrong with it at all and certainly there were no nerves in evidence. Sometimes it just takes a while to break teams down and you need to be patient, which I thought we were. Chelsea set up to play defensively and hit us on the break, so it wasn’t easy for us. We created a few chances, not too many clear cut ones but some of the approach play was good and I thought we looked quite sharp. We weren’t helped by the wind though. It was especially noticeable any time a quick switch of play to Robbo or Sadio was attempted. A few times that ball was on but it hung up in the air and allowed Azpilicueta to recover his position. Balls over the top were difficult too, but for Chelsea it was easier in the first half and a few times they were able to get the ball into space for Willian to chase. Trent dealt with him very well though, and with Fabinho patrolling in front of the two centre halves Hazard was hardly able to get on the ball. One early tackle that won the ball and left Hazard in a heap needing treatment really got the crowd going. Great that, and good refereeing from Michael Oliver too who was in position and saw that the ball was won cleanly. I don’t know whether Hazard was genuinely hurt or not, but I suspect he was fine as it was clear from early on that Chelsea wanted to break up the play and waste time whenever possible. Azpilicueta actually had the cheek to go and complain to Oliver about that challenge and wanted a yellow card for Fabinho. He was trying to confront the official but was struggling to get past big Virg who was having none of it. Love that. It’s funny how sometimes you can completely misjudge a player. I’ve always seen Azpilicueta as a Steve Finnan type. Quiet, unassuming, good pro who just does his job. Watching him in this game it hit me just how wrong I was. He’s a proper little twat him. I guess if you spend as long at Chelsea as he has that it’s almost inevitable. He was lucky not to be sent off in this game. Oliver was quite lenient on the whole, but I don’t mind that as long as it’s consistent, which he was. He had a good game and is comfortably the least shit of a massively shit current crop of officials. He did miss a penalty when Salah was kicked on the shin by Luiz. Yes, he went down easily, but it's still a foul. And spare me the 'Salah diving again' nonsense. I've lost count of the amount of times he's stayed on his feet after being fouled, only to be given fuck all for it. If you don't go down you don't get a penalty, so where's the incentive to stay up? It's not in the spirit of the game some will say. That's true, but then financial doping is not in the spirit of the game either but nobody seems to want to bring that up, do they? Luiz didn't get the ball and he kicked Salah on the shin. Probably should have been a pen but I'd agree that it wasn't a stonewaller like the two that Naby hasn't been given this season. In fairness it was a difficult one for Oliver to see and I'm not being too critical of him for it. I do wonder what VAR would have made of this one though, as it isn't a clear one either way. Anyway, in between all the stoppages and time wasting, we were dominating the game without really creating too much. The best opening fell to Salah, who didn’t connect properly with a volley that went straight at the keeper. Mané had a chance too, firing just wide after positive play from Mo cutting in from the right. Hendo then saw a shot deflected behind off Luiz after a lovely cushioned header by Mo had set him up. At the other end Chelsea had two chances. Willian broke away and made room for a shot which he surprisingly put wide, while Hazard showed brilliant footwork to make space for himself in the box but his left foot strike from a tight angle was never going to trouble Alisson. They were warning signs though. As much as we were on top, Chelsea have that quality up top with Hazard (and to a lesser extent Willian) to hurt anyone. The much hyped Hudson-Odoi was completely anonymous though. Considering what was at stake I wasn't too anxious at half time. Of course I was a little concerned, but I was still confident we'd get the job done. We were playing alright but it just needed a slight raise in the tempo, and that’s exactly what we got after the break. You could tell as soon as the second half kicked off that the lads had the bit between their teeth. They had Chelsea penned back and wouldn’t let them out. Our intensity was too much for them and Sarri’s approach made things even more difficult for Chelsea. He just won’t compromise on his style at all will he? They kept trying to pass it out from the back and they kept being forced into errors because of it. It’s asking for trouble playing like that against us, and that Jorginho lad has clearly never watched us play because he seemed to think he had all day in possession. Every time he got it I expected us to nick it from him, and we usually did. He's not cut out for the Premier League him, he's a huge flop. Even the normally accomplished David Luiz was struggling to find team-mates and knocked the ball out for throw ins a few times. Sarri-ball is not going to work against us and he’d have been better off sticking Giroud up front and letting Hazard play off him. I’m glad he didn’t. I’m also glad he did us a big favour by starting Hazard through the middle. I was made up when I saw that. It was a massive relief. Very few players genuinely scare me but Hazard tops that list by a mile. Aguero always worries me too, as does Son. It's mostly Hazard though, as not only is he a great player but he always seems to save his best performances for us. He doesn’t like playing through the middle though and it genuinely seems like a stupid thing to do as he sees less of the ball in that position and has less room to operate in. It also meant he was up against two centre halves as well as Fabinho, which favours us massively. We controlled him quite easily, but the instant he was moved out wide everything changed and he started to run amok. By that point we were already 2-0 up, but if he’d taken one of the two great chances that came his way it would have been an unbearable last 15 minutes or so. It was a wild second half really. We were so good at times and they couldn’t live with it. We just wanted it more. We were pressing them, snapping into challenges, not giving them a second’s peace. The opener was the perfect example of it. Salah attempted a one two with Bobby, but the return pass didn’t reach him and was cut out by Emerson. Mo didn’t give it up though and challenged the full back, who wasn’t strong enough and just fell over. Hendo reacted quickest to seize on the loose ball and then clipped a perfect ball to the back stick where Mané had an easy header. Anfield went mad, but no-one lost it more than Hendo who was just so fired up that he ran off and celebrated on his own while his team-mates ran to congratulate Mané. I love that. With some players that could be seen as a bit of a self centred act, but it’s Hendo and you know it’s just because of how much it means to him. He wants it as much as any one of us does, he’s fucking desperate to do it and I love him for it. I can think of few things that would be sweeter than the sight of him lifting the Premier League trophy. While it was industry, endeavour and will to win that made that first goal, I don’t know what you’d put the second one down to. Karma perhaps? It wasn’t your typical Salah goal that’s for sure. Usually he goes for placement rather than brute force, but this was just fucking stunning. From my seat I had a great view of it and the moment that ball left his boot I was celebrating. It was only ever going in one place, you could tell even before it hit the net. The only thing missing was a nutmeg on Steve Staunton. That strike was pure Fowler. The great man himself was there looking on and made the same comparison afterwards, although he reckoned his was more difficult because he had to beat a defender! He’s probably right, but this goal was more memorable because of the occasion. And because it was Mo, against Chelsea. With a title on the line. The reaction of Margaret Aspinall hugging Kenny was something else too. No other club has this kind of thing. It’s part of why so many of them seem to hate us so much. I know that sounds a little corny, but it's true. Who else in England has anything like that? Who else can create an atmosphere like this, with the flags, banners, noise? No-one, that's who. And after what happened with some of their away following in Prague this week, there’s a poetic irony that Chelsea were beaten by goals from two muslim lads. They chanted about him being a bomber and he proved them right by unleashing a rocket that blew up right in their faces. Those racist dickheads in Prague were responsible for this, as not only was it a scummy thing to be chanting, it was also poking fate with a big stick. Karma can be a beautiful thing sometimes. The decent Chelsea fans know where the blame lies for this one. And there are decent Chelsea fans. Plenty of them. It’s easy to forget that because of the sheer volume of helmets that follow them. I don’t know what shocked me more - Mo’s wonder strike or the impeccably observed minute’s silence for the 96. I’m loathe to praise anyone for doing something that should be a given, but having been utterly convinced that there’d be some knobheads in the away end disrupting it, it’s only fair to say I was wrong. I’m relieved for all the decent Chelsea fans that they didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of a few dickheads shaming them all again. In fact, the worst incident of fan behaviour was one of ours throwing a smoke bomb into the away end. Just no fucking need. We’re winning the game, that’s punishment enough for them. Why do something that’s going to make us look like the dickheads? At 2-0 the game went a bit crazy. We had the bit between our teeth and knew Chelsea were on the ropes. One more goal would finish them completely and it looked like we’d get it. The stadium was bouncing (all four sides of the ground were on their feet belting out Allez Allez Allez) and we all got a little carried away and almost paid the price. Sarri had sneaked Higuain on while we were all partying and Hazard now suddenly had the freedom to do his thing. For five minutes or so we were all over the place and they got in behind us three times. Hazard hit the post when he seemed certain to score and he put another one straight at Alisson. Higuain waddled in behind us too at one point, but thankfully he’s a fraud and was unable to punish us. We just needed to calm things down as this was all going a bit ‘last season’. For the most part this season we’ve been more pragmatic and sensible when leading, and we’ve not done anything stupid. We were 2-0 up and didn’t need to play at 100mph trying to score more. The first Hazard chance should have been the signal to shut things down for a bit and keep the ball, but it took the introduction of Wijnaldum to do that. Keita was the obvious one to make way, not because of how he’d played but because he was beginning to tire and we needed the calming presence of Gini out there. Naby was good though. He’s looking much more comfortable now and it speaks volumes that he was selected to start the game. A few weeks ago that seemed unthinkable. The midfield is functioning well at the moment though. Fabinho bossed this game and Henderson was terrific again. He had to go off with a knock that he picked up when making a crucial tackle to stop a Chelsea break. The reception he got as he left the field was rapturous. I’ve said it before, but the way Henderson is viewed by the crowd does not tie in with how he’s talked about on social media. I’m not saying he never gets any stick at the game, but it’s not proportionate with the warped view I often see of him on Twitter. He even had his name sung a couple of times in this one. Two different songs too. Made up for him. Milner came on and with him and Gini settling things down, the rest of the game passed with very little incident. Once we saw out that mad 5-10 minute spell after it went 2-0 I never felt there was any way we’d concede. Not least because Chelsea were still trying to pass it out from the keeper and putting themselves in trouble. If I’d been a Chelsea fan I’d have been fucking fuming at the last ten minutes of this game. Where was their urgency? It was bizarre. It looked like they gave up, but then this is a side that conceded six at Man City so their temperament is clearly in question. They probably knew when Hazard missed those two chances that they were done. We were much better than them all over the park. Trent was brilliant, some of his passing was sublime and he also pulled off a Cruyff turn that will have had Adam Lallana sagely nodding in approval in the stands (and probably pulling a neck muscle in the process). Big Joel was terrific too. His only blemish was trying to play offside and letting Hazard in for the chance that Alisson saved. Other than that, he was outstanding again. Big Virg was Big Virg, Fabinho was monstrous, Robbo was solid, I’ve already spoke about Keita and Hendo, and the front three were all brilliant. I gave all of the forward line 9 out of 10 in my ratings for ESPN. Sadio was razor sharp and tormented Azpilicueta throughout. The experienced full back was booked in the first half and then got away with a forearm block in the second that should have seen him given a second yellow. Sadio has been fucking boss since the turn of the year. Mo looked really sharp and dangerous throughout too. The goal was great, but what I also liked was his willingness to look for team-mates when he was running into the box. Sometimes he gets too pre-occupied with trying to score himself, but this was the Salah from last season. Great to see. Loved how much ‘umph’ there was in his celebrations too. The pick of the forwards was Firmino though. I’m not giving him the star man, that honour has to go to Salah because of the incredible goal, but Bobby was immense. The second half especially. He was good in the first half too but at times he held onto the ball a little too long. After the break though he was phenomenal. The touch, the intelligence, the running. The fucking running. He didn’t stop, he was perpetual motion. The only thing missing was a goal. It was close to being the perfect number nine performance. He’s been a bit up and down this season but like Salah he seems to have come into form at just the right time. The crowd are responding to it and Anfield has been electric these last few weeks. I’m not sure I can ever remember the place being louder than when Mo’s shot hit the net. It really was something else. I doubt anything will ever top the atmosphere of that ’05 semi against them, but in terms of a one off reaction to a goal, this is right up there with anything I’ve experienced. We’ve had so many of those moments this season that we will look back on as being “defining” if we do go on to win it, and this goal is certainly one of them. The Spurs own goal is obviously another, as is the Hendo celebration at Southampton. There’s loads actually, although Divock’s derby winner currently tops the list. We have to win it though for those moments to live forever. Otherwise it will be like Lovren’s Dortmund winner. Does anyone really think about that anymore? Funnily enough, Klopp actually referenced it afterwards when he compared it with Sadio’s goal, and my reaction was “oh yeah, I forgot about that”. Not winning the Europa League that year basically ruined that amazing moment against Dortmund. Losing last year’s final to Madrid didn’t wipe out all the great things that happened along the way to Kiev, but they don’t mean as much when you don’t get the trophy. It doesn’t take anything away from the achievements themselves, it just means they aren’t looked back on as fondly. For example, Gerrard’s winner against Olympiakos is an iconic moment in the club’s history. If Istanbul hadn’t happened though it would just be remembered as a great goal. Davie Fairclough against St Etienne too. This team has a chance to make history, but the unfortunate thing is that it’s not in their hands. That’s massively fucking unfair considering they are having the best season this club has ever had in terms of amassing points. None of our other great sides have had to contend with a Man City though. We can’t do anything about them breaching all of the financial fair play rules that the rest of us abide by, and we can’t do anything about so many of their opponents just curling up into a ball and begging “please don’t hurt us”. We can only control what we can control, and this team are controlling it admirably. Every test that’s put in front them they pass. This was a big one, make no mistake. It could so easily have gone wrong as all of the ingredients were there for it. City had won at Palace. Chelsea hadn’t lost at Anfield since 2012. We had the ghost of 2014 haunting us and then there was Hazard, who had just come into his best form of the season and seemed primed to unleash more punishment on us. Klopp and his players just don’t seem to be effected by any of that stuff though. They just take it one game at a time, don’t get too far ahead of themselves and play their football. There’s a steel, resolve and belief about them that we haven’t had in a long, long time. Five years ago we were within a whisker of winning the title but came a cropper against Chelsea at Anfield. This team has so much more about it than the 2014 vintage though (and I loved that team). The current group are just better in virtually every department (although there’s an argument to be had about which is the better forward line) and although I don’t want to say they’re luckier too (that's doing them a dis-service), let’s just say that - up to now at least - it doesn’t appear as though they’re cursed like Brendan’s team was. As if to emphasise the point, Robbo slipped over on halfway but nothing came of it. Klopp certainly saw the funny side of that, he was pissing himself on the touchline. It felt like that was a symbolic moment. For all the talk of Brendan's side bottling it and throwing the title away, what happened to Stevie and the team that day was desperately cruel and unlucky. Chelsea did absolutely nothing in that game in 2014 yet somehow won 2-0. A freakish slip and then a late counter attack, that was all they had. The big difference was that Rodgers' team panicked in the second half when they knew they needed to score. They didn’t do the things that they’d been doing all season and they lost their composure. Klopp’s team did the opposite, they played their natural game and got the job done. They were against a stronger opponent too. This Chelsea team were not camped in their own half and created three or four chances (two of them great ones) but didn’t score. Hazard hitting the post when it seemed certain to score seems quite fitting. In any other previous game between the sides he’d put that away. That he didn’t this time adds more fuel to the ever increasing fire that maybe this year it’s going to be different for us. It’s not that we’re getting loads of good luck, it’s more than we’re not being plagued by bad luck. Not yet anyway. There’s still four games left and plenty of time for that kick in the face that usually comes our way. If these lads don’t win the title though it’ll be a travesty. Some will argue that it’s the same for City. If they miss out they’ll also be the second placed team with the most points in history. The difference is that they’ve cheated the system to get where they are and therefore deserve fuck all. The Ben Johnson of football. Fuck them, the cheating cunts. This team deserves a title. In fact, after last year and the whole Ramos / Salah / Karius thing they deserve a European Cup too. If there’s any justice in this world they’ll get them both, but it's 30 years to the day since 96 Reds went to a game and didn’t come home. We're still waiting for someone to be held to account, so we of all people know that justice is not something you can ever rely on in this world. RIP and Justice for the 96. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho; Henderson (Milner), Keita (Wijnaldum); Salah (Shaqiri), Firmino, Mané:
    51 points
  10. Thanks to JB for stepping in on this. It's my mum's funeral tomorrow so got lots of last minute running around to do and after doing the pod I was pushed for time and John kindly offered to help. Some random thoughts: Trent's defending in one v situations was outstanding. Again. It's just lazy to trot out the daft "great going forward but poor defensively" shite. There aren't many better defensively and there are none better offensively. Robbo was sensational. Pogba couldn't get off that pitch quick enough after we scored. Last time he got himself sent off so he didn't have to deal with us, this time he just feigned injury. I wish he'd stayed on because in a game like this when you need to work, run and show some pride, Jesse Lingard is a much better player than that absolute fraud. The applause and YNWA for Ronaldo was pretty much the entire stadium. The away end will have HATED that. They behaved the way I expected. Vile. Sadio at centre forward has been a revelation. I read that he's just matched the career goal tally of Giggs despite playing about a thousand less games. Sadio is great and Giggs may well be the most over-rated player in history not named Scholes. Thiago. Fucking hell. Thiago. Unbelievable again. He was so good that at one point Robbo just stopped playing and was applauding like the crowd were. Diaz has had such a massive impact and not just with what he himself has done. Everyone else has had a lift with him coming in. Thanks Spurs, because if you hadn't gone in for him we'd have waited until the summer. Hendo was brilliant. I knew he would be.
    49 points
  11. My dad died yesterday morning (he was 83 and had been ill). It’s very sad to see the utter hatred these cunts have now. Wall pushing gestures etc. My dad was a blue. He wouldn’t have condoned that sort of thing. He took me the Cup Final in 86 when I was a kid. And again in 88 and 92 even though we weren’t playing Everton. He cheered at some of the goals when we beat Barcelona 4-0 last season. As Everton become more and more shite over the years he made out he wasn’t arsed but I think deep down he was. If they do go down I’m just glad he won’t be around to see it. Because although their fan base has obviously loads more cunts around now it hasn’t always been this bad.
    48 points
  12. Oh fucking hell, where do I even begin here? This is genuinely the biggest officiating scandal / catastrophe I can remember in this country. At this point, I don’t think there is anything I can say that is over the top or unreasonable, because everything is on the table here. When something this outlandish happens, you can’t rule anything out. But before I get to all of that I want to talk about the lads. Because that won’t get spoken about as much as it deserves to. I’m fine with that because the focus absolutely needs to be on what the officials did and that should be the main talking point in any football related show for some time to come. I’ll get to all of that in due course because you won’t be surprised to know I have a lot to say about it. But first, what a fucking heroic effort from our lads. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt prouder of my team than I did here. They were incredible and that is the most unjust defeat I’ve ever seen. The amount of shit they were having thrown at them, yet they kept fighting and fighting and refusing to yield. And they they lost to the cruelest of blows right at the death. Just heartbreaking, and yet it might just prove to be another thing that speeds up the development of this team as they become even stronger. You go through adversity and through it comes strength. We’ve seen it already this season and this is just more fuel they can use. We’ve seen it already. The defiance from the players as they thanked the travelling fans. Darwin giving it the beans, pounding his chest and getting the fans going. Then he goes on social media talking about how “its us against everyone”. You’re damn fucking right it is. I’ll call it now and I don’t give a fuck. We’ll win the league this season. We’re already fucking boss and we’ll get even better. If we don’t win the league it won’t be because we’re not the best team. It will be because of the kind of corruption some of us have always suspected was there and now is there in plain sight for all to see. If they keep fucking us then it’s going to be hard to overcome that. If somehow the heat from this means they have to start calling our games down the middle, then God help everyone because these boys are going to run all over everyone. I kept saying last season how we’d lost the eye of the tiger. Well it’s back. This group of players are hungry and fuck, talented as anyone and now they’re motivated like nobody else. Brighton thought this weekend was bad. Wait and see what happens next week when we roll into town with a score to settle. Spurs were being talked up a lot prior to this game. If it had stayed 11 v 11 we’d have tatted them. Probably by three or four at least. The signs were there, we looked like we could slice through them at will. Had it stayed 11 v 10 we’d have beaten them too. I could see that coming a mile off. Even with ten men we looked the more dangerous side and the gaps were there to be exploited. Darwin was ready to come on and finish them off, and then suddenly we were down to nine men and the plan had two change. And even with NINE FUCKING MEN we weren’t in trouble. Alisson had virtually nothing to do after Jota’s dismissal and it needed a fluke own goal for him to be beaten. The way we defended was perfect right up into Joel got his feet into a mess. Spurs can take the points from the game but - and they may kid themselves and think differently - there’s nothing else they can take from this because clearly they’re nowhere near us. We don’t take any points from it, yet I take much more confidence and belief from it than I had going in. This team is going to be special. Klopp knows it. The players know it. The fans are beginning to know it too. So all of that needed saying first and foremost. Now to the rest of it.
    47 points
  13. Well that was harder work than I expected it to be, but when you’ve got Divock Origi you’ve got nothing to worry about. Especially against Everton. He’s the bogeyman to them. They wake up in a cold sweat screaming his name in terror every time derby week comes around. I half jokingly suggested on the last couple of podcasts that we should be starting him against Everton. I’m not going to now say that it was a mistake not doing so, because the players we’re selecting ahead of him are world class and you can totally understand why Klopp went with them. In fact I’d be far more inclined to give Klopp credit for the fact he wasted little time in getting him on to win the game for us. The game absolutely changed with the arrival of Origi and Diaz, and we further strengthened our grip on it when Henderson was belatedly introduced too. Now that was someone who definitely should have started, but I’ll get to that in a bit. It was fitting that the goal that made the game safe was fashioned by the three lads who came on. It’s easy to say things might have been different had they all started but that’s just hindsight talking. The first half was awful, both as a spectacle and in how we played. Everton did what they had to and for that I offer no criticism. Tactically anyway. The rampant cheating is another matter, but in terms of them setting up with everyone behind the ball and just hoping to sneak the odd counter attack, well that’s exactly how they should be playing. There are two reasons for that. One, depending on your allegiance, we’re either the best or the second best team in the world. Secondly, Everton are proper fucking shit. I’m not saying that in general terms, the way we always would even when they were finishing sixth or seventh under Moyes. They are genuinely proper shit right now. They’re in the bottom three and they deserve to be there. Because they’re genuinely awful. So for them to come here and try to engage in a football match was only going to end in them getting the kind of spanking they’ve had regularly in recent seasons. Lampard played under Mourinho so he knows all about parking the bus. They did it pretty well I thought. Yes, we were really poor, but you have to acknowledge that they made it difficult for us and handled us well. Of course they did that with a flat back nine and Richarlison was the only player within snarling distance of our defenders, but as I say, what else can you expect them to do? They went into the game having dropped into the bottom three so there were as desperate as it gets. A point would have been a massive win for them. At half time they will have been delighted with how it went. From a football perspective they’d restricted us to virtually nothing. A Mané shot just over and a Jota effort that went wide were just about all we had to show for a dire 45 minutes. The bigger concern for me was the way frustration had set in with the crowd and our players. Everton’s diving, time wasting and general shithousing really rattled us. I compared it on the post match pod to being “like playing Atletico Madrid only without the good players”. This was straight out of the Simeone playbook. Constant dives, feigning injury, kicking off at the ref over every single decision, rampant time wasting, trying to start little skirmishes all over the park. And it worked as we got sucked right in to it. I’ve watched a lot of Everton in recent months. Usually I never bother, but because of their proximity to the bottom three I’ve taken far more of an interest in them of late and because of that I knew what Anthony Gordon was well before this game so nothing he did surprised me. This is who he is. It’s what he does. He’d rather dive than back himself to try and score. The first time I noticed what a cheating little fuck he was was when we played them at Goodison. I’m pretty sure he was one of three Everton players booked that day and he should have been booked twice for it. With the second one the ref bottled it and gave him a free-kick even though he hadn’t been touched. So that put him on my radar and he’s done it in every game I’ve seen since. There was one a few weeks ago when he won a pen against Burnley with an outrageous bit of cheating. Fuck all was said about it too. Everyone just said it was a pen and I thought I was going mad. How was it I was the only one who could see what he did? The answer is that people don’t want to see it. He’s a young English kid playing for a plucky underdog team. No-one wants to call him out on his cheating. Even now, after this, the focus is on the ‘penalty’ he didn’t get even though it’s clearly not a penalty. He initiates the contact himself when he was actually ahead of Matip and could have tried to score. As I said though, he doesn’t back himself to score because his real talent is not football, it’s diving. He’d been booked in the first half for a clear dive which he later described as “probably not a penalty but there was some contact”. Ok, some contact. Right. So explain the four rolls and the screaming in pain then if there was only minimal contact? He’s just a cheating little fucking rat. He was fouled not long after that when Trent nudged him in the back and sent him flying. The ref didn’t give it, just like he didn’t give the one in the second half when he tangled with Matip. Everton have written to Mike Riley to ask for an explanation on why they didn’t get a penalty. Honestly, the absolute fucking gall on these wankers. Gordon and Richarlison spent the entire game trying to con the referee by diving and pretending to be injured. If the referee then decides to rule against them on a call he’s not completely sure about, that’s only natural surely? The boy who cried wolf. It’s like Lampard kicking off on the touchline and Doucoure running around trying to boot anyone in red because we didn’t put the ball when Richarlison went down for the third time in the half (it may even have been fourth, I lost count). No-one believed Richarlison was injured because why would you? He was at it all game, so when he went down under no sort of challenge from anyone, the entire ground (including the Everton end) thought he was taking the piss again. So we didn’t put the ball out, and Doucoure takes the law into his own hands, sparking a confrontation in the middle of the pitch that ended with Sadio being yellow carded for shoving Coleman in the face. On another day that could have been a red card and it was silly from him to get involved in that shit. That’s what they wanted. Doucoure was booked for chopping down Fabinho to start the whole thing, but none of that happens if Richarlison and Gordon hadn’t been trying to con the ref from the opening whistle. Lampard and Klopp were going at it too, but again, that doesn’t happen if they weren’t playacting. It was a wretched 45 minutes in which no football was played and the ball was own play for about 10 minutes. Pickford took an age on every goal kick, he took even longer when he had the ball in his hands and the smug little tit was loving every minute of it. The way he kept collapsing to the floor every time he caught a cross, what a little fucking bellend he is. He’s such a tit that even Alisson felt the need to mock him, and he’s the nicest man on the planet who will turn the other cheek to anything. Pickford will never learn will he? He’s actually the living embodiment of modern Everton. Any time he does shit like that he ends up with egg on his face. I remember him winding up the Newcastle fans and then throwing one in late in the game. That’s just pure Everton. Like throwing a flare onto the pitch when Van Dijk skied a volley only to then see Origi heading into the net three seconds later. Or like invading the pitch after an equaliser at Bournemouth, causing a load of extra stoppage time to be added which allowed Bournemouth to score a winner. This is what they do. Every fucking time. Why would you ever get chesty if you were connected to Everton? It always, ALWAYS comes back to bite you. But at half time I did have some concerns. I mentioned to a couple of the lads I meet with in the concourse under the Main Stand that the feeling I had as that half unfolded was a bit like how it felt in that Chelsea game in 2014. The parked bus opponent, the rampant shithousing, the frustration starting to get to everyone. There were definite shades of that game here. The differences are that Everton aren’t Chelsea, this Liverpool are not that Liverpool, and we’ve got Divock Origi. The second half was undoubtedly better, but if I’m being completely honest, the first ten minutes or so reminded me even more of that Chelsea game. We did exactly the same thing we did on that day. We just pushed everyone miles up the pitch and left 70 yards of space for the opponent to run into any time our attack broke down. Everton had three or four of those breakouts because we were all so high up the pitch. Most of the time all ten of our outfield players were within 35 yards of their goal. So when we lost it, they would just look for Gordon to run into the space left by Trent. Iwobi got away in that space too on one occasion. None of it led to anything because Everton are shit. I suppose that factored into the risk we took. It’s worth pushing right up on them because chances are they wouldn’t be good enough to punish us. I doubt we’d have done that against better opposition. Klopp said that we just played poorly in the first half and they needed to make some adjustments so we could get in behind them. I actually said that myself at half time. Everything was in front of them, we didn’t get behind them at all and the passing was too slow and the tempo not what we needed it to be. I could see all of that but I wouldn’t know how to fix it. Thankfully Klopp and the staff do and they always have video clips ready to show the players to point out where the space is and what they should do to exploit it. All of those things improved in the second half but it wasn’t until the subs came on that we were able to make it count. The personnel changes helped but so did the system switch. Basically 4-2-4, and Everton couldn’t cope because it threw them out of the defensive shape they were in. Suddenly we had players able to find space. Mo had tried that cut inside and look for a one-two thing several times with no joy, but as soon as Div came on it worked. Mo found him, Div held it and then popped it back to him, Mo crosses into the middle and Robbo arrived round the back to head past Pickford. If I could have picked any player to score a vital goal at the Kop against Everton it would have been Robbo. Trent would have been a close second, but Robbo is definitely who I’d have most wanted to see get that goal. He loved it and because he doesn’t get to experience that very often it means more to him (and us) than it does when it’s Salah, Mané, Jota etc What a moment. It completely changed the flow of the game too because from the restart Everton immediately lined up like they were in an actual game of football. Suddenly there was space between their midfield and defence. 30 yards of it in fact. It was incredible seeing the difference in how they were now set up. And I knew then it was over because if they have to take us on in a game of football they have no chance. We had space to play in now and we just started to look much more dangerous. They had a couple of moments too. Gordon stayed on his feet for once and then dragged a shot wide, showing exactly why he usually looks for the dive rather than the shot. Gray fizzed a brilliant effort just wide too. What a strike that was. He was invisible for the rest of the game but I do like him, he’s too good for Everton and whoever picks him up will be getting a decent player. But those were isolated moments and we looked like we had more goals in us. Matip had a header cleared off the line and Salah lashed the rebound over the bar. Then Pickford had to scramble across to keep out a deflected Thiago shot. And then Divock struck. Hendo crossed to the back stick, Diaz went with the acrobatic volley across goal and there was the man himself lurking on the back post to head past Pickford from close range. We’ve seen that movie before. This sequel wasn’t as funny but it was still enjoyable. Even on a day when we were miles from our best we still had moments to remember. Divock scoring again, Robbo’s celebration, the Diaz Rabona trap, Alisson trolling Pickford and yet another Kloppo fist pumping celebration in front of the Kop. It’s great being us isn’t it? I want to pay tribute to Hendo here because when he came on he showed exactly what we’d been missing until then. Not just with his passing and energy (which really gave us something at a time when we needed it), but just with his savvy and know how. Look at how he dealt with Richarlison. Had the ref done his job that twat would have been sent off and it would have been completely down to Hendo playing him like a fiddle. He’d had to sit there watching from the bench as that shithouse was rolling around, stopping the game and generally just riling everyone up. I guarantee Hendo knew exactly what he was going to do if he got on, and we saw him do it. He was harassing Richarlison and he was always going to foul him, but he’d do it in a way that just looks like he’s been a bit over eager in his pressing. Hendo got tight to him, nudged him, held him, chipped away at him until Richarlison did what he always does - fall to the floor. And that’s when Hendo kicks the ball out of play while making sure he left a bit on the grounded Richarlison too. He knew by doing that he’d provoke a response from the petulant little twat and sure enough he did. That’s a red card and had it not been 2-0 the ref would probably have sent him packing and Hendo’s plan would have been carried out to perfection. He’s the one player in the squad who knows how to deal with shithouses. Milner too, although his approach is less crafty as he tends to just clatter them. If we were allowed to use five subs now I’d have defo sent Milner out there with instructions to boot Richarlison and Gordon. Not that he’d even need telling. We missed Hendo in this game though and I don’t how what the logic was in going with Naby over him for this particular fixture. That’s not any kind of shot at Keita, it’s just that Hendo is fucking boss against Everton. Hopefully he’ll never get another chance to prove that though, not in the league anyway. I’m be more than happy to get them in the early rounds of the cup now and again, just to inflict a bit more pain on them. Yeah, I desperately want them to go down and quite honestly I struggle to understand how any Red feels differently. Actually that’s not quite true. I understand that some Reds don’t want to see their Blue friends and family members have to deal with a relegation. I don’t feel that way myself, but I get it. What I don’t get is people wanting them to stay up for the good of the city or because they’d miss the derby games. Funnily enough, before the game I saw one of the lads from the forum who I hadn’t seen in a while and he was saying he didn’t want them to go down. He wouldn’t be bothered if they did, but he couldn’t bring himself to wish for it. I said “That’s fine, I can wish hard enough for both of us”. He messaged me after the game and said “I’ve changed my mind since we spoke before the game. Fuck them the little mongrels”. Quite. I do understand the sentiment about how no more derbies means no more of the countless hilarious moments we’ve had with late winners, absolute spankings and Pickford making a tit of himself. Playing against them often sees us deliver something special that will live long in the memory, but that’s actually why I’m happy for them to go down and never come back. I’ve got loads of great derby memories I can relive. I don’t need any new ones. If the consequence of them going down and disappearing without trace is that we don’t get to play them anymore, that’s a small price to pay and I’m more than willing to pay it. Yeah, of course it’s great when we beat them and more often than not we do just that, but it’s not all Pickford clangers, Origi goals and us taking the piss out of them and their purple flares. There’s downsides to playing them too. There’s the wild, out of control challenges from their overly amped players, the nasty shit that often comes from their away end (nowhere near as unrelentingly vile as United, but it’s still pretty bad at times), there’s Richarlison, Pickford’s face, Anthony fucking Gordon’s face, Richarlison, Anthony Gordon’s diving, Calvert-Lewin’s diving… did I mention Richarlison? Of course if they go down that doesn’t mean we won’t see Richarlison and Pickford again. They won’t hang around in the Championship and Everton couldn’t afford to keep them anyway. So they’ll resurface somewhere else. Probably at United as Evertonians can continue supporting them then. I’ll despise them wherever they end up but it won’t be as bad as when they’re playing for Everton because they just won’t be as rabid when they play us. No-one ever is. Even mild mannered players because vile little scrotes when derby day comes around. Coleman for example. Holgate is another. Anyway, I don’t want to say too much more about them and their relegation fight. I am desperate for them to go down though so all being well they will do. As for us, we keep on rolling. We don’t need to play well to win but life is so much easier when we do turn on the style. I thought we’d smash Everton everywhere but it was clear from quite early on that we just didn’t have our A Game with us. That’s fine, on those days just go out and win. We did that and all we can do is continue to rack up the wins and hope City slip up somewhere. It was never going to happen this weekend so I don’t feel in any way disappointed or disheartened. In fact, I’m kind of relieved that we still have a goal difference advantage because City playing Watford meant there was a possibility that would be wiped out completely. A four goal margin of victory for them almost feels like a mini win for us. Our attentions now turn to Europe again and the first leg against Villarreal. I expect quite a few changes for that one as I want to see us go strong at Newcastle on Saturday. We should be able to mix things up a bit on Wednesday (not too much though) and still perform to the level we need to, and it would make sense to bring in some fresh legs as Klopp hasn’t really made too much changes in recent games. I’d suggest that Kostas, Konate, Diaz, Henderson and Jones should all come in but we’ll see what Kloppo has up his sleeve. Star man is a toss up between Robbo and Divock, but I’ll go for the living legend because he pulled it out of the bag for us yet again. He’s an absolute marvel in the way he can just come in out of the cold and deliver in big moments. We’ll really miss him when he goes. Maybe there’s a twist in the tale yet and he could be persuaded to stay for another year, especially as five subs will be allowed from next season. I can’t see it happening but I know that I feel a hell of a lot happier knowing that we’ve got him in those ‘break glass in case of emergency’ moments. Still, if Everton go down Div can probably just ride off into the sunset knowing his work here is done. What a man. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita (Origi), Thiago; Salah, Mané (Diaz), Jota (Henderson):
    47 points
  14. It’s an hour after the game and I’ve already started the report. Usually I wait at least 24 hours, sometimes longer, but this time I need to get it all down now rather than stew over it. I doubt I’ll feel any differently in a month, let alone a day. The anger will hopefully subside (it better, as right now I’m ready to kill someone) but the sense of injustice won’t. This was one of those games you’ll never forget and the feeling of being robbed never goes away. Funnily enough it was only a few days ago I was thinking back to when Suarez scored a late winner there and it was wrongly ruled out for offside. I’ve never actually got over that, having that moment of euphoria unfairly snatched away. That was bad, but at least the linesman had the excuse of only seeing it at normal speed with the naked eye. This was far worse, and a lot more sinister. Firstly, before I get into all that, I want to make the point that this was a really good performance from the lads to bounce back from what happened at Villa Park. We wanted a response and we got it. The way we started the game I felt as though we were going to absolutely steamroller them. There was an aggression and a desire to play on the front foot, and Everton couldn’t cope. It looked like the lads wanted to make a statement and overall they did. So from that point of view, all good. The anger I’m feeling has nothing to do with anything performance related and I saw a lot of things to make me feel good about the rest of the season, not least how that midfield looked with Thiago and Hendo in tandem. Wow. Our opening goal was beautiful. Slick, sexy football that ended with Robbo skipping past Coleman and pulling it back for Sadio to finish. Prior to the game that’s the area I thought we could really hurt them. That “Hamez” twat has a great left peg but he’s slow as fuck and doesn’t want to chase back. What a horrible little bastard he is. Waving his imaginary cards and constantly being up in the ref’s grid. Fucking over-rated little gel-head turd. Sick of the fawning over him already. He’s being hyped up like he’s some superstar but he’s been a bit part player at every big club he’s been at. If he was that good he wouldn’t have ended up at Everton in his prime years. He’s basically Shaqiri at Stoke, only with more Instagram followers. So that side of the field was always going to be key for us. The opportunity was always going to be there to overload on Coleman and that was happening a lot early doors. It led to the opening goal and should have led to a second when Sadio missed an identical chance after again being set up by Robbo. So yeah, all good to start with. We were already one up and if the officials had done their job we’d have been playing against ten men for most of the game. Pickford somehow getting away with that might be the biggest miscarriage of justice involving a goalkeeper since Harold Schumacher almost killed Patrick Battiston and was only yellow carded. Not even joking. My mind is blown that he was allowed to stay on after that. I don’t know what happened there. I’ve heard Peter Walton say that the offside doesn’t make any difference in that situation and that Pickford should have walked. I’ve also seen a rules nerd on Twitter saying that only applies for ‘violent conduct’ and not ‘serious foul play’. Dermot Gallagher, the baldy Michael Stipe looking bootlicking cunt, obviously defended the decision as that’s what he does. He’s never seen a decision he didn’t agree with. I tell you what I do know. Richarlison was sent off for a lunge on Thiago even though the whistle had actually gone for a free-kick a split second earlier. So how is this any different? Answer; it isn’t. Leaving aside the fact I don’t think it was offside anyway (I’ll get to that shortly), that is serious foul play, endangering an opponent, violent conduct, common assault and a whole lot of other things rolled into one. It’s not up for debate. It’s a clear red card and there is no way on earth Pickford should have been allowed to stay on. So how come he got away with it? Michael Oliver could have given it so he isn’t blameless, but from the replays it looks like he didn’t have an unobstructed view of it and in situations like that he would previously rely on his linesman (who had a great view). Now he has the lino as well as VAR, so if he doesn’t want to give something he didn’t have a great view of then that’s fine. Oliver isn’t the problem here. The technology is in place to help him out and it didn’t. So I’m not holding him responsible in any way as that is only taking the attention away from the cunt who caused all this. And I don’t mean Pickford. Either the VAR ref, David Coote, is incompetent or he’s something far worse. I don’t know, but he’s the same fella who didn’t give the foul on Origi at Old Trafford last season when he was on VAR and he’s the twat that didn’t give a penalty when Robbo was brought down against Burnley. Yeah, remember that one? When Robbo laid into the ref at the end of the game because it cost us our 100% home record? Well Coote was the ref Robbo and Klopp tore a strip off at the end. And now he’s got his revenge. Other than a deliberate show of bias, it’s hard to fathom any possible explanation for why he didn’t tell Oliver to take a look at that challenge. The only reason he was reviewing the offside was because otherwise it would be a penalty. So the initial explanation put forward that “VAR didn’t review the challenge” is bollocks. They must have realised that because they then changed their tune and said it was reviewed and Coote didn’t feel that Oliver needed to look at it. I’d go as far as to say that this should be a sackable offence. Seriously, if you can look at that and not think it’s a red card, you’re in the wrong job. Or if you know it’s red card but ignore it for whatever reason, again, you’re in the wrong job. It was a horrific challenge and it’s no surprise that Virgil’s knee is damaged. When people talk about “career ending tackles” this is the fucking poster child of it. Just look at the impact, the height he comes in at and the force behind it. It really ought to have been even worse only fortunately Virgil’s studs didn’t stick in the turf. I’ve seen similar things happen in NFL games where the player’s knee has completely hyper-extended backwards because his foot had planted in the turf. Thankfully Virgil’s wasn’t as bad as some I’ve seen in other sports, but we now have to wait to see just what kind of damage there is. Because there 100% is some ligament damage there as you can’t absorb contact like that without there being some kind of damage. Virgil is as close to indestructible as you’ll find, but he’s not made of rubber. One thing I will say in defence of Pickford is that he’s not malicious, he’s just shit, impulsive and reckless. He didn’t intend to injure Van Dijk, he was just lunging out trying to make a block. I’ve seen him do that loads of times. Flying out of his goal, completely out of control and endangering opponents. He genuinely isn’t trying to hurt anyone but there’s no doubt that he’s just fucking thick and reckless as fuck. Compare that to Richarlison and it’s chalk and cheese though. Richarlison 100% wanted to do damage and he can stick his phoney insincere twitter apology up his hoop, the fucking animal. If you’ve been reading the round ups you know my hatred of Richarlison is long standing, even going back to his Watford days. Over recent months he’s cemented himself as the player I hate most in the entire world of football. He’s a pure, unadulterated shithouse cunt with the kind of face you’d never tire of smacking. What he did to Thiago was deliberate and fucking cowardly. Pickford though, he wasn’t looking to injure anyone he was just fully committed to making a block and he was totally out of control. It’s standard Pickford though. He’s just reckless and wild in literally everything he does. He’s so amped up all the time, like a kid who’s had too many skittles. I’ve said it before but I’m sure he’s on the spectrum of something. He’s definitely got something going on, and I’m not saying that as a cheap insult, I’m being completely serious. I look at him and immediately think of the kid in school who always has a big green dangly snot rolling out of his nose. The kid whose tongue is always out when he’s writing or drawing. The kid who has to sit at the front of the class because he can’t keep still and is always turning around and talking. That’s Jordan Pickford. I don’t know what condition he has as I’m no expert, but he has something. I’d put money on it. I’m not THAT angry with Pickford though. I am a bit of course, that goes without saying. Virgil is injured as a result of Pickford’s lack of control, but to be honest I’m more pissed off at the cunt in Stockley Park who chose to ignore it. He doesn’t have any excuse for his actions and unlike Pickford you won’t get him apologising for it either. You know the other difference between Pickford and Richarlison? Pickford told Henderson to apologise to Virgil on his behalf. Pretty sure he tried to do it himself while Virg was on the floor getting treatment too. It doesn’t make what he did ok, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m merely highlighting the difference between him and Richarlison. Pickford didn’t make a big public show of apologising because the only thing he wanted to do was get a message to Van Dijk to say he was sorry. Richarlison was the opposite. He didn’t apologise to Thiago on the field when it happened because he was more interested in feigning injury hoping to escape a red card. After he’d been sent off he didn’t go over and apologise then. He just walked off with that horrible face like a smacked arse expression he permanently has. So to then go on Twitter later on and apologise. Nah, fuck off you shady, snide little cunt. I hope Thiago sees straight through that. I’d like to think the Brazilian lads would rethink their friendship with the scumbag too, but no doubt Alisson will have them all “turning the other cheek” and preaching the value of forgiveness. That Van Dijk incident changed the game though. Until that moment we were so much on top and I was genuinely feeling like the lads looked in the mood to make up for two weeks ago by scoring seven of their own. That incident was just a momentum killer because it was a triple whammy. First, it was a penalty. That offside decision was iffy as fuck. I’m aware that the offside rules have changed this season due to tweaking of the attacking handball rule. Whereas last season goals were being disallowed when the ball hit an attacker’s shoulder, this year it’s now been changed to the upper arm, which in turn has affected the offside rule. That’s what Coote used to screw us. The line is drawn not to the armpit as it would have been last year, but now it’s to the bottom of the shoulder / top of the arm area. Even so, that line is not drawn to the right point on Virgil’s arm, and even if it was I still don’t think that’s offside. The problem is when it’s that close the cunt on the VAR can basically do whatever he wants. I’ve said all along that it should be based on feet and nothing else. If your foot is offside then you’re offside. All of this shit about shoulders and chests and heads, it’s needlessly complicating things and killing people’s enjoyment of the sport. So not only were we denied a penalty and not only did we lose Virgil to injury, but we conceded virtually straight away. And it’s a goal that doesn’t happen if he’s on the pitch. When was the last time we conceded like that? It just hardly ever happens. Even after that one we were back on track and defended set-pieces well. But the first one without him, after the reshuffle, we weren’t organised and it cost us. Adrian though. That was fucking terrible. The marking in the box was the first problem, but even so that’s an easy save. Initially I didn’t think it was but after seeing the replay it’s just awful goalkeeping. His footwork gives him no chance of being able to react as he’s moving backwards and crouching down. I’m not scapegoating him, I’m just saying what I saw. If he’s stood normally he saves it easily, but he’s hunched down and off balance and therefore can’t react. They didn’t deserve to be level at the break as we’d been much the better side. I liked how we were playing, even after Virg went off. We were back to looking like Liverpool again. The hunger, the pressing, the sharp movement in attacking areas. At half time I felt good about our chances. Play like that again in the second half and we’ll defo win. Unfortunately we didn’t play like that again. The second half started quite scrappily and we were losing too many second balls. The control we had in the first half had gone and although we were still the team playing the better football, we’d lost something from the first half showing. We eventually got it back but the first 20 minutes or so of the second half wasn’t great. Other than that, top performance I thought. We could easily have conceded in that scrappy spell though as Richarlison headed a Rodriguez cross against the post. I thought Adrian should have come out and dealt with the cross but to be fair I think he would have saved the header with his foot if the post hadn’t gotten in the way. We went 2-1 up with a sharp finish from Mo after the ball fell to him in the box. He’d been a bit in and out all game and had produced two awfully weak shots in good situations, but this was Fowler-esque, controlling a half volley into the corner. This was the point when we should have buried them (Matip went really close with a header and we had other moments) but instead we allowed them to draw level again. Generally we controlled them well and restricted the service to Calvert-Lewin but this time we gave the ball away cheaply (Sadio with a stupid back heel) and got caught. Hendo couldn’t quite cut out the pass and Trent allowed Digne to run off him and deliver a cross for Calvert-Lewin to head home. Terrible from Trent that, I don’t actually know what he was even thinking. It almost looked like he was holding a line to play offside except he was about 10 yards further forward. He needs to track that run and prevent the cross, because once the cross came in it was game over. Robbo might have done better in putting Calvert-Lewin off but he was always going to be in trouble there. The striker hung in the air and headed it back where it came from. Not much you can do about that, the big problem is allowing the cross in the first place. Not to mention giving it away so needlessly to begin with. We reacted well to that and Pickford denied Sadio after he snuck in behind. The rebound fell to Jota (on for Bobby) and his sent it back goal wards. It was going straight at Pickford so Mané correctly decided to try and divert it in with his head, but he put too much on it and it went wide. Then we had the Richarlison assault on Thiago that reduced them to ten men. To be honest I’m surprised it took that long, as both Gomes and Allan had been flirting with red cards all day. That Gomes is proper shite. I’ve been saying it for ages but he’s somehow fooled people into thinking he’s good just because he looks like he should be good. Being handsome and having Barcelona on your CV is enough to fool a lot of people it seems, but not me. I’m onto him. He’s fucking SHITE him. And he’s a snide. Allan is another twat but I will concede that he’s a good player. I couldn’t stand him when he faced us with Napoli as I always remember he seemed to be in the thick of everything, constantly fouling, squaring up to people and getting in the refs face. When the Blues signed him I thought “yep, he’ll fit right in there” and he has. He looks, and plays, like he’s an enforcer for a Brazilian prison gang. With us on top and them a man down, it was just about whether we could find a winner in the short time we had left. And we did. It may not have counted, but make no mistake we won that game. Thiago’s brilliant no look reverse pass found Mané and he cut it back for Hendo to send a shot goal wards. It should have been saved but Pickford made a Pickford out of it and the ball ended up in the net. Everyone went wild. Klopp, his staff, the players, all of us watching at home. There’s nothing like a late derby winner and this was about to be added to the long list of recent ones. And then came the VAR check. You could see on the screen that he was fucking about with the lines, trying to make it look offside. Immediately I knew we were fucked. When the decision came through I lost it. I generally keep a cool head when I’m watching the match at home but this time I lost the plot, punching fuck out of the sofa, shouting and screaming, before I knew I needed to get out of there and headed for the back garden. On my way I booted the sofa in the conservatory and almost broke my foot. It’s hurting today but it would have been worse if I hadn’t realised at the last second that I was going to do myself an injury and managed to take a little something off it. I honestly don’t remember ever being angrier about a football match. I’ve now had 24 hours or so since it ended and I haven’t really calmed down much. I’m not wanting to smash up furniture as I was when it first happened, but I’m in an absolute stinking mood and feel like I could just snap at the slightest little thing. It’s not about the result, it’s purely about the injustice of it and the feeling of being cheated. We conceded seven at Villa and I felt nothing like this. I got over that fairly quickly. This though? It’s going to sting for a long time. I’ve been against VAR from day one because it sucks the emotion out of watching the game. You don’t want to celebrate goals in case they’re ruled out. There have been plenty of times I haven’t celebrated because I didn’t want to jump the gun. Sometimes it was justified because the goal didn’t count, but other times the goal stood and I realised I hadn’t even celebrated it. How shit is that? I celebrated this one, big time. And for what? For some little jobsworth traffic warden cunt to suck the life out of us all by disallowing it. What I resent about this is that it’s only offside if you want to make it offside, and even then it’s not actually offside. This is actually very simple. Had the goal stood there wouldn’t have been anybody other than the most rabid Evertonian saying it was offside. No pundits, no journalists, no fans without any stake in the outcome, no ex referees working for TV. Nobody. Absolutely nobody. So Coote was not in a situation where he knew “I have to disallow this”. He simply chose to disallow it because that’s what he wanted to do. He manipulated the evidence in front of him to justify a decision he wanted to make. The same applies to the Pickford incident, only that one is easier to put down to simple incompetence. The Hendo goal isn’t incompetence, it’s just dodgy as fuck. Liverpool have asked for clarification on what part of Sadio was deemed to be offside. They won’t get clarification because you can see on the freeze-frame there is no part of him offside at the moment Thiago plays the pass. They’ll get a fudged answer about the technology showing his shoulder is ahead of Mina’s foot and Keane’s arse and blah blah blah but it’s nonsense. The footage used with the red and blue lines is bullshit. There’s daylight between Sadio’s shoulder and the blue part of the line, but you could actually drive a bus through the gap between his shoulder and the red line. The reason for the gap is because a vertical line then has to be drawn from the shoulder to the floor, which then gives you the red and blue lines he used to justify it being offside. I’m not having it at all though. He’s messed about with those lines and the point of contact when Thiago plays the ball to come to the decision he wanted to make. It fucking stinks. This is ruining the game and turning people away from it. If it wasn’t my livelihood I feel like there’s a good chance I’d fuck the whole thing off because it seems as though every year there’s something else comes in to make the game a little bit less enjoyable. It’s not even sour grapes relating to things that don’t go our way. I mean fucking hell, I was even angry the other week when a Manchester United player was unjustly sent off. Imagine that! Even thinking about that now makes me even more livid. I mean come on, Martial was sent off for barely touching Lamela (who had provoked the whole thing by being a cunt and then made it worse by rolling around the floor) yet Pickford is allowed to endanger the career of an opponent and escapes scot free. What is the fucking point of having video evidence if it’s actually making worse decisions than the ref on the field would? These faceless cunts in suits are ruining the game with their stupid fucking messing about with the rules. You could probably argue that the actions of Coote in this game are enough for us to actually demand the game be replayed. Obviously that’s not a road you want to go down as we’ll never get any kind of refereeing decision ever again if we embarrassed them in that manner, but this is just cheating, pure and simple. The worst part is how the technology will be used as a crutch to hide behind. It’s not the technology that is at fault, it’s the absolute cunts occasionally implementing it. It isn’t all VAR officials, some of them are doing a good job. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve dropped the “C” bomb in this report but it isn’t even a strong enough word to do justice to some of the horrible fuckers I’m talking about. So what now? We’re waiting on news on Virgil but let’s face it, it’s not going to be good. It’s simply a case of how bad is it going to be. Best case scenario would probably be 4-6 weeks and I don’t even want to think about the worst case. So now we have to make do without him for an undetermined length of time. A lot of people will write us off now, especially all the smug fuckers who’ve been saying “let’s see how they’d do if they were without Van Dijk” but never ask the same question of what happens if any other side loses their most important player. Well we are going to be without him now so it’s up to the others to prove all the naysayers wrong. Whether that’s Matip and Gomez as a pair (for as long as either of them can stay fit) or whether Fabinho comes into the mix, it doesn’t matter. The team should still be good enough to get by unless we get more injuries. Of course we’ll miss Virg for however long he’s out, but we still have the rest of the team intact (or will have when Alisson comes back anyway) and Thiago is going to help us reach another level anyway as he’s sensational. Assuming he to hasn’t been crocked by some dirty blueshite. The mad thing about this is we can’t even say it was the derby atmosphere and the influence of 35,000 frothing at the mouth rabid blues screaming them on. They acted like this without any fans in the ground. Cunts. Star man is Hendo, who was fucking incredible. What a performance, and never would there have been a more fitting match winner than him. It’s a scandal that he was robbed off it by a cunt who if he was in any other line of work (other than politician) would be picking up his P45 on Monday morning for such a gross failing of duty. Klopp’s message to the players this week should be this: Fuck Everton. Fuck David Coote. Fuck everyone who isn’t us. Team: Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk (Gomez), Robertson; Fabinho (Wijnaldum), Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Firmino (Jota), Mané:
    47 points
  15. I admit I thought this was going to be a tough one. In fact, it wouldn’t have completely shocked me if we’d lost this, never mind drawn. I’m not sure why and it certainly seems stupid now. Possibly because we’ve not been great away from home. Possibly because we put a lot into that midweek performance against Spurs. And possibly because I’ve fallen into the same trap a lot of people do and over-estimated Palace. Palace are a weird team. No-one ever says “easy game this week, we’re playing Palace”. Everyone sees them as ‘tricky’ opposition and Selhurst Park is always described as “a difficult place to go”. Yet Palace are always in the bottom half. How 'tricky' can they be? I’m not knocking them as given their resources they do as well as can be expected, and they do carry a threat in attack. It’s just weird how loads of people see them as being far tougher opponents than they actually are. I suppose it’s like how a lot of people see them as some kind of bogey team for us when the reality is the opposite. We’ve had a few bad results against them but mostly we tend to beat them. Not as emphatically as this, obviously, but our record against them is really good. In fact our club record home win came against them and now our biggest ever away win is also against Palace. Some bogey team, eh? This wasn’t a 7-0 game though. Usually a performance like this would result in a 4-0 but virtually everything we hit went in. I think we had eight shots on target and seven of them went in. We also had a couple of great chances that missed the target too, but as I say this would ordinarily have been a four or at a push a five goal win. In fact, the main difference between this and the Spurs game was finishing. We played really well in both games but against Spurs the chances didn’t go in. This time we were absolutely ruthless. I’m not a fan of XG and frankly think it’s a load of pointless bollocks. Spurs won the XG the other night despite getting completely dominated so it means nothing. I don’t think the goals we scored against Palace will have all been particularly high XG. The first and the sixth probably carried a high probability of scoring, but Hendo’s, Bobby’s two and Mo’s second definitely won’t have. Not sure on Sadio’s as I’m not an XG nerd. The point is, if we’d been this sharp against Spurs we’d have murdered them as Jose’s “gameplan” would have looked a whole lot different. Palace were actually very good in the first half. Better than Spurs in fact. Yet they went in trailing by three. That was harsh on them as they’d given it a good go and caused us quite a few problems. The second half was a different story as it looked like they gave up. That might be harsh actually. They didn’t completely throw the towel in and they tried to be professional, but their belief had obviously gone and understandably so. It has to be demoralising when the oppositions are scoring goals as incredible as this. Be honest, how many of you saw the team with Keita and Minamino in it and thought this was going to be a tough old day and that both of them would be subbed on the hour having done nothing? I could certainly have seen that happening, but it took Taki only two minutes to shove that back in the faces of the doubters. Nice goal too. He showed some nifty footwork to collect a cut back from Sadio and finish well. Made up for him and this was a big goal for him. Not just because it was his first league goal, but because he’d been brought into the side to replace Salah and he really needed to make some kind of impression. He did. He was very good. So too was Keita. I’m far from being his biggest fan but I thought he was really good in this game. There was one really poor pass when we had a five against three breakaway but other than that virtually everything he did was quality. Aside from the scoreline and the three points, I think the performances of Minamino and Keita were the biggest pluses to come out of this because we need the squad players to step up. We’ve seen the kids do it, but now we need contributions from the likes of these two, Ox, Divock, Tsimikas etc Goal number two was a sharp spin and shot from Sadio after being well found by Bobby. Goal number three was just… damn… you know how I love those fast break goals. This was as good as any we’ve scored. It was so fucking good. I think it came from a Palace corner. I remember the ball breaking to Bobby and him playing a lovely controlled half volley into the path of the charging Robbo. He carried it forward as players streamed into the box to give him options. I don’t know if he picked out Bobby or just put it into an area, but Bobby’s first touch was unreal and the second was just as good, as he nonchalantly flicked it past the keeper with the outside of his right boot. Phenomenal technique that. I’ve been saying for a few weeks that he looks like he’s coming back into form and now he’s got the goals to go along with it. He was my star man in this game. He looks like he’s enjoying himself again. He was closing defenders down and being a pest, he was linking play, producing little back heels, generally just being the Bobby of old. The game was over at half time. We’ve blown a three goal lead at Palace before but that was never happening here. The lads just really looked in the mood didn’t they? The hunger was there, the work off the ball was as good as what they did on the ball, and the finishing continued to just be off the charts. Hendo bagged number four. Another nice move saw Naby work the ball out to Trent and while initially I thought he was going to cut in and shoot on his left foot, he instead rolled it back to the skipper and he did the rest. I remember him scoring an almost identical goal to that fairly recently. Can’t recall the game but I’ve defo seen that goal before. The pass from Trent looked a simple one but the weight of it meant that Hendo only really had one option. It was just begging to be hit. After that I put out a tweet about how this was a clinic in finishing. We’d scored from every shot at that stage. Then we missed two great chances and I was cursing myself for jinxing it. Taki should have had a second when he collected a lovely ball from Naby but shot wide. Then Sadio missed a great chance too, and was promptly subbed, much to his disgust. I thought his reaction to being taken off was hilarious, which makes me a hypocrite really because if Mo reacted like that I wouldn’t find it anywhere near as funny. And if he sat there with a titty lip for the rest of the game I’d definitely be annoyed about it, whereas with Sadio I was laughing my head off. I’m not sure why that is. Probably because ‘angry Sadio’ isn’t something we see very often but when we do it’s just dead funny. When Mo does it it seems selfish, sulky and not in the least bit funny. There’s definitely a double standard which I can’t really explain nor justify. I bet it’s not just me though. Apparently Mo wasn’t happy about not starting but the deal was that he’d come on for Sadio after an hour. Sadio knew this so when his number was called earlier than that he got the hump because he didn’t get his full hour. He’d almost scored with his last touch before going off and will have fancied his chances of getting another goal before the hour mark. When those few extra minutes were denied him, he was fucking livid. It took him an age to leave the field. He was gesticulating with his arms and complaining about something (I think he was pointing at the clock). He shook Mo’s hand but it looked like Klopp just stayed out of his way (I might be wrong). Then every time the camera was on him as he sat watching, he looked like he was raging. Contrast that with Bobby, who was brought off even though he was on a hat-trick and was all smiles and jokes as he sat there, loving life. Some will say that shows why Bobby doesn’t score as many as he should and that he doesn’t have the same hunger. Maybe, but it could also just be that he’s more happy go lucky and doesn’t actually care about individual milestones. In a perfect world this wouldn’t happen and players would happily accept the manager’s decisions. I doubt Klopp is arsed though. If anything, you can take it as a positive that even when you’re 4-0 up nobody wants a rest and they’d all rather stay on. The hunger this squad has is one its best attributes. After that freak result at Villa we’ve been up against it on the goal difference front and it kept us off top spot for a bit because Spurs had an edge. Not any more. This win has balanced the books and normalised things a bit. Our goal difference was skewed by that Villa game but now we’re back on track and I loved the way the lads kept looking for more goals. I suppose that’s the Salah factor. Usually he’s being brought off when we’ve got a big lead. Putting him on, with a cob on, against a tired and broken opponent, that was only ever going to end badly for Palace really. The fifth goal was my second favourite of the day. I have to admit, I expected when Mo came on with the game already won that he’d be trying to score every single time he got the ball, so when Trent picked him out down the right I expected only one thing - cut in and shoot. I did him a dis-service there because he took the better option and rolled it to Bobby. His first touch was good but he had to go a bit wide to stay clear of the last defender. So the angle wasn’t great with the keeper coming out to smother it. If you freeze it at the moment he goes to shoot, that’s a really low percentage chance to score and nine times out of ten the keeper blocks that. The little dink with his left foot was just world class though. That’s a much better goal than a lot of people will realise. Then it was Mo’s turn to get in on the act. His first was a close range header after Big Joel had nodded a corner to him. The second was just a proper thunderbastard as he cut in from the right and just leathered it into the top corner. Brilliant goal. So I’ll rank the goals in terms of my favourites: 1) Bobby’s first 2) Bobby’s second 3) Mo’s second 4) Hendo 5) Taki 6) Sadio 7) Mo’s first It’s been a good few days and we’re clear at the top again with a chance to extend that lead over the next few weeks. It’s funny really. With a minute to go on Wednesday night Spurs were top on goal difference. Four days later they’re six behind and in fourth spot, behind Leicester and Everton. “Ze best team is fourth”. We’re comfortably the best team in this league and barring any more disastrous injury blows we’ll win the title comfortably. Who will be the biggest challenger? Well United will be within two points of us if they win their game in hand but sorry, I just can’t take them seriously. I don’t even think their own fans take them seriously as they’re only ever two bad results away from a mass “Ole out” campaign. Chelsea have a squad to rival ours in quality but the gap between managers is so big it’s like comparing… hold on, let me think…. ok, it’s like comparing Only Fools & Horses with Mrs Brown’s Boys. So yeah, Chelsea aren’t winning any title while they have Mrs Brown in charge. We’ve played Leicester and Everton and neither of them looked remotely in the same class as us, so I’m not in the slightest bit worried about either of them. Spurs have a puncher’s chance because their front two are incredible. For them to go on the kind of run it will take to finish above us though they’d need Bale to turn back the clock and be the force of nature he used to be. Maybe that could happen, it seems unlikely though from what we’ve seen so far. So all things considered, I still say City are the only genuine danger even though they don’t look anywhere near the force they were. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what any of these teams do though as it’s all about us. None of them are going to be getting 90 points or thereabouts, so it just comes down to what we do. Right now we’re doing just fine. Star man is Bobby, as I said, but everyone played well once again. Fabinho and Matip had a comfortable second half but they stood strong in the first half when Palace were looking dangerous and lively. There was one occasion when Zaha isolated Fabinho one v one out wide and that’s not a good situation for us to be in. Usually Zaha skips past virtually anyone in that situation. He knocked it past Fab on the outside and then got completely had off. It was sensational defending. Fabinho wants him to go outside and he anticipated the exact moment Zaha was going to knock it and he’d already started to sprint. He got there in front of him and just shrugged him aside. There are few better players in that situation than Zaha and not many defenders are going to deal with him so easily. Fabinho is fucking boss. He did get caught out shortly after that with a bouncing ball that Ayew ran onto. Palace should have made more of that really. Ayew didn’t fancy his chances of beating Alisson from that angle and he was desperately wanting to roll it to Zaha. If Zaha had just hung back a bit and given him a passing lane we’d have been in trouble, but Zaha’s movement was terrible and Ayew’s pull back was cut out by Fabinho. So yeah, we won 7-0 but I want to give the lads at the back some credit for how they played when the game was still somewhat in the balance. Both full backs were great too and recorded an assist apiece. Robbo now has as many as De Bruyne over the last three seasons. Amazing. He and Trent get a lot of recognition but it’s still nowhere near enough, especially in Robbo’s case. I can make a strong argument as to him being Footballer of the Year for each of the last two seasons and also so far this year. He’ll never, ever win any award like that because players like him don’t get those accolades, but he’s the best left back in the world and he’s brilliant nine games out of ten. Also nice to see Ox back out there. He looked sharp and played some lovely crisp passes. Be nice if he could stay fit now as he deserves some luck. One final point on this. I want to pick up on something that Klopp touched on. I’m not sure if he was point scoring or just making an innocent observation, but he mentioned how the clubs that aren’t in Europe are going to struggle playing twice a week, whereas the top clubs are used to it because we have to do it all the time. It could be a co-incidence that Palace and Leeds got smashed this weekend by the big boys after playing in midweek, or maybe there is something to this. Usually the playing field is levelled a bit because the big clubs have played midweek and their opponent is fresher having not played for six or seven days. Now every team in the league is in the same boat for the next few months so let’s see how that plays out. They might be regretting voting against the five subs when their players start dropping like flies. Hopefully the ones who voted against it are the worst hit when the injuries come in early January. Knobs. Next up is Fat Sam and his new team. We know exactly what to expect in that game. Packed defence with an opponent not interesting in leaving their own half except for the occasion counter attack or set-piece. The good news is we’ve had the perfect preparation for it by playing against Mourinho’s Spurs last week. Come on Reds, we’re back on top so let’s turn the fucking screw now on all of them. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum (Jones), Keita; Mané (Salah), Firmino (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Minamino:
    46 points
  16. Wow. How impressive was that? Leicester are our nearest challengers and we just went into their back yard and stole their dinner money. It was an absolute mauling and 4-0 flattered them. First versus second shouldn't look like this, but with the Reds in this mood Leicester had no chance. This should have been our toughest game of the season but the lads made it look easy. We just went to the second placed team and didn’t let them have a shot on target. The most dangerous striker in the league didn’t get a kick and we put four past a team who had only conceded five at home all season. The best word to describe the performance is 'imperious'. We were right on them from the opening whistle and never let up at any stage. Incredibly, we could have scored twice inside the opening 60 seconds. First Trent brought a save out of Schmeichel with a rasper from 25 yards. Seconds later Salah had the ball on the right and picked out Mané with a brilliant ball. It seemed a certain goal but Sadio got it all wrong and missed by miles. Still, what a start. And it carried on. We created loads of chances and Leicester couldn’t get out of their own half due to the way we completely smothered them. We’re fucking horrible to play against when we’re in this mood. Leicester are taking a lot of stick for how they played but in this mood we’d smash anyone. We’re the best team in the world and anyone having a go at Leicester should look at the league table. They’re pushing us harder than anyone else. The only thing standing between Leicester and the kind of beating they themselves dished out to Southampton earlier in the season was our wastefulness. Salah put one miles over from 18 yards and then messed up when he was sent clean through on goal. He went around Schmeichel but his touch was heavy and sent him too wide. It was a similar situation to the one the other week when he scored with his right foot, but this was more difficult as there was a defender back covering and he was never going to be able to score from there. He should have taken a touch and tried to pick out Mané or Firmino really. We were all over them though. Keita was picking the ball up and gliding past people, the two full backs were bombing forward, Firmino was finding space to operate in and any time Leicester played the ball forward it was won by either Van Dijk or Gomez. We just needed a goal, and then we got one. Leicester cleared the initial corner but the ball found its way to Robbo and he immediately gave it to Trent in space. The ball in was brilliant, as you’d expect, and Bobby kept his eye on it and guided it expertly into the bottom corner. Chilwell played everyone onside by dropping deeper than the rest of his defenders. If he held the line we might not have scored there. Poor from him. He’s a promising player but he didn’t have a good night and was left exposed too many times. For some reason Brendan used Maddison on the left, which not only nullified the threat he poses but also meant Trent had all the room he wanted without having to worry about a winger. Mind you, Trent’s job was made easier by having the pace of Gomez behind him. That safety net against Vardy basically ensured Trent could just go forward at will without worrying about the space in behind him. Mané should have made it 2-0 when he ran through the centre and a lucky bounce led to him being clean through on goal. Schmeichel did well to make himself big but Sadio has to score there. Terrible miss. I had mixed feelings at half time. I was hugely impressed with the performance but mildly irritated that the missed chances meant Leicester were still in the game. All it would take is one ball for Vardy to get in behind and all our good work would be wiped out. We needed to be more clinical in the second half and we were. But not straight away. We had loads of good situations (usually from right wing crosses) but the second goal remained elusive. Leicester finally began to get a little something going and it felt like the momentum had shifted a little in the minutes before we scored again. Alison didn’t have to make a save but they did have a couple of promising situations that might have troubled us. Then we were awarded a penalty at just the right time. I’m usually on the side of defenders in handball situations but this is a clear penalty. The ball wasn’t smashed at him from close range and he wasn’t put off by the player in front flicking it on. Granted, his arm wasn’t in an unnatural position but it doesn’t matter because he leaned into the ball. There’s clear movement towards the ball, so it’s a pen. You always get arguments over these decisions as it’s a subjective discussion. I look at it this way though. If that wasn’t given I’d be willing to bet most people would be saying it’s a clear handball, because it was. You don’t always get them, but I’d expect to get that one more often than not. Leicester can cry about it all they like but when you’ve had such a chasing like that you’ve got to have some balls on you to argue about the officiating. Schmeichel was crying about it afterwards and making out they were hard done by. He should just be glad Sadio and Mo didn’t have their shooting boots with them or he’d have let in ten, the big dope. He should be looking at an FA charge for what he said afterwards. Oliver “wanting to be a hero” and “couldn’t wait to give it”. Leicester shouldn’t expect any favours from Oliver the next time either, as he never forgets. Just ask Guardiola, whose disrespect at Anfield came back to haunt him when Oliver was the VAR official in the Manc derby. What about Kloppo and his perfect timing though? Sending Milner on 30 seconds before we get a pen is genius. Of course Big Games James kept his nerve and buried the kick. Was there ever any doubt? That goal killed Leicester and after that it was easy. Trent was getting all sorts of room out wide and that’s never going to end well for the opposition. He made the third for Bobby with a brilliant ball and then ran onto a Mané pass to make it 4-0 himself. A word on the Firmino finish though. Fucking glorious that. The first touch, the calmness to take his time and the ability to casually stroke it into the top corner. Simplistically brilliant. Made up for him to have gotten back in the goals over the last week or so. On a night when his two strike partners were wasteful as fuck it was vital that someone stepped up, and Bobby did that. That World Club Cup might have kick started his season as he’d blown hot and cold up until then. Keita had made way for Milner while Salah was also replaced by Origi. Mo didn’t look happy, but it makes sense to get the front three a bit of a rest whenever possible. It was his turn. At the weekend it might be Mané. At 4-0 we might have seen Curtis Jones or Neco Williams get a run out, as we don’t get too many chances to get the kids playing time in the Premier League. Unfortunately Klopp had to use his final change on replacing the injured Henderson with Lallana. Hendo had been hurt by a late tackle by that Ayoze Perez loser, who had only just come on. Hendo let him know what he thought of it on his way off. I expected Robbo to extract some revenge but Perez wisely went nowhere near that side of the field. Hopefully Hendo is ok. It didn’t look bad, he seemed fine afterwards and didn’t appear to be concerned. Looked more like a knock than a pull so I’d expect him to play at the weekend, although he might have to sit out one of the next two. A few of them might. What a performance though. I can’t get over how good this team is, and the thing is, they haven’t even peaked yet. In their last 56 league games they’ve lost one. ONE!! It’s insane, we’re now close to eclipsing what Man City did two years ago. I keep thinking that eventually we’re going to lose a game, and I still think we will. I’m not even thinking about going through the season unbeaten at this point, as we’re not even halfway through yet. It would be nice to do that but right now it’s the last thing on my mind. Increasing our lead is the only thing that matters at the moment. Just keep churning out wins and putting the pressure on City to try and keep up. They’ve got absolutely no room for error now and that’s going to make it incredibly tough for them. We’ve got a difficult run of games ahead but I’m beginning to think that tired legs aren’t going to be a factor. Everyone thought this game was going to be a grind because we’re coming off the back of the trip to Qatar, but just look at how we played. It was our best display of the whole season. The whole team were right at it in terms of work rate, organisation and pressing. Ok, Salah and Mané could have been sharper in front of goal, but this was one hell of a team performance. It’s one hell of a team. The rest of the league will have watched this and been hoping to see Leicester give us a real test and maybe take points off us. The message sent out was emphatic though. No-one can touch us. The travelling Kop sang “Now you’re gonna believe us, we’re Champions of the World”. Leicester embarrassingly responded with “Champions of England, you’ll never sing that”. Every time they sing that to clubs who have won more titles then them it makes me cringe, but this time I just laughed. Enjoy it while you can, because in a few months time it’s going to be completely redundant. Star man is Trent but I was buzzing with how so many of them played. Hendo was great again, Naby is looking the business, Gini was quietly effective, Virg was imperious, Robbo was great and Gomez is now back at the level he was before his injury last season. We’re fucking brilliant and we’ve still got Fabinho, Matip, Lovren and Ox to come back from injury, and of course we’re about to add Minamino to the mix. What a time to be a Red. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson (Lallana), Keita (Milner), Wijnaldum; Salah (Origi), Firmino, Mané:
    46 points
  17. No shit...I was getting score updates on that game in the waiting area of the hospital while they prepped my wife for an emergency C-section. Within an hour my twin boys were born at 27.5 weeks! This was yesterday. Fair to say they've been good luck charms for Klopp's Red Machine. Cheers boys!
    46 points
  18. Last year we missed out on the title in large part due to only taking one point against City, so this win was huge. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but what needed to happen happened, and while the rest of the nation bleats about phantom penalties and pro-Liverpool conspiracies, we can just laugh it off and celebrate another great win that puts us eight points clear at the top, and nine clear of City. While Pep Guardiola desperately tried to ensure the narrative was City being screwed by the officials again (he did the same thing when we spanked them in Europe too), the real story of this game was the tactical masterclass by Klopp that allowed us to keep them at arms length for most of the day while completely ripping them to shreds at the other end. Apparently XG showed that City had more ‘expected goals’. Whatever. My eyes told me that every single time we attacked we looked like we’d score. It might not have always led to a clear chance, but it always looked like it could do. City were dangerous and played some lovely football around the box, but we defended them as well as it’s possible to do while also ensuring we never got pinned back by them and were always able to spring counter attacks. Klopp’s assessment was that you can’t beat City by playing like they do, because they’re the best at playing that way. He’s dead right. They’re sensational at what they do, but what they do at one end does leave them wide open at the other, and we took full advantage of that. It was a strange start to the game as for the first few minutes we just couldn’t get the ball. City got on top of us immediately and forced some early corners. Everything seemed to be going through Bernardo on the right in the early stages, but we were doubling up nicely on both him and Sterling on the opposite side. City had a lot of the ball but our shape was good, and it soon became clear that any time City didn’t have the ball they were in big trouble. It genuinely felt as though we’d score every single time we attacked. They were wide open and I’m surprised we only scored three to be honest, especially as two of them came so early. And how good were those goals? Just beautiful. City can bleat all they want about the first one, I don’t care. Irrespective of what happened in the box, the way we worked it from back to front so quickly was ruthlessly efficient and a sign of things to come. Sadio had stayed forward in “the half space” as Klopp likes to say, and Robbo sent him clear with a pass out of defence. Mané drove at the defence, waited for support to arrive in the middle and then tried to pick out Bobby. City were scrambling back and managed to intercept it, but Mo closed down so quickly that Gundogan’s clearance went only to Fabinho, who just fucking leathered it in from 25 yards. The keeper had no chance of saving that as it was such a sweet strike. It went like an arrow and when you look at the still photo of it you can see the perfect form of Fabinho. Head down, just striking right through the ball. Glorious. He should do that more often really, shouldn’t he? Although if he added goals to what he already does then that’s genuinely not fair on the rest of the league and maybe some sort of handicap would need to be introduced. I don’t know, maybe have him carry a dead weight around the field with him or something. After all, that’s what Gerrard had to do for half of the time he played with us. Fab’s goal was a lot like the one Ox got against them in the Champions League, only it wasn’t at the Kop end, which was a shame as that would have been amazing. Most of us went mental celebrating it but Klopp was quite reserved because he knew there would be a VAR review over what happened in the box. That never even entered my head, I had no idea what was happening or why the City players were surrounding the ref. It was only afterwards I discovered what their complaint was, and frankly it’s all I’ve heard since. You’d think this was one of the worst decisions of all time the way some people are going on. It’s genuinely baffling to me. Tell you what was great about all that nonsense though. The way Gini was right in the middle telling the City players to pipe down and explaining what had happened. You can see him telling Fernandinho and (I think) Aguero that their player handled first and to shut their pieholes. Gotta love Gini and his game intelligence. He’s always one or two moves ahead of everyone else. I don’t even want to waste time talking about the so called handball. I’ve heard so much shit about it that it’s actually quite funny. Shearer and Crouch both said penalty on MOTD, while this morning I heard Mario Melchiot and Trevor Sinclair on the radio both saying the same. It’s not just them either. Logic would tell you that it can’t be a penalty because the ball hits Bernardo’s arm first and therefore City would have gained an advantage from it. MOTD claimed that the referees spokesman told them that Bernardo’s handball wouldn’t have counted because it didn’t directly lead to a goal. So a penalty isn’t a goalscoring opportunity now then? Just fuck off with that hypocritical nonsense. I'm not buying that at all and I don't think that's what the rule says. If the game were to be stopped it could only be for a free-kick to us. Oliver didn’t give that and he didn’t penalise Trent, because he either didn’t see them or he felt that both handballs were unintentional. We then went up the other end and scored, so what do people want the VAR ref to do? He can’t give a penalty, so he can only pull it back to give us a free-kick, and why would he do that when we scored? Really, it’s no different to a ref seeing a foul but playing the advantage. There’s nothing to see here, people should move along but for whatever reason they can’t. I don’t remember this level of debate and outrage when that bulb headed cunt Kompany took out Mo with a wild two footed lunge when he was clean through on goal at the Etihad last season. Never forget that City players were singing about that incident when they won the league, and Kompany has been a right fucking smug, smart arse twat about it ever since. So hearing him complaining about decisions that went against them in this game is just music to my ears. Vincent Kompany is a twat, I’ve been telling you that for ages. If you haven’t realised it yourself yet, don’t worry, you will. I’m never wrong on shit like this. I can spot them a mile off. Still, he’s a former City captain and only left a few months ago so he’s entitled to be biased. Some of the shit I’ve heard from other ex players though just boggles the mind. I’ve already said more than I wanted to do about it, so for the other handball shout they had in the second half I’ll just say this; fuck off. I genuinely think the only reason these decisions are being talked about so much is because that fucking egghead threw a hissy fit on the touchline. If those decisions are against Brendan Rodgers or Eddie Howe for example no-one bats an eyelid because they wouldn’t have caused an embarrassing scene. Anyway, enough of that for now. It’s 1-0 and then within no time we scored again. This is what I was hoping for prior to the game. I’d said to a few people that it would either be a stalemate or we’d absolutely smash them. And for us to smash them, the most likely scenario would be to score one and then blow them away in a short space of time afterwards. We’ve done that before; one goal quickly leads to another and then another as the players ride the wave of emotion from the crowd and the opposition are just overwhelmed. We’ve done it City twice and that’s how I hoped it would go this time. So when we got the second so quickly I was thinking we might add one or two more and win the game there and then. That didn’t happen, but oh boy, what a goal that second one was. I’ll never tire of watching that, it was like the lads were doing one of those “recreate a famous goal from the past” videos and they’d been told to copy the Terry Mac header against Spurs. So similar. It was just incredible and only we could have scored a goal like that. We’re unique in world football right now because nobody else has full backs doing the kind of amazing shit we’re seeing from Trent and Robbo virtually every week. Freeze the shot and look at where we are when Trent picks up the ball. It’s almost impossible to imagine that within a few seconds and with only four touches of the ball we’d have scored. It’s genuinely amazing to see. Savour this, because what we’re being treated to currently is as good as anything that any Liverpool fan has ever been privileged enough to witness. It won’t always be like this, so enjoy it. Trent’s switch of play with his left foot is world class. Robbo takes one touch to get it out of his feet and into the space, and then he delivers an inch perfect cross into the box that Mo meets with a brilliantly controlled header. I don’t think the finish is getting the credit it deserves because we’re all talking about the brilliance of Trent and Robbo, but that was a great header on the run. Some are trying to claim it’s offside and I even saw some crank claiming that VAR wasn’t working but that they’re trying to keep that quiet. Hilarious. Even better was a tweet I saw from some virgin who had used his iPhone camera app to prove it was offside. Should have seen how many retweets it got too. People are so desperate to think we’re cheating and being favoured by officials. It’s utterly batshit mental, but at the same time it’s great that there are so many knobheads having their lives ruined by the Reds being top of the league. So anyway, City had all of the ball but just like that, they trail 2-0. You actually can’t stop that second goal unless you’re playing ultra defensively and haven’t committed players forward. That’s not City’s style though so they were always going to leave spaces. Most teams aren’t good enough to take advantage of that but we obviously are and we did. Guardiola said afterwards how proud he was of his team and that their performance was brilliant. Some have laughed at that but I agree with him up to a point. With the ball they’re terrific and we had to be fully committed and switched on to keep them at bay. Yes, they were wide open for counter attacks but that’s a result of how he demands they play, it’s not really down to his players performing badly so he can’t be too critical of that. What it comes down to for me is that he brought his team here to take the game to us and with an attitude of “may the best team win”. And the best team did win. His team played well, our team played well, but we won because we put the ball in the net more times than they did, but mostly because we defend better than they do. It’s that simple really. They had chances to score in the first half but the closest they came was when Angelino’s effort was deflected onto the outside of the post by Van Dijk. They always looked dangerous but it’s not as though Alisson was over-worked. We were often at full stretch to stop them and for that you have to give great credit to our defence and midfield. So disciplined, so switched on, so hard working. For all of City’s possession, Bravo was the busier of the keepers. He needed to make a save to deny Firmino and then another to keep out Mo’s curling 20 yarder. Both of those chances came after some sexy as fuck attacking play. Bobby’s effort was the result of an incredible driving run from Trent. The way he plucked the ball out of the air and then carried it 40 yards was Gerrard-like. Mind you, a lot of what he does is Gerrard-like. As I say, I thought we looked like we were going to score every single time we attacked in that first half, and it continued after the break. It wasn’t long before it was 3-0. Hendo picked the ball up on the touchline, and with everyone expecting him to pass the ball inside he just put his head down and drove to the byline before delivering a worldy cross to the back post where Sadio had stolen a yard on Walker to head the ball in. It was as good a cross as you’ll see, just absolutely inch perfect from the skipper. And there was a glorious irony about the way Mané scored. “Sometimes he’s diving” indeed, eh Pep? Bravo is being blamed for that but that’s a little harsh to me. He had no chance of dealing with the cross and although he got his hands to Sadio’s header, it’s from close range and he could only push it into the net. Still, I don’t really care if he could have saved it or not. The only thing that matters is he didn’t, and we were three goals up. At this point I genuinely thought we’d score a couple more and really send a message to them, but a fourth didn’t come and the longer the game went the more City began to get on top. A big contributing factor in that for me was Hendo being subbed. I don’t have a problem with the decision because he’d been ill earlier in the week and Klopp obviously didn’t think he could last the full game. There’s no way he’d have been taken off for any other reason as he was fucking brilliant. The last twenty minutes were stressful. City began to get on top and we couldn’t really get out. The counter attacks dried up and we became less and less of a threat, which allowed them to really turn the screw on us. They only scored one but they had chances to get more. Aguero missed an absolute sitter. He was eventually subbed for Jesus and his record at Anfield is so bad he should change his name to Everton. It was Sterling causing all the problems though. All of a sudden he came into the game and we were really struggling to contain him. Virtually every attack they had came down that side of the field and we were really hanging on. Bernardo pulled one back with a powerful low shot that went in off the post and all of a sudden I’m having flashbacks to that game two years ago when we ended up hanging on for grim death despite having led 4-0. This team is more resilient than that one, and it’s not just because we’ve got Van Dijk. Alisson and Fabinho obviously help, but it’s more a collective mentality now. There’s a maturity and composure about them now and they can see games out. Klopp was doing his nut at the City goal because he’d been trying to make a sub for a couple of minutes but Oliver ignored the signal from his linesman and allowed City to restart the game from a throw in. The lino clearly had the flag raised above his head to signal a substitution and Oliver should have stopped the game. We needed to make a change because we were really under the cosh, so Klopp had every right to be angry about that. I’m not sure what happened because I thought that any time a linesman raises his flag there’s a signal that goes straight to the ref, so I don’t know why he didn’t let us make that change. It was the right move to get Ox on there in place of Bobby, as we couldn’t get out of our own half and clearly a lot of players were beginning to tire. That definitely contributed to City getting on top, but as I say, I felt as though Henderson going off was a real turning point. It might not show up on the stat sheet (I saw some stat nerd on Twitter mocking his defensive contribution on the basis that he only had one tackle) but Henderson’s influence on this game was massive, and it was all the more noticeable when he went off. Sterling had looked lively all day but he hadn’t been able to have much of an influence until Hendo went off. After that he was running wild. Part of that if because as a team we became tired and City were allowed to get on top of us, but the absence of Henderson was huge because all of a sudden Sterling was picking the ball up and he was isolated one v one with Trent. That did not happen when Henderson was on the field. Klopp alluded to it afterwards without directly mentioning his skipper. He said something along the lines of what a great player Sterling is and how much trouble he gave us in the final 20 minutes, but he also said it shows just what a great job we’d done to keep him quiet until then. You don’t need to make tackles or interceptions to be effective defensively. You can be influential in all sorts of ways that there are no stats for. Shutting down space, closing off angles, doubling up to help the full back and forcing the winger to go backwards. That’s what Hendo did. The social media haters won’t see that, but everyone in the ground did and his name was echoing around Anfield as the players left at full time. The midfielders were all sensational and it was nice seeing them get some recognition from Shearer on MOTD. The midfield is the least heralded part of our side (understandably so) but it’s their unselfish play and incredible work ethic that allows the full backs and forwards to do what they do. Fabinho rightly gets a lot of plaudits but the “workhorses” seem to be the first to get stick when we aren’t at our best and the last to get credit when we are. Henderson was brilliant but Wijnaldum was even better. What a performance that was from him. He’s always at his best in the big games though so this was no surprise. His ability on the ball in tight spaces is just something else. It’s almost impossible to take the ball off him. He was pinging long passes around too in this game, which you rarely see from him normally. One of the best games I’ve seen him have. You know who else was ace? Big Dejan. He dealt with Aguero very well, he won loads of important headers and he made a fantastic block to deny Sterling that he celebrated like he’d scored himself. Fucking good for him. In the summer I seemed to be writing every week in the diary about why we’d be stupid to sell Lovren. This is why. He’s fucking good and he was always going to be needed because we have so many games. I’m not telling you he’s better than Gomez or Matip, but a lot of it is based on form and opportunity. He lost his place through injury, but prior to that he’d been great for six months and was man of the match in Kiev. Gomez, and then Matip both came in and played well enough to keep their place until they too lost it through injury. Now it’s come full circle and Lovren is back in and will take some shifting now. Matip has been brilliant and had made the position his own but if Lovren continues to perform as he has been then ‘Big Bird’ will need to wait his turn, just as Dejan did. We’ve got four top centre backs when most teams, even the good ones, are lucky if they have one. This is just a huge win for multiple reasons. Every win is important because every three points we pick up takes us closer to the title. Psychologically this is huge though. City could have narrowed the gap to three points, but instead it’s nine and all the pressure is on them now because having lost three games already they really can’t afford many more slip ups. It’s perhaps significant that they’ve dropped to fourth too. That has to be a jolt to them as they will have spent all season looking up at us and not behind at Chelsea and Leicester. Now it’s not just us they need to reel in, it’s those two as well. How will they react having had things their own way for so long? They’ve got Chelsea next so well see. There is no love lost between the two sets of players and there was a bit of needle in the game. Unsurprisingly Robbo was involved in some of it when he gave Walker a naughty little shove as he chased a ball into touch. Walker understandably took exception to it and had words, but Robbo just walked away grinning at him. I love that little bit of edge he has to him in these big games. It wasn’t just him though. Trent had a little nibble at Sterling in a similar manner, giving him a nudge as he ran towards the Kop. That prompted an angry little exchange between the pair and that was a fiercely contested battle throughout. Trent bossed it for most of the game but in the closing stages Sterling was getting on top and Klopp sensibly brought on Gomez (I’d have done it at least five minutes earlier though), who also ended up getting into it with his England team-mate. That was smart from Joe as it broke up the play and wasted valuable seconds. It was just handbags, but it was funny the way Gomez just picked him up and moved him out of his space. Loved that. At full time it continued as Sterling went over to say his piece and Gomez looked like he was just giving it the “whatever bro, I don’t really care, just shake my hand and fuck off while I celebrate”. Another boss bit of gamesmanship was late in the first half when a miles offside Sadio gave himself up by lashing the ball into the Anny Road rather than just allowing it to run through to the keeper as you normally would. That was so clever. Only a little thing, but it stopped Bravo from just collecting the ball and starting an attack. For so long I have felt that we were a little bit too nice, but we’ve learned and while we’re not exactly kick off merchants, there’s definitely a more streetwise approach in evidence these days and I fucking love it. You know what else I love? Baldiola losing his shit whenever we beat him. He was pathetic. Embarrassing. What a bad whiny bastard he is any time he doesn’t get his own way. With his bald head and crying face, he looks like a giant fucking baby with stubble. In fairness I thought he was fine in his post match interviews once he’d calmed down, but during the game his antics were ridiculous. The screaming to the heavens of “TWIIIICE!!!” is something we’ll be seeing memes of for years. He was even having arguments with random fans in the Main Stand at one point when there was a stoppage in play while Jesus got treatment. It was brilliant and I’d love to know what was being said. At times like that I wish I sat closer to the benches as you know I’d have been pulling out the full repertoire of slaphead put downs. Then he goes onto the field at full time, shakes the hands of the officials and yells at Oliver “THANK YOU SO MUCH. THANK YOU SO MUCH”. All that was missing was for him to turn back and say “In case you didn’t know, Marge, I was being sarcastic”. He actually looks like a slim Homer Simpson when I think about it. He then says afterwards that he wasn’t being sarcastic. Ok mate, sure you weren’t. Should be charged for that, although we’d probably have to wait until after the reverse fixture for his ban to be enforced. Still no word on Bernardo’s punishment, but I bet it’s announced this week. Farce. It was annoying to see Guardiola on the pitch mocking the ref because Oliver does not deserve to be the focus of any attention. People should not be talking about the ref after a game like this as he did his job well. There were one or two things I didn’t like but refereeing a game of this magnitude is really difficult and all things considered he was excellent. That’s what people should be saying, but because of Guardiola’s tantrums all I’m hearing is people discussing Oliver and VAR’s decisions. He stood there stony faced while Guardiola yelled at him, but he must have been thinking “get out of my face you fucking spoilt, self entitled, whiny, sore loser, baldy twat”. I actually dread to think what would have happened if a lesser referee had taken charge of the game. Oliver really needs to be put in charge of every big game now because who else would you trust? All of the others are terrible, whether it’s with a whistle or a computer. I actually said to my Dad before the game that we wouldn’t have to worry about VAR because there’s no way Paul Tierney was going to be over-ruling Oliver, and so it proved. It’s ironic really, one of the few games where VAR was not actually a problem and yet it’s still got everyone complaining just because we won. Still, let them all stew in their own boiled piss. We’ve got a 50 game sample size now and in those 50 games we’ve picked up eight more points than City and we’ve lost just once compared to their seven. So the logical conclusion has to be that we’re now better than them. That might change, but as things stand they should be more worried about us than the other way around, and I think they probably are given the unhealthy obsession they have from top to bottom of that club. Nine points is a big gap to close, especially given how few games we lose these days, but I’m taking nothing for granted as we were in a similar (although not quite as healthy) situation last year and the big swing came when we lost at the Etihad. That could happen again and if you throw in a few draws suddenly that nine point lead could be gone. City can reel off 15 wins on the bounce; we know that because they’ve done it in each of the last two years. I expect them to be really strong and to go on a run in the new year, especially when Laporte is back, so it’s a case of making hay while the sun shines. They have a tough stretch of six games coming up and there are more points to be dropped there. If we can keep churning out wins we can extend that lead to a point where they might almost throw in the towel. Ideally they’ll have to become more pre-occupied about holding off Chelsea and Leicester and allow us to ride off into the sunset, but it’s us, we never have it easy so I’m expecting us to have a little spell when things don’t go our way, possibly around the holiday period when we have so many games to play. Hopefully we can build a big enough lead before then that any tricky spell won’t be too damaging. Star man is virtually impossible. It could be virtually anyone. Virg was Virg, the front three worked their socks off and City couldn’t cope with them. Lovren was great, the two full backs were exceptional and the midfield three were magnificent. If you put a gun to my head and make me choose I’d probably go for Wijnaldum though, just over Fabinho. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson (Milner), Wijnaldum; Salah (Gomez), Firmino (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Mané:
    46 points
  19. My first game at Anfield was against Leicester on 28th August 1971. I was 12 and my dad paid 50p each to go in The Anfield Road End. Fast forward 50 years or so and it was my turn to take him to game to celebrate his 88th birthday. Spookily it was also against Leicester. This time in the Main Stand at £45 a pop. Really enjoyed the game, the performance and the result. I also managed to buy a copy of the ‘71 programme and to frame it with the latest programme and the photo attached. Anyway, that’s it. Cheers
    45 points
  20. I've just come across this thread for the 1st time. Some tough stuff to read on here, although I've not read it all. I was diagnosed with terminal/stage 4 bowel cancer around a year ago and was put on palliative chemo to try and help control it. With all the luck the world can muster, after 2 rounds of treatment I'd reacted to an extent that they wanted to operate. This was still not to be a cure as some of my cancer was inoperable, but it was to extend my life. However, after having my operation, they're hopeful that the chemo has got the cancer in those inoperable areas. I'm now back on chemo, but they're classing it as adjuvant now and the hope is this is the last round with a view of giving me the all clear in the autumn. I'm not out of the woods yet, but what a fucking difference a year makes. I'm not too comfortable sharing the experience (hence why I've never posted about it before and not talked about the journey I've been on), but really I posted this as I know speaking with people who are going through or have been through a similar thing can be really helpful. I'm sure everyone's situation is very personal, but I think parts of the journey can feel similar. If there's anyone who's going through this shit or has a loved one going through it and just wants a chat, please PM me.
    44 points
  21. Another one down, another step nearer. Nothing was decided by this victory but some people seem to be seeing it as “the day the title was won”. I’m not sure why, to be honest. Remove the name of the opponent and the situation is just that we beat an average team at Anfield. Would the reaction have been the same if we’d beaten Palace or West Ham? No. But because it’s United we’ve got Gary Neville talking about the Salah goal as “the moment the title was decided”. That goal didn’t even decide the game as we’d won anyway. In terms of results that showed the title was heading to Anfield, this is way down the list for me and it’s giving United far too much credit to suggest that this was some kind of ‘signature win’. United are a mediocre team right now and to be completely honest I’m frustrated we didn’t beat them by more goals. I suppose City dropping two points the day before plays a part, but we’re miles ahead anyway and, funny as it was, I don’t think the Palace equaliser was especially significant. Hopefully City continue to drop points though just so we can wrap this up as soon as possible. It’s hilarious listening to Solksjaer trying to cling to little positives. “We did better than in the game here last year”. Not really. It was pretty much the same type of “please don’t hurt us” type of performance that we’re seeing from virtually every opponent we come across these days. In terms of what we’ve seen at Anfield of late, United’s display was slightly better than Sheffield United and significantly worse than Watford and Wolves. If they want to take some positive little crumbs from that, let them. I think it’s fucking hilarious. Ole is hilarious. He’s so deluded and so cheerful I just don’t have it in me to dislike him. He’s a funny guy. Like a clown. He amuses me. I mean come on, “They don’t carve you open” is an all time classic. The stuff about us being direct and playing a lot of long balls is 100% true, but to suggest we don’t carve teams open is embarrassing for him. Almost as embarrassing as his lowering of expectations and attempts to give himself credibility with claims like “it shows how much we’re respected that Man City didn’t rest players against us”. He’s like a little goblin faced Norwegian Hodgson. The long ball thing is interesting though. I think it was more of an observation than a dig, but ‘long ball’ has a stigma attached to it as it immediately makes you think Tony Pulis alehouse footy. The long ball has become a really useful weapon for us. Look at how we destroyed Everton with it for example. It’s been a definite ploy, especially this season, and it’s made us even more dangerous than we were before. Remember when we couldn’t break down the shit teams who just wanted to sit back? That doesn’t work anymore, because we’re constantly turning them around with balls over the top. It doesn’t even matter if it works. Just the threat of it is enough to stretch teams because they have to drop off. And when they drop off, Bobby can find space between the lines. Basically, we can hurt teams in every conceivable fashion now which makes us virtually unstoppable. We’ve scored in every single league game and now we’re not conceding any at the other end. We’re so fucking good now that ‘big’ teams are actually getting credit for not getting walloped and for having a ten minute spell where they looked alright. This was almost exactly like last week at White Hart Lane. United were marginally less cowardly than Spurs, I’ll give them that. But this was still men against boys and on another day the scoreline would have reflected that. I’ve never been less concerned about a game with United. I couldn’t have been any more relaxed about it beforehand. I expected us to not only beat them, but to embarrass them. To humiliate them. To slap them all over Anfield and put them in their place after they had the temerity to take points off us earlier in the season. The only reason that didn’t happen was some poor finishing, great goalkeeping and a VAR ref with ideas above his station. We dominated for forty minutes, had a bad five minute spell before the half and then came out flying after the break before we ended up having to just see it out for the last 15. I thought we started a little slowly but that may well have been down to United surprising us by pressing high up the field rather than just sitting back. I’m not sure we expected that, and it was a little uncomfortable at times seeing us playing out from the back and taking risks. We gave the ball away a few times but they weren’t good enough to do anything with it. Rashford not playing was a bad deal because he’s the only United player who I felt could have potentially hurt us. He’s their best player and he’s been carrying their whole team for weeks. No wonder his back is fucked. Once we adapted to what they were doing we took complete control. Virg powered in a header to give us the lead and Bobby should have made it two soon after but put his shot wide after being picked out by Mo. He did have the ball in the net shortly after and a finish of that quality deserved better than to be chalked off by VAR. That disallowed goal has genuinely irritated me, more because of the manner it was ruled out than the injustice of it not being a foul. Had Craig Pawson actually blown for a foul I’d have been ok with it as to me that was a call that could have gone either way. Virgil didn’t foul him but any time there’s contact with a keeper and he flaps at the ball, a whistle usually follows. So had the ref given it as a foul then no problem. Where the problem occurs is that the tit watching the video somehow decided that was a clear and obvious error. He’s perfectly entitled to look at that and think “I reckon it’s a foul”, but that’s not his remit. His job is to ask “is that a clear mistake by the referee?” and the fact is that it wasn’t. It was a subjective call that could have gone either way, so in that scenario they’re supposed to go with the decision on the field. The question I have is that given it wasn’t a clear error but it may have been a foul, why didn’t they just ask Pawson to take a look at it to see if he still felt the same way? Just say to him “that’s a 50-50 call that Craig, do you want to take a look to make sure you’re happy with it?”. If he takes a look and then decides he made a mistake, then fine, I’m good with that. The way it actually went down though was wrong. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I didn’t celebrate the ‘goal’ anyway. I mean, I stood up and applauded the brilliant finish, but I didn’t fully let myself go because even if the goal would have counted there was always first going to be a VAR check to see if Virg fouled De Gea. Bobby celebrated though, he’s not missing out on a chance to bring out the finger guns. A lot of teams would feel sorry for themselves after that but I looked at our lads and you would never have known that a major decision had gone against them. The body language right across the team was as though it had never happened. Even afterwards when Virg spoke about it he said “I didn’t think I fouled him but you have to go with what VAR says”. If that goal had stood I’m thoroughly convinced we’d have wiped the floor with United and scored four or five. We just needed that second goal to break their resistance and open the floodgates. We had the ball in the net again through the magnificent Wijnaldum, but he’d strayed an inch or two offside. The linesman flagged on that one so the celebrations were cut short immediately. Still, there was always the possibility he’d gotten it wrong and VAR would intervene. Sadly not. Mané should have scored after being released by Salah but his shot was too close to De Gea who saved with his foot. He saves more with his feet than he does with his hands, that prick. He’d been booked for his protests when Pawson had initially given the goal, and he’s lucky it was only a yellow considering how aggressive he was. Shame he’s not that aggressive when challenging for aerial balls, the fucking lightweight. It’s a source of immense frustration to me that the second goal didn’t come. Obviously winning is the main thing and I’m happy about that. I just think that one of the few things this team is yet to accomplish is to deliver the absolutely fucking mullering of United that’s been coming to them for a couple of seasons. The last five minutes of the half were sloppy and United enjoyed much more possession than they had previously. They didn’t do much with it and the only clear chance they had was when Wan-Bissaka stole in at the back post and his cross-shot was almost converted by Andreas. I thought Wan-Bissaka was offside anyway, but I haven’t seen any replays of it so I’m not sure. Andreas had a speculative shot from distance that Alisson saved comfortably but other than that Alisson’s goal was rarely threatened. They only had one chance in the second half too, which Martial bottled and smashed over the bar. I mentioned this last week, we’ve been lucky at times this season because other teams are getting chances but not taking them. It’s partly luck and partly the pressure opponents are under. Chances are few and far between against us so when they come there’s a greater pressure to convert. Martial buries that more often than not. That being said, we miss plenty of chances ourselves. The number of close games we’ve had this season is mainly due to an inability to kill teams off when we’re on top. It’s the one weakness we have. We’ve been wasteful on too many occasions. Frankly it was ridiculous that United were still in with a shout late on in this game. The start we made to the second half was blistering and should have been enough to blow them away. No-one can live with us when we do that and it’s a miracle United managed to survive that spell. Salah missed a sitter when he failed to convert a Robertson cross. Mané then fired over after being brilliantly found by Firmino. Hendo was denied by an incredible save by De Gea who somehow managed to tip his shot onto the post. Sadio then got in behind them but dragged his shot just past the post. It was an incredible sequence of play but United somehow managed to weather the storm. Klopp made his first chance when he sent on Lallana for Ox. I thought Ox had been decent without ever really making that much of a mark on the game. Lallana never got going though. He fell over the first time he got the ball and it took him a while to get with the pace of the game. Origi and Fabinho both came on late, replacing Mané and Bobby. Those changes were a response to the way the game had gone and the fact we were now on the back foot protecting a one goal lead. We’ve seen that before, with Mo sent through the middle for the counter attacking threat. It works well because we defend so resolutely and because Virgil seems to head away every ball that comes into the box. He won header after header and that’s the main difference between us now and us a few years ago when we would so often find it difficult to hold onto leads. Teams would just keep putting it in the mixer and eventually it would pay off. Now they do it and Van Dijk just heads it straight back out. Every. Time. He was imperious and I’m not going to argue with anyone who had him as man of the match. He wasn’t my choice, but he was flawless. Hendo got the award on Sky but he wasn’t my choice either, although it was a toss up between him and Wijnaldum. Gini gets it for me because in these big games he just nips off into the phonebox and changes into his Superman costume. In these high profile games he seems to become stronger, quicker and more skilful. It’s amazing to see and that’s why he just shades it for me. Robbo deserves a mention too just for the sheer amount of running he did. He was up and down the flank all day, whereas on the opposite side Trent was not the factor he normally would be. United clearly decided they were going to remove that threat and they packed that side of the field with two left backs and also had Martial hugging the left flank. Salah’s performance was the most interesting talking point I think. My feeling while watching the game was that once again he was having a stinker against United. On reflection, I completely over-stated that as he was a constant danger. Not everything he tried came off but he did create chances for others and he deserved his goal at the end just for his sheer persistence. It’s disappointing that once again we didn’t give them the beating they deserve but I’m not blaming anybody. It’s just one of those things. The ball didn’t break for us on the day and they rode their luck. If the second goal had come in the first hour, more would have followed. It didn’t come, and just like last week at Spurs it then becomes edgy. Not because of anything we’re doing, but just because the situation is precarious and the opponent then has to come out and have a go in the last 15 minutes. It’s happened loads of times this season but we defend really well and it’s not like we ever look as though we’re hanging on. There’s always the risk that they’ll get a flukey goal or someone will hammer one in from 30 yards though, so it makes for a stressful ending to the game. It felt edgy at the time but watching it back again United created virtually nothing late on despite dominating possession. We had them at arm’s length and wasted a couple of very good opportunities to kill them on the break. Eventually we got them though with the last kick of the game. What a moment that was. The more pragmatic thing for Alisson to have done once he claimed the ball was to keep hold of it and waste time. There were only seconds left after all. It just shows how alert he is though that he knew they’d thrown everyone forward and that Mo was all alone. It was the smart move to leather the ball up to him because even if it didn’t lead to a goal, the ball was going to end up deep in United’s half anyway. It did lead to a goal though. An iconic, live long in the memory type of goal. A David Ngog if you will. Ok, forget that, this was way more iconic than Ngog’s goal but it was similar in the way it was taken and the celebrations that followed. Credit to Salah because it was brilliantly taken. That really wasn’t easy because as good as the pass from Alisson was, Mo had to wait a second before gathering it and that slowed him down long enough to allow the lightning quick Dan James to get back at him. The way Mo just held him off and prevented him getting close enough to make a challenge was superb. The finish itself wasn’t great and I thought De Gea should have saved it, but everything else about that goal was glorious, including the celebration. Off came the shirt and out came the abs. As a rule, I’m not one for condoning the shirt off celebration as it just means a needless booking that might prove costly somewhere down the line. When it’s a last second goal at the Kop end against United though, then all bets are off. He could have taken his shorts off as well if he’d wanted and he’d get no criticism from me. It was funny seeing Alisson doing a Pepe Reina and arriving first on the scene for the celebrations. It’s even funnier when you watch the replay of him running and realise he wasn’t actually moving that fast, it’s just that everyone else was too exhausted to be arsed running to Mo. Alisson is gesturing “come on!” at them all as he runs past, and they’re all just standing around like “nah you’re alright, lad. We’re fucked”. Eventually I think he shamed them all into joining in. I looked at the rest of the players and a lot of them were seriously considering just staying in their own half as they were out on their feet. In the end they ambled over to join in at their own leisure. I’m running out of things to say about this season we’re having. The points total, the records being broken and the historic stuff we’re seeing. We’re almost over the line and it’s only January. It’s unprecedented what we’re seeing and it’s not about if we win the title now, it’s only a case of when we win it. The questions still to be answered are whether we can break the record for the most points and if we could go undefeated. I’m not thinking about either of those as there are so many games still to be played, and next up for us is the toughest fixture we have left. Yes, I’m saying Wolves away is a more difficult game for us than a trip to the Etihad. We know how to play against City and they fear us. Wolves don’t fear us and they’ll still be steaming about the perceived injustice they feel about their recent loss at Anfield. They’re a tough nut to crack when they face the better sides because it suits their counter attacking style. It’s a tough game and to me it’s the biggest threat remaining to our unbeaten record. The good thing is that it’s a Thursday so we have an extra day to prepare for it and we should be at full strength. I’m looking forward to it but I have more trepidation about this game than I’ve had all season. On a final note, I want to mention the atmosphere. It was great. The Kop was loud all day and I can only remember hearing the United fans once or twice all day. I could see from my seat that they were signing and making noise, but I genuinely couldn’t hear them because the noise from our crowd drowned them out. I think the new Main Stand may have changed the acoustics of the stadium too because I used to always be able to hear the away fans and what they were singing, but often this season I’ve barely heard a peep. The main reason though is the noise from our fans has increased. In some of the quieter games you can hear the away fans, but in the two games against United and Everton I’ve barely heard a peep. I can imagine the Mancs went through their full repertoire of scummy chants, but the only things I heard all day was “United” and “Always the victims”. The rest of their shite was completely drowned out by the Kop. Actually wait, I tell a lie. I did hear them giving it the “where’s your famous atmosphere” at one point, which is right up there with Solskjaer and his “they don’t carve you open”. It’s great, they’re completely deluded and have no idea just how far away they are from where they were. We’re back on our perch and there’s fuck all they can do about it now. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lallana); Salah, Firmino (Origi), Mané (Fabinho):
    43 points
  22. Was in same ITU as me in Royal Hallamshire. Tony Bland next to me, and Andrew a few beds along. I have no memory of it obviously as I was in a coma. Rest easy Andrew. How I survived fuck knows. Very sad day. Again. another one.
    42 points
  23. Theres been a lot of bollocks spouted in the aftermath of this game so let me cut through all that before going any further: The truth is that Spurs were shite and deserved nothing. Anyone suggesting otherwise is talking a steaming pile of pure Zlatan. I know they missed chances and some of them are kidding themselves into thinking they were ’unlucky’ (if they want to completely overlook the chances we missed at the other end). That’s the predictable narrative spun by Mourinho, but it’s fucking nonsense. It’s all about trying to justify his cowardly approach to a crowd who have always been staunchly against that type of ‘football’. Maybe some Spurs fans will swallow it, but that doesn’t make it true. Here’s what happened. Tottenham tried to Mourinho the shit out of the game and to some degree it worked, but they lost. Tough shit. If you play with that kind of cowardice you don’t get to cry about what you ‘deserve’, especially when you ‘deserve’ nothing. Maybe if you’d shown even the tiniest bit of ambition you might have gotten something, but you didn’t, and you didn’t. So fuck off. The only time Spurs looked dangerous was when we gave them the ball through our own complacency. Why were we so complacent? Because they were fucking shite and it was too easy for us. They played like a plucky underdog in a cup match. Or to put it another way, they played like a Mourinho team. He did this with Chelsea and Man United and he did it against far less accomplished Liverpool sides than this one. So Jurgen will have known exactly what to expect. This is who he is. It’s what he does. He was probably made up that Kane was injured as it gave him the excuse he needed to park the bus. “Look at us with all of our injuries, trying to take on the best team in Europe so short handed. We had to play like that, aren’t my lads brave”. His brand of football is ten years past it’s sell by date. Enjoy, Spurs fans. This is your new reality. It’s incredible how far we’ve pulled away from Spurs in the last 12 months and with him in charge that’s not going to change any time soon. From the first few minutes of the game I thought it was glaringly obvious just how big the gulf was between the sides. They looked terrified of us. It shouldn’t have been like that because Spurs have got loads of good players and have shown plenty of times they can win without Kane. In fact, Son and Lucas Moura worry me far more than Kane does. We’ve generally edged the meetings we’ve had in recent seasons but they’ve always gone toe to toe with us and given us some of the most difficult games we’ve had. They could have tried to go toe to toe with us again because they know they can do it and besides, what did they have to lose really? The league table shows how much better than them we are but in head to head games it’s always been difficult for us. It’s not as though the result was going to be season defining for them, so they could have given it a go. It says everything about Mourinho though that nobody ever thought for a second they would. This game was too easy for us and that was the thing that caused us a problem. It really shouldn’t have been as close as it was because Spurs played with a massive inferiority complex and we should have buried them by half time. I’m genuinely irritated that we didn’t batter them. It’s frustrating that they were still hanging around like a massive turd we just couldn’t flush, but its a measure of the standards set by this team that I’m having to restrain myself from being too critical over a 1-0 win at Spurs. It’s funny isn’t it? The season has been almost perfect but because we’re so good any time we don’t win comfortably there’s a temptation to have a bit of a moan and nit pick at the performance. It’s not just the fans and pundits doing it either. In the post match interviews Hendo wasn’t pleased, Klopp didn’t look happy either, while Virgil looked like he’d lost a tenner and found a quid. It’s good that they think like that because it’s that hunger to be better that will keep them going. I think the reason they were annoyed with themselves is because of the second half, which was fairly disjointed and riddled with uncharacteristic mistakes. It was all set up to be another Leicester as we were so dominant. Having gone 1-0 up the boys probably expected to turn the screw and finish Spurs off, maybe even picking them off on the break if they came out and tried to chase the game. They never did come out though. Even deep in stoppage time they were passing it around on the halfway line with four defenders and two holding midfielders and all day they seemed content to take their plucky 1-0 defeat against the World Champs. And we got suckered in. It was too easy, and then all of a sudden it wasn’t. Because they didn’t come out we had all the time in the word to pass it around and we seemed to lull ourselves into a false sense of security. I mean when do you ever see Wijnaldum losing the ball in his own defensive third? Never. In the first half Hendo was caught in possession twice. That never happens either. They got suckered in by how scared Spurs were playing. It just became so sloppy at both ends. We kept fucking up in the final third and wasting good opportunities to bury them and then we started giving them the ball in our own half. It’s not even as though they pressed us high up the pitch. They sat off 99% of the time but then every now and again Alli or Moura would catch us by surprise by actually trying to make a tackle. Mourinho did what he always does. He parked the bus and waited for a mistake. We made a few and if they’d taken one of those chances we’d be hearing about “another Jose masterclass”. It’s not a masterclass. He’s just Steve Bruce with better players. We played into their hands though in that second half. I didn’t see it coming because the first half was exactly what we would have wanted. From the first minute we stamped our authority on the game with a brilliant, sweeping move that saw Ox release Bobby in the inside right channel. For me Bobby did everything right there and was desperately unlucky. The only reason he didn’t score was because the kid making his debut got back in to a great position to make a block. When you look at the replay, that shot is going in the corner but he came from nowhere to get in the way. Fair play to him, that was quality. Bobby then had the presence of mind to pick up the loose ball and tee up Ox, who went for the same corner and saw his shot hit the inside of the post, come back out and hit Tanganga. It could have gone anywhere and Salah and Bobby were both ready to pounce, but Spurs got lucky and survived. The kid probably deserved that bit of luck following his initial clearance. We were all over them for most of that half and seemed to be able to get in down the left at will. Sadio was electric and Robbo was flying forward on overlaps. For once the final ball just wasn’t there with Robbo. It’s not easy when Spurs had nine players in there most of the time though. The front three were linking up well and Mané shot over after nice interplay between Mo and Bobby had set him up. Then Virgil missed a free header from a few yards out when he put it straight at the keeper. I suspect VAR may have ruled that out though as it looked level, and level now almost always means some part of the body is offside. The goal was coming from the first minute and it’s surprising it took as long as it did to arrive. Brilliantly finished by Bobby and well set up by Mo. Spurs are crying about the throw in that led to it, but how the fuck is any referee in the world supposed to get that right? It’s impossible. It’s unlucky when a decision like that goes against you but it’s also unavoidable and it shouldn’t have been given the amount of airtime it got. But it’s us, LiVARpool, and we don’t win games fair and square remember. It was a slight nick off Mané and the ball may have been already over the line when it hit him anyway. It’s almost certainly a Spurs throw but there isn’t a referee or linesman in the world who is going to see that, and complaining about it is pathetic really. Especially when you can’t even say the word ‘throw in’. Seriously, what the fuck is a “sroo in” Jose? Dick. At least he didn’t complain about VAR not disallowing it. Others have though. Even Danny Murphy tried to suggest there was a handball by Henderson. Fuck. Off. I expect it from that weird Duncan Castles cunt, but Murphy has embarrassed himself there. If I had my way, baldies wouldn’t be allowed to comment on footy as to a man they appear utterly clueless (TLW’s Paul being the notable exception that proves the rule). There is no angle that shows the ball hitting Henderson’s hand so they can’t disallow the goal. It’s simple really. That should have been the end of the discussion. I was annoyed they even looked at it at all because I was under the impression that the new law only applied if the player who handles plays the final pass or scores himself. Hendo did neither, so why were they even looking at it? I asked that question on Twitter and someone replied that it was reviewed just because it was in the box, so I assume that must be the case otherwise they had no business even looking at Hendo there. The point is though he didn’t handle and it smacks of the same desperation we saw after the Wolves game. Not wanting us to win the title is fine, it’s a perfectly understandable viewpoint, especially if you support a rival. When you start crying ‘conspiracy’ though and dissecting every decision in our games you’re just making yourself look like a fucking danger whose hard drive needs checking. Mourinho and others were also complaining that Robbo didn’t get a red card. People were actually tweeting Gary Lineker demanding that they talk about it on MOTD!! They did discuss it and quite rightly said there was fuck all in it. There was nothing wrong with that challenge on Tanganga. He should have been given a yellow for leaving his foot in on Alderweireld late on, but the tackle they’re moaning about was nothing. Every time we win we have to hear complaints about something. Even in our most dominant performance of the season against Leicester we had Schmeichel cryarsing about the penalty we got at 1-0. Guardiola almost gave himself a heart attack complaining about phantom handballs at Anfield (see my earlier comment on baldies and footy) and then there was the Wolves debacle, when everyone was up in arms over VAR being used to get two decisions right. It’s pathetic and it’s virtually every game. “If it wasn’t for VAR they’d only be seven points clear”. So, the argument is that “if all those correct decisions that went their way weren’t given and the incorrect ones were given instead, they wouldn’t be so far ahead”. Everyone is cracking up because we’re so good. We should have slapped Spurs all over White Hart Lane in the second half just to teach them a lesson. All they wanted to do was get everyone behind the ball and hit the deck looking for free-kicks, trying to disrupt the flow of the game. Those Spurs players need little encouragement to do that anyway as they’re the worst divers in the Premier League, but that’s going to be cranked up a notch or two now under Captain Shitbag. No surprise that Martin Atkinson was only too willing to oblige them. What a fucking twat he is. Free kick after free kick went Tottenham’s way, but when they clearly fouled Henderson to spark a dangerous attack he waved it away. And when Wijnaldum was brought down on the edge of their box he saw nothing wrong with that either. Hell, he even decided to play an extra minute and a half of stoppage time at the end in the hope that Spurs might score. It was meant to be three minutes, yet he played well over four. Why was that? It never normally happens, but when it’s Atkinson in charge of a Liverpool game in which we’re hanging on to a one goal lead, suddenly the official with the board is being ignored. Dodgy as fuck. He’s worse than Anthony Taylor. Actually, hanging on was an over statement. We were fairly comfortable for the most part and should have made more of some promising situations we created. Robbo continued to pick out Spurs players with his crosses and they always seemed to have enough players back in to clear the danger. I didn’t like the decision to take off Mané for Origi though. Not so much from the attacking side of it, but because Sadio had been absolutely incredible from a defensive point of view. He didn’t give them a second. So many times their midfielders thought they had time only for Sadio to come chasing back and rob them. He was everywhere. Origi was never going to give us that, and for that reason I’d have subbed Mo instead as we wouldn’t be losing out on anything defensively. I’ll be honest, Div was really doing my head in as he was passive and wasn’t offering anything. Then out of nothing he tip toed around three challenges on the edge of the box and brought a save from the keeper. That was fucking brilliant to be fair, and I felt bad for having previously been moaning at him. Lallana had also been brought on, for Ox, and I thought he made a really positive impact by keeping the ball and just generally doing the smart thing. One touch late on when he plucked a ball out of the sky was fucking glorious too. He’s proving to be a useful asset of late. The final 15 minutes proved to be more stressful than they needed to be but I think what made it more worrying at the time was that the only real moments of ‘danger’ all day had come from our own mistakes, such as when Son blasted over after Wijnaldum was caught in possession, or when Trent and Gomez went for the same ball and we needed Virg to make a great tackle. We were giving them hope by playing into Mourinho’s hands. That’s what he wants. He waits for mistakes and then hopes to punish them. He’s built his career on it. The only chance that was of their own making was when Lo Celso fired wide from close range. That was a much more difficult chance than people are making it out to be. The angle wasn’t good, the ball was travelling at pace and he was on the stretch. He should have scored but I can see why he didn’t. Missed chances like that have been a feature of the season. We’ve been great but things have gone our way a lot more than usual. 20 wins out of 21 games to start a season is almost unheard of. In fact, it is unheard of because it’s never been done before, either in this country or in any of the other major European leagues. A lot of those games have been close and in many of those close games the opponent has failed to take some very clear chances. So we’ve had luck on our side at times this season and I won’t pretend otherwise. Some of those wins could have been draws if the opponents hadn’t missed some very clear opportunities (Sheffield United away is the first one that springs to mind), and maybe next season things will be different. It’s amazing though how the very best teams seem to benefit from that. Perhaps it’s the intimidation factor? Opposing players snatch at chances because they aren’t sure when the next one will come along or just because they know how big a moment it is. A few years ago we seemed to suffer from “one chance one goal” syndrome. It was mad. We’d defend well but as soon as the other team had a chance they scored. It’s partly about the keeper but it’s not just that. Son didn’t even hit the target with a chance he’d normally bury with his eyes closed. The very best teams often have things like this go in their favour and it can’t just be luck. I don’t think what we’re doing right now is sustainable but it doesn’t really matter. Even if two or three of those wins had been draws instead, we’d still be well ahead anyway. 20 wins from 21 games isn’t what I expect to see happening too often. 17 or 18 from 21 is certainly realistic though for this team. They aren’t going to rest on their laurels and they want to get better. The fact they are winning at White Hart Lane and they’re coming off the pitch looking pissed off is great. There’s a clip of Hendo saying to Klopp “not good enough, that was fucking shite”. I can’t tell you how much I love that. What a captain he’s turned out to be. I thought it was his worst game of the season, even though he wasn’t even bad. The standard he’s set is so high though that even a decent game feels like a disappointment, which probably explains how irked he was. As for the star man, Virgil was excellent and Alisson was outstanding in an understated way. He rarely has to do anything spectacular because his positioning is so good. Gini was top drawer too other than that one brainfart that could have cost us. The front three all did well with Bobby the pick of the bunch, so I’m giving it to him, not least because he was the matchwinner. Next up is the Mancs and I expect them to play in a similar manner. Solksjaer will try to nullify our full backs like they did at their place, but this is Anfield and we’re a different kettle of fish entirely than at Old Trafford. We owe them one, so let’s hope we can give them the hiding they deserve. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lallana); Salah (Shaqiri), Firmino, Mané (Origi):
    42 points
  24. It’s nice when a game goes pretty much as expected and how it should do. I said it when we played Arsenal, that was a game where we should be twatting them because they’re just perfectly set up for us to exploit. And exploit we did. This one was a little different in that it had nothing to do with their style of play being a good match up for us, it was just a case of us being miles better than them. They shouldn’t be able to live with us, and it turns out they couldn’t. The only way we were not going to win this game, and win it handsomely, would be if we went out there and basically threw up all down ourselves. Everton have nothing that we should be worried about. They’re a lower/mid table team, without their main goal threat, they’re in terrible form and their fans fucking hate them. Everything was pointing to a big away win for us and that’s what happened. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable though. This was fucking boss. It was an absolute beatdown and even though the game appeared to be in the balance for a time when it was 2-1, realistically it was never really in doubt given the huge gulf in class between the two sides. The home crowd were furious, obviously. They always are. The life of an Everton presents two options. Misery or anger. Sometimes the two cross over, but generally Blues fall into one category or the other. It must be the most miserable of existences. In terms of this game though I don’t know what they were wanting from their team. They were booed off, the atmosphere was toxic and Rafa will bear a lot of the brunt of it. Here’s the thing, and this isn’t a defence of Benitez in any way. I haven’t done that since some time around late 2008. This is simply a fact. Everton are not a good football team, irrespective of who the manager is. Liverpool on the other hand, are probably the best team in the world when firing on all cylinders, which we are pretty close to doing at the moment. United lost 5-0 at home to us. Arsenal and Southampton were swept aside 4-0. Watford, who beat Everton 4-1 the other week, conceded five to us a week prior to that. So I would ask Evertonians, what exactly did you expect here? You can’t live with us. We’re in a completely different league currently and if this game was played ten times, this probably wouldn’t even be the biggest beating you’d take. That’s not bravado, or gloating, or any of that. It’s just a fact. Look at how we started this game. We had two gilt edged chances in the first two minutes. The opening 20 minutes of this game we were imperious and much better sides than Everton wouldn’t have been able to cope with it. You could see that our lads had a score to settle after the two derby games last season and there was just no way Everton were going to be able to withstand that. The Blues can get angry with Rafa and their players all they like, but it’s stupid. It’s like putting Ronnie Corbett in the ring with Mike Tyson and then berating him when he gets battered. This was a mismatch, pure and simple. We went into this game with our best eleven players (you can argue the toss over Bobby and Jota if you like, but I don’t think that’s even really a debate now with how dangerous Jota is) and our best eleven players are scary as fuck. You hear all the time from opposing players and managers just how hard it is to play against us, so a team with Michael Keane as the defensive lynchpin and Saloman Rondon leading the line is always going to be in trouble. From the opening seconds our lads were right at it. We forced a corner immediately and Matip should have scored. Poor header that, but he is very much hit and miss in those situations. A minute later Mo should have scored when for some reason he went with his left foot rather his head from a Robbo cross. In fairness he was probably expecting Pickford to being doing something mad, such as flying through the air with his boot raised like Bruce Lee. The Blues were rattled right from the start of the game. It’s almost like they knew they’d angered the beast last season and now was the moment they were getting what was coming to them. Coleman and Pickford had a big bust up within seconds, which showed how on edge they were. Imagine how Evertonians must have been feeling. Two minutes, two absolutely glorious chances for us. They knew they were in for a long night. A blue in Adrianna’s school group chat posted that he’d switched it off after that second chance. Smart kid, he knew what was coming and wasn’t going to upset himself by watching it. Same with some of the fans who’d actually paid for tickets, although they waited longer than two minutes before bailing on their team. Many of them left when the second goal went in though, one of them clearly making a “wall pushers” gesture to the away end as he left. It was like the Alamo back there for the Blues and Pickford had to make a really smart save to get down low and turn away a close range Mo shot after another cross by Robbo, who was running riot down that left wing. The goal had to come eventually and it was no surprise it originated down that left side again. Hendo played a ball up to Sadio who did well to head it to himself before playing in Robbo. His cutback was definitely meant for Sadio but it ended up falling perfectly to the onrushing Hendo, 28 yards out on his left foot. Be honest, who fancied him to put that away? Not me. On his right foot, yeah I’d have said there was a decent chance he’d convert. I didn’t see that finish coming though. Stunning. Absolutely perfect strike, started it a foot outside the post and curled it back inside to give Pickford no chance. The goal provoked a bit of a response from Everton who tried to push forward a bit and strike back. Big mistake, as that just gave us more room to pick them apart. One of their ‘attacks’ broke down and before you knew it Hendo was sending Salah racing clear past the hapless Lucas “better than Robertson ye no lad” Digne. Everyone knew what Mo wanted to do, including Pickford, but he did it anyway. It doesn’t take much for me to blame Pickford for anything, but I don’t think he could have done much there. If he’d moved a step or two over to cover that corner, he’d have left a massive gap at his near post and Mo could have just rolled it in there. This goal was brilliance from Salah, it was not an error from Pickford. 2-0 though and it looked like it was going to be a landslide. A scoreline for the ages. Then the game kind of got a bit scrappy. They were throwing in a few tackles and Thiago was repeatedly being pulled up for phantom free kicks that slowed our momentum. It was mad how often their players resorted to diving though wasn’t it? I expected heavy challenges, but I wasn’t expecting diving like that from anyone other than that Richarlison cunt. Amazingly, he didn’t do it at all while his team-mates were throwing themselves all over the gaff. Paul Tierney deserves a lot of credit for how he handled it. He booked Townsend for a dive and then he did the same thing to Gray. It’s really difficult for refs as they only get one look at these incidents and it’s quite a big call to essentially just call a player a cheat when there’s always the possibility that there was contact that you didn’t see. He was dead right on both of those though. He would later miss perhaps the most blatant dive of them all when Gordon went flying through the air after zero contact from anybody. Tierney awarded a free-kick for that but I can’t criticise him for that as I’m not sure there’s a referee on the planet that would have booked a third home player for diving in the same game. He was always going to give one of them because apart from anything else, he must have thought “there’s no way they’re still diving after I’ve booked two of the cunts. It must have been a foul”. That free-kick indirectly led to our third goal but I’ll get to that shortly. In between our second and third goals it didn’t go too well. I think the problem was we didn’t score a quick third goal. At 2-0 and with chances being created at will, Everton were on the verge of being knocked out completely. The crowd were fearing the mother of all beatings, as were the players. But the third goal didn’t come straight away and slowly but surely Everton’s players gained a bit of hope. Not so much hope that they’d get anything from the game, but that maybe they’d weathered the worst of the storm. Allan was booked for a foul on Jota, who was furious and was demanding a red card. I didn’t think it was that bad. A yellow was fine, but Jota was needling them all night. He’s got that little bit of snark in him and I love that. Tempers were getting a bit frayed at that point though and I was fairly sure there would be a red card for someone. They had more players in the book than we did, but Thiago was a concern for me. He was booked for ‘persistent fouling’ but there was nothing in anything he was penalised for. One free-kick against him was laughable as he was just stood still, having his shirt pulled by Townsend, who then went down and was given the decision. That contributed to the yellow card so that pissed me off, mainly because it put Thiago at risk. We know he likes to stick his foot in at times when he probably shouldn’t and that was the only chance Everton had of getting anything from the game. As it got scrappy and we stopped playing our high intensity football, the game became more even. They had the ball as much as we did, and while they didn’t look particularly dangerous they were at least carrying some threat now and spent a bit of time in our half. And then they scored. It was a good goal too from their perspective. Not so good from ours. I thought Trent was too slow getting over to cover behind Matip and that left a big gape for Gray to run into. He got a bit lucky with the finish as it went through Alisson’s legs, but I thought he was the only Everton player that looked even remotely dangerous. He’s only been there five minutes but he looks too good for them. He should be looking to move on to a more competitive team, like West Ham or Villa. It was proper annoying that we found ourselves only 2-1 up though considering the huge gulf in class. I wouldn’t say I was worried, but I was frustrated and in the back of my mind there was a concern that they might nick another and if it got to 2-2 then who knows. The more likely scenario was we’d go in at half time and Klopp would tell them to raise the intensity and show them where the space was to attack, and make sure they got a grip of Gray who was the only one capable of hurting us. And that’s what happened. The game was kind of in the balance for a while though as it was only 2-1, even though it was clear that we were vastly superior to them. When they were awarded that free-kick for the Gordon dive, that could have been a pivotal moment for them. I thought Digne would have taken it but instead it was Townsend. He liked it too, but Virgil was in the wall and he jumped, meaning that’s a really difficult task getting the ball over him and back down onto the target. He couldn’t do it, Virgil got his head on it and it went behind for a corner from which we scored. I say this all the time but I genuinely think we must have scored more goals from opposition corners than they have. The funny thing is we actually bring everybody back to defend them, which might lull the opponent into a false sense of security. Usually we clear the first ball in but the second ball will often fall to one of their players outside the box. They then have the choice to knock it back in, or play safe and go backwards. In this case, Doucoure played it back to Coleman on halfway but it was an awkward ball to control and he had Salah bearing down on him. He should have just knocked it forward, but the risk there is when you do that it will probably be headed clear by us and then we’ll have four or five players screaming forward at 100mph on the break. So Coleman tried to control it, made a mess of it and was robbed by Mo. He still had a lot to do but he carried it forward, stayed ahead of Coleman and then rolled it wide of Pickford into the far corner. The finish reminded me of Owen against Arsenal in Cardiff. Didn’t need power, just directed it where it needed to go. And that was game over. The pyro came on the pitch from the away end as our lads celebrated in the red smoke. Everton weren’t coming back from that, it was now just a case of how hard we wanted to push for more goals. We didn’t push that hard, but I don’t think we settled for what we had either. The lads wanted to humiliate the Blues after the shit that went down last season. No-one wanted it more than Virg, although I didn’t like it when he pulled rank on a free-kick at 2-1 and took the ball off Trent. He’s maybe taken one free-kick for us in four years, but because he was desperate to put one past Pickford he let that get the better of him. If we were two or three goals up then I don’t care if he wants to take a shot from inside his own half. Go for it. At 2-1 now I didn’t like it, especially as Trent scored with the last free-kick he took. It’s a minor quibble though and I obviously understand where Virgil’s head was at there. I just didn’t think that was the time for that. Klopp brought Thiago off and sent Milner on. Smart move, and Milner was fucking boss I thought. So was Thiago, but that yellow card made it an obvious substitution to make. The fourth goal was probably my favourite of the night. The touch from Jota was sublime. The finish was great too, although Pickford left a big gap and did his best to make himself look small. So much of what Jota does reminds me of Fowler. I’m not putting him at Robbie’s level as he isn’t the kind of football genius that Fowler was. But loads of his goals have got that look of Fowler about them, this one included. Ox came on for Hendo and Taki got a late run out for Jota. Not gonna lie, I’m disappointed we didn’t send Divock on just to rub their noses in it even more. He’s Everton’s bogeyman and I wanted to see him out there, especially as he might have wrapped it up with yet another goal against them. The away end had a great time. Some of them will have been at Old Trafford too. They’ll remember those two games for the rest of their lives as there’s nothing quite like being able to take the piss out of your big rivals. Everton aren’t exactly rivals in a football sense anymore and haven’t been for some time. They’re rivals geographically now. That’s it. And now they’ve got Rafa as their manager which just makes it even funnier taking the piss. The “Rafa’s at the wheel” chant was funny as fuck. The La Bamba song got an airing too. Partly I’m sure out of affection for Rafa but mostly to rub Evertonian noses in it. Some of the videos from full time are hilarious. The booing, the abuse of Kenwright and Brands, and all the while you can hear the “Merry Christmas Everton” song belting out from the away end. Just glorious. I think the best video I saw was a red who was sat in with their fans, undercover, and at the end he was joining in with the booing and shouting “time to go lad”. At one point you could even hear him shout “where’s the Arteta money, Bill?” Just fucking sensational stuff. Well played that lad. So the score is somewhat settled after last season although I still feel an absolute honking at Anfield is required to fully make them pay. I expect that to happen too, but that’s a long way off and there’s a lot of football to be played before then. We’re in a great run of form now and look like we’re in the groove. Everyone is playing well and picking a star man wasn’t that easy. I mean, I knew who I was giving it to but there were others in the conversation too. Mo was brilliant and scored twice, Jota was lively through out, Robbo is back to his best again. Trent was class, Matip was imperious, Fabinho was Fabinho. But Henderson was the best player on the pitch. What a fucking performance from him. Next up it’s Wolves. I’ll start to think about that probably about 10 minutes before kick off. Until then I’ll just bask in the glow of this one. What a team these lads are. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Thiago (Milner); Salah, Jota (Minamino), Mané:
    41 points
  25. Saturday May 22: Wow, as far as tributes go this one is pretty spectacular by Klopp. “Gini Wijnaldum. An LFC legend now and forever. What this person – this wonderful, joyful, selfless person – has done for our team and club I cannot sum up in words in truth because my English is not good enough. “He is an architect of our success. We have built this Liverpool on his legs, lungs, brain and his huge, beautiful heart. “If – and it is still is if – he goes, he does so knowing we as his teammates are eternally grateful for having this special human being come into our lives. I love him and he will always be family.” I’m intrigued by the ‘and it is still if’ part though. Why add that if it is definite that he’s leaving? I feel a bit like Lloyd Christmas here, but is he telling us there’s still a chance? Meanwhile, “Hamez” has taken the last couple of Everton games off due to ‘fatigue’ and posted this picture on his instagram, causing something of a fume with our neighbours. The irony in this is off the fucking scale. They signed him due to his social media clout, they bragged about him having more instagram followers than LFC, they embraced all these new fans from Colombia, and now they’re crying about the ‘content’ he’s putting out. It’s that content that got him all those followers, so you live by the smartphone you die by the smartphone. Losers. Sunday May 23: L 2 Palace 0. Third. Haha fucking hell. The rest of the league should be looking at that and wondering just how the fuck that happened, because we were dead and buried a couple of months ago. What a dog turd of a season though. Man City won the league without being anything special, but all of us who were meant to be challenging them fell massively short. People actually think United are City’s closest challengers when really they’re a million miles off. If they’d had to deal with what we did they’d have been relegated. Chelsea had to deal with Frank Lampard, Spurs and Arsenal are just a hot mess and even Leicester, one of the non-big six teams that should have taken advantage, well they choked like dogs in the run in for the second year running. What does any of this mean for next season? Honestly, I don’t think any of it means shit because this year was a complete outlier and none of what happened is relevant because these circumstances will never be repeated. Next season everyone starts with a clean slate and as of right now I’m not worried about City being ‘uncatchable’. That may change depending on who they buy though, because they are a couple of top quality players away from being out of reach I think, especially as we aren’t going to be competing for those players. I’m talking Kane, Sancho, Mbappe, Haaland, Grealish etc Now more than ever we need Edwards and Klopp to be the smartest people in the room Monday May 24: The kids lose the Youth Cup final to Villa. No complaints, they got fucking battered in the first half and were lucky to only be 2-0 down. The second half was better and they had opportunities to take the game to extra time but couldn’t take them. The only one who impressed even a little bit was James Norris. I thought all the others were below par and the ones who you would have been looking to step up were the most disappointing. Koumetio, Balagizi and Musialowski did nothing. That being said, it fucking stinks that this was a one off final played at Villa Park. That shit just isn’t right. Either have it two legs (as it always used to be) or play at a neutral ground. We had this a couple of years ago too when we had to play away at City. It’s shit, but it’s like virtually every other change made to the game in recent years. None of it makes anything better. Meanwhile, it looks like Konate is close to a done deal and some reports say we’re paying more than his buy out clause just so we can pay in instalments rather than the whole lot up front. Makes sense as £40m is a big slice of the budget considering we need to strengthen in midfield and up top as well. Is the money going to be there for what we need? And if it’s not, then I want to know which cunt wouldn’t sanction the contract for Gini? There won’t be a permanent deal for Kabak though. I knew there wouldn’t be as it’s been pretty obvious for a while that he was not high on the list of targets. I think he may well have been good enough for us if the circumstances were different, but it’s not the right time for him. He did a top job though and can leave with his head held high. He’s played a lot of games in Germany but he’s still a kid and coming into the situation he found here was really not easy. He wasn’t perfect but he did what we needed him to. Maybe in a couple of years we’ll revisit it and if we do I’d be happy to see him back here as he seemed like a good lad as well as a promising player. Obviously they prefer Konate but I don’t know what that actually means for our spending. We could have had Kabak for £18m and freed up funds for other positions, but instead we’re paying £35m or whatever it is on Konate. Does that mean we’ve got more money to spend than people think, or did we just prioritise centre back over other positions? Tuesday May 25: Happy ‘sorry but I’m really not arsed about Istanbul Day’. Seen all the clips on social media, just skimmed over them all. Fair play anyone who still likes the trip down memory lane but I’m all Istanbul’d out now, especially with Chelsea and City preparing for a final this weekend. It didn’t annoy me though as it has in the past. It would have if we’d finished 5th, but because the season ended up being ok it didn’t seem too desperate. Nothing worse than when you’re shit and you have Istanbul thrown in your face. Meanwhile, Southgate bottles naming his squad and includes half a dozen or so extra players who will be cut next week. Just prolonging the suffering for some of those lads who know they aren’t getting in. Like Trent, if reports are to be believed. I just can't see Southgate being brave enough to make that call. Can’t remember if I mentioned this last week or not and can’t be arsed checking back to see if I did, so I’ll just say it again. Last week I had Talksport on in the car a few times and the talk was usually about the England squad. I heard four different pundits picking their squad and not one of them had Trent in it. Not even Martin Keown, who may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he’s not thick. But even he has bought into this weird bullshit about Trent somehow not being in England’s top three right backs. Never mind right backs, he’s one of their top three players!! They don’t deserve him. I really wish he was Scottish. Staying with full backs, although this one doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Trent, I thought these quotes from Alberto Moreno were quite interesting today. “To this day I don’t understand why I got so, so much criticism, when the whole team didn’t play well. The finger was pointed at one player and …” Moreno shrugs. “I don’t think that’s OK. People blame you. Only you. It was like I lost the final. It’s hard. You can’t get it out of your head. You look at the paper, at social media – I don’t usually pay much attention to social media because it’s all so false – and read things. ‘Alberto, Alberto, Alberto, Alberto.’ I’ll go to my grave not understanding why I got all the blame.' This may surprise you a little, but I mostly agree with him. The whole team was shite that night and Klopp didn’t cover himself in glory either with his inaction when the game was getting away from us. We didn’t lose because of Moreno, but what he seems to be unable to grasp is that until his brain farts we were well in control of that game. He turned the tide against us and then nobody was able to swim against it. So while what he says is mostly true, I’d think a lot more of him if he owned his own shit, because he’s a likeable lad other than that. Wednesday May 26: I don’t know exactly what has happened at the Hillsborough trial as quite frankly reading about it just makes me angry and depressed so I try not to follow it too closely. Basically though it has been stopped before it went to a jury, which means that 96 people were ruled to be unlawfully killed and fuck all has been done about it. None of those responsible were dealt with by the law because the system - and the whole country for that matter - is fucked and stacked in favour of rich cunts and freemasons. Is anyone remotely surprised by this though? I could not have any more respect, admiration and sympathy for those who have fought so hard for justice and I feel just so fucking sad and angry for them. But I’m not the least bit surprised. Nobody was ever going to be held to account because the establishment looks after its own. Always has, always will, and nothing will change because the good people of this country keep voting for the cunts no matter what they do. It's like all these calls for an inquest into the government’s handling of Covid and all the unnecessary deaths. Even if there was an enquiry where it was proven that Johnson and his cronies took bets on how many people they could kill by their actions, they’d still win the next election because there is literally nothing they could do that would stop the people of England voting them in. That’s the world - or the country - we live in. A jury of regular people may well have done something, but a judge? Get the fuck outta here. Remember the other cunt judge they put in charge of the inquest back in the day and the first thing he said was a quip about “Liverpool fans being late again”. I absolutely despise this country and wish I’d been born somewhere else. I’m not sure where like, as most of the world is just as fucked up as here. New Zealand seems sound though. Thursday May 27: Woke up this morning to the news that United lost the Europa Final on pens last night. Nice. Even better, Moreno scored one of the pens and then absolutely obliterated United on instagram afterwards. Funny as fuck, I saw it this morning and watched it about half a dozen times and it got funnier each time. “Manchester United… GET OUT” hahahaha he was always a really funny lad to be fair. Meanwhile, Mbappe took to social media to show off his new tattoo…. Friday May 28: Konate is done. I have no idea what to expect. Maybe he’ll kick on and become one of the best in the world or maybe he’ll be another sicknote like Matip and Gomez. We needed to sign another defender though and if this is who they wanted above all others (which apparently he is) then I guess I’m happy enough with that. The suggestion from James Pearce is that we won’t be replacing Gini though. I mean, I suppose you could argue that Thiago was signed to replace Gini and that’s fair enough, but whatever way you try to dress it up we’re still a midfielder light now because we can’t count on Keita to give us anything. Then there’s the increasing number of injuries Hendo is picking up, Milner is another year older and Ox isn’t exactly reliable either. So that leaves Thiago, Fabinho and Curtis. We need another, it’s blatantly obvious. I’d go and get Ward-Prowse as he looks like a perfect fit for us and is ready to make a step up. Of course I’d prefer Grealish but the talk is that City are in for him. I’d be sick if that happened. I’d love him here but we don’t have the money to make Villa sell. He’s worth far more to them than he is to anyone else, but this talk of City looking at Kane and/or Grealish for huge money is a little disturbing. As much as they’ve taken the piss out of FFP with their spending, the one thing they haven’t done is gone massive on fees in the way that United have. If City start pulling that shit by signing £100m players then everyone else may as well forget about it. I won’t be watching that Champions League final tomorrow and I just hope Chelsea can stop those cunts from getting their hands on our trophy. I’ve got no love for Chelsea but I fucking despise City so there’s no dilemma here. Saturday May 29: Would usually post the diary today but thought I’d hold off a day so I can cover the CL Final. I didn't watch but I tuned in without a couple of minutes left and watched stoppage time and then some of the celebrations. Chelsea winning was the lesser of two evils by far, but I did think I’d be more sickened by it than I actually was. Weirdly, it didn’t bother me at all seeing them win and celebrate. I didn’t begrudge them it. There isn’t one Chelsea player I’ve got any kind of dislike for and although Tuchel seems like a fucking weirdo I can’t say he bothers me too much. Can’t stand their fans of course, but fair play to Tuchel and his players for ruining Noel Gallagher’s birthday. Tuchel has Guardiola’s number doesn’t he? This wasn’t even that difficult for Chelsea, they just completely nullified City once again and only gave up one shot on target. Guardiola shit the bed and tried to be too clever again and that’s a huge flaw of his his. In the biggest games he out-thinks himself every time. Not only did he not start with a striker, he decided he’d also leave out a holding midfielder too. Rodri starts virtually every game but he was benched for this. It’s amazing how often Guardiola shoots himself in the foot when the pressure is on. He’s spent the last ten years or so with every possible advantage he could have and he still can’t win a European Cup without Messi. Bald fraud. Chelsea have been a consistent force in this competition and they’ve earned the right to win it. They’ve got scars, they’ve been to finals, lost in semis generally just been a big player for the best part of 20 years. City have no more right to winning it than Spurs would have had when they faced us. They haven’t earned it, they don’t have the scars. Now they’ve been in a final and lost that gives them more right in future, but the other thing to consider here is that the cunts shouldn’t have even been in it as they were thrown out for cheating. So all in all the last week has been pretty good. We secured a top three finish, we’ve made a new signing, United lost the Europa League and were trolled by Alberto Moreno and now City and the Gallagher’s are left crying their hearts out. Considering where this season looked to be headed that’s a pretty reasonable outcome all in all. …. and that was the week that was.
    41 points
  26. “We expected to win” said Adam Lallana afterwards. So did I. Seriously, I did. Even after I saw the team we picked I was confident we’d win. Why? Because it’s Anfield, it’s Everton and because every player who in this squad is a mentality monster, even the kids. Any time they’ve been selected we’ve seen the confidence in the younger players, so it shouldn’t really be surprising. It’s unusual and it’s rare that you see kids performing so well in limited appearances, but there is a simple explanation for it. Part of it is that Klopp can make players feel ten feet tall, but it’s not just that. It’s about how these kids are integrated into the group and how they are made to feel. Let’s say you’re Harvey Elliott for example. You’ve probably spent a lot of time up against Andy Robbo in training. Why would you then be even the slightest bit fazed about facing any other left back? It goes right throughout the squad. Curtis Jones trains every day alongside and against people like Fabinho, Henderson, Milner, Wijnaldum. As if he’s going to be even the tiniest bit intimidated coming up against Schneiderlin or Sigurdsson. I think Yasser Larouci is the only one not with the seniors on a full time basis, so Neco Williams and Nat Phillips for example, are used to coming up against Salah, Firmino and Mané every day. Seriously, it must almost be a relief to face Richarlison, Walcott and Calvert-Lewin. And I’m not saying this to be derogatory about the Blues’ players. They’re seasoned Premier League footballers, but most of our young lads train with the best team in the world day in day out so why would they be nervous about facing inferior players to those they pit themselves against every day? That no doubt sounds arrogant but it’s true. Those young players train with and against some of the world’s best players every single day, and even when they aren’t involved in the match day squad they are still there in the dressing room, or travelling to away games. Watch those ‘Inside Training’ videos on LFC TV and you’ll see that there isn’t an “us” and “them” situation. The senior lads are always joking around and mixing with the kids, and the result of all this is that the lads see themselves as Liverpool players and not just reserves. In the past it was often intimidating for a young player to be plucked out of the reserves and thrown into the first team. Now they’re so close to it every week they’re just desperate to be involved. They aren’t scared, they’re just hungry as fuck and they’re completely comfortable in their surroundings. Curtis actually said afterwards that he’s been “frustrated” sat on the bench. He’s 18 years old and the team are European Champions, miles clear at the top of the table and quite literally wins every single game. Yet he’s frustrated that he is only a substitute! Why is that? Partly because he’s the most confident kid in the world, but also because Klopp has these lads so close to the action they can almost taste it. If they were training with the 23s at the Academy and not really around the seniors much, they wouldn’t even be thinking about playing for the first team. When you’re with them every day though, travelling to every game as part of the squad and (in the case of Jones and Williams especially) sometimes even making the bench, you’re desperate to play. And when you do play you want to show Klopp that you should play more often. By all accounts every training session is like a game anyway, such is the intensity. So if they can handle that they can handle anything, as we’ve seen against MK Dons, Arsenal and now Everton. That winning mentality just runs right through the club now. It’s trickled down from the first team to the rest of the squad, and even the Academy sides have massive jones by scoring shitloads of late goals. It’s most evident with the kids who are constantly around the senior lads though. Not only did we win the game, we thoroughly deserved to win it. The start was a bit mad and Everton had three chances in the first 25 minutes. After that though, once everyone calmed down and just played the way they were supposed to, we completely bossed it. The second half was embarrassing for Everton as they were taken to school by a team full of kids. The Blues looked fucking terrified. You could see the fear in their performance. Ancelotti must be wondering just what the fuck happened because playing Liverpool doesn’t scare him. He’s already beaten us once this season and also nicked a draw. I think they smashed us in pre-season too. You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. The spectre of Anfield must haunt Evertonian dreams because the mental block they have when they come here is just so obvious. In the 20 years since they last won here, their biggest disappointments have probably been when there was expectation on them to do something. The one that always stands out to me was when Gerrard was sent off early doors and suddenly the onus was on them to win the game, and they completely shat themselves. This was a similar situation I suppose. When the teams were announced, the Blues were made odds on favourites. They must have thought this was the day they finally put that hoodoo to bed. And then an 18 year Kopite in his first home game sunk them with a goal of a lifetime. They must feel like they’re cursed. Maybe they are, but the more obvious explanation is that they’re just shit and mentality midgets. A few weeks ago Everton were at such a low ebb that I didn’t even have it in me to take the piss any more. I said in the last Derby report that ripping on them in the state they’d found themselves in was almost like mocking a disabled person. I couldn’t do it, it was too arlarse. That changed when they appointed Ancelotti though. They were fair game again as that gave them some credibility and something to feel good about, so I have no qualms mocking them now. What a bunch of fucking losers. They’ve had some brutal Derby defeats over the years and lost in pretty much every conceivable manner. I didn’t think last year could be topped but this might be the worst of the lot from their point of view. The cockiness from some of their fans when they saw the team we’d picked just makes me think they must not have been paying attention. I’m sure you’ll have seen the best comments posted all over social media. My personal favourite was the one declaring that they would win 8-0 just to punish us for the disrespect we showed them with the team selection. How can any Blue be that full of hubris after 20 years without an Anfield win? It’s mental. They deserve everything that comes their way. Some were pissed off we rested players because it put them in a “no win” situation. Don’t worry about who we pick, just win the game and worry about that shit afterwards. The smart ones took the view that they didn’t care if we played the under 9s, they’d still celebrate like mad because it’s us and it’s Anfield. That’s how they should have looked at it as beggars can’t be choosers. Maybe next time we will play the under 9s? I’d still back us to at least take it to a replay. The team selection was controversial I suppose, given the opposition. Even if we’d lost this game though I wouldn’t have said anything critical of Klopp’s team selection. It was the obvious thing to do. Had we been playing anybody else I wouldn’t have even contemplated going with a stronger side, it was only that 20 year unbeaten home derby record that muddied the waters. I didn’t want to lose that record and because of that I can understand why a lot of fans wanted a stronger team. Klopp isn’t influenced by anything like that though. He doesn’t let emotion or sentiment come into it and thank fuck that’s the case or who knows who else we might have lost to injury. A lot of people don’t seem to understand how this works. The six day break before our next game doesn’t even come into it. It’s not about the next game, it’s about the last game. And the ones before it. As soon as Klopp mentioned Newcastle losing four players to injury on New Year’s Day I knew he was leaving everyone out. If he’d fielded most of the first choice players you can almost guarantee some of them would have gotten injured. In my mind there’s no doubt about it. We saw it with Milner, while a year ago the exact same thing happened with Lovren when he was selected to play with the kids and stiffs against Wolves. No doubt Klopp wishes now that he hadn’t started Milner, who lasted just six minutes before pulling a hamstring. This is what happens though. It’s why Klopp didn’t want to select any of his senior players. Selecting Gomez was a big risk but thankfully that paid off as he came through unscathed (and was sensational again). Milner had played the full game against Sheffield United earlier in the week (and covered more ground that anyone on the pitch) so he must have been in “the red zone”. If Captain Fitness himself can pull a muscle then anyone can. Hopefully the next time Klopp leaves everybody out then people will have more understanding about why it is necessary, but I won’t hold my breath. If this result had gone wrong Klopp would have faced the usual barrage of accusations of ‘disrespecting the cup’, only this time there would have been a section of our fanbase also pissed off because he’d essentially forfeited a derby. The result didn’t go wrong though, it went right. Gloriously, famously right. The memory of this will last a long time and will no doubt be immortalised in song. The most amusing thing to me is that Shankly’s quote about the two best teams on Merseyside being Liverpool and Liverpool Reserves was proved to be true. Except this wasn’t even our reserves. In some cases, it was the reserves to the reserves. Several of these players wouldn’t get into a Liverpool second XI and one or two might not even make a third eleven either. Yet they beat Everton’s first team. Our entire starting line up cost less than Richarlison. Hell, it cost less than fucking Sigurdsson. The way the game started suggested we’d have our hands full though. Everton knew this was a great chance for them to finally win at Anfield and they began the game confidently. They were direct and looked to hit Calvert-Lewin early but there was clearly a plan to get runners in behind us too, and initially it worked. We struggled to deal with that early on and Phillips in particular looked edgy and uncomfortable. He said himself afterwards that the pace of the game caught him by surprise as he’s been playing in the more pedestrian German second division. It took him a little while to settle and the defence wasn’t helped by the early injury to Milner. Everton took advantage of that and had three clear chances, all of which they hit straight at Adrian. A lot of the problems we were having came down the flank vacated by Milner. It was tough for Larouci as our full backs are expected to play a certain way, but if we don’t have control of the game then they leave big gaps when they push up so high. He’s a converted winger so his natural instinct is to attack rather than defend. Larouci was doing what he’s been trained to do but it meant that whenever we lost the ball Walcott was able to get in. Surprisingly, ol’ Theo actually played like something resembling a top flight footballer in the first half, before he reverted to type after the break. Most pointless cunt in football him. Seriously, what’s the point of him, the absolute fucking loser. I can’t even stand to look at him, the overly groomed fucking mannequin. Fuck you, Theo Walcott. But enough of him, someone as pointless as that doesn’t deserve the words I’ve already wasted on him. For all the talk about the chances they had, Everton’s last effort on target was in the 26th minute apparently. After that? Nothing at all, they were completely shut down and Adrian had nothing to do after he made that third save to deny Richarlison. What a bunch of fucking losers. Their crowd and players. They had the entire Anny Road and they’d been running their mouths all week about what they were going to do. Something about bringing 8,000 whistles to drown out YNWA and how they were going to show us what a real atmosphere was. YNWA was loud and clear, they drowned out nothing. They did turn their backs on the Kop though, which is just too funny, especially when you see the wheelchair handlers even turning the wheelchair fans around so they can’t see the Kop. Amazing scenes. I mean what do they think they’re achieving by that when they can still hear it? They were enthusiastic in the opening stages when their team were creating chances, but in that second half there wasn’t a peep out of them. They were as fucking timid and scared as their players. It’s difficult finding the balance between praising our lads and highlighting just how cowardly and inept Everton were. I expected us to win the game but I thought they’d give us a real test and we might just scrape through on desire and the crowd getting us home, like in the Arsenal game. It wasn’t like that at all though. It was almost like watching our first team in that second half, so dominant was the performance. The other night we broke the record for most passes in a game. Chirivella on his own must have been close to breaking that in this game. Everton didn’t lay a glove on us and - led by Lallana and Chirivella - we just passed them off the park. Everton’s midfielders allowed those two to look like prime Xavi and Iniesta. We didn’t create a ton of chances but once we overcame that opening 25 minutes we always looked the more likely. Minimino should have scored at the Kop end but didn’t get enough on his header. Jones had an effort just wide and Origi brought a top class have out of Pickford. He was offside and it wouldn’t have counted, but it was great footwork from Big Div and a sensational stop by Pickford, who will have enjoyed that after being taunted about his little arms all afternoon. He won’t have enjoyed that spectacular winner from Jones though. It’s easy to put that down to Pickford’s little arms but when you watch the replay he did well to get as close to it as he did. The ball is well over the height of the crossbar but it dips and bends and goes in off the bar, and Pickford is still only a whisker away from reaching it. It was a ridiculous strike. Our goal of the season so far and that’s saying something when we score worldies every other week. The technique to pull that off is off the fucking charts. Curtis is a special talent. Did anyone think he was going to shoot when he initially collected the pass from Origi? Not me, and I’ve been watching Jones in the junior sides for years. I’ve seen him score goals like that but I didn’t think he was going to shoot this time because his body was facing away from goal. I thought he’d just try and play a little trademark one - two, but the next thing you know the ball is flying towards the top corner. It was an incredible strike worthy of winning any game. Imagine being Curtis Jones today. You wake up and think “oh yeah, that actually fucking happened!”. An 18 year old Red doing that on his first Anfield start. It must be an incredible feeling. You could see how made up all the other lads were for him, especially Sadio who was warming up on the touchline and went fucking mad. He doesn’t even get that excited when he scores himself, but the spirit in this squad is incredible. Jones was given the man of the match award (just as he was at MK Dons) and no-one will begrudge him that as he was outstanding. The best player on the pitch though was Lallana. He might not be the fashionable or sexy pick as we all want to see the kids given recognition, but Lallana was just so good in this game and it speaks volumes about the type of character he is. So often in the past we’ve played weakened sides like this and been absolute shit. The kids would be overawed or they just wouldn’t get the help needed from senior pros who didn’t want to be there. Think Wolves last season, when the senior lads like Sturridge and Moreno were terrible. What we saw from Lallana (as well as Gomez and Origi) is exactly what you need. If you have one senior player in each of the lines and they perform as these boys did, then it’s so much easier for the kids and you can get away with it. After going ahead we saw it out with no problems whatsoever. It was embarrassingly easy. The composure and maturity from every player in Red must have had Klopp purring. Imagine being a manager and seeing such a heavily rotated team perform like that. I doubt if he’s ever been prouder. It’s really hard singling anyone out when the entire team put in a performance like that. There were star performers all over the park so I’m going to go through them one by one: Adrian didn’t do anything spectacular but he was in the right place to make three huge saves in the first half. His distribution was spot on and he was a calming presence. He more than played his part and he fucking loves beating Everton. Neco Williams was faultless. This kid is so impressive. He’s come on massively this season and has leapfrogged Ki-Jana Hoever in the pecking order. Hoever is a genuinely special talent, so what does that say about Neco? Honestly, this kid is fucking brilliant. If Trent needs resting, just put this lad in now as there’s no need to be concerned about whether he’s ready. He clearly is. He hasn’t put a foot wrong defensively in games against Arsenal and Everton and he’s contributed a lot going forward. Joe Gomez was once again sensational. He’s genuinely world class already and he’s only 22. The one concern I might have had with him is whether he can look as accomplished when he’s not partnered by Virgil. Well the big man wasn’t there this time and Gomez took the leadership role himself and helped Nat Phillips through some difficult early moments. If Van Dijk is a Rolls Royce, then Gomez is a Ferrari. Nat Phillips. He’s not a kid (he’s the same age as Gomez) but he is very inexperienced. He’s only been back here a couple of weeks after an indifferent loan spell in Germany and this was a baptism of fire, coming into an under-strength side to play in a Merseyside Derby. He looked a little edgy early on but as the game wore on he grew in stature and confidence. In the second half he really looked the part. Yasser Larouci. What a performance from this kid. Unlike the others, he didn’t have time to prepare himself as he probably didn’t even expect to get on at all. Then after six minutes Milner pulls up and suddenly he’s thrown in at the deep end. It was tough at first because the game was a bit wild and we didn’t have the control we’d have liked. Everton attacked down his side a lot and Walcott had a couple of dangerous moments. Yasser played himself into the game though and he bossed that flank in the second half. Pedro Chirivella. I love this lad. It’s a crime that decent clubs haven’t been lining up to take him. He’s nowhere near the level that is required to compete for a place in our midfield but he’s a proper footballer and other than one poor outing against Swansea a few years back he’s been class whenever he’s had a chance with us. Along with Lallana, he controlled this game with his passing and composure on the ball. He did a lot of good defensive work too, even though that’s probably his biggest weakness. Take a bow, Pedro. Adam Lallana. The best player on the pitch. Oozed class, composure, intelligence, energy and skill. He ran the game and without him I don’t think we’d have been able to play like this. Having someone with his experience and knowledge of how we play to guide those around him is invaluable. If we’d had him and one or two others available at Villa Park we’d have won that game too. Curtis Jones. The most confident lad in the world. He’s just about smart enough to not admit this publicly, but I bet you he thinks he should be starting every week. As long as it is harnessed in the right way that kind of confidence is what you need if you’re looking to break into this team. He’s good enough to play every week if what you can do with the ball is all that counts. Unfortunately for him, what our midfielders do without the ball is arguably more important. When Curtis cracks that side of things he’ll play all the time because he’s brilliant. Harvey Elliott. See above. This kid is phenomenal. He’s 16 years old and he looks like he belongs in our first team. He was up against one of the best left backs in the league and he wasn’t fazed at all. Digne eventually ended up frustrated and resorted to fouling him. The most impressive thing about Elliott’s performance for me was that he never tried to force anything or show off. He played sensibly, unselfishly and I can’t wait to see him play again. He’s been brilliant so far but he’s only really played with the other kids and fringe players. I’d love to see him with two of the regular front three. Divock Origi. Another senior pro who did a great job helping the kids. It was a game of few chances for him but his link play, ability to keep the ball and his work rate were spot on. Didn’t score but can claim an assist on the Jones goal. Takumi Minamino. Difficult game for him to come into and he was quiet I thought. Lots of good movement and some nice flashes of play, but you could tell he’d only just arrived. Interesting that he played Bobby’s role. That’s the position I felt he’d mainly been bought for. He’ll play in other roles too, but we don’t have anyone who can do what Bobby does and that’s why I think we signed Minamino. So yeah, they were all boss but Lallana was the pick of the bunch. I also want to mention Ox, who was a surprising inclusion on the bench. Made up to see him back so quickly, but wasn’t it funny watching him when he came on? He looked like he’d been shot out of a fucking cannon. He was flying around the pitch doing everything at 200mph. Great to see. We’ll find out tonight who we get next and that might have an impact on who plays and who doesn’t, but personally I want to see the same core of players used in all of the cup games. They were robbed of the chance to progress in the league cup, so let them have a crack at this one. To be completely truthful, I don’t even think about winning the domestic cups anymore. If we did, great, but it’s not something I spend any time contemplating. When we win a cup tie I’m not thinking “one step nearer Wembley” I’m thinking “great, another chance to see the kids get a run out”. So I don’t care who we get next, but I would like another home draw. Team: Adrian; Williams, Phillips, Gomez, Milner (Larouci); Chirivella, Lallana, Jones; Elliott (Brewster), Minamino (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Origi:
    41 points
  27. It was Anfield at its ferocious and unyielding best. An occasion where the decibel level is a literal shock to the system. You’d forgotten it can get this loud and your fight/flight response has something to say about it. It can literally take your breath away; at least it does mine. All you can do is join in with the fullness of your throat to force out the air, before desperately slurping it back in for the next stanza. I guess it’s what gives Anfield and especially The Kop the sense it’s a single living entity that can impose its will. That’s what happened on Sunday, anyway. It was a day when Anfield, in lock step with the players and manager said “no”. Enough. You shall not pass. There was talk in the Sunday papers – from the usual source of poetic platitudes and minimal substance – of this game being “a Viking funeral for high-Kloppism.” A fire was certainly lit, but the only mourners at the pyre were an unhinged bald fella in the opposition dug out and within the gruesome away end, for whom success has only brought out the worst. Seriously, what happened to them? They used to be alright. It was an afternoon where every touch of the football felt like it could be the difference between winning and losing. Every slight positional decision crucial, every whim of the officials potentially devastating. We felt it in the crowd. The players responded to it, and the manager quite correctly got a red card because of it. On the face of things, there was less on the line in this fixture than in years past. The league seemed gone. They’d started the season as dominant as ever. We looked tired – aged even – while they looked refreshed for a new cycle. It felt like Guardiola had finally seen us off as a rival after years of his brilliant team – regardless of the legitimacy of its assembly – driving us beyond conventional limits. That’s why Sunday felt just as important. Perhaps a defeat, and a potentially heavy one, would have been that Viking funeral, underscoring our early season fears and anxieties? This was a big moment and Anfield knew it. This sharpened the players too. Suddenly we were anticipating, playing with instinct, without hesitation. We looked younger and invigorated. Van Dijk and Gomez looked every bit the impenetrable, unflappable partnership they were for much of the title winning season. The hundred-sprints-a-game scrappy Andy Robertson, for whom a few weeks' rest must have felt like months, was back. James Milner, a man forged rather than born. Once again, when the big occasion rolled around, he told Father Time to sling his hook. Harvey Elliot with the most mature performance you’ll ever see from a kid of his experience. I haven’t been this fond of a young player since Michael Owen and I’m desperate for him to be everything he can be. Darwin’s chaotic cameo, which I loved. Hendo like a man possessed, having finally been let out of the traps. Mo, looking closer to that best in the world icon we were so terrified to lose. He was the literal central figure today. There was a moment in that second half, after the incredible Ederson save, when the goalkeeper required some treatment. Salah stood in the D hands on hips as the crowd belted out his name. Ten minutes later the net bulged. As he turned and walked back; there was another moment. Just a brief acknowledgement that us sticking with him and the team mattered. Often, when George plays You’ll Never Walk Alone at the final whistle, it’s in pure celebration. Sure, this was a celebration, but it was also in true defiance. We’re still here. Still standing, still punching. Players, manager, and crowd. We won’t go quietly. We don’t plan on going at all. Anfield is quite simply the best place in the world on days like this. Bear hugs and handshakes on the way out, hoarse voices pushing out a few more choruses in the stairwells, thousands of beaming faces all moving in different directions, eager to spot and share the moment with their mates. It’s an unbelievable privilege to be part of it and one that’ll never, ever be lost on me. Chris Smith @byChrisSmith
    40 points
  28. First let me say that this result means nothing when it comes to the season ahead. Not a thing. It’s completely irrelevant. The last two winners of the Community Shield were Leicester and Arsenal, who both went on to finish eighth. Leicester just weren’t very good and Arsenal spent six months smelling themselves after beating us on pens. The point is, winning this is not any kind of barometer for what lies ahead. That said, it feels great doesn’t it? Beating them is always good, whether there’s points at stake or not. Maybe it laid down a marker but I don’t necessarily think so. City know how good we are and this won’t have told them anything new. Except maybe that the King is dead and long live the King. Sadio was great against City so they’ll have been glad to see the back of him. Nunez showed them that life isn’t going to get any easier. Again though, this doesn’t mean that Nunez is going to be a roaring success or Haaland will be a flop. It’s just first blood to us, that’s all. It feels great though, and while the trophy itself isn’t particularly important, it’s something that Klopp and the lads hadn’t won so it kind of does feel important just for them to complete the set. More than anything though it’s just good seeing a performance like that. It wasn’t flawless and we had lulls during the game, but that happens every time we play them. You can’t boss City for 90 minutes as they’re too good. In total we probably bossed two thirds of this game and the other third was relatively even. It never felt like City were on top at any point. We started the game brilliantly and ended it the same way. That bodes well for the start of the season as it shows we’re pretty sharp despite the shortened pre-season. The starting eleven looked really good and then the subs gave us that extra push in the closing stages. It couldn’t have gone any better could it? The start of the game reminded me a little of the semi final a few months back. This wasn’t as spectacular but we’re still in pre-season so we’re never going to be at the intensity we were playing at in April. The way the game went though was similar. We started fast and were well on top. We dominated the ball and were moving it around well. In the first few minutes Mo hit one into the side netting after dancing his way into the box. I really thought that had gone in at first. Would have been a sensational goal. Robbo missed a good chance too when he arrived at the back stick to meet a Trent cross but headed horribly wide. Bad decision, he should have headed back across goal, either to try and score himself or to square it to a team-mate. Robbo might be the worst finisher I’ve ever seen, which is mad because he’s such a great player. He does the difficult stuff really well but when it comes to goalscoring he couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo. We had other openings too. Hendo was within a whisker of picking out an unmarked Diaz in the centre but Ederson just got a hand on it to take it away. Diaz was really lively all day and picked up where he left off last season. Mo, on the other hand, did not pick up where he left off. Thankfully. This was the Mo Salah who was the best player on the planet for the first half of last season. He looked fresh, rested and free from the baggage he was carrying around at the back end of last season. In between those two we had Bobby, who got the nod to start ahead of Nunez. No surprise, it made sense to ease Darwin into it from the bench and Klopp loves Bobby in games against City. I don’t really know what to say about his performance. He wasn’t bad but he didn’t really do much to catch the eye. That’s kind of his role though isn’t it? He’s rarely one who really stands out as most of what he does doesn’t catch the eye because a lot of it is off the ball and general dirty work. Klopp judged it perfectly really because as soon as the game got stretched in the second half he introduced Darwin to run in behind them. Bobby doesn’t do that and the difference was huge. That space in behind wasn’t really there in the first half though so Nunez may well not have had anything like the same impact if he’d started. It’s definitely easier coming on for the last half hour than it is doing the hour long shift before the space opens up. Bobby might start next week against Fulham too. In fact I fully expect that to be the case. Go with the tried and trusted for now until Nunez is fully integrated. It’s only a matter of time before Nunez is leading the line though. Anyway, our dominance eventually paid off when Trent fired in the opening goal with the help of a slight deflection off Ake. It was a really good build up and although the finish was a little fortunate it was no more than we deserved as we’d been all over them from the start. City had missed a couple of good chances though. One of them was miles offside but Adrian had to make a save from a powerful Mahrez blast. That was scandalous really. I know they are told not to flag anymore but that was so far offside he was in a different post code. In theory, Adrian could have broken his wrist making a save he should never have had to make. That wasn’t a legitimate chance but Haaland had two opportunities within a few seconds. The first when he held off Robbo and got a shot away as he was falling down. Adrian made a decent save with his feet, but seconds later the ball was whipped back in and Haaland just had to put his head on it, or even his right foot, and it was an almost certain goal. Instead he tried to go with his left foot. It looked awkward as fuck and he ballooned it well over the bar. Shite that. That was a rare foray into our final third though as we were generally comfortable. The goal changed things a little though as our intensity dropped a bit and they were able to keep the ball more than they had been able to. They weren’t doing much with it but I just wanted half time to come so we could regroup and then take back control of the game. It didn’t really happen. The second half started the same way the first had ended, fairly even. Not really anything for us to worry about as we looked fairly comfortable, but all it takes is one moment. Foden coming on concerned me, and not just because it meant we had to now look at his awful face along with Ederson and Haaland. You won’t find three worse faces anywhere than those. Foden isn’t ugly but he’s got the worst little manc face you’ll ever see. The other two are just fucking gruesome. Remember back in the day on telly if it was before the watershed and there were tits or a knob shot in a TV show they’ve have that pixel thing that would blur it out? Can we not have that brought in for City games? But yeah, Foden worried me because he’s always a massive threat against us. City looked more dangerous with him on the field. The other lad was getting a lot of love from the commentary team but Foden was the one who gave City the lift they needed. City’s equaliser was avoidable though. Initially it was ruled out for offside against Foden but that always seemed dubious to me even from the first view of it in real time. Adrian wanted a free-kick too but that was desperation. Yes, he had two hands on the ball but it’s not like Foden kicked it out of his hands. The ball was at Foden’s feet when Adrian challenged him. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t blame Adrian for the goal but what I would say is I don’t think that happens if Alisson is between the sticks. It’s not a knock on Adrian, he is what he is. A decent third choice keeper who is nowhere near as good as Alisson. No shame in that, the big, bearded Brazilian is the best in the world. The drop off between the world’s best and his number three is always going to be significant as third choice keepers aren’t going to be any better than Adrian really. One thing I did notice about that goal was that Trent stopped playing when he saw the flag had gone up. He’s on the line and could have maybe blocked the shot, but he turned his back and stopped playing because he saw the flag up. He’s not even looking when the lad hits the shot. The goal set up a tense finale. I expected it to go to pens because our Community Shield game always do. I also worried that maybe we’d lost the momentum and City would finish stronger. Klopp had made several changes so it was no longer our best line up. Milner had come on at right back, Harvey took Hendo’s spot and Darwin was up top for Bobby. We took control again after we conceded though and it wasn’t long until we were ahead again. Quite how Craig Pawson missed that handball in the first place I have no idea. I can only assume refs know they have the VAR safety net now so they aren’t making decisions. I knew immediately that was a penalty even before seeing the replay. I don’t think the header from Darwin was going in though. It might have been a deceptive camera angle and sometimes those headers back across goal bend inwards, but it looked like it was drifting wide. Doesn’t matter though really, the defender handled it so it’s a pen. City tried to put Mo off by protesting about the decision for ages. Ederson tried to flash his ugly mug in front of Mo to put him off too. Not just put him off the penalty, but put him off his food for a week. No-one wants to eat after seeing that close up. Urgh. Thiago did a great job getting himself in between them, making sure he had his back to Ederson so he didn’t need to look at him. Mo kept his cool and buried the pen to get us ahead again. Klopp then send on Keita for the magnificent Thiago, while Carvalho replaced Diaz. The changes didn’t weaken us as all of the subs made a positive impact. Nunez was a handful from the moment he set foot on the pitch. Within seconds he went through and was denied by Ederson, but he was offside anyway. He went clean through again not long after but couldn’t get enough loft on his attempted dink and it hit Ederson in his ugly grid. He won the pen with the header and also had another header drift just wide. Things happened when he was on the pitch, he looks like one of those players who is going to be on the end of a lot of things. He’s always on the move, always trying to run in behind and he pops up on the end of things. He capped a dream debut with a goal in stoppage time when Mo picked out Robbo on the back post and this time he did the right thing and nodded it back across goal for Darwin to head home. His celebration was pure South American. He was so fired up, I love that. This was a big deal for him as he wants to make his mark quickly, especially because of the fee and the daft amount of attention it attracted. That goal gave the scoreline a more accurate look. The game wasn’t that close, we were comfortably better than them and 3-1 was about right. It should have been 3-2 but Haaland missed an open goal. That was on his strong foot too. No excuse for that it was just woeful. Adrian was at fault there, he made a hash of dealing with a well manufactured effort by Foden. It was a great moment though as our fans were in the middle of chanting for Nunez when Haaland missed, and the chant just got louder after that. It was nice to see Nunez outshine Haaland but both of them are going to score loads this season. They’re quite similar players and they’re both totally different to what ourselves and City have had, so the dynamic of both teams is going to change to some degree. I feel as though we’re better equipped to deal with the change because we evolve every season anyway whereas Guardiola is much more rigid in how he wants his team to play. In the tougher games maybe that’s where City might suffer a little, at least initially, but Haaland will fill his boots against the likes of Bournemouth, Everton and the rest of the dregs. I’ll call it here and now, there will be a game this season against some bum team where Haaland scores five. Probably Everton. What will be interesting is if he picks up one of the regular muscle injuries he’s had each season. If Nunez is missing for us we’ve still got Firmino and Jota to choose from. Take Haaland out and City no longer have Jesus or Sterling. That might cost them. We’ve got a better starting eleven and a better squad. But then we did last season too and they still pipped us to the league. It’ll probably be neck and neck again this season, but I do have a gut feeling we might blow them away early by going on big winning run to start the season. The only weakness I see with us is the occasional wastefulness that has cost us from time to time in games we’ve dominated. The Champions League final being a case in point, although we wasted loads of chances in both domestic finals too. If Nunez can help with that, and if Mo can do what he was doing pre-Afcon then I think we’re in for another memorable campaign. Star man is Mo but Thiago ran him close while he was on. Mo though, fucking hell. I said this on the post match pod but it’s not just that he was doing the things we’ve come to expect from him, he was doing other shit too. Like the whipped right footed cross onto the head of Nunez for the pen. Since when has he had that in his locker? He’s so much more than a goalscorer now. He’s so creative. He played the pass for Trent to open the scoring. He played the cross that Nunez won the pen from and then it was his vision and perfectly flighted ball that allowed Robbo to tee up Nunez for the third. He looks ready. They all do. Roll on next week. Team: Adrian; Alexander-Arnold (Milner), Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson (Elliott), Thiago (Keita); Salah(Jones), Firmino (Nunez), Diaz (Carvalho):
    40 points
  29. Who’s disrespecting the cup now, eh? I really hope we win thing now, not just because it would be part of an historic double or hopefully even treble (or quadruple if we’re counting the World Club Cup), but because it will be a big ‘fuck you’ to all those who threw shade our way for fielding such a young side. Disrespecting the cup? No, you disrespected our kids, because they’re fucking boss. All this overly nostalgic bullshit we hear about the ‘magic of the cup’ does my head in. The FA Cup has changed. Football changes. Shit, everything changes. THIS is the new magic of the cup. Not Ronnie fucking Radford scoring a screamer on a ploughed field in the 70s, and not Shrewsbury fans invading the pitch after drawing with a Liverpool side minus all of its regular starters. What is more magical than a group of talented teenagers being given the chance to play for the biggest club in the country, in front of a sell out crowd, and playing like THAT??? Nothing, that’s what. This is the new magic of the cup, embrace it. I’m made up I went to this game. I wasn’t going to bother but a mate couldn’t make it and offered me his ticket so I thought why not. So glad I did, because it was so much fun. I walked out of Anfield with a massive grin on my face and it’s still there now as I write this. What a fun season this has been so far and it’s not just because of the senior lads running away with the league. Some of the most enjoyable moments of the season have been in the cups where the kids have just been sensational. I don’t think the club has every been in a healthier state than it is right now. Everything is running exactly how you’d want it to. It’s mad really when you think about what we’ve done in these cups. Up until now, the impressive cup wins were achieved with a sprinkling of experienced players mixed in with the most talented youngsters. The one time the kids had been left to fend for themselves they lost 5-0 at Villa, but even that game was enjoyable in a lot of ways. The boys were the better side that night but Villa just had more experience and physically at both ends of the pitch. Not to mention we were without some of our best youngsters that night, as Jones, Brewster, Williams, Lewis and Larouci were all unavailable. This was different. Larouci and Brewster weren’t there but it as an altogether stronger looking side than the one that lost at Villa. Besides, Shrewsbury didn’t have the quality that Villa had. Even so, they had given us all we could handle at their place so on paper it looked like a tough game. Not that anyone wanted to talk about football in the build up to this. It was all about Klopp staying away, disrespecting the cup, screwing Shrewsbury out of money and all sorts of other nonsense. Lost in all of it was that Neil Critchley genuinely thought his lads could win the game. You could see it in his press conference. The little glint in his eye when he was told that people had been writing his boys off. “Have they?” he said. He never said it but it was obvious he was thinking “ok well we’ll fucking show them”. I wasn’t bothered that Klopp left Critchley in charge. It made sense as these are his boys, not Klopp’s. He coaches them, he knows them and what makes them tick, so let him take charge. One of Klopp’s greatest strengths is he surrounds himself with the right people and he’s happy to delegate responsibility. I was on board with him leaving Critch to run the show, but I would have liked Klopp to be there even if it was just to offer a word of encouragement here and there and to give the boys a lift. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel strongly about it and I can’t say it bothered me that he didn’t show up, but personally I felt it would have been nice for the lads if he had been there supporting them. He wasn’t, but James Milner was. What a guy. If he’d had a few more days training under his belt I bet he’d have been begging to play. I love the togetherness of everyone at the club right now. Loads of the senior lads were watching the game on dodgy streams and posting their support for the kids on social media, but Milner wanting to be involved as much as he could, being in the dressing room giving pep talks like he does with the first team, I just fucking love that. “The message was simple. Just go out there and play like a Liverpool team”, said Critchley afterwards. Message received loud and clear. This was exactly like watching the first team. It was uncanny. Obviously the quality of the individuals isn’t the same, but in terms of the set up, patterns of play, movement with and without the ball, bravery in possession, work rate out of possession and everything else you want to mention, it was the same. I can’t get over it to be honest. A team full of teenagers just went out and played a League One side packed with seasoned pros off the park. The scoreline doesn’t tell the story of this game at all. It wasn’t a close game. It was complete domination. Our goalkeeper did not have to make a single save of any note. Think about that for a second. Not one save. The two things that I take from this game are that the kids were absolutely phenomenal, and that the performance in the first leg from the more experienced players was actually far worse than I originally thought. They let this team score two goals against them and but for Adrian it would have been double that. Matip, Lovren and Fabinho should be throughly embarrassed because they made Shrewsbury look good when in reality they’re actually pretty terrible. We saw that in this game as they were throughly outplayed by what was almost a youth team. I keep seeing references to the “under 23 team” which is technically correct, but it’s an u23 team in name only. Half of the side could still play in the u18s and most of the others are only a year too old for that. Pedro Chirivella was the only player over 20. I don’t think enough is being made of what an achievement this actually was, because they went up against a team of grown men who play a more physical style than most of these kids are used to facing, and they played them off the park. It was 36 minutes before Shrewsbury even managed any kind of spell of possession. I know because when it happened I actually checked the time and made a note of it. It was staggering. Up until then I don’t think they were able to put more than three or four passes together before we took the ball off them. I don’t know if they were overawed by the occasion or what, but Shrewsbury’s performance baffled me. They parked the bus. They had five strung across the width of their box and everyone else behind the ball. Did they think they were facing our first team? It was weird. And they were just fouling constantly too. Foul after foul after foul. As great as our kids were, I thought Shrewsbury were embarrassingly bad and their manager is clearly a massive shithouse if he sent them out to be that defensive. What was he thinking? They had a great chance to go through and instead they looked like they were playing for penalties right from the start. Beforehand I thought we’d win the game but I definitely didn’t think it would go the way it did. I thought it would maybe end up 3-2 with us riding our luck and the crowd giving the kids that little push they needed to get over the line. It was nothing like that though. It should have been 3-0 on the balance of play. Right from the first whistle the boys took charge. They passed it around comfortably, the full backs were flying forward, the midfielders kept things moving and picked up all the second balls. As I say, just like the first team. It was perfect right up until we reached the box and then it stuttered. The lack of a recognised centre forward didn’t help. Liam Miller is a decent player but when I’ve watched him most of his best work has been coming from the left. He isn’t the most natural centre forward but in his defence he was up against three centre halves so there was no space to play in. He ran himself ragged all night but offered no goal threat. Not that too many others did either. As well as the lads played, they found it tough to create clear chances. The biggest goal threat by far was Neco Williams. What a fucking player he is. He had four or five attempts at goal and had a similar impact on the game that Trent has so often had. “Running the game from right back” is something we’ve heard said about Trent, and it more or less applied to Neco in this game I thought. He went close to a goal a couple of times in the first half and again after the break. Jones looked a threat too and at times Shrewsbury couldn’t get near him. He played the game at his pace and made the Shrewsbury defenders follow. They couldn’t get the ball off him and often resorted to just crude fouls to stop him. He’s going to be a great player and probably very soon. The first half couldn’t have gone much better other than if we’d scored. It was complete dominance of the ball so I was staggered when I saw that the possession was only something like 65% in our favour. It felt like it should have been nearer to 90%. Shrewsbury were a little more positive after the break and I can only assume that they felt embarrassed by their pitiful first half display. At least now they looked like they might venture out of their own half a bit. They definitely wanted to be more attacking but they weren’t really allowed to. The organisation and pressing, the fighting for second balls, it was just top drawer all night and Critchley must have been the proudest man inside Anfield seeing all the hard work he’s done on the coaching field pay off so spectacularly. The most surprising aspect for me was how well the defence played. Other than the disallowed goal (which I’ll get to shortly) they didn’t allow Shrewsbury anything and the two Dutch kids in the middle were Van Dijk and Gomez like. Sepp Van den Berg hasn’t really convinced in his previous appearances and hasn’t even really looked that good for the u23s. That didn’t concern me in terms of his overall prospects because this is his first season here, he’s still very young and playing centre back is probably the toughest position on the pitch for a youngster. That said, I did wonder how he’d be able to cope against League One strikers that would be looking to bully him. He couldn’t have looked more assured though. I honestly don’t think he put a foot wrong all night. I couldn’t have been more impressed with him. Obviously Hoever was top class too but I expect that as he’s a special talent and he has much more experience. Van den Berg deserves massive credit for how he played. Both full backs were brilliant too. I really like Adam Lewis, always have. He’s had to wait a long time for this but he took his chance with both hands. He’s competitive, energetic and he’s got a magic wand of a left foot. I’d love to see him develop into Robbo’s understudy in the same way Neco has with Trent. Even the disallowed Shrewsbury goal reflects well on the back four because look at how disciplined they were pushing out and holding the line to catch the lad offside. And he was offside. I could see it at the time as I was sat in line with it, but I wasn’t sure VAR would save us because of how far back it was in the build up. You know what the problem was with that whole situation? The linesman didn’t want to make any decisions all night. He gave an offside just after that, but then he went back to doing nothing and relying on VAR to sort it if needed. That’s all well and good when it leads directly to a goal, but what about when it ends up being a corner, or it’s the third passage of play and the defence has reset. VAR can’t do anything about that, so just do your fucking job and put the flag up. In these situations the longer the delay the better the chances of the goal being ruled out, especially with offside. If it’s onside then they can spot that quickly. When they have to start getting the lines out then there’s a decent chance it’s not going to count, and so it proved. A massive kick in the balls for the Shrewsbury fans, especially the one who threw the yellow flare onto the pitch! We were maybe a little lucky with that as the lad who was offside didn’t out the final cross in. I get why some feel that it was harsh, but if we’d had VAR in the first game they’d never have been given a penalty so it’s swings and roundabouts. It was no more than we deserved for the way we played anyway. That was the first meaningful attack they’d had and if they’d scored from it then it would have been one of the biggest smash and grab acts of all time. Some of the football our kids played in the second half was sensational. The little give and goes with Elliott and Jones were a particular highlight, while Chirivella was just a joy to watch all night. Such a lovely footballer him, and he was ably assisted by Clarkson and Cain, two kids I’ve loved watching in the 18s as they dovetail so well together in midfield. We must have forced a dozen corners in that second half. The problem was other than Van den Berg we didn’t have any height to threaten from them. That was the one real disadvantage we had and it was the only thing I was worried about. If Shrewsbury had been able to force a few set plays it might have cost us, but they had so little of the ball they were rarely able to put us under any pressure The weird thing is that from the first corner they got they took it short and ended up going backwards. What the fuck is that all about? I couldn’t believe they did that. It defied all common sense as they should have been putting it right on top of Kelleher and attacking it at every opportunity. Staggeringly inept and you’d have to point the finger at Sam Ricketts again for that. Despite all the nice approach play the ball just wouldn’t go in for us. Jones went close and Williams was denied by he keeper after a spectacular move that the first team would have been proud of. Then we finally broke the deadlock in the most comical of circumstances. Williams did brilliantly in defence and then fired a diagonal ball looking for the run of Elliott. The defender covered the run but at full stretch could only head the ball past his own keeper into the net. We benefitted from an own goal in the first game too, and once again it was a former Man United player. Might be a lesson there. Stop signing shite mancs. We should have wrapped it up late on when they had thrown everyone forward for a set-piece and we broke on them. It looked all set up for a ‘red arrows’ goal as we charged out, but Elliott badly overhit his pass when all he needed to do was just knock it into the ptah of two unmarked players. It may have hit his hand when he won the initial challenge though so I don’t know if it would have counted anyway. The way the boys saw the game out was hugely impressive. It felt like they kept the ball in the right hand corner for about five minutes. Such maturity and composure. They never really looked in any danger and Shrewsbury didn’t seem like a side who had any belief that they could force an equaliser. I’ve got nothing against Shrewsbury at all and hopefully the money they earned from this helps them. It was becoming irritating though hearing about how they lost out on half a million because of Klopp fielding the kids (it should be pointed out though that Shrewsbury did not blame him for that) and because the club lowered the admission price accordingly. I understand why that’s a big deal and why lower league clubs wouldn’t be happy about the situation, but this isn’t a black and white issue. Firstly, it was the FA who scheduled the replay in the middle of a winter break, so any grievance should be taken up with them, not us. Secondly, the club’s sensible ticket pricing ensured a full house and allowed loads of parents to take kids to a game, in many cases for the first time. Had we fielded a stronger side and increased the ticket prices, it might not have been a sell out. It may, however, have persuaded one of the TV companies to pick up the game, which would have meant more revenue for both clubs I expect. The TV companies missed a trick not picking the game up, because this was the most intriguing game of the night. A side packed with promising teenagers taking on a team of hardened, hairy arsed League One cloggers in front of 50odd thousand fans? Why the fuck wouldn’t you want to televise that, especially considering that the viewing figures would have been massive due to the number of fans we have. The FA and the TV companies cost Shrewsbury money. Not us. And without being too insensitive, I’d also have to say if you wanted that money so badly then show some fucking ambition in your performance and tactics. There was a huge money spinning tie at Chelsea on the line and all they had to do was beat a team full of kids. Yet they came here and parked the bus. So no, under the circumstances I don’t really have any sympathy for their ‘lost revenue’, especially as they brought 8,500 to Anfield when usually they get a couple of thousand less for their home games. I have to say though that in general I’d like something to be done to help ensure the lower league clubs get more cash as football is definitely weighted too heavily in favour of the top flight. It’s basically a reflection of modern society. The rich get richer and fuck everyone else. It is not the responsibility of Liverpool FANS to be financing it though, which would have been the case if ticket prices had been higher. It’s like how fans are helping to feed the hungry by donating to food banks, when really this situation should not be happening if the fat cats in power were looking after those less fortunate. But anyway, enough of that, back to the celebrations at the end. Critchley was loving it and rightly so. What a night for him. He was asked if it was the highlight of his coaching career and he paused before the realisation of what he’d done hit him. “Yeah I suppose it is”. Made up for him as he comes across as a really nice fella. The lads were loving it too, doing a lap of honour and milking every second of it. So they should. Some of these boys may never play for the first team again, but then again they might. So many of them look like they might actually. They’ve renewed my enthusiasm for the cups this year because frankly I haven’t been arsed about them for years. Picking a star man wasn’t easy as so many of them stood out. Pedro was class, as usual, while Jones was a class above once again. I could easily have given it to Van den Berg and part of me wants to because he was so much improved on previous outings, but the best player on the pitch was my boy Neco and I can’t overlook him. I’d have no hesitation in starting him any time Trent needs a rest because he’s already good enough to start for half the teams in the Premier League. The only negative I can see in all of this is that we got Chelsea away in the next round. They will make changes but not too many, meaning that Klopp will have to go ‘relatively’ strong too. The perfect scenario would have been to draw someone shit so we could give a lot of these kids another run out, but I expect Williams and Jones to probably start regardless of who we were playing as they’ve been that good. One final point. I was thinking afterwards that the first team lads have an awful lot to be grateful to these kids for. They’re off sunning themselves on beaches while the kids are holding down the fort and ensuring there’s still an FA Cup to be won when they get back. They should all throw in a week’s wages and split it between the kids. In fact, Matip, Lovren, Fabinho and Origi should throw in two weeks, as a thank you for tidying up the mess they made. Up the mini mentality monster Reds! Team: Kelleher; Williams, Hoever, Van den Berg, Lewis; Chirivella, Cain, Clarkson (Boyes); Elliott (Dixon-Bonner), Miller (Hardy), Jones:
    40 points
  30. And to think I was actually worried about this one! In my defence, I think there were some good reasons to have some trepidation about the game, but the team selection wasn’t one of them. Not for me anyway. Far from it. It’s easy to say now with the benefit of hindsight, but I didn’t have any issue with the five changes made by Klopp. In fact, when I saw the team I felt more relaxed about our chances than I had before. Tiredness was one of the main reasons I wasn’t feeling overly confident, but those changes alleviated those fears. I know a lot of Reds will have been concerned about Salah and Firmino being left out, but it genuinely didn’t bother me one bit. In the Brighton report on Monday I called for Divock to be given a start, and although we haven’t seen Shaq in months he must have been looking sharp in training or Klopp wouldn’t have picked him. This was the front three that smashed Barcelona, so there was no reason to think they wouldn’t be up to the task of beating Everton. Origi has history against the Blues at Anfield. He’s like a modern day Rushy in this fixture. Evertonians no doubt see him in their nightmares. He’s the bogeyman to them, and I’m sure he knows it too. Not playing him would have been daft really. Lallana was a surprise inclusion, but again, that didn’t bother me. So why was I going all Han Solo and telling everyone “I have a bad feeling about this”? A few reasons really. History being one of them. We went into the game having equalled our longest ever unbeaten league run. The last time, that run was ended by Everton. Now we’re playing them again, on the exact same number of unbeaten games as last time? What are the odds on that? That type of thing always unnerves me. Of course, Everton were actually good back then and that game was at Goodison. This was at Anfield, where Everton haven’t won for 20 years. That unnerved me too though. Eventually they will win at Anfield, and with everyone talking about how the gap between the clubs is as big as it’s been in decades, it felt like we were ripe for an upset. The main thing that had me sweating though was how we’ve been playing, and specifically how tired I thought we looked against Brighton. That’s why I felt more confident when I saw the team. It was a really weird game though. The way we played in that first half was strange, and nothing like what we’ve seen all season. It was like we’d turned the clock back two years. This was the return of “the Red Arrows”. It’s funny really because I had been talking about exactly this with the lads as we walked through Stanley Park beforehand. We’ve gone from a team that would be thrilling to watch and win 4-0, 5-2, 4-1, 6-0 before then losing 1-0 to some deadbeat relegation fodder, to one that isn’t as exciting but grinds out win after win and doesn’t drop ANY points. Obviously I prefer what we are now, but I can’t deny that I miss that swashbuckling side that would go the length of the field in six seconds and completely rip the opponents’ heart out. This is what we were discussing beforehand. One of the things I said was how not so long ago we were more dangerous from opponents’ corners than they were. Remember that Arsenal game when we kept running the length of the field on them and scoring? Those type of goals had become less frequent, perhaps due to opponents becoming gun shy and taking more precautions, or perhaps because of us becoming a little more pragmatic. I don’t know the reason, I just know that we haven’t seen as much of those devastatingly fast, length of the field attacks over the last year or so and I was saying how I miss them. They were back with a vengeance in this game though. Fucking hell. It was exhilarating stuff. Unfortunately, the defensive fragility that often proved to be our undoing was also in evidence. There are some mitigating circumstances for that though I suppose. It might just have been a result of how the flow of the game went (and quite possibly because of the number of changes we made) or it may have been a deliberate tactical ploy, but it just seemed like every time we got the ball we were on a crusade to score within ten seconds. There was none of the controlled possession and patient build up that has become a staple of how we play. It was just, get the ball, ping a 40 yard diagonal over their defence and everyone charge towards their box. I’m not complaining, as there’s nothing more thrilling than watching the Reds do that and it paid off four times in the first half. It did come at something of a cost though, because I felt as though Everton could score any time they got near our box. We were too open and there was space everywhere for them. The change in system and personnel to a 4-2-3-1 is probably the main reason, but I also think it was a result of the lads getting a little bit swept away by the ease with which they were slicing Everton open and maybe forgetting about being compact and restricting the space in front of the defence. Not having Fabinho or Henderson in there was clearly a contributing factor to that as well. It’s not a knock on Gini or Milner (who were both class), but they bring different qualities to Fabinho (and indeed Hendo). The second half was much better in terms of control and solidity and the only minor complaint I had was it took so long to get the final, killer goal. While it was 4-2 the Blues still had hope and were only one flukey goal or bad decision away from being right back in the game. A fifth goal would have killed them and probably led to more. In truth, the damage was done in the first half and Everton were never coming back from that. It must have been soul destroying for them to see the manner that we put them to the sword. They didn’t defend well and were wide open to balls in behind, but they can consider themselves unlucky to concede four goals that were close to footballing perfection. On another day, none of those go in, because every one of those goals had a piece of individual brilliance in them that you don’t often see. Let’s go through them one by one. The first goal starts in our own box. Robbo heads the ball out, Lallana collects it and feeds Sadio who has room to run down the left. He carries it forward and sees the run made by Origi, but the Blues defence are all in a good position and Pickford is out of his goal ready to deal with any overhit pass. It’s an almost impossible ball to play as it needs to be perfectly weighted and perfectly placed. Anything less than that and we can’t score. The pass is incredible and Divock was able to run onto it without breaking stride, and because of how far out Pickford is that touch kills him and leaves Origi with an empty net. I don’t actually think there’s anything Everton could have done to prevent that, it’s just world class forward play. The second goal was even better. Again it started on the edge of our box when Lovren made an interception and cleverly used his left foot to nudge the ball round the corner to Trent. Then we saw one of the passes of the season. Most footballers can produce a switch of play, but there are only a handful who can do it like that. The trajectory and pace on the ball is the thing that made the goal really. If it had been a lofted ball out to Mané, that extra second or two allows defenders to get back and get themselves set. The ball took about a millisecond to get from Trent’s boot to Sadio’s though. It was an incredible pass. Sadio then drove at the defence and waited for the runners before rolling it into space for Shaq to run onto and divert past Pickford. Again, Everton’s defending wasn’t exactly bad, they were just undone by world class play. There were Evertonians in the away end who left as soon as that went in. I watched them heading for the exits and thought “what the fuck did you even come here for?”. There was a blue sat next to me. He was nervously fidgeting all the time he was there, constantly looking at the away end and checking his phone to see what his mates were saying. I’m sure he was on the verge of walking out just before they scored. He had enough respect for where he was that he didn’t jump up and instead he just sat there quietly clenching his fists, but when it went to 3-1 it was all too much for him and he left. That just shows how broken they are and how 20 years of Anfield misery has left them completely scarred. I actually thought they gave it a good go in the first half and were just undone by our brilliance. They got men forward and looked threatening, but the problem was the more they attacked the more exposed they became. The third goal was one where they could look at themselves and say they should do better. Basically they got done by a ball over the top. Even so, they can still feel a little bit hard done to because it still took a stunning piece of skill for Divock to convert the long ball into a goal. Lovren’s pass was right on the money but that first touch from Origi was ridiculous, bettered only by the finish that immediately followed. The technique to do something like that never fails to amaze me. The balance, agility and touch some of these footballers have is incredible, but it’s not something that would usually be associated with Divock. That was a Sturridge type goal. Or a Bergkamp even. Just so graceful. Origi’s touch and technique is vastly under-rated but that’s because we don’t see it on a consistent enough basis. He’s got all the tools to be a top player, he just needs to put it together on a more regular basis. Maybe we can hypnotise him into thinking he’s facing Everton every week? Or play him through the middle and not out wide. The goals just kept on getting better and better, and the fourth one in first half stoppage time might be the pick of the bunch just because of how thrilling it was. That’s probably my own personal bias though, as nothing gets my juices flowing quite like a counter attack goal from an opposition corner. It was glorious. Virgil headed it out (as Richarlison took his customary dive looking for a pen) to Sadio, while Trent raced past him on the overlap. I thought Mané should have just knocked it around the corner for him first time, and when he turned inside I thought he’d lose the ball. He didn’t, he just completely skinned Iwobi and then released Trent who had acres of open space in front of him. Shaqiri was all alone in the centre and there was only one defender back trying to cover the two v one counter. I expected the ball to go to Shaq but Trent must have decided the ball was too difficult so he just kept hold of it until Sadio caught up with him, and just rolls it into his path. Still, that finish was really difficult. It’s on his left side, he’s running full tilt and he needed to adjust his feet to get himself set. He still found the bottom corner with a first time side foot shot. Again, Evertonians would be entitled to think he had no right to score from that position, but he did. Four truly world class goals and the Blues were reeling. That’s why it’s so irritating that we gave up that soft goal with the final kick of the half. It was a proper scabby little goal too, as Richarlison attempted a diving header and the ball hit his shoulder and flew past Adrian. Their first had been scrappy as fuck too, as three or four times the ball bounced in their favour before Michael Keane pounced on a loose ball to beat Adrian. Their goals weren’t pretty but they weren’t entirely undeserved either. Well, two goals was probably more than their play warranted, but they did cause us problems and we didn’t deserve to keep a clean sheet. We never keep clean sheets these days anyway, but we don’t usually let two in so that’s annoying. At half time I didn’t really know how to feel. I was buzzing about the goals we’d scored, but the lack of control and failure to just keep the ball and take the sting out of the game was pissing me off. It just shows the standards we’ve set that being 4-2 up in a derby game didn’t have me cock a hoop. There was a bit of needle in the game too and predictably the Blues felt hard done by when it came to decisions. They wanted a red card fro Trent for a stamp on Richardson. Nonsense. The Brazilian went flying into Trent who had to jump to avoid being clattered. He didn’t deliberately stamp on him, but he didn’t try to avoid landing on him either, which is fine because why should he have? Richarlison was reckless and got what he deserved. They wanted Robbo sent off for roughing up Davies too. Again, not a chance. Robbo is falling on top of Davies and allows his arm to land on the back of his head. He could have avoided it and he knew what he was doing, but you can’t send someone off for that as he didn’t move his elbow towards the head of Davies, it was the natural position for his arm as he fell. Davies jumped up and shoved him, and Robbo just laughed right in his face. He’s a little bastard isn’t he? He did the same to Kyle Walker the other week when he gave him a little shove and then wound him up just by laughing right in his face. He’s my hero, I love everything about him. They also wanted a penalty and red card for Virgil. The penalty shout I get, but it’s complete madness to be talking about a red card. Calvert-Lewin is in the act of shooting when he’s challenged by Virgil. If you want to argue that it’s a penalty, that’s a discussion worth having. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a defender given a red card for something like that though, yet Jermaine Jeans and Danny Murphy both reckon it should have been a sending off. Fucking loons. I do think it was a pen though. At the time I didn’t because it just looked like Virgil leaned into him with his shoulder as he tried to shoot. The replay showed he tripped him as well though. Mike Dean said no penalty and then our mate Martin Atkinson on the VAR agreed. Top ref him, always rated him highly. Seriously, had the roles been reversed then Everton would have had a penalty as Atkinson wouldn’t have been able to blow that whistle quick enough. He was powerless though because as I mentioned in the diary last week, it would take a brave man to over-rule Mike Dean. Overall Dean had a good game. He probably should have given them a pen for that, but it’s the boy who cried wolf isn’t it? Calvert-Lewin just dives constantly, it’s his main attribute as a footballer. He’s a one trick pony, and that one trick is jumping into the nearest defender and then hitting the deck. He did it to Robbo in this game, and both Dean and the linesman fell for it and gave the free-kick. Robbo was seething and even went to explain to the linesman at half time exactly what had happened. It couldn’t have been more obvious. it’s the same shit he pulled to get a penalty against Lovren a couple of years back. Maybe that was in Dean’s head when he went down under the challenge from Virgil? The second half was more low key. Less confrontations and less goalmouth incidents. Sadio missed two great chances after twice being picked out by substitute Hendo (who was brilliant after replacing Lallana). The first one he shot wide, and the second one he twice stayed on his feet after being impeded as he went around Pickford. By rights he should have had a penalty for that, but it’s hard for the ref to give a foul when the player doesn’t go down. The Blues had a glorious chance to score immediately after Sadio’s miss, when Iwobi sent Moises Khan clean through. Thankfully he shot just wide, because if that had gone in then the last ten minutes would have been hairy as fuck. In the end we eventually put the icing on the cake when Bobby made a fool of Holgate and picked out Gini, who found the bottom corner with an accurate low drive. Nice for Bobby to get his revenge on Holgate after that appalling incident in the cup game a couple of years ago. Bobby probably didn’t even give it a second thought, but the rest of us did. Very sweet moment that. So alls well that ends well. A new club record, another three points, another year without an Everton win at Anfield. Things are pretty fucking sweet for us right now, which is in stark contrast to what’s happening with the Blues. Marco Silva will be gone by the time you read this. He can have no real complaints, but one thing I would say is that those players were trying. They haven’t quit on him so he hasn’t “lost the dressing room”. They gave it a go against us but the fact of the matter is they just aren’t very good. There are some players in that side who are genuinely terrible. Championship standard players at best. Holgate, Davies, Sidibi and Calvert-Lewin do not belong on a Premier League pitch. Digne and Richarlison are the only two good players they have (Coleman too, when he’s fit) and they’re nothing special either. They’re in the bottom three now (with four tough games to come) and depending on who they bring in, they might actually go down. I’d say it’s unlikely but it’s not impossible. Moyes would probably keep them up but it would be such a depressing, backwards move for them to bring him back. Imagine being a Blue, it’s just such a fucking utterly abject, miserable existence. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, just darkness, rats and the smell of piss. I’ve reached a point where I don’t even want to gloat anymore. It’s not so much that I feel bad for them (I don’t, not at all), it’s more that they have reached such a low ebb now that I’d feel bad about myself if I mocked them, as it almost feels like bullying. It’s ok to take the piss out someone for having jug ears or a big chin, but you don’t mock someone in a wheelchair, or with special needs, because it makes you a cunt. This isn’t quite the same thing, I know that, but in terms of the principle of it, it’s similar. To me, Everton have gone beyond the point where I can justify ripping the piss out of them. Now I just feel like it’s piling on them unnecessarily. Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh at (or join in with) the repeated airings of the “Merry Christmas Everton” song and I fucking loved the “We’re gonna have a party when Tottenham win the cup” chant too. They had that coming and it’s one of the most stinging burns I can remember. Probably up there with “Always look on the bright side of life” when we stopped United winning the league at Anfield. Taunting a team with their own song is always savage, but this was particularly brutal as it was a reminder of just how sad their behaviour at the end of last season was. Wanting Spurs to win was perfectly natural. Nothing wrong with that. Taking Man City flags to games and singing for Spurs though just makes you a sad cunt, and the chant from the Kop will have been close to the bone. There’s no comeback to that, you just have to sit there and listen to it, while wallowing in your own misery. So the piss taking during the game I’m more than happy to partake in. Inside the stadium, during a game, alls fair in love and war and that. Afterwards though, day to day, I just can’t bring myself to taunt any of the Blues I know as it just feels arlarse. They’ve got enough on their plate with the Reds being great again and them being in a relegation battle. That being said, we play them again in a few weeks and I reserve the right to take all of the above back should the need arise. For now though, I’m leaving them be as it wouldn’t be a case of kicking a man when he’s down, it would be more like lifting up the coffin lid and repeatedly punching the corpse in the face. Star man is Sadio, despite those two second half misses that denied us a scoreline for the ages. He was just unplayable in the first half and if the season ended now he’d be my choice for Player of the Year. He’s fucking relentless and never gets tired. He had two weeks off in the summer but look at him, going out there three times a week and running teams ragged. He’s incredible. If Mané hadn’t been so spectacular then I’d have gone for Origi. Special mention to Shaq as well though. I think this was his best game for us even though he hadn’t featured in months. He was confident, strong, made good decisions and covered more ground than anyone other than Gini and Milner. Made up to see him back as I love the little guy. Not as much as my Dad does though. When the players were getting ready to restart the game after Shaq’s goal, he turned to me with a big grin and says “made up my little man got a goal”. We all have our favourites, the underdog who we root for. For my Dad it’s Shaq (and Adrian, who he’d have as first choice if it were up to him. I’m not joking!) and I guess for me it’s probably Lovren. He isn’t my favourite player but I do have a huge soft spot for him as I think he gets a raw deal. He was superb again, even if it understandably won’t really be mentioned because of all the other storylines to come out of the game. Similarly, I root for Lallana too as I’ve always been a fan of his even before we signed him. I was happy for him to get a run out and one or two careless moments aside he did a good job. The strength of the squad is often called into question and I get that, as the drop off between first choice and back up sometimes looks greater than it probably is. All things considered though, we’ve got as strong a squad as anyone other than perhaps City, but they have the luxury of breaking every financial rule in the book to pack their bench with £50m signings. It’s always nice when the squad players get a chance to shine and they take it. This is one of the most satisfying results of the season for me, and it’s got nothing to do with WHO we played, it’s entirely about HOW we played. Well in lads, now let’s go to Bournemouth and pick up another three points. Team: Adrian; Alexander-Arnold (Gomez), Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner; Shaqiri, Lallana (Henderson), Mané; Origi (Firmino).
    40 points
  31. I finished my chemo a few weeks back and have had scans since and went to see my oncologist yesterday. He's telling me he now believes I'm in remission and there's currently no sign of the disease. I'll be back for scans every 3 months, plus other check ups as a result of my surgery, but it seems I could well have put this behind me. The words from the oncologist yesterday were sweet "go and live your life and see you in 3 months".
    40 points
  32. Well fuck me sideways. I've made it in to The Good Beer Guide 2020. Four years of hard work doing what I love doing and I've got a CAMRA pub of the month award plus this under my belt. Fucking made up.
    40 points
  33. Well that was an unexpected bonus. I expected us to get nothing from this game but this was a big boy performance. Full of quality character and - for once - goals. It started horribly, which was exactly what I expected. With all the crap in the build up, talk of the team coach being held up and tyres let down (turns out it was a decoy coach and the real one entered the stadium with no problems!), I just had visions of falling behind inside the first ten minutes and never recovering from it. So what we saw early on was entirely what I was fearing. We’d started quite brightly with the ball but United were finding too much space when they had it. Still, I was thinking we were doing well until Alisson’s latest brain fart. I’m getting so fucking sick of him just passing the ball to the opposition when he’s under no pressure. It’s needless and it’s something he should be able to easily cut out, yet he’s doing it all the fucking time. He got away with it big time in the last game and he got away with again here because Cavani didn’t hit the target after Alisson passed it straight to him in the middle of the goal. There’s just no need. It isn’t about ability, it’s entirely about being sloppy as fuck. Just concentrate for fucks sake, because we can’t afford any mistakes like that right now. Anyway, we got away with it but it seemed to unsettle us and gave United encouragement. We were ragged without the ball, which Klopp later explained was due to United’s tactics of doubling up in wide areas and outnumbering us. He said once we solved that we were fine. Can’t argue with that, because after that opening 15-20 minutes we were by far the better side and dominated most of the game. Unfortunately by the time we solved the problem we were already a goal down. It was an own goal by Phillips but mercifully for him it goes down as a Fernandez goal. To be honest, I’d rather it was credited to Nat, if only to take a goal away from that rat faced, screaming little fucking worm. Nat said he initially thought the shot was going wide and was going to leave it. Then he saw it curling and knew he had to try to clear it. He reacted too late and smashed it past Alisson. One of those things really. I think it would have hit the post but Phillips can’t know that and had to try and stop it. The bigger problem there was Gini losing Wan Bissaka and how easily Fernandez found space in the box. Fabinho got attracted to the ball. For the next ten minutes or so it looked like we were going to get hammered, but slowly but surely we began to get control. Gini and Thiago were instrumental in that I thought, while Trent’s passing was just incredible all night and was the catalyst for us getting on top. Having turned down what looked a clear penalty when Bailly blocked Firmino’s cross with his hand, Anthony Taylor then awarded us a penalty for what I initially thought was nothing. Then I saw the replay and I was sure it was nothing. Honestly, I’m staggered there are people who think that was a penalty. He got the ball, his follow through wasn’t dangerous or out of control and then Nat comes in and gets caught by him. There’s an argument to be had that had it been at the other end a penalty would have been awarded. I’m not going to dispute that as Taylor and Tierney have too much previous. But I knew it wasn’t going to stand and I wasn’t even particularly annoyed about it. I was more annoyed about the handball earlier that was completely ignored. The more I see that the worse it gets. Initially I was disappointed in Bobby looking to square it rather than shoot, but when you see it again that cut back is perfect and Jota has an open goal if that ball reaches him. It doesn’t reach him because Bailly doesn’t cut it out with his lunge but the ball hits his hand. Not deliberate, but that’s a fucking penalty all day. Not on Paul Tierney’s VAR watch though. Anyway, I did fear that this overturned penalty was just going to be another one of those things we’d be left to feel sorry for ourselves about after more points were dropped. The whole season has been like that, but this time the lads seemed galvanised by it rather than deflated and the response was great. We levelled when Phillips picked up a loose ball in the box and showed nice footwork and good intelligence to blast it back into the danger area where Jota flicked it home. No more than we’d deserved and we were looking really dangerous any time we went forward. The goal that gave us the lead started with Phillips making two consecutive blocks in his own area. The first to deny Pogba, the second to stop Fernandez, who went down with a loud scream after not actually being touched by Thiago. He stayed down too, wanting the game to be stopped. We didn’t stop the game, play went on, we reached the edge of their box and Pogba took matters into his own hands and had a swing at Jota. He did it just to stop the game, but it just shows what thick cunt he is because he must have been the only person inside Old Trafford or watching on telly that didn’t know Fernandez was faking it. Trent whipped in the free-kick and Firmino met it with a thumping header on the back post. You can hear a loud “BOBBBBBYYYYYYY!!!” as it goes in. Pretty sure it was Robbo. So a great turnaround and a half time lead. It got better too. We started the second half brilliantly and United looked all over the place. It was complete dominance. United kept giving the ball away under our intense press and when Shaw was caught out Trent found himself in shooting position. He blasted it goal wards, Henderson spilled it and Bobby was on hand to make it 3-1. Fucking hell, dreamland. For a while after that it looked like we would run riot but we just couldn’t finish them off. Jota hit the post with the best chance after a lovely sweeping counter attack and I felt like that was a turning point. That needed to go in to make it safe, because you just knew they’d have a spell and they have so many dangerous forwards that it was inevitable they’d score at least one more. And they did. Rashford broke clear through the middle and linked past Alisson to completely change the momentum of the game and ensure a nervous finale for us. We were wobbling in that period and had an incredible let off when Phillips cleared off the line and then Williams made a great block on the follow up effort to get the ball behind for a corner. That was the most decisive moment of the entire game for me. Nat modestly said afterwards that he was just making up for his own mistake as he’d tried to cushion a header to Fabinho instead of just clearing it. I fucking love him, such a modest, unassuming lad who has stepped up to the plate for us when we desperately needed him. I haven’t rooted for anybody this much since Neil Mellor came through, and that was different because I knew him personally. I have no connection with Nat Phillips but I just fucking love him. What a hero. After that we dealt with whatever they threw at us and United seemed to be getting more and more frantic. It was no great surprise when substitute Jones played a first time ball to send Mo scampering clear with no defenders around him. I knew he was going to score because it just felt like that breakaway he had last season at Anfield against them. He was never going to miss, especially when the keeper inexplicably just went backwards and stood virtually on his line, giving Mo the entire far side of the goal to aim at. That one incident alone would be enough for me to restore De Gea and cash in on Henderson if I was Solksjaer. That wasn’t a mistake, that was just a sign of a keeper who can’t be very good because that was genuinely staggering to me. Still, that’s their problem, not ours. Mo’s celebration represented how all of us were feeling. Curtis was first to dive on him, and then Rhys Williams arrived on the scene. I love that. He was furthest away from him but obviously must have sprinted the length of the field to get there. What a night for that kid. He’s another who has performed way above any expectations we could have realistically had of him. Sadio throwing a strop at the end and refusing the Klopp fist bump pissed me right off though. Firstly, he himself said this week that he’s been shite this season. Secondly, the three lads picked ahead of him all scored. What fucking justification can he have for being pissed off with Klopp? I love Sadio but that’s not a good look. Bobby and Mo have been left out or subbed and there will be times they won’t have agreed with it, but I haven’t seen any toys coming out of prams like that. He’s prone to the odd wobbler though as he’s an emotional lad. Generally though he's the nicest, most popular lad at the club and everybody (other than maybe Mo!) loves him. This isn't even a storm in a teacup and I doubt Klopp is remotely arsed about it. In fact he probably feels like he was partly to blame for it based on his explanation of it all. It seems that Sadio was pissed off at the way the decision was made (and not explained) rather than just having the hump that he was overlooked. Doesn’t excuse his act of petulance but it does perhaps explain it. He might need to get used to the bench for a while though as how can you drop any of the front three after that? Maybe there’s a case for rotating to introduce fresh legs, but that’s the only reason you’d bring Sadio back in currently. There was on other Sadio related incident that needs mentioning, as it was pretty staggering. Taylor had just booked McTominay for a foul and seconds later he slipped and rugby tackled Mané as he ran into the box. I could have forgiven Taylor if he’d blown for the free-kick but not produced a second yellow based on the fact McTominay had fallen over and perhaps didn’t intend to foul Sadio, but to not even give the free-kick was either cowardice or cheating. I’d lean towards the former because overall I didn’t think he was that bad, but that one was incredible. It’s utterly mental that despite the amount of times we’ve blown it this season that somehow our fate is still in our own hands. We knew before this that winning our last four games would almost certainly get us a Champions League spot. The biggest roadblock to that was this game but we’ve come through that one. We can’t go and win at Old Trafford only to fuck it up against already relegated West Brom, surely? It’s been the kind of season where nothing can be ruled out, but let’s hope we can win our last three and salvage something from this absolutely fucking miserable campaign. Star man is Trent by an absolute mile. That shows just how great he was because we had a lot of other top performers out there too. Just no-one even close to him. Everyone played well and it was a great team performance. I want to single out a few of them though, for differing reasons. Firstly, Firmino. He’s been shite this season but he’s never let his head go down and he’s never complained or shown any dissent when he’s been left out. It was nice to see something go his way for once. The goals were obviously the main thing, but he generally looked more like his old self with his pressing and general involvement in the game. I also want to highlight Thiago, who is someone else that has had plenty of criticism this season. He was fucking brilliant I thought. He covered so much ground and never wasted a pass all night. He’s starting to find his groove now and seems to be getting better every week. Having Fabinho in there has definitely helped him. Finally, the two lads at the back. Williams had a fairly quiet game, which is a good thing as if you aren’t noticing him it means he isn’t getting exposed or making mistakes. The one thing about him that has really impressed all season is that he never looks like he’s scared. Even when he’s been caught out or made mistakes, it doesn’t seem to knock his confidence. He’s got a great attitude. But when it comes to attitude nobody tops Big Nat. He’s nowhere near the level of most of his world class team-mates yet somehow he’s made himself one of our most important players right now. Look at our record when he’s played compared to when he hasn’t. He’s performing way above how he should be and it’s almost like he’s doing it through sheet force of will. He put through his own net, at Old Trafford, and just shrugged it off to go on and produce a high quality performance. He set up the equaliser, cleared one off his own line and generally just put his body on the line and won his headers and defended like his life depended on it. If we do qualify for the Champions League he may not even get to play in it, but he’ll be one of the main reasons we are in it as he’s been as influential as anybody in possibly saving our season. There’s still three cup finals left before we’re at that point though. Don’t fuck it up now lads. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, R Williams, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum (Jones), Thiago; Salah (N Williams), Firmino, Jota (Mané):
    39 points
  34. Loads to get through as there’s the weekend game plus a full midweek schedule to cover. Ideally I’d like to just skim through everything else and spend the whole article discussing Everton shitting the bed against Newcastle, but I’m a pro so I’ll resist the temptation and stick to the usual format. So, where to start then? May as well kick things off with the second funniest thing to happen this week. The Etihad. City against Palace. Pep vs Roy. Roy actually coming out of it winning on points. Again. It’s mad how much trouble his Palace team have given City over the last few years. Other than us, they’ve probably done better against City than anyone. Maybe that’s why Roy was so offended when he was asked what he can learn from Guardiola. “How to lose” was his somewhat bizarre, hilarious and completely unwarranted response. I have no idea if he meant to say that or if he was trying to make a different point, but it was fucking funny nonetheless. Only David Moyes has a bigger distance between opinion of ones own abiltity versus actual ability. I’ve been saying it all year. Palace are a bottom six team at best but somehow they keep getting results they shouldn’t and more often than not they look dreadful in doing so. Add this one to the list. Having taken the lead completely against the run of play (through Cenk Tosun no less! Bet that went down brilliantly across the park) they held out for a long time. They even survived the award of a penalty which was then correctly overturned by (Li)VAR(pool). Just as it was beginning to look like they might pull off another shock win, Aguero popped up twice in the final eight minutes. That looked to be that. Except it wasn’t. Deep in stoppage time Zaha escaped down the left, drilled in a low cross and there was Fernandinho to blast it past his own keeper. Too fucking funny. Speaking of funny, that stoppage time winner from Newcastle at home to Chelsea was comedy gold. Not just because Chelsea lost with the last kick of the game. Obviously that’s enough to make anyone smile, but it was what followed that was so hilarious. Hayden scored (look at that Kepa loser trying to keep it out though) and ran to the corner to celebrate. Matt Ritchie followed and - as he’s known to do - booted the corner flag. Except this time the corner flag took off and torpedoed into the crowd, where it hit some baldy arl fella in the bollocks and prevented him from celebrating. It’s a sign of me getting old that my take on this is that while it’s side splittingly funny because it hit him in the nuts - and people getting hit in the nuts is the funniest thing in the world along with farting - I couldn’t help thinking what if it had hit him in the eye? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but “pack that in, Ricthie. You could take someone’s eye out with that”. Yep, I’m now officially old. Newcastle’s players are dropping like flies and they just lost Willens and Dummett for the season. All things considered, they really should be losing every week, but somehow they’re not. It’s kind of funny when you think how the general perception was that Rafa was the only thing standing between Newcastle and the Beezer Homes League (is that still a thing?), but Steve Bruce has come in and got them picking up even more points despite an injury list longer than Joelinton’s goalless streak. Wolves had a great come from behind win at in form Southampton. Jan Bednerek put the Saints ahead with a fine finish and Shane Long headed in to make it 2-0. That was his first goal of the season. It’s one of life’s great mysteries how Long scores so few goals. Some will say it’s because he’s shit, but I rate him, always have, so either I’m wrong or it’s a mystery. In other words, it’s a mystery. I'll never not rate Shane Long just like I'll never rate Dominic Calvert-Lewin. My mind ain't for changing on either. Neto collected a cross from my boy Traore to pull one back and give Wolves hope. Then Jonny was fouled to allow Jimenez to level from the spot. Ralf Hassenhu… Hasselhoo… Hasselhoff wasn’t happy about the decision but fucking hell, that was as blatant as it gets so I don’t know what he was watching there. At this point it could have gone either way as both sides went for it. Redmond hit the bar with a 30 yarder but Traore then escaped to find Jimenez for the winner. Harsh on Southampton but a much needed win for Wolves who had been on a bit of a dodgy run having gotten themselves into top four contention. You know who isn’t in top four contention? Arsenal, that’s who. They’re closer to the bottom three than the top four and they were held at home by Sheffield United on Saturday. Martinelli has got his chance due to Aubamayeng’s suspension and he opened the scoring from close range when he got on the end of a deflected cross by fellow youngster Sako. The Blades pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing stages and eventually forced it when my boy Fleck drilled one into the corner on the half volley. They’re such a tough nut to crack . Sick of Arteta already, dressing like the fucking Milk Tray man in his black polar neck jumper. The Moyes Derby ended honours even as the Blues came from behind to nick a point at West Ham. Diop headed the Hammers into the lead but Calvert-Lewin nodded in an equaliser four minutes later. That’s how it finished and Ancelotti looks bored shitless already. Who can blame him. There was a VAR incident when a West Ham player flicked his head back in the direction of Holgate’s face. The contact was minimal but Holgate sold it like Ric Flair having his head smashed into the corner post. Not like him to use deception to try and get an opponent in trouble. VAR checked and said no red card, which I like to think is purely due to Holgate being a twat, because the West Ham lad should have been sent off. Final point on this one. What the fuck was Pickford doing with that ridiculously over the top save? The ball is straight at the cunt but instead of just gathering it, he swings his little arm and lashes it over the bar before yelling a stream of obscenities at his defenders. Jordan Prickford. See what I did there? His name is Pickford, but he’s a prick, so I changed it to Prickford. That’s what you pay your money for right there, people. Pepe Reina was back with a great save and a bad goal conceded as Villa picked up a valuable point at Brighton. Trossard fired across him to put Brighton in front, but Grealish lashed in a terrific equaliser that Matt Ryan probably ought to have saved. Pepe then made a flying stop late on to preserve a point for his new side. Grealish was brilliant again. This national media obsession about whether Grealish should be in the England squad is laughable. It’s as ludicrous as a ‘debate’ as the Trent v Wan Bissaka thing. Of course he should be in, but somehow he’s behind Lingard, Alli, Maddison and Barkley even though he’s better than all of them. He plays for Villa so that goes against him. If a big club signs him he’ll walk in, not just to the squad but to the starting eleven. Spurs drew 0-0 at Watford and still haven’t scored in 2020. They were lucky not to lose as my boy Troy uncharacteristically missed a pen. Mourinho was crying afterwards about red cards and penalties that weren’t given. There’s always something when he doesn’t win. It’s so transparent. Deflect. Deflect. Deflect. He’s “box office” though so its fine. Norwich got a rare win at home to free-falling Bournemouth, who shot themselves in the foot spectacularly when their captain and most experienced player got himself sent off early on in the most ridiculous of circumstances. To be fair Steve’s Cook’s save was incredible and most keepers would be proud of that. If he’d done it in the last few minutes then I’d be lauding him for it as it’s well worth the risk. But you’re playing Norwich away. It’s the first half. The score is 0-0. If they score then you’ve got loads of time to pull it back. What the fuck are you doing man? Chances are they’d score the pen anyway so where is the benefit to that action? Even if they’d missed the pen it would have been the wrong decision as Bournemouth would have to play the rest of the game a man down. He’s their captain and he’s pulling shit like that. This is one of many reasons I could never be a manager, because if I’m Eddie Howe then I’d have fucking killed him, the irresponsible fuck. At the very least I’d have stripped him of the captaincy on the spot and I’d have slated him publicly. You can’t do that though. Managers need to be able to refrain from that kind of impulsive reaction and I wouldn’t be able to do it. Cook left his team-mates out there to try to clean up a mess he created. And don’t tell me it was ‘instinctive’ because it fucking wasn’t (Nice Guy Eddie of course said it was). It’s instinctive if you’re a goalkeeper, as stretching to tip away a ball going over your head is by it’s very nature your natural instinct (unless you’re Jordan Prickford). It isn’t a natural action of a centre half though, and Cook let his team, the fans and his manager down big time. Pukki smoothly converted the pen and although Bournemouth gave it a go and Norwich were later reduced to ten men themselves when Godfrey was sent off for a late lunge, the Cherries slipped to yet another defeat that has plunged them into further trouble at the bottom. I hope they stay up, but then I hope Norwich stay up too. The Canaries are great to watch (I really like Pukki, Buendia and Aarons, but Cantwell can fuck off as he looks like an Eton educated Jack Grealish) but if they get out of this it would be miraculous. Bournemouth don’t need a miracle, they just need their best players back in the team and to get back to doing what they’re capable of. I’m rooting for them, not least because they’re such a valuable stream of income for the Reds. Onto Sunday and a surprise result at Turf Moor where Burnley came from a goal down to beat Leicester 2-1. Brendan’s boys are in a difficult period at the moment but they’re still way above where they were expected to be. They’re going to lose some games, but this wasn’t one I saw coming because Burnley have been in a dreadful run. Harvey Barnes broke the deadlock with a fine run past Ben Mee and a scruffy finish but Burnley equalised with a trademark Burnley goal - a set-piece that ended with that cart horse Wood scoring from a yard out. Barnes then skinned Mee again and was clearly brought down. The ref gave it, VAR took ages checking it (no idea why as it was blatant) and then Vardy missed. Leicester looked the more likely winners and Pope denied Maddison and Vardy, but with ten minutes to go Westwood smashed home the winner after a weak clearance by Johnny Evans. The midweek games now. I actually watched all of City’s game at Sheffield United because I smelled an upset. For a while it looked on too. City had the better of the chances in the first half but were never really dominant and they couldn’t find a way past Henderson, who was brilliant. He made a stunning save to keep out Sterling, he saved a penalty from Jesus and pulled off another cracker to deny Otamendi. All of those saves were in the first half and after the break not much really happened. It had 0-0 written all over it until that little cunt Aguero came on and did what he does. Of course it was from a De Bruyne ball right across the box too. Feels like that accounts for half of their goals these days. Having De Bruyne is like having Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield. Laporte was back which should help them tighten up a bit, but they don’t have anyone decent to play alongside him so I doubt it will make THAT much difference. Fernandinho is still having to play at the back, meaning that crab Rodri is filling that defensive midfield spot. Not having him at all. Bang average. One of the TLW lads described him as “a Spanish Eric Dier” which is pretty fucking savage, albeit accurate. Chelsea v Arsenal was way better than I expected it to be. I put the second half of that one on after the City game had finished and it was really enjoyable. Chelsea had led thanks to the usual horror show from the Arsenal centre backs. Mustafi fucked up and Luiz made it worse and got himself sent off while conceding a pen. Normally I’d expect Arsenal to just fold like a cheap tent but they didn’t. In fact, whisper it, they actually showed some bollocks for the first time in years. I was actually mildly impressed with their fight. They dug in and they looked like they wanted it more than Chelsea. Their first goal had a huge element of luck about it as Kante fell over which allowed Martinelli a clear run on goal. He finished it really well though and it was no more than they deserved as they’d been threatening since the start of the second half. They were giving it a right good go but I was convinced it would all end in tears for them, because they're Arsenal. Sure enough, Chelsea made it 2-1 and I was still busy patting myself on the back when Arsenal only went and equalised through Bellerin. They deserved it too. They’re still shit but they aren’t making me irrationally angry anywhere near as much now because at least they’re trying. They’re definitely less cowardly than they have been, but it doesn’t sit right at all when you have Xhaka giving it loads about “see, we do have character so you can all shut the fuck up”. Not his exact words but close enough. Let’s get this straight. Every bit of criticism that has been thrown at Arsenal over recent years, EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT, has been justified. There’s nothing that has been said that is too harsh because they’ve been a fucking spineless disgrace for years. Now they have one game where they actually show a little something and Xhaka thinks they’re proving their critics wrong. Look at the table you soft cunt. Bournemouth had a HUGE win at home to Brighton. If ever a team needed three points it was them, as the run they’ve had has been fucking horrendous. The fact they were playing a team close to them in the table made it even more vital. Harry Wilson set them on their way with a goal made in Anfield, as Solanke provided the assist. Seven league goals so far for Harry in a struggling side. That’s pretty good going that. If we do sell Shaqiri next season maybe Wilson will get a chance. He’d probably only be a bridge until Harvey Elliott is a bit older, but Wilson has shown enough to suggest he could do a job for us in Shaqiri’s squad role. A Pascal Gross own goal extended Bournemouth’s lead but they needed a stellar performance from their young keeper to preserve their lead. He made three brilliant saves before Callum Wilson made it 3-0. Solanke with the assist again, albeit this one was spawn as fuck. Brighton pulled one back through Aaron ‘formerly my boy’ Mooy and overall they probably deserved a point. They didn’t get it though, and they’ve been dragged right into the shit alongside Bournemouth. Villa did themselves a power of good with a dramatic late home win over Watford. My boy Troy headed Watford into an early lead and milked it for all it was worth in front of the Holte End. Deeney’s disdain for Villa just makes me like him even more. What a guy. Douglas Luiz equalised when he followed up from a Foster save, and Mings won it in stoppage time when he inadvertently got the faintest of touches on a goal bound shot by Konsa. Watford were furious because Mings had somehow earlier managed to stay on the field when he avoided a second booking for a blatant handball. Poor refereeing, but it’s Martin Atkinson so, *shrugs shoulders*. Southampton continued to close the gap on the top five (seriously, they’re only three points back now) with a good win at Palace, who as I keep telling you are dogshit. Nathan Redmond’s screamer set them on their way and Zaha was lucky not to be sent off after he poked Ward-Prowse in the face. There’s history there as Ward-Prowse provoked him into a red card this time last year. Armstrong made it 2-0 straight after the break and Southampton held on comfortably for a fourth successive away win. Redmond does my fucking head in because there are times when he looks like a top player, but then he’ll do nothing for six weeks. That’s why he’s playing for Southampton I suppose, as if he could show his top form every week he’d be playing for a top side. Mind you, the way it’s going Southampton might end up as one of the top clubs this season by default. Three points off fifth place!!! If they’d held on against Wolves at the weekend they’d be level. Madness. Onto Wednesday now. Spurs struggled to a 2-1 win over Norwich and they look utter turd at the moment. All put them ahead, Pukki levelled from the spot and Son won it from close range. Eton Jack Grealish was lucky to stay on after a high lunge. The ref gave him yellow and VAR went with that, but if the ref had sent him off I doubt it would have been overturned. There are legitimate reasons why all the other top clubs have dropped off so much but Spurs generally have the same players they had when they were good. They’re a shadow of what they were and Mourinho isn’t going to change that because it’s not 2006. Leicester saw off West Ham easily enough but they lost Vardy to what looked a pulled arse cheek. Barnes vultured a goal from Ricardo to set them on their way but he then made it up to his full back by setting up the second for him. West Ham were given a lifeline with a really soft pen that I can’t believe was upheld by VAR. Noble buried it, as he almost always does. Leicester were then given an equally soft pen of their own when that Iheanacho cunt went tumbling. That Ayoze Perez loser scored from the spot and then added another late on to wrap it up. I’m happy with this result as I want Leicester to keep the heat on City for second spot as I just think it would be funny if Brendan finished above Guardiola. There’d be no living with him if that happened. I also want West Ham to go down because fuck David Moyes and fuck their Tory owners. I think they will too. The run of games they have coming up is brutal and they’ll be in the bottom three at the end of it. Onto Old Trafford now. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! So much for those strides Ole reckoned United made at Anfield then. A 2-0 home defeat and their worst start in about 30odd years. How the fuck are they fifth?? This is even more mind boggling than when Mourinho got them second. A trademark Burnley goal saw them go ahead at Old Trafford. Mee with the flick on and Wood with the finish. To give the big useless lump some credit, it was a really nice finish. Their second was an absolute belter though, Jay Rodriguez leathering one in the top corner with his left peg. There were plenty of empty seats at Old Trafford, and I don’t just mean in the last ten minutes when it seemed as though 90% of the crowd fucked off. No, there were loads of empty seats even before that, which is not something we’re used to seeing but it’s the way it’s going to be now. For so long they were on top and playing to sell out crowds, but look at them now. All those fucking glory hunters who jumped on the bandwagon when they were winning will all just slowly melt away if this carries on they’ll be playing to crowds of around 50,000 once the tourists stop spending fortunes to go and watch them. And the ones who are still there will be singing non-stop about the Glazers and blaming them for all their woes. The anti-Glazer chants were out in force against Burnley. Hilarious. Whatever happened to those protests back in the day? Oh yeah, they fucked them off because they were winning and Ferguson told them the Glazers were sound. Now things are bad they’re lashing out at the owners again. “Green and Gold, unless we’re good”. Fucking bums. I hope this shit carries on forever. In fact, I hope they get relegated again. With Rashford back heeling the goal that relegates them while wearing a Man City shirt. Cunts. What goes around comes around. All those years of sneering arrogance.... "You've only come to see United" "We're Man United we do what we want" etc etc etc Now look at you, you're fucking pathetic. So I’ve saved the best until last. Tuesday night, Goodison Park. Wow. Just wow. Everton. Fucking hell. Just when you think they couldn’t possibly be any more Everton, they go and out-Everton themselves. That was some top class Evertoning against Newcastle. How is that even possible? Because they’re Everton, that’s why. There’s an image on social media of a TV screen showing the score as Everton 2 Newcastle 0, with 93 minutes played and only four minutes stoppage time having been signalled. The question was asked “how can you explain that Everton did not win this game?”. The answer is simple #evertonarentwe This is the kind of thing they do. They find the most excruciating and embarrassing ways to torture their own fanbase. I’m starting to suspect they’re doing this deliberately now. It’s some kind of social experiment to see how people cope with repeated anguish, heartbreak and humiliation. I mean how else can you explain this: Their official Twitter put that out before the game and then the team go and do that in stoppage time. They were going to have the piss taken out of them anyway after that collapse, but by putting those images out beforehand they’ve made it a hundred times more embarrassing for themselves. I think my personal favourite was this: Although this was also a belter..... They’re fucking nuts. This is like seeing a gang moving towards you menacingly and instead of running away you start handing out baseball bats and knives. I keep saying this, but I had to give up writing piss take articles about them because their reality was funnier than any punchline I could write. This is another classic example of it. I can’t get over it. Who else would do that? The drawings are fucking hilarious but the best one by far is Walcott. Whoever drew that nailed it perfectly. It isn’t even a person, they just drew a big pile of shite. And Everton published it. It’s mind boggling. They must be doing it deliberately. There's no other explanation for it. Newcastle were never in that game at all but somehow scored twice the very depths of stoppage time to steal a point. The fact it was a substitute centre half who scored both goals makes it even funnier, but as if all of that wasn’t enough you then have the clownshow that is Pickford saving the ball a yard behind his own goal line. Let me state this clearly for the record. Jordan Pickford is shit. Genuinely shit. I’m not speaking in relative terms and I don’t just mean he’s over-rated. I mean he’s shit. Proper, 100%, unadulterated shit. He might be the worst goalkeeper in the Premier League now that West Ham have disposed of that Mafia looking fella. It took me a little while to realise this and I freely admit that I thought he was class at Sunderland. My Mackem brother in law loved him (still does actually) and would constantly tell me how promising he was and how great his kicking is and about all these incredible saves he’d make. Chris Kirkland would rave about him too, having worked with him at Preston. I’d watch Match of the Day and see him pulling off loads of saves and I bought into it too. It’s been obvious for a couple of years now though that he’s a complete myth. The eye catching saves are because his positioning is shit and because he seems to feel the need to make every single thing he does look spectacular. The truth is, he’s fucking shit. Some Blues are starting to realise it but loads are still being fooled by the camera saves. In fairness, my eyes were only truly opened when we got Alisson. Some of the things I’m seeing Blues say about Pickford not being the problem are eerily similar to things I’d written about Mignolet. “Not his fault” “He couldn’t have saved that” “He isn’t the problem” “It’s a collective thing”. Sometimes that was true, but the arrival of Alisson has educated me massively on goalkeeping. He rarely has to do any of that acrobatic shit we see from Pickford because his positioning and reading of the game is so good he’s usually one step ahead and can make everything look easy. In his last couple of seasons here Mignolet hardly made any mistakes to be fair to him, but he didn’t make many saves either. Goals would go in and you’d think “he had no chance of saving that”. Those goals aren’t going in now though, even though Alisson isn’t necessarily having to make great saves to prevent them. That’s what makes him great. Pickford is now just a walking meme. A laughing stock. He’s Phil Jones with goalie gloves. Just like Jones, virtually every time he plays he’s trending on Twitter and it’s rarely for anything good. He’s continually being mocked and it’s going to kill his career, just like it did Jones’. To top everything off Ancelotti revealed afterwards that he told the players that losing leads happens and that he was once 3-0 up in a Champions League Final and didn’t win. Yeah, that’ll make them feel better, Carlo. The old ‘remember Istanbul’ never fails to cheer Evertonians up. Like I say, this has to be deliberate, surely?
    39 points
  35. I could just copy and paste large chunks of the League Cup Final here as it was basically the same game. Some of the minor points are different but essentially it was a highly entertaining 0-0 that we shaded but that could have gone either way as both teams had plenty of good chances. Extra time and pens once again. *sighs* Thankfully the outcome went in our favour once more but I feel another few months have been taken from the end of my life. Of course there's nothing surprising about the stress and drama of it all. It’s Liverpool in a final, it’s never straightforward. Plus Chelsea are a really strong side on their day. Forget the inconsistent shite they’ve been serving up, like losing at fucking Everton for example, when Chelsea are focussed they’re dangerous because they’ve got quality all over the park and a top manager. They even wore their magic yellow kit which was supposed to bring a change of luck for them as they keep losing finals in blue. Can't believe that foolproof plan didn't work. Four games we’ve had with them now and neither side has won any of them. We got two trophies because we were marginally better at penalty kicks, but that’s four draws with them now. We were the better side in this one but they were dangerous and even when we were well on top they still created chances. Not as many as we did, but with better finishing they could have won in normal time. So could we of course. We started the game like we wanted to blow them away in the first 10 minutes and with better luck we could have. We were absolutely dazzling early on and Diaz was running all over them. They’d left out Azpilacueta and included Chalobah, and that was so obviously due to being scared of what Diaz could do. With good reason. He was sensational all day. He must have had five or six near misses. It’s not like his finishing was bad, but the ball just wouldn’t fucking go in no many how many times he tried. We've had the "Owen Final" and the "Gerrard Final" and It's such a shame because this could have been "The Diaz Final" if he'd been a bit more precise. The only one where I thought he really should have done better though was the one that Mendy just about kept out. That really frustrated me because of what we were denied. That would have been the best Wembley goal ever scored and would be right up there with any goal we’ve ever seen. It started with an outrageous outside of the boot pass by Alisson. Then the ball comes to Trent and he repeats the feat with an even more sumptuous ball to send Diaz clear. That pass was like the Gerrard to Sturridge one at Fulham all those years ago. The difference was that Sturridge finished it off, Diaz didn’t. Virtually everything we did had him at the heart of it though. He was brilliant in the League Cup Final but he was even better in this one. What a player he is. He’s fucking relentless. He’s so good that I wasn’t even that concerned when Mo had to go off. I was concerned about him potentially missing the Champions League Final, but I wasn’t worried about how it would impact this particular game as I thought we’d be fine. Mo didn’t actually look in too much trouble and seemed fairly relaxed as he applauded the fans on the way off. He didn’t give the impression he was worried about the final so it just seemed like a precautionary measure. Virg later went off in similar circumstances and I reckon Klopp and the sports science team had already come to the decision that anyone that felt anything was going to be subbed because we have five subs in this game and there’s no point risking anyone ahead of the Madrid game. It’s mad though when you think about it. This is a cup final but it’s not our biggest priority because we’re so fucking boss that we’ve got even bigger fish to fry. Imagine being us! But anyway, the fast start we made didn’t exactly fizzle out as I thought we still played well for the most part, but Chelsea settled themselves and began to look a threat on the counter. Alisson made a fine save from Alonso as the game went end to end. Jota volleyed over from a Robbo cross when he should have done better. There were no shortage of chances and the parallels with the League Cup Final were obvious. The second half starts and Chelsea flew out of the traps. We were on the ropes for a few minutes but then we regained control again. The ball just wouldn’t go in though. Diaz hit the post as well as seeing other efforts go inches wide. Robbo hit the post too. It looked like a bad miss but I’m fairly sure that a defender got the tiniest touch on it to take the ball off his boot and onto his shin. He was unlucky there and he’d earlier missed a similar chance when the ball dropped over a defender and he was unable to react to it and it bounced off his shins and went wide. I think it was around the 70 minute mark or so when I resigned myself to it going to extra time and pens. It was like watching a re-run of the last game. You just knew a goal wasn’t coming. When extra time came along we had the disconcerting sight of Virgil going to take a seat on the bench as Joel came on to replace him. I mean, we’re fortunate to have such a world class replacement but the bottom line is we went into the game without Fabinho and then lost Salah and Van Dijk during it. That’s three absolute mainstays of the team. But the replacements aren’t bad are they? When Mo was injured in the 2018 Champions League Final his replacement was a midfielder, Adam Lallana. When he went off this time, Klopp had to choose between Jota, Firmino and Origi. When Virg went off, it was Matip or Gomez. The squad is incredible now. We need it to be, because everyone will be fucked and this Tuesday night will see mass changes. We’ve seen Mo and Virg narrowly avoid injury and we’ve no doubt got a load of lads in the red zone now. The title is still just about alive but highly unlikely so we can’t send out Trent, Hendo, Sadio, Diaz, Thiago etc at St Mary’s this week. It would be reckless and stupid. We’ll need to rely on Kostas, Joe, Curtis, Harvey, Milner, Div, Taki and the rest. They’ve served us well so far. Extra time was something of a non event. As soon as Diaz was replaced that was our attacking race run really. Chelsea had the better of it but didn’t threaten much either and penalties seemed inevitable. I didn’t like the decision to take off Diaz because unlike in the last final he still looked full of energy. However, I don’t think we can second guess these decisions too much because we don’t know who is at highest risk of injury. They knew Diaz was playing great but subbed him anyway. There had to be a reason for that so although it was disappointing I’m ok with it because let's face it, they know what they’re doing. You know what I didn’t really like though? Bobby coming on and not Divock. Was anyone surprised that Bobby looked like a man who hadn’t played for a month? He was shite but I expected nothing else. It wasn’t a game for him and it baffles me how Klopp keeps ignoring the Origi narrative. I know Bobby is a better player and I know in other games, such as Spurs, we may have had better tactical options to call on, but Divock is so much more than logic can quantify. Fucking get him on the pitch and just let him do his thing. Anyway, we get to pens and Chelsea win the toss for ends and for who goes first. Not great. They score with their first pen too, through Alonso. So did we, but only just. Milner’s pen wasn’t his best and Mendy got a hand to it. Thankfully he couldn’t keep it out. Next up, that tit Azpilacueta. He hit the post. Yes. Game on now. Up steps Thiago and he hits the post too, but the inside of it and the ball nestled in the net. Advantage us. Reece James scored. So did Bobby. Again though, only just as Mendy got a hand on it. Barkley scored for them. Then up steps Trent, cool as you like and a nice little strut back to halfway. Nearly there. Jorginho needed to score to keep it going and did. So it’s all on our fifth taker to win it. I thought it would be Jota, who has been nails for us in shootouts. But no, it’s Sadio. I didn’t like it. Firstly because I don’t think he’s good at pens at all. Secondly he’s up against his international team-mate, which always makes me uncomfortable as no-one will know Sadio's penalties better than Mendy. So I didn’t like his chances but then I also didn’t know about the unintentional mind games from Klopp that fucked him right up. Asking him which way he was going and then telling him to go the other way? What the fuck, Jurgen??? Sadio’s penalty lacked any kind of conviction and now we know why. Mendy saved and at that moment I thought we were screwed. Ziyech had to wait a long time to take his pen because the Chelsea fans had thrown a flare on the pitch. If he’d missed because of that it would have been pure unadulterated Everton that. He didn’t miss though, he held his nerve with a great pen. Now Jota has to score to keep us in it. He did. Probably the best pen of the lot and proof he should have been on the fifth. At this point I’m getting annoyed with Alisson for not even looking like saving any of them. “Come on Ali, you need to fucking do something here or we’re not winning this”. He did. Great save to deny Mount and as soon as I saw who was taking our seventh pen I knew we’d won. Why was I so sure? Because it was just perfect wasn’t it? Of all the people to get the chance to hit the winning pen there was just no-one better than that mad little bastard. He’s always the first one being happy for everyone else, he’s an incredible team-mate and all of the players seem to love him, but now was his moment to be the hero. Great penalty and then wild celebrations. What a moment. What a guy. I fucking love Kostas, he’s just the best isn’t he? Such a sound lad and this couldn’t have happened to anyone more deserving. Quick word on Alisson here though. He only saved one penalty but his contribution was more than that. Remember in the last final when that Kepa knobhead kept trying to put our lads off by walking out with the ball and then trying to psyche them out? I don’t know whether Mendy would have pulled that shit or not, but he wasn’t able to because Alisson just took command of the whole situation by going to get the ball and walking to the edge of the box to hand it to his team-mates and given them a word of encouragement. It might not have made any difference, we’ll never know. I mean, we scored all of our pens last time despite the shenanigans from their keeper, but I just think it highlights how well we do things. That’s obviously something that was picked up on by the staff (or players) and Alisson made sure that didn’t happen again. We just do things better than everybody else. Check out this thread on twitter highlighting the preparations of Klopp and Tuchel and showing the difference. Klopp was just much more organised and our whole process was smoother. I don’t think it made any difference as we both scored four out of the designated first five kicks, but it’s about the bigger picture. Nothing is left to chance with us now, we just do everything properly and much thought goes into every little detail. It’s the marginal gains that have allowed us to take things to that extra level. Even things like hiring the fellas to come in and work with the players on the mental side of taking penalties and shutting out all of the noise. The throw in coach too. Some ex pros laugh at that stuff but it all adds up. We’re not winning things because we have a throw in coach. We’re winning things because we have maybe a hundred of those little things on the go that add up to a big advantage over teams who aren’t doing all of this stuff. We’ll never know if Alisson’s actions won us the shoot out, or if it was how quickly Klopp selected and prepared the takers before setting the tone with a passionate speech and then relaxing his players with hugs and jokes. It’s impossible to know what impact it had, but we do know that we won. Again. So that’s two trophies in the bag in a season where we have reached another CL Final, will hopefully top 90 points again and have so far lost only three games all fucking season, and one of those (Inter) wasn’t even a loss as it was essentially just like losing a half. Winning in Paris would make this one of the greatest seasons in our history. If we lose that, it’s still a great season now regardless. Two trophies, we’ve played every possible game we could have played and we’ve had an incredible ride. If we can win at Southampton we’ll take the title race into the last game. It will probably be a futile chase as I’d never want to rely on Aston Villa for anything, the flaky bastards, but whatever happens I hope we can at least ensure that City have to win that game to hold us off. We’re going to basically have to change the entire team for that Southampton game. Of the starters, I’d only keep Alisson and Konate in. Keita too actually as he was subbed early. Gomez, Kostas, Divock, Curtis, Taki and the rest, its your time again lads. We got some heroic efforts from players in this game. Diaz was the best player on the pitch but Trent was fucking brilliant. It might even be the best all around game he’s played for us. His defending was unreal and I lost count of the number of times he covered around the back to make vital clearances. Reece James is a great player but he’s not in the same league as Trent. There’s no shame in that, as no-one else is either. James is the second best right back in the country but the gap is massive. Hendo had a great game and Thiago was quality (one or two stray passes aside) and I thought Keita was good too. Him being replaced was no reflection on his performance, I just think Klopp wanted Milner on. There was an interview with Milner through the week when he spoke about being left out of games and he said Klopp told him “I want you on the pitch at the end, so you can’t start”. Having his experience and know how out there in the big moments definitely helps. Konate had another great game and it’s so impressive how we get these signings right now. Everyone talked up his partner at Leipzig and he ended up at Bayern. We watched them and said “forget Upamecano, Konate is the one”. And he is. He’s fucking brilliant. He also seems like a great lad who (like Kostas, Thiago, Diaz etc) has settled in quickly and is very popular with the rest of the team. That’s important. We just don’t sign knobheads anymore do we? As I say, marginal gains, all these things help. In previous seasons if we’d beaten Chelsea in big games it would have meant more than just us winning. There was also a massive pleasure in them losing. I don’t really feel like that currently. Yeah, it’s always nice getting one over on their fans who are right up there with the worst we come across (awful Tories) but the team itself really doesn’t inspire any kind of negativity from me. Azpilacueta is the only one I genuinely dislike. If I wanted to, I could find reasons to dislike Mount, James, Pulisic etc but I don’t really have the energy for it these days. There are more than enough players in the league for me to hate that I don’t need to go looking for reasons to add to the list. By and large this Chelsea team is alright, and - whisper it - I like Thomas Tuchel. I never used to, that creepy paedo vibe he gives off made him an easy target but the more I’ve listened to him and watched how he interacts with Klopp and our players, he’s won me over. He’s alright, I’ve got absolutely no beef with him at all. These two finals could have gone either way and although we were the better side in both games, it wasn’t by much. Neither team were clinical and that’s why both games ended up going to penalties. The margins are so fine that we could easily be the ones empty handed but thankfully we aren’t and it’s Tuchel who is left cursing his luck. There is a real uncertainly surrounding them now that their sugar daddy has gone. I’d like it very much if they slid back into the relative irrelevance they were before he arrived, but I don’t see that happening immediately. They’ve got loads of really good players and a very good manager. They’ll be competitive for a while yet, but they’re a long way behind us. Not in a one off game, we’ve seen that four times this season. But they are a way behind us and long may it continue. So now we regroup, hope to get the result we need at Southampton and then see what happens at the weekend. It’s easy to be relaxed about that knowing we have a date with Real Madrid in Paris the following weekend though isn’t it? What a team. What a time to be a Red. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk (Matip), Robertson (Tsimikas): Henderson, Thiago, Keita (Milner); Salah (Jota), Mané, Diaz (Firmino):
    38 points
  36. My confidence against City has taken a real battering over recent seasons. I went from being bullish to the point of telling the world that City are terrified of us, to fretting that they’ve got our number and that we need to change what we do in order to match them. I felt differently going into this one though and I was confident. Not my usual notorious over confidence, but I did think we’d win when I saw City’s starting eleven. Even before that I was talking myself into us winning. I started to feel confident in midweek really after seeing what they had to go through in Madrid. Our lads either had their feet up or their slippers on, while City were going to war against the most horrible team in world football. To go through what they did and then have to deal with a fresh and fired up Liverpool… I honestly don’t think that’s possible. And then when I saw the team Guardiola had picked, that’s when I felt that they were there for the taking. Not because it was a really weak line up. Clearly it wasn’t. That team would win against most opponents. We’re not most opponents though. To face us without Ederson, Walker, Laporte, Dias, Rodri and De Bruyne, yeah that’s a seriously tall order, despite the quality they still had. Especially given how fired up and rabid our lads were obviously going to be. That said, 3-0 at half time was much more than I was expecting. The way the game went wasn’t surprising to me, I thought we’d be on the front foot and would be fresher than them, but scoring three unanswered goals was not something I’d have predicted. We were good value for it though. Without the ball we were incredible in that first half. With it we were pretty good too but I think we can do better. I’m not we can do any better without the ball though as we just smothered them. I’m not sure why City tried to play out from the back as much as they did. I thought they’d learnt that lesson years ago as they’ve really toned that down since. Maybe it was due to the changes they made and they wanted to keep the ball more to conserve energy. Whatever the reason I’m glad they did it, because they were just laying down a trail of chum in the water for our hungry sharks. I made the point last week that a big problem for us in the game at the Etihad was we only had one corner. We’re so good at corners that if we get half a dozen you expect us to make one count. Games like this are often decided on the little details and being boss on corners is a big advantage for us. The emergence of Konate as a huge threat on corners has been most welcome, especially as the goals have dried up from Mo. We needed to replace his output somehow and we’ve done it via the most unlikely of sources. Three goals in consecutive games for Ibou now. This was the best of the lot. Good corner by Robbo but that’s all about the dominance and aggression of Konate. It’s one of those “get the fuck out of my way, this is mine” kind of goals. He just bulldozed his way through the box and then soared above Ake to plant a header past the keeper. When you watch the replay, Ake does nothing wrong. He jumps pretty high but Konate is just too much for him to deal with. He’s a fucking powerhouse, but the most impressive thing has been that when he wins these headers he directs them exactly where he wants to. So that gave us the perfect start and you could really see we had the bit between our teeth and City were rattled. From the first couple of minutes I thought they looked dodgy at the back and that keeper didn’t seem convincing at all. I had no idea who he was so I had no pre-conceived opinions on him. I rarely watch City and I never watch them in domestic cups, so I’d never even heard of this fella. Honestly, I thought Claudio Bravo was still their number two. But the first few touches this fella had suggested he wasn’t to be trusted. I even said to my dad early on that we should be pressing him any time he has the ball. And then lo and behold he goes and does that. It’s great from Sadio because it’s not just that he pressed him, he did it flat out and turned on the afterburners. The keeper messed up his touch but Sadio is on him so quickly. It’s just brilliant from him. The keeper obviously has had a complete ‘mare with that but when you’re encouraged to play around in your own six yard box like that then this is an occupational hazard. Playing out from the back is all well and good but I never like seeing keepers playing about near their own goal line. Even Ederson, great as he is with his feet, almost got caught by Jota last week. Sadio deserves all the credit for that because he’s so good at it. He almost did it earlier in the season at Anfield but was denied by VAR. It might have been against Brighton, I can’t remember. He’s a fucking menace though isn’t he? So 2-0 and we’re in dreamland. City were completely rattled, we were dominating them all over the park but a two goal lead isn’t enough against these, especially when they had De Bruyne and Mahrez on the bench. I felt like the third goal was the key because if we could get to 3-0 we’d probably go on and get more. So that third goal felt massive when it came, and what a goal it was too. Just brilliant football. The first two goals had shown two sides of our game where we excel. A set-piece and a high press. The third showed we can also build up attacks from deep and carve through opponents. It’s one of the best goals we’ve scored all season. The cross field ball from Trent to Diaz is great. The persistence between Diaz and Robbo. Then the sheer quality of Thiago and finally the finish by Sadio. Fingers will be pointed at the keeper again as he was beaten on his near post, but I don’t think he can save that. His position is ok as he has to assume Sadio is going across goal. His body shape suggested that’s where he was going, but then he slices right across it and it flies in at the near post. The keeper isn’t wrong footed and he tries desperately to get down and save it, but the strike is too good. Sadio was sensational all day. He’s really starting to look the part in the middle and is getting better every time he plays there. He’s great at coming deep to collect the ball and then getting turned and running at people, and he’s scoring goals at a good rate too. Klopp is spoiled for choice right now, especially up front. That’s going to lead to some potentially surprising choices over the coming weeks I think. There were a couple in this game actually. Konate for Matip wasn’t really a shock and given the goalscoring exploits of Konate of late it made sense to keep him in, and that decision paid off big time. I didn’t like the decision to leave Henderson out for Keita and I wouldn’t have started Diaz either, but I was fine with that. Keita over Hendo though? In a game this big? Nah, I didn’t like that one bit. Naby actually did well and justified the decision but I didn’t really see anything from him that Hendo isn’t going to give us either. That said, a fresh and angry Hendo lining up against the Mancs on Tuesday is something I can’t wait to see. Keita was brilliant in his pressing and positioning, and he was pretty good with his use of the ball too. I think he can play better but I have no complaints about this. He’s contributed a fair bit this season. He’s not been brilliant by any means but he’s not a weak link anymore either. The fact he’s being trusted to start big games and he’s not being subbed before half time is certainly progress. Last week at the Etihad the midfield didn’t really function. Thiago was the pick of the three but Fabinho had a stinker and Hendo didn’t make much of an impact either. Klopp’s solution to it was to pick Keita and even though I didn’t like it, I can’t argue with it now given how we played. There’s a lot more to how we played than just that change though. Fabinho wasn’t himself last week but he was back to his best in this one. Klopp referenced that and said they had to look at the reasons Fabinho struggled. He rested him midweek so presumably fatigue was the problem. Thiago though, fucking hell he was playing football from another dimension. Not enough is being said about what he did in this game. I said on the post match pod that I think this might have been a perfect performance. By that I mean literally everything he did was good. The decision making, the execution, just everything he did was perfect. It was one of the most accomplished midfield performances I’ve ever seen. He’s amazing. City’s midfield couldn’t really handle us at all, but then Rodri and De Bruyne weren’t there so that makes a difference. I would have thought Gundogen might have started as that midfield three was always going to struggle to deal with us. I’ve got to say that at half time I was thinking we might be about to witness something epic. Like a 6-0 or something. That was naive of me really. It very rarely works out like that. When one great side has a big lead over another, it rarely ends up as a rout and more often than not the other side gets back into it. 3-2 flattered City of course, but its not surprising. We’ve seen that before. Remember the game at Anfield when we raced into a big lead and then ended up hanging on desperately at the end? This wasn’t like that as we were never under the cosh, but it is fairly typical of what often happens. We didn’t get complacent or ease off massively, but when you’re 3-0 up against a great side something changes and you just get a little bit more pragmatic and safe. We didn’t play with the same kind of breathless intensity we had in the first half, but then we didn’t need to as we were 3-0 up. City scoring so early after half time didn’t help of course. Good goal to be fair. Robbo gave it away when trying to play a forward pass but it was on halfway and didn’t scream out immediate danger. City played it really well though. Jesus got himself back onside and then darted back in behind. Great movement. Fernandinho’s pass was perfect and took Virgil out, but Fabinho was still back covering. Jesus turned him inside out though and then rolled it to Grealish who lashed it in. Really good goal and that’s what they can do at any moment. That gave them a lift and could have caused us to wobble. It didn’t really. The second half was pretty even but I never felt we were in any danger until stoppage time really. We were mostly keeping them at arms length and always looked dangerous ourselves. They got in behind us twice and Jesus was the problem. He got in behind Virgil and Alisson needed to make a save from a tight angle. Virgil nudged him in the back to put him off and if Jesus had gone down there I think he’d have got a pen. He stayed up and tried to score but it knocked him out of his stride. The commentators said it was great defending by Virg, I think he was pretty lucky. Jesus got in again a bit later and Alisson needed to make a great save with his left foot. That came about because Konate tried to play a ball down the line that was cut out, and Virgil was about 20 yards behind everyone else which allowed Jesus to get in. I think Konate was also playing him on, but Virgil’s position seemed odd at the time. I think he’d dropped deep wanting a pass from Alisson but it went out to Konate instead and he was slow to push out. Those were the only real moments of danger I can remember. Aside from that we were in control and had chances of our own. Sadio shot straight at the keeper when well placed and Mo had a few openings he didn’t make the most of. I’d have subbed Mo with about 20 minutes to go and brought Bobby on. Other than Hendo for Naby, Klopp didn’t make any changes until later than that and when he did he brought off Diaz and Mané, who were both brilliant. Mo was left on, presumably just because we need him back in the goals. I didn’t mind those changes but I did recoil somewhat when Jones was brought on for Thiago. It felt as though we were acting like the game was over and I didn’t feel that it was. There were only five minutes left but even so, that change made me a bit itchy and scratchy. To be fair, that change had no bearing on what happened and Curtis wasn’t responsible for the panic at the end. The late goal for Silva gave the scoreline a false look but it also set up a grandstand finish in which City had three chances to equalise. We should NEVER have found ourselves in that position but top players can do that to you and I’m just glad we had a three goal cushion. I don’t even really blame anyone for the City goal. Mahrez did absolutely brilliantly to create that and although Robbo looked all at sea there’s really not much he can do. By the time he’s in position to even foul him it’s too late as Mahrez is in the box. It was a bit unfortunate for us as the initial pass from Foden wasn’t even meant for Mahrez. He was looking for Sterling and Robbo had tracked that run before having to then veer off course and close down Mahrez. He was struggling to get there, his angles weren’t right and Mahrez was able to completely skin him. His shot from a tight angle almost squirmed through Alisson into the net but we were fortunate that the deflection took it away from goal. Not so fortunate that it fell perfectly for that little rat Bernardo. After that City had three chances to equalise. Van Dijk did enough to deflect a Fernandinho shot over the bar. Then Jota did the same to deny Mahrez. The best chance they had fell to Sterling who found himself unmarked in the box but hit a tame shot straight at Alisson. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but the way this ended did take some of the shine off it for me. Not too much and in time when I look back on this season I won’t be thinking about how this game ended. For now though it is a little annoying. If we’d taken one of the gilt edged opportunities we had in stoppage time to make it 4-2 that would have been more palatable. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t, it just would have been nice. Mo had one that he put well wide when there were three or four team-mates in the box wanting a pass. You could actually make a case that he should have gone to the corner flag with it. He’s never going to do that though. Diaz might have. Maybe Sadio would too. Bobby wouldn’t have any hesitation in doing it. Mo is always going to try and score though. Bobby should have scored in the dying seconds too when the keeper headed it out to him after racing out to deny Salah. I thought Bobby should have just lobbed it over him but yet again we saw one of our strikers spurn that and try to dribble instead. In fairness Bobby went around Fernandinho like he was a cone on a training pitch, but as he went to shoot, a City defender came flying in through the back of him. The ball ended up in the keeper’s arms but Michael Oliver blew for a free-kick. What the actual fuck? It’s either play on or a penalty. I have no idea what he thinks he saw there but giving a foul against Bobby in that situation ranks as one of the worst decisions you’ll ever see. It’s an irrelevant footnote now but I thought it was worth mentioning because he’s literally five yards from it and somehow came up with that decision. Fucking mental. Overall I thought Oliver was pretty good though, aside from showing the same failing that pretty much every other ref in the Premier League has had over the past decade. I am of course referring to the different set of rules that Fernandinho is allowed to play by compared with everyone else on the pitch. This isn’t about refs being biased towards City. It’s not that, it’s Fernandinho specific. It’s been a running joke for years how he’s allowed five or six fouls before he eventually picks up a card, and we saw that again here. Honestly, there has to be something going on here as the cunt gets away with fucking murder every time he plays. He could easily have had four yellow cards in this game. Other players - from both sides - were booked for similar or even lesser offences, yet he just bounces around booting fuck out of people without any kind of recourse. At this point it’s just completely bizarre. He’s like that South African twat in Lethal Weapon 2, smugly taunting Murtagh and Riggs by saying “diplomatic immunity”. Fernandinho must have something on Premier League refs that means he gets three free ones before they can book him. The first one he did on Thiago was nasty as fuck. He didn’t just foul him, he booted him and was wanting to hurt him. There was another wild one on Diaz too, as well as numerous other persistent offences. Eventually he got a yellow for a challenge that could easily have been a red when he lunged in at full speed and caught Sadio. He went in with both feet. It wasn’t exactly two footed as the first foot missed but the trailing one didn’t. It was worse than a yellow but not quite bad enough to justify a red under normal circumstances, but when he’d got away with so much before that then he’d have had no right to complain if he’d been sent packing there. Absolute fucking shithouse him. There seems to be a genuine respect between the two sets of players and there’s very little needle there. A lot of them are mates. Virgil was chatting with Ake afterwards, the Brazilian lads all seem to get on well with each other and I even saw Jones and Sterling having a friendly conversation at full time. Fernandinho seemed to piss most of our lads off though and is probably the most disliked other than Bernardo. I reckon half of our lads hate that little rat. Fabinho is a former team-mate of his and I reckon even he can’t stand him. Jota is probably the only one who doesn’t, because they’re international team-mates. And Alisson of course, he doesn’t hate anyone as he’s a saint. Even the managers seem to get on. I despise Guardiola but he’s been alright these last couple of weeks. I thought he’d say something to piss me off but he hasn’t. He’s been sound. Even when the City fans ruined the minute’s silence, the club put out a statement immediately and it was unequivocal in its condemnation. Guardiola hammered them afterwards too, so fair play for that. I’m not even bothered about it to be honest as I expected it. There were always going to be some scumbags who were not going to respect it. When this happens I tend to feel sorry for the decent fans who get tarred with the knobhead brush. There were loads of City fans absolutely mortified and embarrassed by that. The dickheads don’t represent the entire fanbase. That’s United, not City. Although they are getting worse every year. I haven’t read the replies to the statement they put out but I expect the whataboutery is off the scale and I imagine there will have been countless references to Koppaberg bottles too. City’s response to it was as good as we could have hoped for so I’m not going to dwell on it. I heard Guardiola on the radio afterwards and he didn’t make excuses even when they were offered to him on a plate. Of course the Atletico game made things tougher for them but he made an interesting point about why they weren’t at their best. He said that when one team plays well the other usually doesn’t. He’s right when you think about it. It happened last week in the first half too, only with the roles reversed. You rarely get both teams playing well and I think it’s just because of the strength of the two teams. When one is on top the other is going to struggle to do what they do because the team in the ascendency doesn’t allow it. Klopp said last week City were brilliant but that we weren’t ourselves. He wanted us to play like ‘us’ this time and we did, but there’s no doubt that we were helped to do that by City’s starting line up and tired legs. Against anyone else they could probably get away with it, but we just blitzed them and they couldn’t do anything. There’s a lot of talk now about how this might impact the title race. It won’t. If anyone thinks City will start to doubt themselves because they lost this game, they’re kidding themselves. If they think this will have any bearing on the Champions League final should we both get through, again, it’s wishful thinking. City know they didn’t have their best team out there and that they were goosed after their midweek game. Next time we play them, they won’t even be thinking about this. It’s possible we might get a bit of a boost from it though. We’re reached another cup final and we beat City to do it, so we should be feeling good about ourselves. We can’t afford to think about that yet anyway as there’s so much football to play. We’ve got United and Everton this week and those are two games where we should be absolutely filling our boots. I don’t want to hear anything about them being “derby games” and form counting for nothing. Both of those teams are absolutely pitiful and should have no chance against us. This is the worst Everton side of my lifetime and it’s possibly the worst United one too. And this is our best ever side. We need to be battering both of them to keep the pressure on City and to cement our goal difference advantage. That might be crucial because if they lose a game and we draw one, it will come down to goal difference. And City have to play Watford which is nailed on to be about 8-0. Star man is Thiago but I feel really bad for not going with Sadio as he was sensational and was the catalyst for everything we did. The whole team performed really well though so it’s hard singling people out. Special mention to Trent for his defending. He won pretty much every duel he had regardless of who he was up against and made a mockery of Shearer’s lazy analysis pre-game. Konate too. It’s easy to forget how young he is because he’s so dominant. What he’s doing at 22 isn’t normal. He shouldn’t be this mature and this good. Playing alongside Van Dijk obviously helps with that, but this kid is special. There is no bigger Joel Matip fan in the world than me, but right now I’d stick with Konate because defensively there’s no real drop off when he plays and now that he’s on such a hot streak in front of goal why wouldn’t you just keep playing him? I’d defo play him on Tuesday and then probably bring Joel back for the derby. The selection on Tuesday might raise some eyebrows as I could see Klopp mixing it up big time to go with fresh legs. I could see Tsimikas maybe getting a run out, and the midfield will be interesting. Maybe Curtis comes in with Hendo and one other. Up front is anyone’s guess. I expect Jota will come in and probably Bobby too, but who do you leave out? Does it even matter? Whoever doesn’t start will come on anyway and that’s such a luxury to have. Whoever we pick on Tuesday should be good enough to swat United aside and I can’t wait for that one. These are such exciting times and we need to savour every second of this. We might be on the verge of seeing something that’s never been done before. In fact, we already have because no team has ever reached this stage of the season and still been in the hunt for every competition. If we beat Villarreal we will play every single game that we could have played this season. It might not lead to four trophies, or even three. Maybe we won’t even get two, who knows. But to be where we are at this stage of the season is just incredible. What a team we have. What a manager we have. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita (Henderson), Thiago (Jones); Salah, Mané (Firmino), Diaz (Jota):
    38 points
  37. I suppose it’s a measure of how great this team is and how much they’ve spoiled us that my over-riding feeling after a 3-1 away win in the first leg of a Champions League quarter final was mild annoyance. That’s ridiculous I know, and probably comes across as a bit “Sky Generation whopper”, but in my defence it wasn’t a case of me just demanding perfection and expecting us to win by five or six. It wasn’t that, it was just that it was so obvious from early on that this was a game where we could easily fill our boots so I just wanted the tie over, which would allow us to rest most of the big hitters in the second leg. I didn’t go into the game thinking that and I’d have happily taken 3-1 before kick off. It’s just that it was clear from early on that we could create chances at will and the second leg would be a formality if we hadn’t been so wasteful. In fairness it is actually close to being over anyway thanks to the late goal from Diaz, but the gulf between these two teams was so big for most of this game that this really ought to have been at least a five goal margin of victory. It wasn’t because we weren’t clinical, with Salah’s profligacy a particular concern ahead of this weekend’s trip to the Etihad. On the flip side of that, I’d probably be more worried about the weekend if we’d scored six or seven in this one, so I suppose I should be happy that we’ve held some back. That isn’t to say Benfica didn’t have their moments. They had a flurry in the second half after they scored and they made it uncomfortable for us for a 10-15 minute spell, but by the time that happened we really ought to have been completely out of sight. We completely dominated the first half without ever really hitting top gear and it had the feel of those games across the city when we spanked Porto. The only difference was we didn’t convert enough chances. Any time we went forward we looked like we’d fashion a chance but the finishing wasn’t up to scratch. Salah was lively but wasteful, Keita had a couple of efforts he didn’t make enough of and eventually it was left to the big fella to show them how it’s done when he planted a header into the bottom corner from a Robertson corner. That’s his first goal for us but this should be just the start. He’s going to be a threat on set-pieces, especially when the main focus for opponents is stopping Virgil. He ran off to celebrate near the corner flag, signalled for everyone to give him room and then he nailed a knee slide. Fabinho tried to copy it and ended up on the floor folded up like an accordion. He’s lucky he didn’t injure himself. Knee slides are so much more difficult than they look. I tried it once and ended up leaving two massive knee divots in the turf before I face planted. You’ve got to get your weight leaning backwards otherwise you end up like Fabinho. And me. The second goal was a work of art. I love absolutely everything about that goal. There are just so many layers to it. Look at what happens when we win the ball back. Watch the forwards immediately look to see if they can run in behind. Watch Trent. As soon as he sees we’ve got the ball he’s looking towards the front line to see where the runners are. That’s before the ball even comes to him. So when Konate rolls the ball to him, Trent already knows who is making a run and where the space is. As great as Trent’s passing ability is it’s the game awareness and football intelligence that allows him to play those passes. Like all the great players, he’s got a mental picture of where everyone is on the pitch so he’s always one step ahead. A lot of players could play the pass, but most of them wouldn’t even see it, or by the time they did it wouldn’t be on. The pass is brilliant, the run by Diaz was great too but I initially did him a dis-service because I wondered if he had deliberately picked out Sadio or if he’d just mistimed his header when going for goal himself. The replay quickly confirmed how unselfish and aware he was as he knew immediately that he was going to nod it across to Mané, who had a simple finish. It’s a brilliant goal and I love how happy Diaz was. You can tell already that there’s just no ego there with him, he just wants to be a part of the group and to play his part. This was a big game for him because Benfica are his old rivals and their fans made sure he remembered that. He was jeered all night but it didn’t phase him. Picking him to start this game was a no-brainer because he’s so familiar with the opponent that there is a comfort level there for him. It also meant that Jota and Bobby could be held back in case either are needed to start at the weekend. I have absolutely no idea who will start that game but all five should be quite fresh because of the way Klopp has rotated them all recently. Sadio played centrally again in this one and was a bit hit and miss. I felt like his touch was really heavy at times but I do like how he’s able to come deep and then get turned to run at the defence. He did that to good effect when he collected near half way, spun and then carried the ball forward before sliding in Diaz. He could have gone around the keeper but the angle would have then been tight so he elected to take the early shot and try to dink it over him, but the keeper was able to make the stop. Mo also went clean through after another ridiculous ball by Trent. He didn’t do much wrong here and I think this is one of those instances that just highlight the kind of run he’s in. He’s running at full speed so it’s a tricky ball to control into his own path and it kind of bounced up awkwardly onto his knee, which meant by the time he got there the keeper was smothering him and there wasn’t really anywhere to put it. He tried to prod it to the side of the keeper but it was saved. He’d had an earlier effort deflected wide off the keeper’s foot too. Again, not much wrong with that but he’s in one of those runs where he’s not getting the rub of the green. He badly needs a goal to get him rolling again. I felt like it started to weigh on him a bit and some of his touches began to look very un-Mo like. I’ve marvelled at times this season at his ability to pluck the ball out of the air and kill it with one perfect touch, but that just wasn’t there. Some of the passes to him were difficult to take, but whereas he usually makes those look easy, too often here they were bouncing off him. It’s a concern, but only because of who we have coming up next. We’re still winning games regardless of whether Mo scores or not, but that game at the Etihad is one where we will almost certainly need him at his best. We’ll get chances, of that I have no doubt, but we can’t afford to be as lax in front of goal as we often are. I’d go as far as to say Mo is our most important player this weekend, because I feel as though I know what we’ll get from virtually everyone else, but right now I don’t know whether we’ll see ‘best player in the world’ Mo or the slightly off version we’ve had since he came back from AFCON. If he’s on, I’m certain we’ll win that game. If not, well, that makes it a lot more difficult. Anyway, 2-0 at half time and all good. It felt like we were cruising towards a four or five goal win that would allow us to rest whoever we wanted next week. But then as we’ve seen quite regularly before, we had a lull and ended up under some pressure. Don’t get me wrong, at no point did I ever think we would not win the game but it became clear that we were not going to run away with it and it was actually a game now. What caused the second half wobble? Probably the goal. Goals change games and it certainly got their crowd into it, and in turn their players got a massive shot of adrenaline and suddenly Benfica looked a bit of a handful. Most teams we face will have some sort of spell in the game because we aren’t coming up against pub sides here, either domestically or in Europe. They all have good players and if we have a bit of a down spell then they’ll be able to cause problems. Their goal was sloppy as fuck from us, and it’s not just on Konate either. It starts with a casual ball by Trent that looped right up into the air and put Robbo under pressure. Robbo then compounds it with a not especially great header towards Diaz, who then has to jump in a 50-50 to win it. He did win it but couldn’t direct it to Robbo and it sent Benfica off on the attack. Rafa raced away down the right and swung in a cross towards Darwin Nunez. Konate had covered really well and was in a great position to deal with it but he got his feet in a muddle and the ball went through his legs to the Uruguayan, who controlled it and finished well. He’s really highly rated but I wasn’t overly impressed. He took the goal well but I think my judgement of him is clouded by the constant diving and the dreadful fucking haircut. His record is impressive and we’ve apparently been scouting him, so watch this space I suppose. I do love a good Uruguayan striker so if he sorts the hair out then maybe I could get on board with it, but as of now it’s a hard pass from me. He had another chance soon after when he was picked out by Everton (I never thought I’d see the day when Everton was playing in the Champions League) but his shot was too close to Alisson. We were wobbling big time in that spell and we were just uncharacteristically sloppy all over the park. Even Thiago was at it. He gave the ball away horrendously and as soon as he did that you knew he was just going to chop the lad down and get a booking. Sure enough, he cleaned him out to stop the counter. Smart foul that. Klopp had seen enough though. He had a triple change planned anyway and I was sure Keita would be one of the three to make way, because he always is. He’d played quite well but it’s the easy and obvious sub to make. I don’t know if that was Klopp’s intention or not, but after that little mad moment of Thiago’s it was him who got the hook, along with Sadio and Mo. The changes definitely gave us back control. Hendo made a big difference and I thought Bobby helped with that too. He was getting on the ball and kept us moving higher up the pitch. Jota looked direct and hungry and really should have scored when he was played clean through very late on but he shot straight at the keeper. That did my head in because I’m sick of seeing strikers run onto a bouncing ball, with the keeper well stranded off his line, and for some reason they don’t just lob the ball over them. It’s the easiest finish in the world. All joking aside, when I used to play 11 a side when I was younger I reckon half the goals I scored were lobs, because it really is the easiest thing in the world to do. If a keeper is running out of his goal he can’t turn and get back in time if you loft it over him. And also, by going over the keeper you now have the entire goal to aim at, rather than trying to squeeze it around him into a tight window. When the ball is bouncing and sits up for you, there’s honestly nothing easier than just easing it up and over the keeper, but Jota chose to try and bring the ball down and then go for the finish, by which point there was basically nowhere to go as the keeper was on top of him. This isn’t a Jota thing, it’s something I see all the time and it irrationally pisses me off. I feel like it’s a dying skill. You just don’t see people chipping keepers anywhere near as much as you used to. The likes of Dalglish, Bergkamp, Cantona, Berbatov and of course myself, we were the masters of it but now most strikers shit themselves and go for power. It makes me sad. Anyway, prior to the Jota miss Diaz had shot wide when he should have done better and it was looking like we’d have to settle for a 2-1 scoreline that would still have been a good result but would have left the tie still in the balance. After all, we lost 1-0 to Inter in the second leg of the previous round so it’s not out of the question that it could happen again and we’d therefore need to go close to full strength, which isn’t ideal when sandwiched between games with City. Thankfully Diaz made amends when he ran onto a deflected pass by Keita, rounded the keeper and finished it nicely before racing off to celebrate in front of the Benfica fans, who understandably weren’t happy. Some tit lashed a plastic flagpole at him though. The damage that could have done doesn’t even bear thinking about. When you see them flying through the air end over end, all I can think is that it’s going to hit someone in the eye. It almost did, as our lads were running in to celebrate and it whizzed narrowly past one of them. More flagpoles then came raining down too and they should be fined heavily for that. UEFA are quick to go way overboard over flares but this is much worse. Robbo got pelted with lighters as he took a corner late on too. Not really sure why they were so angry as surely they must have expected to lose. They’re miles behind Porto, who we always hammer, so Benfica never really had any chance here barring something mad happening, like us picking up a red card or something. On that note, a special mention to the ref who had a great game. He wasn’t falling for their diving at all and let the game flow for the most part. Refs in Europe are usually class and it was reassuring to see this guy’s performance after the complete shitshow we got from his compatriot in the last round. Normal service was resumed here and hopefully if we reach the final this guy is in contention to officiate it. As for the performances of our players, it was mixed I’d say. Everyone was good first half but only a few were good in the second half. Naby is getting an awful lot of praise for his display and I’ve even seen people saying it was one of his best games for us. I don’t see it. I thought he was fine, a solid 7 out of 10 but no more than that. Maybe I need to watch it again and I’ve missed something, but to me he was busy, neat and tidy, did very little wrong but didn’t really stand out as being anything special at all. I didn’t think Diaz was that great either, although he was definitely one of our better players. I mean he was good, but he’s played better on quite a few occasions since he came here. The difference here is that he had something to show at the end of it with a goal and an assist. His work rate was impressive again and he kept going right until the end, but as I say, he’s played better than this a few times already. Fabinho was good, and other than that one costly mistake I thought Konate was really impressive. Take the mistake away and he’d be the star man, but because of the mistake I’m not giving it to him and I’ll go with Trent instead. He just oozes quality. We’ve had some great passers of the ball in my lifetime. Molby, Alonso, Gerrard… but Trent is as good as any of them when it comes to dropping a ball on a sixpence. I’d give him the night off next week though. Play Gomez in that one to keep Trent fresh for the double header with City. I think most of the team for this weekend picks itself but I don’t know what I’d do up top. Mo starts because he’s Mo, but as for the other two, I honestly have no idea. I can make a case for all of them and I’m glad I don’t have to make that call. If you put a gun to my head I’d probably go with Bobby and Sadio because they know what it’s all about and have had a lot of success against City, but leaving the goals of Jota out of such an important game would be a huge call. It's the biggest game we've had since... I don't even know, we've had lots of huge games over recent seasons but this feels as big as any of them. I'm dreading it to be honest, I hate games with City as the tension is fucking unbearable, especially at their place. Hopefully it goes the way we want it to and we're not left feeling aggrieved at Manchester based officials being inflicted on us again for such a huge game. You know what I want to see on Sunday? Milner coming on in the 88th minute as that's the sign that all is well and we're just seeing out the game. He must have come on in the 88th minute for what feels like 10 games in a row now. It's every week, and long may it continue. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Gomez), Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago (Henderson), Keita (Milner); Salah (Jota), Mané (Firmino), Diaz:
    38 points
  38. So third then eh? It’s quite remarkable given where we were in March. The first third of the season was great, the final third was too, but that middle third almost killed us. To be able to recover from that deserves a lot of credit. Jurgen and the players stuck together and turned it around. I’m not sure how, but then I’m not sure how it got quite so bad in the first place. It was just a weird fucking season and not just for us either. Even the shit teams had a wild, unexplainable ride. Everton losing nine games at Goodison while looking a pretty good side on their travels (last day humiliation at City notwithstanding) is hard to explain. Burnley not being able to buy a win at home but picking up enough points on the road to survive comfortably is equally weird. United being virtually invincible away from home. Just a fucked up season. 99% of the shit that happened has to be due to fans being absent so hopefully we’ll see things get back to something close to normality next season. That third place finish will boil a lot of piss as we were the butt of a lot of jokes for a long time this season. Not so funny now though, eh? Chelsea and Leicester both went the full Jean Van Der Velde and our lads held their nerve to take advantage. If there is any image to sum up this season it’s Phillips and Williams, both bloodied and battered, celebrating at full time in front of the Kop. I fucking love that photo and I love both of those lads. Regardless of what happens in the future, what those two did deserves the gratitude and admiration of every Red. Imagine back in August if you’d been told that we’d play the last ten games of the season with those two and Ozan Kabak rotating at centre back and that we’d win eight and draw two (the two we drew were when Nat was injured). I think Fabinho played a couple of those games too, but you get the point. This is the maddest season in history for so many reasons. We just kept getting punched in the fucking face. There was a period where the lads stopped fighting back and it looked like they were beaten (the meek as fuck derby loss at Anfield was the point when I really started to become pissed off with them), but they got off the canvas at the nine count and then came fucking roaring back. Winning eight of the last ten despite the injury list we had (wasn’t just the centre backs) was commendable and, although I hesitate to say this, I think we have to say this season was a successful one in the end based on where we were a couple of months ago. Success is subjective and it doesn’t always require silverware. Context is king, and given everything we endured this year I think it’s fair to say that retaining the title was an impossible task. So finishing third, in this context, is a form of success. Not making the Champions League would have been fairly catastrophic for us given the financial hit we’ve taken due to Covid. Missing out is bad news at the best of times but it was more important than ever to get in this year and for a long time it looked like we wouldn’t. I’d written it off after the bottle job against Newcastle but we bounced back and others faltered. Thiago had it right when we said the door was closed but we’d try to sneak in through the window. We did, and all things considered third place was an achievement. I’m not advocating Arsenal style celebrations as it’s more relief than joy, but there is also a sense of satisfaction that I hadn’t envisaged. Klopp sees it as one of his greatest achievements and given everything they needed to overcome it’s hard to argue. There’s probably a shitload of stuff we don’t even know about. He hinted at that previously and then again after this game when he revealed that Rhys Williams had a hamstring and hadn’t trained since Burnley. That’s been the story of the season, just one problem after another. At least VAR finally decided to lay off during these last ten games. It felt as though we were getting shafted every week at one stage this season, and it’s not a co-incidence that as soon as VAR stopped getting involved those defeats dried up. This game was fairly comfortable in the end, which in hindsight is what was always most likely to happen. I’d worked myself up a bit about bad omens and the prospect of Palace being the ones to fuck our shit up again, but taking that somewhat irrational fear out of it there wasn’t really any reason to worry about this, especially when Palace were hit by untimely injuries to Eze and Benteke. We played well and should have won by more than two, but the only real moment of concern we had was when Townsend went clean through and shot wide. That was the moment it could have all gone wrong, and three months ago it probably would have gone in. It didn’t though and the rest is history. Alisson had earlier made a save to deny Zaha but there’s no way that would have stood as he was clearly offside. It was weird watching a game with fans present. This shitty covid version of footy has become the norm now and any time I see highlights from previous years with a full crowd celebrating, my first reaction is to note how strange it looks. I hate that. It used to be that a behind closed doors game looked utterly fucking bizarre, now it’s the opposite. There was only 10,000 inside Anfield although it sounded like more on the TV. I can’t wait to get back in there when it’s full again, but at least when we are all back in there the vibe is going to be positive now. A few weeks ago there was a massive dark cloud hanging over everything but that’s gone now. The win at Old Trafford contributed to that (we never win there) but I think Alisson’s header is probably the main catalyst for our changing fortunes. It’s almost like after that nothing was going to stop us. We were bright, energetic and confident against Palace. Even Sadio looked like himself again. Both he and Mo were brilliant in the first half and looked dangerous any time they had the ball. They were even passing to eachother. It was still a little nervy when the chances weren’t being converted, especially as Leicester took an early lead over Spurs. We were briefly down to fifth at one stage. Young Rhys had a chance to make himself a hero when he found himself all alone from a corner but he badly missed his header. What a story that would have been, following on from Nat at Turf Moor the other night. Speaking of Nat, his urge to head everything in sight cost him as he headed Fabinho and ended up with a big gash over his eye. He’s one of those old school defenders who is never happier than when he’s got a bandage on his head. It didn’t faze him. Not be outdone, Williams also ended up with his eye busted open but he didn’t go for the bandage. Probably didn’t want to mess up his hair, he’s definitely more looks conscious than Big Nat. Having missed that sitter Rhys made amends by getting a touch on a Robbo corner that diverted the ball to Bobby. His touch was a little heavy and he probably wasn’t reaching it, but Sadio was there to pounce on it and prod the ball home. It felt inevitable after Townsend missed that chance. That was Trent’s fault as his sloppy pass forced Phillips to go for a bad he had no chance of reaching and Townsend ran clear towards the Kop. Alisson did all he could to make it difficult and the gap Townsend was going for wasn’t the biggest. You’d expect him to score there though and it was a huge let off that we took full advantage of. Going ahead was big, especially as Spurs came back at Leicester and Villa went ahead against Chelsea. All of a sudden we were in third, and even if we’d given up an equaliser we’d still be fine as long as Leicester and Chelsea didn’t win. The second goal was vital though just so we could relax. Palace were always going to fight for a result when there was only one goal in it, but a second would see them lose interest. It took a while to come though and for much of the second half I thought we were playing it a little too cagey. We were happy with the 1-0 and weren’t pushing too hard for a second. The tempo of the game dropped, but with Spurs doing well at Leicester and Villa going 2-0 up there wasn’t really any cause for concern. Eventually we got the second when Sadio’s deflected effort went in. Brilliant play by Mo to set it up but I thought Sadio had fucked that up. I didn’t like the way he controlled the ball and stood still to line up a shot. It just didn’t look right, usually he’d have taken it in stride and hit it on the run. He got a bit lucky with that one but given the shit luck he’s had all season (mainly with officials giving him fuck all whenever he’s fouled) no-one can begrudge him that. That was that then. The only thing left to do was get Gini an ovation from the crowd and hopefully get Mo on the scoresheet. Gini got his ovation when he was replaced by Milner, but sadly Mo’s goal never came and he missed out on the Golden Boot. That’s the only negative as it obviously meant a lot to him and it would have been nice if he could have snagged a share of it with old slobber chops. We’re basically in the Champions League next season because of Mo and his unquenchable thirst for goals. That and the heroes who have filled in at the back. Nat, Rhys, Ozan, Hendo, Fab…. all of them, but especially the first three lads. It feels like we’ve kept a shitload of clean sheets and when we haven’t we’ve usually only let in one. To do that without Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez is commendable. Not just to the fill in centre backs, but the team as a whole who have defended really well. It’s the attacking side of it that hasn’t been great, but the shoots of recovery have been there recently. With Jota fully fit and one more addition to the front line, hopefully that problem is solved for next season. A fully fit midfield will help too. Hendo coming in with Fabinho and Thiago looks formidable, but I’ll be honest, losing Gini really hurts and put a big dampener on this for me. Seeing him at the end just made me sad. And angry. He clearly doesn’t want to go but whatever contract they offered was not acceptable to him. I don’t get it. It makes no sense not to pay him. Was he asking for than Thiago or Hendo are getting? I highly doubt it. But if they were willing to pay Thiago (and I have no problem with that) then why not reward a player who has been fucking immense for us? He never misses a game, he does whatever the manager asks him to do even if it means sacrificing his own attacking instincts, and he’s a proper leader who everyone loves. If he was at Bayern Munich now and available on a free, we’d probably be leading the chase. So why are we letting him walk? We’ll have to pay £35m for a replacement and then give him a similar wage to what Gini is currently on, so why not pay him the extra? We’d still be well in profit. I’d love to know the thought process behind all this because to me is seems fucking stupid and I’m pissed off about it. I’ll get over it, but I shouldn’t have to. Anyway, I’ll miss him and his beautiful smile, and his supercharged performances in the biggest games when no-one can get the ball off him. They’re big shoes that need filling and hopefully Edwards and Klopp have a plan. Tell you what Gini leaving does though. It makes me resent that fucking waster Keita even more than I do already. If he’s still here next year and Gini isn’t that’s going to be seriously fucking hard to stomach. If I have to see that fucking fanny jumping out of tackles and limping off with some minor injury while Gini is playing 60 games and winning titles at Bayern or somewhere, I'll go fucking mad. Let’s see how it all plays out though I suppose. So that’s that then. Season over and it isn’t one that will remembered fondly as 90% of it was fucking miserable for one reason or another. The other 10% though at least gives us something to smile about. Mo’s goals, Big Nat and Alisson’s header. Thiago’s performances down the stretch were fun to watch too, and Jota’s impact pre-injury. So it wasn’t all shit, just most of it. Still, how fucking bad are everyone else that we could have that relegation type run of form in the middle of the season and still finish in the top three, just five points off second? Oh and one more thing. That ‘incredible’ Man City team I keep hearing about, we finished closer to them than they did to us last season. They were worthy Champions and they were comfortably the best team this year. They’re not all that though and it won’t take too much from us to be right back up there with them. Whether we do what is needed this summer remains to be seen. Star man is tricky. Probably Sadio because he scored both goals, but the two lads at the back ran him close and Mo was a constant menace all day. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, R Williams, Robertson (Oxlade-Chamberlain); Fabinho, Thiago, Wijnaldum (Milner); Salah, Firmino (Jota), Mané:
    38 points
  39. We had a go but got what we deserved in the end. We were pathetic in the first leg and wasteful in the second. You can’t expect to beat anyone like that, never mind Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter finals. We played quite well in this game. I don’t think we were as good as a lot of people are saying we were but we were decent enough and should have won the game. I’d add a caveat to that though because Real had a two goal lead and played the game accordingly. Yes, we were on the front foot and had the most chances, but how much of that was because Madrid did what they needed to do in the first game and therefore approached this one a lot more cautiously than they would have? A lot, I’d say. Nevertheless, on the balance of chances we probably should have won this game by enough goals to go through, but shite finishing has been a big problem all season so I can’t say this was unexpected. Goalscoring is a big problem for us currently. Before the gave I gave us a one in ten chance of going through. After ten minutes that was up to around five or six as we started so well I was beginning to feel pretty confident. We looked like our old selves for those ten minutes. Then we began to resemble something between our old selves and this new, shite, lockdown version of us. By half time that five or six was more like a three or four. I still thought we could do it because we’d had very little trouble creating chances, but it was all about the first goal. If we got one I felt we’d get two, but sadly we couldn’t get the one. Some may be encouraged by how we played but I can’t say I’ve taken anything from this. We were better than we have been for most of the season but it wasn’t anywhere near the levels we’ve set for ourselves. I do think that would have changed dramatically if we’d just converted one of those chances. That’s all it would have taken. Put one of them away and the confidence would have come flooding back and we might have steamrollered them. Instead we wasted some great opportunities and then with every chance that came along we seemed more and more hesitant. By the end, Mo was having to take about six touches before even attempting a shot. He was by far the biggest culprit and had he put that early sitter away then we’d probably be talking about another great comeback while looking forward to another semi against Chelsea. Mo’s closing in on 30 goals for the season and unlike Firmino and Mané he’s still producing at the level he always has so any criticism of him is probably unfair, especially since I thought his overall performance was really good and he chased absolutely everything. His finishing was proper fucking shite though, and it’s not wholly inaccurate to say that’s why we’re out. I’m not going to say that though simply because of last week. THAT is why we’re out. All eleven players were fucking hopeless and that stinking performance gave us a mountain that we were unable to climb without fans in the stadium. Had Mo not fluffed his lines we could have overcome the shitshow we served up last week, but his missed chances shouldn’t mask what the real problem was. You can’t play like we did last week and expect to go through. Yet with fans in the stadium I’m convinced we would have done. Every missed chance seemed to take a little bit out of the players and make Madrid more confident, but with a full stadium the opposite happens. Fans don’t get disheartened by a missed chance, they get excited and raise the fucking roof. And that in turn lifts our lads and causes the opposition to panic. With a full house, this game doesn’t end up goalless. I’m 100% sure of that. That’s why I never believed we would turn this one around. When Mo missed that early chance the noise level would have been deafening. Our lads would have been desperate to get the ball back so they could continue applying pressure, and Madrid’s players would have been way more uncomfortable than they were in an empty stadium. When Mo missed that chance they’ll have shrugged it off and thought “got away with one there”. When there’s 55,000 fans screaming encouragement it’s a whole different mindset. It becomes “fuck, we’re in trouble here”. On a normal Anfield night this one still wouldn’t have been over even when it reached 87 or 88 minutes. We could have got one and then in stoppage time forced another. We’ve done it before. The Dortmund game immediately springs to mind. In an empty stadium though forget it. The players gave everything they had but it was clear from about an hour onwards that it wasn’t going to happen. Personally I think the pivotal moment in the game was the horrific miss by Gini late in the first half. It wasn’t a sitter and I’m not saying he HAS to score. But you can’t shoot six yards over the fucking bar from there. You just can’t. It deflated everyone. You could see the disappointment in all of them, especially Gini. In a full stadium the fans lift the players and spur them on to keep pushing. Gini’s name would have been chanted. Instead they have to lift themselves and it’s just a lot more difficult, especially given the run we’ve had these last four months. Other than that terrible finish Gini was outstanding, but what does it matter when you blow your big moment like that? Same with Mo. He played really well but he should have had a hat-trick. The first one he missed was weak as fuck. He needs to be bursting the net there but he sort of scuffed it. The next one got stuck under his feet and he scooped it over. After that he was just taking too many touches. Milner had a good effort saved by Courtois and after the break Bobby brought two saves out of the keeper but really everything was straight at him. Like I say, the miss from Gini was the real killer when I look back on this game. That’s the one. Bury that, go in at 1-0 and we probably end up going through. Instead we’ve lost to a team we would have fucking obliterated had we played them last season or the season before. They’re nothing special and Chelsea should fancy their chances of doing them in the semis. Hopefully they won’t, but I hate the fact I’m now having to root for Madrid or PSG to win it. Two clubs I have no time for whatsoever. This is completely on us though. We weren’t hard done by. We can’t blame refs or VAR in the way we’ve been able to for much of the domestic season. This one is on Klopp and the players. Some of Klopp’s decisions over the two legs are certainly questionable but mostly it’s on the terrible performance last week and the shit finishing in this leg. Starting Keita last week backfired terribly and I’m sure a lot of fans were equally as miffed by Jota being left on the bench for this one. I was a little surprised by that but I understood it. We needed to win 2-0 and Jota has been a big difference maker off the bench. Firmino doesn’t have that kind of impact and benching Sadio - while completely justified - would have been counter-productive as I don’t think you could expect him to come on and make any difference with his confidence on the floor. Klopp left out Jota and Thiago and put his faith in players who had come through for us many times in big games. I’m ok with that and maybe if he’d done it last week in Madrid then we wouldn’t have been in this situation. That might have been his line of thinking here. The substitutions I’m not so comfortable with. Taking off Kabak seems pointless to me, especially when Phillips had just been booked seconds before. As well as big Nat played, he’s on a yellow card so it would have made more sense to take him off rather than Kabak. But my wider complaint would be that I don’t see the sense in changing either of them. All it does is take Fabinho out of midfield and surely we know now that there are no circumstances whatsoever where that makes us stronger. Our midfield needs to be Fabinho plus two. Subbing Kabak and moving Fabinho back there achieves nothing other than making the midfield weaker. You can also argue that bringing Thiago on doesn’t achieve anything either. This might be unfair but I just thought “what the fuck difference is he going to make?”. The answer was none. He was fine. He did nothing wrong. But we thought we were getting one of the best midfielders in the world but so far he’s been a poor man’s Joe Allen. He’s just been so fucking underwhelming but it’s only partly his fault. It’s not even that he’s playing badly (I don’t think he is) but he’s just a terrible fit for this team. I’ve said before that he’d be quality at Man City but what he does isn’t working for us at all. It’s partly because the forwards have been shite I suppose, but watching him is doing my head in now. Loads of sideways, simple passes that he plays with a little swag in his step that makes him look like he’s doing more than he actually is. He’s the master at looking great at doing something really simple. Then when he plays it forward it’s nearly always cut out by a defender, which I’m not even blaming him for because he’s having to try to force it and play eye of a needle passes. Thiago has been a great player his whole career but he hasn’t been a great player for us. It’s a stretch to even say he’s been good. Maybe that changes next season but I can’t really think of any reason why that would be. He’s got Juan Sebastian Veron written all over him. Did he bring more to the team than Milner had done before he was subbed? Not for me, although I’m not saying Milner shouldn’t have been subbed as he was probably in the ‘red zone’ having played the full game at the weekend. The change had to be made and Thiago for Milner would have made sense. Thiago for Kabak and Jota for Milner wasn’t something I was on board with though. I see the logic in getting the fourth forward on but Sadio had completely fizzled out after a bright start and I’d have taken him off because he was killing our attacks every time he got the ball. He’s completely lost right now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a truly great player become absolutely fucking shit almost overnight. With Bobby it was a slow decline but Sadio started the season well and then just fell off a cliff in December. Klopp insists it isn’t a physical problem so it must be confidence. I almost wish it was a physical problem because that’s easier to fix. Maybe he just needs a good goal or a strong performance to get his mojo back. Let’s hope so because we just aren’t the same team when he isn’t himself. He used to be so fucking explosive. It’s heartbreaking watching him play this badly. As I say, I’d have definitely subbed him to get Jota on. He was taken off a bit later along with Bobby as Klopp made a last throw of the dice with Shaqiri and Ox. That was never going to work but it was worth a try as nothing else was working at that point. It’s a sign of where our main problems lie now though that with ten minutes to go and needing to score twice, Firmino and Mané are being subbed. The longer the game went the more ragged we got (understandable as we became desperate) and if anyone was scoring in the closing stages it was going to be Madrid. Thankfully they didn’t because the lads at the back deserved a clean sheet. Alisson had very little to do but he made a great double save to deny Vinicius Jr and Benzema. Big Nat was excellent and Kabak did nothing wrong either. The only criticism I have of Phillips is that he’s fucking hopeless in the opposition box on set-pieces. In his own box he wins everything. At the other end all he does is bump into people and give away free-kicks. We pose zero attacking threat from set-pieces these days and that was a big part of our arsenal before Virg was taken out. Now when we get a corner we may as well just play it short because the ball into the box isn’t working at all. Ever. Phillips was a positive and he’s doing enough to deserve another season in a back up role. The full backs were brilliant too I thought, especially Trent who was top drawer all night at both ends. He defended superbly when he had to and when he was on the ball he always looked the most likely to make something happen. Star man by a mile for me. It’s pretty gutting to go out but it’s easier to take when there’s no injustice involved and we can’t feel hard done by. This exit was entirely self inflicted but the main concern now is that it might be a while before we’re back in this competition again. We have a chance at top four but we aren’t favourites and I’m not expecting us to do it. We might do, but it feels more unlikely than likely at this stage. I’m sure we’ll be better next season when fans are back in and we’ve had the chance to regroup and try to just put this nightmare eight months or so behind us, but there are some big question marks hanging over us now all over the park. The full backs are great but Klopp has no faith in their back ups which means they are being overplayed. Our main centre backs may not be the same when they come back from injury. The midfield is a fucking mess. Fabinho is great but Gini looks like he’s off, Hendo is always injured, Milner is on his last legs, Keita can fuck off, Thiago is a square peg in a round hole and Ox is completely pointless these days. But despite all of those issues the forward line remains the biggest source of concern and frustration for me. You know how long I’ve been saying it but the front three as a unit have gotten steadily worse each season, and now only one of them is pulling his weight. Jota has been great but we need more than just him and Mo scoring. There are a lot of things that need fixing but I doubt there will be much money to fix them. Securing a top four spot is massively important but it just doesn’t look like the lads have it in them to do it. I’ll be honest, I’m even expecting us to lose at Leeds next week. I just wish it was all over as this has been the least enjoyable season of my lifetime by a fucking mile. We’ve had worse teams and worse results, but never anything as miserable as this when you factor everything together. The expectation going into it, not being able to celebrate winning it last year, the events at Goodison, losing all of our defenders and then the midfielders who were filling in, the constant stream of VAR inflicted persecutions, the run of home defeats, it’s just been abject fucking misery. This season needs to fuck off and never be spoken of ever again. JFT96. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak (Thiago), Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Milner (Jota); Salah, Firmino (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Mané (Shaqiri):
    38 points
  40. I had a real dilemma today. My Dad’s funeral is this Friday. I live in New Jersey and can’t be back home for it. I ordered flowers this morning. LFC. He loved the club, Keegan, Toshack, Dalglish, Rush, Robbie, El Toro, Suarez, Mo, Bobby and Mane. Even though he just passed before this Super-League nonsense, I’m not sure how he would have felt about it all. I decided to proceed notwithstanding. I almost cancelled them. But no. Because we love this club, what it really stands for, below all the corporate bullshit. He loved beans on his fry-up, (yep). He loved LFC. Even though we are a couple of wools, (South Wales), he loved LFC and his heart flowed when we got #19. Anyhow, I’m rambling. Common sense I think has prevailed. YNWA. (Even you no-beans fascists)!
    37 points
  41. I’m so made up with this. Absolutely buzzing. If we hadn’t won it would have been a massive travesty as Spurs deserved nothing from this game. It blows my mind that some ‘neutrals’ seem to have bought into the Mourinho spin about how well Spurs played. We’ve seen countless teams come and do what Spurs did, but none of them were top of the table when they did it. There’s nothing impressive or valiant about what they did. They played like a relegation threatened side and got exactly what they deserved. Fuck all. We were brilliant and absolutely dominated this game from start to finish. The occasional breakaway or chance that came from alehouse balls up the middle don’t change that. “Ze best team lost”. Been a while since we’ve heard that trademark bullshit from the little gobshite. 15 years apparently since he first said it. Time flies. Alarmingly. 15 years?? Fucking hell. Klopp’s face when he heard that was a picture. At first you could see him wondering if he heard it right and he asked him to repeat it. When he did, Klopp just started laughing at him and then patted him on the back. As far as condescending gestures go, it was a little disappointing. Should have patted him on the top of the head. It’s not mind games though, as in Mourinho’s warped little bus parking head I have no he believes they did deserve to win. Why? Because his gameplan is defend, frustrate and wait for counter attacks or mistakes. They did that but they didn’t convert the chances when they came. Here’s the thing though, it’s a risky as fuck gameplan because you’re relying on the opponent missing their chances. And we did miss chances. Loads of them. If we’d converted a couple more of them then this would have looked like a shite performance from Spurs. There is nothing clever about what he did. Nothing at all. It’s a fine line between a “Mourinho masterclass” and an absolute steaming turd of a performance. He treads that line all the time in big games, yet when it goes wrong he hardly ever gets the criticism his shithousery deserves. On the odd occasions it works though, there’s a line all the way around the block of pundits wanting to hail the latest “Mourinho masterclass”. Get to fuck you lazy, narrative driven bastards. We were brilliant in this game. We dominated possession, played some fucking beautiful football and had at least three times as many chances as Spurs did. Anything they did was the result of a rare counter attack or a hopeful punt upfield. I can’t stress this enough. It actually bothers me a little that they were still level so late in the game as we deserved far better than that. I’d say this was our best performance of the season. It was one of those when you could tell that everyone knew we needed a performance and they went out and dominated. The midfield three were incredible. I mean, the whole team was excellent, but those three in the middle were just fucking immense all night. Hendo played like he always does, Wijnaldum was in ‘Big Game Gini’ supercharged mode and Curtis was absolute quality. They bossed the game from first minute to last. In the build up to the game Mourinho did one of ‘those’ press conferences. Ones when he knows he’ll have everyone talking about ‘good old Jose’. He went through our starting line up but only named ten players. He forgot Jones, which is hardly surprising as he’s been overlooking talented young players his entire career in management. He won’t forget him next time.Not after Curtis went the full Iniesta on him. What a performance this was from the kid. He just oozed class and maturity all night. What a player he is already, let alone what he is going to develop into. It’s just a pity our finishing wasn’t a little sharper. Mo shot straight at Lloris after a brilliant little move. Curtis didn’t get enough on a decent opening from just inside the box and again Lloris was able to make an easy save. Bobby could have done better with a header and then produced a better effort that was well saved. The one we did convert was fortunate. Jones surged into the box but was tackled. The ball fell nicely for Salah and his shot deflected off two Spurs defenders and looped up over Lloris into the top corner. Lucky but no more than we deserved. Their equaliser came out of nothing. Amazon almost missed it as they were showing a replay of a Sadio overhead kick that went straight at Lloris. Lo Celso did well to create it and Son did even better to finish it. Our lads were all appealing for offside and the replay seemed to suggest Son was a toe offside. I’ve yet to see anything conclusive to show he was onside because those replays we saw were a load of bollocks. Usually we get the super close up with the red and blue lines, but this time it was a quick aerial shot that didn’t tell us anything. It didn’t even look like the line was drawn to Son’s toe. It’s halfway down his foot. To me that’s level and it should always be onside. That isn’t my beef here. My beef is that if this was at the other end they’ve have been looking to make it offside and manipulated the starting point of the lines to back it up. Nothing you can say will convince me otherwise. Not after that fucking derby game. And call me paranoid, but that VAR check was awfully fucking quick, wasn’t it? Maybe it was easier because they were using the feet of both players so didn’t have to get the old etch a sketch lines drawn from arms or arses or whatever. It just doesn’t sit well with me that every marginal one of these calls goes against us. That was pretty much the one and only time Spurs left their own half in the opening 45 minutes. We got caught cold really. The problem was allowing Lo Celso to run as far as he did. Williams had no chance really because there was a runner through the middle and then Son to his left. He went toward the runner through the middle but he held his line well, it’s not liked he dropped a yard deeper to play anyone on. I just think he was unlucky there as if he’d tried to go with Son the ball through the middle was on. It just shows how well we did throughout the game though to restrict those kind of counter attack opportunities. It was daylight robbery that they were on level terms though at the break. Maybe our lads were feeling a bit hard done by because they didn’t start the second half too sharply and Spurs had a great chance within seconds. Williams came for a high ball and for probably the only time in the game he missed it. Suddenly Bergwijn was in on goal. Trent tried to get back and maybe did enough to put him off, because he toe poked it well wide. That seemed to give Spurs a little bit of confidence because they were definitely less cowardly in their approach for the next 15 or 20 minutes. Kane had a good effort when he intercepted a pass from Alisson and then tried to lob him from 30 yards with his left foot. Alisson just about got back to tip it away. Kane also missed a free header from a corner and then later had a shot finger tipped wide by Alisson. That should never have even got that far as Sissoko blatantly handled in the build up. Literally everyone in the stadium and watching on TV saw that. Well not everyone, that badly little manc fuck Anthony Taylor somehow missed it. The best chance Spurs had was when Bergwijn got in and hit the post. Pure route one that. Long ball to Kane who headed it on to Son, who then headed it on to Bergwijn. He should have scored. That was their big moment and thankfully they fluffed it. We hit the woodwork too, not that Mourinho will acknowledge that as it was only Spurs that had chances remember. Would have been a cracking goal too. Sadio spinning away from Aurier onto a Jones pass before smashing a shot against the bar. Sadio can’t buy a goal at the moment. We had other chances. Bobby had a shot blocked and Salah was denied by Lloris, but it was really fucking hard creating chances against that parked bus. The lads kept plugging away and never lost their patience. That was really impressive I thought. We never resorted to aimless crosses or desperate long shots. They just played their football and didn’t panic, and eventually, belatedly, the reward came. What a fucking header that was. Initially I thought it must have been Williams as usually it’s only centre halves who attack balls like that. Then I saw Bobby wheeling away in delight. Absolutely fucking made up for him and for us. Of course there was a lengthy VAR check while they looked to see if there was any way they could screw us over again. Apparently they were looking to see if Henderson illegally blocked Dier. Thankfully common sense prevailed because that kind of thing happens at every single set-piece and is never punished. Actually no, it was punished once. Can't remember what game it was but Jones was ludicrously adjudged to have blocked someone and we had a goal chalked off because of it. They could have disallowed this one too if they wanted because they can do what they like really, can't they? There's no accountability for any of it. I think Bobby might have killed someone if they'd tried to take this one off him though. So a richly deserved win and a big fuck you to Mourinho and his negative tactics. Spurs are basically Burnley only with two genuinely world class forwards. Put Son and Kane in a Sean Dyche team and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Picking a star man is near impossible. I should have given it to Alisson last week but it’s just never really in my head to even think about the keeper when I’m giving the star man. Alisson is just about the only one not in contention here but not because he did anything wrong. He was fine, he just didn’t have too much to do. Everyone else was brilliant. Williams performed way beyond his years once again and deserves every bit of praise that will come his way. He might actually convince Klopp not to go into the market in January. Ideally I’d prefer an established option as the stakes are so high for us, but I can see an argument for not wanting to block this kid’s path because he doesn’t look like an emergency stop gap (like Big Nat for example). He genuinely looks like he could make it. Alongside him Fabinho was amazing. What a performance from him. Robbo was his usual self too, Trent played well, I mentioned the midfield lads earlier and the front three were relentless all night. I thought Mo was terrific and his work rate all night really caught the eye. There were a few times when it was him chasing back to stop Son on counter attacks and he was constantly probing and pressing their defence. Bobby was involved in a lot of good things but if he hadn’t scored he’d probably have taken some stick because his lack of goals has been trying the patience of almost everybody. Klopp being the only person who doesn’t seem worried about it. He did score though and he deserves all the credit in the world for delivering when it mattered most. Sadio was a weird one. He didn’t start that well but he just kept -plugging away and trying to make things happen. By the end of the game he’s worn Aurier down and it felt like he was beating him every time. Before that it had been an even battle. Some of Sadio’s control under pressure was incredible but his final pass or shot was generally lacking. Overall he was really good though because like Mo he just kept relentlessly going at them. So who do I go for as the star man? Fuck knows. I can’t decide. It’s definitely one of the midfield three (or Fabinho) but it’s impossible to separate them so take your pick I guess. The result sends us top again but I’m not expecting us to be there continually now until May. There’ll be ebbs and flows I think and we may well get knocked off at some point. It might even be this weekend as Palace away is tough, especially given our lack of wins on the road this season. Big picture though I think we’re in great shape and beating Spurs was vitally important. We’re still the big dog in the pack and we’ve just slapped down one of the young bucks trying to steal our spot. I love how the team has responded to all these difficult home games. Leicester looked like it could be a tricky one. It wasn’t. Wolves had a lot of us fearing the worst. We were fine. And this was the toughest test so far. The scoreline was close but the game wasn’t. Great performance. Fucking get in there!!! Hopefully GH saw that one is smiling. Such a shame he didn’t have a full Anfield paying him the tribute he deserved. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, R Williams, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Jones, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané:
    37 points
  42. You beautiful, beautiful people. Bit overwhelmed here reading this tbh. It's extremely humbling and difficult to process. I've been posting here for nearly a decade now and it's been a haven, getting me through some tough tines,a lot of which has been spent battling one type of ailment or another. I love the forums and have befriended some lovely folk on it. It's truly a special place. The good news is that the kidney my wife so kindly donated is to date, working perfectly. A super kidney as my surgeon Mr Robertson called it. But then again my Mary has always been Superwoman to me so not altogether surprising. The greatest human being Ive ever met and has literally saved my life and endured the pain of the Op in her uniquely calm manner. The procedure is a lot harder on the donor than the recipient but not one complaint from her. Amazing lady This will have a dramatic impact on my health and life so really looking forward to getting on with it once we get over this recovery period. Much thanks to ToxtethOGrady for starting the thread. Love you guys. Received this today from you all. We love it. Dec and Mary Xxx PS. CHAMPIONS
    37 points
  43. Well that’s how you bounce back from a disappointing performance. Bloody hell, that was something wasn’t it? Complete dominance from first minute to last. We were so good that OPTA reported that Palace didn’t touch the ball in our box (turns out they managed one touch about a foot inside the box) and I can’t even remember seeing Alisson touch the ball with his hands all night. Absolutely incredible. This is what you’d expect from a team urged on by a full house, not one in an empty stadium. You don’t see intensity and desire like that in behind closed doors games. Certainly not when a team is 4-0 up. I thought Klopp summed up the performance perfectly when he referenced “in the 86th minute four of our boys were chasing one poor Crystal Palace player like he had the last ball on earth”. That’s it. That’s exactly it. It was relentless pressure on Palace from the start of the game to the end of it. They weren’t helped by losing Zaha through injury early on as he was their main route of escaping their own half, but honestly I don’t think it would have made any difference if he’d stayed on, and in fairness Hodgson said pretty much the same thing after. We were very good with the ball but we were fucking unbelievable without it. I reckon if you talk to those Palace players privately they’ll say it’s the hardest game they’ve ever played in. They didn’t get a second on the ball and Jordan Ayew never had a Palace player within thirty yards of him all night. He was so isolated up there, partly because he himself couldn’t hold onto the ball to allow anyone to get close to him. Van Dijk and Gomez just smothered him every time the ball went near him. This was everything that Sunday wasn’t. When you see this you wonder how it could have been so lacklustre at Everton, but maybe it’s just as Salah said afterwards, that sometimes you just have games where you don’t play well. Or maybe it was that he was back. And Robbo too. Both played a big part in this, but especially Mo. We just looked a completely different animal in this game and he was a big reason for that. Without harping on too much about Sunday, the main problem was we were just too stagnant and didn’t carry a threat in behind. This couldn’t have been more different. With Robbo bursting forward out wide we then had Sadio able to move around and get involved more, while Mo was always looking to play quick give and goes around the box and making runs in behind. Palace defended just as deeply as Everton and with even more numbers behind the ball. They couldn’t deal with us though. Mind you, the derby could have been hugely different if Trent had done what he did in this game from the first free-kick he had. There’s one big difference right there. Goals change games. You can credit me with the assist for our opening goal as I reverse jinxed the shit out of that with what I wrote in the Everton report. In case you missed it…. "I think that might have been the last time we even remotely threatened until Fabinho saw a decent free-kick tipped over by Pickford. We don’t usually see him on set-pieces but that was a decent effort. Maybe he’ll get another chance, as I do feel we all vastly over-rate how good Trent is at free-kicks. He’s alright like, but he’s not the lethal dead ball specialist he’s portrayed as (here’s hoping I’ve reverse jinxed him there and he pings one into the top corner against Palace or City)." Absolutely nailed that one. On a similar note, what the hell was going on with Gini’s finishing in this game? He had two great chances when the game was still close and he scuffed both of them. Gini’s ball striking isn’t as great as we think it is (here’s hoping I’ve reverse jinxed him there and he pings one into the top corner against City). Anyway…. Trent whipped the free kick around the wall and into the corner, leaving Hennessey helpless. It looks like he had no chance of saving it but maybe that’s because he was too far over the other side? I don’t know, I’m not a keeper, but I don’t see Alisson being beaten by free-kicks very often and it’s probably because of his positioning. Regardless, it’s a lovely hit by Trent and just what we needed at the time. We’d started well and created some chances, but having drawn a blank last time out and not played for three months before that, getting our first goal was hugely important. I have no idea how Klopp or the players felt, but it was a big relief to me anyway. The whole performance was. I feel like football is finally back now. Until this I hadn’t really been feeling it. It’s interesting that both Mo and Klopp said afterwards that they want to play the best ‘behind closed doors football’ anyone has seen. Clearly that’s been something Klopp has been drumming into them as a motivational tool since Sunday’s drab derby. We know we’re the best when there are fans in the stadium so he’s telling them that this is a new challenge and he wants them to be the best at this too. The motivation from the lads stood out all night. This looked exactly like a normal game. I can’t say that about any of the other games I’ve watched so far, but this was exactly like one of our normal high octane home performances. Palace will be relieved to have only conceded four as it could easily have been double that, especially given we were denied two clear penalties in the first half. First Van Dijk was manhandled by Cahill as he attacked a corner. Martin Atkinson has to see that, but if he doesn’t then VAR needs to be telling him. There was another good shout when Bobby tried to lob the ball over Cahill and the ball struck the defender’s arm. Those incidents are quite subjective and usually I come down on the side of ‘ball to hand’ but that one was 75% a penalty I’d say. Cahill’s arm is not in a natural position, it’s high and to the side and he stops the ball with his elbow. Should have been a pen. I have to say though (through gritted teeth) that overall Atkinson was good. There were loads of occasions where we won the ball and a Palace player was virtually begging for a free-kick, but Atkinson seemed to get all of those right. He could easily have given fouls in those situations even though they weren’t. The way he refereed the game helped us to play the aggressive, almost maniacal pressing game that just overwhelmed Palace. That was probably the most pleasing aspect of the performance. Klopp described it as “the best counter pressing performance in a behind closed doors game ever” and that’s just a massive tribute to the players. That kind of desire and discipline to do that without a crowd comes from within. Mentality monsters. The goals weren’t bad either were they? Trent’s free-kick was a lovely strike, Salah’s was an expertly taken finish from a stunningly weighted pass from Fabinho, Fabinho then replicated his Man City goal with a thunderous strike and Sadio wrapped it up with a glorious “front three” goal as Firmino and Salah combined to set him free. Klopp was asked which goal was his favourite but he wouldn’t be drawn on it. I’m happy to choose. Number one was the Mané goal because that’s the type of goal I love seeing. I prefer the counter attack from opposition corner type goals, but Sadio or Mo charging into open space and scoring is the type of goal I most associate with this golden era we’re enjoying. Salah’s pass with his right foot to put Mané clear was fantastic and the outcome was never in doubt after that. Sadio always finds that far bottom corner when he cuts in. So yeah, that was number one. Number two was Salah’s goal. Why? Because that was everything that we didn’t have on Sunday. That little diagonal run in behind the full back is something Mo does brilliantly. Sadio does too actually. The run was great, but Fabinho has to drop that ball on a sixpence as the window to complete that pass is tiny. A bit less and Van Aanholt heads it away. A bit more and the keeper comes and gets it. It was perfect. Number three is Fabinho’s thunderbastard because it came out of nowhere. Even when he shaped to shoot I still thought he was going to feint and then lay it off. Next thing it’s bursting the net. And last but not least (actually technically I am saying it is least I suppose) is Trent’s free-kick. Imagine that being the ‘worst’ goal of the four you scored. The quality in this performance can’t be over-stated. It was nice to see Williams and Elliott given an opportunity and they both did well. Neco is genuinely brilliant. He might be the best kept secret in the Premier League as I don’t think many people (even our own fans) realise yet just how good he is. Aside from maybe one game when he struggled a little (Shrewsbury away I think it was) he’s looked terrific any time he’s been given a chance. He’s a strong defender, a fierce competitor and a tidy footballer, but the thing that really sets him apart for me is the uncanny knack he has for being involved in virtually everything. The ball is drawn to him like a magnet. Despite being a right back he’s somehow a huge goal threat and seems to have chances to score every time he plays. In the replay against Shrewsbury I remember him having five or six decent attempts on goal and in the short space of time he was on against Palace he was a serious goal threat. He could have scored two with a little more luck. He also played a lovely slide rule defence splitting ball to set Mo in too. I’m telling you, this lad is special. Getting him games is the problem because he’s got the best young right back in the world ahead of him. There’s a common belief that Trent will eventually move into midfield, especially if Neco continues to progress at this rapid rate, but I see things going a little differently. Having two quality right backs is certainly not a problem. Besides, there’s no reason why Neco can’t play left back too, meaning he’d be able to cover both full back spots and therefore see plenty of action, which would also allow us to rest Trent and Robbo far more than we are currently able to. He’s more accomplished as a right back, obviously, but his left foot isn’t bad. He’ll never be Robbo as he’s right footed, but who knows, maybe he can eventually be another Stevie Nicol? I expect him to get at least a couple more starts before the end of the season, especially when we play four games in nine days. It’s an exciting prospect, seeing how Williams, Elliott and Jones do over the coming weeks. Harvey looked like he’s added a few pounds of muscle too, which you’d expect as he’s still growing and doing weights every day at Melwood. If he gets stronger and a little quicker then we could be talking about the best teenager we’ve had since Owen. We’ll see though. This team is so exceptional that it’s really hard for anyone to break into it. We know what the first eleven is and that’s the line up that played in this game. There are a few positions that are interchangeable (Ox or Keita can come into midfield without weakening it too much, while Matip for Gomez isn’t a big drop off) but by and large we know the best eleven and that best eleven is currently the best club side in the world. Imagine how good you need to be as a teenager to be able to come in and hold your own. Yet those three all look like they might be able to do that soon. The beauty of the next few weeks is that Klopp should be able to experiment a little because the title will be soon wrapped up. Mind you, I want that points record too. Some might dismiss the importance of it but to me it’s fucking huge. Yes, it’s being greedy but I want this team to break every record they can, because they deserve to be regarded as the best team to have ever played in this country. If you look at the body of work over the last two to three years, I don’t think there’s much doubt. Who is better? Nobody, that’s who. But if they can beat (and preferably shatter) City’s points record then there’s not really any argument to be had. They’ll be out on their own as the best ever. If we can keep playing like this for the rest of the season then there’s no reason to think we won’t do it. There is always a danger that once the title is won we might see an easing off and the deckchairs might come out, but I just can’t see that. It’s not who this team is and it’s certainly not who Klopp is. He’ll want them to win every game and they’ll want to win every game. The Everton game was shite and serves as a warning of what can happen, but there were extenuating circumstances for that and maybe the lads just needed a game to blow off the cobwebs. I worried it might take a few weeks for them to get back to full speed. Turns out it only took a few days. The football was sensational at times but as I say it was the desire and work rate from the players that stood out. This was what I expected when footy came back. It’s why I was so disappointed at the weekend. I thought we’d be fitter and hungrier than everyone else and that teams just wouldn’t be able to cope with it. Against Palace that’s exactly how it looked. And in the opening round of fixtures at the weekend Palace had looked like one of the better sides. They played really well at Bournemouth and this had the potential to be really tricky given our frequent Anfield struggles against them. I was worried (about this game, not about the title. Anyone worrying about that needs to give their head a wobble as this was settled months ago) and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. So seeing the boys play like this has made me feel much better. I’m looking forward to all of the other games we have left now as it was just fucking ace being able to watch the lads do their thing again. I keep saying it, but I haven’t missed football at all during this break - I’ve just missed the Reds. And now they’re back. Star man is tough as everyone was outstanding. Salah and Fabinho probably stood out the most though and I’ll go with Fab I think. A wonderful goal, a top quality assist and just a completely dominant display all around from him. By the time we play again we might already be Champions but if not we have the chance to win it against City. In an ideal world I’d want City to win at Chelsea and then for us to stuff them to secure the title next week. If you could guarantee me a win at the Etihad I’d happily cheer City on tonight at Stamford Bridge, but you can’t guarantee me that so I just want it settled as quickly as possible. Therefore, I’m hoping for Chelsea to do us a favour tonight meaning that next week City will have to give our players a guard of honour. Thinking about it, that might even be a more satisfying scenario than winning it on the field against them. Why? Because last year when City won the title their players were on the plane home signing songs about us and poor Sean Cox. How fitting would it be for them to have to stand there applauding us onto THEIR pitch knowing we’ve taken their crown? So yeah, come on Chelsea, do the business tonight so we can see Sterling having to applaud Gomez onto the field as part of the Champions. Team: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Williams), Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson (Keita); Fabinho, Henderson (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino (Minamino), Mané (Elliott):
    37 points
  44. Went to the community center today to spend the day putting on a Christmas dinner for; the homeless, those below the poverty line, refugees and those, who are well - just lonely and on their own. Knackered now after doing our dinner when we get back after laying and setting the tables, serving to everyone and delivering meals to those who couldn't make it to the center. And as like last year, yes, that's my champion of champions of trifles taking center stage on the afters table. Merry Christmas GF'ers and peace and good will to all and lets hope that next year, a smattering of socialism and care for one another, spreads its ever so tiny little wings into this clusterfuck of greed and egocentric capitalisn shitfest, that we call a nation. Merry Christmas.
    37 points
  45. Thats a great result. My dad passed away on kick off so hopefully hes beaming now.
    36 points
  46. Putting aside the frustrations of us need a million chances to score one goal, there was so much to feel good about from this performance. It’s probably the best we’ve played all season and the only thing lacking was the bucketload of goals we should have had. The fact that this game was still somewhat in the balance until Mo’s late penalty is infuriating, particularly in light of other recent games in which we’ve had thirty odd shots and still struggled to convert them. Statistically there are probably quite a few similarities with the United game. Certainly we had a similar number of shots against the mancs, albeit nowhere near as many on target and the XG won’t be remotely comparable. The wider point though is that too often we need to create a lot of chances to score the goals that we should be scoring, but this felt different to me. I don’t think the finishing was too bad for the most part. We didn’t do much wrong and a lot of the time the keeper was making terrific saves. He had the game of his life and he’s the reason we didn’t get double figures. It’s partly down to below par finishing, but mostly it’s just one of those nights when too many shots are within the keeper’s reach and he gets to show off by making a load of saves. We were great though. In fairness, I think Newcastle showed in limited opportunities that they were in decent shape themselves. I thought they played quite well when they were allowed to. They weren’t really allowed to very often though, because we absolutely smothered them. The tempo, intensity and pressing was great for pretty much the entire game, aside from a 10 minute lull before half time which I blame entirely on that twat Anthony Taylor. I’ll get to him in due course. You can tell when we’ve played really well by how animated and excited Klopp is in his post match interviews, and he was fucking beaming after this. He said afterwards something along the lines of “some people say I’m not a good example for grass roots football but maybe they can show the video of this game to grass roots to show them how to counter-press”. I didn’t get onto it immediately, but it was that snivelling little Saudi shill Howe who said Klopp wasn’t setting a good example. He’s defo having a little jibe at Beheddie there. Love that. When we counter press like that we’re a nightmare to play against. That was our identity, it’s why everyone hated playing against us. We lost it for various reasons but it’s back now. Not every game, we’re still a work in progress and besides, it’s impossible to play with that kind of maniacal intensity in every match. What we need is for it to be there when we need it. I’ll tell you something. If we’d played like this against the mancs the other week then another 7-0 wouldn’t have been out of the question. Newcastle are in a terrible run and they’ve got a lot of problems currently, but this performance was way better than what we saw from Ten Jarg and his band of fucking losers. It’s just a shame we didn’t perform like this against them. Right from the start we were on top of Newcastle. That first half was brilliant, the only thing missing was a goal but it wasn’t for the lack of trying.
    36 points
  47. Massive win this in terms of how the fans can start to see this team. We’re still in that new stage with this group of players which means it’s difficult to know what we’re going to get. Throughout all the Klopp glory years there was a level of trust and confidence in what the players were going to serve up and generally we knew what to expect. We’re not there yet with “Liverpool rebooted”. How could we be, we’re only four games in. The start of this season has been mad. Really up and down with some strange circumstances that have made it almost impossible to know who we are and where we’re at. A Jeckyll and Hyde display at Chelsea, a terrible start at Bournemouth followed by a decent enough recovery but then having to play with ten men for half an hour just when it looked like we were about to really click into gear. And then last week. A rough start followed by a show of great resilience, character and tactical acumen against Newcastle, but we did it with ten men for an hour so that told us nothing about how we’d fare in a game like this one. It was hard to take anything from any of those games in terms of where we’re at and how we’re playing. This one though, this is the first game of the season we can actually judge based on what we saw. And it was really fucking impressive. There’s a lot to take from this game and we saw why Klopp was so bullish with his pre-match declaration that “I love this team. You will love this team too if you give it time”. I don’t know if this team will reach the heights that Klopp’s first Liverpool side did, but I do know they’ll be fun to watch and we’ll enjoy watching them. The rebuild isn’t complete yet as there are still gaps that need filling, but Mac Allister and Szoboszlai are top class and we can see that immediately. There’s no bedding in period for them, they’re just ready made quality. Mind you, they did have a full pre-season here which massively helps. The way we handled our business after that left us short handed and Endo and Gravenberch will need time to acclimatise. The good thing is we’re not desperate for them to come in and immediately hit top form. We can be patient because we’ve got other options. One of those, Curtis Jones, returned to the side for this game and while he didn’t do anything that made him stand out, he’s going to be a big player for us in this new set up, as he was at the end of last season. He presses superbly and never loses the ball. Ever. Considering how we want to play now, that’s a big deal. Most of our vulnerable moments come when someone (so far usually Trent) loses the ball cheaply and puts us on the back foot. Jones being on the pitch really helps us control the game, which then allows others to do their thing. Others like Szoboszlai and the strikers. My boy got a start after his match winning cameo at Newcastle and he needs to stay in the side now. He’s such a massive threat and he’s got a really good understanding with Mo. They have had that from day one, but the opportunity to build on it hasn’t really been there because Darwin has been on the bench so often. They enjoy playing together though, you can see it. For so long we had the false nine and the two wide men making diagonal runs in behind, but we’re a different team now. We don’t need to replicate that because Diaz isn’t Mané and Gakpo isn’t Firmino. Cody does share a lot of Bobby traits, but we have a new midfield now with different skill profiles and a different set up behind the forwards. We don’t need a locksmith to carefully open the door for others, we’re fine with a battering ram who can smash it in by himself. To put it another way, we have two midfielders in advanced positions now, whereas previously we had none, so Bobby (and then Cody) would drop into that space to play between the lines. We don’t need that now, we need to stretch teams with runners in behind. Nunez does that brilliantly and I reckon opponents must hate facing him. Nobody likes facing pace and someone who runs in behind all the time. Him and Mo ran Villa’s high line ragged.
    36 points
  48. Its not that good a story but I'll tell it anyway. In the mid to late 80's as a young lad I would spend my bus money on booze and hitch hike home from Malvern, where I grew up and where my mates were, to Worcester where we had moved to. The one night I got picked up by this bloke and young teenage girl who were in an old battered van with a continuous bench front seat. I was sat next to the girl who, when we had been travelling about 5 minutes, I noticed her being nudged by the bloke driving and she then proceeded to put her hand on my crotch. I was a tad uncomfortable with this but obviously as a young lad, had no control over stirrings. Anyway we came to a halt at Lower Wick roundabout (for those that know the area) and I grabbed the door handle, jumped out and legged it. When it all came out about the Wests it was revealed he used to come up to Malvern and Worcester with Rose, looking for victims. I knew the bloke was Fred but the girl certainly wasnt Rose. Anyway, when I then read the book it told of how Fred used to also take his daughter out with him to look for young lads who he would then encourage to shag her in the back of his van whilst he would watch and wank off. I can picture him to this day and am 100% sure it was Fred and his daughter.
    36 points
  49. My own wonderful mum passed away three days after Jurgen's. I'd happily walk in front of a train right now. I'm done. I have no idea how he's functioned this past month but there's no way he should be left to manage as normal. The club needs to give him exceptional support, someone else needs to do the media duties, and the players need to show their support really publicly - not because it will help him, it won't, but because they owe him.
    36 points
  50. I almost forgot to do this. My routine is all over the place because of Christmas. Thursday is Round Up day and today is Thursday, but it felt like a Tuesday or something. Then I realised it was Thursday and that it was also Christmas Eve and I went into a panic. If I don’t get this done tonight it’s not going to be done, as if I tried sneaking off on Christmas Day to do work you’d never hear from me again (because my missus would kill me. Not sure the implication was clear enough there so I thought it best to explain. Probably ruined the line now). So here I am, Christmas Eve, watching MOTD and writing shite about it. You don’t deserve me you know. Usually I fast forward through our game because I’ve already watched it. This time I watched it again. 7-0 away wins don’t come around too often so I’m making the most of it. There’s nothing in particular that I noticed that I hadn’t already put in the report but I want to further emphasise just how fucking awesome Bobby’s finish on his second goal was. Not enough was said about that because the other goals were so spectacular, but the technique on that off the fucking scale. I didn’t give enough credit to Minamino’s little flick to lift the ball over the defender before his goal either. Lovely skill that. Anyway, let’s get straight into it as I’d like to finish this before Santa shows up. Arsenal lost yet again. They’ve had so many of these shit runs over the last decade but they always found a way to get out of it and pick up some points before they hit the skids again. This time there’s been no respite. They’re just losing all the time. They lose to good teams. They lose to average teams. They lose to bad teams. They got off to a terrible start with an own goal from Holding. Not really his fault, he was running in with Calvert-Lewin and the striker’s poor header glanced off him and went in. Pepe equalised from the spot after Garden Gnome Tom Davies fouled Maitland-Niles, but Mina headed in from a corner just before half time. Arsenal were the better side in the second half and Luiz hit the bar, but they couldn’t find an equaliser and remain in 15th spot. They got twatted by City in the League Cup too and this is probably the biggest crisis I can remember in my lifetime. It’s making for some golden content on AFTV though, so long may it continue. I always say how much I despise those Arsenal players and what fucking cowards they are. Generally I feel like there’s not one who is worth a fucking carrot, but sometimes I wonder if there might actually be one or two of them who are being dragged down by the rest and who might have something about them. Tierney would probably be sound in a different team and I quite like Maitland-Niles you know. I think he’s decent and he doesn’t seem like your typical lightweight Arsenal fanny. I think he has a bit about him but it’s hard to tell when they’ve been so shit for so long and seem to be getting worse, not better. Sacking Arteta won’t change anything either. They need a whole new squad because even Klopp might struggle to get a tune out of those fucking wasters. Everton are still shit though. Don’t let this little run of wins fool you. They’re shit. They briefly went second after this win but I’ve been saying it all season and I’m still saying it now. They’re shit. The best they can hope for is finishing 6th or 7th. Because they’re shit. City recorded a good win at St Mary’s against in form Southampton. It wasn’t pretty and a draw would have been a fair result. Sterling got the only goal of the game from a De Bruyne cutback. Standard, boring, Man City goal. I think I wrote last week that they only have two ways of scoring. Cutback, or ‘give it to Kev and let him shoot or cross’. This one was a combination of both. Ings thought he should have had a pen when he headed wide while almost being kicked in the nose by Stones. There was no contact, but that’s a fucking pen. It was high kicking and dangerous play. Ings couldn’t commit to the header because he had a size 12 coming right at him and he misses the target. Mike Dean wasn’t having it and nor was VAR. Ings went off injured soon after. Southampton had another good penalty shout waved away too when sterling handled. The ball bounced up off his thigh onto his outstretched arm. Not sure what the rule is on that anymore. It’s one of them that you look at and think ‘that’s got to be a pen’ but honestly I don’t know. That rat Bernardo missed a great chance after being set up - who else - De Bruyne. Remember a couple of years ago when he looked boss? He’s been fucking shite ever since, the little gobshite. City now remind me of how we were for years when Stevie carried us. They rely on De Bruyne as much as, if not more than, we ever relied on Gerrard. Literally everything they do now has his fingerprints all over it. City are keeping loads of clean sheets but they don’t score many. It’s clear what’s happened here. Pep got fed up of every cunt just taking the piss by hitting them on the break and exploiting his tactical set up, so he’s changed it. They don’t give up much on the break because they aren’t setting up camp with their entire team (other than that gormless fuck goalkeeper) in the opposition half. They’re controlling games but not threatening as much. Maybe their threat will be increased significantly when Aguero is fit and firing but this is a different City than we’re used to. Elsewhere, Fulham took the lead at Newcastle in comical circumstances when the ball bounced up and went in off the face of Matt Ritchie. He was taken completely by surprise and it looked dead funny, but he was looking right at it so not sure how he let that happen. Joachim Anderson was then sent off for felling Wilson as he ran through. I’m not sure it was even a foul. It looked it at normal speed but the slo mo just makes it look like a dive. There was a little tug and then an unintentional little touch on Wilson’s foot, which is when he flung himself to the floor. So a penalty and a straight red. Wilson scored the pen and Scott ‘Scotty’ Parker was understandably disgusted afterwards. I agreed with every word he said there. No problem with a ref giving that in real time, but having seen the replay how is he giving a pen and a red card? Parker said he can accept the initial decision and if there was no VAR you just take the rough with the smooth. But when VAR is there they shouldn’t still be getting these wrong. I think pretty everyone hates it now and wants it fucked off. I wonder how it’s going in other countries? Anyone know? I’d be interested to know if they hate it as much as we do. Onto Sunday now. I thought Leeds might give the Mancs a good game but it was over inside three fucking minutes when they allowed McTominay to score. Twice. The first one was a mis-hit. He’s getting loads of credit for that but fuck right off. Nobody tries to hit a shot like that from there. He went for the left corner, sliced it and it went in the opposite side. His second was a good finish, I’ll give him that. My boy Bamford should have pulled one back soon after but fluffed it and that was costly as Portuguese Gylffi quickly made it 3-0. It was end to end stuff though and Bamford then headed wide before Lindelof made it 4-0 from a corner. Leeds did pull one back but then James added a fifth before they got their customary pen when Martial took a tumble. James had tried for one earlier but got a yellow card for his troubles. He’s got as many yellow card for diving as he has goals since signing for them. Fernandez scored the pen and then Dallas pulled one back to make it 6-2. Leeds are always running the risk of this happening with the way they play. It is what it is. Boom or bust. You can’t be singing their praises when they play like this at Anfield and almost nick a point, and then rip into the approach when they get tonked at Old Trafford. It’s high risk high reward. Sometimes it will work, sometimes they’ll get fucked. It’s worked more often than it hasn’t though and Leeds will be comfortably safe this season. And they’ll have been entertaining as fuck in the process, so Bielsa can just carry on being Bielsa as far as I’m concerned. You’d rather be playing like Leeds than Sheffield United or West Brom, that’s for sure. I’m sick of United winning though. I don’t see them as a threat to us as they’re flawed and always seem to be two bad results away from Solskjaer being under pressure again. But this run they’ve been on is getting on my tits now. I’m generally ok with them picking up enough results to keep Ole safe but it’s going beyond that now. They’re getting a little full of themselves and need bringing down a peg or two. They beat the Blueshite in midweek to advance in the League Cup. I’m good with that as anything that helps to keep Everton’s trophy less run continuing is fine by me. Did I mention Everton are shit? I’m sure I must have. Not been a good week for Spurs eh? They went from top to *checks table* SIXTH! in the blink of an eye. Probably a joke about London and tiers in there somewhere but I don’t find any of that shit funny as I’m so sick of all this. Spurs going from first to sixth inside of a week is funny though. Palace held them to a draw, we beat them and then Leicester turned them over as well. I saw that one coming. Mourinho had so many gullible fuckwits dancing to his tune the other night I knew they’d come a cropper against Leicester. I’m not dismissing Spurs. As I’ve been saying for weeks they’re obviously going to be a threat as long as they have Kane and Son together. But let’s not get fucking carried away here. They aren’t that good. Palace showed it but everyone is entitled to an off day. We’ve had some ropey away days ourselves so using that game as evidence of Spurs not being all that would be daft. They got their arses handed to them at Anfield but somehow came out of that game with more people talking them up than down. Crazy that. “Spurs showed they can compete with Liverpool”. Yeah, so did Fulham and that means nothing either. In fact, I actually dispute that Spurs did compete with us. They competed with us in the same way West Ham did. And Sheffield United. And loads of other bottom feeders. Fuck Spurs and their Mourinho-ball tactics. That’s why I fancied Leicester. Because Spurs want to sit back and counter, but when they come up against someone else who wants to do the same thing, like Palace and Leicester, it’s not so easy is it? When they have to make the play they aren’t very good. When they can use Kane and Son on the break they’re fucking deadly. You all know how much I despise Kane, the big slobbering goon. In spite of the absolute disdain I have for him, virtually every time I watch him play these days I think “he’s fucking brilliant him. The cunt.”. It puts me in mind of that Simpsons episode “Colonel Homer” when Homer is managing Lurleen Lumpkin. And at one point Bart says “As much as I hate that man right now, you gotta love that suit”. He had his moments against Leicester but by and large they did well against him and Son. Not much happened in the first half as both teams cancelled each other out. Brendan has become more pragmatic and less idealistic over the past 12 months and this time he beat Mourinho at his own game. Both teams were sitting in and waiting for the other to make a mistake. Mourinho’s made a career out of that and it’s usually saps like Rodgers on the receiving end. This time it was Spurs who made the mistake as Aurier clumsily barged into the back of Fofana. The ref missed it but when he was told to check the screen he pointed to the spot and Vardy did the rest. Just before half time that was, the perfect time to score. Maddison made it 2-0 when he latched onto a ball over the top, controlled it beautifully and slotted past Lloris. The replay looked well onside, then they started fucking around drawing lines from his arm and the defenders foot and before you knew it, no goal. Ordinarily I’d be livid about it, but I honestly think on this occasion the VAR official saw his stupid dance and decided “I’m gonna find a way to rule this one out” which I’m not gonna lie, is completely fair and something I’d probably do. It didn’t matter because Alderweireld put through his own net shortly after and Spurs had no answer to it. Great win for Leicester and Spurs well and truly back in their box. One of the funniest things this week was the emergence of some tweets from a 15 year old Maddison saying how much he hates Spurs and calling Bale a chimpanzee and a monkey. Fucking hilarious, but you’d think once these players make the big time the clubs would have someone on the payroll to go through their social media and remove any embarrassing teenage posts. Still, I’m glad they didn’t on this one as it was proper funny. Sheffield United’s woes continued although at least they didn’t lose this weekend. Brewster was given a rare start but didn’t long as he had to be sacrificed following an early sending off for Lundstram. It was a full blooded 50-50 and he went in low initially, won the ball but then caught the lad on the shin with his follow through because he was no longer in control of his momentum. Not so long ago that would be seen as a great tackle but now you’re going to be in trouble more often than not. What irritates me about this is we’ve seen much worse that either went unpunished or had a lesser punishment. Lookman against us last week was worse than this one but he only got a yellow. Anyway, Brewster’s afternoon was cut short and his misery was compounded when the lad who took his place actually scored to put them ahead. Burke should have wrapped it up but blasted high and wide and that cost them big time as Danny Welcrap equalised from close range with a couple of minutes to go. It could have been worse for the Blades as Brighton hit the bar with the last kick of the game. So Chris Wilder still has less points than subs. Brighton would have been a better fit for Brewster than Sheffield United is, because they play actually create chances for their forwards. They just don’t take enough of them. Fat Sam’s return to the big time didn’t start well as his side conceded to El Ghazi inside five minutes as West Brom were dominated by Villa. Livermore was booked for a nasty one on Grealish but after VAR it was upgraded to red. No doubt about that one. Watkins made it 2-0 but then the lines came out and it was chalked off. Another one of those shitty decisions that morally should never be given as offside. Villa were undeterred though and Traore did make it 2-0 with a composed finish before El Ghazi added a third from the spot after yet another foul on Grealish. West Brom seemed to want to just kick the shit out of him all day. Understandable but not conducive to winning football. I’ll say no more about the Baggies as we play them next. Villa are flying aren’t they? I don’t know where they’ll finish but I’m confident it will be above Everton. Because Everton are shit. Wolves’ wildly inconsistent run of results continued as they lost to Burnley. My boy Ashley Barnes (he’s my boy again now that he’s finally remembered where the net is) headed the Clarets in front and Wood hammered in the second from a yard out. They were good value for it too as they also hit the bar and brought a great save out of Patricio. Wolves offered very little but were awarded a penalty out of nothing when Fabio Silva took a tumble in the box. He converted the kick himself but Burnley held on for a massive three points. Finally, Chelsea got back to winning ways with a 3-0 drubbing of West Ham. Thiago Silva headed the opener from a corner. Great header that one. He’s still class him. Top player. No finesse Timo missed yet another one v one chance before fortunately setting up Abraham to make it 2-0. Werner’s shot was so bad and so scuffed that Abraham was able to run in and catch it before it reached the goal. Abraham then added another to make it 3-0 before Werner missed another sitter when he hit the bar. I’ve got a mate who’s a Chelsea fan and when they signed Werner I told him that Chelsea were welcome to him as he’s not very good. At the time he thought it was sour grapes and I was jealous. He said to me this week “we’ve signed fucking Theo Walcott. The cunt even has the same initials”. Now I’m not the kind of guy to say “I told you” but if I was I’d defo have been saying “I told you”. Oh fuck, who am I trying to kid. I fucking love saying “I told you” and that’s exactly what I said to him because the only thing better than being right is telling people that you were right. Merry Christmas my faithful readers, we’ll pick this up again after the Boxing Day games, when no doubt Timo Werner is going to fill his boots now just to make me look bad. But it won’t, you see, because I’ve just given myself that insurance policy. If he bags a few goals I’ll say “I called that one” and if he doesn’t I can continue to say how I told you all months ago he’s crap. *taps nose*
    36 points



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