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  1. The last game before yet another international break. It feels like there is one every fortnight, and managers like Southgate still feel the need to select a full-strength squad against the likes of San Marino whose only aim is to avoid a cricket score. The South American qualifying format is a big part of the problem too, with 18 matches per side, one of whom might require a 2-legged play-off against the top side in Oceania (the Aussies play in the Asian qualifiers) or a mid-table Asian outfit. And they want to play a Copa America every couple of years, AND take part in the Olympics. Anyway: Class. Organisation. Ruthlessness. Bravery. Liveliness. Impact. Mindfulness. Effervescence. Yer ma. Grit. Urgency. Vim. Nous. Off-the-cuff. Rigour. I don’t ask for much. Last season’s game resulted in a highly composed 3-1 win with 3 really high-quality goals. Mo opened the scoring with a deft curler into the far corner after getting the ball on the right edge of the area. His second and our second was an absolutely beauty. A lightning counter attack saw Trent drive an exquisite pass cross-field into the path for Shaq. Ram Man had acres to carry the ball forward but instead played another inch-perfect cross-field ball to Mo on the edge of the area. Mo killed the ball stone dead with his first touch and tapped the ball past Fabianski with his second. It was glorious ‘Red Arrows’ stuff. Gini totally killed the game as a contest when some neat give-and-go’s between Bobby and Ox saw the Brazilian play it inside to Gini to roll past the helpless West Ham goalkeeper. I remember that game feeling like the first time in ages where Liverpool looked like Liverpool. The last day of January 1976 saw the Reds travel to the old Upton Park. We were on our way to a second League and UEFA Cup double in 3 years, and the Hammers had won the FA Cup the previous season. This game was a totally one-sided affair settled by the old Toshack-Keegan combo. Batman claimed a hat-trick and Robin chipped in with the other. You can see the goals here 24 minutes in, and quality goals they are too. It’s noticeable just how little space there is between the pitch and the stands there. I know Upton Park got largely rebuilt in the 1990s but they seemed to also have loads more space. With fans getting tanked up before games, it would have been obvious which ones had turned up having imbibed an Aristotle of the most ping-pong tiddly in the nuclear sub. January 1976 saw another great movie atop the box office. Anyone who argues that the 70s represents the greatest film era has a perfectly valid argument. It’s a decade unsullied by sequelitis, an over-abundance of CGI or absolute shite by has-beens who should have been put out to pasture long before. Stories were supremely well told and the emphasis was on the quality of the acting. Case in point? One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. It won all 5 big Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay) and was only the second film ever to do so. Forget the Oscar plaudits as a sign of quality and just watch the thing if you haven’t already. The likes of The Shawshank Redemption owe it a huge debt of gratitude. Jack Nicholson gets all the plaudits as reluctant loony bin inmate RP McMurphy but believe me when I say everyone was at the top of their game for this one. That scene with the baseball commentary is something else. West Ham are currently either one of the most improved teams in the league, or simply riding through a huge purple patch. It does appear that Moyes is getting a tune out of a lot of those players. At the very least, they don’t look like a 1-good-game-in-5 sort of team at the minute. But then, we are Liverpool. If we show up with the right attitude and do what we know we can, we could come away from the London Stadium with another emphatic win and 3 points. Just go there and get it done.
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