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  1. One week of the league season to go and we are STILL in with a shout of the quadruple! The Premier League title odds are very much against us as we need to win both our remaining league games and hope City slip up to Villa. The bookies will probably have lengthened our odds after the cup final where Mo had to be subbed early because of a twinge that has cast doubt on whether he will be fit and available before the Champions League final in a fortnight. Virg lasted 90 minutes and had to be subbed due to a twinge behind his knee, and Robbo cramped up and needed to be replaced by eventual match winner Kostas. Even Ali took a knock. Basically it is likely we will be without 3 or 4 for this one. Still, a win will bring us back to within 1 point of City before the final day, just as in 2019. Tactical nous. Accuracy. Know-how. Intelligence. Nerve. Grit. Tenacity. Heart. Effervescence. Tricks. Impudence. Speed. Style. I don’t ask for much. Last season’s corresponding fixture was our first game of 2021, and began a period of desperate results amid an injury crisis in the centre of defence. It was a poor game where we did not play well at all, were scuppered by inexplicable refereeing leniency (is it really inexplicable when PGMOL’s finest routinely let teams get away with all sorts of shit against us?) on a few occasions leading to increasing frustration, and we dropped 3 points for the first time since the Villa debacle a few months earlier when Liverpool old boy Danny Ings ran through early on to lift the ball past the onrushing Ali from an angle. There was no lack of effort but our forwards all looked off key that evening. The picture was better in September 1988 when the defending league champions travelled to The Dell. It was always a tight and compact ground even after some new stands were built in the 1990s to comply with the Taylor Report’s recommendation for all-seater facilities at top flight stadia, but prior to that it was extremely claustrophobic and a ground on which we had a very patchy record. In those days, I think that would have been due to how the team had to travel to away ground rather than the close proximity of the fans. The squad would have gone by coach on the day of the game whereas nowadays the lengthy journey between Merseyside and the south coast would be undertaken by flying and staying overnight in Hampshire, easing travel fatigue and aiding preparation and recuperation. The Dell was so hemmed in that the end stands following the angle of the roads immediately behind, and there were barely 2m between the touchlines and the perimeter fences. Liverpool had started off in the league the way they’d left off the previous season. David Burrows had been signed from West Brom to fill the left back slot (allowing the versatile Nicol to move over to the other side where he was a more natural fit), but the big story was the return of club legend Rushie for a record £2.8m (£400,000 less than what Juventus had paid to bring him to Serie A a year earlier). We already had a fearsome attack, and adding him to it would have had the rest of English football shitting themselves. I imagine there were many conversations among fans back then thinking out loud about how good we would be if we still had Rushie in addition to the threat of Aldo, Beardo and Barnesy. Now it was a mouth-watering reality. At Southampton, it was Beardsley who had a standout game, running the Saints ragged. Incidentally, it was a Southampton team that contained former Red Jimmy Case in midfield, and had a young Alan Shearer amongst the subs. It was Beardo who broke beyond the tackles of the Saints’ back line to square for Aldo to tap into the unguarded net from inside the six yard box. As much vaunted as that team was in an attacking sense, we also had a tendency towards defensive calamity. Just a couple of minutes after taking the lead, Gillespie bundled into Paul Rideout to leave Derek Statham with the task of beating stand-in Reds keeper Hooper from the spot. He did so with ease, sending the ginger net minder the wrong way. In the second half, Beardo killed a long high Ablett ball upfield stone dead in the centre circle before again dribbling past the flying challenges of the Southampton defence and placing the ball past John Burridge. A quality goal from a quality player. Liverpool began to turn the screw and the Southampton goal led a charmed life as chances went begging. Then Aldo was brought down by the keeper when clean through, and Big Jan tucked away the resulting penalty with his customary coolness. 3-1 and it looked like the rest would have a hard task of stopping us from running away with the league again. September 1988 saw the latest slice of weird from David Cronenberg top the box office. Jeremy Irons starred as twin Jekyll and Hyde-esque gynaecologists Beverly and Elliot Mantle in Dead Ringers. Beverly the shy retiring, nervy type with Elliot the lecherous cad who thinks nothing of getting his end away with his patients while they are anaesthetised, and also while they’re not. Ultimately, one twin cannot do without the other. I know I’ve seen this film before but I don’t remember too much about it. It’s not a Cronenberg film without some fucked-up goriness and sure enough, Dead Ringers has its typically Cronenberg moments. This is a guy who brought us films like Scanners, The Fly and Crash (the 1990s film not the 2005 Oscar winner) after all. At the time, Irons was best known for Brideshead Revisited but had begun to carve out a successful film career in films that were well written but less hyped than the mainstream. It’s highly likely that Klopp will ring the changes for the game at St Mary’s. We’ve a few who need a rest after their weekend exertions plus a handful who need a bit of time to get back to full fitness. We have options that can slot into any of the other positions on the pitch. That means two things. Some of the guys who exerted themselves to the end on Saturday may be required to be subs on Tuesday, and it’s less certain that we will look like a cohesive unit. That’s a lot of pressure when there is still so much riding on the game for us, but fortunately Klopp has built a squad and backroom staff that thrive on pressure and do not consider the remotest of possibilities a lost cause. He will demand focus, motivation and application from whoever is selected, and they are capable of delivering. With Southampton it’s hard to know what you’re going to get as they have their own Jekyll and Hyde tendencies during the season. Then can go on a 10-game unbeaten spell where they look useful for a European place, but then they’ll have a spell where they take some absolute hidings. It might be their last home game of the season but I’m hoping that we see the latter from them. Play it right and do the right things and we will win. With a fair wind we can even boost our goal difference ready for the final day. Just go out there and get the job done.
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