Centerback Scoring School

[Liverpool 2 – 1 Brighton]

Due to the potent mixture of holiday weekend late night shenanigans (which in the case of this extremely nerdy individual, means playing in a big bridge tournament and not getting to bed until 1AM) and the early kickoff time on the west coast, I missed the entire first half of this match.

I’m told it was pretty good. Looks like big Virg almost got himself a hat-trick. Seeing that 2-2 from St James’ Park was a happy piece of unexpected news. Alas, none of that happened in front of my eyes, so I cannot report on it, and today’s Aftergame Corner will have to be somewhat abbreviated.

The half I did see seemed rather balanced, with Brighton ultimately having the edge. They played extremely well, with one Mr. Dunk proving a rock in defense – he was singularly responsible for the scoreline not doubling before the 70th minute – and then going on and adding to the overall incredible attacking performance by centerbacks that sums up this match.

That moment deserves a bit of attention. Remember Trent’s corner? Of course you do. This column is named for it. It was straight out of elementary school, a “catch me if you can” kind of moment. That players of the caliber of Barcelona’s were caught napping the way they were was just so unbelievable. Well, guess who got caught napping today? Because while surely good ol’ Mr. Atkinson, the ref that every Red fan loves to hate, did everything he could to give Brighton an extra edge, it was Liverpool’s own fault that Lewis Dunk even had the shot. Why? Because a Liverpool player had to stay standing between the ball and the wall until the latter was sorted out before retreating back into it, precisely in order to stop this from happening, but nobody did that. I suppose it’s a bit of cosmic justice that Liverpool were punished in similarly embarrassing fashion to Barcelona from not paying attention. And in this case, it ended up not actually hurting.

Allison earned his red card, but Adrian is an excellent keeper, so that should not be a concern. He made a crucial save or two, and then had a nervy moment which could be attributed to him coming in completely cold after the red card. It didn’t cost, either. The defense did well, Lovren with another solid performance coupled with some crucial interventions; he really deserves more appreciation from the fan-base. Henderson and Gini, together, roughly approximated one Fabinho. Ox is clearly getting into it, providing some very necessary additional creativity in the middle. I have nothing to say about the front, at least not from what I could watch. I’m also not going to select a man-of-the-match when I only saw half of it.

Instead, one simply must admire that Liverpool has an 11-point cushion going into December. That is a pretty good deal, even if the Foxes cut it down to 8 again tomorrow. It is fascinating that, with an apparent habit of finding some clever way to allow the opponents a goal in pretty much every game, Liverpool is still winning… well, all of them. That’s remarkable. But when all is said and done, in football one wins by scoring more goals than the opposition. If we deliver two for every one we ship (2-1 being Liverpool’s by far most common scoreline this season), then we seem just as invincible as a team that wins by large margins, or for that matter, 1-0 repeatedly.

And it is ultimately far more entertaining.