Liverpool Pressing, Everton Depressing
The title line was uttered roughly 40 minutes into the game at Anfield by one of the commentators, after Liverpool scored its fourth, and it was so perfect that I decided to steal it for today’s column. This was vintage Liverpool, if vintage means circa 2016-17; score a lot, give away too much.
Heavy metal, how we love you, and how anxious you can make us at times.
When Liverpool was 2-1 up, after another screwball zonal defensive error, and we were only 20 minutes in, I felt a moment of fear. What if the game was done, this being the “Liverpool scoreline”? Would we have a boring, listless, occasionally anxiety-riddled affair after that? Can Liverpool actually shred to pieces an Everton that looked utterly miserable, even pathetic? Well, turns out that they could, but wouldn’t. Sure, it ended 5-2, but the Reds might have easily scored 3 or 4 more, with 2 of them courtesy of Sadio howlers that must account for his allocation for the rest of the season. Which is a little sad, because outside of that he was utterly devastating to the Toffees throughout the game.
Contrary to Everton’s scrappy efforts, all of Liverpool’s goals came off of sumptuous finishing following exquisite deliveries. Mane’s pass to Origi for the opener was so perfect, it might be difficult to emulate even in training, and the way the frenchman danced with the ball after that could qualify as a pun. Shaquiri’s “passtrike” into the corner was sublime, as was again the assist. Origi’s second goal, outrageous as it was, was set up by a pass no-less outrageous from Lovren. Remember the guy who wanted to leave to Italy on the last day of the transfer window? Yeah, that guy. Then we had the fourth, which Mane converted with passion and confidence, after a brilliant buildup – and, of course, a nice last pass. And if we thought that Liverpool could not possibly come up with something better, Wijnaldum’s finish off Firmino’s insane setup in the dying minutes of the game – after all, it would be downright silly if Liverpool didn’t score after the 85th minute – was nothing short of an attacking masterclass.
And let’s not forget those howlers. In fact, if every goal had gone in that should have, we would have ended up with an 8-3 scoreline, and it would have been quite appropriate. Put another way, it wasn’t the highest quality football, but it was terrific to watch.
In the end, though, Liverpool seems to have finally woken up from its prolonged sluggishness. Seeing as it came in a game against an opponent in terrible shape, it may not be particularly indicative, but it may be just the thing the Reds need to make it through the intense December schedule. It is telling that two huge misses came off the only regular frontman; it may simply be that they all need a bit of a break, and the bench is clearly hungry and ready to play. Klopp did the right thing, and it paid off, and I for one hope that we will see more of Shaq, and Origi, and even Lallana. Seeing the Reds finally get into second gear was a delight, and if they can get into third…
This season may then be over by March.
It is again a bit of a struggle to pick a man of the match. Mane was brilliant, but then he had those horrific misses. Shaq was consistently very good, just not excellent quite yet. Origi was indeed excellent, but only for half of the game. Both Van Dijk and Lovren were great, except when they weren’t, and the team sprung a couple of leaks. Robertson was world-class the entire game, and my bias against forwards in picking MotM’s would make me lean towards him, except that I have an even stronger bias towards making unexpected choices, and the way the game changed after Bobby walked on the pitch for the last 15-20 minutes was just vivid. The second half seemed to have settled in to game management mode, and then he steps on and does those things he does, his impact is tremendous, and suddenly Liverpool can score with ease again and again (even as it failed to convert). Sure, it may not be traditional, especially in a game that is already won, but I’m going to do it anyway. Bobby’s my man.
Oh, and best of luck to Mr. Silva in his next job.