I must thank HBO and One Mr. R R MaRtin (that third R screams to be capitalized) for this perfect allegory of what it must feel like to not be Liverpool these days – and then having them come to pay you a little visit.
The merseyside horde.
What Liverpool did today to Leicester was beyond dominating the game. It was utter destruction, as the red walkers demolished and pillaged everything in their path. It was a display so intense, so brilliant, so fantastical, that it was hard to remember they were up against the second best team in England (my sincerest apologies to Pep and the Citizens, who have been justifiably behind the Foxes to this point in the season). The scoreline is in fact misleading, in that it should have been 7 or 8 to nothing, and Leicester should consider themselves rather fortunate for Liverpool’s profligate ways.
The newly-crowned world champions were clearly not going to let anyone forget it.
In one statistical example of the gulf of quality between the two teams, it took the Foxes a full 48 minutes to register any sort of attempt on goal. Liverpool had already had 10, and somehow managed to only score one of them. But even that lopsided statistic isn’t telling the full story. Leicester in the first half looked downright miserable, out of sorts, and out of place. Which is striking, considering that Liverpool, as is becoming a sort of tradition, were only warming up for the second half, where they really went after it. At long stretches of this game the Reds were simply toying with the Foxes, taking the ball back whenever they felt like it, creating one wave after another of gorgeous attacking displays, or otherwise borderline mocking their opponents, as Virgil did with an extremely self-assured, nonchalant backheel to cut off a potentially dangerous long pass right before half time.
This is a team that knows itself so well, it doesn’t have to think about what it is doing. Everyone seems to be in the right place at the right time – all of the time.
Oh, there were a few goals, too. Senor Firmino delivered a precision header courtesy of a venomous cross from the Night King – sorry, Trent Alexander-Arnold. Mance Rayder, played naturally by James Milner, scored on his first touch of the game, and the timing of that moment, him coming in right before the corner that led to the penalty, was a brilliant reminder of just how lady luck favors champions. It was Richard Brake – sorry, Trent again – who threw a frozen spear directly into the heart of the Leicester defense, assisting Firmino for his fourth goal in three on yet another brilliant finish, dispelling any notions of the brazilian being out of focus.
But the best was yet to come, as Vladimir Furdik – I keep doing this, don’t I? you know who – ran a good 60 yards out to receive a silver-plated pass from Mane, and struck it beautifully in a first touch that would have done either of the Ronaldos proud. Alexander-Arnold is such an incredible attacking midfielder that it already makes him the best right back in the world… and he’s barely of legal drinking age. Yet even putting his deserved man-of-the-match aside for his attacking performance, with passing easily on par with the likes of De Bruyne, in his spare time he also defended extremely well, essentially nullifying one of the best creative midfielders the premier league has to offer these days, not to mention the best striker.
Fear the Night King.
So there we have it. Liverpool is sitting pretty on top of a league that is playing to a standard that is as far from its own as the point gap they have created indicates. Yet it is the very same standard that may yet produce another champions league year with 4 english teams in the semi finals.
It’s just that the Reds are that much better.