One very specific picture was making the rounds a week ago, after the mighty reds completed their devastating demolition job at King Power stadium. In the picture, one Virgil Van Dijk was captured while briefly holding what looked like a lawn mower belonging to one of the groundsmen at Leicester. It was a great “caption this” moment, and indeed, the Internet came to life and amply provided. But the question remained:
What was the big dutchman doing?
Today gave us his answer. Clearly, Virgil was simply putting in a bit of mowing practice before putting it to good use. Obviously, he had in mind this game, where mowing down blades, grass or otherwise, would be his job for the day. For a player with such vision on the pitch, it is no surprise to learn that such vision extends beyond any particular game. And in terms of mowing, he did so magnificently, to the point where even on the rare moment that the blades seemed sharper than a knife’s, they were instantly chopped off. On one occasion, there were three of them to one of him in a classic three-on-one counter, but he quickly and elegantly made it apparent that in reality, it was a routine one-on-three situation. The lawnmower was purring in contentment.
There, that’s man-of-the-match sorted out.
What else did we have?
We had another game where Liverpool dominated start-to-finish, without exerting themselves too much. By the 70th minute, it was a game deep in management mode, which makes sense, even if it became a bit boring to watch. This level of control that Liverpool is able to exercise so easily in this moment is outrageous. Poor Sheffield United, who are at present one of the best teams in England, escaped with a scoreline that treated them kindly, and they seemed to know it as well. Salah’s opener was a bit tongue-in-cheek, as he seems wont to do these days, nutmegging Dean Henderson (who was chiefly responsible for the blades’ flattering scoreline) with a cool finish instead of simply placing it in the corner. Not satisfied with an assist, Robbo’s pass to Mane to begin the play for the second was so pinpointingly brilliant, it’s worth watching over and over; it was as if he was saying to Trent, as part of their friendly rivalry for being the rulers of creativity: “get a load of these moves, bro”.
Personally, I can’t wait for Trent to respond next time.
Gini gave another stellar performance as well, to the point where it seemed like he truly has a magical ability to stay upright with the ball glued to his feet. One moment he’s gone from sight, being fully surrounded, and then he suddenly bursts from the wall of players around him, making the whole thing look comical, and even slightly cartoonish. Oh, and Origi had the best defensive moment of the day in extra time, because of course he did.
It is now quite feasible that Liverpool will have this one sewn up by late March, or early April. From this writer’s perspective, it would be a particularly nice touch if they were officially crowned champions at the Etihad.