And the Saints Go Marching In
Wait, that title sounds like something about Southhampton.
But only because the Saints played a major role in today’s premier league season-long coronation of a Liverpool team that seems destined to break all the records, and become legendary for decades to come. First, it was a late goal from agent Ings, Liverpool’s cleverly installed deep operative, who carried out a late assassination to secure an away win for Southhampton at Leicester, the Reds’ closest rival.
Then it was Sadio Mane, an import from Saintland, who played his socks off today to be the man of a very difficult match. Sure, he attacked, but he was also so busy breaking up opposition plays, he seemed like the footballing version of Linus Caldwell.
Today’s Spurs looked like their early season selves at times – bad – and like a whole new team with a legitimate interest in proceedings at others, mostly in the second half. Say what will about Jose Mourinho, and there certainly is plenty to say, the man knows his football and he gets the premier league. This new version of Jose, though, seems less inclined to play destructive football, and is actually almost pleasant in press briefings. Can an old dog like Mourinho learn new tricks? Harry Kane’s injury may be the best thing that has happened to Spurs, because the duo of Moura and Son can cause real trouble, as they did to the merseyside defense today.
Still, Liverpool absolutely dominated the first half, and could have easily been four up by half time. This is a pattern this season, and I was fully expecting an extended lead by the turn of the hour. It did not go that way. Joe Gomez had his worst game of the most recent stretch by far, and Hendo kept getting caught on the ball in transition. Were it not for Liverpool’s full backs in defense (odd as that sounds), especially Robertson (also a man of the match contender), and of course Mane, this could have turned out quite differently.
Maybe it’s just the Reds’ “sleepy January” effect in play.
Firmino’s goal was not only pinpointingly perfect, the assist to him by Salah was brilliant as well. It also illustrated again one of the fascinating aspects of this Liverpool team. When the backroom recommended the addition of Salah, it was partly based on their statistical analysis that he would combine especially well with Bobby in front. They were not wrong, to put it mildly.
Shaq is back, which is excellent news, and he can hopefully play an important role for the team in the back stretch. Origi almost closed the game out with some fancy footwork in Kloppage time, and I could feel the fear in the stadium through my TV. Lallana is certainly having a moment recently, reminding us how good he can be. But the truth is, Liverpool looked a bit knackered, even after a welcome 10-day break, and the reason was simply that Spurs matched their intensity, something that very few teams can do. In the end though, none of it mattered. It almost feels like these days, one can adapt that old Lineker adage about Germany to this Reds team, itself the creation of one of Germany’s finest:
“Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, Liverpool win”.