The best goal in today’s amusement park of goals was the one that wasn’t actually scored. Early on in the second half, Liverpool executed one of its trademark rapid-fire bone-carving flawless executions – when they do that, it always feels like you are sitting at the chef’s table at a gimmicky, high-end Japanese seafood restaurant, watching in awe as the chef cuts fish or a piece of meat with what seems like impossible speed and technique. It saw Mo Salah, already a Liverpool legend and one of the most effective frontmen the Reds have ever had, having his choice of where to place the ball and how, with only a miserable Kepa Arrizabalaga between him and his twentieth goal of the season.
Instead, Salah inexplicably side-footed the ball almost all the way to the corner flag.
This is not to say that the other goals were run-of-the-mill. Keita’s hit for the opener was one that would have made teammate Oxlade-Chamberlain, a veritable long-shot master, proud. Trent’s free kick was simply exquisite, and once again one finds himself shaking one’s head in wonder. Is there any limit to what this kid can do? Is he really a full-back? His assist for Bobby’s first and last goal of the season at Anfield, Liverpool’s fourth, was a masterpiece of a pass to rival the best many attacking midfielders could produce. It was number thirteen for the season, and in the process he incidentally broke his own record from last season for assists by a defender, potentially frustrating his counterpart on the other side. Robbo’s brilliant assist to Ox for the fifth moved his own tally to a highly impressive eleven, in itself an insanely high standard for a full-back. Gini’s presence of mind for number three was vintage Gini, surgically opportunistic and hit… just… so.
Needless to say, Alexander-Arnold is my man of the match.
On the other side of the pitch, Giroud scored a trademark goal of his own, all about determination, positioning, and being in the right place at the right time. But it was Christian Pulisic who earned the plaudits for the blues. Once he came on, the team suddenly looked like it got a jolt of power, and his goal and assist were well-earned. On another night, he might have even inspired an outrageous comeback. On this night, it was never to be.
Liverpool were finally getting their hands on a premier league trophy, and the lads were certainly and emphatically not going to let some American ruin their night.
So an incredibly entertaining game ended with a fun, off-season kind of score, and finally we could turn our attention to what actually mattered. Jordan Henderson, who wasn’t even born when Liverpool last became champions, called once the best worst player in the premier league, did what even the giant, the legend, Steven Gerard could not. And as he accepted the trophy that would make Liverpool simultaneously champions of England, of Europe, and of the world, from another legendary figure in the club’s history, I could not stop myself from bursting into tears. Sir Kenny may have shed a couple himself. Jurgen Klopp, himself a sort of unlikely hero, the inspiring, charismatic, and extremely talented manager who is destined to become a mythical figure in Liverpool’s future, definitely did, but he never tries to hide it.
Of course Liverpool would be the ones to finally win one when no fans would be allowed in the stadium. Of course. But none of it matters. The liver bird is on her perch again, and I suspect that it will take more than an Alex Ferguson to dislodge her this time. Get used to this, Liverpool fans.
I fancy that it will happen again sooner than we might expect.