There were many amusing moments today – and boy, were the commentators on NBC having a field day, with gems such as referring to the 1978 Reds vintage as “decent” and remarking dryly that today’s contest, in fact, wasn’t. But one that stood out for me very early on was Diogo Jota’s celebration of his first goal. Nothing particularly remarkable about it, in the sense that we have seen it before: he emulated playing on a video game controller. But his celebration ultimately proved prophetic, especially during the first half. He clearly knew, in that way that experts in any field can sometimes just sense something, exactly what was going to transpire. And indeed, Liverpool’s offense often looked just as unnatural as some FIFA games do. You see some of those plays and you think “it looks cool, but it can’t really happen like that in real life”. Well, Liverpool today proved that, indeed, they can.
Maybe the programmers back at EA were simply predicting this Klopp team all these years.
Seriously, if you have someone in your life that needs a fun introduction to soccer, show them the first half of this game. The level of almost telepathic understanding between the various parts of the Reds machine was remarkable. It was hard enough to follow from my comfortable couch seat, and impossible to understand how they were doing it out there in real life.
Jota’s second goal was a simple tap in that again followed a videogame-esque team move. It also added to Salah’s tally on the assisting side, and while the Egyptian (barely) didn’t manage to score today, it allowed him to keep teammate Alexander-Arnold just behind him in the cooking department – for now, anyway. To be fair, even with his assist to Van Dijk, whose one-touch finish was of sumptuous center-forward quality, Trent had arguably the worst game of the entire squad, and he still played pretty darn well.
Southampton were simply brushed aside, just like Arsenal were last week.
Thiago added a somewhat lucky goal off a deflection, although looking at the replay, I’m not entirely sure if McCarthy could have stopped it regardless. Either way, it counts, and the Spaniard (Italian? Brazilian? Italzilard?) who after a lazy start got a whole lot better, is clearly starting to grow in this squad. That has got to be a fearsome prospect for any opposition. I can imagine the briefings: “So, guys, you gotta watch out for Salah, and Mane, and Firmino, and Jota… oh, and well, look out for Thiago, yeah?”, as the opposition squad exchange looks of bemusement.
The Mayor of Hendersville is in town, and the Terminator is also back – truly, what Fabinho did today to the Saints was unholy – and between the two of them it could seem like Liverpool played a rather unusual 4-5-3. Konate is continuing to impress the hell out of me with every game he plays. Some of it is due to Van Dijk’s remarkable tendency to make any centerback partner look a hero, but most of it is simply due to the Frenchmen himself. He’s young, but he already reads the game very well, having already improved dramatically from when he was brought on to Liverpool. Add that to his remarkable physical abilities, and imagine him three or four years in the future, and you get a pretty frightening proposition. Alisson had another of his in-your-face sort of performances, where he gets it right in a number of tight situations with interventions and saves that should be ridiculous but somehow aren’t, because he sees things happening 10 seconds before they actually unfold.
I saved the best for last. If you wanted a good sense of why resting players is so important, then I give you exhibit one, the man-of-the-match, one Andrew Robertson. After a couple of recent fairly dismal performances, he roared back to life today. If you needed a reminder as to why Tsimikas, a pretty fantastic left back in his own right, is only considered an understudy in this Liverpool side, Robbo today should have provided it. What he did to the Saints on the left flank was downright ridiculous. With Mane being a strong partner again, they created one irresistible combination after another.
Seventeen in a row with at least two goals put away, and it seems like it should be more in every game. Perhaps the single most important sign of just how much the machine is in tune was in how the players were all clearly enjoying themselves. They were buzzing and it showed on their faces.
Long may it last.