Where did that Jota goal come from?
Gotta start this column somewhere, so I decided to start with that. Because I have to tell you, the game seemed to be settling into a garbage time sort of rhythm by then – Liverpool had clearly won, nobody wanted to get an injury, and the intensity was a notch less. Then came the Portuguese and out of the blue, rocked Pickford’s world. I even missed the initial hit, because I was sure that Jota was going to pass it, and it didn’t look like there was anyone ready to receive. My eyes had left Jota for an instant, and in that instant, he pulled the trigger.
Not that the other goals were any less brilliant.
It’s getting a little boring to say this, but Mo Salah is simply unplayable. When you hear the commentators constantly referring to him as the best player in the world in this moment, it’s not hyperbole. It is a simple statement of fact. It’s not just the numbers, although the numbers are the foundation. It’s that he pulls this off in the toughest league in the world (by a country mile), against the toughest opposition who are absolutely determined to stop him at all costs, and in the toughest circumstances, game in and game out. And he does it with a smile on his face. In fact, the only person Mo Salah seems to ever be truly angry with is Mo Salah, which is remarkable considering his form.
His first goal was an ode to poise and finesse.
His second goal was practically impossible.
His third goal should have come two minutes into the game, so he got mad at himself and scored the other two.
Yes, there was another team on the pitch, but as is so often the case these days, they didn’t really matter. What’s more, they knew it. Everton still tried to capitalize on the moment when Liverpool would inevitably take their foot off the gas pedal for a little bit, and got rewarded with a somewhat lucky goal, but ultimately, there is nothing they could have done to change the outcome. Instead, they should console themselves that they only lost by three. Rafa Benitez – Liverpool fans were singing “Rafa’s at the Wheel” which is perhaps a bit unfair, but as a Reds fan, was utterly hilarious – has a lot of work to do at Everton, but that work will have to wait for another day. It takes something special to stop this Liverpool side, and it usually involves Liverpool itself losing concentration, rather than anything the other team is doing.
Which leads us to the often underappreciated Jordan Henderson, whose performance today was beyond just the highest quality – it was a superb demonstration of both football and leadership. When the team lost its focus and let that one goal leak, it was Hendo who got everyone back into an appropriately murderous mindset. I wish I could have heard the half-time talk, but I’m willing to bet that he had a few words to say. The man is so important to this side even when he doesn’t play; when he’s on the pitch, and with Fab and Thiago behind and in front, he becomes utterly dominant. His goal was ruthless. His passing, including the one that led to Salah’s first goal, was sublime. His performance was commanding. Our captain made for one hell of a man-of-the-match today.
To do it at Goodison just makes it all the more special.
18 games in a row with at least two put away is some stretch. No one’s done it before. How long can it continue? Let me ask it a different way: is anyone willing to bet on it stopping? It appears that the first real chance for that is next week at San Siro, when Liverpool is likely to play a much weaker lineup in an utterly meaningless Champions League game (ah, I certainly enjoyed saying that).
But these days, who knows? Minamimo might just grab himself a hattrick.