Why call the journey LFC faces the remainder of the season a highway? Because it’s not going to be a stroll, walk in the park, jog, or even a sprint. This next stage of the calendar – essentially a match every 71.4 hours – isn’t going to leave anyone time to breathe, much less think.
So I’ll do it for you. I’ll share what I loved most prior to the wicked chasm caused by the World Cup. Then, I’ll let you know what I have no use for and the part of the game I missed the least. And lastly, I’ll share a look ahead at expectations and maybe a prediction or two.
Still on board? Let’s do this!
The First Exit
Our first exit off the highway sees some pluses regarding coverage. Pubs being open again, tons of podcasts, multiple screens, Goalazo, and Goal Rush significantly enhanced my Premier League experience.
I missed being able to skip from one match to another on Peacock; then jump over to ESPN+ to watch other league matches, especially in the promotion zone; and return to the screen to see Champions League stages and all manner of entertaining footie.
Then the Queen died and the sport stepped back. Rightly or wrongly*, it still caused a void.
*The loss of matches was little, lest anyone with royal lineage question my measure of the Queen’s place in history.
Stuck In Traffic
Football stops and then slips back onto the stage for a mere handful of weeks before it stops again. The experience is a lot like driving in stop-and-go traffic. Better yet, it’s more like sitting on a bus without seat springs, belts, or handholds as that bus ricochets through traffic at 2 MPH one moment and 8 MPH the next.
And as you start to wonder if there are any careers as a bobblehead model, the bus stops completely in the middle of the highway, rips your team apart and sends them to their respective home nations, and says, “Now watch these games for which you have competing emotions! And watch them all! They are the only matches you’ll see until Christmas.”
The World Cup Detour
Seriously, how can I root for Virgil AND the United States? How can I not wonder why Marcus Rashford was on the pitch instead of Trent? What am I to think when other players head home with significant injuries putting a wrench in our upcoming league matches?
Needless to say, I think this should have been scheduled better. (But that’s an entirely different tale.) All in all, I’ve missed the Premier League style of play, the regularly changing league table, and the camaraderie of friends during matches.
Something else I’ve missed is the familiarity of the referees with that particular style of gameplay. Take that as a backhanded complaint about the World Cup officials. After seeming reticent to give a card for any reason in the group stages, the cautions have piled on in the latter rounds.
In fact, it was so bad that a player on one side was sent off by getting two SOFT (extra emphasis there) yellow cards in a span of minutes from a ref with a reputation internationally for showing the most cards in the league. Some folks are wondering if he had to meet a quota, like a police officer at the end of the month handing out speeding tickets.
I guess I’m trying to say I missed our EPL referees quite a bit during this World Cup.
The Highway Back
Stuff I didn’t miss from before this break included the multitude of dives. I really hope the second half of the season is more strictly officiated on this. There should be some award to the player that has the ratio of the most touches to the least fouls.
I also didn’t miss Manchester City and Arsenal ripping teams apart on a regular basis. I’m glad the first part of the year left us with the top of the table still in reach and the top four a realistic aim. It’ll be good to be back to pub life where people know the words to songs and YNWA isn’t met with confusion.
Rest Stop Soothsaying
So what’s coming up for Liverpool? A shameless plug to start is all we do on the American Scouser YouTube channel. Morning Coffee Show every day at 9 AM ET, match previews and recaps, podcasts, and in-depth discussions on all things Liverpool. Click all the links at the top of this piece to stay involved and in the know.
But speaking of knowing, let me look in my crystal ball for January!
We’ll climb the table, but still fall shy of the top six by month’s end. Winning the league is possible but not realistic. The top four is more plausible as the Jesus-less Arsenal and form-broken Spurs slide out. January signings are a mystery right now with links left and right but solidification in the middle of the park is a must.
In closing, I’m excited to get off the World Cup highway and be back with my beloved Reds. I can’t wait to be back in the pub or to properly dent my couch with a Carlsberg in one hand and a scarf in the other!