[Liverpool 1 – 1 Aston Villa].
Let’s start with what is now established: Liverpool will be contesting the Europa League next season. Of course, we all prefer the team to be in the Champions League, but in truth, for long stretches of the season, even that modest goal looked aspirational. Then again, Klopp has never won it at Liverpool, so it might be a nice trophy to add to his (and many of these players) burgeoning collection.
Should that happen, Bobby Firmino will sadly not be one of them. But if we could ask for one player to score a single goal today, it would be him. A fairy tale ending for a Liverpool legend that, in future years, will only be recognized further for his remarkable contributions to this particular dynasty. Goodbye Bobby, and thank you for everything you’ve brought to Merseyside, first and foremost that brilliant heart. I don’t know if and when we might see another – what was the term Klopp gave it? – defensive forward (no traditional false nine, this) at this level again. But it was Bobby who came up with it, and it will always be in Bobby’s style that it will be remembered.
James Milner will also not be present for this hypothetical medal ceremony next year, but he’s won so much in his career already, I’m not even sure his trophy cabinet would have the room, anyway. It’s hard to remember that he came to Liverpool at the peak of his career, having already achieved so much, because of how he embraced being a Red. I suspect that he will get a standing ovation at Anfield next season, even while wearing the wrong shirt. And we should not forget Ox, who never recovered from that horrible injury, but was brilliant before then and still played a key role in so many moments, and Naby, whose rare flashes of brilliance (and smiles) were downright inspirational.
It was a rough-and-tumble sort of game today, and it showed yet again just how good Villa had become under Emery. It is only fitting that they should get themselves into one of those European competitions next season. Truthfully, though, they were a little lucky, considering a number of critical VAR calls that all went their way. Any one of those going the other way would have seen them respectably off. As for the man-of-the-match, for the life of me, I cannot understand the commentators gushing over a player who they admitted should have seen a red, practically giving him the designation. My choice is Matty Cash, who did just as much as Mings, especially in frustrating Luis Diaz and later Jota… and unlike Mings, did it cleanly. And this tells you the story of the game because Liverpool mostly played better than the visitors.
Ollie Watkins’ missed penalty was a good reminder that it happens to the best of them, not just Salah. And it was a downright genius outside-of-the-foot pass by Mo that set Bobby up for that dream ending. That the Brazilian went ahead and scored with a karate kick, his trademark goal celebration, just made it all the more delicious. I’m not even sure if he could see it on contact, either, so perhaps it was a no-look goal as well. Salah himself must be itching for one more goal this season in order to write history as the only player to score 20 and assist 10 in the premier league three season running; he should get plenty of opportunity to do that in Liverpool’s last outing against the already relegated Saints.
Alas, due to timing conflicts, I won’t be able to post a column for that one. And so, I bid you adieu, and see you next season!