[Liverpool 3 – 1 Bournemouth].
I simply must spend a couple of paragraphs about the Mac Allister fantasy red card. There is absolutely zero chance that you can call his foul a straight red. It is possible to imagine Thomas Bramall pulling that card out of his pocket, but that’s what VAR is for, at least in theory. Yet somehow, again, Liverpool is on the wrong side of a VAR action, or in this case, lack thereof.
It’s not VAR itself. The system was well placed to call Bramall to the sidelines and let him have another look. The closeup replays showed clearly that there was no cause for a red. Watching them, the commentators were just as baffled as I was, and one must remember that the slo-mo replays usually make an offense look worse than it is in reality. I would lay odds that in any other football league using VAR, this call would have overturned super quickly. But not in the premier league. Why is VAR officiating so poor in England as opposed to quite literally everywhere else? How can they so consistently see things that aren’t there, and fail to see things that are? These utterly outrageous events happen every week; sadly, as the stats show season after season, Liverpool tends to fair poorly in the aggregate, but that’s beside the point.
It happens all across the league.
You could put this one to having Paul Tierney in the VAR seat today; his personal bias against the Reds is well-documented. But the problem is clearly more structural. It amazes me that the premier league teams aren’t demanding better from the officials. It is their league, after all. The Reds will appeal and it wouldn’t be surprising if Mac Allister’s suspension for future games is overturned. Thankfully Liverpool won anyway because Bournemouth is miles behind in terms of quality, but this kind of nonsense really hurts the game.
Speaking of which, we had one of those.
It started very poorly for our lads, who leaked two goals in two minutes. Only one of those counted, a magnificent strike from Semenyo who was by far the Cherries’ best player today. Against a more serious side, the defensive horror show that led to those goals could have easily seen Alisson pick up four from his net in the first 20 minutes. It required a moment of pure world-class inspiration from Lucho Diaz to turn the tide. Then Salah missed another penalty before amusingly converting the block into an open-play goal. I daresay that with Szoboszlai now in the squad, Mo’s days as Liverpool’s penalty-taker are numbered. Speaking of which, the Hungarian is turning out to be a phenomenal acquisition already – and he is only 22. The other big signing of the summer, Mac Allister, was also excellent before that ridiculous red. Both of them, together with Lucho, would be candidates for man-of-the-match, except that someone else was even better.
Before we name him, it’s worth noting that Trent’s left foot now seems equally as good as his right. That makes him devastating to defend against. A bit more concentration in the front line would have seen Liverpool score at least a couple more off his genius passes. Alisson had one of his “special” games before he reset and became his fearsome regular self again. Both keepers had a yellow in the first half, which felt like a rare occasion (any statisticians in the house?). Oh, and if you ever found yourself needing to show what a typical Jota goal looks like, just replay the one he scored today; it doesn’t get more Jota than that.
Right. So who was this mysterious best man, then? Look no further than the “other” captain of the squad, Andrew Robertson. This was a hall-of-fame kind of display. Without Robbo, this would have been a humiliating loss. Without Robbo, the team wouldn’t find its fire. But Robbo was there, and damn if he didn’t do all the things Hendo used to do to growl at the tide and turn it over.
In a strange way, Liverpool was also helped by that red card, as it clearly reminded everyone to get pissed and really get going. It could have easily become a five-star display after that. It almost did.
It ended up feeling like Liverpool against the world again.
Fine. That’s actually a good place to be.
Use that fire, lads.