Orange is the New WTF

[Luton 1 – 1 Liverpool].

Oh, Liverpool.

I know y’all are feeling me here: why are the Reds always so vulnerable to teams like Luton? What is it, exactly, in the way Klopp sets up his team that makes it so? I’ve read so many explanations, but none of them are quite satisfactory. Yet it keeps happening. Liverpool handles top teams with aplomb, but it’s the minnows that cause the trouble, time and again.

For one thing, the Reds have lost at least two recent league titles that way.

Luton Town won’t mind. They are so odds-on to drop back into the Championship this season, that every point is going to feel like a big achievement. Getting one against Liverpool will feel extra special. We must give them credit: they surely came in to try and steal a point. They almost got away with three. It took a gorgeous assist from Harvey and a semi-fluky shoulder chip from Diaz to grab a point back, deep into stoppage time. If anyone was going to score, I’m glad it was Diaz, whose father is still being held captive by kidnappers in Colombia.

Who should have scored was – can you guess? – I knew you’d get there in one: Darwin Nunez. The man is such an enigma. His obvious talent is there for all to see. He gets himself in excellent positions. He is clearly hungry and determined. Yet something happens with that final touch if the chance is too easy. This has to be purely psychological, because when he does score, it is with superb quality. I’m not sure if Salah intended to hand Darwin a goal on a silver platter like he did about an hour into the game, or whether it was a miscue, but that kind of opportunity cannot be squandered. I’d have scored it. You would too.

For Darwin to miss is enraging.

Does he lose concentration in that moment because he can’t wait to lift his hands in celebration? There are plenty of videos of athletes in many sports celebrating a bit too early only to lose at the finish line. I have to wonder if that’s the case for Nunez, and if so, where is the team shrink to help him with this problem?

By then, Liverpool should have scored at least a couple of times, and this kind of game almost always follows a script. The obviously dominant team becomes frustrated and ultimately exposes itself in the back for a quick and decisive counter. That’s exactly what happened today, and Chong’s goal was well earned on the back of brilliant execution. It all started with my man-of-the-match, Luton’s Ross Barkley, who could have easily decided to allow himself to be tripped on the edge of his own box and earning a second yellow for Mac Allister. Instead he stood his ground, delivered a great pass forward, and watched his front line execute flawlessly.

That moment simply underlined the fact that Barkley had a perfect game.

Losing the way the Reds did to Spurs hurt, but the outcome wasn’t particularly painful; it was an away loss to a title contender, plus the refs were clearly biased. Losing to the orange Hatters hurts and the outcome feels so much worse, because it’s not a game where the Reds should drop points.

Oh yes, of course. I know Liverpool didn’t actually lose.

It sure felt like it, though.