â??Proper’ Champions League football returned to Anfield last night for the first time since 2014 and it only ended with a 2-2 draw to Spanish side Sevilla.
Sevilla are, of course, a side we know all too well after clashing with them in the 2016 Europa League final. Of course, we all hoped that last night would be different, by getting a good win and ultimately taking some form of revenge over them for beating us in that final last year. For most of the game last night, it looked as though that scenario was going to come to fruition. Barring a terrible mistake from Lovren and what was actually a good piece of skill in the lead-up to the second goal from Angel Correa, Liverpool actually put in a very good performance and defended comfortably.
We had a tough start to the game, but when I say â??barring a terrible mistake from Lovren’, that was literally the only chance they had in the whole of the first half, and despite it being just 4 minutes into the game, we had actually been applying pressure prior to this. The difficulty is that the atmosphere is killed slightly by such an early goal, with just the away end going absolutely mental. The players, however, responded well to this. Both fans and players worked together to bring the optimism levels back up and before we knew it we were once again dominating the play.Â Every time I watch us play at Anfield, I am even more impressed with our front 3. Most fans were in agreement that Mo Salah had his best performance in a Liverpool shirt last night, and I can fully vouch for that. Over the decades, Liverpool have had special players, the likes of Steve Heighway, Kenny Dalglish, Luis Suarez. These players get the crowd on their feet every time they get the ball. Mo Salah is like that already. I was sat in the lower Kenny Dalglish Stand last night, on the halfway line, and let me tell you, for a stand that has a reputation for being seated the entire match, we were on our feet a lot. There’s just a real sense of anticipation every time he gets moving on that right-hand side. Bobby Firmino was excellent, but actually missing the target at a penalty is criminal. If the keeper guesses the right way and it’s on target, then fair enough, but to not hit the target from 12 yards? It’s poor.
I’m excited to see what more can come from Salah, and the front 3 as a unit. The more we see them together, the better they will be. What’s more, the addition of Coutinho behind them will add a whole new dimension to an already exciting area of the pitch for us. Now, I’m aware I’m singing their praises and I’m doing this for a reason. Despite all this quality we have in the side, and the good performances we are putting in, fans choose to press the panic button so early after a couple of games where we have experienced frustrating results. Like I said, for the vast majority of the game, we were very comfortable, and if we’d won that game 2-1, nobody would be complaining. We would be having more in-depth conversations about great performances Salah, Firmino and also Gini Wijnaldum (who I thought was excellent). The alternative has ended up being fans using the usual scapegoats because of one or two sloppy moments in the game. The drive home after a game we haven’t won, listening to Radio 5 Live, is depressing. Fans phone in and say the same things, over and over again. You could play bingo with the phrases used after we’ve failed to win a match at the moment, and they always centre around the same players.
- “Why is Jordan Henderson our captain?”
- “Why are we still playing Moreno?”
- “Our defence just isn’t good enough!”
- “There are no leaders in that team”
Give me a break, gents. This all never seems to be a problem when we win. These problems will temporarily ‘disappear’ if we beat Burnley on Saturday. I heard someone on the phone-ins last night saying â??nothing had changed’ in the entire time we’ve had since the arrival of Klopp. We all know we need a centre-back. We all know that we should’ve played our cards right this summer and brought in Virgil Van Dijk, but the impatience of some pessimist fans suggests that they don’t think everyone else already knows this. We know Dejan Lovren isn’t good enough, we don’t need fans talking on radio phone-ins to remind us all. He reminded us all himself with the horrendous mistake he made for their first goal. Jordan Henderson wasn’t brilliant last night, but you are playing, on paper, one of the best midfields in Europe (given they have made it into the Champions League), you cannot expect any midfield to completely dominate another in this competition. As for Alberto Moreno, I actually thought he had a good game yesterday, I’m not too sure why fans choose to complain about him all the time.
It would’ve made for easier writing and reading if we’d managed to pick up all 3 points last night, I understand that. But I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that we will come through this group. Spartak Moscow away is a tough game next, but we will expect to beat Maribor both home and away, and hopefully by the time we have the tough trip away to Sevilla on matchday 5, we’ll have at least another 7 points and be on the verge of qualifying for the last 16 with 2 games to go.
Keep the faith Reds, it benefits nobody if you don’t.
By Ben Kelly