Previously v Liverpool
Emre Can was still smiling in disbelief as he attempted to piece together the moment which had thrust hopes of reaching the Champions League firmly back into Liverpool’s hands. “I saw the space and I ran in behind,” he said, presumably referring to the area vacated by Adrian Mariappa who had been drawn forward sensing the true threat lay with Roberto Firmino. “My first thought was that I wanted to head it. Then I didn’t think too much.” Instinct took over in the airborne split-second which followed and an ugly contest was transformed.
Jürgen Klopp knows all about the Yellow Wall from his time at Borussia Dortmund but this was a different kind of challenge set by Watford’s blanket five-man defence and Liverpool needed something special, something very, very special, to maintain their hopes of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League.
When the goal came, at the very end of the first half, it felt so out of place with a game this bad, so at odds with the lack of quality here, that it felt for a second as if Craig Pawson might disallow it for encroachment from another, better match.
I had intended to begin proceedings in rib-tickling and topical fashion with some sort of mock election manifesto. However, I quickly realised that my policy platform comprised little beyond a desire to roll back thirty years’ worth of progress: no substitute goalkeepers, an offside law that Alan Shearer can understand, compulsory Bovril, proper kickoff times, proper tackling, proper pitches, that sort of thing. Common sense. Back to basics. Take back control. Make football great again. You can do your own punchline.
At the end of a busy bank holiday weekend, it felt rather odd to be going to a game on the Monday evening. You certainly had to feel sorry for the Liverpool fans who would get home in the early hours with work beckoning in the morning.
Ah, an 8pm kick off on a bank holiday Monday, the joys of being in the Premier League. I’ll make this quick because A) I realise a lot of you will be back at work today and B) I’m going to see Ed Sheeran this evening, and I don’t fancy having an unfinished blog having over me as I dad dance to ‘Shape of You’ whilst at the O2