There was a moment, after Michail Antonio had pulled one back for West Ham just before the hour mark to make it 3-1, when you could have been forgiven for thinking Liverpool were on the brink of yet another preposterous, mind-melting collapse—the sort that, under Jurgen Klopp’s mostly brilliant reign, has too often marred what should have been a glorious victory for the Reds and their legions of followers.
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Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have had a tendency to start games slowly at times. Unlike his predecessor’s sides—which at their very best would attack the opposition from the opening kick with a furious, face-melting tenacity—Klopp’s teams have often lacked such intensity, instead needing to settle into games before eventually bringing the noise. Usually, the noise arrives; other times, especially against inferior opposition, Liverpool will find themselves struggling against a deep-lying, tight-packed defense for their opening breakthrough. While that breakthrough does indeed arise more often than not, one doesn’t have to look back far to see instances in which it doesn’t, with the Reds forced to make do with a shared point—or worse. Continue reading
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In the 73rd minute, not long after the travelling Crystal Palace support had serenaded Jordan Henderson with chants of “You’re just a shit Steven Gerrard,” Sadio Mane broke a scoreless deadlock that had no business being a scoreless deadlock, giving Liverpool the advantage. Jurgen Klopp had made five changes from the side that beat Hoffenheim away in Europe four days earlier, and still Liverpool were the demonstrably better football team; they had outshot Palace 23-4 by the time it was all over, with 13 efforts on target to Palace’s solitary one. On the day’s evidence, Palace fans would have a shit Jordan Henderson patrolling their midfield in a heartbeat. Continue reading
The first six weeks of the Premier League season have come and gone in a blur, taking nearly a sixth of the long and arduous campaign with them. Already, the table has taken a specific shape — and unlike last season, when a league deprived of any legitimately top-tier quality sides provided the vacuum for Leicester City’s unforgettable triumph, the moneyed hegemony that has traditionally dominated English football has already assumed its place at the top. Continue reading
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The notion of “character” as an imperative characteristic in a successful soccer team has taken outsized importance in the contemporary dialogue that surrounds the sport these days. In post-match interviews after a hard-fought result, former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers would often note that his side had displayed character. By the end of Rodgers’ reign at Anfield, fans on Twitter and observers in the media had adopted the term as a stick to beat Rodgers and his team with — right up to the point when a sequence of relinquished 1-0 leads, apparently indicative of a flaw in that character, led to him losing his job last October. Continue reading
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On a weekend that saw league football commence in Spain and Italy and witnessed the Premier League in full, unpredictable swing, the football that mattered was played on an entirely different continent. Brazil, to be exact — the spiritual home of the very concept of the beautiful game, where the eyes of the world have been fixated over the past two weeks during the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. Continue reading
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Originally published on Premier Punditry.
After a week spent watching film of the great triumphs of the past in this fixture, in preparation for what felt like the most important match of the season, so came the inevitable gut punch. I should have known better: it’s stupid to tempt fate, especially when these two giants of the game are involved and things rarely, if ever, go according to plan. Continue reading