Magic

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It’s funny how your perspective changes during a game’s key moments. Coming into the derby, as with most games against teams not named Man City, ManU, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Arsenal, I was expecting a win. (Even against most of those teams these days, I’m expecting a win.) It’s still the Merseyside derby and there have been some great moments in it, especially back in the 80s, when the two sides were trading the league title and contesting the FA Cup final for a few years. But since then, Everton have been almost an afterthought in most of Liverpool’s campaigns. You still definitely want to win that one the way you want to win all of them, but it’s rarely been a situation where beating Everton will confirm Liverpool as one of the top sides in the league or that the game itself will carry extra meaning other than beating the team that plays their home matches less than a half mile away from Anfield.

Still, the derby is the derby and it’s a game that has to be won for all of the fans in and around Liverpool who see each other on a daily basis. It’s Michigan-Michigan State or any of a number of other in-state or in-city rivalries that exist in American sports. So, despite mounting frustration that not only were we getting denied by a squad over whom we have a clear talent edge, but were getting denied while they were willing to come out and run with us in the first half, it’s still a pretty joyous moment to win a game that seemed destined to end in a draw. Referring to Arlo’s semi-prophetic comment about Liverpool having more winning goals in extra time than any other side in the Premier League era, I can only add this:

(Small break while your author convulses with laughter.) (Ahem.) (Thank you.)

It’s a great way to kick off the Other Silly (stupid) Season, where we have not just a transfer window but a ridiculous number of fixtures carrying through the holidays. A few post-game comments mentioned “playing Wednesday” and I was thinking to myself: “We don’t play Napoli for another 10 days…? Oh, wait. Stupid season. Burnley.” But now we supposedly have the depth to handle the OSS, so here we go.

The match

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@LiverpoolOffside mentioned that our xG should be something north of 3 late in the match and they were exactly right. As much as Everton played a tight game with us, we had the better opportunities and, as so often in the first part of this season, simply couldn’t close them out. Although it has to be said that this:

prolly shoulda been a goal. A spectacular body save by Alisson on the header, followed by an alert clearance by Gomez was all that kept us from falling behind. This just follows up on my earlier assertions about two things: 1. Alisson is worth every penny that we paid for him. 2. I’m happier when Gomez takes Lovren’s former spot because of the burst of speed that the former can show. That dash to the line is not something you’d normally see from Lovren and I think it may become essential for when Klopp gets back into “heavy metal” mode in the second half of the season and we leave the back line hanging alone to cover more situations. Referring back to #1, I cite this:

That’s a perfect response to Walcott. Becker cuts off the angles, makes Walcott think about the ball at his feet, dives in to get a touch, and forces the goal kick. On top of that, I was encouraged to see Klopp return to Alisson playing the long ball, since that’s part of why we paid £65M for him. His tremendous accuracy with it enables an attacking team against another side that’s leaving space for us to move into, as Everton were today. We’ve abandoned it, since most teams have been so content to sit in the low block and it makes more sense to carry the ball forward. But, given the opportunity, we went right back to it and Alisson delivered a couple excellent strikes to Mané and Salah that could have easily become more chances.

But despite the sterling play of our keeper and the hero of the moment being Origi, I still think the best player on the pitch today for LFC was Fabinho. Arlo rattled on about how Andre Gomes (from Barcelona!) was controlling the middle of the field, but you look at a simple stats comparison and see:

Fabinho: .79 xGbuild, 72 touches, 14 successful tackles, 86% passing

Gomes: .05 xGbuild, 61 touches, 9 successful tackles, 81% passing

I’ll keep our Portuguese speaker, thanks.

As for Klopp racing across the pitch to celebrate while the game’s still on… yeah, whatever. Our manager is a walking emote all the time, anyway, so no one should be either surprised or concerned. He said he apologized to Silva when they spoke after the game, because he didn’t intend any disrespect. He just got carried away. Of course, NBC had to do as much pearl-clutching as possible, in true English football fashion: “Why would ANYONE in the staid, honorable game that we invented DO such a thing?!!” Crisis. We show emotions during the game. We live for it. That’s why the bond between the club and the fans exists and why Klopp is the only manager I want right now for Liverpool. We’ll take the stupid fine from the FA and move on.

Oh, and:

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Welcome back, Divock.

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