I watched a documentary about the making of Die Hard the other day. It was appropriate, given that I’ve been thinking about the 80s recently, or at least how different some things are now from then in the footballing world. From a technical standpoint, the film is impressive given how it revolutionized the action genre, in large part because the hero wasn’t built up to be anything more than the average Joe. Despite this, he succeeded against daunting odds. If you’re a Bournemouth fan, you’d probably like to be able to take solace in the fact that one of the smallest clubs in England has been able to stay in the top division for as long as they have, defying similar odds. But then you come to games like today, where the gap in skill between the two sides is so massive that it’s not even a contest, and you think that, reframed for Die Hard, it would’ve been something like the giant stuffed bear trying to take on Hans Grüber and his minions.
Whenever you see the arguments in favor of a “European super league”, it’s often referencing games like this, where Liverpool essentially played a pitch-wide rondo for the last half hour of the game, keeping the ball away from the Cherries, occasionally attacking with it, and routinely snuffing out any attempts to move it into the final third. LFC finished with 72% possession, which easily arced over 80 well into the second half. Calling it ‘dominant’ is understating the case to a laughable degree. The situation is only accentuated by what I was saying on Wednesday about Dean Court (Ok… Vitality Stadium), in that the place is so small that the only camera mounts available are about 20 degrees up from the pitch surface. It makes it really annoying to watch on TV and produces ridiculous moments like Lovren putting a ball out of the stadium on a routine clearance. Am I in favor of a “super league”? No. Am I in favor of shrinking the EPL? Maybe…? The counter-argument against Bournemouth is that they’ve actually outspent teams like Palace and West Ham(!) over the past few years. Is this like making Bruce Willis the highest-paid actor in Hollywood for his first real film?
All of that said, it was a nice, comfortable win for the Reds which is kind of what we needed given the slate of games in front of us. And it has to be said that Bournemouth has been riven by injuries lately and suffered two more awful ones during the match, as both Nathan Aké and Callum Wilson had to come off the field with hamstring issues. They’ve also been playing contrary to their typical style in recent weeks. Their ability to finish in the middle of the pack and avoid the drop has largely been enabled by Eddie Howe’s offensive approach and their ability to score goals. Well, they have 8, total, on the season and it didn’t get any better today… which means we finally got a clean sheet! Klopp said that was the main shout of excitement in the dressing room after the game (“Clean sheet! Clean sheet!”), since it’s only the third one we’ve gotten in our first 16 games. Hopefully, that bodes well for Tuesday.
The game, such as it was. The above image should tell you all you need to know. In his tweet, Caley mentioned that “Liverpool seems to be finding their form”, noting how odd that is to say about a side that remains undefeated in the league. Much of it was a result the Keita and Salah show on the right side, with the latter showing up with some panache after his rest during the derby, and the former displaying some of the potential that we’ve all been waiting a year-and-a-half (and, really, two years-and-a-half) for.
That’s a MOTM performance if I’ve ever seen one, with the passing numbers particularly standing out; appropriate, given that Salah’s goal came off of an excellent lead pass from Keita. He was just returning the favor, since Keita’s came from a kinda brilliant backheel from Salah:
What’s hilarious about that move is watching three Bournemouth defenders swarm onto Salah, only for him to play it out to Keita who has continued his run, unabated. The first goal came, again, from Route 1 football, displaying excellent vision and placement from Henderson as he dropped one right onto Ox’s foot. Admittedly, “Route 1 football” is a bit of a pejorative. But it’s not like we’re just “tossing it in the mixer” in tried and true English fashion. We’re responding to packed-in defenses and if the passes are as accurate as ours have been (think: Lovren to Origi on Wednesday), it’s really just an extension of the switching and crossing patterns we’ve developed so highly with Trent, Robbo, and the rest of the back line. We’re not just dumping the ball in the box and hoping it squirts out in the right direction. We’re playing the ball in because opposing defenses have trouble keeping up with us.
On that note, I think it’s safe to say that Gomez played well at RB today. I think it’s equally safe to say that he played even better at CB, both of which are fortunate, since Trent was forced to come on for Lovren (Klopp assures us that Lovren’s problem is “nothing serious.”) That said, I continue to be mildly uneasy about just how much better the attack looks with Trent on the field. It’s getting to the point where he’s almost as undroppable as Virg has been, which means they’re going to be battling serious fatigue issues at some point this season. Speaking of Virg, I know we’re all accustomed to this, but he really had an excellent game today; closing out what few efforts Bournemouth was able to make with his usual aplomb. Also this:
Keep in mind the quality of the opposition but, still. That’s a thing, which also provides a good explanation for outshooting the Cherries 21-3, 9-0 on target.
Broken records. Keita was our 16th different scorer in the league this season, more than we had all of last year. We’ve won 71 of our past 100 league games, losing only 7; the best ratio in the history of the top division for a 100 game set. And in his 100th appearance, Salah scored his 63rd, the most of any player except Aguero, Ruud van Nistelrooy, and Alan Shearer. There may have been a record for opposing fans outshouting and outsinging the entirety of a home crowd, too, but that’s hard to determine, especially in a place as small as (sigh) Vitality. It’s not a record, but another great sign in our two most dominant league wins of the year was that 12 changes were made between the last three games, which speaks of the depth we’ve all been hoping would come to the fore after spending basically nothing over the summer. Speaking of depth, it was also great to see this:
Big ups, Curtis. Carry the game for us against the Villans.
Alrighty, then. Time to close it out against the Energy Drinks in Mozart’s birthplace. After that, we get another example of a drastic difference in talent when Watford stumbles into Anfield for Nigel Pearson’s first game.