Sky and BT often blather on about the “superior quality/best in the world etc” of the Premier League with no apparent justification but in terms of entertainment that was a great contest last night. Congratulations to both teams and both managers for putting on a spectacle that gripped from the first whistle to the final seconds. Action packed, end-to-end. You name the cliché, this game had it. Technically the football was probably no better than 7/10 but whatever the game lacked in precision it made up for in sweat and a mutual desperation to finish ahead. Even the foul weather added to the drama !
Of the players in old gold picking out names from such an intense match is difficult, but I shall try. There may still be one or two out their purporting a knowledge of football who have their doubts about Joel Campbell but last night he stamped his excellence on the game with two beautifully weighted and directed passes for the opening and third goals. When Joel was not the creator he was tirelessly working, tracking, running, tackling and putting himself about. I get the impression he is a lot “tougher” than two months ago, much, much harder to knock off the ball, much quicker back on his feet. His combination with young Hector has flowered in recent weeks, and last night they presented with an unstoppable combination on our right flank.
The second name out of the hat must be Olivier Giroud. To lead the line against two large centre backs away from home is no easy task. The Frenchman had to content himself with scraps in the opening, but from those meagre pickings he made a tasty meal for first Aaron, then provided the deftest of flicks to leave the Liverpool keeper embarrassed as we pulled back level for the second time. Olivier’s goal in the 53rd minute was the pick of the night, and could be one of the best he ever scores in his career. Perfectly engineered movement to turn, to strike the ball and to place the shot into the far corner. Magnifique young man.
Of the home side I thought they were a credit to their club which are words that I could not have uttered on the evidence of their feeble Premier League form and watched them crumple at Vicarage Road a few weeks back. Firmino finally provided a clue as to why he cost almost £30 million in the Summer and while Henderson is the Nissan Micra equivalent to Mesut’s Mercedes Benz the Englishmen ploughed up and down all night to some effect.
What is perhaps baffling is Klopp’s reliance on Simon Mignolet who I thought should have done much better with two of our goals. And his cack-handedness is hardly a one off is it? The Belgian has made error after error in games for the Merseyside club ever since his arrival. In a world where league tables based upon snatches of data dominate could anyone direct me to the one which lists goalkeepers graded on points costing errors ? Mignolet would surely have dominated that unwanted competition season after season. By way of cross reference to the Liverpool keeping puzzle I checked Pepe Reina’s age. He is younger than Petr Cech. Nice one Brendan.
Overall a fair result, a point apiece on a night when had either side lost it would have been a cruel ending for such endeavour.
A test for our title credentials last night which we passed, another to come.
Onwards to the Potteries on Sunday and I am sure we are expecting another rollicking ( I think that is the word I am looking for ?) contest at the hands and probably the gloves of Sparky’s men.
Enjoy your Thursday.