Liverpool have finally lost a league game. I’ll be honest now we have and say our “unbeaten season” always felt a little blag, considering we’d lost three times in the Champions League and been knocked out the Carabao Cup.
But it has definitely gone now. So we can just concentrate on the much more important matter of trying to win the league.
Manchester City showed yesterday they are not going to give away their title without a fight. Fight they did, harrying Liverpool into uncharacteristic mistakes from minute one.
Vincent Kompany might have been a bit lucky to have stayed on the pitch, but they looked like they had three Fernandinho’s anyway, so one of them could have just played centre half.
Generally their aggression was controlled and and their play intense. It was basically like watching what Liverpool do to opponents in big games. Hard work, isn’t it?
Yet Liverpool had the first big chance of the game when Mane hit the post and were a centimetre away from scoring when John Stones blammed one against his own goalkeeper and in all the bedlam of the first half it looked like Manchester City, amongst the pressing and tackling and passing us to death, might have forgotten about the shooting before Sergio Aguero remembered he always scores against Liverpool (as well as just about everyone else to be fair).
The point is it was a game where any result looked possible before the game and any result looked possible after 30 minutes and any result looked possible after 70 minutes. There were contentious decisions and brilliant team goals and sublime individual finishes and lads volleying each other. It was basically everything you want from a football match.
Apart from, if you are a Liverpool fan, the result.
No wonder so many journalists who were at the game came out purring, with at least one saying it was the best game he had watched in years.
So Liverpool narrowly, and slightly unfortunately, lost a brilliant game to an exceptional team and remain four points clear at the top of the table.
So where was the perspective from many Liverpool fans after the game? Why was I being told The Reds had been dreadful, that X, Y and Z weren’t good enough for a team wanting to win the league (despite seemingly being good enough for a team top of the league) and that losing our hardest game of the season was proof that everything was about to go wrong?
Maybe we aren’t used to losing any more (well apart from Paris and Napoli and Red Star Belgrade….). Or maybe we’ve seen too many false dawns and panic at the first sight of trouble. But we really need to start trusting this brilliant squad of footballers our extraordinary manager has assembled.
It is still the squad who have smashed all club records for starts to a league season, and I don’t know if you have heard, but Liverpool have had some really good teams in the past.
They still have an astonishing defensive record as well as a formidable attack. And they’re still top of the league.
Rarely have I seen a top team celebrate a victory against Liverpool like City did last night. Good for them. they worked hard for it. But it shows how highly City rate this Liverpool team, and what an achievement they see beating them as.
Liverpool might have dropped points at the Etihad, but they still haven’t dropped any to any team outside the top 5 in the Premier League. And City will need that to change soon if they are going to catch the top of the pops Reds.