Siao Mates Oct 17

Haa-llo, we’re back!


 

I have a confession to make. I expected Erling Haaland to emphatically destroy Liverpool.

 

In fact, I even came up with the following headlines before the match between Liverpool and Manchester City:

 

“Liverpool Haa-pooned by the Invincible Viking”

 

“The Haa-binger of Doom Strikes Again”

 

“Liverpool Haa-bis, lah”

 

WATCH: Klopp hails Haaland as the best striker in the world

 

Thankfully, there was no need for any of them, because Haaland hardly made an impact on the game. 

 

Haa Haa.

 

One could be forgiven for thinking that this match between Liverpool and Manchester City was a cup final, because the former’s previous poor form counted for nought, blood was shed, tempers flared, and a red card was shown.

 

This was by all accounts a Premier League classic, even though the score line does not seem to suggest so.

 

I must admit, I was terrified before the match. Given Liverpool’s bizarrely erratic form this season, I was prepared to see the Reds ship more than three goals to a seemingly unassailable Man City.

 

How could I not be? Spearheading City’s attack was the unstoppable Erling Haaland, who was flanked by an in-form Phil Foden. It did not help that Liverpool’s defence this season has been woeful.

 

Sure, the home side were coming into this game off the back of a massive win against Rangers in mid-week, but that 9-0 mauling of Bournemouth earlier in the season suggested that winning big did not necessarily equate to a boost in confidence.

 

Unlike the previous league matches in which Liverpool started off on the wrong foot, they roared into life from the get-go and righted all the wrongs that had plagued them since the start of the season. 

 

They were lively. They were compact. They were composed.

 

They looked every bit the confident, unstoppable team that won the league in 2019. 

 

Twenty minutes into the game, my pessimism gave way to a hint of optimism. Liverpool were holding their ground and giving the defending league champions a run for their, ahem, oil money. 

 

WATCH: Guardiola complains about refereeing inconsistency

 

I quickly shelved my plans to go cook Maggi mee for supper. I was glued to the tele.

 

The 20-goal Norwegian battering ram was surprisingly kept at bay by an excellent Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, who looked to have finally recovered his form.

 

On the right, Harvey Elliott put into a commendable shift as he constantly dropped back to help James Milner snuff out the threat by Foden. For the first time this season, Liverpool’s right flank looked almost impenetrable. 

 

See, this is what happens when you give Trent Alexander-Arnold a break.

 

Thiago Alcantara then summed up the tenacity of the home side when he picked up a bloodied nose.

 

When the first half ended scoreless, I saw a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, and that glimmer turned into a spark in the 76th minute with a classic Liverpool counter.

 

After easily collecting a poorly taken freekick by Kevin de Bruyne, Alisson launched a long pass that found the Egyptian King, who gracefully pirouetted past Joao Cancelo and found himself clear on goal.

 

A deft chip past Ederson. The net rippled. The Anfield faithful roared.

 

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

 

Is VAR going to come to Man City’s rescue? 

 

No. Liverpool really were 1-0 up against Man City.

 

As the clock ticked down and Man City continued to be frustrated by Liverpool’s stubborn defence, tempers started flaring as challenges started going awry. About 10 minutes after Salah’s goal, referee Anthony Taylor brandished the red card.

 

But it wasn’t for anyone on the pitch. Jurgen Klopp, who had been screaming at the linesman, received his marching orders. The home crowd went mental.

 

WATCH: Klopp speaks about his sending off

 

Liverpool were then made to endure an excruciating wait for the curtain call – a whopping nine minutes of extra time was played before the final whistle was blown. Again, the crowd went mental.

 

So, have Liverpool finally beat the rot?

 

If their performance against Man City was anything to go by, there is reason to believe Liverpool have finally found their mojo. Forget the crazy 9-0 win against Bournemouth and the 7-1 annihilation of Rangers. 

 

THIS is the win they have been waiting for.

 

THIS could be the turning point in Liverpool’s season.

 

Why? Because it showed all the players that they still have what it takes to beat the best. If this big win doesn’t get the team psyched and back to their winning best, I honestly don’t know what will.

 

All that being said, there were some worrying signs.

 

Darwin Nunez looked like a man on a mission when he came on in the second half, but it was obvious he still lacks the maturity needed to excel in the English league. On one potential goal-scoring occasion, the Uruguayan opted to go for goal from outside the box instead of pick out a pass to Salah who was open on the right. 

 

Given the constant comparisons between him and the Norwegian meat shield, it is perhaps understandable that Nunez is desperate to prove himself. But until he learns to temper his impulses, the new target man will always find it difficult to score consistently.

 

And then there was the sight of Diogo Jota leaving the pitch on a stretcher.

 

With Luis Diaz already out for an extended period, losing Jota robs Liverpool of yet another critical attacking option. Fabio Carvalho will have to step in. The youngster has all the makings of the next Philippe Coutinho but he’s still rough around the edges.

 

Liverpool next play West Ham on Thursday morning (SGT) before playing away at Nottingham Forest just two days later.

 

Will a resurgence in form be enough to compensate for a lack of squad depth?

 

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