Liverpool 2 Man Utd 0. The Red Devils' lack of quality is jarring
It had everything you’d want in a football game – eye-catching skills, crunching tackles, a penalty-shootout, and of course, goals, goals, and more goals.
And, as a bonus for Arsenal fans, the game even featured the rarest of sights – that of Mesut Ozil in an Arsenal jersey, on the pitch in an AWAY game. Given that Ozil has been frozen out of the team by head coach Unai Emery, and that the German often finds himself afflicted with some form of ailment or other the minute he touches an away Arsenal jersey, seeing him on the pitch at Anfield was a crazy enough miracle in itself.
But it still couldn’t compare to how absolutely bananas the match was, with both teams eventually fighting to a 5-5 draw at the end of regulation time.
I mean, when was the last time you witnessed a game where the penalty shootout, which Liverpool won 5-4, had fewer goals than the 90 minutes that preceded it?
And even though the result means my Arsenal are out of the Carabao Cup, I can’t say I’m too upset with what I witnessed this morning.
In fact, I can’t be bothered with the fact that for the third time this season already, Arsenal have failed to protect a two-goal lead. I can’t find it within myself to get angry at Shkodran Mustafi for scoring an own-goal and generally playing like he had seen
Wilfried Zaha a ghost before the match.
I can't even bring myself to think nasty thoughts about Unai Emery, who for the umpteenth time, somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with his questionable in-game management and substitutions.
Deep down, I know that there are many problems with this Arsenal team. And there will come a day again when I will break down and cry uncontrollably in frustration after we gift-wrap –with a bow and personalised handwritten card, no less – yet another goal to the opposition.
But, as Aragorn, son of Arathorn, would put it, “it is not this day”.
Because what happened at Anfield was fun. It was crazy, yes, and featured mistakes aplenty from both teams, but it was so, so entertaining.
And at the heart of it, that is essentially what football is supposed to be all about, isn’t it? Fun, and entertainment.
There are fans who take their football incredibly seriously – just try making fun of any Liverpool fan about that Steven Gerard slip, and you’ll see what I mean – and maybe that approach works for them.
But personally, I think that we all first fell in love with this game because we somehow felt entertained watching 22 men chasing and kicking a ball. We found heroes in the players who battled for our team game after game. We found pantomime villains in the opposition players who had the gall to score against us. We even found clowns in the form of referees, and now the VAR, who seem intent on giving us new talking points about their incompetence on a weekly basis.
And all of this, plus so much more, was on show at Anfield today.
From the aforementioned Mustafi own-goal to Divock Origi’s last-gasp scissor-kick equaliser, it was end-to-end football, with both sides going at each other like two aunties fighting over the last available seat on the bus.
That both Emery and Jurgen Klopp opted to field a nice mix of youngsters and forgotten men for the game also allowed for the youths of both teams to test themselves against seasoned professionals.
This provided an extra layer of fun for us fans, as we could then form premature judgments on the youth players of our respective clubs, and begin to heap all our expectations for the future on their shoulders. Those who play the game Football Manager will know what I’m talking about – there’s nothing more exciting than seeing a “wonderkid” blossom into a “world class” player.
And yes, the game at Anfield featured goals of absolute top quality that had me rising to my feet on multiple occasions – and knocking my chair to the ground in the process – to offer the goalscorers a round of applause.
Of course, given that I was watching the game at 3am in the morning from behind my TV screen in Singapore, more than 10,000km away from Anfield, the players could not have known that I was applauding them. But my neighbours downstairs certainly knew, because they gave me such an ugly look in the lift this morning I initially thought it was them in their Halloween mask.
I, however, have no regrets. This was the sort of football experience that I’ve missed – the adrenaline, the highs and lows, the involuntary wee in your pants.
So, thank you, Liverpool and Arsenal, for putting a smile on my face this morning. Thank you for showing the world this is what football should be about. Thank you for playing out a match that was, in a nutshell, siao.
Because I’m siao too, and I absolutely loved it.