Growing in stature
As the build-up to Monday’s game against Crystal Palace intensified, and the match approached, my anxiety and cynicism began to take hold of me: Palace are a good side, Liverpool will struggle, they will either draw or concede an unnecessary goal.
Though the Reds outmatched and outperformed West Ham the previous week, the form and history of the Eagles suggested that Liverpool would not have it easy.
The game descended and as a goalless draw was playing out, my usual in-game eccentricities were evident: Shivers, increased heartbeat, inability to concentrate clearly… Oh, the inhumanity.
The performance of Naby Keita, most notably the turn in his own half that sent Andros Townsend into another dimension, further justified the hype surrounding the Guinean.
As the first half neared its conclusion, former red, Mamadou Sakho, fouled Mo Salah; ‘this is it’, I thought, ‘decisions never went our way last season, so let the belated retribution commence.’ Milner stepped forth and placated my nerves.
JITTERS AND RELIEF
Second-half resumed, and Palace stepped up their performance levels, putting Liverpool under genuine pressure, yet not fully testing Alisson, bar the free-kick.
As every mis-pass was pounced upon by Palace, I genuinely thought this is it, no three points, no clean sheet, no nothing.
Yet the Reds held firm and displayed exceptional defensive outputs that negated any threat that Palace seemed to exert; even after wan-Bissaka’s dismissal, composure was the order of the day.
A corner kick in stoppage time was successfully cleared by van Dijk and proved to be the catalyst for Liverpool’s second goal, as Salah turned on the after burners and released Mane, who endured late defensive attempts by van Aanholt and sidestepped Hennessey to coolly slot for his third goal of the season and Liverpool’s second, which proved the killer blow.
Full-time descended and a release of stress occurred; Liverpool second, with no goals in the against column, a sweet sight thus far.
Though the second game of the season, the performances thus far, investments in the off period, and defensive stability that has been brought to the table by van Dijk, Alisson and co., have placed me, and everyone else associated with Liverpool on a cloud of amplified positivity and confidence; adding believe that any team that stands between the Reds and glory can be taken care of.
For the need to constantly indulge in the high-octane, rock n roll, dopamine infused football is not always necessary… more keys have been added to the collection and Jurgen Klopp has ensured that Liverpool are a formidable force once again.