Liverpool’s game against Aston Villa on Saturday was, understandably, dominated by the return of Steven Gerrard to Anfield. It has widely been accepted that our former midfielder will one day manage the club, so many were keen to get a close-up look at how his Villa side performed at his former home. For some, the negative tactics of the Villains were a disappointment, with time-wasting and fouling top of their list of priorities. For me, it showed Gerrard’s willingness to be pragmatic and work with what he’s got, given that he’ll have seen countless teams try to go toe-to-toe with Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side and get ripped to shreds. We know from his days at Rangers that Gerrard can get his team playing exciting, attacking football, but when you don’t have the players to do that you need to do what you can to come away with something from a match. Villa very nearly did exactly that, too. The referee did his best to disrupt the flow of our play with one of the worst officiating performances I’ve seen for some time.
Today was Liverpool’s 6th game at Anfield with Fabinho and Thiago starting in midfield: Six wins, 16 scored, 0 conceded.
Record at all venues: W15 D1 L0 F41 A6 pic.twitter.com/eFI8PYgmxP
— Andrew Beasley 💙 (@BassTunedToRed) December 11, 2021
In the end, though, even the referee couldn’t stop Liverpool from doing what they do best and getting the three points. It felt like a big win when the final whistle went, given the fact that the game was much more tense than it should have been. My online mild concern is that, after scoring goals for fun recently, the Reds failed to kill the game off with any of the big chances that we had towards the end as things started to open up. Of course, it’s certainly not a bad thing for us to learn how to hold on in matches and winning two league games in succession by a single goal is no bad thing. Manchester City had to win by a single goal too and their penalty shouldn’t even have stood. This is going to be a nip and tuck season, so three points keenly would could prove to be all-important when the final final whistle is blown. Next up for Liverpool is the visit of Newcastle United, which is a match I very much want us to win for non-footballing reasons…
I Hope Newcastle Lose Every Match Under Their Saudi Owners
There was a time, largely on the back of the two 4-3 matches in successive seasons, when Newcastle were my second-favourite English team. That didn’t real mean anything as I didn’t care whether they won or lost, but as long as they weren’t playing us I was happy enough when I found out they’d done well. Under the ownership of Mike Ashley, I began to dislike the club but also feel sorry for the supporters, such was the extent to which the Sports Direct owner bled the club dry. Yet any last vestiges of respect that I felt for the Geordies disappeared when they were taken over by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Whilst supporters can’t decide who their club is owned by, they can choose whether or not to dress up in mock Arabian garb and refuse to condemn the human rights abuses perpetrated by their owners. The Premier League might claim that there’s no link between the PIF and the Saudi government, but anyone with half a brain can see that’s nonsense.
Pretty much all the Newcastle United fans I’ve ever met in real life have been genuinely wonderful people and so I feel a bit mean saying this out loud but…
Since the Saudi takeover we’re all agreed we want them to get relegated, right? All of us. That’s just a thing.
— Ben (@MildlyHotTakes) December 12, 2021
Sadly those in charge of the Premier League don’t have half a brain between them, so we end up in a situation where a murderous regime is allowed to own a football club. Even if we ignore the death of Jamal Khashoggi, it is a country in which executions are on the increase, according to Amnesty International, torture is regularly used as a punishment and women are discriminated against. Add into that the fact that members of the LGBTQ+ community are put to death merely for being who they are and it isn’t hard to see why many of us are so against the Newcastle owners. I not only want Liverpool to score ten past them on Thursday night, but I want the lads that do the banners on the Kop to unfurl a massive rainbow flag in support of people that the Saudis think shouldn’t exist. There are some that say that you should keep politics out of football, but that’s not an opinion I subscribe to. Keeping murderous, torturous homophobes out of the game, though, I’m all on board with.
Salzburg Will Provide A Tough Test
THE FOLLOWING WAS WRITTEN BEFORE THE DRAW WAS RE-DONE
This morning’s Champions League draw was even more of a farce than usual. Normally it’s ridiculous because of how convoluted it appears to be, aligned with the fact that they speak to former footballers in cringe-worthy fashion between each draw. This time around, they drew Manchester United against a team that they aren’t allowed to face, having been in a group with them, then failed to put the Red Devils into the pot for a draw that they could have been in. With that in mind, then, it’s entirely possible that they’ve decided to do the draw again by the time that you read this piece. As things currently stand, however, Liverpool are due to play Salzburg in the last sixteen game, which is a friendly enough draw. Many people are treating it as the equivalent of a bye, but I’m not quite so sure that we’re going to get everything our own way against the Austrian side, who came back from 3-0 down against us in 2019 before Mo Salah slotted a winner.
— LFC Photo (@LFCphoto) December 13, 2021
That is not to say that I don’t think the Reds will make it through, given that I’d have confidence of our progression regardless of who we were drawn against, but rather that I don’t think it will be a cakewalk. In truth, if we want to win the thing then we’re going to have to take on the big boys sooner or later, even if later works for me. We are one of the strongest teams in the competition and there will be no side that will have wanted to face us, so I doubt that those in charge of Red Bull Salzburg were jumping for joy when the draw was made. That being said, the Austrian team will have a plan for dealing with us and have experience of some of our better players, given that Sadio Mané and Naby Keïta both played for them earlier in their careers. It is unlikely that fans will be back in the ground by the time we travel to Austria, but there’s no guarantee that we’ll still be allowed inside Anfield then either. We should win, but it isn’t a forgone conclusion.