Sometimes It’s Nice To Be Reminded How Fun Football Can Be

I’m sure there are people out there trying to do serious analysis of last night’s game. There’ll be journalists working for newspapers attempting to come up with serious copy regarding Arsenal’s continuing frailties and asking questions about why Unai Emery didn’t introduce either of Alexandre Lacazette or Nicolas Pepe when he had them both available. There’ll also be some Liverpool fans writing pieces about Naby Keita’s evident physical frailty and asking if he’s really cut out for English football. Yet sometimes those sorts of pieces are just not necessary. Sometimes you just have to remember that football is an entertainment and when it’s at its most entertaining just shrug your shoulders and laugh. That’s what the manager appeared to do, saying, “We can talk about tactics but who cares on a night like this?”

Who cares indeed. There’ll be some people, of course. There’ll be scores of arl arses bemoaning the fact that Jürgen Klopp didn’t appear to take the game seriously, quoting nonsense about Liverpool Football Club existing to win trophies. There’ll be loads worried about the future given that the young defence conceded five and it was all the older players who scored the goals. For me, it’s mental to try to assess something when the team was as makeshift as it was. James Milner isn’t a left back. Neco Williams is eighteen and wasn’t even in the programme. Sepp van den Berg is seventeen. Most of the players have barely played together, so if you want to be coming up with some sort of serious analysis of that then I think it’s time that you just open a window and get some fresh air. We won, it was a laugh, Arsenal continue to hate Anfield. What more do you want?

It Was Great Experience For The Young Lads

Everyone with half a brain will have had a really good laugh last night. Ten games and a penalty shoot-out is great fun whichever way you look at it. It was also win-win for Liverpool, given that I imagine Jürgen Klopp would have quite liked for us to get knocked out if we could have found a way of doing so. We’ve seen today the fallout around the incoming fixture congestion, yet I do wonder if the manager would have wanted us to lose once it went to penalties. Yes, it’s an inconvenient extra game that we have to try to find time for, but the experience gained by the youth players will be invaluable. You could see them starting to cramp up and struggle to cope as the match reached its climax, but that means that they’ll realised just how much hard work it is to be part of this Liverpool team. If they’ve got genuine pretensions to be part of Klopp’s plans then they’ll double-down in training this week.

It’s also great to see that the mentality of the first-team has filtered down to the younger lads and is instilled in the players that aren’t currently part of the first team. This Liverpool team simply doesn’t know when it’s beaten so it won’t give up. It must be infuriating to witness if you’re an opposition team manager or player. The levels of fitness and belief that the German has instilled into his charges is amazing to witness. Arsenal’s players jumped into their fans when it went 5-4 because they thought they’d won, but the Reds had other ideas. You don’t get to walk away from Anfield with a victory if there’s anything our lot can do about it. Pep Guardiola won’t care that we’ve made it through to the quarter-final of the League Cup, but he will be bothered at the manner in which we’ve done it. Every single player in the Liverpool squad has now been involved in a match this season in which it looked like we might miss out only to win. Belief breeds success.

It Didn’t Distract From The Important Stuff

Let me be absolutely clear about something: the Premier League and Champions League are serious enterprises. There’s a sense of pressure on every game in those two competitions because they matter, with the former being the one that we all desperately want to win. It’s why last night was such a pleasant release, because we didn’t have to be quite so serious about everything. A misplaced pass against Aston Villa at the weekend will feel as though it comes with all sorts of import and worry about what it all means. Last night it was just another mad moment in what felt like a basketball game. The key thing, though, is the fact that nobody that matters to our main endeavours was affected in any real way. Yes, there was the injury to Keita but it’s got to the point now where the manager can’t seriously think of him as part of his plans.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t play particularly well, but he got more minutes under his belt and scored another absolutely screamer of a goal. James Milner pretty much handed the Gunners a goal on a platter but he’s big and ugly enough to let them wash over him. Divock Origi didn’t really look like a particularly influential figure and yet somehow still scored two goals. Joe Gomez played well enough but probably won’t have the manager asking any questions about his team for our trip to Villa Park. The youngsters all gained a huge amount of experience and, in the cases of Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Neco Williams, really impressed. It was a night of fun and enjoyment and was a pleasant distraction from the serious business we’ve got going on. Now it’s time for the serious business to get back underway, however, and I for one can’t wait.

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