How a tense match kept Liverpool in the Premier League title hunt.
I arrived in Liverpool on Saturday morning among a swathe of pilgrims dressed in red, all getting off the same packed train platform at Liverpool Lime Street station. In an ideal world, the match would be played on Saturday, when it was originally scheduled. But it since it was rescheduled to Sunday, meaning I had to catch a train to Manchester at 3AM Monday morning after the match to fly to Barcelona to fly to Philadelphia to fly to Charlotte all within 24 hours. The things I do for love.
Thankfully, the Air BnB was a 3 three minute walk to the stadium, so the festivities began early on matchday. For a 4:30 kickoff, Liverpool fans were out in droves by 12PM.
While I have a very special place in my heart for Carolina Panthers tailgates that reek of Bud Light and cigarettes (this is a compliment by the way and something all NFL fans associate with tailgates), there is just something else about singing and chanting about the fact that Jurgen Klopp is a red, and how many cities and countries we’ve won the champions league in.
To add to the experience, I was nestled extremely close to the Everton away fans in the Anfield Road End. Because of the earlier Burnley result sending them to the relegation zone, chants of “Going down, going down, going down” reverberated throughout the entire ground. Sorry Everton readers. I’m not sure there’s many of you, though.
Forgetting about the geographical rivalry and nature of the league table, this game should’ve been relatively straight forward. Two teams at two opposite ends of the spectrum, one fighting for the title and one fighting for survival. But at the business end of the season with everything to play for, Everton pulled all the stops out.
Trying to expose our forward minded full backs with an extremely talented Anthony Gordon and time-wasting techniques not even I had seen, and I’ve played rec soccer at a high school level. Everton personified a hungry, beaten dog backed into a corner, and they played like it. While Richarlison played most of the first half on the floor, his other teammates doggedly fought towards the Anfield Road End, searching for some opportunity to release them from the shackles of the relegation zone.
Unfortunately for the blue side of Merseyside, their period of dominance at Anfield ended at the 45 minute mark. With the introduction of Luis Diaz and Divock Origi in the second half, Klopp aimed to step on the gas in the second half. There was an instant impact from Origi, who laid it off to Salah who crossed onto Robertson’s head for the opening goal. This led to an intense sigh of relief from myself and the whole of Anfield, leading to even more relegation chants.
A wild bicycle kick from assist from Diaz allowed Origi to head into the net, making it his sixth goal in 10 games against Everton. Here’s another stat: only Steven Gerrard has more goals for Liverpool against Everton.
Origi is now tied with Robbie fowler for Merseyside derby goals. For a player already on his way to Milan having the same tally as God Himself, just puts a few things into perspective about Origi’s career at Liverpool. His goal sent the stadium into a frenzy, all but ensuring the win for Liverpool and dashing Everton’s hopes of pulling a quick one.
The match ended, the fans went out and celebrated and Liverpool march forward onto glory. Every trip to Anfield is a treat, but this one was sweeter than all the one’s that came before it. I was able to share this with a close friend all the while experiencing what is arguably the greatest Liverpool side to don the red uniform. I hope I’m fortunate to bask in this kind of glory again.