I went into the game against Liverpool with a weird feeling in my stomach. I thought that we could win but saying that a Liverpool win wouldn’t surprise me either…
We made two changes to the line-up from Thursday’s agonising loss to Tottenham. Kenny Tete and Bobby Decordova-Reid came in for Antonee Robinson and Ruben Loftus-Cheek and it felt as if Scott was looking for an attacking verve that we’ve been missing a little recently, despite our string of good results.
Liverpool named a surprisingly weak 11, and their centre-back pairing of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams was their sixteenth of the season. Roberto Firmino also missed out due to a knock, providing us with a further boost but there was no doubt in my mind that this would still be a hard task. The game kicked off and I thought we started the better of the two sides. We looked assured on the ball and calm under pressure. I thought Ola Aina was amazing. He coped well dealing with the threat of Mo Salah and his theatrics, which were on show early in the half when an expert block from Aina in the box saw the Egyptian unleash his inner Tom Daley.
Another duel we had the upper hand in was the one down the left-hand side. Ademola Lookman had the young Welshman, Neco Williams, on toast throughout the first half. Lookman looked menacing and went close himself when he worked his way into the box, but twisted, turned, and dwindled for too long as his effort fizzed wide of the post. Our breakthrough came on the stroke of 45 minutes, when a Harrison Reed trademark in-swinging free kick was initially dealt with by the Liverpool defence, but fell to Salah on the edge of the box. Salah was outmuscled by Mario Lemina, who then fired low past Allison from 15 or so yards to give us a lead that was so deserved. I can only apologise to my neighbours for any excessive noise complaints they might have stored from around a quarter to three this afternoon.
We went in at half time having been much the better side, but all I could feel were a raft of butterflies in my stomach. That displays just how far we’ve come though since the season began. We’ve gone from being utterly dominated by Aston Villa at home to worrying about whether we would hold on for a win at Anfield, notoriously a very difficult place to go.
The second half started, and Liverpool nearly scored instantly, but a ferocious strike from the returning Diogo Jota was met by the steel palm of Alphonse Areola. After our win against Sheffield United, I tweeted about how I’d never had a girlfriend, but he was the closest I’d gotten. Well, keep making saves like that Alphonse and come May I’ll have sent you a ring in the post.
Largely, Liverpool looked devoid of any confidence and though they brought their big guns, Mane, Fabinho and Trent on they never posed much of a real threat. Jamie Carragher, the same man who said we were going down at the start of the season, branded Liverpool “mentality midgets”. They came close right at the end however, but Joachim Andersen made a heroic block to keep the three points intact. They say don’t get attached to loan players but if we lose Andersen in the summer, the pill will be a bitter one to swallow. Potentially more bitter than eating an entire tree of lemons in one go. He’s had a huge role to play in turning our season round and I absolutely love his commitment to our cause. Kasper Hjulmand, I now speak directly to you. Make sure he’s on the plane to the Euros this summer.
The final whistle blew after four minutes of extra time that felt like six (and with good reason). We had secured a massive three points. Klopp finds himself talking about a whole new type of six now, with that being the hosts sixth straight home loss. Even in 2018-19, we only lost four home games on the bounce.
Three huge points gained and we’re now level with Brighton and just one behind Newcastle. Let’s keep pushing and see where we can go now, starting with our game against Man City next Saturday night. Come on you Whites! We’ve got this.