Jack Hallows analyses the uncalled for panicked state of parts of the Liverpool fanbase following draws with Plymouth Argyle and Sunderland.
Failing to beat third last in the Premier League and following it up with failure to beat a League Two side is always going to sound awful on paper. However, let’s take into account the circumstances that surround the results and remind ourselves that it’s not the end of the world.
We’ll start with Sunderland. Liverpool beat Manchester City 1-0 on New Year’s Eve in perhaps their biggest result of the season so far, before having to make the trip to Sunderland for a kick off scheduled less than 48 hours later. Tired legs and minds kicked in and the Reds blew a lead twice in 90 minutes to draw 2-2, gifting Jermaine Defoe two goals from the spot. Now, giving away two penalties in one game – especially the second one from Mane’s handball – is always going to be unforgivable but in the bigger picture, the Reds took 13 points from an available 15 over the festive period.
Putting that into further perspective, Arsenal took nine while Chelsea and Man City both took 12. Yes, the gap with Chelsea could’ve been three points if we’d held on and won the game but unfortunately, going up against a team who are fighting for relegation just 46 hours after a game that took a huge mental and physical toll on the players, was always going to be a tougher ask than it looked.
There were also still positives to take. The Reds scored yet another two away goals, Daniel Sturridge was on the scoresheet once again and Simon Mignolet had another good game. It’s not as if we got thumped 4-0 and lost the match. So stop treating it that way. Also, while we’re at it, don’t crucify poor Sam Jackson for tweeting LIVERPOOOOL when he’s happier about a result than you are. That’s just poor taste.
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Now for Plymouth. Once again, we didn’t lose, we drew. Yes, it was against a League Two side at Anfield but it was essentially our U23s side. Emre Can and Divock Origi are the only players who’ve been regular starters this season – Loris Karius has also started a handful of games – while Ben Woodburn, Ovie Ejaria, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sheyi Ojo are all still prospects, not proven finished products just yet. Plymouth are no doormat either. They are second in their League and they put every player behind the ball in an effort to nullify anything resembling an attack. Yes, there were some moments of poor finishing – Ojo, Sturridge and Origi could’ve done better – but overall it was like a training ground exercise.
Jurgen Klopp joked that he didn’t know how many people were in Plymouth but he felt all of them were in their 18-yard box defending as the Reds looked to get on the score sheet throughout. However, once again, remember, we didn’t lose and this was as second string a side as it gets. Nobody wanted a replay but if Klopp plays the same lineup in the second leg then that not only nullifies the chances of injuries but gives our youth and fringe stars more first team experience and game time.
These results were disappointing there’s no doubt about it but football is full of disappointments and as far as disappointments go, there are much worse than these. Get behind the players, the manager and the club and stop self-destructing every time we don’t win a game.