“There’s a penalty at Anfield”.
Those of you unable to go, or unable to sit at home like me in front of a roaring radiator, or unable to listen on the radio, may have been glued to some kind of irregular media update service that will have taunted you with ‘Penalty!’ and you’d just have assumed what anyone would have assumed. Astonishingly, that was our second penalty in, erm, 80 years at Anfield; well, one’s that have been actually given that is.
Even Jonjoe Kenny, out of focus in the foreground here (but definitely not out of focus on the pitch), a lifelong Evertonian, couldn’t bear to watch as Rooney, thankfully, drilled the first spot kick since Wayne Clarke in 1988, and second only since Tommy Lawton in 1937. There’s a quiz question for you to remember in future years kids: what have Tommy Lawton, Wayne Rooney and Wayne Clarke got in common? And if you don’t know who Tommy Lawton was, then hang your head in shame.
Something tells me Lawton would have enjoyed Calvert-Lewin’s Centre Forward play that caused Lovren to inexplicably shove him to the ground. If you’re a Red, and reading this, don’t shake your head, even Danny Murphy said it was a pen. OK, “shove” might stretch it a bit, but “push” would cover it, and as usual, it’s a foul anywhere else on the pitch, so why not there. If it had been Williams pushing Solanke in the box, I’d have been furious with Williams not Pawson, just don’t do it, don’t give the Ref a decision to make, which on this occasion was the right one. No doubt we’ll get whooped 5-0 in the Cup game soon, and it’ll be a hat trick of dodgy pens along the way; but Klopp has made a fool of himself in the way he’s attempted to deny it, and also by picking fights with the media in the process. Real prima donna stuff.
But I’m not going to let the penalty dominate this blog any more than it already has. I’m not even going to offer my own bemusement at Klopp’s bizarre selection and substitution decisions. So if someone wants to pick a fight, ring TalkSport or 606.
What did we learn as Blues fans?
We learnt that in Jonjoe Kenny we have a ready made replacement for Coleman, and some might argue (@terry_smith step forward…) that he’s already more than a replacement, but the No1 choice even when our Killybegs hero is fully fit and back from his horrendous broken leg. I have to say, I agree with that view. We certainly know that both of them love a scrap, both of them love to get fired up, kick the hoardings, punch the air and goad the supporters who sing their name (in a good way), but what we now also know is that Kenny is a very good defender, and there are certainly some question marks over Seamus’ defending sometimes. Coleman makes up for that as a marauding Full Back, offering width when none often exists, offering overlaps, underlaps, and all sorts of options for the creative midfielders we sometimes possess. Kenny is getting there, it would be interesting to look at his season’s heat map, because I sense he’s typically further back than Coleman would be, but increasingly keen to get forward, as shown in both the West Ham and Huddersfield games. He also seems to be able to channel his undoubted love of his football club, and I must admit I had a premonition he’d be sent off yesterday for some ill-judged lunge at one of the Fab 4, if only because they’ve allowed themselves to be painted as the Fab 4. Idiotic media. Stick to the Nivea lads. In Joe Gomez and Kenny yesterday, we showed we have two of the brightest talents around at Right Back in this country, so Kyle Walker needs to stay on top of his game. I actually think both are better defenders than Walker, but the latter offers a lot more than just that.
Another young English talent did well yesterday as well – Mason Holgate. The Doncaster lad has had a tendency to get a little caught out under high balls dropping just over his head, or not attacking the cross, but Liverpool’s style of play yesterday meant they played more up against his strengths than his potential weaknesses. He’s settled in to a good partnership with Williams, who’s looked a different player in the last fortnight, although still an accident waiting to happen you feel, and it may well be that through adversity and circumstance Allardyce has found himself a partnership. I’d prefer it to be Keane and Holgate, but maybe that will come. It might mean though that Everton don’t look for an emergency Centre Back in January, but we’ll see. Holgate was strong yesterday, intercepts and headers, tackles and movements, all much to be pleased about. He still has a lot to learn, but my gut tells me that the axis of Pickford, Holgate, Kenny and Davies, is something we are going to hear a lot more about over forthcoming seasons. Maybe even Barkley could join them?
Idrissa Gana Gueye has not been mentioned much of late, but despite an early-ish booking, he was almost back to his harrying best yesterday. It was good of MotD to call it out, because he often gets overlooked in the job he does, but he was superb against Liverpool. He can learn from the Master of the Art, Kante, and restrict himself to winning the ball, and passing it short to someone who knows what to do with it; it was vaguely hilarious when he broke away up the left wing yesterday and quickly ran out of any clues he may have had in what happens next….Still, keep going Drissa.
That’ll do for this week, off to the Toon on Wednesday for a rare opportunity to go to an away game and sit amongst Blues, albeit from 3000ft up at St James Park. A final word on yesterday though. We were not ‘lucky’ to get a point, we got what we set out to get, and much though that tactical plan would hack me off away at some of the lesser mortals in the PL, this was a side that smacked 7 past the Russian Premier League winners as recently as Wednesday, so soz to any Reds that thought we should have bent over and taken one yesterday.