Living In A Fantasy World

Last updated : 10 February 2014 By Iain Brown

It started on Saturday lunchtime when I found myself doing four similar jigs of joy within nineteen minutes. So impressive were Liverpool in front of goal that I started to consider whether I’d be given the chance to sit on my Sofa at any point during the match. It was an incredible display and one that you nearly had to pinch yourself to ensure was reality.

Not since the dramatic 4-2 Champions league victory of 2008 has there been such a level of tension surrounding a home tie with Arsenal. That night had pretty much everything; an early set back was matched with a leveller and what we all hoped to be a Torres potential winner. When Emmanuel Adebayor struck late on it looked like the away goal rule would break Liverpool hearts. Much to our relief, that goal was followed almost instantly by a converted Gerrard penalty and an icing on the cake Babel goal, drama of the highest level.

Saturdays first half was something of fantasy, leading 4-0 inside twenty minutes was surely beyond the wildest dreams of any Liverpool fan. Our work rate, pressing and passing was world class and this against the league leaders. Against Spurs away and at home to Everton we looked untouchable and, if at all possible, this first half surpassed those. Jon Flanagan’s progression is something which must be mentioned and once fit; Glen Johnson cannot simply replace him on current form. Cissokho is improving and the Toure / Skrtel partnership looked impenetrable against a side that usually scores at will. Incredibly, for a squad comparatively limited when compared with others, Liverpool are on the verge of welcoming back an alternative back four of Johnson, Agger, Sakho and Enrique. The luxury of taking off Sturridge, Gerrard and Suarez not only emphasised our dominance but prepared us perfectly, on the fitness front, ahead of the Fulham game. 

What does three points mean? Well, in this unpredictable season it’s still far too early to make a prediction.

Take Aston Villa for example. Minus Suarez we triumphed at Villa Park early on in the season and recently at Anfield struggled our way to a draw. Points come in various ways, quite often unpredictably but as long as they’re gathered it matters not from where. Even more recently, on paper at least, I believed we’d collect four points from six, drawing with Everton and then winning at West Brom. When will I learn that predicting football results is a fool hardy pursuit, even if the predicted four points were achieved in the end.  

The manner in which Liverpool play the game at the moment is a joy to watch. All the players press and work as a team, hounding their opponents into submission and regaining possession as quickly as possible. Once in control of the football the passing is crisp, precise and often incisive. Brendan Rodgers philosophy may have been doubted by a few at inception buy if any sceptics remain I’d seriously begin to question their understanding of the game. Our manager has a vision and that is becoming reality on the pitch as the weeks go by. I watched the Italian giants AC Milan for twenty minutes this weekend, trust me that was long enough. It was a far cry from the feast of fast flowing football served up on Saturday. No cohesion, little work rate and Mr Mario Balotelli was in no danger of breaking into a sweat at any point. The enigmatic striker barely moved and his demeanour was of someone disinterested, Suarez and Sturridge he was not.

Such is the battle for 4th place that seven teams, (the current top four, Spurs, Everton and Man Utd) invariably produce a fixture of Blockbuster proportions almost every weekend, a TV schedulers dream. This weekend for example produced two must see games with our neighbours contesting their own battle with a rival north London side. Whether it’s these Epic encounters which will determine our final position or the matches against the teams 8th and below will only be known come the end of the season.  Sandwiched between these titanic battles are inevitably games which always look winnable on paper but are rarely that simple.

After Arsenal at home and prior to Manchester Utd away we find ourselves facing Fulham, Swansea, Southampton and Sunderland. Losing none of these four matches is imperative and picking up as many points as possible could send us travelling to Old Trafford with a healthy gap between the sides and in turn relaxing the players before potentially the biggest ‘six pointer’ in decades.

Its perhaps a sign of the times that Liverpool and Utd are battling it out for 4th place rather that the much preferred 1st league position. However, we currently find ourselves in the higher place, with the greater points and comfortably the healthiest goal difference. Finishing in a Champions league spot and depriving Utd of one was until recently something of a fantasy. After Saturday the dream of finishing even higher cannot be ruled out.

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