Wow….now that’s how you start the new season off! Okay, so fans of robust defensive football will not have been impressed with Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Leeds United, but for those who enjoy the unparalleled entertainment that an end-to-end game provides will have been in raptures as the action unfolded at Anfield.
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A nod to the glory days of yesteryear, this time around both Liverpool and Leeds United fans can enjoy this fixture without the need to turn to nostalgia. The Reds start their Premier League title defence against the Yorkshire outfit – it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to write those words, and despite a quiet summer on the transfer front the hope is that Liverpool will be there or thereabouts come the end of the 2020/21 campaign.
It would be fair to say that Merseyside was well and truly red on Wednesday night. From the fireworks that peppered the night sky to the sea of red shirts in Liverpool city centre, this was a title-winning celebration of extraordinary emotion given the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and the long, long wait Reds fans have had to wait to see their side win the league.
It would be an understatement to suggest that July has been below par for Liverpool. Yes, the elusive Premier League title triumph has been a factor for a set of players who would presumably rather like to be lying on a beach somewhere right now, but there is still professional pride in finishing the season strongly – as well as the possibility of winning 100 points, of course.
If there’s one life lesson that football teaches you, it’s that sometimes you just have to shrug your shoulders, move on and forget about things. The Expected Goals count for the Liverpool vs Burnley game on Saturday read 1.96-0.78 in the Reds’ favour, and while not may not man much to some readers it basically confirms the dominance of the home side.
Now that was more like it. The fear after a series of insipid performances of late was that Liverpool’s history-making season was just going to fizzle out into something of an anti-climax following the coronavirus disruption.
In a season in which this Liverpool squad has carved out their own slice of history, you could be left wondering what is the motivation that is going to drive them on until the end of the campaign. Jurgen Klopp has stated resolutely that the abundance of records that the Reds could break are NOT a factor in his thinking, and yet there must surely be a temptation to consider the kindness with which history will treat a team that wins 100 points in a season or who wins all of their home games played in a single campaign?
So there you have it! Liverpool finally won their first Premier League title following the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace last time out – and Manchester City’s subsequent capitulation at Chelsea – to complete their first top-flight triumph since 1990.
The eagerly anticipated return of the Premier League went with….well, a bit of a whimper, actually. The lack of a crowd will always impact upon the atmosphere of historic and bitterly-contested games like the Merseyside derby, and Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Everton was a fairly tepid affair – unsurprising, really, given the circumstances.
“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.” Those were the words of the great Bill Shankly, and while said with tongue firmly in cheek there is a resonance of truth in the statement.