…as one of our local lads put it!
Well, quite a lot actually. We’ve got a new midfield and, despite our team not firing on all cylinders, we’re sitting second in the league and into the last 16 of the Europa League. I certainly would have taken that at the start of the season.
Interesting now we appear to be challenging, folk are noticing the negatives (me included) that may be perceived as holding us back.
Yesterday a decent Anfield atmosphere saw us go toe to toe with Arsenal and, if VAR hadn’t mistaken Ødegaard for a goalkeeper, we may well have won. How on earth was that missed? Trent Alexander-Arnold may have also helped by not trying to destroy the goal Darwin-style with the power of his shot..
What people forget is that new players are still bedding in; Dominik Szoboszlai started amazingly and his standards are a touch lower at this moment. He’s a young lad however, and we know what standard he’s capable of. I didn’t buy into the Gerrard comparisons when they first came out; ‘he runs a lot and can hit a ball sweetly’ I kept on hearing!
I’m generally pretty happy with our midfield. Both Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott are maturing, and Alexis Mac Allister is still settling in and almost certainly has a lot more to offer. I’m still to be convinced by Ryan Gravenberch. He has strength, speed and skill as a very good starting point but he needs to vastly improve his decision making and reading of the game. The midfield became visibly weakened when he came on yesterday. One player I do like is Wataru Endo. He’s improving with every game.
One player who I’m going to pick out for proving me wrong is Joe Gomez. He’s looking far more decisive in his play, and I thought he was brilliant yesterday. He hardly gave Saka a sniff and was great going forward. If that curling shot would have gone in, then the place would have erupted! He could be massive for us this season.
Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk both looked good yesterday; and with Jarell Quansah looking the real deal and Virgil getting back to something near his best, our central defence is looking great.
Up front we’re not quite firing. Lucho Diaz seems (possibly understandably) to have lost his mojo. He wasn’t really involved yesterday, and his confidence appears low, but we do know what he’s capable of.
Darwin Nunez continues to be an anathema. I’m sure most defenders aren’t keen on playing against him, but on the other hand I’m not entirely sure if he had a one-on-one with the keeper to win the league whether I’d trust him!
I’m looking forward to Andy Robbo coming back from injury; Kostas Tsimikas has steadily improved and it was a pity that Jurgen Klopp took him out with a sliding tackle yesterday! I also think we’re really missing Diogo Jota. He always knows the way to goal, something we need at the moment.
So, can we really win the league? Personally, I think we’re not quite there yet, although this could well turn out to be a Leicester type year, when a low points total could win it. The fact that we’re up there near the top, and even ahead of City, is worth a Christmas celebration considering how raw parts of our team are. You never know though – maybe a with new signing and Darwin finding his scoring boots, we could still be up there in May, which would be amazing!
One final thing. A message to Jurgen. If you want the atmosphere to get back to where it was, lower the prices so that youngsters can come, dump the hospitality and test the tourists for ability to sing our songs, and maybe take their phone cameras off them until the end of the game. Oh, and ban anyone selling their tickets to dodgy websites for life. One website ‘LiveFootballtickets’ had 450 tickets for yesterday’s game! Luckily my two credits got me in yesterday at face value via the club.
Anyway folks, have an amazing Christmas and New Year, and remember, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
If you like Dr Andy Hershon’s writing, check out his book – 15 Minutes With You: Tips on Medical Consulation and Other Musings