So, we’ll be doing this the hard way then. Of course we will; who expected otherwise, apart from deluded dimwits?
It’ll take time getting back in the groove, everyone realises that. A few injuries and a couple of selection oddities didn’t help. After almost 90% domination, they were damned lucky not to lose but a point will do. It’ll have to.
The maths will hardly give budding Einsteins trouble. Five is now the magic number. Anything Man City drop, added to anything Liverpool win. Simples, as the annoying insurance rodent says.
Starry-eyed hopes of clinching the title at an empty Goodison were soon dashed by Arsenal, more precisely by David Luiz. It seemed only fair to City since he’d singlehandedly turned a close match at Anfield into a walkover 10 months ago.
It was hard not to imagine Chelsea cackling slyly, like a cockney car salesman; “it was awright when it left ‘ere” etc. I do miss Trizia at times like these.
I then ploughed through the dismal Emptihad jokes on Twitter. Football, or some ephemeral facsimile of it, was indeed back.
The derby build-up was one of affected, almost comatose, nonchalance. Like we don’t really care about them. You’re fooling no-one. I can’t stand them, and the idea of Everton still being able to ruin our season gave me an ulcer.
I wrote the other week about a Liverpool title stopping them from using us as a deflective shield from their own failure —25 years is a long time to win nothing. Not long enough, frankly.
Even their projected move to the Mersey’s edge has a sick twist. With global warming and rising water levels, they’ll disappear before we do. There’s an upside to everything.
There was also some nonsense about Richarlison ‘slandering’ Van Dijk, almost as though we were supposed to be outraged by his Scrappy Doo feistiness. Despite three months of not one ball being kicked in anger, I can’t say I’d missed any of this to be fair.
A tiny popping of Virgil’s bubble might be overdue, anyway. To listen to some, you’d think he was Jesus walking on the water, but it will take more than Everton have got to sink him, several second half disappearances notwithstanding.
Stuck in front of the TV, it was comical watching this ersatz spectacle with sound affects crudely glued on.
Where was the incessant booing of every single decision? Where were the handball appeals every 30 seconds? Where was the “disaster-baiting? Us??” snidiness of the victim song? Milli Vanilli weren’t as fake as this.
I wasn’t thrilled about the line-up. I know we’d beaten them with second-string players twice this season, but you can be a bit too casual. It’s not just any old fixture.
And not even using Salah late on was troubling. Safety first? Then don’t put him on the bench.
Fabinho made an awful start, and anytime Mane got going he was soon met with brutish resistance. Firmino picked a great moment to start getting greedy — and on his weaker foot, too.
So the first half was understandably rusty and slow. We ought not to make swift judgements, but the low fee for Minamino looks about right now. Klopp had seen enough by half-time anyway, but Oxlade-Chamberlain was hardly more effective. His first few touches were as woeful as Fabinho’s had been.
Keita was doing okay, and we lost something when he was abruptly taken off. It’s not just players who need to shake off the cobwebs, obviously.
There was possession galore, but all glitter and no substance. Everton, emboldened by Liverpool’s failure to ignite, probably should’ve won the game though typically they ended up protecting a precious point.
They couldn’t even exploit Lovren’s voodoo presence though it was a close-run thing. Gomez was already out there, but a reluctance to take risks was Derby Day incarnate. I’ve seen worse games at Everton, so you can’t blame the absence of fans.
One point closer to success. It’s a flimsy old straw but clutch it while you can. It’s not going to get any easier.