Terrace Talk Liverpool: Reality bites back as North London hoodoo returns

Beep! Beep! Beep! Caution: football supporter reversing.

There were plenty of competitors in the 100m backtrack dash on Saturday. What can I say about last week’s column?

“I just felt like a change?” In fairness, enough queries and escape routes were planted to save face and shuffle, tail betwixt legs, back to reality. And I did say it would get harder from now on.

Not sure the manager can be so flexible. “We have started strongly, put a marker down showing we are going to be consistent and I think we can only get better”. You go get ‘em, tiger. As stated previously, there’s always been a Shankly/Paisley yin and yang in our support, a struggle between Mr Toad braggadocio and Yoda calm. Shoot mouth off before achieving anything you mustn’t.

Recent results against Arsenal ought to have provided a clue to what would occur. It’s not that we’ve been awful exactly, though one win there in 13 years suggests otherwise, but it seems there’s a North London Triangle where the reds go missing; up the road at Spurs we might as well fax them the points.

The media built this up as a huge fixture and though what follows will seem like the shabby rationalisation of the vanquished, we never really agreedt. It felt more like two flat track bullies thrown into the ring too early, much against their will.

Two clubs used to better, consistently being told they are close to losing their place on the big stage. Arsenal can legitimately claim that is nonsense, but they have to admit there’s a hint of just playing cameos now; party guest number four... The remarkably unsubtle attempt to lure Suarez made the natives even more restless, but like Liverpool an unexpectedly good start brought calm. How ironic; when they want Suarez we’re a spent force. Now, after defeats to Dortmund and Chelsea, we’re the big scalp that proves they’re in it for the long haul.

On Saturday they got some joy down the flanks, forcing Rodgers to ditch Cissokho and the 3-5-2 at half time. ‘Suaridge’ became isolated too often and when a good chance came, it fell to the left foot of Henderson. Yip. Pee. Atkinson screwed up the quick free kick, but that’s only something to hide behind.

Not that I thought Arsenal were brilliant either, but their chances went in and ours stayed out. In a comparison you can see our midfield lacks any real class and something will have to be done soon about the Gerrard conundrum. Him playing so deep is all wrong yet with two strikers in such good nick there are few options open. Watching Sakho, you can’t help feel he’s starting because he cost £17m and Agger didn’t.

It was too soon to draft Coutinho into a rescue mission against this opposition and it left us even more overshadowed in midfield. I wasn’t even aware Flanagan was still here so that was a shock too. Suarez hit the post, missed when Sturridge was better placed and Szczesny got lucky with his clearance — and that was that. Another game when Liverpool were asked questions and gawped like a dog shown a card trick. It’s been the story of the last 20 years, why would anyone act surprised? I feel uncharacteristically churlish about Arsenal’s chances too. There was an inevitable spew of hype afterwards, but I don’t see it lasting. As for us, we’ll have to resume the real order of business; making sure the flotsam of the league get spanked and grab something remotely resembling consolation in the biggest matches.

It’s called learning to walk before you can run.


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