Four games into the new season and there is plenty to discuss. Our beloved Liverpool FC is more often than not a source of lovable frustration and stress for their fans and our season opener has been no different. There have been plenty of positives and negatives to take from our opening games.
First Game Nerves
The opening game against Leeds was tough, as was predicted. Clearly fighting to make their mark on the table as the ‘newbies’, Leeds certainly rose to the occasion and gave us some real scares throughout the match. We eventually emerged victorious with a 4-3 win over Leeds and a hat-trick for Mo Salah. In securing his hat-trick for the Reds, Salah became the first player to score on the opening day of the Premier League for four consecutive seasons for Liverpool and only the second player ever to do so in the Premier League. He is also the first Liverpool player to score a hat-trick in the opening game of the season for the Reds since John Aldrige in 1988.
Finally, after what felt like an age of speculation and anticipation, the 18th of September (also known as ‘Thiago Friday’) marked the official signing of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich. Liverpool fans around the globe rejoiced at the news of this signing as Thiago has long been seen as a great potential addition to our squad and finally seeing him in a red shirt was nothing short of miraculous. Within mere hours of his signing, Thiago had secured his own fan song, won the hearts of fans with his social media posts and become an honorary scouser (yes, I’m talking about *that* ‘how are we’ video!) Yet Thiago was to go and set a new record in his first match for the Reds against Chelsea. Brought on as a sub in the second half, straight away he slotted into the team effortlessly as if he had always been there. Thanks to Thiago and his incredible performance, we secured an important 2-0 victory over Chelsea. In just over 45 minutes on the pitch, Thiago completed 75 passes in midfield, more than any of the Chelsea players and also the first player to do so since 2003. It was an excellent start for Thiago and one I’m sure the fans won’t forget.
Adding to the excitement of acquiring Thiago for the team, less than 24 hours after Thiago Friday, it was the turn of Jota Saturday as we said ‘what’s happening?’ to 23 year old Diogo Jota from Wolves. His debut came against Arsenal on Monday 28th September in which he scored his first goal for the club only eight minutes after coming onto the pitch, helping the squad to a 3-1 victory. Much like Thiago in his debut, Jota made an effortless entrance to the team and looked right at home on the pitch at Anfield.
Although it is something I think every Liverpool FC fan wants to forget about and never speak of again, something has to be said about the shocking defeat at the hands of Aston Villa. Suffering such an embarrassing defeat as the reigning champions so early in the season, it pains me to even think about it. A catalogue of mistakes led to one of the worst defeats we have ever suffered. There is no doubt that without Alisson in goal, who was confirmed to be out for at least 6 weeks with a shoulder injury, Adrian struggled to keep the goals out, although it has to be said that three of the goals scored by Villa were deflections and would have challenged any goalie to keep them from going in. Mo Salah managed to get two in the opposition’s net but that did little to numb the sting of such a terrible defeat. However, as with all games lost, won or drawn, you have to pick yourself up and carry on. It is often said that you can learn more from a defeat than you do from a victory and who knows, at the end of the season we could be thankful for this defeat as it sparked something within the team to never let it happen again. There are always going to be matches like this where the team isn’t at their best but it is a lesson and one I think the team will learn very quickly indeed!
Our first return to the league after this most recent international break is against our closest neighbours and rivals, Everton. They have opened their season amazingly well (truly hard to say as a Liverpool fan!) with four victories under their latest manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has been at the club since 2019. They have made the best start to their season since 1992 and all eyes will be on the Derby match on Saturday 17th October. The derbies have long been an important fixture for the Red and Blue halves of Merseyside and this one is no different. The Liverpool team will be wanting to come out fighting after their last league match, as well as Everton who will no doubt want to extend their winning streak. All I can say is that it will be a very tense day in my house waiting for the result!
The Bigger Picture
Unfortunately, despite all of the excitement of the new season and our shiny new signings, the coronavirus pandemic is still at large and causing mass disruption across the world. More players and staff seem to be falling ill with the virus, including both Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara testing positive and having to isolate and it is unknown whether this will again have an effect on the season. It is a stark reminder that although football is important, there is still a grave threat hanging over everything we do and above all, staying safe and healthy is the number one priority.
Although they haven’t had the opening to the season they would have liked, the team have still shown that they are strong and can only get better. Now that the international break is over, it is time for the team to get their heads down and show us why they were the runaway champions last season. They have the talent and passion within them to go on and secure great results this season but as always, they just need to show that they have that fight in them and I’m sure they will.
You’ll Never Walk Alone.