Before Saturday’s kick-off and throughout much of the match, Latest News found the rare leisure time to indulge fully in the online experience of the foreign Red. Essentially that boils down to scanning Twitter relentlessly and resisting the urge to berate the stunningly huge amount of gloom merchants who seem to positively thrive on the churlish and malign practice of belittling the manager, the players and also you, should you posit a less hateful theory.
Needless to say, the absence of Jordan Henderson, himself often a focus of the impotent ragers, meant that Emre Can received quite the virtual pasting before the match. It was particularly pleasing to see him perform solidly and show a ruthless side that many doubted he had. His decision to cynically kick Alexis Sanchez up in the air, just as the Chilean was beginning to really turn the screw, was probably this Irishman’s favourite part of the match. An odd choice, you may think, but remember the stakes and remember the poisonous atmosphere I had mentioned earlier.
Truth be told, your scribbler simply couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to even cheer the opening goal when it arrived. It had all gotten to me. I had become the thing I detested most – another angry fan, disgusted by the Leicester City farrago and with a simmering rage at the loss of opportunity that this season has become. As Roberto Firmino showed a guile that had been missing for so long in front of goal and swept home the finish, an expression of vexed indignance slipped from my lips in place of the usual exultant roar.
Jürgen Klopp’s men were not to be ignored, however, and with Sadio Mané at his incisive best and the clever interplay and running of Firmino, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho approaching peak 2016 levels, Liverpool were simply brushing a hapless looking Arsenal aside. It was impossible to remain aloof. By the time Mané hit his peach of a finish all my frustration had dissipated and when Gini Wijnaldum artfully dispatched what was, for this columnist, the goal of the season, the guttural roar that emerged from deep within was so overwrought that my larynx has yet to fully recover.
It was reassuring to hear James Milner acknowledge a similar mixture of feelings. After all, this is a man who’s actually won the Premier League and with Father Time winking at him he knows what an opportunity wasted this campaign has been. Remarking on the excellent win against Arsene Wenger’s lot, Milner was quick to admit the sting that remains from last Monday’s utter ineptitude.
“[It was] very pleasing but also disappointing on the other hand because of the other night, not being able to do that consistently,” the epically lantern-jawed vice captain told Liverpoolfc.com. “We all know how good we are but we have to do it on a more consistent basis. We just need to keep building on that and keep improving but the way we played against a very strong team and dominated, especially the first half, was brilliant and shows how good we are. We just need to keep going on that note.”
As for Klopp himself, his take was similar. The season has been hideously inconsistent and the horror-show against Vardy et al was very much the nadir of his time at the club, as far as Latest News is concerned. Three points there, and the hope of Champions League football would have been seriously enhanced by damaging the Gunners’ campaign on a weekend which saw Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United fail to break free of their fatal attraction for sixth place.
The German gaffer was appalled by what he saw against the Foxes, when there were “so many bad individual performances” that it was “absolutely exceptional.” He is as frustrated as any of us by the unsteadiness of the LFC ship, referring to his team as “the rollercoaster of the league – a lot of ups and, meanwhile, too many downs.” Klopp knows, however, that this is inevitable in the early stages of a massive project.
“I’ve said a few times now, I don’t like the fact that inconsistency is part of the deal in development,” he admitted. “Usually, you win games and you lose against the big teams because at the beginning, when they are at a higher level, they are smarter and more experienced and you lose the games. We’ve chosen another way but it’s still part of the deal and we know that we have to keep on going – and we will.”
Isn’t it just like our mob to have “chosen another way” and frazzled our beleaguered brains in the process? At any rate, the message remains the same as it would have done in defeat – beware the allure of the Dark Side. Do not “let the hate flow through you.” Instead, hug it out and put Adam Lallana’s outside of the foot pass to Divock Origi on a constant loop.
Until tomorrow, fellow Reds, WE ARE ALL GARY BENNETT!