The Highs and Lows

Life in sport is a roller-coaster ride, where the dizzy heights of peak performance can only be maintained for a certain time.

Someone will always come along and burst the bubble. It’s a question of who and when.

So, while Liverpool have been teetering at the top, their mid-week shock defeat to Burnley comes as no surprise.

Sean Dyche’s team are tough to play against. Solid in defence, they have gained a reputation for parking the bus. It’s an effective strategy which paid off at Anfield last season. The reward was a goalless draw.

There’s no doubting Dyche’s ambitions and, despite, Burnley not winning there since September 1974, he would have wanted to build on that 0-0 score-line.

The mid-week 1-0 defeat is a devastating blow to Liverpool, who have enjoyed an extended run in the record books.

The football accountants are out and this is how it looks:

  • 90 Liverpool attempts at goal without finding the net
  • over 400 minutes since the last goal
  • their longest goal drought since May 2000
  • the end of a 68 game unbeaten Premier League run on home soil (the record goes back to April 2017 – over 1,300 days ago).

So what’s going on?

In the battle of the health crisis empty stadiums have made this season a level-playing field. For the first time in many years the Premier League is wide-open and up for grabs with the team standings painting a very different picture compared to this time last year. It’s tight in the top-half with eleven points separating the teams in first and tenth position.

While Liverpool have struggled with players’ injuries, they are clearly missing playing in front of a packed house. Some will argue, it’s the same for all, but no crowd compares with the Kop. Seeing, hearing and feeling the crowd not only give you goose bumps, but carry you through those difficult stages in a game.

John Toshack summed it up nicely in his ode to Kevin Keegan and, as far as my memory goes, it goes...                         

               In fifteen minutes he found the net                            

               A left-footed shot I’ll never forget                                      

               It bobbled and bounced like one of mine

               But the mouths of the Kop sucked it over th line.

Liverpool are far from the luxurious position they were in last season, where they could choose which silverware to focus on. At this stage of the game, it may be a case of any would be a bonus.

In this sink or swim situation with nothing to lose and everything to gain, they need to go for it and there is no better occasion to test your mettle than an FA cup draw against Manchester United.

I’m sure they will find their feet (and the net) soon and that will improve their confidence no end.