By Simon Meakin
Since my last blog, we’ve kept our long unbeaten Premier League run (and our long unbeaten run against City at Anfield) going in ultimately magnificent style last week. Although, it has to be said we rode our luck a bit early on. And, I’m trying to remember whether there is some sort of grammatical rule about the maximum number of sets of brackets allowed in a single sentence – (I’m not sure my old English teacher “Hipster” Hothersall would be approving of this).
Salah’s goal in particular was fabulous, evoking memories of the goal my Dad used to rave about above all others in the 1970’s, Terry McDermott’s famous header in the 7-0 demolition of Spurs. Watching it again it’s amazing how similar they are. For David Johnson’s raking crossfield ball and Heighway’s sublime cross just insert Trent and Robbo. It’s the first thing that came up when I typed Terry Mc into YouTube.
I didn’t even type the “Dermott”. Although I clearly needed to include the “c” as disgracefully when I only typed Terry M he’s shunted down to third place behind a bloke playing Boogie Woogie piano at St Pancras station and some sort of American TV Evangelists with what appeared to be the world’s worst Irish accent (despite coming from Dallas). Neither of this pair of jokers I wager ever even managed to get on to the subs bench v Spurs.
Crucially, we followed the City win up by somehow dredging up yet another win against the odds at Palace. I’m not sure what the opposite of running over a black cat is but I’m sure Klopp must have done it recently. Maybe he found a squashed black cat in the road while out cruising the streets of Formby in the Kloppmobile (most likely with the windows rolled down, Wayfarers on and listening to “Summertime” by Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince while on the way to Waitrose) and took it to the vet?
Whatever it is, Lady Luck seems to be smiling on us. The old adage says that winning while not playing well is the true sign of champions, but I’m fairly sure that champions also manage quite a lot of winning while playing well too. It seems ironic that the only team we seem to have beaten relatively comfortably in the last couple of months has been City themselves.
And, given the insane schedule we’ve got coming up in the next month, the lads could surely do with a few more relaxing, less emotionally draining wins (the sort where Van Djik can slap on a face mask and some cucumber over his eyes, put a big towel on his head and whack on some whale music with twenty minutes to go).
I’m hoping that Brighton will be one of those games. I couldn’t write this preview without commenting upon what was obviously the most exciting fact about Brighton growing up in the 1980’s. The fact it had a nudist beach! When it was announced that it was opening it was the most mind bogglingly exciting thing my schoolboy mind had ever heard of. I immediately set about trying to figure out how to suggest a family holiday to Brighton and then to somehow “accidentally” chance upon the Swedish women’s beach volleyball team, who would just happen to have chosen the very same day to forsake Malmo for team practice right next to our deck chairs.
It wasn’t until many years later when living in Sydney, that I did finally get the chance to stumble unexpectedly onto a nudist beach (on more than one occasion in fact) only to discover that your average nudist turned out to be a lot more old, male and wrinkly than in my fevered teenage dreams.
As I’ve noted previously on this blog I’m also a Hereford fan and the mere mention of Brighton brings back painful memories of the crucial do or die match on the last day of the season in 1997, when the loser would go crashing out of the Football League into Conference oblivion. I missed the game as I was in Australia at the time. Specifically, I was visiting a German speaking village outside of Adelaide (I’d taken a day off from tracking down naked men on nudist beaches). Instead of finding an Oompah band and lots of thigh slapping Bavarians, or even a young Jurgen Klopp cruising around rescuing black cats, I somehow managed to find a pub full of Brighton fans.
This being back in the dark ages, I also had to try and follow the game on the BBC World Service in the middle of the night. A World Service which incorrectly kept telling me that Hereford were winning until after the final whistle. I have to apologise to the poor German girl who woke up in alarm thinking Adelaide was suffering an earthquake following my string of expletives when I finally found out we’d gone down.
I’d like to think it was some sort of Sliding Doors moment where had the World Service been right, I’d now be faced with split loyalties as Hereford were preparing for their visit to Anfield and it would be Brighton who were looking forward to the visit of Farsley Celtic. Gwyneth Paltrow would be playing the role of the Farsley coach driver trying to work out quite why she’s faced with a fifteen hour round trip to the south coast in the National League North.
I do have happier memories of a Brighton game when I was at Anfield on the last day of the season a couple of seasons ago. A 4-0 walk in the park in glorious sunshine with Mo Salah scoring his 32nd goal of the season to set a new Premier League scoring record (for a 38 game season before you start writing in to correct me Mr Alan Shearer). And Mo Salah’s daughter becoming surely the youngest person ever to score at the Kop end. Checking back it also turns out that Dominic Solanke scored what, remarkably for a player we managed to sell for £17m on the basis that he was a striker, still appears to be his only ever goal in English football.
Anyway. On to my match prediction. Liverpool to repeat the scoreline of a couple of years ago and win 4-0, finally keeping a clean sheet at Anfield. Two goals from a fit again Salah, one for Firmino and Harvey Elliott puts down his copy of the Beano to come off the bench to break Mo Salah’s daughter’s record as youngest ever goalscorer at the Kop end.
Jordan Henderson will be so relaxed he has time for a facial, a deep tissue massage and some boiled beetroot soup. Klopp cruises home a happy man listening to Warren G on his in-car sound system and imagining he’s in South Central Blundellsands.