That kind of form and consistency was so irrefutable that most people thought it would be more the same this season, with only Manchester City likely to stick with the pace, but so far it hasn’t quite worked out. recognized. The first loss of the season came early, for a start, and anyone surprised at Watford’s 3-0 score last season would have been stunned by the 7-2 result at Villa Park.
There were extenuating circumstances, Liverpool missed Alisson by injury and Sadio Mané by testing positive for Covid-19, but not enough to fully explain such a mutilation for the newly crowned champions playing a team that only narrowly avoided the relegation a few months earlier. While Liverpool are relentless
Consistency was their main asset last season, their unique selling point when even teams as strong as Manchester City and Tottenham faltered, the illusion of impregnability evaporated at Aston Villa.
Perhaps there were signs that everything was not working out completely correctly on the opening day of the season, when Liverpool scored three goals in a 4-3 win over newly promoted Leeds. Still, when that was followed by a clean sheet at Chelsea and a fine home win over Arsenal, a rather grueling start to the campaign seemed to have been negotiated with success. The way things went before a ball was kicked at Villa would be one of the least awkward of the early matches, a respite between the two London clubs and the derby. Now that the derby itself has taken on greater significance, with Everton leading the league and confidence in the blue camp high, the idea of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool as a winning machine moved to a consistently high level. no longer seems so convincing.
Not that Liverpool are the only ones to have suffered heavy defeats this season. Both Manchester clubs have also conceded five or more goals, amid the general feeling that this strange, spectatorless football has yet to settle into a pattern, not to mention a predictable pattern. To add to the uncertainty around Anfield, no less than four positive coronaviruses, two of them to key players of the first team in Mané and Naby Keïta, and one to limit the contribution so far by the news signature Thiago Alcântara.
Liverpool have also been unlucky in losing their top-choice goalkeeper – although the initial prognosis is only a few weeks, shoulder injuries are never good news for goalkeepers – while away From the pitch, the club owners have been revealed as central plotters in the dismal Project Big Picture scheme, something that will almost certainly be uncomfortable with Klopp’s egalitarian instincts.
In short, although it is only 12 weeks since Liverpool won their well-deserved prize in an empty Anfield, the landscape has already changed around the champions in ways few would have anticipated. Suddenly there are questions to ask and answer, with most Everton fans eager to begin questioning. Once again, a Merseyside derby is billed as a potentially cataclysmic event when everyone knows that these are usually draws, or boring games brought to life by mere moments.
Goodison’s latest derby was supposed to see Liverpool claim their long-awaited first Premier League title on rivals’ patch. The followers were counting the days and working on the permutations for weeks – nervously or enthusiastically, depending on allegiance – although of course it didn’t work out that way. A goalless draw simply cost Liverpool the chance to reach 100 points for the season and the opportunity to clinch the title in the next game at Anfield. Instead, there was an offstage crowning glory when Manchester City stumbled at Chelsea.
Derby matches are often like this, prosaic rather than crucial. While the Merseyside version has managed to be more colorful than most of its long and proud history, the reality of the past several decades is that this is essentially private scrap, a localized problem of limited relevance to the rest of the game. This time, with champions Liverpool and Everton leading the league, it’s different.
History suggests the derby won’t be as open or as terribly convincing as the events at Villa Park last month – a game apparently responsible for convincing Premier League officials that they should charge for such rich entertainment rather than distribute it for free – although the outside interest always is. be drugged. It’s not often that you see Liverpool beaten 7-2, reigning champion or not, and anyone who missed it will be just as excited as anyone who watched him to see how they react.