2 min “Wakes up at 6.45am in Wellington, New Zealand, rubs hands… and hands only…” says Nick Close. “Liverpool to be two points clear again by 9.45am. Anticipation is right… Can’t remember the last time The Pool played on a Friday night. Even bought a new shirt. Still prefer my Crown Paints one!”
Bit snug now?
1 min Peep peep! Liverpool, sporting their away kit, get the match under way. The New Balance design comes in a deep violet shade, which last featured on the team’s third strip for 2012-13, and provides a striking alternative to the traditional home kit. The kit adopts the same jacquard linear graphic as on the front of next term’s home shirt, which takes inspiration from the architecture of Anfield’s Main Stand.
Southampton are in red and white.
There’s a brilliant atmosphere at St Mary’s. This has got a sniff about it.
Bob’s Prediction: Southampton 2-3 Liverpool.
The players are in the tunnel. Virgil van Dijk, who is about to be booed for two hours solid, looks like he’s off to do his grocery shopping. The man is ridiculous.
“Sometimes, a man has to embrace his inner Han Solo,” says Matt Dony, making a bold claim to manhood. “I have a bad feeling about this. Ralph has done a sterling job at Southampton; he’s improved performances, results, and just the general feeling of the club. And, as much as recent late winners have looked very destiny-ish, they also belie a team who aren’t as fluent as we’d like. Certainly aren’t as fluent as City. (Although there’s no shame there.) Long story short, I’m nervous. But then, I kinda feel like I’ve written an awful lot of emails that basically say, ‘Hi Rob, I’m scared.’ (Almost always about football, but there was that kidnapping episode…) Maybe it’ll all be ok. Maybe I should just relax.”
Embrace the misery. It’s what
title races are for. I call them traugasms.
“Surely Chelsea at home is Liverpool’s toughest fixture?” says Paul Grimes. “One they may slip up in?”
I think this is tougher, mainly because of the influence of the crowd. But I wouldn’t question your parentage on a popular social-media platform for suggesting Chelsea is the tougher game.
“What a mouth-watering managerial clash this is!” ooohs Peter Oh. “The Austrian Ralph Hasenhüttl – the Alpine Klopp – versus the German Jürgen Klopp – a.k.a. The Klopp. It’s the Umlaut Derby! Shortly after his arrival at Southampton, Hasi quipped that if anyone wanted guarantees, they should have bought a washing machine. Klopp delivers heavy metal football. Oh the sound of metal crunching against metal!”
“Seems Herr Klopp picked that midfield with his arms folded and with a ‘don’t tell me I don’t do things for you’ rejoinder,” says Ian Copestake. “You fans wanted a dynamic, non-sideways passing three? There you go.”
Football fans are Mrs Doyle.
Mind the Time?
Thirty five years ago last month, Sharon and Elsie and We Got It Made were shunted from BBC1’s Friday-night schedule to allow live coverage of Liverpool’s trip to Southampton. Danny Wallace made it all worthwhile by scoring the Goal of the Season.
The first email of the night comes from Bill Hargreaves
“Opens laptop at airport, rubs hands, here we go…”
Legal disclaimer: Guardian Media Group bears no legal responsiblity for readers missing flights due to an overwhelming need to press F5 and find out whether Mo Salah has scored yet
Southampton (3-4-2-1) Gunn; Yoshida,Bednarek, Vestergaard; Valery, Hojbjerg, Romeu, Bertrand; Redmond, Ward-Prowse; Long.
Substitutes: McCarthy, Stephens, Targett, Armstrong, Gallagher, Sims, Austin.
Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutes: Mignolet, Lovren, Henderson, Moreno, Shaqiri, Origi, Milner.
Referee Paul Tierney.
Here we go again, again. Liverpool’s attempt to win their first league title since 1990 is the most compelling telenovela of 2019, and tonight we have a bonus Friday-night instalment. Episode 33: Southampton away is arguably Liverpool’s trickiest remaining fixture, against a team who are in excellent form and well on the way to escaping relegation. A draw is of little use to Liverpool; a win would put them above Manchester City for at least another eight days, albeit having played a game more.
It’s true that Liverpool have been hanging on to their one-point deficit, needing late goals to see off Fulham and Spurs, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The way they beat Spurs last Sunday will have massively increased their sense of destiny, and anyone with a GCSE in Steve Bruce Studies will know that such things matter. It’s also far better to win uglyish than lose pretty, especially as this stage of the season. April and May are no time to be looking at Expected Goals – Liverpool are finding a way, and if they win their last six games I think they’ll win the league.
Even if Liverpool won the title with 68 points, by virtue of four other teams doing a Devon Loch, it would be a moment of unparalleled euphoria for their supporters. But if they win the title with a points total in the high 90s, and by overcoming a Pep Guardiola team, it would be a legendary achievement in more ways than one – and for their euphoric fans, a joygasm squared.
Kick off is at 8pm.