At least last week’s football reminded me of why I try not to make predictions. ‘Game of the Week’ I said, looking forward to Notts County taking on Wycombe. It didn’t start too well, with Grant – the player I was tipping for a good performance – not making the starting 11. I’ll be honest, it didn’t end well either. 0-0, in fact. Oh, and that rant about how Derby vs Sunderland would result in an uncontested walkover for Derby didn’t do me any favours as Sunderland cruised to a 4-1 victory. But enough about my failures; thank goodness I didn’t make a prediction for the Liverpool vs Man City game on Wednesday, because I can assure you I did not have it down as a 3-0.
We know how strong Liverpool are going forward, but limiting City to zero shots on target was certainly not on the menu. As it happens, Van Dijk and Lovren now look like quite the dish, sat desirably amongst a back line oozing with attacking intent. Robertson was imperious down the left hand side, effortlessly linking with Sadio Mane, keeping City on the back foot throughout the first half. On the opposite flank, Alexander-Arnold put in such an attentive defensive display that you could be forgiven for thinking it was Liverpool’s right back, rather than City’s, that boasted a £50m price tag.
Perhaps the teenager is too inexperienced and inconsistent to squeeze onto the place to Russia, but if we draw Germany in the knockout stages (and we always seem to), it would no doubt be a blow to Leroy Sané’s confidence to come up against a man who gave him so little to shout about at Anfield earlier in the season. Either way, at least Alexander-Arnold’s performance provided evidence to support my one potentially accurate claim made last week: England have an abundance of talent in the fullback positions.
Of course, it would be unfair to discuss Wednesday’s game without giving a mention to James Milner, who, alongside Jordan Henderson restricted Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva to playing in front of Liverpool’s defence. I feel that England’s chances at the World Cup may depend on the ability of Henderson et al. to implement a similar defensive strategy against talented ball-playing sides like Spain and Belgium.
I don’t really know where the attempts at jokes ended up this week – perhaps I’m so overwhelmed at the sheer entertainment provided in the Liverpool vs Man City game that it seems almost disrespectful to view it in jest. Oh, and Birmingham have won 3 on the bounce, so maybe coming to terms with that new found happiness is wreaking havoc in my head. Who knows.