Dammit. For a solid half hour, it looked like we’d put an end to our Anfield hoodoo, as goals from Martinelli and Jesus gave us a 0-2 lead. To then give Liverpool a lifeline and allow them back into the game has to feel a lot like we threw two points away, but to feel like that is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as the old saying goes. A point earned or two points dropped?
Going into this match, I’d bet my house that most of us, maybe even all of us, would have gladly accepted a draw even with Liverpool’s uneven season (a bit of an empty bet, considering the size and condition of said house). Time-travel back to when the fixtures were released, and be honest: how many of you chalked this one off as a loss? Again, a sizable number. LIverpool have lost just once at Anfield all season, and that was a freak-loss to Leeds, of all sides.
Yes, to have seized an early lead had to persuade us that the unthinkable was unfolding. Some of the more-feverish among us might have even started dreaming of an even more-famous scoreline, the better to end our barren Anfield run with. Alas, it was not to be. For all of their failings, this is still the Liverpool side that came achingly close to a quadruple last season, finishing just a point behind Man City in the Prem and losing 1-0 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final. They might sit 8th, but they’re still quite good.
We had our chances, and we let them slip through our hands. Maybe Xhaka shouldn’t have squared up with Alexander-Arnold. Maybe Hatzidakis shouldn’t have given Robertson an elbow to the chin at halftime. Maybe Arteta should have been quicker with the second-half subs. Maybe Martinelli’s through-ball to a wide-open Saka could have been weighted better. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
If you read most of the post-match reports, you’ll be told that this is the weekend that saw us squander our precious lead. Yes, it’s true that it’s now mathematically possible for Man CIty to match us for points. They have that game in hand, and, of course, we have that crucial trip to the Etihad (and St. James’s) to consider. That’s the bathwater. The baby, the one we’re still nursing, is that six-point lead,
Look at it this way: we went into one of the most-difficult stadiums in the world and very nearly came away with a win. Even when we were pinned back, we played with grit and determination and courage. It took all of the fervor of the Kop and the incompetence of Tierney and the quality that is still in that squad to find a late equaliser. If we play anything like we played in those first thirty minutes, the title is ours. We may not have gotten the massive psychological boost that a first win at Anfield since 2012, but we may have come away with something better: the belief that we can go into an inferno and emerge unscathed and the hunger to go into any other location and emerge victorious. This squad does not suffer setbacks lightly. To have seen victory snatched away will only fuel a hunger and an anger the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time.
We’ll have to wait and see. While we do that, allow me to repeat an invitation: you can enter a raffle for a £25 Arsenal Direct gift card by commenting on this and other posts in April. Yes, it’s a direct attempt at bribing you to join the conversation. The more often you comment, the better your chances at winning. Have at it!