EPL TALK: Liverpool have enough in reserve to win every game now

·Contributor
·5 min read
Liverpool forward Divock Origi (right) celebrates with teammate Mohamed Salah after scoring against Everton at Anfield.
Liverpool forward Divock Origi (right) celebrates with teammate Mohamed Salah after scoring against Everton at Anfield. (PHOTO: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

IT’S getting silly now. Liverpool continue to find new ways to beat old tactics. Nothing stops them anymore. Nothing penetrates. The Reds are turning into an annoying dad, placing a hand on his son’s head and encouraging the kid to take his best shot, knowing the youngster will never have the reach.

Everton were the latest to take a swing and miss, deciding early on that the only way to play football against their oldest rivals was to not play football at all. The Toffees managed only 17 per cent possession.

To compare the two Merseyside clubs on the grounds that they occupy the same city is like comparing a serial killer with the next-door neighbour. They are different beasts, nothing in common. They are worlds apart, or 50 points to be exact.

But the stale toffee puddings offered a single service in reminding us all, yet again, what a club looks like if it has a messianic manager and outstanding recruitment. And what a club looks like if it doesn’t.

Since Farhad Moshiri’s takeover, Everton have spent £561 million in transfer fees - a higher total than Liverpool – only to produce a gameplan that consisted of hiding behind the ball and hoping that Anthony Gordon fell over convincingly. Neither worked out.

The Reds have spent less money and pulled together the finest squad in the history of the English Premier League, a claim that reeks of hyperbole until Exhibit A is presented: the curious case of Divock Origi.

The Reds have spent less money and pulled together the finest squad in the history of the English Premier League, a claim that reeks of hyperbole until Exhibit A is presented: the curious case of Divock Origi.

The part-time forward should not be at Liverpool. He’s 27, decent and Belgian, the kind of attributes that fare well in Serie A. And yet, Origi stayed with the Reds to become a fun hybrid of cult hero and the endearing relative who brings out the same party trick at family gatherings.

Origi’s party trick is scoring goals when they are most needed and least expected. Famously, he scored in Liverpool’s Champions League triumph. His decisive header in the Merseyside derby was his sixth goal against Everton. Only Steven Gerrard has scored more against the Toffees in the EPL era.

How is that remotely possible? The Belgian spends much of the season playing that endearing relative, snoozing in the corner and waiting for a nudge to entertain his audience. Origi has managed just 101 minutes in the EPL in a campaign of Klopp’s endless rotations.

But the two men embraced at the final whistle as if celebrating a successful Tinder date. Klopp called Origi a "legend". He isn’t. But he is still around, just another Red to fall for Klopp's alchemy.

Antonio Rüdiger, on the other hand, plans to flee Chelsea quicker than a sanctioned oligarch. According to reports, the defender was offered a £200,000 deal, pre-Ukraine invasion, but he then demanded a signing-on fee and a payment for his representatives, post-Ukraine invasion.

Chelsea are no longer in a financial position to meet such lofty demands. These illegal invasions of sovereign states are really messing with Thomas Tuchel’s squad planning.

But this is not a facetious comparison between apples and oligarchs. Liverpool have a comparatively strict wage structure. Few of their trophy hoarders earn in excess of £200,000 a week. Mo Salah is in contract discussions to potentially double his current wage and take home around £400,000, but he is very much an exception.

The rest make do, accepting relatively fixed wage ceilings (unlike Rüdiger) with no leaks to the media (unlike Manchester United). There are no countdowns to sour exits (like Paul Pogba) and no serious speculation around unsettled strikers (like Harry Kane).

Playing for Klopp and the Kop appears to matter more.

As a result, Liverpool have produced the most complete squad of shiny, happy people – on a budget – in living memory. Both goals against Everton were a testament to their unrivalled depth.

Liverpool’s second was the work of three substitutes. Jordan Henderson, Luis Diaz and Origi combined to provide the Belgian with another legendary moment. None were on the pitch before the 60th minute.

Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Everton at Anfield.
Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Everton at Anfield. (PHOTO: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

But the Reds’ first goal was arguably more telling. Andy Robertson doesn’t get many. Indeed his opener was only his second of the campaign.

But he was a revitalised presence on the left flank, benefitting from extra rest, thanks to Kostas Tsimikas’ increased role this season.

Meanwhile, Thiago Alcantara completed more passes than the entire Everton team, Diaz pulled off a trick beyond most PlayStation footballers and Liverpool prevailed without playing particularly well against opponents that didn’t play at all.

The Reds just keep coming, from all angles and positions, including the bench. Villarreal are up next in the Champions League and Klopp will start again, like a man addicted to the Rubik’s Cube, constantly rotating and testing new moves, until it inevitably clicks into place.

He does not need to be perfect. He just needs options. And Liverpool have more than enough to potentially defeat every opponent heading their way.

Neil Humphreys is an award-winning football writer and a best-selling author, who has covered the English Premier League since 2000 and has written 26 books.

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