They say good things come to those who wait. Liverpool fans have had enough of waiting over the last 30 years.
They left it late, but against Tottenham in the most crucial clash of the season so far, the Reds scratched and clawed their way to three points that felt like so many more.
Here, @LFCUncensored picks out the top six conclusions from a match that could go on to be the defining moment of the season.
1. Curtis Jones is not the future
Because he is the present. Forget three years or one year or even six months from now. Jones is a bona fide star right here, right now.
The 19-year-old has less than 30 senior appearances to his name. Tonight, he played like he had 300. Calm, composed, classy. Think of any positive adjective that begins with ‘C’, it probably applied to Jones tonight.
Liverpool’s starting eleven boasted six of the top 30 ranked players in the 2019 Ballon d’Or award. Jones bettered them all tonight, and the best thing? It was no fluke.
Curtis Jones, a 19-year-old Scouser, delivering a man of the match performance in a top-of-the-table Premier League clash. Growing in stature with every game. His development over the past 12 months has been immense. He belongs in this team. #LFC
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) December 16, 2020
The contract situation surrounding Georginio Wijnaldum continues to rumble on. The Dutch favourite is a free agent at season’s end, and the impending renewals of several higher profile stars in the coming years has seemingly given owners FSG pause for thought.
No one wants to see Gini go, let’s make that perfectly clear. But if terms cannot be agreed, his replacement is staring us in the face.
2. ‘Salah is lucky’ is a crock of sh**e
Another deflected loopy goal for Salah. He’s sooooooo lucky, right? Wrong.
The Egyptian King has a very similar style to another Liverpool favourite, Luis Suarez. When you’re direct and engage defenders by driving at them, invariably half of the bobbles will go your way. The other half will result in a clearance and another common camera shot of Salah frustratingly looking to the heavens.
So why does he seem to score so many unusual goals? Because quite simply he takes a disproportionate amount of shots.
MO SALAH BAGS THE OPENER!
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 16, 2020
If you’re as persistent as Salah is and unleash as many efforts as he does, it’s inevitable that the odd one might deflect past a stricken goalkeeper. The same can be said of Harry Kane and also rang true for Suarez. That’s just the law of averages, not luck.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
3. An old spectre laid to rest
For long periods the contest resembled that infamous match between Liverpool and a Jose Mourinho-managed team in 2014.
A well-drilled, resilient defence, and Liverpool repeatedly banging their heads against the immovable object.
But on this occasion, the Reds had one particular trait at the forefront of their minds – patience.
On that fateful day versus Chelsea, Steven Gerrard tried to atone for his error by attempting to win the match almost singlehandedly.
Shot after shot blazed over and the passing became ever more ambitious. It was not just Gerrard, the desperation was evident across the whole team.
Against Tottenham, Liverpool remained patient until the bitter end. Only once did Salah shoot into a bundle of Spurs bodies when clearly the pass was the better choice.
It was a refreshing sight to see that this current crop not only possesses all the talent in the world, but also the nous and clarity of thought to know what to do and when when things aren’t going their way.
The ghost of the ‘slip’ was put on life support when Liverpool were crowned champions last season. Against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham on Wednesday, it was finally laid to rest.
4. Firmino DESERVED that
It’s fair to say the last 18 months haven’t been what we’ve all come to expect from Roberto Firmino.
Glimpses of his multi-dimensional talents have been seen on occasion, but seemingly gone are the days of marking the Brazilian down as an 8/10 before a ball is even kicked each week.
The arrival of Diogo Jota brought a level of competition he has not experienced in a Liverpool shirt. The Portuguese’s blistering start to life at Anfield would’ve been more than enough to make even the most confident and assured of strikers wary of their standing.
But Firmino, in typical fashion, has not shrunk. His performances – while not as effective as previous years – have been as energetic and selfless as ever.
If ever a player in this Liverpool team deserved a moment of individual glory in the spotlight like that, it was Roberto Firmino.
5. Subs speak volumes
“What subs? We didn’t make any.” Precisely.
Klopp has spoken at great length about the importance of a deep squad in recent times. With an injury list that beggars belief, players even you or I weren’t all that familiar with have been handed first-team action this season.
But on a night where Liverpool were toiling away with the breakthrough not always appearing likely, Klopp opted to stick rather than twist.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain not being introduced was understandable. The midfielder has only just returned from a lengthy lay-off and thrusting him into a high stakes encounter with a title rival would not have been wise.
But Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Naby Keita? Klopp clearly believed Liverpool’s best chance of winning was with the tiring legs of his recognised starters. What’s more, he was right.
If the aforementioned trio were deemed incapable of improving the team’s odds despite being fresh, will they ever be entrusted with the big moments?
Origi, Minamino and Keita have roles in this squad. It’s just not likely to be as big as they would wish.
6. Expect a photo finish
As much as we refused to say it out loud, it was pretty clear by around December last year that Liverpool were going to win the title.
The winter months were like something from a dream. 18 wins on the spin, seven clean sheets in a row, rivals put to the sword. It was as serene of a journey towards a league title as you’re every likely to see.
Oh how things have changed.
Every year begins with half a dozen clubs hoping they can win the league. Within 10 games, the number of teams that actually CAN win it is usually down to two – three in an exciting year.
This year we’re 13 games in and there are still four contenders with genuine title aspirations.
Tottenham resemble Mourinho’s first Chelsea team more and more with each passing week. Chelsea have had to deal with injuries of their own and the £250m worth of talent they acquired will improve as the season goes on. Man City have seemingly pulled a 180 and switched from a team ruthless in attack and shaky at the back, to a clean sheet machine that’s blunt at the front. Sergio Aguero returned on Tuesday, however. If his aging muscles hold up, the goals will soon begin to flow.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This one is going down to the wire.