It’s in our hands, it’s not in our hands. It’s back in our hands but it’s not anymore.
This has been the story of Liverpool’s Champions League qualification attempt in the last few weeks.
After the defeat to Crystal Palace two weeks ago, we had surrendered the right to make the cut ourselves. But no sooner had Manchesters United and City dropped points last week, our win against Watford catapulted us back into the drivers seat.
But why make it that easy?
What could possibly be more fun than weekly ninety minute sessions of intense stress on every conceivable body part?
Surely the majority of Just For Men and Garnier Nutrisse customers must be men and women of the Red persuasion, scurrying to the local Superdrug on a Monday morning at an attempt to cover the greys brought on by the weekend.
Enjoying football is overrated anyway.
Therefore, Liverpool limped away from Anfield on Sunday afternoon with a dispiriting 0-0 draw against newly-crowned bogey team, Southampton.
In four attempts this season, a single goal hasn’t been scored against Claude Puel’s side.
The Frenchman certainly has Klopp’s number tactically; defend and wait for Liverpool’s defence to make their weekly donation. But not all teams defend so well.
Liverpool have been able to score against teams deploying similar tactics, but Southampton’s well-oiled, disciplined defence haven’t slipped up as far as we’ve been concerned.
The strike force of Coutinho, Firmino and Origi persisted in playing narrow against a tightly-packed back four which suited the latter down to the ground.
Controversially, Klopp decided against bringing in Sturridge over Origi from the start despite the Belgian’s somewhat substandard display the previous Monday night. This despite Sturridge showing great promise in the few minutes he has been called upon.
And to those who have his injury record written down on a piece of paper in the neatest of handwriting, constantly whipping it out of their pockets when the conversation crops up, it’s simple; when he’s fit, he needs to be used.
There simply aren’t many better than him in front of goal. He’s one of a few who can create something out of nothing and strike doubt and fear into many defences because of that, and that’s a huge weapon to have at your disposal.
Choosing not to use it is baffling at the very least. But we’ll come back to that later.
The highlight of the first-half was Alberto Moreno attempting to bottle flip on the substitutes bench. I’m serious. It really was. When the entertainment on the pitch is non-existent, you have to make your own.
HAHAHA Moreno getting bored and doing the bottle flip challenge 😅 pic.twitter.com/HvHPrfsUX8
— Leo (@the_cherryberry) May 7, 2017
However, Firmino and Can did have shots on target so that the whole half wasn’t a complete write-off.
The Brazilian with the best of them when he robbed Romeu of the ball near the edge of Southampton’s box but had his shot blocked by Cedric.
Other than that, I’m afraid it was a case of dejavu against the Saints.
The second-half started much the same and it was apparent a goal was needed to spark some life into the game and stop us all foaming at the mouths.
The referee had also clearly had enough of this monotony and awarded Liverpool a penalty in the sixty-fourth minute.
He had no choice as Stephens, who’d also had enough, decided he’d take one for the fans and handled the ball in the box.
A goal from a penalty is almost a foregone conclusion for Liverpool nowadays, so we all celebrated the awarding of it like it was 1-0 already.
And then Forster saved it and that told us.
After he’d rattled on in Milner’s ear for what seemed like an eternity and Southampton wasted as much time as possible, he guessed correctly and saved the captains attempt. It had to happen at some point. Not everyone can reach the heights of Mario Balotelli.
At that point, you knew Liverpool would struggle to win the game. The effect of having a penalty saved can subconsciously knock a teams confidence when doubts start to creep in that luck was against them.
Almost the opposite can be said for the opposition, who were buoyed by the save and started to believe that they could possibly go on and win. They ventured forward much more and started to to test our nerves.
The game had been crying out for substitutions from half-time.
A double change at the break would have been welcome and appeared necessary as Liverpool looked uncomfortable from very early on in the game. But Klopp only saw fit to change things in the sixty-eighth minute.
Lallana and Sturridge were brought on for Lucas and Origi with Sturridge’s entrance greeted by a huge cheer at Anfield. Hopefully, Klopp was listening.
And as had happened previously, the two had an immediate impact further cementing fans outrage on why they hadn’t been brought on earlier. Sturridge skipped past a few defenders and shot but couldn’t get past Forster.
Three minutes from time time, Grujic came on for Wijnaldum who I had forgotten was even on the pitch. It seems like an age ago when the Serbian wowed us all with his goal against Barcelona in the pre-season friendly.
Unfortunately, injury has kept him unavailable for large chunks of the season. However, he almost scored the winner in stoppage time with a glancing header which forced Forster into a stunning save.
Southampton’s chances were few and far between with Mignolet rarely troubled by their attack.
But it wasn’t to be for Liverpool and a point is all they could manage.
A point which could prove vital when all is done and dusted. But the overwhelming feeling at full-time was one of dejection at having relinquished our destiny once again. It was out of our hands again. But at the time of writing, Arsenal have just beaten Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates and guess what? It’s back in our hands again.
Two wins for Liverpool against West Ham and Middlesbrough will seal the deal.
Although let’s all have a moment for Liverpool’s proverbial hands please, who don’t know which way is up at the moment. 🙏🏽