Big shout out to one of my Twitter followers. He followed me earlier in the season in order to quote my transfer article back at me and tell me what a k**b I am.
He’s been very quiet for the last 19 games. You know those 19 games where the only one we lost was at Stamford Bridge by a single goal in extra time? Popped up again on Saturday evening when I happened to tweet that ‘Gayle was a diving, cheating little t**t’. ‘Like Luis Suarez’ he pointed out. Fair call. Don’t remember Suarez getting anybody but himself booked for blatant diving; Gayle managed it with Henderson, putting our captain on a yellow that he had to survive for eighty minutes and then had a go at getting Sturridge booked for making no contact whatsoever with him. Diving. The foreign disease.
I’m not going to moan about referees again. Okay, yes I am. Another clown. Another fool with either defective eyesight or the desire to not punish ‘plucky Palace’. A blatant penalty on Sturridge waved away. A story waiting to be written. He could see his place in history. Could see himself adding to the lineage of woes that Liverpool have suffered against the Eagles.
They were going to do us again weren’t they? Broke our hearts last year. Yeah, no, they didn’t. We threw away two points while we were trying to be the first Premier League team to score twenty goals in one game. If we hadn’t dropped those points, if we’d won 3-0? Yeah, still would have lost the league on goal difference. Get over yourselves. Broke our hearts in the league earlier this season? Instigated the change that’s seen our rebirth. Thanks lads, much appreciated. Villa Park 1990. We must be looking for revenge for the Villa Park defeat. The defeat that happened while our manager was in school and the vast majority of our team not yet born. Sorry, again, media guys, get over yourselves.
We don’t do revenge. Beating Palace at their place isn’t about revenge or putting things right, it’s what we’re supposed to do. They’re Crystal Palace, we’re sodding Liverpool. This is the natural order of things.
Not that there weren’t wobbles. In a first-half totally dominated by the lads in the garish yellow shirts, the Palace boys managed to perfectly illustrate the phrase ‘against the run of play’ to take the lead. Yet another damn fine Mignolet save - revitalised, that lad - prevented a second and then we woke up.
And the inspiration for the waking up came from the most unexpected of sources. Mario Balotelli, fresh from finally scoring in the league, was introduced at half-time in another, yet another, bold Brendan Rodgers substitution and catalysed everything that went after. A divine pass from Henderson, a sumptuous finish from Sturridge, all angle and poise and perfect striker body shape and the fourth minute of the second-half saw parity. The inevitable came within ten minutes. A Balotelli free-kick, a powerhouse of a free-kick, palmed out by the otherwise impeccable Speroni and slammed home by Adam Lallana.
A Palace rally followed. We saw it out. As we do nowadays. And then we decided that we liked that lovely pink ball so much that we might as well just keep it to ourselves for the rest of the game. So we did. It was immaculate. It was - genuinely, honestly - redolent of the Liverpool European performances of old; score, score again, keep the ball, kill the game, job done. We even saw a smile from Mario. These are the days of wonder.
And we did this without Gerrard. Without Lucas. Without Sterling. Without Ibe, so strong in the last two games. Did it without four probable starters because those purchases that we made in the summer when we were improving the squad, you know the ones that weren’t working? Guess what? They work. The buying worked. Took a while but they worked. Last eight of the FA Cup. A trophy and top four. Still on. I’m calling it now, a trophy and third.
Feel free to follow me and tell me I’m wrong.