Neil Atkinson @Knox_Harrington
WE get closer. And we get more information about what to expect.
Norwich City looked out of their class against Southampton. When Danny Ings gave Southampton the lead they just about deserved it. By the time Nathan Redmond made it three they deserved the cushion and more. The game got away from Norwich City very quickly. The gap between 20th and 14th looked enormous.
It’s a strange thing. Norwich have a host of players who could well find happy homes at Southampton or higher. Todd Cantwell is occasionally mooted as an option for a top-six side. Emi Buendia’s numbers speak of genuine class.
However, like so many sides who have good players but are going to fall short, they just lack it in both boxes. Tim Krul is the sort of keeper who becomes a fan favourite, the sort of keeper fans finally tire of. Never quite saving things he probably should.
Southampton were a fit side who created a lot of controlled chaos. Again Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg impressed. James Ward-Prowse showed quality and fitness across the 90 minutes. Stuart Armstrong’s level is being a very good player for Southampton but Southampton’s level is 9th to 14th, not 14th to 20th.
Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United both looked short of inspiration at times and both weren’t at a level which should concern Liverpool in the short term. But both have been approaching that level relatively recently and are recruiting an age and profile which may well be able to step up over time. With the right further additions they could kick on.
To kick on Tottenham will need to get back to regular Champions League football and Manchester United will need to have a one-club approach. Both can happen but they probably can’t happen simultaneously.
Both of those sides have gone off over time and it is this Liverpool need to worry about. There is a lot of excited chatter about Takumi Minamino and Naby Keita. The thing about both of these players is they are 25. They have five very good years for Liverpool ahead of them and that starts tomorrow.
Liverpool have a lot of players at their peak right now. The thing about being at a peak is that it is something that you decline from. That decline isn’t falling off a cliff. It can be a slow process and you can still win games and titles while it is ongoing.
It was striking Tottenham started this major game against Manchester United with both their long-term outstanding Belgian centre halves on the bench. Neither is what he was and both together are an accident waiting to happen.
The worry for Liverpool about the impact of COVID-19 isn’t the next season, it’s the idea that they would have been looking to add players between 21 and 24 for the next four windows to perpetuate the now. That now becomes harder for a variety of reasons.
But I think of this when I watch Southampton and Norwich and I watch the four games today: Which of these lads could add something for a few years? The answer will be very few but some. I like Ward-Prowse. I like Hojbjerg. I like Ismaila Sarr a lot.
The football is back. Liverpool will be marvellous tomorrow. And the next game. And the next. But football allows dreams, it allows prospects.
The river that never stopped flowing stopped. But it has started again and the currents drive endlessly forward.
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