Premier League: Gulf between local rivals Liverpool, Everton widens; 'overconfident' Spurs stopped by Manchester United

  • Liverpool keep their lead to 8 points at the top of the table (43 points) while Everton are third from the bottom

  • Liverpool emphasised that while Everton and Anfield are only a few miles apart, the gulf in quality spans decades

  • The win takes United to sixth (21 points) on the table while Tottenham drop to eighth (20 points)

Sitting pretty at the top, Liverpool hosted Merseyside neighbours and rivals, relegation-placed Everton at Anfield in one of last night’s midweek Premier League fixtures, while midtable Manchester United welcomed their former boss Jose Mourinho with his new Tottenham side to Old Trafford. We take a look at how the compelling narratives played out.

Liverpool 5 (Divock Origi 6th, Xherdan Shaqiri 17th, Divock Origi 31st, Sadio Mane 45th, Gini Wijnaldum 90th) - Everton 2 (Michael Keane 21st, Richarlison 45)

 Premier League: Gulf between local rivals Liverpool, Everton widens; overconfident Spurs stopped by Manchester United

Divock Origi scored a brace in the 5-2 win over Everton at Anfield. AP

No one man should have all that power/ The clock's ticking', I just count the hours/ Stop tripping', I'm tripping' off the power - Kanye West, Power, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

33 ⅓ is a series of critically-acclaimed books written on the most impressionable albums of the century. The second best among those in the series is dedicated to Kanye West’s pièce de résistance, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. If Kanye has made a career on the back of being one of the most masterful musical collagists of his time, MBDTF was his Sistine chapel-sized scrapbook of cutout samples and interpolations made up of snippets of songs ranging from the late 1960s (Enoch Light & the Glittering Guitars) to early 2010s (Bon Iver), enabled by a star cast of sound engineers, producers, mixers.

When Divock Origi scored his second goal of the night letting a mile-high punt from Dejan Lovren drop over his shoulder, taking it down with the slightest of touch in the box and side-footed the ball, swooshing it up and over the Everton goalkeeper and into the net, Anfield felt elation, quickly followed by a feeling of having seen this before.

Reputed Liverpool journalists gushing with delight, tweeted saying it reminded of Thierry Henry in his prime; Jim Beglin in the commentary box said the goal reminded him of Ian Rush; someone else swore that was “vintage Mark Viduka;” I felt as if it was something Didier Drogba used to do to Liverpool on a seasonal basis.

In all these occasions the shards of memory of the goal even though could be identified with a feeling and face, could not be placed with its originating match. This is precisely what Kirk Walker Graves, author of the 33 1/3 entry for “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” enthuses as to be Kanye West’s genius: You’ll know the time period, even perhaps an inkling of who the sampled artist but the record being mashed so well with the current soundscape that the source material itself is unidentifiable; such that you couldn’t imagine how the track would have sounded without it or vice versa. This makes every peak Kanye West song and every big-match Divock Origi goal a sum of its parts.

Origi’s career so far has been a testament captured with collages, snapshots of greatness, YouTube montages, harking back to feats and flicks historic that remind us of legends yore, while very much rooted in the present-day context. If there has been a constant reminder that Liverpool fans are not only witnessing history unravel itself but in fact living in it and the sense of Salvador Dali-esque surrealism it brings, the Belgian personifies it. Unfussed by the glory, Origi will opine that he is merely a vessel that his teammate’s divine stuff into, and that argument is not without merit.

Liverpool played the first half of the game as if it was a FIFA 07 throwback, pinging aerial through balls that found the feet of their forwards way too often for it to be civil. Jurgen Klopp’s team weren’t merely out to poke fun at Everton’s tactical weakness (three-man backline with Yerry Mina as your fastest defender is more than an invitation), but also to practice the footballing equivalent of architect Bjarke Ingles’s principles of ‘hedonistic sustainability’ with some exquisite over-the-top football (pun intended). Hedonistic sustainability, in architecture, preaches the maximum use of space (no matter how little or how much) to produce hyperbolic results. The passage of play that brought about Liverpool’s second through an effervescent Xherdan Shaqiri, brimming with the confidence of a new man with a full head of hair, was evidence of this ploy.

Sadio Mane added the hype in hyperbole, with another performance that suggests that an African is ready to wrestle the stranglehold over the Ballon d’or away from traditional European and South American superpowers. Among his two assists, the most notable one was for Liverpool’s first goal where the Senegalese captain played a rapier pass that curved like a scythe on the grass and cut the entire Everton backline out of the equation, outside going in, and onto the feet of Origi. This left the Everton defence pointing fingers at each other and Marco Silva looking at the skies to open up for a miracle as early as the sixth minute.

To their credit, Everton did pull two goals back, but that was mostly down to Liverpool holing a low backline trying to conserve energy in periods of the match as they look ahead to a gruelling Christmas-time fixture list.

The 4th and the 5th Liverpool goals from Sadio Mane and Gini Wijnaldum emphasised that while Everton and Liverpool are literally only a few miles apart, the gulf in quality is one that spans decades. Liverpool extend their lead to 11 points at the top of the table (43 points) while Everton are 3rd from the bottom (14 points).

Manchester United 2 (Marcus Rashford 6th, 49th penalty) - Tottenham 1 (Dele Alli 39th)

Manchester United players celebrate after Manchester United's Marcus Rashford scored his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Manchester United players celebrate after scoring against Spurs at Old Trafford. AP

In an ideal world where good narratives determine reality (making us writers very happy), Jose Mourinho would win his first four out of four matches including the one last night at the expense of his former club Manchester United. But this isn’t an ideal world and we are left wanting.

Tottenham goalscorer, the newly-invigorated Dele Alli blamed “overconfidence and arrogance” on his team’s part. The warning signs were there, confessed the England international: “I tried to fight exactly this mindset. The way United approach these matches at home: versus Liverpool (1-1), Chelsea (4-0), mean they start strong with people running, pressing, trying to lift the morale of the supporters.”

This was the case. A charging Marcus Rashford gave United the lead as early as the sixth minute from the edge of the box on the far left. He should have had more had it not been for the acrobatics of Spurs goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga who he forced into parrying off a long snipe shot over the bar. Marcus Rashford and Manchester United, belying the statistics which deems Tottenham had 56% possession, dominated proceedings, especially in the first half. A moment of magic from Alli meant the teams went in at half-time 1-1: a sombrero flick and finish from an acute angle in the box.

There was anticipation that the tide would change in the second half: Fred defiantly got in the way of Son Heung-Min’s effort, but United reasserted control with Daniel James forcing Gazzaniga to make more saves and pushing Spurs on the backfoot. The goal came when the United pressure finally told on Tottenham's nerves and Moussa Sissoko fell Rashford needlessly in the box. Rashford converted the penalty and the score stayed 2-1 in favour of the home side until the final whistle.

The complacency shown by Tottenham is understandable considering Manchester United’s uninspiring slump under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, that has caused their worst league start since 1988. But whatever the ills of the Lancashire club, they seem to always turn up for big matches at Old Trafford. This speaks to the possibility that perhaps it is not a lack of quality but indeed motivation that ails the erstwhile giant of English football. And that is a concern maybe not for when the big boys come to visit but every other time when they play the likes of Norwich and Newcastle (with all due respect).

This win takes United to sixth (21 points) on the table while Tottenham drop to eighth (20 points).

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Updated Date: Dec 05, 2019 15:55:18 IST