The odd thing about this record-breaking Liverpool team is just how little outsiders seem to understand it; and at times the Reds seem to make winning games strangely easy, even to those of us who have half an idea about what makes it tick, that it can be hard to get a grip on just how insanely good they are. Liverpool are cruising to club records.
Outsiders see what is, right now, the best front three in the world, and an exceptional defence, backed until this season by an outstanding goalkeeper. They notice the incredible energy and production levels of the two full-backs, who post better assist-stats than most no.10s.
But the midfield is always where the plaudits often run dry; often missing the point that to have a front three joined by two full-backs – to make a quasi front five when the Reds have the ball – you need stability and solidity in the middle. Indeed, even the two centre-backs can, and will, play in midfield areas, with the sensational Virgil van Dijk and the ever-improving Joel Matip both comfortable bringing the ball out of defence, and with Matip even happy to take it into the opposition penalty area. So, it’s not like there’s even a “stopper” in the defence, now that Dejan Lovren has been phased out; and, of course, the centre-backs share three goals between them already, albeit from set-pieces.
No, the midfield is where there’s always a questioning tone. And it’s true that there isn’t a ton of individual “genius” in the middle of the park, in the sense of a maverick or a quarterback-type, who utterly controls the game on his own. But if you’re essentially playing a front five, why do people even expect it? Couldn’t it even be dangerous?