So the answer is: Liverpool are totally worth a shit.
That was what I asked in the preview, because at some point all the excuses just sound like exactly that, excuses. And sometimes, if you're a club that's going to challenge for anything this season, you've got to say, "Fuck it" and get it done anyway. And when you do, no matter how weird the fashion you do it in is, you start to feel really good about the club.
And this was a weird one. You already had Liverpool playing without a striker, a match dominated by a fullback for a good 15 minutes, two own goals, a comeback from the dead, and Joe Cole and Stewart Downing being a couple of the reasons why. Those would have been all off the board in a casino sportsbook.
It wasn't pretty. Liverpool didn't exactly roar back for an extended period to eventually cave in West Ham. It was more just getting two moments to turn the tide. But I don't care. Neither do you. Nothing better than a come from behind win away from home.
The firsts are a long. First two goals after 75 minutes into a match. First win after a Europa League encounter. First comeback win in a year. First consecutive league wins in the same time. Joe Cole's first goal in 18 months. And first penalty won of the sea.....wait, that wasn't a penalty on Shelvey at the end? Oh for fuck's sake, we'll never get one.
-I can't really say enough about how good Glen Johnson has been, and to be able to turn a whole match from that position in the opening is really something. So it's a little disconcerting that when Johnson was shackled by Matty Jarvis after that opening refrain, Liverpool looked so lifeless. Because a fullback really shouldn't be your only source of threat.
-As soon as Stewart Downing went to left-back, my heart was around my ankles. And yet it never really was a problem, and eventually towards the end he got forward and helped the attack. This doesn't mean I want to see more of it, mind.
-But seriously, none of Robinson, Flanagan, or Wisdom could have made the bench to make it easier?
-I'm not going to proclaim this a Joe Cole revival, because it's only two good matches. But his movement and finish for his goal were things we simply haven't seen in a Liverpool shirt. Maybe those legs can only handle sub appearances, but if they're like this that's ok. So that's Cole, and Henderson, and Enrique who were originally thought to have no place in this new regime who have all at least contributed to something so far this season. Are you sure you couldn't get something out of Andy Carroll, Brendan?
-Ok, big ups to Jonjo Shelvey, who in the deep end of the pool and with no flotation devices at least made it work through effort and heart. These are not runs he'd be used to making, but he opened up West Ham for the equalizer and at least caused the winner.
-I was just bitching about Raheem Sterling's final ball when he sent Joe Cole on through. I'll just keep bitching then.
-Look, Jordan Henderson changed another match. Hmmm....
-No question Liverpool got a little lucky. An own goal to win it, and perfectly weighted one at that. Diame's injury certainly was massive, and you never like to revel in a player's injury. But it can't be denied that him not on the field let Liverpool back in. But you know what? Liverpool are due some luck, don't you think?
-Carlton Cole is the latest I've motherfucked into a great game by disparaging him in the preview. Every time a ball was pumped up to him, he made it a threat. Should that really be?
It's always encouraging to see a team purely gut out a way. The problems are still there, but everyone feels better with this kind of spirit and belief on show. It will only matter if the Reds go on to rip off the month we've been begging for since the calendar turned to it. You can only talk about turning points or milestones well after they occur. So for right now, let's enjoy the win and that only. Because that's more than enough right now.
And yet I can't keep eying the table and 4th. Sorry.