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As Clean As It Gets: WBA 0 - Liverpool 2

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Andy knows the way
Andy knows the way

It's been a while since we could watch a Liverpool match with hardly a nerve jangling. Sure, the Pool have taken an early lead before, but every time they have this season I and most of us were waiting for the sucker punch that invariably came. Today was different. Once Charlie Adam slotted coolly home from the spot, there was a different air about this one. Liverpool were never under threat, and moreover it seemed like they knew they weren't going to be under threat. There was a calmness, and assured nature, a confidence through the team that basically saw them stroll to three points. Once Andy Carroll poked home right before the break, it was a matter of getting through the second 45 fully awake. I almost didn't manage it.

And an away match to boot. Though the Arsenal win rarely had any pulse-raising moments, it was still away at the Emirates and the goals didn't come until late. The last time Liverpool looked so at home when not at home? Fulham last spring, maybe? That's the best I can do. A welcome sight indeed.

Thoughts:

-I won't pull a muscle trying to pat myself on the back for calling for a Skrtel-Agger central defense and then being rewarded with a performance of complete security when it finally happens. But the back four hasn't looked better this season than it did today. Did Reina have a save to make? I remember a tame effort from about 30 yards late in the 2nd half. Past that, I can't recall one. Even when West Brom had moments of pressure, and they were few, Liverpool blocked the shooting lanes. And not with frantic, last ditch, could go anywhere flying blocks. But cool and collected stepping into lanes with almost nonchalant blocks.

I don't mean to pile on to our vice-captain Jamie Carragher. He's been everything any supporter could ever want out of a Liverpool player, and his contributions will be remembered long after he's done playing. But time moves on, and it can't be clearer that he's simply not our most effective defender right now. Liverpool are more comfortable, have the ball more, and are more dangerous out of the back with Skrtel and Agger. I've remarked before how Agger seems to transform Skrtel into a different player. I hope Kenny finds a ruthless streak and keeps this lineup for a while.

-The other big story was a link between Carroll and Suarez finally developing. Carroll has perked up his last few appearances, and doesn't look quite as lumbering as he did earlier. Suarez could have found him a couple more times but elected to take men on and/or shoot, but is anyone going to begrudge him that? While there's a part of all of us that would like to see this continue to blossom, that's countered by being unsure if 4-2-2-2 is really our best formation. Especially when Steven Gerrard is healthy again, though that might only take place in Never Never Land. Still, for one day, we'll bask in that glow.

-Finally get to benefit from an insipid and fearful Roy Hodgson performance. It's been too long.

-Only blemish is that Stewart Downing was a bit muted, but that's picking as tiny scabs at this point.

-My, don't things look different when Lucas is around?

Two points clear of the North London Axis of Silliness for 5th, though with Spuds to play tomorrow. Could be better, has been worse. Swansea next.