I must have stood in my living room with my hands on my head for a full two minutes after Joe Hart's save on Andy Carroll in the dying seconds. I couldn't have been the only one.
Once again, Liverpool fans are left to purr over the performance more than the result. While the fans can take a lot from being the first side to make Man City look normal, and have them on the back foot for a great majority of the match, the winner was there, just out of reach. Or more accurately, not out of the reach of Hart who is just about the only reason City are heading back east with anything. This time it wasn't a matter of poor finishing --aside from Downing. Charlie Adam on his off foot did just about everything he's supposed to on his first half chance that Hart flung a leg at. Suarez was in tight and made as good of contact as you'd want. Carrol arrowed his header to the corner. And Hart had an answer. Infuriating, but you have to give props where they're do. At least England don't have any questions in that position when Polkraine rolls around.
But aside from that, after a cagey opening half hour when Liverpool looked to be sizing up the task ahead of them, there was much to make us smile from the Reds. Liverpool showed no fear, were disciplined, adventurous, creative, and stout. The capper would have been all three points, and sadly that's the only thing missing from the afternoon.
-I first off have to apologize, as I called for Craig Bellamy to be brought on, not realizing he was grieving after the shocking and horrible news of Gary Speed's suicide. My bad. Have to believe that Bellamy would have been part of the plan otherwise.
-It's hard to pick a bad performer on the day, there wasn't one. While some are going to point at Stewart Downing and his...ahem, "abstract" finishing, the rest of his game was much more lively than the past few matches. Overall, I'll take it.
-The one complaint I'll have is that Kuyt should have been subbed earlier. While it must be hard for any manager to not be enamored with his work rate and determination, too many moves were broken down by Kuyt's lack of pace, touch, or passing. Seems like a lot, no? Kuyt out wide works in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 where his main job is to basically ghost into goalscoring areas, which he's excellent at. When basically a midfielder, he has to contribute too much to the buildup which is decidedly not his strength. However, with Bellamy unavailable the only option was probably Maxi, and maybe Dalglish didn't trust the Argentinian to keep Gael Clichy quite as locked down as Kuyt can.
-It's hard to believe how much I and a lot of other supporters didn't care for Lucas a mere two years ago. Simply immense, best Liverpool player today, and you have to start asking how many better players there are in his position in the league. He even dropped his usual persistent fouling which tends to crop up against elite opposition. He didn't miss a tackle or interception, his passing was clean and intelligent. Where would Liverpool be without him?
-That's two big matches in a row where Charlie Adam has been superb, and by superb we mean under control while still being the main blade in the arsenal. Determined to actually track back and be an obstacle in midfield, he didn't try any of the glory balls that sometimes infatuate him while still keeping Liverpool ticking over. Having Henderson help shield him along with Lucas no doubt played a part, but we'll all be happy with this rate of improvement from Adam all season.
-Is there any question what Liverpool's first choice center back pairing is now?
-The most amazing thing about Mario Balotelli's appearance is how he managed to bleach that patterned mohawk without bleaching any of his scalp. Do they make a special pen or marker for that?
-Why was there so much hullabaloo about Samir Nasri's move from Arsenal? When has he ever truly impressed? And when he did, when didn't he follow that up with incessant bitching?
There's still the League Cup quarter on Tuesday, but what really matters is what Liverpool do this month in the league. Four points from this gauntlet will only be acceptable if it acts as a springboard to a run of wins. Fulham, QPR, Villa, Wigan, and Blackburn before the Geordies visit to close out 2011. All of those games are winnable, if not must-haves. Whether Liverpool do or not, when that run is over we'll know exactly what we can expect them to compete for this season, be it 2nd place, a Champions League Spot, Europa League spot, or something else altogether.