Sunday 9th October, 4:30pm
Arsenal @ 6/4
Liverpool @ 13/8
Draw @ 11/4
An oft-cited example of a ‘difficult third album’ is Waiting For The Sun by The Doors. The Los Angeles band achieved early success; the hits – Light My Fire, Break On Though (To The Other Side) – were enormous, and their frontman was photogenic.
The second album repeated the formula – using material left-over from the first record – buttressed by another palpable hit: People Are Strange.
By the time the third album was due, however, the landscape had changed. The band was exhausted from touring, the singer an intoxicated mess, and the cupboard of old songs entirely bare.
Waiting For The Sun somehow emerged and initially sold well, due to loyalty they had accrued from their earlier work. But, while not a terrible record, it was clear that standards had slipped; inspiration replaced with complacency and weariness. The first wave had crashed.
As the pioneer of the rather nebulous genre ‘Heavy Metal Football’, Jürgen Klopp knows a thing or two about rock music and composition. But with his third managerial tenure reaching a critical stage, is he also on the verge of entering ‘difficult third album’ territory?
Complacency is not something that has ever been associated with Klopp’s Liverpool side. But I do wonder if their approach to the first two fixtures of this season – against Fulham and Crystal Palace – might have been a bit different had they not beaten Manchester City in the FA Community Shield?
If you can cast your mind all the way back to July 30th, Liverpool won 3-1 thanks to a game-changing appearance from Man of the Match, Darwin Núñez, and Erling Haaland was widely mocked on social media for missing an easy late chance.
Oh, how those roles have been reversed in recent weeks…
Fatigue is always likely to be a potential problem for Klopp-orchestrated sides. Those gegens, sadly, won’t press themselves. And rhythm-section injuries have resulted in the key, central machinery lacking spark and creativity.
After dropping points in their last two Premier League games the evidence is mounting that the flaws at Anfield might be fundamental. The interplay – especially in defence – not quite so harmonious; the winning, compelling melodies becoming much harder to locate.
And, as a consequence, the lid on the team’s jar of confidence has become slightly unscrewed; allowing its gaseous contents to escape. How exactly does one get such an indeterminate vapour back into the jar?
Well, a couple of easy wins against relegation fodder usually does the trick.
Liverpool, alas, have to travel to table-topping Arsenal this Sunday, and host an increasingly molten Manchester City next weekend. Most definitely not easily digestible fodder.
Unlike Jürgen Klopp, the hits have kept on coming for Mikel Arteta this season – though the man from San Sebastian espouses more of a polished, clean-cut, K-Pop oeuvre; rather than a rock ‘n’ roll or heavy metal opus.
Arsenal’s on-pitch choreography has got the fans screaming too; the ‘easy run of fixtures’ barb was confidently rebutted after last week’s defeat of Tottenham; and Granit Xhaka is proving to be – *rubs eyes in disbelief* – disciplined, reliable and increasingly influential.
Anticipation levels for this 4:30pm fixture have been turned right up to 11 by the fact that Arsenal have beaten Liverpool only once in the Premier League over the course of their last 14 meetings – which is a record that definitely could do with some overdubs.
The stakes are ‘one louder’ too: a win for Liverpool re-opens the doors of opportunity and belief ahead of their daunting clash with Manchester City; a win for Arsenal rubber-stamps their title aspirations, and sends Klopp yodelling atonally towards the bargain bin.
Can Klopp salvage his season and manufacture another unexpected triumph from uninspired source material? Or will this season become his difficult third album; his Waiting For The Sun, his Be Here Now?
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