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There exists a parallel universe somewhere, in which football pitches measure about an inch shorter than they do in this one.
They too witnessed a high quality football match last night; one decided by fine margins. But nobody is talking about that, because they have just seen the Premier League title all but decided by a farcical own goal.
John Stones blasted a clearance at his own goalkeeper, the ball looped back off Ederson and Stones’s desperate lunge just failed to keep the ball out. Liverpool are nine points clear at the top of the Premier League, Manchester City have lost four in five, and nobody is gleefully retweeting hubristic Dejan Lovren quotes.
” Dejan Lovren believes it is possible for Liverpool to go the entire season unbeaten. ” Twitter
Talk about a Sliding Doors moment. (In our alternative reality, Stones makes up for the disappointment by getting a trendy haircut and chatting up a charismatic stranger on the tube.)
The Stones-Ederson hivemind brainfart was not the only marginal outcome that went City’s way.
- Leroy Sane shoots 1.12cm further to the right, and the ball comes back off the post instead of finding the opposite corner.
- Vincent Kompany lunges in 1.12cm higher on Mo Salah and he is sent off.
- Lovren walks 1.12cm closer to that uncovered manhole while doing the Bird Box challenge with the lads, and… you see where we’re going with this.
Football’s unquenchable thirst for storylines means each game has to prove something. Liverpool don’t just lose a close game; Jurgen Klopp is exposed as a fraud. Fernandinho doesn’t just have an excellent game; he’s the most important player in the league.
But last night’s game came as close as dammit to bursting this slavish devotion to Big Narrative.
We’d love to tell you last night PROVED that you CANNOT win the league with Dejan Lovren – but that would ignore the fact he appeared in a Champions League and World Cup final in 2018, and plays for a team that just went half a season unbeaten.
We could SLAM Anthony Taylor for BOTTLING the Kompany decision and blame it on him apparently supporting Manchester United – but that would be a remarkably peevish.