WITH Everton coming down this week, one of their players in particular will be pleased to get as far south as he can from Liverpool.
The tackle made by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford on Virgil van Dijk in the Merseyside derby last week made all the headlines.
Two-footed tackles were always the thing which, from schoolboy age onwards, you were told never to do. But for a goalkeeper to do what he did, it was a leg breaking one to be fair.
Fortunately for Virgil van Dijk it wasn’t quite that serious, but it was bad enough to presumably keep him out for the rest of this season, six months or more, after undergoing surgery on his knee.
It’s not just the effect on that one player a tackle like that, but as we know better than most, as he played here before Liverpool, he is the rock of their defence.
He has carried on to become what most people would say is the best centre-half in the Premier League.
Liverpool are already having other clubs, such as Everton and Aston Villa, breathing down their necks to prevent them winning the Premier League again this year. He will be sorely missed.
The fact that Pickford has been criticised left, right and centre is one thing, but the amazing thing was he didn’t even get booked, never mind having to face a penalty against him. It also means he is free to play against Saints this weekend.
This brings the attention yet again onto this new thing called VAR where someone like us, who weren’t at the game, can see exactly what happened. Then if the referee on the pitch was further away or his view was blocked by players, a message can be sent immediately to him that it was a penalty and basically a red card.
In addition to that, the referee could’ve gone to the side of the pitch to look at screens which would’ve showed it again, before making his final decision. I think as well as the goalkeeper looking at himself, the referee and linesmen should do so as well.
Talking of linesmen, in our day there was only the three officials and if the linesman saw something, not just a throw-in but a bad tackle or an offside, he would wave the flag and draw the referee’s attention.
It looks to me like all they do now is run up and down the line and leave everything else to the screens.
Either way, as I’ve said on many occasions, I predicted Everton and Aston Villa in particular as teams who had to be looked out for this year and our opponents tomorrow have not yet lost a game.
But Southampton are also on a good run thanks to the manager and players like Ings and Ward-Prowse, who have justified their places in the England squad.
I think it will probably be one of the best games of the weekend.
Let’s hope it is nothing like a year ago on the same date, when the rain was pouring down and rightly so, because our team lost famously 9-0 against Leicester City.
Hopefully that was the kick in the behind that has improved the team game by game since then.