Titles, Thiago & normality – Liverpool fans’ top 2020 moments and New Year hopes

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It was a year which will forever be etched into Liverpool’s history books, but 2020 provided more than its fair share of challenges and Reds are hoping for some normality to return in 2021.

With another year behind us and a new one now upon us, a period of reflection is always welcomed for both the past and the future.

For Liverpool 2020 was a year which saw a long-awaited league title return to Anfield, seeing the dreams of millions around the world come true.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side created moments and memories to cherish for a lifetime and now their task is to do it all over again in a year which many hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel return in the form of normality.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Scott Groom (@ScottCGroom), Tommy Lister (@TLister77), Keifer MacDonald (@KeiferMacd) and Samuel Cox (@samueljessecox) to discuss the top moments of 2020 and the hopes for 2021.

 

My standout 2020 moment…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 22, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson (C) celebrates with the Premier League trophy as the Reds are crowned Champions after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Dejan Lovren, goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SCOTT: Where else do you start with this one other than the moment when we finally got to see the Reds lift the Premier League trophy?

There were points where we didn’t think it’d happen due to the pandemic, so when it finally did, wow was it special.

As was that win for Chelsea over Man City that handed us the title though. I’ve never been so invested in a game that Liverpool wasn’t involved in! That was really quite something, it’s still just a shame that we all didn’t get to celebrate it with each other as we’d hoped, but hopefully, our time will come.

I think the second-best moment has to be welcoming fans back to Anfield recently. It was so special and the lads put in a performance to match too, beating Wolves 4-0. We’ve missed those fist pumps from Jurgen more than we could ever realise, haven’t we?

TOMMY: The year of 2020 and the misery it brought is already a cliche, but at least Liverpool brought us some much-needed positivity.

It goes without saying the number one highlight has to be finally clinching the Premier League title that was so desperately sought after. The close run in 2008/09, the Gerrard slip and the heartache of that Vincent Kompany one in a million screamer, so at last, it felt like redemption.

Sharing tears with my brother after that Chelsea vs. Manchester City game and then weeks later watching Jordan Henderson hold those red ribbons aloft really was the crowning moment of 2020.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’m sure you’ve heard enough about the title though, so what else were we gifted with this year?

For me, the absolute highlight was the January game against Manchester United. The day the title was signed, sealed and delivered. Dominating our arch-rivals, that Van Dijk menacing glare towards the away fans, the iconic Salah goal and Alisson celebration, the chants of “now you’re gonna believe us.” It had the lot.

Iconic moments and games aside, there’s no buzz as a fan quite like discovering a new signing is on its way. It’s a shame we’ve yet to see much of him but the Thiago transfer saga was one of the best yet.

Linked for months, watching every compilation of him that I could find, and being in awe of his every touch as he was instrumental to Bayern being crowned European Champions, when it was announced Thiago was joining, it was definitely one of my favourite moments this year.

KEIFER: 2020 was a pretty eventful year wasn’t it? Not just in terms of being a Liverpool fan, but in terms of just living. Lockdowns, tiers and substantial meals dominated the large part of the calendar year.

In terms of Liverpool, it was an extremely enjoyable year, the title hoodoo was finally broken and even though we weren’t there to see the lift itself, there was still some special matches we’ll have to treasure.

The Manchester United game at Anfield stands out as one of the best of few we had to pick from in 2020, for me personally, there with my brother, as Salah sealed it, the Kop was euphoric. I’ve never heard so many people sing ‘we’re going to win the league’, normally you get a glare for singing it or even a clip around the ear from the elders, who’ll tell you ‘nothing is won yet’.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 30, 2020: Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Staying away from the popular choice that will be the league title, I think the addition of Thiago has to be up there for me in terms of moments in 2020. It sounds crazy, but for me, it reinstated the statues Liverpool had regained.

To have the power to lure Thiago from Bayern Munich, who had only just won the Champions League, for him to be so desperate to join Liverpool, it made me feel like a kid. Although we haven’t seen loads of him yet, from what we have seen it’s going to be a lot of fun watching him over the next few years.

SAMUEL: Some people say 30 years isn’t that long, but it’s been a lifetime for me so far! It was brilliant to finally see the red lift the trophy and the wait it also felt so deserved after the nearly flawless two years this Liverpool team had put together. Having not witnessed the teams of the 1980s in person, the real reward is in many ways just watching this inspirational football team – with all their skill, heart and desire – every week.

The game against Manchester United back in January is one that has also stuck in my mind. It was a key step in the title race that also had something extra special and atmospheric about it: there was Anfield at its wild, raucous best, draped overly by fabulously red skies, as the two red titans of Northern England battled it out.

It was also just a bloody brilliant football game. Van Dijk’s early headed goal set the scene and Liverpool created chance after chance, but just could not score – even having two goals disallowed – and it felt like Manchester United might just nick a goal as they put us under pressure late.

Then at the death, in stoppage time, Salah chases down an Alisson clearance, runs half the pitch holding off James to score past De Gea in front of the Kop. The celebration was iconic. It was both a great game against an old rival, but it also felt like the title had been solidified and it capped the big power shift which had been occurring, from Manchester to Merseyside.

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrates the first goal in front of the Manchester Utd fans during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: 19th January 2020. Picture credit should read: Darren Staples/Sportimage via PA Images

JOANNA: Like the lads have already touched on, there can only be one true standout moment and that’s winning the league. Despite not unfolding how many of us had envisioned, the moment was a very special one.

I didn’t think we had a chance to win it when Chelsea played Man City and was ill-prepared for the emotional rollercoaster and I can’t wait for the chance to celebrate again when possible.

Signing Thiago and seeing fans return, the 2,000 of them, into a handful of stadiums completes my top three – two contrasting emotions.

It’s still hard to believe that Thiago is a Liverpool player, what a coup he was and while his time on the field has been limited to date he just oozes quality. Imagine what it’ll be like when he plays in a team with Van Dijk, Gomez and Fabinho back in midfield. Damn.

We’ve been very lucky to have Liverpool in 2020, still creating a much-needed form of escapism and making dreams come true along the way.

 

My hopes for 2021 are…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 22, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Andy Robertson after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SCOTT: With the way things are going, it goes above all else in saying that I hope just hope everyone, both inside and outside of Liverpool Football Club, enjoys a healthy year. That doesn’t just stop at Covid related matters, but on the injury treatment table, too.

We’ve seen Klopp’s squad decimated by injury since the new season began, and it shows no signs of letting up. But even then, the boys have kept on marching on, and hopes of a title defence remain very strong.

I’d hope for us to be able to bring home at least one more trophy either domestically or in Europe. That’s the level we’re at now and we need to be consistently bringing home silverware. I’m also hoping to see more of Thiago Alcantara, a Gini Wijnaldum contract extension signed and a new centre back arrive in January. Too much to ask?

Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (right) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game in front of returning fans during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. (Jon Super/PA Wire/PA Images)

TOMMY: Looking ahead, I’m incredibly optimistic for Liverpool’s 2021 aspirations. With Thiago entering the fray, and hopefully even a new face or two in the January window, Liverpool can really strengthen their grip on the top spot.

I completely expect us to win No. 20 and I have every confidence that we can go all the way and recreate Champions League history in Istanbul too. The treble may be slightly too ambitious with Klopp’s distaste for the FA Cup, but who cares if you win the big two, eh?

Most importantly though, the safety of everyone is the priority. Hopefully, the vaccine can be distributed to as many people as possible and we can see the numbers on the Kop take an upwards trend.

KEIFER: Normality. I think I speak for everyone up and down the country, not just football fans. It’s been such a sad year for so many. I just hope that we can start to see fans in the grounds sooner rather than later, over the last six weeks it’s been great seeing fans in small numbers back in certain areas, but we all know it’s not the same.

Hopefully, 2021 provides a step in the right direction in all forms of life and that it won’t be too long before we are gathered back inside Anfield watching the reds fight their way to title number 20.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 1, 2020: Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SAMUEL: Mine is for Liverpool to complete the back-to-back titles they already look ready to win, despite all the injury issues, and for fans to return in full once the health crisis is dealt with so that iconic moments and passionate, crazy games, like that Manchester United match, can happen again. A full Kop again in 2021.

JOANNA: It’s hard to look past seeing fans returning to stadiums across the country up to capacity. It’s certainly something I took for granted and that would certainly mean normal service has resumed. Football is not the same without fans.

On the pitch, there’d be nothing better than securing back-to-back league titles and this side is certainly capable of doing so – despite the injuries, which reminds me that it will be another important summer in regards to the transfer window.

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