Two points lost, or a point gained? Take your pick, although it was probably a little of both concepts on Sunday at Tottenham, if we’re fair.
This one was more a case of a series of forks in the road than the popular sliding doors theory. A cluster of pivotal incidents that deflected the game in a variety of directions, until it reached its conclusion.
It was a game approached with a threadbare midfield, but one on paper that was still reasonably balanced; Tyler Morton was thrown a shirt by Jurgen Klopp and James Milner came in for an increasingly rare start.
They were joined in combat by the eternal question of just how long Naby Keita could avoid injury.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, praised a few days ago by his manager then omitted from the starting lineup, was on the receiving end of the classic sugar cube followed by bad medicine treatment.
As this game approached, much noise was made about Covid postponements. Klopp was most definitely up for the game taking place, a stance that was starkly unlike Thomas Tuchel’s when it came to Chelsea facing Wolves.
The variables were clear, and Tottenham were back in action after what had been akin to an enforced winter break.
For those who raged against the game taking place, it seemed to me to be a battle of the convenience of calling a game off vs. the need to.
Already without the services of Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones, we were now shorn of Thiago and Jordan Henderson, the former another victim of a positive PCR test, the latter via other means of illness.
With my own PCR negative test result of Thursday having been overturned two hours later for a positive one, in what can only be described as potentially the first case of COVID Assisted Refereeing (CAR), I could only nod along at a pain shared.
Don’t get me wrong, an away trip to another ‘big six’ club could do without being against a team eager to get themselves back on a football pitch, and a fixture where we weren’t required to embrace the mission without the loss of our entire first-choice midfield.
Yet, if a team can play, then they should play.
There is no saying that we won’t eventually face a day when a postponement really is needed, or football in its entirety is brought to a halt. Across an already crowded fixture list, don’t pull out of a challenge that you can meet.
This was still a Liverpool lineup that could win a football match.
A game to entertain neutrals, rivals, and haters alike, this was one we could have lost and should have won.
A bright start for the Reds, offset by Harry Kane opening the scoring against the run of play, the hosts then missed two or three gilt-edged opportunities, and had we trailed 3-0 or 4-0 half an hour in, then we could have had little in the way of complaint, given the openness of the chances we afforded Antonio Conte’s team.
Undone repeatedly as we were by the Tottenham long ball springing Kane and Son Heung-min beyond our high defensive line.
We’d had chances of our own prior to this, but none quite as compelling as the ones we presented to our opponents.
Having somehow avoided conceding, we then ended the first half the stronger. It was an opening period of three acts, and when Diogo Jota headed in the equaliser, Liverpool’s goal was also procured largely against the run of play.
Either side of Jota’s equaliser was where not all, but much of the on-pitch rancour of the afternoon resided.
A red card that wasn’t flashed to Kane for an out-of-control lunge, ironically on Andy Robertson, and a penalty that wasn’t given for an obvious shove on Jota.
The ambivalence of Paul Tierney matched only by the ineptitude of those on VAR duty.
Yes, these were landscape-altering moments, but Liverpool are no longer a team that needs to brood on injustices, and this they proved when deservedly taking the lead midway through the second half, a goal scored by Robertson and laid on by the magnificent Trent Alexander-Arnold, a player who was denied a goal of his own by a desperate block by Hugo Lloris in the first half.
A red card for the Scotland captain, but not one for the England captain. A touch of the Boris Johnson at play, in there seemingly being one set of rules for one and another for the rest.
Kane likely went home for wine, cheese and an ill-advised ‘staff meeting’ in his garden.
This time VAR did flag up a question for the referee to peruse. Given an earlier precedent had been set with Kane, Tierney completely ignored it and sent Robertson off.
One point gained, and simultaneously two lost, Liverpool now find themselves in a subtle corner that they will need to fight their way out of.
This is where we either hang in there or begin to fall back.
Great focus and a positive response will be required. A crucial fortnight is ahead of us, in more ways than one.