Monday, 5 October 2009

LIVERPOOL FC: ALL OVER AFTER 8 GAMES?

JUST the 30 league games left then to try and turn around this "crisis".

As ever, there's plenty of hysterical reaction to any Liverpool defeat. Frankly, it's boring, predictable and nonsensical. One game you're brilliant, the next you're crap. What really amazes me is how many people buy into it.

I thought the Chelsea performance was much improved on the Fiorentina game. We started confidently - looking more like the home side than the home side - and for 60 minutes the game looked destined for a draw.

Considering we were playing the title favourites - probably one of the top four teams in Europe - in their own backyard it's not like they blew us away is it?

As ever against Chelsea it was a tight game, low on entertainment. And you got the feeling whoever scored first would win it. So it proved.

Yet had Fernando Torres took one of two very presentable chances - or had the referee awarded us a penalty for Didier Drogba's clear foul on Martin Skrtel - it could of been very different.

Drogba in the end proved the difference. Despite spending more time on the floor than a carpet fitter and showing acting skills that would look bad in a porn film, when he played football for a couple of minutes he won the game for Chelsea.

He's a horrible player to watch as an opposition fan but you'd love to have him in your team.

Jamie Carragher has held his hands up for the second goal but in general I thought he and Skrtel were improved.

And Glen Johnson showed that actually, he CAN defend.
 
Blame-hungry fans have again been quick to jump on Lucas' back but he was far from our worst performer on the day.

The Brazilian did a decent job defensively, making some key interceptions and tackles and playing the ball simple.

I don't think he's world-class, he's just OK for me, but he's certainly not as bad as many people are making out.

Yes, he doesn't offer the same skill set as Xabi Alonso. But would Xabi's inclusion have made the difference yesterday? You could argue either way - and the truth is no-one knows. But let's not build him up into something he wasn't - Xabi couldn't tackle and he was slow. So while he may have offered a better link to the attackers, perhaps he would have left more doors open for Chelsea's midfield?

What does look wrong is the balance between Lucas and Mascherano. They are operating in similar areas, neither seems too willing to join the attack and the partnership isn't really clicking.

But that's no great surprise is it? They have only just started playing together. And if Benitez had had his way it would be Gareth Barry sitting in there. Then there's still Alberto Aquilani to come. Knowing you're a second-choice partnership and your days are numbered can't be great for confidence.

Like everyone, I can't wait to see Aquilani. But the longer he stays locked away at Melwood the more the questions will come as to why we didn't set our sights on a player who could come straight in and do a job. The reports sound great and the videos look brilliant - but the lad will have even less time than is normally afforded to new players to shine - so, at least 10 minutes.

Players that didn't do it yesterday were Albert Riera and Steven Gerrard. Both were poor and while I can understand Riera's selection - he's stronger (and taller) than Benayoun and (in theory) better in the tackle - he did little to justify his manager's faith in him.

As for Gerrard, well his hot and cold season is continuing - he's lacking some consistency right now and yesterday was more cold than hot.

Sunderland, Lyon and Manchester United next up after the international break - a tough-looking week but a hat-trick of wins is well within the capability of the side.

Until then it's batten down the hatches time. Because without a game for 12 days you can guarantee a festival of knee-jerking with flak flying left, right and centre with Liverpool's name on it.

AVOIDING THE BULLSHIT: Today's recommended read - Rory Smith in the Telegraph.