The fight for fourth place seemed to be attracting as much attention as the title race over the weekend.
Whilst Everton’s win against Portsmouth was a blow it wasn’t a disaster. We’ve still to play them at our place and win our game in hand, against West Ham tomorrow, and we move above them. The fact that Villa and Man City also dropped points over the weekend worked in our favour.
As one of the so called “big four” I guess there is more pressure on us to win the skirmish for the last Champions League spot? However, few would argue that this position is ours by right. It has to be earned and even though Everton have the points in the bag, David Moyes seems to think that we are still favourites to get it.
“We are doing everything we can to make a fight of it but Liverpool have to be favourites, still. We have been consistent but for them fourth would be expected. The bookies are right to make them favourites.”
Why? Because of past form? Surely current form is a more effective guideline and since January Everton have been better. Still this is a nice, timely, if predictable psychological ploy by Moyes designed to take the pressure off his team and make things a tad harder for us as we go into Wednesday’s game. I don’t for one minute think it will work just as don’t for one minute think that Moyes feels fourth spot is beyond him and his team!
Meanwhile Ryan Babel has been attracting attention because of his display against Bolton.
“I think that was one of my better games for Liverpool and I felt more confident as the game went on. I still think I will improve some more though because I am still getting used to football in this country. The game is a lot more physically demanding here than I was used to in Holland but I feel I am much stronger now compared to the beginning of the season.”
In yesterday’s blog I wondered why Rafa had rested Babel so much at the start of the season. Perhaps he still views Babel as a young player and thinks he will take time to adapt not just to the pace of the Premiership but also, as the player himself suggested, it’s physical nature. One also wonders if this is the reason he has been playing out wide rather than in the centre?
Rafa was more grounded and guarded about Sunday describing Babel’s performance as “okay” and suggesting that he played well because he was given a lot of space as Bolton were distracted by Torres and Gerrard. As with Moyes I suspect this was another psychological ploy this time it was designed to keep Babel’s feet on the ground.
Talking of “feet” and “ground” what’s the betting Rafa told Babel to cut out the back flip celebrations through fear of him picking up an injury? Strange really given the nature of the move, I thought Rafa would like it as there’s an element of rotation to it! Or perhaps he was jealous given his less than gymnastic touchline tumble at West Ham last season!
Back tomorrow with a review of our game against the very same club.