Kuyt 28, Gerrard 73.
I watched the game on Sky Plus after being dragged along to see the wonderful England play Australia at “The Daily Mail Stadium” more about that later this week.
Once I got the chance to sit down and watch Sky’s offering one wondered what was more important. The match, or the fact that it was their five thousandth live football broadcast? “It’s something we are very proud of” announced a smug Richard Keys. I’m sure they are but Sky are the footballing equivalent of drug dealers. They know they have a product that everyone wants and they know they have a captive, addictive audience ie. weak suckers such as me that will sadly and slavishly take their subscription because, apart from Match of the Day, they have no where else to go to satisfy their constant craving?
I await the day when someone somewhere (in government?) with foresight beyond their bank account, takes Sky to task and puts “the people’s game” back on the terrestrial channel. Don’t expect me to boycott them, Murdoch and all the associated fallout, as I’m beyond help! The sad and thoroughly irritating thing is that, self promoting platitudes accepted, Sky’s football coverage, on the whole, is much better than anything the BBC or ITV would be ever able to offer us!
To the game. Rafa made selection reminiscent of his old days ie. one that lead to exclamations of “What! I didn’t think he’d do that” by omitting Torres. Had we lost this game the brickbats, in the light of Wednesday, would have been thrown (do you throw a brickbat?). However we won and Torres was given more time to get fitter by easing himself in gently. Rafa’s explanation for the omission was that Robbie Keane was doing well. Although the Irishman must have taken some encouragement from this, one wonders if he had mixed feelings over being left on his own up front again. Nonetheless full marks to Rafa for having the courage of his convictions and using Torres effectively in the latter part of the game. It would have been easy to pick him from the start however, after Wednesday, he demonstrated his faith in our run and the team, something I admit I lacked when I heard what he’d done!
One also wonders if the fact that Spain have a friendly coming up also played on Rafa’s mind? Torres has a habit of getting injured on international duty, leave him out and or, in this case play him for only part of the game, and there’s a compelling case for him not to travel as he’s not fully match fit?
Elsewhere Carragher moved across to right back to fill in for the suspended Arbeloa. Sami slotted in at the centre alongside Agger resurrecting the partnership that conceded four in midweek however, more significantly Dossena and Degan made way!
To the game and Bolton tried to deal with us by asking Muamba to shadow Gerrard. This was a tactic that was bound to come unhinged. We have proved this season that, although Gerrard and Torres, are key spokes in our wheel, we can still keep rolling along if they are removed. It took us no more than twenty eight minutes to prove this with a twenty plus passing move which, according to Andy Gray, did not involve Gerrard! This climaxed with Kuyt picking up the ball in midfield and, via Alonso and Riera, instigating a move across the edge of Bolton’s eighteen yard area. Aurelio arrived late and finally delivered the cross back to Kuyt who made it tell with an accurate and powerful header. – “pass and move” remember that?
As you probably know on the half hour we had a chance to put the game to bed but Robbie Keane missed a sitter. Bolton had a goal disallowed because they tried to intimidate Reina in a crude way that would have been more at home at Twickenham than the Reebok however, it was a satisfactorily half with us looking comfortable. At half time the problems were Gary Megson’s and not Rafa’s which, after Wednesday, was a blessing.
In the second half Bolton were better. Ricardo Gardner missed a chance to put them back on equal terms. Although we were in control I guess the longer the game went on and the more chances we missed (again plenty of them) the more nervous we should become with just a one goal lead. Bolton tried to exploit our zonal marking by bombarding us from the air every time they got a set piece. Thankfully just as the game started to turn towards the home side, they fell to a sucker punch.
As they were ruing a missed opportunity involving Davies, Reina let loose a long ball to Torres who sliced through the defence. Although he was forced out wide he still managed to find one person who had managed to follow his run. Steven Gerrard finished with a glancing header to Jaaskelainen’s left. A simple move which everyone, in there attempts to condemn Bolton for their poor defending, might miss out on noticing the quality of Torres’ ball to his captain. Later Torres clipped the outside of the post and then Lucas missed a free header but by then we were out of sight and, thankfully, still on course.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Andrew O’Brien, Samuel, Taylor (Smolarek 84), Nolan, Muamba (Gardner 46), McCann, Elmander, Davies.
Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Helguson, Shittu, Basham, Obadeyi. .
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Aurelio, Alonso, Mascherano, Kuyt (Leiva Lucas 84), Gerrard, Riera (Benayoun 89), Keane (Torres 59).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Babel, Darby.