West Brom 0
Gerrard 28, Kuyt 63
So there it is. No sting in the tail from Arsenal to take the title race into the last day. Cue loads of predictable references in the Theatre of Delusion over equalling our record of eighteen. My those felt tips or, more likely, crayons must have been busy over the last week!
Fair do’s to Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville (I can’t believe this isn’t sticking in my throat) for mentioning how we ran them close. But if comments, from Rafa yesterday and lack of them from Fergie on Saturday are anything to go buy, there will still be no love lost, which quiet frankly is the way fans of both teams will want it to be!
So was it a “dead rubber” yesterday? Not really Rafa only made two changes, Agger for Srktel and Insua for Aurelio, signalling the intent to secure second place quickly and to finish as close to Mancs as possible, who did drop two points on Saturday. They also look like fielding their ticket office staff for the last game at Hull. That will please Messers Shearer and Southgate!
West Brom have been complimented for trying to play the game “as it should be played”. Sadly these principles have not been backed up with the reality of a solid defence. So perhaps the best solution when faced with such a problem is to attack which is what West Brom did from the start? Corners were forced as the home side swarmed around our penalty area. Reina was soon busy producing a superb double block from Greening. However, old habits soon came back to haunt them.
Ironically we instigated the move playing the ball back to them after Menseguez had been injured. West Brom tried to play it across the back only for Gerrard to swoop down on the ponderous Martis, dispossess him, surge forward and dink it over the on rushing Kiely.
From then on we settled and kept West Brom at bay. Torres, with a flicked header and then just over in the second half, missed two good chances to extend the lead. West Brom however had a chance when Fortune was slow in dealing with Mensequez’s centre allowing Lucas to save the day amid fruitless calls for a penalty.
Had the goal occurred perhaps the game would have turned however, West Brom became more desperate to force the issue and threw more men forward. Gerrard and Kuyt exposed this with a well worked goal that saw the Dutchman athletically fashion an opening to drill home hard and low into Kiely’s right corner. West Brom were sunk although their fans remained admirably bellicose and supportive right to the end.
All that remained was for Lucas to just fail to make it three by poking past Kiely but also his post. Carragher and Arbeloa had a disagreement over well what? After the game Jamie said it was his frustration over us being “lackadaisy” over clean sheets and trying to make sure Reina gets more than Van de Saar or maybe it was over who will get the window seat on the coach journey home?
After the game Rafa lamented our economic situation compared to Arsenal and the Mancs to add to the strength in depth augments and the, for many, less convincing “the Mancs may have more points but are not necessarily better than us” theory he put forward earlier in the week. Although he congratulated The Mancs he stopped short of extending this goodwill to their manager.
“Normally you have to be polite and respect the other manager but during the season we have seen a lot of things that I didn’t like, so that’s it. I say congratulations to United because they have won. And that’s it.”
No doubt this will prompt many to paint Rafa as graceless and unsporting however, when he has been called “arrogant”, and accused of showing contempt and being “beyond the pale” why should he kowtow to Fergie? Respect is two way process. It is earnt not commanded. No amount of silverware will get it for you especially if you deal out the sort of childish, verbosity Rafa and other rival managers down the years have had to endure. And that I’m afraid is a “FACT” that Mr Ferguson has repeatedly been unable to grasp over the years.
West Brom: Kiely, Zuiverloon, Martis (Borja Valero 56), Olsson, Donk, Brunt, Mulumbu (Moore 68), Greening, Koren, Menseguez, Fortune.
Subs Not Used: Carson, Filipe Teixeira, Meite, Simpson, Wood.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Agger, Carragher, Insua, Lucas, Mascherano (Alonso 51), Kuyt, Gerrard, Benayoun (Ngog 73), Torres (Babel 68).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Riera, Skrtel.