Skrtel 50, Benayoun 77
Adebayor 69, Ireland 76
I guess there comes a time when expectations and looking on the positive side becomes too much and resignation to our fate takes over?
Watching the team these days has become more and more of a nerve racking experience. It is hard to remain positive and even harder to resist criticism. Not because one doesn’t believe or has lost faith but it is simply a case of resisting the overbearing suggestion that one should face up to reality.
The reality is not the back luck we’ve had with injuries recently but, as Christmas begins to loom, thinking that we can make something out of this season’s title challenge. The stats, one win in ten games and eleven points behind the leaders, are slowly beginning to hit home. If this season turns out to be a good one it will, in the light of what has gone on so far and what will presumably happen, pose more questions about our strengthen in depth and our consistency than any other since Rafa took over the reigns?
Bad luck has paid a part and what a great start on Saturday! Agger (head) and Babel (ankle) had to go off before they’d even broken sweat. What have we done to deserve this? When the hackneyed phrase about things equalling themselves out becomes a reality we’ll be having luck until next November! Kyrgiakos and Benayoun replaced them the latter presumably getting an earlier than anticipated opportunity to test the placenta treatment. Rafa manically scribbled away at his pad desperately trying to rejig the game plan or perhaps he was drafting a letter to Jim’ll Fix It?
I don’t know if it was the time of day or a hangover from the international week or the changes we had to make, but there were very few opportunities in a first half that spluttered and lurched from injury to nothing much – six minutes of added time was played which was no surprise. Gerrard and Kuyt had shots that went wide whilst Barry and Wright Phillips had chances at the other end that caused us no real concern. Before that Given saved well with his finger tips from Skrtel. So mundane was the game that it seemed to wash over you but for what it’s worth we had the better of a rather cautious tentative, and ultimately forgettable, first half. Going into the break both sides knew they had to improve, both also knew the game was there to be won.
The second half was desperately crying out for something or someone to jump start the game and end the inertia. After four minutes it happened. Gerarrd’s low, hard, bending free kick from the left entered the six yard box and found Skrtel’s boot. It was his first goal for the club and a nice little outcome as he had been denied by Given in the first half.
Perhaps this was the opportunity we had been waiting for? A chance to fashion a much needed victory from a disrupted side before the game and, with Agger and Babel leaving, during it? However, instead of us stepping up a notch and flying at City in an attempt to make the game safe the away side seemed more galvanised by the goal. City pressed and pressed and we creaked and strained under the pressure and finally let them in via the usual route of a set piece. This time it was Adebayor with a header from Bellamy’s corner.
A shoddy goal from our part. City’s main striking threat was allowed to break free and head unhindered and unchallenged into the goal. Skrtel, who was supposed to be marking him, ended up no where near him and although he argued with Reina afterwards, he was kidding no one? Time and time again this, conceding from set pieces, has happened and not just with Skrtel. It is tempting to ask when will we learn and resolve it but surely there comes a time when it goes deeper than that and more drastic action has to be taken by Rafa and in particular the coaching staff? It seems to happen every game now and has been an issue for more than season? What is the problem? Why has it gone on for so long and, more to the point, how can it be solved?
Insult to injury was added when Tevez fed Wright Phillips who made a fool out of Kyrgiakos with a good turn and fed Ireland who guided it past Reina. Almost immediately we equalised. Ngog’s cross via a deflection rolled across the six yard line Benayoun reacted first to bundle it over the line. A perfect and timely response but why did we have to wait for the opposition to make their mark before we made ours?
Perhaps last season we would have raised ourselves however, it was timid and tepid stuff and City looked the more likely to prevail indulging in shooting practice for a minute or so with Wright Phillips and then Tevez testing Reina. We also had our chances, Gerrard nearly provided the very tall Kyrgiakos with a grandstand finish however, he lost out in a heading duel with the extremely small Sean Wright Phillips! Lucas missed a free header from Gerrard’s corner but it was poorly taken and summed up the day for us.
After the game the following quote was offered up…
“It’s frustrating for us to keep getting into winning positions and throwing them away. But we gave glimpses of our quality and it will only be a matter of time before we start winning again…”
Who was it from Rafa, or Mark Hughes? It was the latter but in all honesty it could have been from either boss. Debrecen next and a day that might see the form of the last two months or so manifest itself into something that our critics can really hang their hats on? No one can say it that hasn’t been coming and it’s up to everyone, even at this late stage, to try and stop it?
Walk on a keep the faith.
Liverpool: Reina, Insua, Agger, Skrtel, Carragher, Babel, Leiva, Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard (c), Ngog. Subs – Aquilani, Aurelio, Benayoun, Cavalieri, El Zhar, Kyrgiakos, Riera
Manchester City: Given, Bridge, Lescott, Toure (c), Zabaleta, Ireland, Barry, De Jong, Wright-Phillips, Adebayor, Bellamy. Subs – Johnson, Kompany, Onuoha, Santa Cruz, Taylor, Tevez, Weiss