Kuyt 37, Davies (og) 70
Bolton Wanderers 0
So the slow recuperation continues another win, again not in the convincing style that many would want, but none the less a deserved one. It’s now six league games unbeaten, four in a row at home, without really setting the world on fire. However, more progress made towards the seemingly “minimum requirement” of fourth spot. It’s a slow process, and not yet in our own hands, but we are getting there.
Rafa made two changes from Tuesday’s Wolves game. Aquilani and Ngog returned. Significantly he split up Lucas and Mascherano the former, along with Maxi, relegated to the bench, perhaps recognising, in the light of Tuesdays goalless snooze fest, the need for a more attacking outlook? One has to wonder at Rafa’s mind set at the moment. Given all the flack he’s taken this season perhaps he might be more and more inclined to think “f*ck it, I don’t need the hassle, I’ll go to Juventus”. Of course we are at a disadvantage as we only have the papers to go by but it has now been suggested Rafa will walk if he isn’t given the financial support from the owners this summer? Again another reason to smooth Rafa’s path out of Anfield should he ever be looking for creditable exit, we shall see.
Saturday wasn’t a memorable game, a routine, dare I say it, mundane “day at the office” affair. However, at the moment this is just what we need, a habit of doing the basic things well, the cake icing can wait? The stripped down nature of our priorities occasionally showed, the crowd was very quiet in the first half, we looked wary at times but on the positive side, the game will go down as another useful boost to collective confidence.
Bolton started well with Cohen and then Lee, with a marvellous mazy run which should have put the visitors one up, going close. Carragher, via a challenge on Cohen, was lucky not to concede a penalty. We also had our chances with Kuyt just failing to latch on to Insua’s cross. Finally however we made the break through.
The return of Riera has been a welcome one adding width to our play that we haven’t had with his absence and that of Glen Johnson. It’s noticeable that, now that Johnson is absent, Insua is getting further forward. The two combined for our goal. The Argentine picking up Riera’s cross field ball and crossing deep into the area. Aquilani on the near post nodded it back into the danger area to find Kuyt who prodded it home from six yards out.
What can you say about Dirk? He’s not the greatest most skilful footballer in the world but boy does he work hard. He’s dependable, always up for it, seemingly injury free and has a gratifying habit of pitching in with key goals when they are needed, look at his record and context in which some of his goals have been scored. An unsung hero especially in these meagre times?
Bolton continued to try and punch through us by fair of foul means (Lee received a yellow card for simulation) however although the play suggested there was no reason too, I just felt we would prevail. Ngog had a golden chance, after Jaaskelainen had parried Gerrard’s shot, but somehow to managed to fire over from six yards out, don’t dwell on David, move on! Gerrard himself had a decent effort saved.
However eventually, just as they did at Arsenal the other week, Bolton’s resistance, perhaps even dominance at times, faded and we assumed total control in the last half hour. The precious second goal soon materialised although we had to rely on Kevin Davies deflecting Insua’s long range shot into his own net. After that we visible relaxed and played without the tension and fear that has seemingly characterised recent performances. Maxi nearly made it three just failing to get on the end of Insua’s cross and would have done I suspect with a bit more match fitness and practice.
So edging closer to the “minimum requirement” however, it’s Everton, Arsenal and Manchester City next if our unbeaten run remains in tact after these three games then perhaps we can really say we’ve turned a corner?
Liverpool Reina, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Carragher, Skrtel, Aquilani (Lucas 65), Gerrard, Riera (Maxi 74), Mascherano, Kuyt, Ngog (Babel 84) Substitutes Cavalieri, Agger, Darby, Maxi, Lucas, Babel, Pacheco l:
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Cahill, Knight, Steinsson, Ricketts, Muamba (Elmander 78), Taylor, Davies, Cohen (Gardner 60), Lee, Davies, Substitutes Al Habsi, Robinson, O’Brien, Gardner, Wilshere, Weiss, Elmander