Gerrard 52, 59 Maxi 74, Babel 90
A comfortable, comprehensive victory capping what has not been such a bad week considering everything. A win on Monday, not too much damage done on Thursday and slightly closer order taken regarding fourth place on Sunday (I’m sounding like that Craig David song). The latter may be out of our hands but with Man City to play Villa and Spurs something will give so we can still live in hope? Regardless of what happens it was still good to see everyone giving it a good go today when perhaps bodies might have been tired and minds on Thursday?
This was probably not the sort of scenario you want to find yourself in at this stage of the season? How many teams having underperformed for most of the year have suddenly, when faced with the looming menace of relegation, managed to get their act together and produce a last gasp, great escape, it’s a bit like dossing around all school term and then cramming the evening before an exam? Thankfully, instead of fighting back, Burnley didn’t do their homework and will now be regraded. Commiserations to their fans.
After a busy week and with Thursday looming Rafa opted for a few changes. The most notable was the inclusion of Daniel Ayala. Maxi returned from being cup tied, Babel and Aquilani started.
Burnley held their own for much of the first half however; whenever we managed to go forward we looked dangerous, forcing plenty of corners and looking generally sharper than we did on Thursday. After a few false starts Gerrard began things in earnest by getting on the end of a zig zaging, bewildering move of one twos involving himself, Maxi and Kuyt that sliced through the middle of the static Burnley defence. The resulting hooked shot was well saved by Jensen. Burnley had their moments with two decent headers from Fletcher and Cork. The latter effort was slightly worrying as the Burnley man was given a free header. We will have to do better next week against the likes of Drogba?
It took until the second half for us to make our mark with Gerrard receiving the ball from Aquilani in fairly unthreatening position however, this soon charged. An arcing run, a shift of gear, a drop of the shoulder, a shot from around twenty yards out, a handy deflection off Cort and the account was opened.
The second was an absolute corker. Maxi, running down the right, found Aquilani who slipped. While the home fans were chortling at the Italian’s misfortune the ball broke free to an on running Gerrard who punished them in the best possible way by lashing it home from twenty yards. Jensen never smelt it. A long overdue and typical Gerrard goal who by his own admission I suspect hasn’t had his best season. Injuries have played their part, perhaps lack of support and playing in different positions also hasn’t helped however, let’s hope this is the catalyst for a decent “mini run” until the end of the season. It could be vital.
Burnley, with their Premiership light fading, tried to get back on terms. Fletcher hit the post but the writing was on the wall. Babel, Benayoun and Aquilani exchanged passes in the midfield before the Italian squirted to ball wide to Maxi arriving late on the right aka Carlos Alberto in 1970 (ok perhaps not) to fire home his first goal for Liverpool. Babel wrapped things up at the death by beating the offside trap to run onto Lucas’ through ball to set up a repeat of the Anfield result.
So fourth place still on, albeit an outside chance. The Chelsea game is now a must win one for us just as it is for them? However, for now it’s all eyes to Thursday and time to ensure that we will still have something to play for long after the last 2009-10 Premiership ball has been kicked.
Burnley: Jensen, Alexander (Blake 63), Duff, Mears, Cort, Fox, Cork, Elliott, Fletcher, Paterson (Eagles 71), Nugent (Thompson 77) Substitutes: Weaver, Caldwell, Bikey, Eagles, Rodriguez, Blake, Thompson
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger (Lucas 78), Carragher, Ayala, Aquilani, Gerrard (Pacheco 82), Maxi, Mascherano, Kuyt (Benayoun 48), Babel Substitutes: Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Degen, Benayoun, Lucas, El Zhar, Pacheco