It’s been a quiet week. How many times were you asked “who are Liverpool playing on Thursday” by folk thinking that as it was Champions League Football we’d be on the evening after, the Channel 5 Five Janitors cleaning up after Sky’s Lord Mayor’s show!
However, I guess a break is a welcome thing. For me it was anyway. The dreaded “man flu” struck again. Then there was the worry that my other half was going to die (long story and not as serious as it sounds!) and the fact that the PC was temporarily out of order due to number two son smashing the keyboard to the ground in a fit of pique as he didn’t get his way in the game he was playing, he’s got just the right temperament for a footballer!
I guess it also helped the team this week that today’s opponents Spurs were in Champions League action however one thing that is impressive about their squad, and worrying about ours, is their strength in depth? Just take the front line as an example. If Defoe is injured they can call on Crouch. If he is inured Pavlyuchenko can step in and then Robbie Keane. Us? Strip away Torres and Kuyt and, with respect to Ngog, experience is suddenly in short supply. Of course the irony is that two of Spurs’ front line are ex reds who would probably have still been with us had Rafa exercised a tad more patience as say Harry Redknapp had with Pavlyuchenko and his keeper Gomes.
I guess that is why I think we should have made efforts to get a another striker this summer. It is even more disheartening when you read rumours this week about Daniel Pacheco and, dare I say it, Ryan Babel, heading for the exit this January. Then there was Dirk Kuyt to Roma which lead me to wonder if April 1st had come early!
Anyway today provides us which decent test. A gauge of how far we’ve come. We have only lost one in eight however although our position has a more respectable look about than it did a month or so ago, the jury is still firmly out over just how far we’ve improved. Last Saturdays win against West Ham was welcome and convincing however, we will face much sterner opposition today. Anyone who is has doubts about this should ask Arsenal!
The very fact that today’s game is away from home brings into focus just how we need to improve. Just two wins on the road this year, at Burnley last season and Bolton last month. There was a time when I used to enjoy watching Liverpool play away from home more than at Anfield. There was something delicious about going into territory where you in the minority, being packed into the away end being subjected to the hostile, cocky abuse of the home crowd, which usually involved the highly original rendition of the “sign on” song, and then, once the game had started, hearing them get quieter and quieter as we clinically took them to pieces!
HRH, who had a bad away record with Fulham, said this about playing away games …
“There is certainly no difference in the way we approach the games. We don’t have a home approach and away approach. We want to do the same things with the ball and without the ball home and away…… the most important thing is to be more positive, have more confidence, get more balls into the box and for people to help Fernando (Torres) get in behind defences. These are things we work on all the time”
Sadly I beg to differ with the first part of this quote. We have clearly been more reticent on the road this season than at Anfield I would suggest we had more chances in the first half last week against West Ham than we did at Stoke and Wigan combined. To me it looks like we go to contain and hit on the break but it clearly doesn’t appear to be working so why not just go for it, as if it were a home game, we have nothing to lose?
Team wise Lucas is back from suspension and Joe Cole may feature. I suspect Lucas will be drafted in straight away but Cole may have to wait? Gerrard is still injured. Prediction? If Torres continues to improve then anything is possible however, if we set out with the same arrangement and game plan as we had against Stoke and Wigan there will be tears. Let’s try something else but it might take time to convince HRH? A draw.
By the way By the way this blog now has an index of match reports since it started in October 2006 so for machinations of previous games, against Spurs since this date click here.