LIVERPOOL 1 - 1 Blackburn
LIV - Bellamy (64min);
BLA - McCarthy (17min);
A frustrating afternoon for the Reds, fans and players alike. Liverpool has finally lost their 100% record at Anfield this season after they could only managed a draw against a hardworking Blackburn. It was their old boy, Craig Bellamy, who was back to haunt them with the equaliser and his first league goal for Liverpool after his move from Blackburn.
Many, including me, felt that this is yet again 2 points dropped and the feeling of frustration seemed to be in the air right now. After the 2-0 defeat to Bolton 2 weeks ago and the aptly timed International games, Liverpool came back to this game without Daniel Agger and Dirk Kuyt. Both have played an instrumental part in Liverpool's season so far with Agger impressing in the middle of defence.
His absence was felt throughout Liverpool when Benni McCarthy drew first blood. It yet again exposed Liverpool's weakness in dealing with crosses from the left. It has been a probem for quite some time and we haven't been able to find an answer yet. David Bentley's cross from the left went over Nonda and Carragher's head. It fell kindly for McCarthy to slot the ball into an empty net. But Reina have to shoulder the majority of the blame for his decision to come out and then get himself caught in no mans land. A rush of blood to his head from a very inexperienced goalkeeper. Very disappointing.
Even before the first goal, Liverpool struggled to up the tempo even though it was played at Anfield. The general energy level of the players were not at a high and they seemed to be lazy and lethargic at best.
Pennant's run did cause a few problems for the Blackburn defence, but his final ball were poor and was frustrating. He then ran around like a headless chicken, without aim and purpose. The midfield pairing of Alonso and Gerrard was in question once again. Are they suited to be paied up in the middle? Gerrard was neither here nor there while Alonso's position was behind Gerrard. Both of them failed to track back at times and Blackburn exploited that. Nonda and McCarthy, who both are mobile and pacy strikers, were allowed to run into that space directly threatening the defence. Hyypia's ageing leg made it easier for them and his form has to be a concern to Rafa Benitez.
Crouch did well on a few occasions and was able to link up well. But his lack of pace and mobility made him a virtual spectator and other than his effort in the first half, he was pretty much out of the game. Bellamy was quiet throughout the game as well. Other than the goal, he was largely annonymous.
Alonso and Riise did played well after half time and deserve some credit, but the rest of the team were pretty poor. The most probably reason would be the tiring international games prior and those game pretty much drained up their energy while Blackburn players seemed to be more energetic and hungry.
We could always find excuses for such performance. But at the end of the day, the result counts and it's not a pretty one. We never truly deserved a win anyway, so a draw is a fair result. We never really pin Blackburn back to the wall and failed to get any sort of rythmn in the game.
Are we missing Sissoko's energy from the midfield? I do think so, especially when Gerrard and Alonso in the middle, there bound to be some problem. As I've mentioned before, both of them cannot really compliment each other well and the balace wasn't there.
We'll have to look at the defensive problems and solve it before it's too late. It's starting to worry me abit because I like the look of a solid defence and where was the solidarity and understanding of last season, were we kept a dozen of clean sheets consecutively. Our weakness seemed to have been spotted and exploited not once or twice, but on many occasions already.
Even the most optimistic fans like me have to question our 'title chase' already. If we can't pick ourselves up from this and go on from strength to strength in the coming months, we'll be lucky to finish 4th. Chelsea, ManYoo and Arsenal have began to found their rythmn while we're struggling to find any sort of cohesion. It's ManYoo next week and if we don't turn this around, I'll have to say it again, It's too late.