Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bellamy Salvages A Point For The Reds

English Premiership

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.


RedsMan said...

Well, it is a time to be frank, and I am worried about Reina's goalkeeping. I have yet to see the highlights and I will, however I have had my concerns about Reina for a while but kept quiet in hope that he will perform better and enhance as he went along. He can stop a shot or two, save penalties but I think he needs to improve on coming out and catching the ball, comfortably and comprehensively. At the moment he appears to be a little erratic, which makes him a target for the media whenever he appears rash.

The defence is not cohesive enough right now as it was last season. Based on our games so far, I wonder if their failures are being addressed. When Aurelio has played at left back he is not as alert as needed, players have attacked our left side as a result and are found, where Aurelio should be keeping one eye. The goal for Sheff Utd came from a freekick which was not defended at the left and Rob Hulse providing a free header was one example.

But it is the whole defence. Carragher's game is unsettled, which is saying something considering how he was last season and previous. You could rely on Carragher running and putting his life on line to block a shot or slide tackle but now he has been caught out too on attack. Hyypia is too slow now, I have mentioned that for two seasons and urged we get two more central defenders and we have. Agger is definitely Hyypia's replacement and only the Finn's height is his advantage now. Finnan's defending is questionable, sometimes he is there defending well, other times he is caught sleeping, and he needs to get forward more and provided the crosses as he did last season.

In midfield, crucially I felt Gerrard needs to operate from there rather than the flanks, with either Alonso or Sissoko. Thing is I felt that Alonso also enjoys coming forward and with Gerrard and he forward, our central midfield is exposed, practically synonymous with the Lampard-Gerrard England issue. This is why RB prefers Alonso and Sissoko with Gerrard on the right.

Gerrard himself has yet to produce good form that we have come to see of him for club but he appears to be trying. As for the forwards, they need the service, regularly, accurately, to get that feeling to flourish. Bellamy thrives on through balls, taking on defences. Crouch likes high balls, crosses, or receiving inside the box or the edge. I feel Pennant needs more runs on the right, we bought him for that purpose so we should use him more. And on the left I would like Gonzalez but I want him to train on more ball control, or Aurelio, who seems better positioned there than at left back. Consolation is we didn't lose, thank god. But we should have won. Can we blame the internationals? Perhaps. Maybe it is not the same difference but I use to play three times a week, Wed, Sat and Sun and trained the once. Do the players not gain rest and train after internationals and before matches?

Now we are at OT next week and I'm optimistic, i always am after last season. I believe statistically we are at the same points total as we were this time last season so the promise is still there and so is the title. We may continue to have this knack of getting through to an achievement when the going looks tough. Last season at OT it went down to the wire and a solitary goal. We could prove that wrong. Maybe we have this omen over us that renders us lethargic at the start of a season and then we get going two-three months later. Going to keep hope and pray on a rejuvenated run to occur as soon as possible.


Emma said...

I really feel quite disappointed with my teams (England and the Pool) this week.


I'll agree with you on the point on Reina. He's bad with the judgement and decision to come out for the ball but it's a reflection of his inexperience and he has a lot to learn before we can really say he's the keeper that will overtake Ray Clemence and Brucey.

Defence is definitely going through a lot this season with the coming of age for Agger and the passing out date of Hyypia closing in. Aurelio doesn't seemed convincing playing at the left back spot and is pretty lost most of the time, albeit his fantastic set piece plays.

The thing about Gerrard and the rest is a little more complicating. Gerrard deffo plays better in his preferred central role but as Rafa said he wants balance and doesn't want to compromise the team because of a superstar. He has to do his part and that is sacrifice his central spot for the greater good.

I'm not very optimistic about the visit to OT. But who knows? Arsenal went there with a pretty bad form earlier and then the win actually kick start their season. So can we!


Hey emma, that's what you get for following a team. Everything that goes up will comes down and we'll go up there one day. Cheers!

RedsMan said...

I'll say this. I watched Plymouth v Derby County today and 4mins into the second half they had a player dismissed. They didnt lay back, panic about 10 men, they got on with business. Won 3-1, albeit they had another penalty. I wonder if Liverpool would have to have a kick on the backside like that to sharp themselves, a sharp injection that spouts them into action. Realistically anything can happen, even at OT like you said. Cant see why not if Arsenal can get away with it. OK, utd had Benfica away before then so I wonder if FC Copenhagen will give them a test and drain them out too! Who knows. Hope so.



I'm sure the experiences in Istanbul and Cardiff still live in those players although at the moment it seemed more like the players lacking confidence rather than not being able to do comebacks.

The thing is Arsenal got to OT without the results, but in actual fact they played very well, just not putting the ball into the net. Currently, we're poor at the back and nowhere better upfront. Hopefully this will change soon though.

TLR said...

Current form is definately a concern. The team looks flat and needs an injection of verve from somewhere.
Reliable players of the past two seasons, Carra and Finnan spring to mind, have let us down this year.
We've all heard that the keeper is the general in defense and maybe that's the problem. Lack of confidence in Reina is costing goals. No one knows where the others will be in pressure moments.

Also, it could just be a case of not settling down as a unit. Many new players came into the team this year and cohesion doens't happen overnight.


No doubt about it, the form isn't looking good and being in the midtable region after 8 games is not pleasing to our eyes surely.

And the tinkering and changing from Rafa is unsettling some players and with new players coming in, the settling time will take longer.

It's kinda depressing now to be honest. I try to be optimistic, but the facts are staring you in the face. Let's hope we bounce back soon.