Sunday, January 07, 2007

Reds Bow Out Of FA Cup With A Whimper

Liverpool Taught A Football Lesson Yet Again

FA Cup

LIVERPOOL 1 - 3 Arsenal

LIV - Kuyt (71min);
ARS- Rosicky (37, 45min), Henry (84min);


So, there goes our dreams of defending the prestigious English FA Cup when we failed at the first hurdle at home to Arsenal, the giant 'giant-killers'. The irony was the fans achieved victory while the 11 clueless men on the pitch were defeated. In the campaign against The S*n and it's evil lying journalists, Liverpool fans reminded people from around the world about what they feel and expressed it with a huge mosaic 'Truth' right at the Kop End and it remained there for the first 6 minutes of the match. They were singing at their top of their voices, expressing their disgust at being accused of something they didn't do.


In the end, the fans were Liverpool's man of the match, or I should say men of the match. Even when we ALL know it's over at 3-1, they started singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' in a way which we seldom hear. It sounded almost like a cry, a melancholic interpretation of our famous anthem.

I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to work out as to how we Liverpool fans felt so down after last night's match. It's a horror show with the title staring at your face that is "WE'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH" and that how we always self destruct when it comes to facing our fellow big teams. In fact, if we continue to struggle against teams like Arsenal and United, then we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking we're in that ' Big 4' anymore because after a performance like last night, I think we should just categorise ourselves under 'Wanna-bes and Also-rans'

With recent form being alright compared to earlier this season, we boast an excellent home record and the fans at the beginning of the match were just amazing. At their usual best, sang and supported the team. And with the DIC representatives around, they must be astonished to see there are still such a bunch of crazy fans at Anfield.

But all these failed to spur Liverpool on and they went on to put up a clueless and disappointing performance. The way which Arsenal outclassed us is alarming and if I'm one of the representatives for the takeover consortium, I'll walk over to Rafa and say 'Mr Benitez. Here are the money. Go and sort this team out' because honestly, this team is not good enough as we have discussed for earlier part of this season.

The decision to start Dudek is baffling. I know he's a hero and maybe just to be placed on the shop window but after a performance like this, I think nobody would be mildly interested. I understand that Arsenal rotated their goalkeeper as well. But why a tit for a tat? Is there a point to this at all?

As Liverpool having the majority of the possession, they rarely threatened Almunia's goal and as Liverpool found them difficult to break down, they started to put long balls into the penalty area and hoping Crouch could do a knock down for Gerrard or perhaps even a spectacular goal himself. But with Gilberto and Flamini closely watching Gerrard and Alonso, there was absolutely no space for the midfielders to make any sort of run.


Then the nightmare began. It was like a series of unfortunate events that linked everything up to an excellent Arsenal goal. Brilliant movement from the Gunners while Liverpool were static, taken aback and never recovered.

John Arne Riise was at fault the moment he lost Alex Hleb on the left when he was just standing and watching him putting in an excellent ball for Tomas Rosicky to smash home. As a left back, leaving your target alone is suicidal. I thought defenders were supposed to STOP players and not stand around watching?

Well, even captain marvel Steven Gerrard did the spectator's job. When Rosicky was ready to pull the trigger, he just pulled away from the challenge. I thought he was the fearless leader who puts in ever ounce of energy into every matches? Well, I know you're trying to save your legs for the season, but it was just disappointing for someone like him to behave this way.

Then Dudek. What on earth are you doing at the area where it's nearer to the penalty spot than the goal line? It just sailed past him rather embarrassingly. The only reason I could think of is he's not as fast as Reina is coming off his line and therefore he prepared himself in case there's a through-ball. Bad anticipation, my friend.

Yet Liverpool never had much of a response. Pass the ball around the back, pass to Dan Agger, a long pass....and out for a goal kick. Rinse and repeat.

Then Arsenal punished us again, this time with yet another of those goals you'll only see the inferior teams concede. The previously solid looking Liverpool defence was torned apart like knife on butter and by half time, it was almost like game over.

Why that passive defending when Rosicky had the ball? Why are everyone backing off when they pushed up? But that's beside the point. When you're supposed to put in a block or tackle, then do it. Again Gerrard pulled out of it and Rosicky just placed the ball beyond Dudek's reach.

The backline and midfield were made a fool out of themselves with that sort of performance.

Although Liverpool did manage a mini-revival and scored through Kuyt, it was another self destructing move that buried us. No chance back when we thought we might have, No come back this time.


Jamie Carragher, the usually reliable defender, learnt from Gerrard as to how they always seemed to want to give Theirry Henry a freebie goal and presented him a belated New Year gift. How a circumstance where he had the advantage can turn into a one where he was all on his arse while Henry was able to weave through the entire defence is beyond me. Embarrassing. It reminded me of the game at Goodison Park where Carragher gave the ball cheaply to Andy Johnson to score.

All the goals were avoidable. So with this defeat, we can only have ourselves to blame, yet again. And to think that we're going to face them again in the Carling Cup is a scary prospect. Imagine them eliminating us out of 2 cup competitions in 4 days. That is just going to be absolutely painful.

We deserved the loss, because honestly with this sort of performance, I can safely say we're poor. And poor is just an understatement. Utterly gutless and clueless. How much this players want to defend the FA Cup, I do not know. But it seemed as if they couldn't give a flying arse about it.

And all I can say is we have a poor mentality against bigger teams. We're AFRAID of them. Why? I do not know. We just see ourselves as inferior and when the players think this way, we're already halfway to defeat.

Fair play to Arsenal, they played pretty football without having a lot of possession. Perhaps Rafa could learn a thing or two from Arsene Wenger on how to create a certain style for the team because the way Arsenal play is commendable. We know how they can over-elaborate things but yesterday, they showed they can do simple things in a simple and effective way.

It was as if they only had 3 breakaways and they scored from all the 3. Every time they pushed their formation up and attacked, Liverpool just hid in their shell and hope and pray nothing happens. Cowardly, to say the least.

Another point to add, how much we missed Momo Sissoko and his all action playing style. We could've used his pace and tenacity to good use yesterday but he was out injured. As I've mentioned earlier this season, I always had doubt about Gerrard and Alonso in the middle because of the lack of balance. We haven't been found out recently because we're playing mostly inferior teams. Now we got found out and now you know. They failed to provide the defence with any sort of protection yesterday.

Now we could only hope for a better performance from that bunch on the next match against who else but Arsenal. As cliché as it may sound, but familiarity breeds contempt. Maybe Rafa learned a couple of lesson and had something in mind or perhaps Arsene has a better plan to finish Liverpool with more effectiveness. Another footballing lesson in the making perhaps?

But I think this Liverpool team owes the fans a performance, a brave show in front of the Kop. Because they were an utter let down last night and if I'm a player in red last night, I won't know how to face those fans who were absolutely brilliant throughout. Long have we seen a performance worthy to be called total victory because time and again, we have struggled against the bigger side.

If we don't change the mentality, we'll be out of all competitions before we know it. Remember, we still have Barcelona in Champions League and by the look of things, surely, no chance?


Meg said...

ARGH. We cant defend the FA cup, because we cant defend anything. :/
I can say so much here, but Liverpool did it all themselves.


Not only we can't defend, we can't attack as well. Blunt and toothless. Period.

psychohare said...

It was a horrible game... hopefully Dudek will be replaced on Tuesday, and the team will collectively perform better... the last game was just painful to watch... furthermore it was at Anfield. The fans at the stadium were awesome, if it was me, i would have just gasp in horror, like i did in front of my computer screen...


I think Rafa promised Dudek to play him in all domestic competitions so I won't be surprised to see Dudek in the starting line up on Tuesday again.

Well, that's why we have the best fans in the world. And we walked what we sang in which we 'walked through the storm and hold you head up high' :)

psychohare said...

Rafa said:
"At the start of the season I told Jerzy that Pepe was the number one goalkeeper but I made a promise to him that he would play in the Carling Cup and FA Cup. Once you make a promise you don't go back on your word.

"I thought he did okay against Arsenal and he didn't really have a lot to do besides the goals."

he did promise him >.<