Monday, April 02, 2007

Post Match Thoughts

Race For Third Is Not Over, Yet

First of all, I must say well done to the men clad in red for their win over Arsenal. Although once again it was up against a depleted Arsenal side which are missing key players such as the inspirational, out-of-the-world, Thierry Henry, enigmatic Dutchman Robin van Persie and the dependable Gilberto Silva, just like what happened when Chelsea visited Anfield back in February, giving fans some excuses for our win.

Whatever the case, the Arsenal team that came to Anfield were not as bad as some made up and with Emmanuel Adebayor returning to the side, they certainly have strengthened firepower up front instead of the limp and out of sort Frenchman, Jeremy Aliadiere.

Maybe the main downfall of Arsenal have been the fact that Monsieur Wenger is too stubborn at times to admit that playing free flowing football without scoring is erroneous. While I'm not touching upon this subject at the moment, one have to wonder why Arsene took so long to react to the relentless waves of Liverpool attack.

Only in the 70th odd minutes, he threw on Ljungberg and Rosicky. Understandably, both players played for their respective nation's European Qualifier games but the duo will undoubtedly prove to be the thorn in Liverpool's flesh with their movement and pace.

But it was just too late. Adding to the fact that Julio Baptista was horrendous that afternoon, Clichy looked shaky, Gallas and Toure failed to inspire any confidence to their team mate and Denilson looked raw and inexperienced.

Good thing is they didn't get overran by Liverpool the entire afternoon. So they are very well capable of achieving things in the future.

Touching on Liverpool, it's pleasing to see the team being so clinical and professional throughout the game. The defeat of Chelsea and Arsenal on our home ground means we've improved a little from last season but we need to watch for our overall consistency.

Arsenal are known for their bouncebackability and also killing the giants such as United at Old Trafford but it took a superb team effort to thwart them and it must be a pleasing scoreline for any Liverpool as finally, there was a sweet revenge for all thrashings they've handed out to us this season.

I can't neglect Couch's contribution to this game as he was immense throughout the game. Other than the 3 goals, he worked hard and did carved out a few other chances. He has now scored 16 goals and adding to the fact that he don't always finish all the 90 minutes of the game and he rarely starts, it's no mean feat.

He could be frustrating at times and his finishing had been found lacking throughout the season but thankfully, he delivered. The headed goal is surely, the surprising one as it was headed with such power and pace. Looking like a ball dampener most of the time, he managed to get so much velocity onto Aurelio's cross and even the best goalkeeper can't keep that out.

Crouch aside, the rest of the team were fired up and looked like they're in for a revenge mission.

If Steve McClaren is watching, he should now be able to tell Gerrard's best position on the pitch. He was placed behind Crouch and ahead of Alonso & Mascherano, flanked by Gonzalez and Pennant. It suit him perfectly, giving him the license to roam.

Yet, he didn't look like a headless chicken like he used to be. He controlled his energy, timed his run, position himself nicely and you could tell Benitez have coached and moulded him into the team without making him looking like the most important player on the pitch. 'One man team' they used to call us, now we could withdraw him in the 55minute and suffer little implication.

The Argentinian that wasted his time at West Ham, Javier Masherano, looked better each game and you could tell why football great, Maradona, called him a 'monster of a player'. He has an eye for the tackle like Sissoko but his technical ability is echelons above the Malian as he stroke the ball around, cool as a cucumber.

He excelled at reading the game and he was instrumental in the win.

The men on the flanks didn't disappoint as well. Aurelio, who started at left back, impressed me with his deadly deliveries and Pennant with his heart on sleeve performance. The former Arsenal man ran rings round Gael Clichy at times and as a confidence player, once he has a certain level of belief, he'll do extremely well.

Alvaro Arbeloa shouldn't be discredited too. Although still looked a bit short of match practice and maybe a little shell shocked with the pace of the English game, he fitted in well in place of the very dependable Steve Finnan. It was a big boots to fill, but he did it with little hassle.

Mark Gonzalez still looked light weight and lost at times. Perhaps it's unlucky for him to suffer so much injuries in his first season with the club but he still need to do something more to impress the fans and myself.

Agger have grew in stature although still looked unsure at times. Experience could help him while playing beside Carragher is an invaluable opportunity. The Dane have officially taken over the mantle of Sami Hyypia in the heart of defence.

Reina had a pretty decent game as he made a couple of good saves including the one from Toure but still lacked the composure when it comes to crosses as he spilled the ball upon catching it twice.

A win over Arsenal might make the heart joyous and fans gleeing in delight but it's never enough. The Champions League quarter finals coming up and the race for third place is still not over yet. The team should continue to stay focus and not be distracted by the win.

Battle is won but the war is still yet to be settled.

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