Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reds Stumble At Home

Sissoko 'Stars' In Shock Loss

UEFA Champions League

LIVERPOOL 0 - 1 Marseille

OM - Valbueno (77min);

Liverpool's hope of qualifying for the Champions League knock out phase was dealt with a major blow after a shocking 1-0 defeat at the hands of French Ligue 1 side, Olympique Marseille. Even the word 'poor' would be a major understatement as to how Liverpool performed last night.

It was abysmal. It was disgusting. It was insipid. It was a true horror show for the Liverpool fans, especially in front of the Anfield faithfuls.

After drawing their opening fixture against Porto, Liverpool surely had to do better at home and under Benitez, the Red's home record is second to none, especially in Europe.

But last night, it was a freak show and a one that Rafa Benitez would later describe as the 'worst performance' at home since he took over in 2004. Even I couldn't believe my eyes as to how Liverpool were totally outplayed and outclassed all over the pitch despite being the home side. If I didn't mention, you wouldn't even believe they were the home side!

Liverpool were slow and sluggish from the start and the ball retention was horrible, especially with the technically liable Momo Sissoko in the middle. I will go on about him later but first overall as a team, there was no communication and it was as though everyone just knew each other only on the night itself.

There was no passing and absolutely NO movement. The formation was sparse and was made worst when Marseille played the high line and putting extra pressure on the team. Daniel Agger's injury meant Sami Hyypia had to deputise and his lack of pace caused Liverpool to drop deeper and therefore, easier to be pressurised.

There was absolutely no width provided by Yossi Benayoun, who was brilliant for the previous 2 games, and the inexperience Sebastian Leto. They squeezed inwards too often and too quickly, giving Marseille a lot of space to exploit.

Peter Crouch was up front with Fernando Torres and the duo had to feed off scrapes for the entire game as the Liverpool midfield failed to provide them with the necessary ammunition and long balls from Hyypia and Reina didn't help either.

At times, we really looked like a pub team. Or sometimes, Wimbledon circa late 90s. It was long ball after long ball to Crouch and then lose possession.

Credit to Marseille though, they came with a brilliant game plan and stuck with it. They had a perfectly alright goal ruled out for offside while managed to contain Liverpool for the entire 90 minutes without sweat. Their high line and high pressuring tactic worked wonder at Anfield.

That's why when Valbueno bent that unstoppable shot into Anfield Road End goal, many weren't surprised. It was reaping what they sowed and they deserved it 100%.

Only when knowing that time is running out, Liverpool started to panic and started to do something about the game. Their best chance of the game fell to Fernando Torres who blasted it against the post.

It just wasn't Liverpool's night.

But it wasn't just lady luck not smiling at the men in red. Liverpool deserves absolutely nothing from this game and there is now a lot for Rafa to do because this performance is totally unacceptable and it is disgusting.

How could we only muster a single pathetic shot on goal for the entire 90 minutes at Anfield? It's just beggars belief while the selection of Momo Sissoko will really come under scrutiny from the Liverpool fans in days to come.

The Malian midfielder was quite a revelation in his first season but has since gone downhill and last night was probably one of his 'finest' night. He was basically all over the place but not doing much.

His first touch is so poor that his second usually results in a reckless challenge or totally loses possession. His passing was at his 'usual best' and didn't provide much to attack nor defence. He was nowhere here nor there so I'm not sure what he was doing for the entire 90 minutes on the pitch.

Seriously, sort this out. Even for captain, Steven Gerrard, there is no escape of criticism. He was poor as well as many of the usually reliable players. It was just a total nightmare and don't take this as a knee jerk reaction because I've never been so frustrated watching Liverpool before, until last night.

Spurs next and Rafa needs to do something to freshen things up and get the lads going again or it'll really turn ugly.

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