Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reds Title Bid Up In Smokes

Liverpool 1 (Kuyt 78min)
Man City 1 (Arbeloa OG 48min)

Liverpool’s title bid was derailed further after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Manchester City, who were giving their bitter rivals a huge helping hand. Now with 12 games to go and 7 points apart, it is difficult to see Man Utd. slipping up.

It is the inevitable feeling of ‘same old, same old’ as Liverpool conceded first and had to fight tooth and nail to get back on equal terms. But the fight-back was all too late and without inspirational skipper, Steven Gerrard and the influential Xabi Alonso, it fell short.

Sitting through the first half was just as it was throughout the whole season. There was nothing to show for. Despite dominating possession, the partnership of Dirk Kuyt and Fernando Torres failed to puncture a hole in City’s defence.

Against the flow of the game, the best chance of the first period fell to the in-form Stephen Ireland, who disappointingly failed to put the ball past Pepe Reina and his subsequent follow up wasn’t good enough. It alarmed Liverpool a little but there was still an apparent lack of urgency.

Former Reds, Craig Bellamy, was in the City line-up and seemed a bit out of place playing alongside the likes of Robinho and Vincent Kompany. But he showed his worth when he converted his chance in front of Annie Road End and sent the City supporters into raptures.

The shot took an awful deflection off Alvaro Arbeloa and he is certainly making his presence known amongst the stars and reminding the Anfield crowd of his quality.

As inevitable as it is for Liverpool to concede first, they’ll always manage to do a comeback and they did after much knocking on the door.

The same player who finished off the amazing 3-2 turnaround earlier in the season, Dirk Kuyt, was on hand again to slot past Shay Given and give the Liverpool supporters some hope.

Subsequently, Yossi Benayoun had a fantastic chance to grab all 3 points for Liverpool but his volley was saved superbly.

Without Gerrard, the home side failed to conjure up any sort of inspiration and even Torres, who was thoroughly shackled by Richard Dunne and Micah Richards throughout, was ineffective and looked isolated up front.

With the title slipping away, Liverpool only have themselves to blame. Leading at a certain point in the campaign, they have managed to let it slip and are now desperately trying to get any sort of momentum going.

The only momentum they seemed to got into this season is drawing games, which isn’t the best case scenario for a title winning team. Despite only losing once throughout, the 11 draws all season is costing Rafa Benitez’s side big time.

With the in-form Real Madrid looming and Rafa’s stubborn refusal to put pen on paper, Liverpool’s position have been strangely precarious despite being so high up the table.

There’s still hope. But hope could be deceptive. It is hard enough to imagine Man Utd. going into a Newcastle-esque meltdown and at the same time, pinning hopes on Liverpool winning the rest of the games.

I highly doubt a comeback of that epic proportion would happen. Yet in football, who knows? We could turn the kind of form in those comebacks we had into the league form. I’m harbouring a little hope here. Just a little…

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