Monday, March 23, 2009

Reds Blow Title Race Wide Open

Liverpool 5 (Kuyt 7, Riera 33, Gerrard pen 40, 50, pen 65)
Aston Villa 0

What a fantastic 10 days for the Liverpool fans. They must’ve thought they’re in some kind of dreamland. 13 goals scored against Real Madrid, Man Utd and now, Aston Villa with only 1 conceded.

And what a way for the players to show their willingness to play for Rafa Benitez, after finally signing a new 5 year contract, showing his intent to continue on his good works at Liverpool.

Liverpool were irresistible and totally blew Aston Villa away as the visitors stood absolutely no chance to stop this machine with all momentum.

With Man Utd’s reply to last week’s 4-1 drubbing being a weak and laughable 2-0 defeat at the hands of Fulham, Liverpool smelled blood. Chelsea, their closest competitor to dethrone Man Utd, too, were found wanting at White Hart Lane. Guus Hiddink suffered his first defeat and it was pretty untimely.

Playing with the gift of retrospect, Liverpool were pumped up. They knew they have half the battle won when both teams fumbled. Yet it will come down to nothing if they don’t put Villa to the sword.

Villa’s form went pear-shaped since February and touted to take over Arsenal’s place in the top four, they bottled it and are now losing touch with the Gunners.

The visitors came to Anfield with in dire form. Yet it was fate that brought them right in front of the marauding red machine. By the time the clock reached the half hour mark, the Villains were already being put to the sword and only thing they could do was damage limitation.

Anfield was in buoyant mood, brought about with the hopes and enthusiasm of that minute, just minute, possibility of the Premiership crown finally landing its feet in Merseyside for the first time in 19 years.

As the Rafa Benitez banner says, “Siempre es Possible”. Liverpool fans were hoping and praying for that miracle. Anything IS possible.

Actions speak louder than words and Dirk Kuyt was the first to prove that he is desperate and hungry for Premiership glory. Steven Gerrard’s freekick was headed onto the post by Xabi Alonso and the Dutch striker pounced on the loose ball and blasted it past the stranded Brad Friedel.

He booted the ball with such conviction and passion. It’s as if he knew it will land in the back of the net. Maybe he knew something more.
Aston Villa managed to find their feet and played some fantastic football down the flanks, with James Milner a thorn in the side. The physical approach of former Liverpool striker, Emile Heskey, and John Carew gave the home side much problem.

Soon it turned into an open and expansive game, end to end stuff. But the second and crucial goal came from yet another route one approach from the Reds.

Pepe Reina’s long punt was not dealt with by the Villa defenders and surprisingly, Albert Riera was on the end of it. The Spanish winger was in inspired form yesterday and all he needed was a touch and he placed a volley into top left corner.

It was a magnificent goal which involves minimal set-up and straightforward. Let’s not even go into the technique required to score such goal.

Then came Steven Gerrard to put the game to bed with a brilliant hat trick, his first in the Premiership surprisingly. The skipper is in fine form and despite not having the best game, he still managed to bulge the net thrice.

Two of them came from the penalty spot. First, Albert Riera was brought down by makeshift right-back, Nigel Reo-Coker, and he made no mistakes.

Then an unfortunate Brad Friedel was sent off for obstructing Fernand Torres. It was unintentional and he could’ve done nothing to avoid it. The former Liverpool goalkeeper was applauded off the field and hopefully he could get the red card rescinded.

Gerrard placed it at the same spot again and Brad Guzan had no chance. The replacement goalkeeper’s first job was to pick the ball out from the net.

The other goal came from a freekick, sandwiched between the two penalties. Despite a multitude of men forming the wall, there was no stopping the skipper from placing the ball at the right bottom corner.

By then it was well and truly over with the Reds home and dry. Who would’ve thought that Liverpool would so comprehensively dispatch Villa with such ease and it was as if everything were going in their favour.

Even when Fernando Torres being a virtual spectator throughout, other players rose up to the challenge and gifted the Anfield faithful some hope.

You’ll have to feel sorry for Villa. They didn’t play particularly badly but were already K.O-ed before they even saw it coming.

Liverpool were not in their profligate self and were clinical. Something you’d see from a team brimming with confidence.

And now, the title race is truly heating up and even IF Liverpool doesn’t win it, I’d know that at least I know that they tried their best. I mean, I don’t remember seeing Liverpool still challenging at this stage in any other seasons.

This season is going to be special. Either we go on and win it or we can take it as a spring board for better things to come next season. Hang on tight, because this is going to be edge-of-your-seats stuff!

No comments: