Saturday, November 21, 2009

Liverpool thoughts

The handshake between Rafa Benitez and Mark Hughes at the end of today's 2-2 draw spoke volumes.

Although a pulsating second half had rescued what looked to be a turgid scoreless draw provided plenty of the attacking threat both sides possess, their frustrated expressions bore the knowledge of all too familiar frailties and failings that continue to cost their respctive sides.

In isolation, a point from a trip to Anfield is a good return, this is not a trip to Wigan or Birmingham where there is an expectation of three points. Yet in the context of a sixth in succession and having led it is another afternoon of frustration at points dropped.

Hughes had opted to rest Tevez - more tactical than form based - and the 4-3-3 line up should have provided plenty of scope for attack with Bellamy and Wright-Phillips able to run at the Liverpool full back pairing, with Ireland set to have more licence with the shield of both Barry and de Jong behind him.

It was not to be though as - and hardly helped by the stream of early stoppages - we lacked any sort of rythm or cohesion. The 4-3-3 seemed more of a 4-5-1 with neither Bellamy or Wright-Phillips imposing themselves and with Ireland far too deep. Adebayor was too often an isolated figure. It appeared a point was a return Hughes would be satisfied with.

As turgid as the first half was, the second half was as pulsating. Four goals in total, three from set pieces and number of goals conceded from set plays by both sides during 2009/10 is a major factor in why neither side currently resides in the top four.

The goal at least lit a fire under us and the introduction of Tevez was key. I thought Hughes would start him given the energy and running he brings and his introduction saw us play our best football of the game and we capitalised on this to take the lead, and make my prediction look prophetic.

An equaliser by Adebayor from a set piece defended every bit as shoddily as Liverpools opener, and then excellent interplay to see (and offside) Stephen Ireland put us ahead in front of The Kop.

From that position of advantage we should have closed out the game, yet 74 seconds later the score was level. If we had calmed the game down for five minutes or so I'm convinced we would have taken the points but from a positional and concentration standpoint we were again poor and allowed Benayoun an equaliser.

A frantic last ten minutes ensued with Liverpool having a couple of shouts for handball (given at the other end?) but we held firm to take a point which keeps us on the verge of the top four but yet another chance missed to impose ourselves upon it.

vote it up!

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