Notwithstanding a refreshing display of football last night, I personally do not believe this could be considered a turning point by any extent. I reckon we’ve missed that bus a while ago now. Having said that, the beautiful flowing football, the intricate passing, the verve and enthusiasm to impress had nothing to do with Portsmouth table position or their financial woes. Living such a period of hardship, Pompey have some very interesting players, they are still giving a hard time to most PL teams, and they are, and rightly so, semi-finalists of this year’s FA Cup. So we played no pushovers last night, no disgruntled minnows. Keep in mind that a few months ago, this same team beat us 2-0 at Fratton Park, in what arguable one of our worse performances of the season.
Last night we saw a different Liverpool. The line-up itself was refreshing and it promised not to be a repeat of the cagey defensive approach we’ve been accustomed too of late. Finally, and most importantly, we Liverpool fans pleased our eyes with the sublime raw talent of Alberto Aquilani. Gentlemen, this is what Stg 17 million were spent on! All of a sudden the passing not only returned, but the Portsmouth back four and their midfield support were chasing shadows. Did anyone notice the telepathic chemisty between Aquilani and Gerrard. The Prince ran from 18 yard box to 18 yard box a zillion times, recovering balls, distributing, and did something Mascherano and Lucas try to do but are not capable of: penetrate the penalty area with menace and posing a serious threat to the opposition. And then how sublime was that strike in front of the Kop?
Aquilani’s shining star was not the only positive of the night. The team as a whole (bar a moment of amnesia from Insua which allowed the Pompey sub to counter cross the ball to Belhadj for their consolation goal and the loss of a clean sheet) played with a positive attitude. The vibes were positive, the team oozed confidence and we were rewarded with a consolatory performance after some really awful showings.
I just hope that we don’t go back to our cagey and over-protective approach against Lille and especially against Man Utd. The way we played last night was similar to the final 10/12 games we played last season starting with the brilliant demolition jobs of Man Utd and Real Madrid. Liverpool should not field two holding midfielders at the same time, if not after the result is acquired and we need to control and preserve the lead, so no more Mascherano/Lucas midfield partnerships please. Liverpool can actually play with just one striker (Torres), but like yesterday, we have to propose variables of attack as we did, with Gerrard, Aquilani, Babel and Maxi all having a go at goal and all penetrating the penalty area.
We may not always get the results we hope for, but I prefer losing a game with a positive attacking attitude than losing a game playing badly as we have been doing of late. Rafa said this was a crucial week. The crucial week got off to a flying start but changes were made and these paid off. I just hope we don’t relapse and take ‘caution’ as our primary objective.