Contrary to the anonymous display by at least half of those wearing the Red shirt against Blackpool a few weeks ago, Saturday’s early kick-off against Wolves, at the Molineux, was a performance that might (or rather should) set the ball rolling and ensure Liverpool embark on a string of victories, an unstoppable march which should get the club close to the top four. As things stand and to reach fourth spot (a goal still achievable as Reina states), Liverpool have to recuperate around twelve points (nine if Chelsea lose this evening) and hope results elsewhere accommodate Liverpool’s quest to end the season high up the table as possible.
The signs of a Liverpool re-emergence were evident against Everton in an exciting two-two draw. Lack of concentration in a six-minute second-half window saw Everton first equalise and then grab a second which changed the shape of a game dominated for a good part of the first half by the Reds. Liverpool grabbed a deserved equaliser and although the result was the low point of an otherwise entertaining match by Dalglish’s men, I expected the players to take the positives forward and also to take all three points against Mick McCarthy’s Wolves.
Wolves proposed similar tactics to those deployed by Blackpool; defending high-up field, flooding the midfield and attempting to force Liverpool’s backline into errors and panic tackling. Against Blackpool, the Reds failed to take advantage of the space exposed by the opponent’s enthusiasm at working intensively in midfield. There was never going to be a repeat of this deficiency as I’m sure the trio of Dalglish, Clarke and Lee pointed out this aspect of the defeat by the Tangerine’s and devised counter-measures. Whatever was said must have been spot on as Liverpool cruised to a forceful, decisive and straightforward victory albeit Wolves’ huffing and puffing and work-rate. It’s great to see Liverpool win, granted, but witnessing a team dominate all quarters, create chance after chance, consolidate and defend in coordinated fashion is a welcomed and inspiring sense of relief. More positive is that with Dalglish at the helm, I am pretty sure this was not a one-off performance (as was the case against Chelsea early on in the season). There is undoubtedly room for improvement but that’s natural; afterall Dalglish and Clarke have only been working with the team for some fifteen days.
The renewed sense of belief that has been blown over most of Liverpool’s players by the King has been pivotal in Liverpool’s renaissance. Such a resounding assertion has been underlined by Fernando Torres, a player who seemed lost, frustrated a few weeks ago. The Spaniard has looked a mirror image lately. He has now scored three goals in three games, a ratio of one goal/game, a figure which could have gone up to 1.3 if his effort against Everton in the first half had gone in, the upright denying what would have been a classy goal. Torres took on a leadership role against Blackpool, so primed he has been since the arrival of Kenny. Performances-aside and incidentally, Torres has reverted to his ‘old’ long hair-style, which blends perfectly with his re-discovered form. Torres is now only one or two games away from reaching optimum level, most certainly a nightmare sight for opposing defenders.
The game against Wolves proved that motivation and drive by peers and that little bit of and much needed effort by players provides evidence that this Liverpool team – strengthened by the arrival of Raul Miereles, the major positive in the negative-laden tenure of former boss Roy Hodgson – can achieve results. This is not to state that the team can do without additions, and the news that Suarez can be signed in the next 48 hours will be a show of purpose by NESV. I re-iterate the need to contemplate adding backup to Agger and Skrytel, and the support personnel for Torres – Kuyt, Cole and Maxi. The latter is still far from convincing me he is the right fit. Many times Maxi gives the ball away cheaply, is slow-paced and not decisive infront of goal. He has shown flashes of ability and character mind you, but Torres needs unequivocal and constant support. Kuyt is the usual hard-worker and it’s no news that if Kuyt has a bad day at the office, the whole team suffers. Kuyt has been an exemplary ambassador, and, in my view should retain his place. Suarez is officially a striker but if he can adapt as a support proposition on the left to Torres, I can see a formidable and exciting future for Liverpool’s strike force. The idea is not have Liverpool play a standard 4-4-2. This has been tried many times and it fails outright. But if we can add more creativity, speed just left to Torres through Suarez in a typical 4-3-2-1 configuration, I can only think of this as being a successful transfer. Suarez can take on Torres’s position if the latter is out injured with Maxi taking up his usual position. Not a bad transfer, not bad at all. Here’s hoping Ajax and Liverpool come up with some sort of agreement and the player is at Anfield soon enough.
Liverpool host Fulham next, this Wednesday at 2100. Fulham can be assured that Anfield will be packed, in full voice and in support of the new-look Reds, a look of personality, confidence, that little bit of arrogance and discipline sparked by the imperious presence of Kenny Dalglish. Gerrard should be back in the centre with the ubiquitous Lucas providing a tight seal between defense and midfield. Miereles and Gerrard will drive the machine forward supported by (possibly) Maxi and Kuyt just behind Torres. Kelly will certainly retain his first-team place on the right, whereas the experiment with Johnson on the left will persist. Looks satisfactory at the moment so no need to change things, unless the man himself feels unsuited. Fulham are notoriously a tough team, but I can see Liverpool outplaying Mark Hughes’ men and I say this with some degree of confidence. Bring on Fulham!
See you next time.