Liverpool grabbed three vital points against Queens Park Rangers this afternoon in a thrilling encounter where it seemed both sides were intent on throwing away the chance to finish a game that was time and again, there for the taking.
Own goals from Richard Dunne and Steven Caulker, a brace from Eduardo Vargas, and a Philippe Coutinho drive summed up a memorable afternoon in the capital. Laurel and Hardy made a film once called County Hospital and for the faint hearted, that’s exactly where they’d end up if they watched this one! Even those two masters of comedy would have struggled to conjure up something to even rival this.
Brendan Rodgers is clearly reading The LFC File match preview because he started with Emre Can in front of the back four, Steven Gerrard just ahead of Jordan Henderson and a front three of Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Mario Balotelli. Glen Johnson kept his place at right back and Jose Enrique was preferred at left back in place of Alberto Moreno. Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren in the centre. This in my view was an ideal set up to give some assistance to Balotelli and play more to his strengths. What Rodgers didn’t do though, is instil some fight in the side.
QPR set about Liverpool in the same way that all of their opponents have this season. Physical, pressing hard and crowding Balotelli out of the game. The hosts almost went ahead on a couple of occasions with Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora in combative mood and constantly first to every forward ball. Colin Pascoe told the official LFC website “We always say ‘start quickly and move the ball quickly’…”. I’m not altogether sure who exactly they “say” that to because on this evidence, it isn’t the team. Having said that, there were some positives to take from the first half.
Emre Can slotted in seamlessly into the midfield and was one of a handful of players to make a difference. Most of the team seemed quite subdued as they huffed and puffed throughout the first period and were lucky to go into half time without conceding after Leroy Fer twice hit the bar.
The second half began in less frantic fashion and Liverpool were looking more dangerous. Steven Gerrard was more withdrawn and Emre Can pushed forward to good effect putting through two or three passes between the home side defence. For me, it looked as if Liverpool would go on to win such had the tide turned. However, QPR still looked dangerous and on 66 minutes, Rodgers made a double substitution. Joe Allen and Coutinho on for Can and Lallana. A minute later, the visitors took the lead. An own goal from Dunne after a quick free-kick caught the defence napping. His half-hearted clearance beating the helpless Alex McCarthy.
Just when it seemed as if Liverpool would stagger across the line and claim the spoils, the ghosts of defences past and present came to haunt us in spectacular style. on 87 minutes, Vargas beats Mignolet with a looping header. 1-1, squeaky bum time. A minute later, the first of four minutes injury time signalled by the fourth official, Coutinho cut in from the left of the QPR defence to unleash a right-footed drive past McCarthy following a flowing move reminiscent of the real Liverpool. 2-1 and back in the driving seat. Less than a minute later, Vargas heads in at the near post from a corner. 2-2 and Christmas had arrived for the hosts.
With 92 minutes on the clock, Coutinho ran toward the home defence before pushing a slide-rule through ball into the stride of Sterling. Looking up, the youngster squared to Balotelli for what would have been a fairytale end for him in a match where he’d missed two golden chances to put the game to bed. It wasn’t to be. Steven Caulker was on hand to convert it for him. Own goal and 2-3. Despair coursed through the home crowd, instantly replacing the jubilation that engulfed them just moments earlier. The hosts were ahead on points, only to allow drop their arms and take a haymaker to the jaw. Lights out. Good night.
Liverpool didn’t deserve to win this on the face of it. However, I have a saying, the best team always wins on the day. For all the word deserve get’s pushed around, the best team scores more than the other. However it comes. Point.
Brendan Rodgers has some serious thinking to do. Personally I felt Can and Lallana, the whole Liverpool side for that matter were beginning to make inroads into QPR. I would contend that the substitutions done more harm to the side than good. Notwithstanding Coutinho scoring. They looked as if they were going to do that anyway by the time the changes were made. Apparently there was a scout in the crowd from Real Madrid. His notes must have been wet from tears of laughter after seeing this.
Liverpool are now fifth. Don’t ask me how but they are. Simply due to determination and a bit of luck. Truth is, if they want to stay there, they’re going to have to improve. Monumentally.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
Liverpool travel down to west London this afternoon to take on Harry Redknapp’s struggling QPR side. Brendan Rodgers’ side need all three points in order to stay in touch with the leading pack. With the top four – including dark horses Southampton and West Ham all winning, the pressure is on. Not least in the light of recent news.
Daniel Sturridge has been ruled out for the next six weeks and so the task of scoring goes to summer signing Mario Balotelli. The Italian said last week he prefers to play with a partner rather than a lone striker. There were glimpses of this against West Bromwich Albion a fortnight ago. We saw some good link up play between he and Steven Gerrard. These words, Rodgers needs to pay heed to.
We’ve said before on The LFC File that Rodgers has to start playing to the strengths of his players. If he wants to fulfill a certain philosophy then Balotelli perhaps, doesn’t fit into the mobile, versatile and fast player mould like Sturridge or Luis Suarez. So perhaps he shouldn’t have bought the ex-Man City forward in that case. The formula was a winning one and he doesn’t have the player to make the equation work. My mum always used to say “cut your suit according to your clothe young man…!” And maybe this is good advice for the manager.
Emre Can is fit again and in contention. I’d like to see him play in Gerrard’s role in front of the defence or alongside Jordan Henderson. The captain playing further forward. In between Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana. That would make for the best use of Balotelli. Either that or partner him with Lallana or Fabio Borini in a front pair. The permutations are endless and it’s vital the right one is chosen. More likely I think we’ll see Gerrard in front of the back four. Joe Allen recalled beside Henderson with Sterling, Lallana and the No. 45 up front. For that reason, a draw seems likely to me unless Rodgers takes my mother’s advice!
Defence should see Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren in the centre with Alberto Moreno at left back. Right back? Glen Johnson would be a good choice as he needs a new contract and played pretty well when he came on against West Brom.
Rodgers is having to answer some questions now. He still is an exceptional man manager but his tactics and team selection will be put to the test. Especially with Sturridge being out for what will now be a third of the season.
Much rides on the next sequence of games beginning with this afternoon’s trip to the London. Can Liverpool capitalise on a poor side propping up the division? Or will there be a capitulation in the capital? Come teatime, Rodgers will have found streets paved with gold… Or egg on his face!
Emre Can is fit again and in contention. I’d like to see him play in Gerrard’s role in front of the defence or alongside Jordan Henderson. The captain playing further forward. In between Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana. That would make for the best use of Balotelli. Either that or partner him with Lallana or Fabio Borini in a front pair. The permutations are endless and it’s vital the right one is chosen. More likely I think we’ll see Gerrard in front of the back four. Joe Allen recalled beside Henderson with Sterling, Lallana and the No. 45 up front. For that reason, a draw seems likely to me unless Rodgers takes my mother’s advice! It might also be worth taking my advice and placing a bet on the draw at bookmaker PaddyPower as the odds should be healthy.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
The New York Kopites are hosting John Barnes at the Boot Room in New York City.
Up until now, this event was exclusive to NY Kopite members however they understand that many Liverpool supporters from around the world and different local supporter groups want to meet him. They want to give everyone the opportunity to meet the Liverpool Legend.
New York Kopites present LFC Legend John Barnes at The Boot Room NYC Liverpool Supporters Clubhouse December 13th.
Only 87 tickets are available to the general public for John Barnes’s first former player appearance in the United States.
For more info:
Purchase your ticket to this once in a lifetime event here:
An interesting scoreline. Following the public falling out between the Liverpool and England bosses, I fail to see how Roy Hodgson is doing anything other than scoring an own goal.
Brendan Rodgers and coach Mike Marsh have hit back at claims by Hodgson that Raheem Sterling is mistreated by the club and has apparently taken offense that the 19 year-old pleaded tiredness for England’s last two European Championship qualifiers against San Marino and Estonia.
I’m frankly at a loss as to what Hodgson is playing at. Well am I? The fact remains in my opinion that the ex-Liverpool boss is frankly bitter at his being found out and shown the door by the Merseyside club. One of the biggest in world football and one that he didn’t succeed at. The 67 year-old’s record at Liverpool (P31 W13 D8 L10) is the poorest of any single serving, full time first team manager since Don Welsh in the 1950s. And it seems, he knows it.
Some have called him a Scapegoat for the Gillet/Hicks era but I think he was simply the other cheek of the same backside. Poor owners, employing a poor manager. Simple. To replace Rafa Benitez with Hodgson was best described as a a folly. When one considers the success his predecessor had, it’s laughable to conceive Hodgson would be a suitable replacement. Stopgap, perhaps. Scapegoat, hardly.
Last year Hodgson said he wanted to “test” Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, by playing him when unfit. The result, the player was injured for the following two months with damaged ankle ligaments. This was not the last time either, as Sturridge is soon to return from a six-week lay off after another of Hodgson’s tests. This is nothing short of negligent. Why didn’t he test Tom Cleverley, Jack Wilshire or Wayne Rooney? None of that trio are exactly know for their injury-free record. The fact is that Sturridge was and is the player who’d be most missed of all of those. And by whom? The club that turned out to be more than he could handle.
Now he puts Sterling in front of the bus by revealing the youngster complained of being tired. For a man who’s been a manager for near-on 40 years, I’m staggered that he’s never heard a player complain of tiredness before. If he hasn’t, then I’d suggest none of his players prior were daft enough to trust him with that statement. That’s the only reason I can think of. If they did, then he didn’t tell the press about it. The man simply wants to be vindictive and cause Liverpool to lose the form of an important player.
Rodgers has handled Sterling correctly in ensuring the boy gets enough rest between games. He’s 19 for God’s sake, and the public and press who choose to criticise him for that are nothing but pathetic. Perhaps they should ask Michael Owen. A player who’s wish to “…rest when I’m 40…” when Gérard Houllier tried to take him out of the limelight, retired for the last year whilst his teammate of the same age Steven Gerrard plays on at the highest level. A statement that hasn’t gone forgotten by the ex-England striker.
Rodgers is proving to be a capable manager. Injuries to key players have robbed him thus far, of the chance to continue the work of last season in ernest up until now. His methods have proved to bring the best out of players such as Jordan Henderson and Sturridge who up until working with the 41 year-old Northern Irishman were considered to be wasted talents. The proof of the pudding is in the performances of both, let alone Sterling. Hodgson on the other hand is out of touch. Raymond Verheijen called him stupid recently in the press and the Dutch Fitness Coach couldn’t have been more right couldn’t have been more accurate in his description.
All that said, the weekend is soon upon us and no doubt Sterling will have had a good week’s rest in order to travel down to London to face Queens Park Rangers. Sturridge also could well be fit. That is, no thanks to England and their outmoded dinosaur of a manager.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
The Premier League is back after what seems like a month long International break. Liverpool travel down to London to face bottom of the league QPR and Paul is joined by Mike and the lads from the new Reds Room Podcast, Jay Riley and Graeme Kelly to bring you the completely Uncensored Match Build Up Show!
Jamie Carragher has tweeted a pic calling for people to “save the date” of the 10th anniversary of Liverpool’s famous Istanbul Champions League win, alongside #Istanbul10. What do YOU think/hope it means?