My fellow REDS,
A worried report… but with a hope for better things to come..
We had the “signs” leading to it.. they were soon confirmed in Roy Hodgson’s pre-match interview.. Europa League is definitely below the Premier League in terms of our priorities for the season.
Thus we saw basically a B-team being set out, very unlike the eleven that started against Arsenal.
Reina was in goal, as he should, to redeem himself after his lapse of concentration against Arsenal last Sunday. And we are to thank him for sparing us from a more scathing attack from the press on our team line-up when he saved the embarassment of conceding an away goal with a fine save… all that after a penalty save suffered by Joe Cole.
As expected, Kyrgiakos came into the heart of defence… but due to Gerrard being “rested” for the Man City game, Carra came in as the skipper… leaving Skrtel also enjoying the “break” on the bench. Martin Kelly and Aurelio completed the back four.
In central midfield, both Lucas and Christian Poulsen were employed, explaining to a certain extent our sterile performance in the first half. Maxi, Jovanovic and Cole would complete the forward line aiming to support Babel upfront.
In all honesty, it was a wretched first 45 minutes… seeing our Men In Red struggle to carve out any opening. We would take heed in the return leg what more with a hostile Turkish crowd. The Anfield fans tried to rouse our players with some energetic singing, their presence at the stadium greatly encouraged by discounted Match Ticket prices. Yet it was the Turkish entourage that proved the loudest and that was just a small section in the stands… Imagine what it would be like in the Huseyin Avri Aker Stadium in 7 days time.
But the game turned on a fortunate ricochet of the ball that fell nicely at the feet of Cole. He picked up Babel with a fine pass who chose to delicately place his shot away from the keeper giving us an unexpected to advantage right at the stroke of half-time !!
Out of the second half, Babel, playing his very first competitive game, was soon replaced by Torres to a rapturous cheer. And our El Nino soon blasted a shot that needed a save from the keeper. In a sustained barrage at the Trabzonspor goal, they were to concede a penalty after a fine release by Torres led to a run by Lucas that was uncleanly checked by the Turkish defender.
Anticipation was high as Cole placed the ball and was looking to score his first goal for the club. Alas, it was not to be.. The keeper made a fine save to deny Cole… and would be equally up to the mark throughout the game. Soon after that, we had a let-off when a Trabzonspor forward in the clear with only Reina to beat agonized to see his shot blocked and bounced high over the bar.
The momentum that we built up from the start of the second half soon fizzled out as again Trabzonspor prove themselves to be quite adept at the passing game. We were seating too far back for comfort and invited pressure from the away side.
At the final whistle, there was hardly any singing.. just a clap of hands for the win..
There’s a lot of work to be done and Roy Hodgson and his staff knows it. We need a sequence of games with our best players on the field, playing together to build on their sharpness plus their teamwork and understanding.
These are still early days.. but warning signs are there for us all to take heed..