As usual, before Liverpool games, I sit back a few minutes before kick off listening to a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. I was particularly looking forward to watching yesterday’s match primarily due to Liverpool playing at Anfield which adds that extra spark and tends – only just these days – to lift an underachieving team. Secondly, I was hoping to see an improved performance by a Liverpool team which has been totally out of sorts as of late. We needed a good performance by the Reds to lift our spirits.
Liverpool did just that. Still lots of room for improvement but the performance put in yesterday was reminiscent of a team wanting to win things, to score goals and most of all keep a clean sheet. The latter was a futile exercise but there was much to be positive about and look forward to. Needless to say, the feeling deep down is that Liverpool will fail to build on this next time round against Bolton. Not being pessimistic but acquiring stability is typically a roller coaster ride so don’t be put back if all Liverpool can achieve against Bolton away is a boring draw, although this may even be too much asking for.
Back to yesterday’s game and in my view leaving Poulsen out was a key decision. I’m not yet certain what’s happened to Poulsen but, unfortunately, the less he plays, the better a chance Liverpool have of being adventurous, creative. Poulsen is too one-dimensional, playing the ball sideways. Playing Poulsen is like trying to drive a car with the hand brake not entirely released. Liverpool tend to focus play in the midfield, loose the ball and end up having to defend in an effort not to concede. Aggressiveness is the key to an attacking side so deploying such a defensive midfielder means the team can’t move up to top gear. Not much to say about such a situation: just don’t play Poulsen altogether. Lucas needs to up his game and I’m sure he’ll cement his place in the first team; and he’s got a perfect chance to do that. In this respect, the Brazilian (sounds a bit ironic using the word Brazilian..), is a far better alternative to Poulsen. He tackles cleanly, has vision coming forward and is not rooted to the midfield quarters. That said, still a huge way to becoming that super player we all hoped for on his arrival. He’s improved a great deal in the last few months so the only way can only be up.
A performance which left me awestruck was that put in by Maxi and how he owed that to the fans. Maxi has been poor, terrible I must say. One senses he has the potential to be a great squad player, the way he controls the ball, the dynamics all point to a player capable of some neat flashy football. And I’m sure this is the case, but many times, he’s chased shadows and only shown glimpses of the player Liverpool fans were so excited about a few months back. Yesterday was a different scenario and Maxi was pivotal – together with Stevie – in pushing the Reds forward. Quite simply class. Again, not much to state, just more of this expected!
My man of the match has to be Sotirios Kyrgiakos. The Greek international has shown, not on one occasion that he has the qualities to be a first-team choice in defense, indeed take over stewardship of the defense duties in Jamie’s absence. He is a tower of strength, cool and likes having a pop at goal. Partnering Skrytel results in a best of two World’s scenario. Skrytel is swift, tackles wisely, but Sotirios gives that added personality when defending high balls and muscling opponents away. And, as mentioned, he doubles up as an attacker when the Reds attack spot kicks. Carragher seemed relaxed on the right; actually I was quite impressed with his sprints and attacking passion – let’s not forget that Carragher has always been very defensive minded.
The only problem in having a good pairing in CB and two good full backs (currently Carra and Konchesky) is what to do with the likes of Agger and Auerlio. More worried about the former who has found it hard to impress Roy and is a player we can’t just ignore. The problem these days with top clubs having two great players in the same position is that it’s hard to play them both regularly. Who would you play – Skrytel or Agger? Playing both is a no option since they share similar characteristics. Rotation is healthy but should not be overused. So, inevitably, one of the two has to be sacrificed and it’s up to the player to understand and accept that a peripheral role is equally important within a club of Liverpool’s stature.
Last but not least, how relieving it was to watch Torres score his second goal for the club this season. I used the word watch, but I actually didn’t enjoy the goal live as the video stream went bananas a few seconds before the goal. You can imagine how cheesed off I was, but anyway. The anger was soon to fade and Torres’ frustrations must have been cut down too after his much improved performance on the pitch culminated in a goal which ultimately proved to be the winner against a stubborn Blackburn side, undoubtedly helped by a fantastic keeper. We can only now keep our fingers crossed this is just the beginning for Torres.
All, in all, a great game to watch and a massive three points in the bag. It was a collective effort and one which needs to be used as an example to how Liverpool should approach all games, home or away. Being aggressive is the way forward. Cautious, yes, not too much though. Scoring one goal is not enough. Winning a game of football is all about scoring goals (and trying not to concede) so sitting back and conserving a one-goal lead should not be part of the system. We’ve seen this many times. Score a goal and slowly let the opposing team get back in it.
I re-iterate that this may not necessarily lead to another game won at Bolton but may be the start of the stabilizing sequence of which leads to the team finally gelling together. Expect one or two more defeats and/or draws before such a unit is put in place.
See you next time.