Apr 13, 2014

Lucky Liverpool Remind Us Why The Premiership Race is Far From Over

Liverpool got a lucky winner at Anfield today to defeat Manchester City 3-2 and inch closer to their first league championship in 24 years. It was a spirited victory for Brendan Rodgers' men on an emotional day when Anfield marked the quarter century anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. If Reds can "hold serve" and win their remaining four games, they will rightfully look back on this match as one of the deciding moments of their first championship campaign of the Premiership era.


It is now time to paraphrase a line Harvey Keitel's character from Pulp Fiction: "Let's not start [performing fellatio on each other] just yet." That wasn't the paraphrase, just the PG-13 version of the quote. The paraphrase is: Let's not get ahead of ourselves. 

Not only because Liverpool's victory was lucky in the end. You create your own luck in many instances, and Reds were on the other side of this equation the last time these teams met. Getting lucky victories is itself fine and good and over the course of a season these things tend to cancel themselves out. Plus, like we said, you do create your own luck. No, the cause for concern here if you're a Liverpool supporter was the way in which the team fell apart under the City onslaught in the second half and the lack of a response, both on the pitch and tactically.

Credit certainly goes to the creative elan of City's superb midfielders David Silva and Samir Nasri and the disruptive force of James Milner whose entry clearly tilted the balance in favor of the visitors. But Liverpool also let City back into the match--well before halftime even and then didn't (or weren't able to? Which may be more troubling) put up a fight. Where was Luis Suarez in the second half? His one memorable scene was a shameful dive that should have earned him a second yellow card. Liverpool's defenders were at times hopelessly overmatched and it was only thanks to Steven Gerrard's work that Reds' defense didn't fall apart completely. 

It wasn't just on the pitch that Liverpool were overmatched, but tactically as well. Why did it take Rodgers so long to go to his bench -- and not until after the equalizer -- when City were clearly having their way with his defense? Milner came on in the 50th minute and Reds quite obviously didn't have any answers for him. Why did Rodgers let that play out for 16 minutes -- and again allow two goals to be scored -- before he brought in a defensive substitution? Why bring a defensive substitution when the game is tied anyway and your team needs the victory? These are all questions nobody is going to be asking because Liverpool came out winners. That and the Kop faithful venerate Rodgers by this point and are not going to second-guess him, especially after such a crucial victory. Which is fine. Rodgers deserves credit for Liverpool's surprising success this year. But that doesn't mean he's infallible. 

These shortcomings may come back and haunt the Merseysiders before the season is over and could prove fatal in their title pursuit. Liverpool are fortunate their clash with Chelsea will also be played at Anfield, where they clearly revel in the raucous atmosphere. But remember, Jose Mourinho is a brilliant defensive mind. Don't expect his side to roll over the way City did in the early stages of today's game. Besides Chelsea, Liverpool also play a Norwich side desperate for points and visit Selhurst Park where Crystal Palace defeated Chelsea a fortnight ago.

Yes, Liverpool are closer to a Premiership title than ever and yes if they win out they will hoist the silverware no matter what happens elsewhere. But as we saw today, this team still has flaws and Liverpool fans should be careful before they, um, start celebrating just yet.


4 comments:

  1. What a sorry sour one eyed arsehole you are.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So you only publish comments after your approval.
    I can see why with the inflammatory rubbish you write.

    ReplyDelete