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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Liverpool v CSKA Sofia: Benitez dilemma?

Tonight's 2nd leg has the trimmings of an entertaining match. The only thing is if the players are focused in that manner themselves. The fans will be, as fans are, usually, when preparing to watch a match, but they, and I, wouldn't want a repeat of the 1st half against FBK Kaunas at Anfield, which almost put me to sleep. The 2nd half needed Steven Gerrard and Djibril Cisse to inject some life into the match. Critical, but if Liverpool are to progress towards looking like worthy European champions, worthy Premiership contenders, then they should play much better. Sami Hyypia, Xabi Alonso and Steve Finnan have spoken about our recent performances and how they need sharpening up.

Tonight is not only about playing well to go through, it's about playing well to take further into the group stage and beyond. To take further into the Premiership and beyond. No doubt the players need to have that lift themselves, instead of being inspired by Gerrard's presence. It's not to say that they do but it certainly seems so. With Gerrard out with a calf injury, the Liverpool unit have to band together and play with the grace of a team confident of winning games regardless of who is playing and who they are playing against. That is seen as a tough call without Gerrard but such are the requirements right now. With Gerrard or without, the team should be performing well and they can do that tonight.

Rafael Benitez has spoken to Cisse to ignore the speculation in the press. I have to question Cisse's positioning. For me, he and Fernando Morientes have to start upfront. Milan Baros has, unfortunately, departed to Aston Villa. We do not need to be a lone-striker side, we want to encourage scoring more, that is where we need to improve. Gerrard single-handedly against Middlesbrough, Cisse missed several opportunities on Saturday where we needed to depend on a Alonso free-kick, and we have the players who can create and score. I don't like to see Cisse on the wide flank. Bolo Zenden and Luis Garcia, if they play, should be encourage heavily to deliver crosses high and low, for once our forwards sense the two wingers on the ball, they can then anticipate a good position for the delivery. It sounds obvious, but Benitez has spoken of having width and it is here, too, that Liverpool should improve, aiding the others to score from another angle.

Preferred line-up (4-4-2): Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Luis Garcia, Alonso, Hamann, Zenden, Morientes, Cisse.



Blogger Abdul said...

A poor performance and result from Liverpool last night. Redsman, you were right when you said that it was important for Liverpool to play well in order to get in the groove for greater challenges ahead. Unfortunately, Liverpool did not do that. But I guess what really matters is that they are in the hat for the gorup stages.

8/24/2005 9:56 am


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