7 games of destiny for Liverpool
We have seen Liverpool lose their unbeaten run to one of their arch-rivals last weekend, and how. We outplayed Man Utd and held the most chances, but with a defensive stalemate keeping a firm barrier in front of goal, it seemed destined to be a no score draw, until a set piece in the last minute of normal time found Liverpool exposed defensively as Rio Ferdinand glanced a freekick past a despairing hand from Pepe Reina. A proverbial dagger to the heart. I digress a little to state Gary Neville's celebrations were less of the innocent overtones he professes to submit and more of a retributory essence. I would be happy to say the FA have found so, but the FA's movements have been questionable at best recently, but they were informed as such by the Greater Manchester Police, who have no doubt that the celebrations instigated a stand-off between a section of both fans outside Old Trafford.
Since that we have had to overcome a very resilient Portsmouth to advance into the last 16 of the FA Cup. While in the first half a somewhat dubious penalty decision gave Steven Gerrard the opportunity to put us ahead and a John Arne Riise fierce low drive doubled the lead before half time, Liverpool were kept on the back foot by a South Coast side determined to fight back. Sean Davis got ahead of most to glance a header past Reina. It is at set pieces that Liverpool have been found recently to be hesitant. Someone must call and make a decision to clear high balls, be it someone already designated pre-match or on the pitch, but someone must take heed of such a call. We should tighten up on set pieces, one of a few areas which need attention.
Doing the unbeaten run of 12 league games out of 13 since our defeat to Fulham away, with one draw and one defeat, we had conceded only 4 goals, scoring 24, a return of almost 84%. According to the premiership form guide over the last 8 games, Liverpool are second behind Chelsea. As last week's defeat came as a bitter pill to swallow, the FA Cup game on Sunday served as a decent turn of recuperation. The medicine has to be in the overview of the previously mentioned data. Plus, we have two games in hand on Utd, if not they and Chelsea, and it is up to Liverpool to continue that step forward.
We wait for the arrival of Chilean Mark Gonzalez from Spanish side Albacete, now on loan back to La Liga with Real Sociedad until the end of this season. We also have from La Liga's Villarreal Jan Kromkamp, Brondy defender Daniel Agger, and have acquired our prodigal son back in Robbie Fowler, whose experience and passion for the club is hoped to be equalled by training and fitness to further strengthen our resolve and drive ahead.
Starting with Wednesday, there are 7 games which can shape our step ahead. Birmingham at Anfield; Chelsea, Charlton and Wigan away; the FA Cup tie with Man Utd followed by Arsenal in the league both at Anfield; then the 'small issue' of a trip to the Estadio de Luz in the Champions League to face Benfica. After these 7 games, we'll be facing Charlton, Benfica and Arsenal in our following four games after. For me, the next 7 games are very, very key to our success.
We have lose some edge to our game at Old Trafford and had to stand well against a determined Portsmouth comeback on Sunday. Now we need to get back to our basics as we had done previously, get that edge back into our game and continue a good rich vein of form, because I believe we can obtain quite a lot at the moment.