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Monday, December 15, 2008

Liverpool’s title credentials under my examination

I made a trip down to Anfield on Saturday to check out the title credentials of Liverpool. It has been a while since I have been up there, the hospitality of the staff at Anfield was tremendous and I always love visiting this football friendly City.

With the groans of dissatisfaction ringing around Anfield on Saturday you could be forgiven for thinking that Liverpool are a club in crisis, but in actual fact we remain top of the Premier League, despite a third straight home draw that has raised serious doubts about our title-winning credentials.

My wife, who is fast developing an interest for the game made some interesting observation on Dossena and Kuyt. So much has been made by Benitez about our squad being stronger this year. I would however question three key areas of the pitch, where in my view we don't have the adequate cover to expose teams when they sit back at Anfield.

Riise v Dossena

We sold Riise and bought Dossena to provide cover for the injury prone, but very talented Aurelio – for me there is no question that Dossena lacks the pace and intelligence in his game to cover for Aurelio – he was exposed for both goals on Saturday. I don't think Riise let us down too many times, save that moment in the Champion's league.

Arbeloa v?

Arveloa has been simply awesome this season. He is full of running and is great going forward and defending. But who can provide cover for him? Finnan was a solid player on the right and I wish Rafa did more to persuade him to stay.

Crouch v Keane

Keane has been struggling this season and he will find it increasingly difficult to fit into the Liverpool system. Crouch on the other had was a real threat, especially when he came off the bench. Keane simply does not influence games in the same way.

The league table does not lie, Liverpool are top and perhaps rightly so. I think if we had the right cover in the above key areas of the pitch we could have moved clear off Chelsea and United.

We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Anfield it was a great game to watch. I hope Liverppool can pick up at home and continue their great away record. If we can get Nando back for the second half of the season and avoid any further injuries then we have a real chance of winning the title.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the big differences this season is;

1) The form of "the pass master"
2) Riera brings more balance to the team.
3) Team has more experience and luck.

12/15/2008 8:04 pm

Blogger johnt said...

I enjoyed the match & wasnt too disappointed at a draw, we are missing Torres badly,when he comes back, we will see a much better Liverpool.

12/15/2008 8:15 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are spot on skipper about the full back positions. arbeloa and aurelio are good but without them, we are very exposed in those areas.

we certainly have better balance in midfield with riera. kuyt has also done very well on the right. up front we clearly miss torres, but who wouldn't. keane is a good player but cnanot play as the lone striker.

liverpool are top of the league but will need to improve to stay there. i think they can do it but it will very close between them, utd and chelsea. SKG

12/15/2008 9:01 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Firstly, nice article with a perspective on Anfield on EFT for once. If others wish to write in with experiences of their team's ground, regardless of where it is or who, or of other grounds, then do write to us at the '', where we will moderate and potentially put it up on here.

Secondly, 'JohnT', nice picture.

Thirdly, the 4th draw at Anfield. When you look at Stoke, Fulham and West Ham, they were no-score draws. Hull pushed us to 0-2 before Gerrard scored. Does that tell in the calibre of our opponents or in us? Being top and failing to grab points from games where we expect to could be too much expectation, tellingly boos ranout at Anfield at full time.

Now I heard on Talksport one guest saying he couldnt work out why there were boos as we were top of the table. I hope he is reading this. Being top now is nice and comfortable, a good position to lead from. I personally preferred we were in 2nd and point behind the leaders, a sit puts pressure on them to maintain a winning run to keep ahead. But as leaders, we alternatively have the forefront to know what is expected each game to stay ahead.

Now the expectation is we win game sat Anfield to turn it into the formidable fortress of years gone by, to put fear into opponents and break them down. We haven't done that sufficiently thus far and we appear to be more stronger away than home. But regardless whether the game is, we need to be more thorough. And we have a very good solid chance of winning what we have missed out on for almost two decades....twenty years. That is why LFC fans booed after the West Ham and Hull games at home. We are that close to maintaining a run to the title, to beating our arch rivals Man Utd and strong contenders in 2nd place Chelsea that any slight hindrance will unnerve the fans.

I just wish that guest, and others, would actually think to comprehend that and not look at 1st place NOW as some ticket to prosperity. Football is unpredictable and things can change. We don't want that to happen to us now. And it is about time. Rafa said we have until February to solidify our position in the league, meaning he is looking at both the title and the CL, at the least.

Having gone behind to Hull and a disastrous Carragher own goal (anyone noticed how he has scored own goals AND come forward to shoot at goal?? Not the Carragher of before), just seemed very out-of-the-ordinary. To come back through Gerrard, bombard Hull and still not win it also seems bizarre. Some blame the substitutions but I sense Rafa could possibly be dangling bait to certain individuals like denying meat to beasts before they devour intended victims.

Usually the theory is to put right what was wrong in the next game. We are due next at The Emirates, and that is going to be as crucial a game as any other of the top 4 teams. Arsenal will want to push back into the top 4, and we will need to be on our toes to get anything from them, much less three points. And I think if we manage to beat Arsenal, not only would that be 3pts, and maintain being top of the table, but it would herald for me that Liverpool ARE focused and sustaining a thorough chase for the title.

12/15/2008 9:14 pm

Blogger johnt said...

thanks redsman,hope you like my new blog

12/15/2008 11:46 pm

Blogger T said...

A pleasure to read Skipper.

I agree whole heartedly with first anon.... that is if the 'pass master' he/she is referring to is Alonso.

Redsman, you have so much of quality to say on your team...

12/16/2008 2:46 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liverpool will not win the Premier league this year . There is an inability to win at home and ludicrous comments that we are now getting SCORE draws at home ignore the fact that we do not have goal scorers . It can be seen that ManU are closing ominously behind and they do not suffer this lack of goal-scoring ability....

12/17/2008 4:26 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Out of nine home games so far, we have won four against Fulham, Stoke, West Ham and Hull. Not good, but may not count at the end. Not an inability to win, only one at the moment, it would appear. This does look similar to last season where we dropped points in many draws, rather than defeats, and that is concerning. We have had the ONE score draw at home, and at the least, even if it was Hull, we managed to level. We should have, should have, taken over those teams and that's about as consoling as it gets.

Phil Brown has gotten way over his head now. There seemed to have been a foul on Turner as Riera came in, only the ref knows whether he saw it or not. The second is less so a foul. However, we took the game to Hull immensely and how we didn't score more is something else. How Brown can feel he should have left Anfield with 3pts is bewildering but no one is saying anything about it, except for me.

As for Man Utd, you can say they are not suffering from goal-scoring ability? Do you want to re-think that comment? They didnt score against Spurs, with Ronaldo and £60m+ of striking value available. Previously they were held off by a spirited Sunderland, who only succumbed to a last-gasp injury time deflection and only goal by a central defender. Again, before Sunderland, at The Stadium Of Manchester, they managed only the one goal and that followed a goalless end at Villa Park.

Now, Man Utd were eight points from top after the Villa game, where they had Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo. Against Man City and Sunderland they had Berbatov, Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez on the bench, only that Tevez came on against Sunderland. On Saturday only Rooney was missing due to suspension. Now they are six points. Not an inability of scoring, no, but they should be scoring more, wouldn't you say?

We've seen over the weekend Arsenal pegged back by Middlesbrough, and Chelsea drawing for the 4th time at home, quite unprecedented, to West Ham on Sunday. What does that say? Nothing other than the top team drops points, so do the other challengers and it happened before last month.

The results now only count for sustaining a position for the challenge come post-Xmas. The real work will occur after Xmas. That's why Benitez said:

"We have a clear opportunity to win the title and now we are top it depends on what we do. If we win, then nobody will overtake us. We have enough confidence, and if we keep winning the confidence will increase. And we will play better.

"I was surprised to read what I was supposed to have said. But really not surprised, because everyone in Liverpool knows about this, it was not true."

How you can, and anyone else, say we won't win the league this year? How does anyone possibly know what will happen? It is given that Man Utd, having to face its competitors at home, will reap points? It is given they will perform strongly? Chelsea are the top bet for the title still DESPITE drawing four times and losing twice at home so far? They've only won three times so far at Stamford Bridge and yet they were still top dog for the title!

It's expectation that is ruling the betting stakes and rumour machines right now. Recall that a number of unofficial sources were stating we would be ousted from the top 4 by Everton and Aston Villa or finish 4th at the least. None of those voices dared to mention something like Arsenal would be out of the top 4 near Xmas as a consequence of Villa's performances, and Hull would be in the top 10, win at The Emirates and take the lead at Anfield. I've said football can be unpredictable but hardly anyone pays attention. Their ears are certainly standing up now.

The title is all down to us. Wait and see.


12/17/2008 5:48 pm


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