Bad to worse? Or is this as good as it gets for Liverpool?

Sunday, 13 December 2009 ·

A finish of pure magic and a lucky deflection early in the second half put Liverpool to the sword in a game Liverpool needed to win to prove Benitez's claim that Liverpool will finish in the top four. His team looked like they wanted to prove that point as they outmuscled and harried Arsenal into conceding possession in the middle of the park. A swift counter attack in the 11th minute saw Gerrard sprint down the right to cross for an unmarked Torres in the area who, unfortunately for Liverpool's fans, shot tamely first-time at Almunia. The remainder of the first hal;f saw the unrelenting harrying by Liverpool's players continue unabated and they got their just reqrds in the 40th minute as Aurelio sent in a free-kick that Almunia could not handle under pressure from Lucas. The ball fell to Kuyt who stabbed it into the net to send Anfield into raptures before half-time.
The second half was completely the opposite but it was only a lucky deflection, first off Aurelio then Carragher, that confused Johnson enough to put into his own net. Liverpool's heads dropped straight away as Arsenal looked to capitalise on a shocked Liverpool and Anfield crowd and eight minutes later a cross from the Liverpool left was miscontrolled by Johnson and Arshavin seized the opportunity, creating the tiniest of space and, with little backlift, sent a shot past Reina that he was unable to even dive for.
The remainder of the second half provided no real entertainment as Arsenal looked to close out the game with Liverpool unable create anything meaningful in attack despite Aquilani replacing the tireless Mascherano in the 65th minute. This scoreline might have looked a little different at half-time had Howard Webb given the clearest penalty Anfield has seen for a long time, after Gallas had upended Gerrard in the box. The decision not to give the penalty was completely incorrect and Webb's position could given him no excuses as he looked to be in the perfect position to see it. The only possible explanation why has to be that Gerrard had lost control of the ball which looked to have been going out but if a foul has been committed it does not matter where the ball is. A foul is a foul. Saying that, Liverpool should have taken the few chances they did create in a dominant first half and should have defended much better when their flimsy defence was put under the first bit of pressure during the second half. They didn't and Wigan Athletic, who play at Anfield on Wednesday, must believe they can snatch victory from a team that looks no better than a mid table side. Level on points with Birmingham City, Liverpool are a far-cry from the team that finished second last year. Which begs the question: has Benitez squeezed all the good from a squad of average players and is it time for wholesale changes? Or will he be able to turn things around with the players he does have and make Anfield the fortress of last season?

Graham Matheson

3 comments:

woop woop said...
15 December 2009 at 00:16  

This scoreline might have looked a little different at half-time had Howard Webb given the clearest penalty Anfield has seen for a long time, after Gallas had upended Gerrard in the box-----oh well i suppose that is the perilous life that a professional diver leads!

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