Monday, December 30, 2013

2-1 Times 2: Thoughts on Liverpool's Shaky Run of Form

photo by [3/4 of zer0]via PhotoRee
Scott has some excuses thoughts on Liverpool's last two horrific losses games:
Top of the league at Christmas and now 5th and 6 points from the top before New Year’s Eve.  How could this have happened?  Well, like most things in life, it is no single thing but rather a combination of factors:
1)      Liverpool squandered chances.  In the first game against Manchester City, Liverpool played at least as well as the home team and likely deserved a point for their pressing, creativity and determination.  But too many chances went begging and such opportunities must be seized when playing against the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea.  While there were not as many chances against Chelsea, failing to convert certainly played a role.
2)      Mignolet had a bad day against Manchester City.  I think on almost any other day, Simon does not let Negredo’s weak shot dribble in.  But dribble in it did.
3)      The competition was excellent.  To be fair, it wasn’t all down to Liverpool not executing.  Manchester City created scores of opportunities also, while Chelsea were relentless in their high pressing and quick strikes.  Plus, the darker blues were aggressively defensive (overly so at times) when they needed to be.
4)      The referees were bad in the Manchester City game.  I’m not saying Liverpool lost both games because of poor decisions, but nobody would win the argument that those decisions did not have an enormous impact on the game.  In the first game, the standout error was the blatant miscue that saw the assistant referee flag Raheem Sterling offside when he was several feet onside.  Despite Brendan Rodgers’ comments regarding Lee Mason’s proximity to Manchester (with which I disagree), the fault is clearly the assistant referee’s.  And this is not one of those “could go either way” things.  He was way onside and was through on goal with acres of space and only Joe Hart ahead.

5)      The referees were bad in the Chelsea game.  Jose Mourinho can throw all the tantrums he likes and accuse Liverpool of all manner of theatrics, but the simple fact is that Samuel Eto’o’s (hmmm, the possessive looks a little redundant there) challenge on Jordan Henderson likely would have drawn a red if it were later in the game.  It’s pretty amazing it didn’t even get a yellow.  A game against a 10-man Chelsea squad would have been a very different game indeed.  Especially given that Eto’o scored later.  And, if he had at least gotten a yellow, when he did deliberately trip Suarez later, he should have gotten a second yellow and been out.  Instead, no foul was called there either.  To be fair, that was a tough call because Suarez didn’t have the ball and Howard Webb would have had to give a penalty if he called it.  But, from the replays, there was no doubt it was a foul and that it was deliberate.  And the fact that Suarez was mugged by John Terry in the six-yard box with no call was also nearly criminal.  And all this against a Chelsea team that was the beneficiary of a phantom penalty call against West Brom.

As a side note, I have to say I’m relieved that Jose Mourinho is no longer at Real Madrid.  While I’m a much bigger fan of Liverpool than of Los Blancos, my year in Madrid has created a special place in my football fan heart for them and it was always so hard to cheer for them when they were led by the arrogant, hypocritical Mourinho.  Yes, he is near genius at times as a tactical manager, but he is to coaches what Luis Suarez used to be to players – at least Suarez is growing up (I doubt he’ll be poking eyes out in his 50s like Jose).  To call Suarez a diver in the Chelsea game while defending the likes of Oscar and Hazard is the height of hypocrisy.  Suarez did not dive and, in fact, struggled to keep going when fouled on more than one occasion.  The Chelsea players, however, threw themselves to the turf with the gentlest of nudges every chance they could after the 75th minute.  Even my 9 year old son commented on their theatrics.  Chelsea may have joined Manchester United on my short list of teams that I hope lose every game.
Still, despite a rough Christmas, Liverpool was in both of the games until the end against top teams away from home.  I expect the Reds to rebound into the top four right away.
This is farlieonfootie for December 30.

No comments:

Post a Comment