|photo by kevindooley||via PhotoRee|
Scott is happy despite the unexpected draw:
Sporting my Christmas-gift Steven Gerrard Liverpool jersey and still glowing from a midweek dismantling of Everton, I was full of confidence, a little craft beer and an optimism that comes with the knowledge that your team can pull 4 points clear of their nearest Champions League spot rivals as I settled down to watch the Reds rout that certain team which has proven surprisingly formidable over the past few years. It would seem that West Bromwich Albion was of another mind. And Kolo Toure lost his, even if only momentarily. As it was, such a momentary lapse of reason was all it took for the Ivorian to want to move to the dark side of the moon.
While not creating as many chances as a few days before, Liverpool were comfortably in control throughout the first half. It was Philippe Coutinho providing the catalyst for the scoring sequence when he found Raheem Sterling with a piercing pass. Luis Suarez, screaming for the ball just to the inside, finally realized he had to move elsewhere and so moved to the outside where the youngster delivered the ball more as a handoff than a pass. The Uruguayan twisted and turned but, when seeing no opening for a shot, looked to the far post and, with a brilliant left-footed chip, picked out the barely-onside Daniel Sturridge who volley-tapped home. If I was full of confidence before that 24th minute strike, I was bursting with it after. Not even failing to double the lead before halftime could change that.
But then the teams switched sides and the guys with the striped shirts started to really move the ball around. Fortunately, in the 60th minute, Suarez found himself in a little space and toyed with his countryman, Lugano, before side-footing what was sure to mean 3 points for the Reds and another great points haul for the captain of my fantasy team. Really!? A kick save? Damn you Ben Foster!
From there, Liverpool seemed to grow a little more desperate to put things away while West Brom seemed to grow into the game. And then, in the 67th minute, Kolo went uncomfortably numb after making a pass for which I would berate any of the 10 year olds I coach. Much is being made of Brendan Rodgers’ refusal to scapegoat Toure, and I do believe that is the best way to handle the situation, especially when considering that Rodgers encourages, and nearly demands, that his players play the ball out of the back rather than booting it. But, soccer is about making decisions (among other things) and, even allowing for the fact that he was put in a tight spot by the pass from Simon Mignolet, a weak, nearly no-look square pass right outside your own 18 is pretty much never a good decision. Just ask my 10 year old team. Or my 7 year old girls team, for that matter.
Of course, all is not lost and there was bound to be at least one hiccup in the runup to May. And, 2 points clear of 5th is better than we’ve been at other points in the season. So a league title has almost certainly slipped over the horizon. It could be worse. We could be Manchester United!
This is farlieonfootie for February 4.