|photo by richardmasoner||via PhotoRee|
Early on at Anfield this past Saturday, the stench of “we should win but…” pervaded as Liverpool dominated Queens Park Rangers, but created few quality chances and squandered the ones they did. With Maxi Rodriguez (the alter ego of Maxi Man, the soccer virtues of whom have been extolled previously on these pages) in the lineup, statistically the Reds should dump in some goals but frustration quickly seeped into the Liverpudlian collective conscience.
While perhaps starting earlier, it was quickly at full saturation when, in the 9th minute, Luis Suarez hit the ‘keeper in the chest on a free header, further extending his goalless streak. Two minutes later the Uruguayan was able to simultaneously vent his frustrations and augment those of his teammates when he shot from a nearly completely obtuse angle while ignoring the waving hands of those wearing red. Clearly sensing that Suarez might explode (or bite them) if he went too much longer without a goal, every red shirt was forcing the ball to him rather than taking the shot themselves.
The spectre of another shoulda/coulda/woulda became all the more frightening in the 30th minute, when Dirk Kuyt played Maxi through with a well-weighted pass that was well-taken by the former super hero, but Radek Cerny was packing kryptonite and thwarted the effort. Whether it was kryptonite or some other performance enhancement substance to blame, there is no denying that Liverpool attempts on goal have brought out the best in opposing goalkeepers lately (Joe Hart need not compile a highlight reel – he only needs to carry around a copy of his performance against Liverpool). Two more spectacular saves in the 60th and 67th minute will undoubtedly convince many that a goalkeeper from Czech Republic doesn’t need to wear a mask and helmet to be super.
The only effort that beat the QPR net-man was an open header (from Charlie Adam’s cross) in the 47th minute by Suarez who -- to the collective relief of his fellow teammates, the Kop, Kenny Dalglish and fantasy soccer enthusiasts the world over -- rippled the back (really the side) of the net with authority and not a little gnashing of his formidable teeth. While Adam deserved the assist, it was a shame that Maxi Man did not get his just desserts for his excellent repartee with Suarez throughout his tenure on the pitch. Based on his last two performances, combined with his end-of-season form last year, I would hope that King Kenny seriously considers Maxi Man as a regular strike partner with Suarez.
The last quarter hour provided Liverpool the opportunity to hold on for the win despite QPR’s increasing control of the game and threatening offensive surges. Which begs the rhetorical statement/question – Hold on for a 1-0 win over newly-promoted QPR!?! YES!!
Which is more than I can say for Real Madrid who capitulated in yet another Clasico to the Barcelona Babies who cover their faces and shriek at the first hint of contact (even more so than Real Madrid does). A summary of the game is simple – Real Madrid played well enough to win (which they did not often do last season) and knocked Barcelona out of their typical “death by a thousand passes” game plan, but failed to capitalize on their chances. Barcelona, on the other hand was lucky once and lethal two other times on the counter. It would seem that Liverpool have passed the “we should win but…” virus to their southern neighbors.
This is farlieonfootie for December 17.