Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Better But Not Enough: Chelsea 2 - Liverpool 1

Correspondent Ed's gone AWOL, but never fear -- Scott remains on the Liverpool beat:

Liverpool played much better today against an undefeated and in-form Chelsea side whose tactics were unrecognizable from last April's parking lot display. Right from the start the energy on both sides was frenetic and the Blues pressured way up the pitch.

The Reds played better than their previous few Premiership outings but it was not enough.  But had they played like this last week, against "lesser" competition, they might have fared better. And I feel with just that little more that Daniel Sturridge could bring to the side, they might have fared better today too.

Alas, instead, Liverpool conspired against themselves when, after a fortunate deflection of Emre Can's shot, they conceded on yet another sloppy jumble in front of goal. Ugly goals are the bane of football fans, unless they benefit your team, of course. So, when 6 red shirts are mostly watching the 4 blue shirts to their goalside, it's time to really shake the defensive snow globe. Perhaps a certain Ivorian could help in that regard given his mid-week display in Madrid.

Yet, it wasn't just sloppy defending that hampered Liverpool. Especially at the end of the first half, the number of errant passes in dangerous locations was staggering. Only several fortunate blocks, especially by Glen Johnson who actually had a very solid game, spared the Reds a darker shade of blush. 

Ultimately, it was another error by a man in red that lead to the go-ahead and winning goal.  Many will credit the move and cross, but Philippe Coutinho, as excellent as he was going forward, needed only to contain Azpilecueta on the sideline, and thereby contain the danger of his counter-attacking run. But the Brazilian got too close in an effort to win the ball back, allowing the Spaniard to slip by him and deliver the cross that eventually fell to the ravenous Diego Costa

Speaking of Costa, I have come to the conclusion that he is a dirty player. His cynical, calculated shoves (very plural) to the back had me berating his image on the TV.

Errors weren't only made defensively. While having an otherwise solid game, despite not scoring again, Mario Balotelli had me thumping my couch in frustration with his careless, consistent offsides. Once, maybe twice...OK. But 4 or more times?  I expect more awareness from my U9 Girls. We have struggled to give the Italian the ball in dangerous positions so when we can, he needs to not erase all the hard work that led to that final pass by drifting offside.

There were some bright spots: Johnson's defending (in general), Coutinho's dangerous runs through the middle with the ball, Raheem Sterling's tenacity and strength on the ball and Emre Can's work all over the pitch.

Sturridge would have helped but he's not back yet and it wasn't enough. Better but not enough. Let's hope the trend continues until it IS enough. 

This is farlieonfootie for November 11. 

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