12 September 2006

Liverpool 0-0 PSV

Blah. Most times, I’d be happy with an away draw in Europe, especially when Liverpool’s fielding a team with an eye on this weekend’s match at Chelsea. But this game was there for the taking, and other than some promising play between Kuyt and Bellamy and a Gerrard rocket that ricocheted off the post, no real offense. Neither team carved out that many chances, and the game really was a rather lackluster affair.

Ultimately, the midfield hindered Liverpool’s chances today. Possession was 63% PSV to 37% Liverpool; I can’t remember the last time a team kept the ball away from Liverpool that much. Sissoko was every bit the destructive force he usually is, but he still doesn’t offer a lot offensively, and his passing was not good this game. It was his miscue that led to PSV’s best chance, and the crossbar was the only thing that kept Kone from scoring. Zenden seemed lightweight today; he was buzzing about for the first 15-20 minutes, and then was mostly anonymous. He needed to provide more on the attack, and the difference was evident when Gerrard came on. I will continue to argue that Liverpool’s not the one-man team the London media makes them out to be, but Gerrard not only sparked Liverpool for the last 20 minutes, but also created the best chance and was unlucky not to score.

Of course, it’s nowhere near the end of the world. It’s an away draw against the second seed while the other group game ended 0-0 as well. Plus, there were positives to take away. Even though they failed to score, I was fairly pleased with the pairing of Kuyt and Bellamy. Once Kuyt gets onto the scoresheet, he’s going to be a real menace. He is absolutely everywhere in attack, has pace, a thundering shot, and not only looks for goal but wants to get others involved. The way he looked to set up Bellamy especially, with flick-ons, dummies, and nice diagonal balls attempted in the first half. When that starts coming off, we’re going to see some goals flying in from those two.

First clean sheet of the season, too. The defense was solid the whole game; I was especially pleased with Warnock and Agger. Carra (looking far healthier than I expected) and Finnan were their reliable selves, but Warnock and Agger have both prompted questions in the past. Agger’s looked the part in all his starts this season and was easily man of the match for Liverpool. It’s great to see Warnock, who’s a local lad and has gone through hell with injuries, look so useful when he gets a game.

So they didn’t do themselves any damage, didn’t look all that bad, and rested the players (Gerrard, Alonso, Crouch, Garcia) who need to have big games on Sunday. I guess I can’t really complain then, but we need to start seeing more cohesive soccer with a better finishing touch soon or the season’s going to get away.

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