Finnan Hyypia Agger Arbeloa
Pennant Alonso Mascherano Babel
Alonso 27’ 69’
Babel 45 + 1’
Torres 56’ 78’
Six to nil! If you thought the Toulouse game was a hammering, you hadn’t seen anything yet. This was Liverpool’s biggest home win since 7-1 over Southampton in 1999, and it was mainly done at a canter.
It’s impossible to describe all the goals fully, or I’d be here all day. The first was an Alonso free kick that eluded everyone, including the goalkeeper. The second came on the stroke of halftime, Agger playing a perfect throughball halfway up the pitch to Arbeloa, who cut in an found Babel, whose touch left two defenders for dead and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. 2-0 at halftime didn’t quite do Liverpool justice, but Liverpool hadn’t really taken it out of second gear. However, the final score does do the match justice.
The second half started exactly as the first, with Liverpool the only team at the races. Torres scored in the 56th minute after a lovely Mascherano tackle that put him through on goal. Alonso got a second with a sweet side-footed shot when the ball fell to him just outside the box after Benayoun was tackled. Voronin, who came on for Babel only minutes earlier, scored the rebound after Kuyt’s shot was saved for the fifth. And less than two minutes later, Torres wrapped up the scoring rounding the keeper after Voronin’s ball over the top of the backline. Only then did Liverpool take the foot of the gas, and the last 15 minutes were a complete formality.
Trust me, I know how poor Derby was. Liverpool shredded their backline at will, and Derby got worse after each goal. But with no exaggeration do I say that this looks like the best Liverpool team I’ve seen in ages. Liverpool showed a cutting edge that’s been absent for too long, even if it was against far inferior opposition that will most likely be relegated by Christmas time. This is the first time in a while that Liverpool put the game out of reach, and then kept at it for more goals. “Attack, attack, attack” hasn’t rung out at Anfield like that in far too long. And I can’t say enough about every player on the pitch today, and again, I still don’t believe that Liverpool played to their full potential.
It’s nigh on impossible to pick a man of the match. Torres scored two great goals, and again showed his strength, creativity, speed, and vision. Alonso notched two as well, was the fulcrum in the middle, and could have had more. Pennant was immense in the first half, and the most impressive thing was that he did his best work down the left, switching flanks with Babel after about 20 minutes. Mascherano covered absolutely every blade of grass on the pitch. Arbeloa and Finnan bombed down the flanks at will. Agger and Hyypia brought the ball out of defense fantastically, albeit with little Derby pressure in Liverpool’s half. Babel’s goal was an absolute thing of beauty. Benayoun, Voronin, and Sissoko all made impacts as subs, especially Voronin, who was in a great place to score the rebound from Kuyt and played a delicious pass for Torres’ second with Derby still reeling from his goal.
And it was all without Gerrard and Carragher, arguably Liverpool’s two most important players.
Again, I know, I’m getting carried away. Derby’s performance was one of the worst I’ve ever seen from an opposition team at Anfield, but you can’t let that detract from Liverpool’s performance. You can only beat the team that’s in front of you, and Liverpool utterly annihilated them.
And now, with Chelsea playing tomorrow, Liverpool tops the table with 10 points from 4 games. That’s a welcome sight, and one that’s been long in coming.
With the way Liverpool’s playing, it’s an absolute shame about the two-week international break. Hopefully, they’ll continue on this pace against Portsmouth on the 15th, and the way they’ve played so far this season, I fully expect it to happen.