01 October 2008

Liverpool 3-1 PSV

Arbeloa Skrtel Carragher Aurelio
Kuyt Gerrard Alonso Riera
Torres Keane

Kuyt 4’
Keane 34’
Gerrard 76’
Koevermans 78’

It’s a win in Benitez’s 250th game as manager, Keane scored his first goal for the club, Gerrard scored his 100th, and Liverpool won easily. But I can still find a way to complain. Conceding a sloppy consolation right after the third goal may have something to do with it.

When the team scores within four minutes it usually sends them on their way, and this was no different. Torres’ volley from Gerrard’s corner was well saved, but Kuyt was there for the rebound and Isaksson could only palm his shot into the net.

But, with PSV insipid for the majority of the game (aside from Amrabat, who was a willing worker up front on his own), Liverpool had little impetus. I use the phrase “never took it out of second gear” every now and then, but the team was barely out of neutral for long periods today. And they still dominated.

Keane should have had a penalty in the 20th minute before he finally broke his duck after tremendous play from Kuyt and Torres on the right. Kuyt kept control through three defenders and pushed it wide for Torres, who beat his man and sent in a perfect cross for Keane to flick inside the far post.

And after that, Liverpool were home and dry. For long stretches, including most of the second half, Liverpool slowed the pace and it led to some sloppy play, which PSV were thankfully unable to take advantage of until the 78th minute.

In the 76th, Gerrard smashed a gorgeous free kick past Isaksson for a deserved century of goals, but within 90 seconds, PSV went down the field and Skrtel couldn’t keep up with substitute Koevermans, who poked the cross past Reina. Carragher went ballistic, and rightfully so. That was PSV’s first and only shot on goal.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m quite happy with the result. Liverpool were always comfortable, and a win was never in doubt. Keane’s goal will take a huge weight off his shoulders, Kuyt continues to score in Europe, Gerrard’s was an absolute stunner, and Liverpool’s now got six points from six.

Maybe I’m asking too much, but Liverpool had PSV in the palm of their hands today, yet were sloppy and conceded a unnecessary consolation. At the same time, Torres could have had a hat-trick on his own but for Isaksson’s save in the 4th, a missed free header from a corner (when did Liverpool start threatening from corners?), and chipping a shot wide over the keeper when a PSV mistake put him through. However, that happens to the best of strikers, and in his defense, it looked like an awful rainy day where players were sliding all over the pitch. Plus, with his hand in all three goals (he won the free kick which Gerrard scored on), it’s not as if he had a bad day.

No one had a bad game per se, and that had a lot to do with PSV's performance (as well as Liverpool starting to gel as hoped), but you could see the team just going through the motions at times, and putting the opposition to the sword could have built up some more momentum to push on from.

I guess we’ve got an answer about the 4-4-2. Torres and Keane continued to blossom as a partnership, Kuyt and Riera patrolled the flanks, and Gerrard and Alonso were again dominant in midfield, even if Gerrard sat deeper than expected against a team that offered little in attack. With the team playing well, Benitez has been hesitant to rotate. In three games (Stoke, Everton and PSV), Liverpool’s made one change: Aurelio for Dossena today.

We’ll see what happens on Sunday, though. Manchester City at the Eastlands will undoubtedly be a sterner test.


mikey said...

i had been wanting to see the 4-1-3-2 variation for awhile with either xabi or masch holding and was pleased to see it successful tonight..

Abhiram said...

We played 4-4-2 for most of the game and in the end we did play the 4-2-3-1 after Lucas and Babel came on. I agree with every thing you say nate. I have a thought though.

I would like to take the example of Arsenal of last year. Till November, they were top of the league, most players were performing, they were winning good matches and scoring goals and above all, they were playing entertaining football. Yet, in the end, they were 3rd. Well, there might have been lots of reasons for it but i feel one of the most important was 'they peaked too early and hence lacked the consistency which they had to maintain for a large part of the season'.

I don't want Liverpool to repeat it. Let the team build slowly but with positive results. This is what Liverpool's been doing this season. Everybody will agree with me when i say Liverpool are not even playing to 50% of their potential. I want them to peak by about December/January and i am quite sure we will have more than 80% chance in whatever we will be playing for at that moment. We have got great results against ManU and Everton but don't think we played to our full potential in any of those matches. We should do this a lot more in the next few months.

Ibracadabra said...

I think its time for Benayoun to go in January. He has too much talent to continue as an out of position bit player on the left flank. He is a central attacking player (Gerrard esque really) and is wasting away his career.