Arbeloa Carragher Hyypia Dossena
Benayoun Gerrard Riera
Carragher (og) 22’
Gerrard 24’ 32’
A game of two halves, and it was especially strange watching both at different times. I saw the first live – what a half that was – and just saw the second, which was far less enjoyable.
Hull deserved their early lead. They certainly didn’t come to defend, and could have had a penalty in the 6th minute when Mascherano looked to handle in the box. And Liverpool couldn’t be too aggrieved when the visitors opened the scoring six minutes after, when Marlon King sent a far post corner back into the box, and McShane out-jumped Dossena to send a looping header over Reina.
Having the visitors double their advantage before 23 minutes were off the clock was still unexpected, but again, deserved, as Mendy torched Dossena (again), and sent a dangerous centered ball into the six-yard box, which Carragher could only turn into his own net.
But within 10 minutes, Liverpool were back on level terms, and looking likely to take the lead. And the difference was Gerrard getting forward; the captain joined Benayoun and Kuyt in attack more frequently, and tallied two goals as a result. The first came in the 24th when Kuyt’s cross, intended for Riera, fell to the skipper; the second in similar circumstances in the 32nd, but with a better set-up, as Kuyt flicked Carragher’s cross to Benayoun, who turned beautifully to deliver Gerrard a goal on a plate.
It looked like a third was coming before the intermission – Riera, Alonso, and Kuyt all had chances, plus a couple of scrambles in the five (!) minutes of stoppage time. And although I had to head out at halftime, I felt pretty sure that Liverpool would continue to press on. No such luck.
Hull was far happier to throw two rows of four behind the ball in the second half, and once again, we’re left fuming over a draw at Anfield. Stoke, Fulham, West Ham, and now Hull. 4 points from a run of matches, all at Anfield, where Liverpool probably expected to take all twelve. Super.
Hyypia had the closest chance of the half, off the post from a Gerrard corner, but once again, Liverpool couldn’t carve out enough. And once again, the substitutions baffle, with Keane staying on the bench as El Zhar (for Yossi in the 74th), Babel (for Riera in the 82nd), and Lucas (for Masch in the 86th) came on. Too little, too late. And now, if Chelsea win their match tomorrow, Liverpool will be behind by a point.
It’s getting tiresome writing that Liverpool need to be more clinical in front of goal. I defend Benitez time and time again, and rightfully so in my opinion, but I do not understand today’s substitutions. Not only did they come too late, but I do not get why a £20m striker’s left on the bench when Liverpool’s chasing a goal, especially since he seemed to get a little bit of confidence from his last performance (which is now probably lost). I feel bad for Robbie – he's trying hard, but I don't think he fits into the system, I don't think Benitez knows how to get the best out of him, and that makes me wonder why he was bought in the first place. Not good times.
I genuinely thought Stevie played well while Kuyt had one of his worst of the season, but otherwise, it’s depressingly same old, same old. And it’s almost more painful to watch Liverpool lose a possible title run bit by bit. It’s getting difficult to tell whether death by a thousand cuts is worse than being out of the title race by this time of the year.
Arsenal next Sunday.