13 December 2008

Liverpool 2-2 Hull City

Arbeloa Carragher Hyypia Dossena
Mascherano Alonso
Benayoun Gerrard Riera

McShane 12’
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.


Mike 'Fire Rafa' Georger said...

If Rafa hates Keane and Babel so much he should probably fire the person who signed them. OH WAIT.

He is a terrible in game manager and it is showing, he got the lineup wrong and got the subs worse.

Mike 'Fire Rafa' Georger said...

I mean how do you not name a single fucking fullback on the bench? Especially when you know Hull are a speedy team and will cause certain slow defenders (IM LOOKING AT YOU DOSSENA) loads of trouble?


Mike Anton said...

It's one thing to bring in El Zhar if he's going to actually play well, but good god was he awful today. He didn't even deserve to be watching the pitch from the stands. Absolutely baffling to keep Keane on the bench. In Rafa I Trust, but that trust is waning when matches like this keep occurring.

Mike Georger said...

Well I've backed off the ledge a bit; all it took was an hour of watching Gerrard and Torres videos. If Torres stays healthy, no amount of tinkering should keep this team from being in the title race.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems we have is that the 4-5-1 system only works with a striker of Torres' quality. Keene is too goal shy to lead the line and Kuyt doesn't have the pace and touch to do the business by himself. They need to partner each other instead of playing as lone strikers it doesn't suit either of their strengths.

Of course the 4-4-2 creates difficult midfield choices for Rafa that he seems unwilling to make.

And we need a left back to cover for Aurelio when he is injured. Dossena plays well in Europe but lacks the pace for the Premier League.

And, of course all of this will change with Torres return in a few weeks. I can see him gobbling up some of Dossena's and Riera's lovely crosses.

This may not be THE year but we are damn close.

nate said...

i'm inclined to agree with the above comment pretty much word for word. except for the fact i think liverpool has that left back in insua.

Django said...

One of the glaring issues I saw from yesterday was that, regardless of the quality (or lack thereof) of balls into the box from free play, we don't have anyone in the middle to receive them. Particularly when it's Kuyt, but even with others it seems that the ball has to be inch-perfect or requires an extraordinary amount of control. For all the emphasis on getting wide men to stretch defenses, we need someone to get on the end, and that has been glaringly absent in recent times.

Ibracadabra said...

whats up with Agger?

Mike Georger said...

So I just realized we have two games in three days the weekend after Christmas. What the fuck is that all about?

nate said...

pretty much the same schedule as always, georger. boxing day games, one a couple of days later, and one around new year's day. last year, liverpool barely beat derby on the 26th, drew city on the 30th, and drew wigan on the 2nd.

this year it's bolton on the 26th, newcastle on the 28th, and PNE in the FA Cup on the 3rd.

and, ibracadabra - i'm hoping that benitez is using hyypia because he wanted added height against hull and blackburn, and that there's no ulterior motives or problems. but admittedly, that's wishful thinking and i honestly have little clue.