Arbeloa Skrtel Carragher Dossena
Kuyt Gerrard Riera
I got a DVR in early January because I knew classes would be disruptive this semester. So I apologize, it’s my fault. Liverpool hasn’t won one game I’ve watched after the fact.
Losing Gerrard to injury in the 16th and Lucas to a red card in the 74th, and Liverpool was lucky to hang on as long as they did. It looked to be heading to penalties, where the team with far more experience had to be favored, but Dan Gosling made sure it didn’t get that far.
It’s petty to say, and undervalues the rest of the team, but Gerrard’s injury was as much of a turning point as the sending off. It was no coincidence that the away side looked the most threatening in the first 15 minutes – even if Alonso’s blast from distance that went narrowly wide was the only shot at goal. That it takes a bit for a local lad to want to come off in a derby makes me nervous to say the least.
Kuyt moved centrally into Gerrard’s position with Benayoun coming on (they switched right before halftime), and – not blaming Kuyt, mind you – the difference was noticeable. It took another five or so minutes for Everton to stake a claim as the better side, and it wasn’t until the second half that they were so, but I’m struggling to think of any other opportunities Liverpool had at the Everton net – although that isn’t completely out of character for a derby. And it’s not like the home side had any of their own.
Everton looked a better side following the restart, but the best chance to that point went to Liverpool in the 61st, when Howard had to rush out to prevent Riera from making clean contact on Alonso’s throughball. 15 minutes later, five after Everton had hit the post through Osman, Liverpool would be down to 10 men.
I don’t want to sound bitter, but Cahill, dickbag that he is, was lucky to only see yellow for a deliberate elbow on Carragher in the 18th. Liverpool’s opponents were never going to get a red card after Sunday, but it leaves a taste of injustice in the mouth with Lucas sent off 30 minutes into the second half.
His first yellow was a nothing challenge – I’d reckon at least five worse went unpunished prior, and it’s my firm belief Wiley only gave it because he’d already booked three Toffees (and it should have been more) – but there are no complaints about the second. That he was already on a yellow makes it a stupid foul, but I’m not ascribing as much blame as against Wigan because he didn’t play badly otherwise. But he has to cut out the stupid mistakes – that’s two very costly ones in three games, and it’s not surprising when a player’s crucified after that. But I can’t be the only one that sees a huge amount of potential in his passing and positional sense (moving with and without the ball, not tackling, naturally). He is a smarter player than this, and other than the results, that’s what bugs me the most.
Only one side spent the last 45 minutes trying to win the game, and for once, it wasn’t the team in red. Once Liverpool started to tire in extra time, the chances came. Cahill almost turned Baines’ cross in. Reina had to save from Osman and Gosling before Cahill headed the resulting corner wide. Arteta’s free kick was barely deflected wide. It was a surreal role reversal – Liverpool a man down, with almost the entire team behind the ball hanging on, and trying to nick one from distance or a set play.
And on the verge of penalties, van der Meyde (what was this, his second appearance of the season?) crossed in, and Gosling controlled around defenders, curling in a pretty shot. So Liverpool suffered through the extra 30 minutes of an extra game, had Gerrard injured, and saw Torres work futilely and tire significantly before going off in the 101st, and still lost. Super.
It’s rarely a strong suit, but Liverpool’s crossing was especially abominable today from either flank. Again, wasn’t much to aim at after the first half, but it was noticeable for the time when Liverpool were stronger.
At the end of the day, Everton (sigh) are deserved winners (so when’s the DVD coming out?), even if the red card was the tipping point. Once again, Jagielka and Lescott were immense, Jagielka man-marking Torres especially. They looked the more likely to score with a man advantage, and it’s actually a credit to Liverpool that they kept the home side out as long as they did.
It’s necessary to keep things in perspective. This is Liverpool’s first loss in over two months, and it took extra time to happen. That it’s to Merseyside rivals gives an additional amount of anguish, but if it wasn’t a cup replay, it would have been another draw, one earned with 10 men. It’s just this bad because it’s against that lot.
Worse than the result is the injury to Gerrard and the fitness the extra time will cost the players. I’m not sure if Lucas’s ban kicks in for Saturday or the game after, but if he is, that’s him and Alonso out. I’d be surprised if Torres played on Saturday, and with Gerrard out as well, it’s going to be a depleted side for a crucial (they’re all crucial) league game.