02 May 2010

Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea

Mascherano Carragher Kyrgiakos Agger
Gerrard Lucas
Maxi Aquilani Benayoun

Drogba 33’
Lampard 54’

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
- T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men.”

The culmination of a season full of melodrama is probably what’s inspired the poetry references, and today was the epitome of going gently into that good night. Comical too, as if it’d go any other way.

I hope all who wanted Chelsea to win in the hopes of keeping Manchester from the title are happy. Maybe Gerrard was one of you. While Chelsea cantered by the end, they were handed victory on a platter. At least at this stage of the season, it’s no great matter.

Honestly, the first 30 minutes weren’t bad. Liverpool stifled Chelsea and created a couple of chances from distance, most notably Aquilani’s 11th minute effort that just whistled over the bar. But then familiar calamity rose its head.

A ridiculous back pass from Gerrard, under little pressure, allowed Drogba to nip in and easily round Reina. It was a carbon copy of when Captain Fantastic set up Henry for a late Arsenal winner in March 2006 and handed France a 93rd-minute penalty in Euro 2004. And that it was from Gerrard will prompt some especially amusing conspiracy theories I’m sure. But, really, it’s just emblematic of Liverpool and Gerrard’s seasons – questionable decision-making and a whole heap of bad luck.

From there, there was only going to be one winner. Liverpool’s sole motivation prior the match was pride; going behind in such a manner surely sapped any remaining morale. And Maxi’s injury five minutes from halftime was a further blow, with Babel taking his place.

Liverpool need not have bothered coming out for the second half, while Chelsea clearly looked to remove any doubt, taking the game to the home side for the first time in the match. Kalou beating Mascherano down the flank, only for Anelka to miss his clever center across the box and with Carragher injured moments later, was the prelude to Lampard’s strike. This time, Chelsea came down the right, with Anelka played onside by Mascherano and Carragher barely able to stand (Ayala came on immediately after), with Lampard sliding into the six-yard box to meet the center.

The last 35 minutes were a formality. Babel’s deflected shot in the 59th and Agger’s blast from distance in the 83rd were the only Liverpool “chances” worth mentioning, while Reina had to make some big saves on Malouda, Ballack, and Anelka. As usual this season, Pepe’s the only one coming out the match with much credit. This result means he's now level with Cech for most clean sheets.

A fitting final home match of the season, I guess. Little more needs to be said. The effort was there from most, with Kuyt, Mascherano, Lucas, and Benayoun willing runners, but Liverpool were impotent at the best of times, pathetic at the worst, and massively unlucky to boot. Thankfully there’s only one match left in this horrific campaign. Unfortunately, it looks like the summer will be fairly horrific as well.

This is the way the world ends.


Jim said...

I can excuse someone being off form or making a silly back-pass, but Gerrard's attitude has been pitiful all season. There's a lot of talk going round that he and possibly other players have somehow given up on Benitez, but if he's allowed that to affect his performances then he's a disgrace. I hope Capello drops him from the England team.

Marc said...

Yeah, the "captain" has been a fraud all season. He's got a lot to answer for, and he's made it a lot easier for Liverpool fans to entertain the idea of letting him go elsewhere this summer. Perhaps that has something to do with his petulance this season, as well.

Whether players have given up on Rafa is irrelevant; he's gone. Nearly anyone would bail from a Liverpool situation where money is a mystery and new owners could boot you anyway. Juventus will be pleased with Rafa's Italian style of play, though I wonder how he'll feel about the Italian style of refereeing.

I don't know if the summer will be miserable. If we get new owners who plan to build up the club properly, then I can live with a few seasons of tumult. The worry at the halfway point of the year was that we would go the way of Leeds and co. by missing the Champs qualification. Now, at least, we can hold out hope that long term stability lies ahead.

My one fear is that this rising call for Roy Hodgson to be our new manager will actually pan out; that dude seems like a great underdog boss, but I've seen nothing to suggest he can manage a squad on the scale of ours. Then again, if we're rebuilding anyway...

This whole squad seemed to have the title-or-nothing mentality. And after a great peak last year, we're getting farther, not closer, to that goal. Lots of players don't seem capable of coping with that. If we have to clean house to find the hunger again, so be it.

Look, Man U is ancient. Even with Sergio Aguero, Chelsea still have age issue of their own all over midfield (and a crappy captain of their own). Arsenal's Barca inferiority complex is just one of their problems (including the fear that Wenger moves on after his contract next year). Everybody except Man City has cause to fear the future. At least we should find better owners than the Glazers.

Anonymous said...

The only thing we really required was stability at the top level, and that's with the management.

The management has a hound of dogs barking at their front door for interest payments, and they're too busy thinking og ways to raise enough money to buy some bones and throw it at the dogs, before they start barking again.

All these noise, it's impossible for the manager and the players to sleep well at night. In fact, it's scaring potential players away from the doors of anfield, because nobody likes noisy dogs.

Everything starts at the top. If the top don't go, why should anyone else?

Now, Benitex for Turin? If there's a bigger farce than this, I'm dying to know about it.

steven. said...

once Aquilani's shot clipped the crossbar, i had that all too familiar sinking feeling .. it's just one of those days ..

drew said...

shanti shanti shanti

nate said...

Thanks, drew.

If it were two days earlier, I could have worked in a Waste Land reference as well. Pity.

Of course, this season every month's been the cruelest month.


Lots of good points, Marc. Although calling Gerrard a fraud this season might be pushing it. No matter his form, he gets a bit of a pass, at least on vitriol, for past heroics.

This point is the most pertinent:

This whole squad seemed to have the title-or-nothing mentality.

And after they lost to both Spurs and Villa within the first three matches, that mentality went straight to "nothing." Then injuries, squad depth, etc.