09 May 2011

Liverpool 5-2 Fulham

Johnson Carragher Skrtel Flanagan
Spearing Lucas
Kuyt Meireles Maxi

Maxi 1' 7' 70'
Kuyt 16'
Dembele 57'
Suarez 76'

After months of anger, disappointment and regrets, now we're wishing the season wasn't about to end. Funny old game.

For the second time in three matches, Liverpool scores five and it's Maxi with a hat-trick. From out-of-favor squad player to absolute goal machine. 32 seconds into the match and the Argentinean was on the score sheet. Suarez – the epicenter of everything wonderful – was the catalyst, setting the tone immediately. Lucas' inch-perfect throughball split Baird and Hughes, releasing the Uruguayan into acres of space. His low cross was deflected on target by Salcido, and Schwarzer's sliding kick save pushed the ball straight to Maxi.

Less than six minutes later, Liverpool and Maxi had a second, a back post volley from Johnson's cross, released over the top by Lucas, with the goal-scorer left wide open by Baird (who played Johnson onside). A third in the 16th, Schwarzer's unforgivable mistake allowing Kuyt's shot through his legs, seemed to announce game over before all the Fulham fans had entered Craven Cottage.

But after 30 rampant, flawless minutes, Fulham finally gained a foothold. Johnson's intervention in the 34th, clearing Dempsey's effort from a corner out of the goalmouth, prevented an early lifeline, but shots from Dempsey and Sidwell were the only goal-mouth action for the rest of the half.

Zamora's introduction after the interval, in place of right winger Simon Davies, nearly prompted a remarkable comeback. An injury to Meireles – yet another hamstring concern – didn't help matters, but the home side were on the front foot for 20 minutes after the restart. Zamora's height and aerial ability flummoxed and bamboozled Skrtel; Fulham came close thrice before Zamora easily held off the Slovakian and set up Dembele for a fine low strike which sent Reina into angry hysterics. It was the first open-play goal Liverpool conceded since March 6.

Fulham remained the more threatening, invoking fears over away form and allowing comebacks as happened all too often under the previous manager. But Maxi reasserted his hero status, easing nerves with the best goal he's scored for the club, fortuitously picking up possession in Fulham's half and striding forward to unleash an unstoppable shot past Schwarzer with his "weaker" foot when defenders backed off.

Six minutes later, Suarez got his goal, latching on to a flawless, nigh-on impossible through ball from Shelvey before rounding Schwarzer. A screaming consolation from Sidwell, not long after the human victory cigar Joe Cole replaced the hat-trick hero, reduced arrears when Skrtel's clearing header fell to the midfielder. Yet Liverpool still finished the stronger, and were unlucky not to get a sixth to fittingly mark Carragher's 666th appearance, with Shelvey, Spearing, and Kuyt denied a notch in the bed post.

That Liverpool conceded twice is obviously cause for concern, but yet another five-goal romp slightly eases the pain. Once again, Maxi – of all players! – is the match-ball winning headline maker, but Luis Suarez was indescribably brilliant. Every time the ball's at his feet, he's capable of magic. Hangeland and Hughes were more terrified of the Uruguayan than Vidic ever was of Torres. A goal was the absolute least he deserved today.

Once again, Liverpool won the game with pass and move football. The same front six started for the third-straight match, as Carroll didn't travel because of his knee injury, but the formation has been different in each game. Birmingham saw a 4-4-2 diamond, Newcastle the "usual" 4-2-2-2, while today's was best described as 4-2-3-1, with Kuyt ostensibly on the right and Meireles then Shelvey lurking menacingly behind Suarez. But both Lucas and Spearing joined the attack at will. Liverpool aren't staid and static, as they always were under Hodgson and all-too-frequently were under Rafa. This team is fluid, flexible, and perpetually dangerous. They never stop pressing and never stop running. And that's with a vast list of players currently injured.

Unbeaten in five, outscoring the opposition 17-3, demonstrates what this side is capable of. Wins like the last three make it incredibly hard to keep hopes for next season from flying into the stratosphere. But, despite today's jubilation, we can't get ahead of ourselves. There is a clear foundation here. There is a clear team here. It is wonderful to be optimistic for a change. But there's obviously still work to be done – both goals conceded prove that by themselves. Thankfully, I'm positive Dalglish knows that, and will ensure the players also know that.


ooj said...

We've got the wind in our sails again... And are headed in the right direction... Its a big summer though.. Hopefully we kick on and not bear a repeat of 2002/2003 or indeed 2009/2010

Neel said...

There is a fear that it might end up being a repeat of 2002-03, where we went and bought Diouf, Diao, Cheyrou etc. because Comolli has made some key transfer gaffes like David Bentley & Gomes.

So far so good. But I am wary. There is going to be a bit of money to spend (the sky sports commentator was saying 100m which is a wee bit off the mark :P) but i doubt the players we can attract when competing against the CL clubs. Arsenal and United will be competing for the same players. City/Chelsea won't be looking in the same bucket as us.

As far as this game goes, its brilliant watching them play like this. The next game is what matters though. I don't think we can judge ourselves really against mid-table no drive teams.

Tom Foolery said...

"It was the first open-play goal Liverpool conceded since March 6...Liverpool aren't staid and static, as they always were under Hodgson and all-too-frequently were under Rafa. This team is fluid, flexible, and perpetually dangerous. They never stop pressing and never stop running. And that's with a vast list of players currently injured".

Those two lines say it all. Dalglish has instilled fluid, uptempo, pressing, pass-based football, and its a joy to watch. Meanwhile, the defense has solidified. Offense: the best form of defense is. Too simplistic, but I'll use it for simplicity's sake.

And, for fuck's sake, bring on those miserable Spuds!

Thanks for the continuos quality Nate.

Dan L said...

Just wanted to say I really enjoy this blog. It's made my first season following the EPL and Liverpool a lot more fun. Special thanks to the FIFA video games for making a soccer fan out of me after years and years of holding out.

Fun one to watch this afternoon! The effort has been so much higher for Liverpool than their opponents for the last few times out. It's inspiring stuff.

Keep up the great work, and I'll keep reading, though as a novice fan I'll keep my elementary insights on the game to a minimum as I learn to understand things better - haha.

ErictheRed said...

Suarez is everywhere, great tracking back too. Work rate is astonishing. All in all, better than I even dared dream. Like Macca said, took him all of 5 minutes to adjust to the Premier League. Such a contrast watching him dominate and seeing the husk of a man Torres has become. They can shove 19 up their asses, but I loved seeing him on the bench and the Mancs mocking him when he finally got on the pitch. I know its petty but fuck him. Great job Roman, we thank you for our potent new strike force.

Meireles done for the year?

Pan said...

There has been times in the precarious past where I used to chomp my fingers right off everytime we had an injury with our 1st team (I type with my nose).. I'm obviously still concerned but have to say with Dalglish the flip side shimmers.. as in who is he going to make shine now.... bring back Degan and see what he can do with him I say!! OK OK got a bit carried away there..

Anonymous said...

I think you have a point Pan. It has seemed for a while now that Liverpool has had a lack of depth. If someone got injured, we didn't know what to do. I have to say with the emergence of some of the youth players, I feel much more confident that we could survive a few injuries. We won 5-2 without Stevie and Torres (and Miereles for a while). Could you imagine this while under Roy?