06 February 2016

Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland

Firmino 59'
Lallana 70'
Johnson 82'
Defoe 89'

The easy joke is that the Liverpool players joined a large portion of the stadium in walking out after 77 minutes. They aren't – or, at least shouldn't be – related events. Sure, it probably didn't help matters, but if you buy a ticket, you've the right to do whatever you want with it. And you don't get to criticize those in the stadium from the comfort of your couch or the local pub.

The players, however, are paid to play for 90 minutes. And they didn't. That's it. That's the alpha, that's the omega. That's Liverpool.

2-0 in the 70th minute, against a team that hadn't scored against Liverpool since March 2014, should have led to a routine win if the stadium completely emptied. If Liverpool's entire back line spontaneously combusted. Under any circumstances. It took 59 minutes, because Liverpool, but Liverpool finally had control of the situation. Liverpool should have maintained control of the situation. Liverpool didn't.

For 59 minutes, par for the course. Liverpool utterly dominate possession – 81.6% in the first half, the highest percentage I've ever seen – but Liverpool struggle to create chances, struggle to take shots, take said shots in poor positions, and put the majority of said shots off-target. But then, two excellent goals: a wonderful cross from Milner finding Firmino open at the back post (aided by van Aanholt's "marking"), then Firmino pressing Jones into a mistake before running on goal and centering for Lallana's tap-in. The assist made both of those goals, during a three-match spell where Liverpool had failed to create those types of chances. There had been 359 minutes of goalless football from Liverpool between Lallana's winner against Norwich and Firmino's opener, but then, all of a sudden, two in ten minutes.

Hurrah! 2-0 up against second-from-bottom Sunderland, who'd barely attempted to play football, who'd taken just four shots in 80 minutes: all off-target, three of four from outside the box. Fine. Cruise control. We'll spend the final 15 minutes talking about the fans' protest – which, again, isn't something I'd be comfortable doing but is completely understandable and more than within their rights – and leave with three much-needed points.

But, no, because Liverpool. A free kick from nothing, an unnecessary foul by Moreno. A wall that failed to block Johnson's free kick, which somehow snuck under Mignolet's hand. Another set play goal conceded. Another concession from the opposition's first shot on-target, for the 21st time in the 26 matches where Liverpool have conceded. 21 of 26. There aren't even words.

Fine. Shit happens. Very much against the run of play, a perfectly-placed shot, a bit of a fluke both with and without context. Just collect yourselves and see the game out. Just do your damned jobs. Ha. Ha ha ha ha. Because it only got worse. Because, somehow, every single Liverpool player lost their minds. Because Liverpool.

Back to all those Rodgers' performances where Liverpool let a lead slip, all those 1-0 wins which somehow turned into 1-1 draws, a failing we'd thought we'd fixed after those first few Klopp draws. Liverpool couldn't collect, Liverpool couldn't clear. Liverpool players stand off Sunderland's, Sunderland's players allowed time and space to pass in front of Liverpool's box, allowed the opportunity to find a way through for the second. Lucas brought on to add an extra defensive presence does nothing. And with a minute left in normal time, van Aanholt in space passes to Khazri, back to goal, allowed to turn. Khazri passes to Defoe in the box, back to goal, allowed to turn. And Defoe summarily and simply turns around Sakho, hammering past a flat-footed Mignolet.

From 2-0 to 2-2 in seven minutes, against the 19th-placed side. Against a side that hadn't scored any sort of goal against Liverpool in almost two years. At Anfield. It'd be unbelievable if it wasn't so very Liverpool. Liverpool have now conceded 10 goals in the last 15 minutes of matches this season – three in Rodgers' 11 matches, seven in Klopp's 28; six at Anfield, four away from home. It's not a protest problem, a fans' problem. It's not a Rodgers problem, it's not a Klopp problem. It's not an Anfield problem. It's a Liverpool problem.

So here we are again. Stuck with an underperforming, disappointing, simply bad football team. There are either breakdowns in attack or breakdowns at the back, and often both. Somehow decent, tepid, and horrific, all within 90 minutes. It seems that Liverpool find a way to throw away points in new, inventive, and soul-killing fashion every single week.

Once again, it's sound and fury signifying nothing. And not even that much sound or fury. A nothing result. A nothing performance. Liverpool have become irrelevant. And Liverpool are very close to becoming just another mid-table side.

1 comment :

E Coutinho Can said...

Thought it is a bit unfair on Lucas Leiva really. Defoe's goal was a collective mistake. If anything Mama Sakho really should be the one doing better. He was too tight on Defoe and got turned. Not the best defending from a centerback.

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