FIRST things first. Liverpool FC were shocking in every department on Monday night, and to be honest, I didn’t want to write this, in the sense that it hurt too much even thinking about it.
I woke up the next morning with the most rotten feeling inside.
The work day was supposed to be a lot joyous than this.
It was going to be the start of a 4th place-seeking juggernaut that headed into the last couple of rounds only a point short. The 19th May home game against an already sunken QPR would be another fantastic night, with the Reds triumphing 4-0 and pipping a late-season-faltering Everton to 4th.
Sounds too fantastic? At this rate it certainly is.
Pre-match I had identified 5 key plotlines about this game; let’s see what answers we got:
1. ‘The Joe Allen Conundrum’ asked if Rodgers would play Joe Allen. Well, he didn’t. He was an unused sub. And when they were made, Rodgers went with Sterling and Borini first, and then with Coutinho in a desperation-roll sandwiched between the missed Gerrard penalty and the first West Brom goal.
Our readers certainly didn’t have much love for the Welshman in the preview, and many wishes seemed to be granted as he never took to the field. Maybe Rodgers was saving him for Thursday…
What do you think? Was he missed? Do you think he may get a game midweek against Zenit?
2. In ‘Surprising Stats and a Change of Objectives’, I had pointed out that I did not think our central partnerships were past it, and I did suggest that the defensive unit does tend to switch off in unison.
That indeed happened Monday night. Reeling from the penalty save, an aggressively arced corner was promptly dispatched by the hard working McAuley. There seemed to be no communication, and once again, those who cared saw how terribly tragic zonal marking could look like when poorly executed.
3. West Brom swan diving? Categorically no, but surprisingly so. I painted a team of tired professionals, and although they weren’t setting the field alight, they were smart in their economy, and ruthless in the exploitation of a Liverpool kamikaze act.
Clarke’s men will have their tails up now. Yet he might be well served to reflect on what happened to Villa when they came to Anfield. After a clinical smash-and-grab they struggled. For quite a few weeks.
4. Pepe, safe to say, didn’t have a good game, not that he was particularly to blame for either goal. The first – a punishing header that took advantage of considerable acreage in the Liverpool box – was more Agger’s fault than Pepe’s. Post-match, Agger was quick to state his mia culpa on Twitter.
However for the second goal Reina could be accused of being a bit defensive, like he was a momentary shadow of a stronger, bolder more beastly goalkeeper. When Lukaku fired, it slipped through Reina’s grasp, as if he were at school team try-outs.
He is still a great man. And possibly even as great a goalkeeper he once was. If Brendan Rodgers wants to build some steel in this team, Reina’s experience would still be essential. Especially, my fellow fans, when you consider there isn’t anyone consistently and outstandingly better than Pepe at a price the club can pay. And even above that.
5. The Atmosphere? There wasn’t much. Only around the 60th minute did the crowd find some voice, and even that wasn’t too strong. This was a simple exercise in consistency gone wrong! There was a glitch in the matrix.
And that could have been fixed if Gerrard had sent the ball the other way.
He didn’t, and a further Lukaku-sized malfunction just crashed the system.
Let’s see if Thursday night acts as a reboot.