Date: 26th January 2013 at 6:00pm
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THIS weekend’s going to be a slightly easier one compared to the last few, in terms of anticipation anyway.

Last week’s 5-0 win over Norwich shouldn’t be taken for anything more than what it really was in my view – a false positive.

Norwich weren’t their best – and in any event their best has been below average this season – so whilst knocking in 5 goals past them is great, let’s not start thinking we’re back to the big time.

Whilst the 2-1 loss to Manchester United a fortnight ago, produced certain revelations which were slightly encouraging. The fact that they were nervous for the last 15 minutes or so means Liverpool must be pressurising their opponents, more than what meets the eye.

In all honesty pressure never really appears much effective unless there’s a goal in it so while we won’t be counting many positives, there is something for Brendan Rodgers to tell his players – keep up the work while we try and build on it even further.

The reason Liverpool lost that day was because they gave away two preventable goals before coming to their senses. This keeps happening. It’s almost become involuntary to the team. So on the odd days it doesn’t happen, it feels like the clocks have been wound back to the good old days.

The players need confidence, not just for 90 minutes, but something much more permanent. They need to know they’re capable of good football. For some reason the focus of blame seems to have shifted from Stewart Downing to Joe Allen. While it’s fair to say he has been guilty of giving away possession one too many times, it’s also true he isn’t the only one. Plus the team still can’t seem to realise the meaning of moving off the ball.

Against United there was hardly any, against Norwich there was plenty. The former was a loss, the latter a glorious win. It’s what all the top teams have been doing so it’s difficult to understand why such a simple concept keeps flitting in and out of the Liverpool players’ conscience.

Daniel Sturridge’s impact needs to be acknowledged though. Whether his detractors say he’s got two of those goals luckily, maybe that’s what’s been missing – a lucky goal poacher. We’ve had a number of them scored against us because of opposition strikers just being at the right place in the right time, why not one for us too?

The last two goal poachers we had were Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler so it may not be all that bad an idea!

This weekend it’s Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup. We can’t be over-confident but let’s stop over-thinking it. Liverpool just need to go out there and play football to its very basics. Pass, move, find space, and then your team-mates with that next pass, then keep repeating the drill for the full duration of the game.

Oh, and let’s shoot on target more often.

On a complete side note, this Eden Hazard business with the ball boy seems to be bringing out the overtly prissy and mollycoddling tendency in the top tiers of footballing authorities.

A simple toe poke to get the ball out from under a ball boy who was acting reprehensibly to keep it away, seems a fair enough thing to do in my view.

Then the lad play acts and pretends to be injured, which has to be a bit of poetic justice since it was against Chelsea who’ve been guilty of it numerous times in the past (stand up a certain former player and Ivory Coast international).

But to turn that incident to one of assaulting a teenager is nothing short of immature.

The FA’s charged Hazard over the incident while PFA head has come out saying he shouldn’t have ‘taken the law in to his hands’.

Toe poking the ball wasn’t taking the law in to his hands, jumping on him and kicking the daylights out of him would have been – as Eric Cantona may very well tell you.

This is the same FA who banned Luis Suarez for what they defined as racism.

The whole thing was a cultural misunderstanding, and the FA could have acted responsibly as mediators in the situation. Instead Evra got to play the victim and thanks to their latest action on Hazard, so will the ball boy.

Swansea City’s press office called the boy vulnerable. That’s what you call someone who’s prone to be exploited by others.

In this case it was the ball boy who exploited the situation.

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