Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Liverpool Still Unbeaten At Anfield, But Champions League Spot Is Slipping Away

After nine matches away, El Pistolero was back in the Liverpool line up. The Uruguayan had been watching in the stands as the mighty Reds gained excellent results against Manchester City and Manchester United without him. Suarez came on as a substitute and could not inspire Liverpool against a weakened Spurs team.

If not for Gareth Bale's uncharacteristic miss late in the game, Liverpool might have had to endure a night where they dominated the game but had no end result as usual. It's the eighth draw at Anfield and these "undeserved" draws are starting to kill the Reds' pursuit for the final Champions League spot.

After some enterprising wins over City, United and then Wolves, Liverpool could not break down a solid Spurs defence in which Michael Dawson was outstanding. Still there weren't enough shots on goal and it was all huff and puff from the Reds in the end. Even with a classy frontline of Bellamy, Kuyt, Carroll and Gerrard, Liverpool could only manage four shots on goal and clearly for a team with a 9% conversion rate, more shots would have meant more probability for a goal.

It's the same story for Liverpool all season. Playing well, dominating possession, comfortable in defence BUT there is no threat in the attacking third. Manchester United frightens opposing teams with the speed of Valencia and Young. Manchester City architects goals with the artistry and accuracy of Silva and Aguero. Arsenal relies on the talismanic goalscoring prowess of Robin Van Persie.

Kenny Dalglish tried to instill a more attacking type of play but have failed so far. Downing was the alternative when Ashley Young turned down Liverpool for Alex Ferguson. The former Boro man was brought in to provide for the much maligned Andy Carroll, zero assists meant that Downing has been a total waste of money this season. Charlie Adam was the British equivalent of David Silva and though he has produced in patches, he too has not reached the heights he set while at Blackpool. Where are all those dangerous corners that he used to deliver for Ian Holloway's Orangemen?? Carroll was the physical presence that every Premiership club wanted and Liverpool pulled off a major coup when the big Geordie signed last January. The rewards have been three measly goals in the past one year, a poor first touch and a very defensive Dalglish. If drinking gets Carroll back to being the beast he was at Newcastle, then go ahead son, have a bitter or two!

Alas, all is not lost. Liverpool could yet be the first club to win a trophy this season even if it is just the Carling Cup. Win that and Liverpool steps back into Europe albeit through the Europa League. The remarkable thing is that for players like Adam, Henderson and Carroll, winning the Carling Cup will be their first taste of English football success.

Dalglish is presiding over a "new" Liverpool and along with it comes some highs and some lows. Liverpool fans will have to continue to stay patient and hope that a refreshed and well-rested Luis Suarez will be the answer to the Reds inadequacy in front of goal this season. It will turn out to be a good season if Liverpool trumps Malaysian-owned Cardiff City at Wembley come February 26.

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