05 February 2006

Yes, I am the boss of Liverpool.

Well, the run of good form couldn't last forever, I guess. 1-1 against Birmingham, who scored through a Xabi Alonso own-goal. Today, we followed that up with 2-0 at Chelsea, and Reina getting sent off. I don't know why we're looking so unconvincing all of a sudden, but these two games have really pointed out major areas we need to work on. In order:

1. ATTACK. You could see this as early as the World Club Championship against Sao Paulo, where we had all the chances and a ton of corners, and just couldn't convert any of them. We've consistently had more shots and more shots on target, even against Chelsea, but none of that matters unless you can finish them off. We don't have a consistent scorer: Cisse has pace, but has been a dreadful finisher recently; Crouch is in one of his dry spells again; Morientes still doesn't look comfortable in the Premiership; and Fowler's not as close to match-fit as we'd like and has lost whatever pace he once possessed. This has been a problem for us all season, and even back last year. At this point, I would trade any two of our strikers for one consistent goalscorer. (This is why I wanted us to buy Michael Owen back in August, but alas.) When your leading scorer is a midfielder, you've clearly got problems. This leads nicely into my next point, which is:

2. Steven Gerrard cannot do everything. God love him, he'll try to do everything, but it's just not possible. You can't say anything against his heart or commitment to the club, which is great to see after the will-he-won't-he drama of last season, and midfield is clearly the club's strongest area right now, but still. We need a bit more depth and versatility -- when Steven's not playing, we just look off-balance. Garcia's got some of the attacking flair, but his defense is not there, while Sissoko and Alonso aren't as strong going forward. Kewell's edging back to his old form but not there yet, either. I just fear so much what would happen to our season were Gerrard to pick up a long-term injury. He's almost to twenty goals for the season, and the heart of the team in a lot of ways. It's easy to depend on him, since he's been so incredible this season, but you just have to look at Arsenal this season to see what happens to one-man teams when that man isn't playing.

3. Defense of set pieces. This was shown most clearly in the Chelsea game today -- they are KNOWN for their skill at corners, especially John Terry. So what do we do? Leave him open to give Gallas the assist and their first goal. Great idea! I would say our crap defending of these recently has been because we're trying to train new defenders, but neither of them played today. I've never been completely sold on zonal marking anyway, and if the team still doesn't have it down at this point, maybe it's time to try something new. Set pieces should be the easiest things to defend from, since teams tend to do the same things over and over again. We've got to stop giving up these cheap goals, since our defense is generally strong otherwise.

Also, I feel I should say something about Reina today. I love him, and I disapprove of unnecessary violence on the pitch. I also disapprove of getting red cards that can rule you out of crucial games (hi, Arsenal!). However, I think you could make a case that Robben needs his ass kicked a little bit. Smug bastard. I mean, today I hate everyone who has ever played for Chelsea or cheered for them in any way, but him in particular. (Also, he's a total whiner, a diver, and a drama queen. Rafa said it better than I could.)

Um, yay Steelers? If you graphed levels of interest in the Super Bowl from one to ten, I would be at about a negative six.


Reds' Fury said...

lack of firing power... a lost is a lost... hope they buck up in next match vs Charlton... Robben indeed a S.O.B. and Reina just plain stupid ! We should nominate Robben for an Oscar award this year for best "theatrical-actor"'s award !

footie girl said...

"I'm in a hurry and I must go to the hospital to see how Robben is, he could be in hospital for a week," commented Benitez.
Ha, Rafa is awesome.

Hopefully Fowler will be match-fit soon -- Liverpool desperately need someone (other than Stevie G) who actually knows how to put the ball in the net. I think he could work well with Crouch, who seems to be better at setting up goals for other people than actually scoring himself.