01 May 2007

(Slightly) more coherent thoughts on Liverpool/Chelsea

Liverpool 1 - Chelsea 0 (Liverpool advance on penalties, 4-1).

Like I said, slightly more coherent thoughts. It still hasn't sunk in that they've somehow managed to get past Chelsea again. (Though, really, every time John Terry cries after playing us, a little baby angel gets his wings.)

That wasn't the most outstanding game I've ever seen; if I were a neutral, it may even have been boring (and hell, as a fan, it got boring toward the end of regulation and extra time, when everyone kinda figured out that it was going to penalties). The thing that made this a good game to me was the tension. While this was a friendly rivalry early on, it's been three seasons now, and I don't think there's any doubt that these teams just do not like each other at all. It made for a really physical game, especially early on as they both found their feet a bit. I think the ref did a good job not calling too much and letting things sort of even out -- and it's nice to see someone not get fooled by Drogba's drama.

Speaking of Mr. Drogba, how about Liverpool's defense? It got a little frenetic at times, but starting with Pepe, everyone did a great job of shutting down the Chelsea attack; to be fair, Chelsea may have been hindered a bit by Shevchenko's groin injury (read: fit of pissiness) keeping him out of the side. However, considering how ineffective he's been recently, I think the bigger factor was that the defense figured out how to deal with Drogba better. Even before the goal I was glad to see that Rafa left Agger in the starting XI. He didn't have a good game last week (as I think everyone will admit), but keeping him in here seems to have boosted his confidence, and Carragher was once again a total fucking stud.

It's cleverly worded analysis like that that keeps y'all coming back, right?

Moving up the field, I was worried (and screeched again) when they started Zenden in midfield, but he had a decent game, and the first penalty was vital. So, well done. I still don't care for him, but well done. Mascherano had another solid game, and he and Steven combined to completely and totally shut down Lampard early on -- like, to the point where I didn't even remember that he was on the pitch. Not that I doubted the superiority of our midfield, but that was awesome. Lampard managed to get back into it later in the game, after Steven moved out right, but still. Deflected kicks and all, he can be a threat, but one that was neutralized effectively. (Also, Robben who?)

The attack wasn't as effective as I would have hoped. Kuyt had a couple of good chances and one very dubious offside call, but Crouch didn't do a whole lot and when Bellamy came on, he did even less. Whoever we meet in the final, we really need to work on the attack. I love Agger, but he's not a high-scoring defender, and a goal from open play would be nice, too.

So, there's definitely things to improve on -- I screeched more than I would've liked to, but we were never going to come out and run over Chelsea. Overall, though this wasn't the prettiest game I've ever seen, our penalty luck continues, and I will see all of you in Athens! (Where we hopefully won't need penalties.)


badgerdaddy said...

Come on, is dissing JT, Chelsea and England captain, really necessary after your team beat Chelsea? Nah.
I honestly think the decider in the game was Carvalho not being fit for Chelsea. I thought Essien had a superb game in defence, but my god he's better in midfield. But that's the way it goes - everyone gets injuries and you have to make do. It's the club's fault for getting rid of both Gallas and Huth in the last year. All our central defensive cover gone. D'oh!
Carragher had a great game, but you're right about the attack. What the hell's happened to Bellamy? He was completely anonymous last week, too. Weird.
Reina was awesome with the penalties, that's an incredible skill to have. I do think in a game situation, that Cech is currently number one in the world, but Reina's right up there.
Ah well. Maybe next season we'll have Essien in midfield again and it might be a different story!
Best of luck in Athens.

ynba said...

Good point about Carvalho -- I don't care for him, but he's really influential in defense for y'all. Essien did well, but it's always going to be hard playing a game like that out of position.

I agree that day-to-day, Cech's probably more solid, but even before the shootout, Reina had a phenomenal game. I still can't believe he's only in his early 20s (though Cech is young too). Both teams have great keepers.


badgerdaddy said...

I think the commentary last night (though presumably yours was different) stated that Reina and Cech are both the same age, which is incredible when you think that 'keepers don't usually mature until they're 29-30. Bodes well for the future.
Carvalho's been immense for us this season, especially when JT was out. I didn't care much for him as before, we had Gallas who was incredible. But this season, he's given everything so I'm softening…

Anonymous said...