I think the Liege game on Wednesday night was the worst performance I have seen by a Liverpool team ever. This was by far and away the most boring.
Naively, I believed that after the shambolic performance against Liege we’d see a team with a point to prove, at team that would produce a stirring performance that would answer their critics. I mean we’d have gone clear at the top of the table if we had won. It wasn’t to be. We started the game with not 1, not 2 but 3 defensive midfielders with two strikers on each flank and Torres on his own up front. That set alarm bells ringing straight away. Alonso was useless on Wednesday and now Mascherano and Lucas are back he should not be in the team. Babel and El Zhar did well off the bench and merited a starting place but neither even got onto the pitch.
I understand Villa are a good team and I think with all the transfer shenanigans involving Barry this summer Rafa wanted to ensure that he did not lose to Villa to avoid some humiliation. That said, Villa had conceded 5 goals in their first two games and looked there for the taking.
The first half was dismal. Torres got injured and instead of Babel, who seemed the natural replacement was overlooked in place of David N’gog who made his debut off the bench. Villa had the only chance to score after they got behind our otherwise excellent defence and Carew missed a good chance.
The second half was worse than the first. Our midfield completely isolated N’gog who was doing his best but as he was doing it alone produced little. The only chance for Liverpool came when Keane was set free but dragged his shot wide under pressure from Reo-Coker when we really need him to do better in those situations.
The substitutions today were so bad it hurt. We needed width down the left as Keane was finally allowed to come inside, so we took off Keane for Aurelio. That left us with two attacking players on the pitch. That soon became one when Kuyt was removed for Benayoun. That would be the same Benayoun who had been our worst player in every game we have played this season. The game completely petered out into a nil-nil bore draw.
The defence did well (There were certainly enough of them) particularly Arbeloa, who kept Ashley Young quiet, N’gog put himself about and Mascherano was excellent. Also, despite everything we are unbeaten and are second in the league.
The tactics. We showed less willingness to attack than the Swiss Army. Rafa flooded his midfield with defensive players then proceeded to remove our few attacking players one by one. He seems to be getting closer to his dream formation of 10-0-0. How many opportunities do Alonso and Benayoun get? The injury to Torres is a big loss. Hopefully it was only a slight Hamstring strain rather than a tear because we need him for the United game.
Speaking of United, they looked really poor against Zenit St. Petersburg the other night and if Liverpool can get Gerrard and Torres fit we could win that game.
We have today signed a Brazilian striker called Vitor Flora (The only Flora I know was put on my toast this morning!) but I don’t know if he is ready for the first team or not and hopefully will sign Albert Riera.
Also Man City has been taken over, seemingly overnight by a consortium from Abu Dhabi, are you watching Hicks and Gillett?