The dull 0-0 match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield once more revealed our present shortcomings. Okay, the defence held firm and looked more assured than in recent times but some flaws were still there. The attack on the other hand was lame and not many telling chances were created. And why do Liverpool has to start so slowly in every match? I prefer watching paint dry to the extremely dreary football presented in the first half.
The Reds can´t drop this slow, unimaginative football. In the first half it was the worst so far. No attmempts at goal at home versus a team struggling in the lower half is unacceptable. In the second period the Reds were more aggressive and keen but no particular heights were hit. Two or three decent chances is too few to break down a defensive-minded side like Sunderland. Then you need luck, as we had versus Stoke, but Liverpool shouldn´t need to rely on luck to beat inferior teams.
A few obseravations:
The central defence is quite calm and cool with the pairing of Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure. But until they have been tested by a really good team, as Basel on Tuesday, the jury is still out.
It´s beyond me why Jordan Henderson is getting the nod everytime. He is incredibly overrated. Yesterday he hardly ever got involved in the play and never made any interceptions or tackles. And when he got a good scoring chance he hit row Z. Not that I expected anything else from him. He can´t shoot, dribble, head the ball properly, use his left foot, tackle with effect, run quickly or read the game. He is plodding around and letting matches pass him by. And why is he always five or six yard away from the opponent in possession waiting for him to do something. Get in man! It´s time for the bench and others to come in.
Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho has got pace, technique and smartness. But why are they frequently trying to dribble when there are better alternatives? They must stop this selfish actions and begin to use teammates. Then dribbles can be more unexpected and effective.
Speaking of Coutinho, why take him off with 15 minutes left. He was not tired and together with the lively Steven Gerrard he could have unlocked the away defence. Instead Lazar Markovic came in and the forward threat died down.
It is clear that self-confidence is low right now. Especially when scoring opportunity comes around. Then lame efforts is executed, straight at the goalkeeper or high over the bar. The misses are also due to insufficient knowledge how to shoot and aim properly. The remedy is to train shooting a lot. Ten times more than now. The players have both the time and the pay-cheque size to be obligated to improve on this most important aspect in football.
Rickie Lambert has scored a couple of goals lately but now it´s time for the bench again. He was awful yesterday and isn´t up to the tempo. Let Fabio Borini get the chance in a few matches now, he is at least quick and a hard-worker.
It was a sad experience watching Liverpool yesterday. The small hope of a resurging team, after two wins on the bounce, was blown to pieces. It´s back to square one and this season´s sins seems impossible to wipe out.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 15th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 4.
Wasn´t tested so much but made a couple of fine saves and picked the ball safely from the air a few times.
RB Glen Johnson 4.
Quite assured defensively and was useful in attack. Didn´t lose the ball soo often as he is proned to do.
CB Kolo Toure 5.
Kept the opposing attackers pretty quiet and distributed the ball well. A solid performance.
CB Martin Skrtel 4.
Aggressive without committing himself all that much. A couple of clumsy errors could have led to danger.
LB Alberto Moreno 3.
Was troubled defenisvely in the first half, redeemed himself in the second when he also participated a lot in attack.
DM Lucas Leiva 6.
Best Red on the day. Read the game well to be on hand to win the ball frequently. Found a teammate with his passes almost every time. Wasted a great chance to score with a lame shot.
RM Adam Lallana 3.
Showed fine technique but to no avail. Really ineffective and dribbled in good positions when a shot was on.
CM Jordan Henderson 1.
No impact whatsoever on the game. Is trotting around without doing anything defensively or attack-wise.
LM Raheem Sterling 5.
Was a constant threat with his pace and trickery but could have passed the ball more and subsequently been more dangerous.
AM Philippe Coutinho 3.
Took the ball forward all the time but his teammates were almost always hiding and his passes went astray too often. Should have scored when clean through.
CF Rickie Lambert 1.
Completely harmless, was too slow in his runs and didn´t win many duels in the air.
AM Steven Gerrard 5. (Replaced Adam Lallana after 67 minutes).
Showed eagerness and a will to win when introduced. Sparked life into the lifeless attack.
RM Lazar Markovic 1. (Replaced Philippe Coutinho after 78 minutes).
Didn´t do anything noteworthy.
It could have been a match where Liverpool showed intent and a will to climb towards top four. But once more we had to watch a lacklustre, drab and soulless display. It´s beyond me how bad the team play sometimes. If the Reds perform like this on Tuesday then Basel will walk all over us. Still, the thing is:
We Go Again.