No forward. That’s okay, we’re getting used to the idea that we don’t play forwards. Sturridge injured again. Not the lad’s fault obviously just something that we’re going to have to make damn sure that we buy to cover in the close season. Dan may want to be seen as our number one striker but that’s becoming harder by the day when we’ve barely seen him this season. No Mario either. God knows. Ill? Injured? Instagramming like crazy from the United game but missing from our line up without any obvious explanation. Might make himself available for selection for Sunday, possibly fancies the idea of a day out in London. Then again, maybe not; probably doesn’t ‘do’ semi finals. Mario? You know that instagram post? The ‘Do you know me? You’ve only seen me, you don’t KNOW me. Man, shut up’ one? Yeah. Don’t bother again, we’re not judging, we’re past caring, we’ve all given up on you. YOU could leave tomorrow if you wanted, nobody would care, nobody would notice.
Obviously there’s a striker on the bench. Lambert’s on the bench. Stays there until the 85th minute. Comes on once the game’s over; an action designed to give Raheem Sterling a much deserved standing ovation.
Yes, I’ll get back to Raheem.
Coutinho though. Coutinho as the false nine. Not playing Sterling up front in the absence of actual forwards as per previous, putting the little Brazilian magician there instead and letting him do anything he bloody wants. Phil’s incredible to watch at the moment, on another planet to ….well, pretty much anyone if we’re honest and he had moments against Newcastle that were magnificent. Sublime turns, feints, flicks, the most exquisite dummy you could wish to see. Moments that brought gasps from the crowd.
And that’s the kind of evening that we had. Moments. Loads of moments. Some beautiful football played. In bits. Never really pulled together. A bit half paced, a bit ‘not quite there’, a bit ‘not quite coming together’, a bit ‘there’s a semi final on Sunday and no-one wants to be injured.
A lazy first ten minutes and then Sterling scores an absolute ‘worldie’; an immaculate cross field ball from Henderson, a stunning take down in the area, all the pace off the ball with one shot, a dart inside and a curled shot beyond Krul. Ridiculous that the player that could do that couldn’t kill the game off an hour later with a simple six foot tap in to an empty net. That’s the conundrum with Sterling at the moment (that’s one of the conundrums, I’m not doing the laughing gas bit, can’t be arsed, it’d involve acknowledging that the s*n exists). Sterling has moments of breathtaking brilliance and – possibly aware of his standing at the moment with all the headlines we’re seeing in the wrong places – he pulled many of them out of his locker tonight. He should have had a hat-trick. That he didn’t is proof of the fact that he is still potential. He’s still not the finished article. When he is, that’s going to be some finished article. If he has any sense then he’ll be finishing that work in progress at Anfield where he’ll be played rather than at City or Chelsea or Bayern or Real where he’ll be Jack Rodwell or Scott Sinclair. Sack your agent lad. End of.
Elsewhere? Back four again. Dejan Lovren is still criticised, still complained about. In fairness, he’s becoming a better player, a more ‘Liverpool’ player, with every game. Then he heads an east ball straight into the path of a Newcastle attacker under no pressure at all. One big mistake in him in every game – two in this, got away with a stone cold penalty. He’s the new Rio Ferdinand. Glenn Johnson though, Glenn remains resolutely the same old Glenn; able to pull off a swerve, a feint, a charge that you don’t see coming and then thirty seconds later push an easy touch out for an opposition throw. Playing like a man who knows that he’s off in the summer for a big pay day and nobody’s challenging him for his place.
And that’s the kind of night it was. Odd, inconsistent. Dominated throughout. Didn’t really need to Lee Mason to show all the yellows that he should have shown Newcastle before he finally decided that sending Sissoko off for a potential leg breaker on Lucas might be an idea. Even then he got that one wrong; a second yellow when it was clearly the straightest red on Earth. Still, he missed that pen for Newcastle so let’s not highlight his woefulness too much shall we? Needed a penalty not given and two world class saves from Mignolet – while we’re on the subject, never criticise that lad for being too quiet, he spent the night screaming at the entire team – in order to stay in the game but Sterling could/should have had a hat trick and we could have won by six.
And Joe Allen scored.
Odd, odd night.