Liverpool: Suarez's Definite Penalty Saved Us From Disaster vs. Villa
From the moment that the self appointed special one decided that he should turn the agenda on to Suarez' apparent nature in order to divert attention from Eto'o's penalty area assault and watched the southern based media swallow his nonsense as he knew that they would, the story has embedded itself once again; Luis Suarez is a diver and a cheat.
Right. It was a penalty. Guzan's right hand takes Suarez's left foot, watch the replays, see the contact, watch the BBC's panel agree unanimously that it was a penalty and that there's no dive but then see Match of the Day run a poll to ask the viewers whether Suarez dived. He didn't dive, you've just proved he didn't dive, why are you skin he question? And why didn't you show the moment that Suarez was elbowed in the face, lay still with a (again, genuine) head injury and referee Jon Moss refused to stop play? One could almost imagine that there was a narrative at play here.
And let's not even talk about Stan Collymore's polemical phone in.
Anyway, rant completed, it was a penalty.
And thank God it was because that, coupled with the one true piece of football that Liverpool managed to produce on a dreary Saturday tea time ( yet another sublime Henderson flick to set up a fine Sturridge finish) was all that dragged us back into a match that we had effectively lost with one of the worst first 45 minutes of football that you are ever likely to see. A thoroughly disorganised, ineffectual first half actually managed to surpass the Hull performance in terms of mediocrity.
Somebody had to make way for the return of Daniel Sturridge after his thoroughly effective cameo at Stoke - the victim was Lucas providing and incredibly attacking front line of Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho and allowing Gerrard to continue in the holding position which we are told he will appear in more often as his career progresses. Hopefully this latter experiment will be put on hold for the time being; this may well have been the worst 45 minutes of Gerrard's career. There was nothing in his game that went well, passes went astray, possession was conceded in dangerous areas with alarming regularity, creation was a scarce commodity, Villa controlled the midfield with ease.
And this midfield control meant that their supply to forwards was infinitely more successful than ours. Suarez and Sturridge saw little of the ball while Benteke and Agbonlahor terrorised our yet again woeful defence; the villa forwards' running of the channels in the opening half was a masterclass in splitting apart the space between full back and centre back. Their two nil halftime lead was more than deserved.
The reintroduction of Lucas after the interval (twenty minutes of influence curtailed by injury but continued by Joe Allen) provided the platform for a much improved second half and, pushed forward once more, a much more imposing, controlling Steven Gerrard. Suddenly there was form, shape and threat. Threat enough to claw back a point that may actually prove valuable at the end of May given the bizarre nature of the current season and everybody's ability to take points off everybody else.
For the moment though we sit in the top four still but with the threat of Everton breathing down our neck with a game in hand and the top three starting to pull away from the pack a little more each week.
There's a long way to go but with the current apparent lack of transfer activity, the injured list climbing again every time that it seems to have reduced and the ongoing fragility and instability of whatever back four we happen to be fielding in any given week, there's a hell of a lot of work to do.
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