Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sheff Utd 1-1 Liverpool

Well, a draw against a newly promoted team won't be seen as a good result, but it was never going to be easy. Newly promoted teams will always be up for it at the start of the season (like in a cup), whereas after a few defeats they might already have their heads down a bit. Let's not forget Chelsea began last season by only just salvaging a draw against Wigan.

Nonetheless, Liverpool's performance wasn't encouraging. Though we dominated possession, it wasn't until a goal behind that we really put much pressure on, against a team we should have easily dominated. It didn't help that we lost Riise and Carragher to two bad challenges, both of which went unpunished. Thankfully the injuries only seem to be sprained ankles, so no more than a couple of weeks (a few who saw Riise thought it might be much worse).

Not only was the result that we were playing with only one of our first choice back four (Kromkamp started due to Finnan picking up a knock), but using two substitutes meant our later attacking options were restricted, and we never got to use Crouch.

Some will say the penalty was fortuitous. Maybe - it's not clear there was much (if any) contact, but I think hurdling the lunge did deny Gerrard a goal scoring chance. The radio commentators pointed out Fowler didn't complain - and I do remember him being booked for arguing against being awarded a penalty against Arsenal once, so I don't know if he just learned his lesson or not. Anyway, our players were repeatedly losing their footing in the Blades' box, due apparently to them watering that area of the pitch at half time (I'm never sure if such tactics are legitimate use of home advantage or gamesmanship...)

I don't think many could deny we were worth a draw. Further, it certainly wasn't the dodgiest penalty of the day (Everton's was awarded for an alleged handball that was actually a header - all the more unjust given Alan Stubbs had just got away with blocking a cross with an outstretched arm), and maybe made up for those unpunished tackles. Hopefully Carragher and Riise will be back soon, nad we'll put in a better performance (minus them two) against Haifa - hopefully Kuyt and Garcia starting up-front.

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