Saturday, August 23, 2008

Liverpool 2-1 Middlesbrough

I said it once after our late winner against Lazio in pre-season, and Kuyt said it too after our late(ish) winner against Sunderland, and today could just confirm it - we may have that knack of playing poorly and nicking results.

After starting fairly brightly, but being denied by late replacement goalkeeper Turnbull, we failed to create many clear chances and it wasn't so surprising when Mido put the visitors ahead - threatening their first win at Anfield in 30-something years.

Thankfully, while our play didn't improve too much, our determination got us through. Carragher scored a rare goal (deflected off Pogatetz) to level the scores on 86 minutes and then, having already been denied by a fine save from a free kick in injury time, Gerrard got onto a knock down around the edge of the box and fired in a not-really-deserved winner.

Two wins out of two is a good start - after all, we could have done an Arsenal and lost - but we do need to play better before we run up against big teams. A lot of commentators are saying we need width, and while a new winger would be welcome they're like gold dust - I'd rather see Pennant re-instated to the squad than El Zhar, who doesn't fill me with much confidence coming off the bench. On the other hand, maybe it's the 4-4-2 system not working. It'll be nice to welcome Mascherano back from the Olympics (with his second gold medal) and interesting to see what happens. One possibility is reverting to something like last year's 4-2-3-1 (with Gerrard, Keane and Babel in the three supporting Torres), but another is that we stick with 4-4-2 with Gerrard on the right - you won't find many better players there...

p.s. We do really need to work on our attacking set-pieces though. I've long thought Alonso should take more (if only because I'd rather have Gerrard on the end), but he in particular was woeful today.

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