Saturday, February 02, 2008

Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland

Worringly before today we hadn't recorded a league win since 26th December, when we squeaked a 2-1 victory over Derby. A home match against Sunderland - who've only picked up two points on the road all season - had to be regarded as a home banker.

Benitez's team selection had some baffled. The sight of Torres and Crouch up front was welcome, and even playing Carra at right back was understandable to give Skrrtel a chance while still having some cover, but even I must admit that deploying Lucas Leiva on the left of midfield - leaving out Kewell, Benayoun and Babel - was somewhat baffling. Perhaps the plan was for him to tuck in and Aurelio to prive the width, bringing us closer to a 3-2-3-2 wingback formation (although with Pennant presumably playing further forward on the right). Whatever, that didn't seem particularly successful and it was no surprise to see Aurelio and Leiva replaced, even if it meant Finnan playing left back (something he has done before).

By all accounts the first half was dire, with few chances, but I have to give Mascherano and our defence some credit for effectively stiffling Sunderland's attack. In the second half, however, we saw a Crouch header, then his knock-on for Torres, illustrate the potential of this partnership. I definitely hope the two get more playing time together, although I was surprised substitute Kuyt wasn't given a chance to break his scoring duck from the 89th minute penalty (that Gerrard instead converted to put a gloss on the scoreline).

To be fair, things might have been closer. At 2-0, Sunderland probably should have had a penalty for a Carragher handball. His tendency to wave his arms around is perhaps his defensive weakpoint - maybe that was part of the reason to play him at right back, after he conceded a penalty the other day! The commentators suggested the let-off from ref Whiley makes up for the dodgy one he awarded Chelsea earlier in the season, but I must say I'd prefer to concede a penalty when 2-0 up to Sunderland rather than 1-0 up to Chelsea.

Anyway, at the end of the day what we needed to do was win, no matter how. While the commentators claimed we were playing poorly, they're normally the first to praise Man Utd, Arsenal or Chelsea for winning while doing so. If we can play poorly and win 3-0, I'll always take that...

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