Saturday, December 8, 2007

Reading 3-1 Liverpool: Rafa Strikes Again

Liverpool fans (me included!) will be groaning yet again after this completely self inflicted defeat. The dreaded 'r' word of rotation will be cropping up yet again and I'm sure the Liverpool fans collective groan at the team selection could be heard up and down the country as Rafa Benitez couldn't resist reverting back to his tinkerman approach.

Liverpool started the game reasonably well showing the confidence of their recent winning run but didn't really threaten Reading. Reading then got a controversial penalty when Jamie Carragher was adjudged to have fouled Gunnarsson inside the box. It was arguably the first of three or four big decisions the referee got wrong. Shortly after Liverpool equalised through Gerrard after Torres superbly took down Reina's clearance to play him in.

Liverpool were now looking reasonably comfortable and early in the second half looked set to go on and win the game. However they were still not really creating clear chances and lacked penetration and width from midfield. They were made to pay for not converting their pressure to a goal when Doyle got a faint touch to Shorey's free kick to give Reading the lead. Torres was denied what looked a clear penalty and then missed a half chance with a diving header. Shortly after Liverpool were given a mountain to climb when Harper outpaced Riise and took the ball round Reina to put Reading 3-1 ahead. Gerrard hit the bar with a superb strike but Benitez then added to his collection of strange selection decisions by taking off his skipper Gerrard with 20 minutes to go. Kewell and Crouch (twice) both went close but Liverpool ultimately couldn't get back into the game.

All in all you were left with the feeling that if Rafa Benitez had selected a slightly more balanced, stronger team then Liverpool would have won. To start with Crouch up front and a midfield that had no width or pace to put anything on his head was baffling to say the least.


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