Monday, January 7, 2008

FA Cup Results - Luton 1-1 Liverpool

Rafa's problems mount as spirited Luton hold listless Liverpool

Rafael Benitez's problems continued to mount as a disjointed, listless Liverpool were held 1-1 in this third round FA Cup tie.

After a bright start Liverpool degenerated into what they have so often this season - lots of possession but absolutely punchless upfront. When they did create chances their two forwards showed what 7 to 9 million buys you. Kuyt and Crouch simply should have done better, both missing respectable chances to give Liverpool a lead from which to go on and win the game.

Luton were spirited throughout, belying their lowly status they took the game to Liverpool at every opportunity. Talbot in particular was a stand-out performer for the battlers from Kenilworth Road.

Against the run of play, Liverpool took the lead in the 73rd minute, Crouch sliding home after a series of defensive errors from Luton. However just three minutes later Luton were level. Talbot again was the tormentor, with Riise knocking the ball into his own arm, and it then cannoned into the net.

For Luton another windfall waits as they limp along, hoping to stay in existence, though when you're losing 400k a week it must be doubtful. For Liverpool, a season that is threatening to completely unravel in a storm of over-expectation from owners and fans, political in-fighting and a punchless attack, limps onto into the next frenzied scrutiny of their manager. It's rapidly becoming death by a thousand cuts for Rafael Benitez.

You can't help feeling though, that Rafa Benitez has made two fundamental errors. He attacked the owners thinking he was in a stronger position than he was, and this has been undermined further by poor results. Secondly he has not bought invention to ally with Torres' ability. Kuyt and Voronin are workmanlike and thats it. Both (Kuyt particularly) and Voronin have no pace and are not penalty box predators. Two years ago he often used Luis Garcia with Crouch upfront - a classic target man and nippy front man partnership. Oh how Liverpool need a front man with his invention now to go with Torres. Also what has Crouch to do to get a game - how can he be on the bench with what Kuyt and Voronin offer? Moreover and more worringly for Liverpool fans is that of the midfield two years ago, you would Mascherano for Sissoko apart, play that same quartet again (Kewell, Alonso, Mascherano for Sissoko and Gerrard). This despite spending 32 million on Gonzalez, Benayoun, Pennant and Babel. Its all getting the feel of those last dark days of Houlliers regime.


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