Thursday, January 31, 2008

Premier League: West Ham 1-0 Liverpool

Yet more ammo for the Texan's gun as Liverpool take a Hammer blow

Time is surely running out on Rafa Benitez's reign at Liverpool. Liverpool's Premier League season has almost completely unravelled, and seems in a tailspin of toothless football, low confidence and alarming signs of a team that, subconsiously at least, believes it's manager is a lame duck.

This game was oh so typical of Liverpool's form of late. All neat football with precious little end product. To a man, Liverpool's attack was nigh on anonymous. Kewell and Benayoun went missing in action, while Torres and Gerrard only showed flashes, with the latter in particular looking dangerous in the last twenty minutes. Dirk Kuyt was what he always was; an ineffective workaholic. What Peter Crouch must do to get a game is beyond all but Benitez.

Liverpool started the game reasonably well, but were giving the ball away in the last third too much, and yet again failed to convert the half chances that came their way. Benayoun tried an ambitous lob, when a driven shot would have been better, and Torres was almost put through by Kuyt. West Ham recovered from their slow start, to force an error from Steve Finnan, as he headed onto his own bar. Boa Morte then missed the first of three great chances, and the sides went in level at half time.

Liverpool again came out brightly, with Harry Kewell just unable to connect at the far post from a cross, and Torres unlucky not to convert from substitute Babels pull-back. Lucas, the other substitute, was also unlucky with a great effort, after some great inter-play with Steven Gerrard.

However West Ham were still threatening Liverpool from set pieces, and were the last 20 minutes apart, very much in the game, with Boa Morte missing two great chances. As the game seemed certain to end in a draw Ljungberg broke from one end to the other. One twist inside the otherwise excellent Jamie Carragher, and it was disaster for Liverpool. Noble stepped up to dispatch the penalty with great aplomb.

Overall, it was a disasterous night for Liverpool and Rafa Benitez, who must feel his grip on Anfield weakening with every game, as Liverpool's agony in the Premier League goes on. Having said that, only three defeats in the league by February and the second best defensive record shows there's a great team in their trying to get out. Stability is a by-word for success, which tells you much about Liverpool's season.


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