Liverpool Aren’t A Top Four Side Yet…
Liverpool a “top four club”…? Think again. Again Liverpool slip up against (reputedly) lower opposition. Again, Liverpool fail to capitalise on early domination, and yet, again more points dropped by the Reds. Norwich came to Liverpool and gave a fantastic account of themselves – as they did against Manchester United and Chelsea. The only difference being, and the most important one, is that Norwich lost both of those games. It’s clear Liverpool are a team that despite all the hype, if you take your team there and play well without making too many mistakes, then you’ll probably get a result. Anfield is by no means the fortress that it should be.
The line up looked very promising. Glen Johnson coming in for Martin Kelly, and Craig Bellamy coming into the side to partner Luis Suarez up front. Quite rightly, no starting place for Andy Carroll. This is a game Liverpool should be winning and they certainly started out with a winning intention. Moving the ball around quickly and asking questions of the Norwich defence. Suarez coming close on a number of occasions as you’d expect. Then, suddenly after half an hour, that stopped. Liverpool started to give the ball away too cheaply and failed to use possession effectively when they got it back.
In all fairness, Liverpool scored against the run of play when Bellamy snatched the lead with the last kick of the first half. Paul lambert clearly felt he had a more than decent chance of grabbing a result and promptly put big Grant Holt into the fray on 57 minutes, and sure enough three minutes later his substitution proved to be spot on. Beating the helpless Pepe Reina with a header to make it 1-1 and set up a stirring finale to the game.
Liverpool have only kept three clean sheets so far this season. Two of those occasions were against 10 men – Arsenal and Everton – and the other was the friendly against Rangers last week! I wouldn’t call that the defensive form of a “top four side” as claimed by the usually very knowledgeable Jonathan Pearce on the BBC. This is not the form of a top four side. Unless of course this supposed “top four side” is banging in three or four goals each time which Liverpool most definitely aren’t. Chelsea have conceded nine as of Saturday but they’ve scored 20.
I’ll hand it to Dalglish he did make a clever substitution in replacing Dirk Kuyt with Daniel Agger so he could push Jose Enrique and Johnson forward. If only he’d seen fit to do it 10 minutes earlier, then this blog may well have taken a different tone. Instead we rue more points missed. There was further proof of what a massive waste of money Andy Carroll has been when he missed what must have been a golden chance to snatch the three points in the dying seconds of the game. His header missing the target by (less than) inches. You have to make the goalkeeper work in those circumstances, as Suarez did moments later only to be denied by a fantastic reaction save from John Ruddy.
So, where does this leave Liverpool? Four points behind an – dare I say it – impressive looking Newcastle side who seem to be able to grind out results given their performance against Wigan and still coming away with three points. One point behind Tottenham who look to be improving all of the time after a dreadful start.
Last week I suggested Liverpool need a decent Striker to compliment Suarez, and a reliable anchor-man to protect the back four. We can add to that, a decent center-half also. For me, Jamie Carragher is nearing the end of his career. As good as he’s been in the past, it’s not helping Liverpool too much in the present. Martin Skrtel? Well I have seen worse, but we could do better. Daniel Agger possess pace and a good ability to read the game but his injury prone-ness will always make him somewhat unreliable.
In Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool faithful must trust and I believe he’s aware of the team’s shortcomings. Those things in mind, t’s fair to say that the “spine” of the Liverpool side is not quite what it should be. That’s to say they lack a player in each of the main areas of the pitch. This must be addressed before Liverpool can go any further. I’d disagree with Jonathan Pearce to that degree. Liverpool aren’t yet a “top-four” side. Top six perhaps but top four? Not yet.