By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
#1. ROBIN VAN PERSIE: Simple choice really. Robin turned in another high quality performance with the Dutchman serving up yet another clinical finish for the home fans to feast on and put our noses ahead at 25 mins. He had some gorgeously hit crosses and free kicks as well…lots of pace and dip to them…that our players should have done more with. Even more impressive to me is his new found spirit and hunger when battling for the aerial balls and the loose balls. Love to see him play with such tenacity…tells me he is switched on…and when he plays that robust game…the goals come for him. Robin has shown a real physical and mental resilience the last 2 months with the Gallas drama, petulant red card and a impressive run of games without injury. Glad to see his game back to where we all new it could be. I have no doubt if Butta’-legs hadn’t been shafted by the referee, he and Robin would have worked a goal between them to seal a victory. Robin battled hard to the bitter end…it was only the lack of a strike partner that kept him from a brace in the last 30 minutes.
#2. ALEX SONG: Probably his most complete game of the season. Only saw him caught out of position a couple times all match. Kept his nose clean and his focus alert. Did a good job of handling Gerrard and Alonso in the middle, was aggressive in the air, had some sweet touches and served up some nicely weighted passes as well. Nothing spectacular from Alex…but that is not is what we ask or need from him…just a rock-steady effort that showed a willingness to run hard, get stuck in and battle for anything in the middle of the pitch. Granted Liverpool don’t play the midfield passing/slow build-up game that required a lot of side to side running…but i still saw a lot of hustle and good positioning from him. Keep it up…with Cesc down…your workload and responsibility is only going to increase.
#3. MANUEL ALMUNIA: Had zero chance on the poorly covered long ball to Robbie Keane, but stood tall on the other 4 quality Liverpool strikes on net. In particular his finger save on Kuyt’s low angled drive to the far post was enormous as it occurred in injury time and with Liverpool feeling buoyant after the shock equalizer from Keane. Also showed nice cat-like reflexes getting down to meet Leiva Lucas’ near post low drive. Late on I felt he had Daniel Agger’s 30 yard rocket covered as it flew inches wide of the top corner.
GAEL CLICHY: Showed courage and heart when he shook off that twisted ankle (courtesy of Robbie Keane’s scissor tackle) and continued to run hard all match. Did a fairly good job containing Kuyt on the left wing (except for a 3 minute spell late in the first half) and managed to get forward on a few runs of his own. He and Nasri started to link up better again on the wing…that had been missing for the last several weeks. Nothing spectacular from the Frenchman, just his usual big engine effort. He really needs to rent a David Beckham “How to Cross the Ball” DVD, his crosses are truly abysmal. If he could ever learn to cross the ball accurately, Clichy would be a world-class left back.
#1. JOHAN DJOUROU: What the feck is he thinking about?? Honestly…Liverpool have about ZERO technical skills…its Route One for 90 minutes. EVERYBODY but Djourou seems to understand that.Why would he be marking Keane high and tight instead of giving himself a 10 foot cushion on Keane in order to handle his pace and the long balls that YOU know Liverpool are going to play.I give credit to Keane for burying his strike with an exquisitely timed half volley but c’mon Djourou…just brutal. To be beaten by a “hit and hope” long ball tactic that the whole world knows to expect…very lame. It is a shame because in my game notes i had jotted down that Djourou looked strong in the air during the first 40 minutes of the first half. Work to be done for Johan on his game management.
#2. THE REFEREE: What a complete and utter piece of Shiite he is. He let Lucas and Carragher get away with murder and completely shafted Butta’-legs for two tippy-tap fouls…how either of those were Yellow Card “fouls” is beyond me. I mean Butta’-legs just turned his backside to the player to shield the ball in a 50-50 situation!!. Outrageous for us to lose one of our Top 3 players with 30 minutes to play, AT HOME and over nothing!. There are 3-4 refs in the EPL that i detest and that bald-headed maggot is on that list. As soon as I see him I know it is going to be an endless series of whistles slowing down a the play and bogus yellow cards against us. This guy just has to be “the show” at the centre of the action. Psssst…buddy…a good referee is the one that you barely notice…not a feckin’ ponce whistling Dixie all match.
We needed the 3 points from this match and we didn’t get them in part due to the referee and in part to our nervous play and lack of passion prior to Butta’-legs sending off. It is a pity we didn’t show the same fight and spirit that we displayed with 10 men, when we had 11 men on the pitch. Liverpool out-hustled us for the first 65 minutes…that should never have happened seeing as we were the club with our back to the wall and needing to play desperate football. The mix is not right on the pitch…we need to find another player in January or summer of 2009 that brings a Flamini type energy and doggedness to EVERY match. To often the team appears a little complacent or lacking the fire to bang and battle…hence the issues we have with the less technical teams like Liverpool, Stoke, Fulham and Hull.
The loss of Cesc is a major blow with Aston Villa up next week…the timing could not have been worse. But it can be an opportunity for one of the back-ups to step up their game and show Wenger that he is worthy of his place in the First Team. I hope the recovery time gives Cesc time to get some freshness back in his body (mind and legs) because he has often looked stale at times this year and was turning in another below average performance against Liverpool before he got damaged. Heal up well Cesc…we need you if we hope to win anything this season!
GUNS IN GUNS OUT!