Friday, 30 October 2009

A first win against a Big Four side in 2009. Match report.

With Lukasz Fabianski's injury, it is pretty unlikely that a single one of the players involved in Wednesday's Carling Cup match will start the North London Derby tomorrow. As such, it is very difficult to draw any great conclusions from the Liverpool match.

In terms of momentum, it will mean nothing - maybe it will inspire the players for the next round but no more than that. These players won't be involved against Spurs so this victory won't be giving them added confidence because in terms of the Spurs match, we could pretend the Liverpool game never happened.

What this means is that to draw any conclusions from this match is difficult. The response to Merida's goal showed how fickle the media are. One day, he's a nobody. Then, after scoring a brilliant goal in the Carling Cup, Wenger has to give him a new contract and Athletico Madrid are offering 10 million for him. Was this Merida's best game for the club? Undoubtedly. But it's not that great an achievement when you only have three of four to choose from.

Nonetheless, this match had some encouraging signs in terms of the future. Everybody knows about Kieran Gibbs' talent but most people have almost forgotten about Kerrea Gilbert. I know the Liverpool goal came from the right-back position but it was a wonder goal. In short, Gilbert had a good game and considering Craig Eastmond and Coquelin can also play right-back, we have excellent strength in depth in that position.

Silvestre and Senderos seemed solid and to be fair to two players who always attract the boo boys' ire, they did nothing wrong. Nasri looked tired by the end and I was surprised he lasted 90 minutes and Eduardo, as the other first-teamer on show, also put in a committed performance. Contrast that with the days of Sylvain Wiltord when the Frenchman would have struggled to have looked any less interested during the Carling Cup.

Particular praise must be saved though for Eastmond and Bendtner. On a night where it would have been easy to be dominated in midfield, Eastmond stayed strong. He made some really excellent tackles and his distribution was superb. It's easy to over-egg the pudding somewhat and suggest that the Liverpool dominance in the last 15 minutes was because Eastmond had gone off. I mean, you have to attribute some of it to some lovely play by Aquilani. But nonetheless, at 18 years of age he dominated the midfield which is even more remarkable considering he is supposed to be a right-back.

My praise for Bendtner comes because he had a very Bendtner-esque first half. He was getting in the right positions but not releasing the ball soon enough, or with one excellent chance, he just scuffed it in a 1-on-1 situation. Nonetheless, he recovered well from this and I thought he took his goal exceptionally well from a relatively tight angle. As strikers have to be measured by their goal tally, I give the Dane credit for that.

Aside from putting us through to the quarter finals, this was the first time we had beaten a Big 4 side since our win at Stamford Bridge, 11 months ago. If we want to win trophies this year, we need to make that those wins start becoming more regular.

But first the Spuds. Here's a message to Wenger: Play Almunia and we'll be fine.

Keep the faith,

No comments: