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Monday, February 6, 2012

Liver n' Onions: Cats Game

The successes of Liverpool football club in the last couple of weeks has breathed a new wind into the sails of the fans, giving hope of silverware and a possible place in the Champions League next season. 

On a day that Liverpool were held to another draw at home, and I say " Held," because they deserved a win based on play, I will touch upon a few successful weeks for the red side of the Mersey. The reds' have reached their first Carling Cup final since 1996, defeating Manchester "Moneybags" City to progress to Wembley. The catalyst of this recent consummation is one Craig Bellamy,  who I would argue has been one of the most on form players in the all of the English competitions, EPL, Carling Cup and FA Cup.  Bellamy was a  brow raising signing not unlike Thierry Henry and Paul Scholes returning their old sides. Such furrowed brows have since subsided as he in the absence of Luis Suarez through suspension has earned his stripes and has been the driving force for Liverpool in attack. He defeated old employers City, to reach the Carling Cup Final on the 26th February,  in which they will meet Welsh side Cardiff City- another former employer of Bellamy. This is a game the reds should feel they could win, and they should. The Carling Cup was not necessarily the goal that Dalglish targeted  this season, as grabbing the fourth spot and a Champions League place next season was surely objective number one.  Adding some silverware to the trophy cabinet  would be a snip, considering the season thus far. The Calrling Cup is nothing to shrug at considering it's the best we may get as the all elusive fourth spot looks  a mammoth undertaking. 

If Liverpool nab the Carling Cup in late February, should people consider this season a failure? Missed opportunities have hurt Liverpool and they continue to consistently drop points in the League to weaker sides,  but with all the money spent on talent in the summer, does winning a competition such as the Carling Cup justify the money spent? 

I say yeas, and this is how I see it. Once the cream of the crop In English football Liverpool have dropped from those heights, due to management, signings and form over a space of time. Yet the expectations still remain high from when they dominated the League. Not being the the club that it used to be fans, and spectators must not necessarily lower expectations, but they should evolve. Reaching the Carling Cup Final by defeating Manchester City, and the fourth round of the FA Cup through defeating Manchester United is just the speed that Liverpool should be striving for. Having spent chunks of cash on two strikers I see the reason for disappointment over performances, as this splashed cash has increased expectations. But in comparison to Manchester City, the cost to get this success pales in comparison, yet Liverpool just knocked them out of a tournament to reach the final. 

This gel I setting or it has been the last few weeks as Bellamy, Henderson, Kuyt, and even Andy Carroll have created some cohesion amongst each other. This cohesion was necessary as Liverpool faced Tottenham Monday at Anfield. Their home stadium has been anything but a fortress this season yet with blossoming form of late, aided by Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrards' return to the squad, a sense of confidence was set upon me. Suarez did not start as Bellamy, Carroll and Kuyt have performed well together, but he did come on later in the match and looked a tad rusty.

Liverpool looked to capitalize on the absence of the influential Raphael van der Vaart, starting with theoretically three forwards up top. Less of a thereat from Tottenham going forward made it possible for Gerrard in the center to push up behind Carroll who was spear-heading the attack. Unfortunately having Bellamy and Kuyt  on the wings, they looked to come into the middle too often making Liverpool's shape extremely narrow at times. Glen Johnson playing on the left due to an Injury sustained by Jose Enrique, got forward well and produced a great save from keeper Brad Friedel on the stroke of half time.

The game was not without incident as it ebbed and flowed towards its finale, still without a break in the deadlock. Though the score was as it started, the most interesting point was not the cat that ran out onto the field, stopping play for some minutes, it was the considerable determination the players showed in contest. Similar to a cat Tottenham remained on their feet even after intense pressure from the Liverpool attack. Just like in the game against Wolves Andy Carroll held up play decently, and his touch looked less like he had a wrecking ball as a foot. Suarez walked onto the pitch in the second half to a fanfare of support, only to get booked strait off landing a kick strait into Scotty Parkers' stomach. Manchester United's striker Wayne Rooney offered his opinions via Twitter, saying that the Uruguayan should have been sent off. He's just one of those guys Suarez who just can't avoid controversy to save his life. I was watching and I saw no intent in the kick and whether it was malicious or not, only he would know. 

The pace was frenetic, with full blooded tackles flying in left and right yet when it came to chances- production was slim. Gerrard looked in good form, and taking into account  the involuntary rest due to an injury ridden season, you might just see him return to full fitness and form at   Liverpool sit in seventh,  4 points behind Chelsea in fourth place.

Liverpool face Manchester United at Old Trafford this weekend and having defeated City and the team in question a week or two ago, they will be looking to repeat the coup. It would be a bit of a Coup d' Etat against the city of Manchester if Liverpool where to top them again, away from home. If you thought that the atmosphere was roaring in the Chelsea vs. Manchester United  game at the weekend, wait until  this game takes place. It couldn't come at a more convenient time for a controversy as Suarez will be available, and may possibly start, against Patrice Evra and United. I would expect tempers to be docile on the side of Suarez, but I wouldn't be surprised if Evra refuses to shake his hand in the pre-match pleasantries. 

Stay tuned for the post match thoughts at

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