Sorry for the delayed wrap, but real job got in the way. You know how it goes.
I wish I could think of a better, more witty title to this than that, but that captures the feeling. i feel like I've written this wrap 50 times already this season. Liverpool are the better team, create some great chances, at times really play some fascinating stuff, but don't finish. Bites them in the ass. Left with a poor result and not enough points. Falling back in the race for fourth, which is really the only thing that will make this season a success.
It's funny, Ian Darke and my first footy hero Steve McManaman (why I'm a Pool supporter in the first place) mentioned frequently Liverpool's unbeaten run that extended back to September. But it didn't feel like that, did it? Usually when Liverpool puts up two months without a loss, I'd be bouncing off the walls. But it's been too littered with unsatisfying results. And it hasn't meant a charge up the table.
I don't know which way the team bends from here. Either they'll stop hitting the post, a few teams will get battered, another streak will ensue but this one mostly wins, and that charge up the table will commence. Or the finishing won't get any better, and Liverpool, like last night, will fall on the wrong side of the razor thin margin for error they have now and this season will just muddle to a disheartening conclusion. I really have no idea.
-First, the sending off. A complete joke but it's not like Liverpool haven't benefited from some drunken officiating this season. I don't believe in the lazy, tired axiom "These things even out over a season", because they generally don't. It just keeps me from complaining about it too heavily. That's also because I gave up on a higher standard of reffing long ago.
-The officiating and coverage of Luis Suarez is getting truly detestable. He's not doing himself any favors, and I think we'll all readily admit that. But when the first thing anyone wants to talk about with him is his diving or theatrics or everything that doesn't have to do with his skills, I have to believe that trickles down to how he's officiated. That's not to say that his theatrics should be totally ignored, because that's not the case. It's something in his game he has to lessen. But when it's bullet point 1-4 with any writer or broadcaster, I think it leads to a wholly unfair perception. And now there's another ridiculous FA charge about an obscene gesture, which just feels like piling on. I start to worry about how much more Suarez himself wants to put up with.
-And yet, after the refereeing was done, I thought Liverpool were awfully cautious after the sending off. Maybe in the end they should have been, but Liverpool were well in the ascendancy when reduced to 10. Fulham didn't look like breaking down Liverpool before, and I didn't see where they would after. And it still took a Reina howler for them to do so. There could have been more chasing for a winner before they went behind, but that's just me.
-I don't see the point in playing Andy Carroll if you're not going to play Stewart Downing with him. Craig Bellamy has been wonderful,and was at the heart of most things good again. And though the rest of Carroll's game has been fine, he's here to score. So why wouldn't you give him the best crosser on the team to help him do so? Downing's game has been off admittedly, but his crossing hasn't gone away. Plus, how many moves lose their steam when Bellamy wide on the left has to shift the ball back to his right foot to put in a cross? Downing probably didn't fit in a 4-3-3 unless they were going to shift Suarez to the other side, but it still is a question.
-Jordan Henderson's best game, and it's pretty obvious he belongs in the middle and not shunted out wide where he feels a bit lost.
-Yes, maybe Charlie Adam should have had a penalty instead of a free kick, but he also should have played Bellamy in earlier and then it all may not have mattered.
-Before his sending off, Spearing was ok as the deputy, but he still gets caught too high for a defensive midfielder. And now he'll have to sit for a few games before trying again.