So much for that resounding victory I was hoping for. Maybe it's the 5 games in 17 days, maybe it was just one of those nights, but whatever it was, you rarely have to apologize for three points, and you never do when you're so desperate for them. This was the first abject performance under King Kenny, but usually these have resulted in embarrassing and frankly life-force-draining defeats. So there should be some heed paid to the steel it took to see this one out, no matter how ugly it got.
There was a key difference from the Hodgson Era as well, though maybe it's all dependent on whether you're wearing the optimistic lenses that came with his departure or the pessimistic ones we were issued for his stewardship. But when things weren't going well under Roy, the team just looked like they were waiting for the clock to run out. There was no verve or spirit. At least last night, though the team didn't perform all that well, they were trying and playing with at least determination.
And yet it could have been so much easier. Had Torres's goal stood, and it should have, that early Liverpool may have pressed on and bagged a second before half. But it didn't, and Meireles's header was brilliantly saved, and Maxi shot right at the keeper (the first time this month he's kept it in the zip code) and then it became a real scrap. But we're so tired of dealing in "ifs", so we'll just deal with what actually was:
-I can't believe there was a time when Daniel Agger was healthy and not considered the first name on the team sheet, at least among the back four. Clearly the best player on the pitch last night, his fluidness and downright cockiness with the ball and defending seems to slowly spread to Skrtel. He also keeps the team playing, there are hardly any panicky clearances when he's around. Until something else falls off of him, anyway.
-While I understand keeping Meireles in the position in which he flourished against Wolves, something is going to have to be figured out about this "Gerrard playing deeper" concoction, because it doesn't work. He may prefer it there, but having him so far from goal isn't doing anybody any good. He doesn't hit the Hollywood passes he used to, which is a good and bad thing, but he's not getting into the positions to score which is what he does best. Perhaps when Lucas returns to the lineup the 4-1-4-1 system can be re-instituted and he and Raul can share the same space.
-Glen Johnson is doing his best on the left, and was quite lively there last night. But at some point doesn't Aurelio need a look? Johnson is clearly not that comfortable trying to cross with his left, and everyone's waiting for the cutback into the middle.
-Speaking of which, the insistence on playing with both Kuyt and Maxi has to stop, because it looks like a train station at rush hour in the middle of the park. Pool get no width as long as the opposing midfielders are alive to our fullbacks coming forward. Moreover, we don't ever get a decent cross this way. And now that Babel has sailed off to Boston there are fewer options. Joe Cole would provide the same problems. Aurelio in midfield could work but not all that well. Dani Pacheco?
-Poulsen didn't kill anyone, so that's good.
-John Pantsil has the most hilarious matches at Anfield. It was a couple years ago I think when he was with West Ham where I'm sure he committed like four handballs, none of which were called.
It's a win And now a week to rest up and find another one at home to Stoke.