Anfield Points Lost, Saved, Won And Dropped
21st December 2014 4:00 pm
A point won or two dropped? Hard to say that Liverpool weren't worth at least their point. We haven't been so comprehensively outplayed since away to Dortmund back in September. In that game we had a bit more possession even if mainly in our own half but in chances and attempts the pattern was much the same. For much the same reason too. Liverpool closed us down, didn't allow us any time in possession and squeezed us into playing those small tight narrow triangles in central areas that stifled our midfield at times earlier this season. We didn't have the control or composure to play on the counter so our front three found possession hard to come by and hence difficult to get into the game. Sanchez and Welbeck both had poor games but Sanchez in particular was dispossessed far too often and his use of the ball equally unsuccessful. Giroud found it slightly easier to see more of the ball but a lazy lay off at the end of the first half allowed Henderson to set up Coutinho giving Liverpool the lead.
Whether Ox was fully fit was questionable I guess but he also struggled to have an impact on the game. Though he seemed to cover plenty of ground in the time he was on the pitch it was rarely with the drive and verve we have seen from him in getting from one box to the other. Cazorla by contrast had more touches than anyone, passed more frequently and more successfully (92%) than anyone else yet lost possession only twice compared to 6 for Ox and 8 for Sanchez. Had they been able to match Cazorla`s performance we might have got more out of this game.
That we got anything at all was due in part to the determination and aerial ability of Debuchy. He did pretty well in terms of aerial challenges the last time he played centre back, which was also the first time he had ever played centre back, against Newcastle in the previous fixture. He showed that ability again in this match but tellingly this time in nodding home our equaliser at the end of the first half winning his challenge against Skrtel who was to gain some revenge later in added time at the end of the second half. That Debuchy is strong aerially is great for the team but it's also a strength that would add more to a settled defence with him playing at right back.
As well as he has done Chambers, like most young players, needs some time out to watch, reflect and learn. If Monreal is fit then moving Mertesacker to his more favoured right berth with Monreal alongside him should allow Debuchy to play in a role that would probably add a little to our overall defensive security.
This game though was more about the inability of our midfield and forward line to command and control the ball. The triumvirate of Giroud, Welbeck and Sanchez worked well at home against Newcastle but it needs more behind it than we were able to offer in this game. Scousers will point to the fact that Szczesny had more touches than any of our players bar Cazorla to rue that they got less than they thought they might have deserved but it is also true that a good number of their attempts were speculative and from some distance outside the box. When they did create some clearer chances, mainly in the second half, the young Pole showed a touch that as much as anything earned us the point which, deserved or not, might well have been 3 points.
It feels mildly disappointing that we didn't come away with all three but we'd have taken it quite happily at Anfield last season. Maybe we needn't be too disappointed with it this season either.