Another Liverpool home game, another victory. But there was a lot of anxiety and tension involved in getting the three points.
The red half of Liverpool now sit four points behind table-topping Chelsea, and the long-suffering fans can once again start hoping that maybe, just maybe, this could possibly be “their year”.
The positives were once again all about the awesome attacking machine that Brendan Rodgers has cultivated – Raheem Sterling’s outside-of-the-boot curling assist for Daniel Sturridge’s opening goal; Jordan Henderson’s superb curling effort after some fancy footwork by Daniel Sturridge; Luis Suarez didn’t score but was involved in both Sturridge’s and Henderson’s second goals.Four goals in the “for” column, another addition to the record books for most goals scored and topping the Premier League scoring charts.
But for every ying there must be a yang. Every negative has a positive. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction and for Liverpool it seems that the better they are going forward, the worse they are at the back. Liverpool are currently leading the goals scored table by one goal ahead of Manchester City (who have played a game less) but are in tenth position on the goals conceded table. To put that into perspective, Liverpool are only one goal ahead of Crystal Palace and are behind West Ham United and Hull City on the goals conceded table. That, Liverpool fans, is why the title will remain out of reach for yet another year unless there is miraculous shift in the defensive mentality.
Brendan Rodgers seems to have accepted his own challenge prior to the start of the season. My conspiracy theory is that he has decided that he wants to qualify for the Champions League by scoring the most goals and conceding the most goals in the Premier League in the same season! More than that, I think Rodgers even went a step further and placed a bet on his personal challenge.
How else does one explain the signing of Kolo Toure to the club at the start of the season? Toure has been in decline since this moment during the Africa Cup of Nations in 2008 and has, to my mind, never been the same player since. He has had his moments when it seemed like he was returning to the Kolo of old – a leader, good reader of the game, reliable – but that’s all they have been. Moments. It’s a bit like watching Bruce Willis reprising the role of John McClane over and over – it’s great in Die Harder because you loved Die Hard and the cool dialogue is still there, but there are only so many times you can hear “yippie-ki-yay” before you want him to just stop.
Daniel Agger is a decent defender, but has struggled with injury since he signed for the club. Martin Skrtel has improved tremendously during his time at Liverpool, but always seems to convey a skittish and nervous energy like a foal learning to walk – full of good intentions and meaning well, but equally liable to just fall over and land on his head.
What ends up happening is that the entire defensive unit becomes infected with nervousness and a lack of confidence. The Mignolet/Flanagan mixup during the Fulham game is a prime example of the confusion that sets in and the result – a goal conceded.
Praise is certainly due to Rodgers for the progress made to achieving one of his core objectives – Champions League qualification – and he has done it thanks to a great attacking outlook from his team. However, if he does win his bet he will need sign some new defenders or else the European adventure will be short-lived.