Rarely will Liverpool have had a more depressing day than they suffered at Craven Cottage yesterday. If something could go wrong for them it did. After the euphoria of the result and the performance against Manchester United last week, their less than impressive start to the season generally was cruelly summed up in the ninety minutes yesterday.
Whilst Arsenal were winning against Tottenham without breaking a sweat, Chelsea were strolling to victory at Bolton and Manchester United were bouncing back with a comfortable win at home to Blackburn, Liverpool lost their sixth game in seven as they capitulated at Fulham.
The defeat, their fifth in eleven league games, leaves them nine points behind Chelsea and seven points behind United. It may be too early to say they are out of the running but you have to say they are not far from it. A defeat in Lyon during the week and although it sounds almost ridiculous to say it, Liverpoolâ€™s season could be as good as over.
Obviously Steve Gerrard is a huge miss but no team can be serious title challengers if the loss of one player through injury is so catastrophic to the team. Glenn Johnson has been decent for them and he too is missing through injury, which is a bit of a blow. Fernando Torres has missed some games and probably isnâ€™t 100% fit, but his goals against Manchester United last week and Fulham yesterday, show that he is still more than capable.
The problems for Liverpool are all over the pitch. At centre-back Jamoe Carragher is having a nightmare. He was excellent against United last week but in every other game I have seen him this season he has been way below the standards he has set over the years. He was sent off yesterday for dragging Bobby Zamora back. He claims he won the ball, which he did, but he was already pulling the striker back. A few minutes earlier he did the same thing to the same player in the penalty area and should have gone then. Last week he did the same thing to Michael Owen.
Owen has lost a lot of his pace and Zamora has never been noted for his speed. Carragher couldnâ€™t deal with either of them and he would have done in the past.
Insua, the left back, is a waste of space. For two of Fulhamâ€™s goals he stood watching and at this level he is simply not good enough.
In the midfield we hit the biggest problem. Last week against United, Lucas and Mascherano dominated the midfield against Scholes and Carrick. The reason being that they pressurised them, hassled them and closed them down. United had a lot of the ball and they did a great job of stopping them from playing. When Liverpool have a lot of possession neither of them are creative enough. Against Fulham they had all of the ball and did nothing with it.
Up front Torres is a wonderful player. Other than him they have absolutely nothing.
Then we come to the beleaguered manager. A couple of weeks ago Rafa Benitez took Yossi Benayoun, the one creative player they have, off the field and replaced him with the woeful Voronin. The fans were not happy with that decision. Yesterday, he took Torres off with the score at 1-1, saying that he needed to rest him.
Whilst I understand that Torres isnâ€™t totally fit, what exactly is Benitez resting him for? He could be rested until Liverpoolâ€™s season is over. It makes no sense. With Banayoun and Torres on the pitch Liverpool have a chance of creating a goal. Without them, they donâ€™t.
Rafa Benitez has recently signed a new long-term contract and it is unlikely that Liverpool will be able to afford to let him go. They may regret that as this season is in danger of becoming a pretty disastrous one for the club.
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