Shaky Liverpool hold out for crucial win

Good morning, afternoon or good evening and welcome to this weeks edition of The Green Room where we discuss all things Liverpool FC, the good ship Premiership and all things football.

So today I’ll start by saying well done to the Liverpool side that stuck it out to win 0-2 against a determined and resilient Everton side. In fairness to Everton, they did look the better side until young Jack Rodwell was sent off for what looked like a needless and badly timed challenge on Luis Suarez. In reality it wasn’t that bad. Rodwell was overall a tad harshly treated by red card-happy Mr. Atkinson. The lad was quite rightly extremely disappointed to be given his marching orders and was furious, no doubt with himself as he marched the walk of shame back to the dressing room, pushing away the consolatory advance from team mate Phil Neville.

The early exchanges were no more than one would expect in a full-bloodied and fast paced encounter and the home side did go close early and causing some panic in the Liverpool defense. Following the sending off however the result was somewhat inevitable. That is not to say, however that Liverpool were made to work extremely hard to break down the resilient 10 man Everton.

Liverpool it must be said did not, in my opinion make good use of the extra man. Again, too many searching balls in to the box in search of Andy Carroll was, to coin a phrase meat and drink to the Everton defense. The build up play was good but the final, inevitably long, ball or cross into the box was easy for the Everton rear guard not to mention predictable.  Considering they bemoaned their luck against Tottenham, they didn’t use the good fortune they received this week to best effect and to be honest, they looked more shaky than a belly-dancer’s hip.

Kenny Dalglish was forced to take a different approach after 20 minutes of the second half. Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam were replaced by Craig Bellamy and Steven Gerrard respectively to positive effect. The influence of Gerrard was immediately felt as he sat in front of the back four and provided protection from the occasional but penetrating Everton counter-attacks. Bellamy’s inclusion brought some much needed pace to the left hand side of the field.  Dirk Kuyt’s missed penalty was, typical of the Everton resolve, superbly saved by Tim Howard.

The difference between Adam and Gerrard is clear to see. The more experienced Gerrard bought some calculation to the Liverpool possession that was clearly missing before. As much as I’m a fan of Adam, even I have to admit, he’s not quite up to filling Gerrard’s boots. Not exactly miles away, but just not quite. At the moment, he’s probably a touch too combative when he could use his brains a little more. That was clear today. Downing was extremely well marshaled by Phil Jagielka and was taken off simply because he was ineffective and Bellamy was. Again I think it’s time Dalglish started with Bellamy a little more. At 32, Bellamy can only really be a utility player for Liverpool. Will Gerrard be used in the same way also now? He’s only a year younger!

The possession Liverpool enjoyed then took on more meaning and the goals were inevitable. As you’ll know I’m not the biggest fan of Andy Carroll and all I can say is that it’s about time he scored considering the financial outlay Liverpool have made for him. Carroll was virtually anonymous in the first half. The jury is still out. The second goal from Suarez was typical of him. Chasing to the last and getting his just reward. A clever little finish by the tricky forward.

By this point, Everton were run off their feet and this was evident by Distin’s demeanor after Suarez scored. The tank was completely empty.

Being a Liverpool fan I’m in two minds about this result. On one hand I’m pleased that they eventually broke down a very well organized Everton team. The truly had to work for that result, and the fact that they kept a clean sheet is also reason for any Red supporter to be happy. On the whole the entire team played well under the circumstances and maintained their passing game throughout. The endevour was evident and you couldn’t ask more from the team.

On the other hand, I was disappointed that Liverpool made such hard work of it. Yes Everton are a resilient side who, on their day are very hard to beat as we saw today. However I have to say the red card for Rodwell saved us because at the outset Liverpool were totally second best. Too many long balls in the final third and this has to stop. Carroll cannot be the only attacking outlet for the side, and perhaps Dalglish should consider another attacker as back up in the January window. Especially if he persists in playing Andy Carroll which seems to be the case.

A look at Liverpool’s bench today tells an undeniable fact. Other than the spare goalie, there was two defenders, three midfielders and the only striking back-up was a 32 year-old. Liverpool need to bolster their striking options. Whether they promote the likes of Nathan Eccleston, Raheem Sterling or Adam Morgan to bolster the front line or look to bring in an established player. Either way Liverpool are in need of more options up front. Kuyt is past it as far as I’m concerned. Next season he’ll be able to go to the games on the bus – for free! He’s not a bad player but Liverpool must look for youth. I’m sure Dalglish is aware of this.

So, in summary, Liverpool remain in the chasing pack, just. Improvement is still required if they’re going to do anything this season and I don’t believe many sensible Liverpool fans will disagree. More new blood required but in the interim, bring on Manchester United.

Ben Green @Mrbengreen

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