January 02, 2008 |

After Sunday’s less-than-standing-ovational performance, we are 13 points adrift of our southern neighbours. Torres failed to impress. As did Stevie G. Now if we were going to try and be non-partisan, as all journalists north of London seem to manage, we would point to the man-of-the-match performances from City’s defensive pairing, Richards and Dunne (which sounds suspiciously like a Broadway production team), and their ability to completely shut down most of what came at them.
But as a fan you are more apt to look at your own squad’s shortcomings. And as we trudged forward, there were many.
Rafa is insistent that the rest of the team start shouldering the attacking load, but quite frankly, when you purchase a car with a price tag that promises performance and handling that laughs at chicanes, then that is what you expect. Not one that leaks oil in front of net.
Fernando Torres needs to find consistency. Yes, he has 15 goals in all competitions, and yes, for his welcome-to-England season, he has been nothing short of a revelation, but he has proved that he can score from here, from there and from every-bloody-where and that is the model he should hold himself too. Too frequently he evaporates in games and never rematerializes. Also, Fernando, here is your first free physics lesson: ball goes by man, not through man.
Wigan under Steve Bruce will not be the same Wigan Liverpool has beaten 7 out of 7 times. If we cast our minds back to September, we see a Birmingham under Bruce that stymied all of the Reds’ advance netward and took home a point. It’ll probably be more of that same defensive display today with plenty of hard challenges.
Heskey and Kirkland return to Anfield, more than likely to a warm Kop welcome of “why don’t you just die.” With Big Sami still injured and Agger out, we can expect Heskey to dominate aerial proceedings – on the two occasions that more than one player makes it out of their own half that is.
On the rotational front, the world is Rafa’s oyster after Sunday’s display. Rest assured, after a harrowing holiday schedule and this weekend’s failure to impress, there will more than likely be a few shifts for today’s game. Any and all of which will be met by Steve Bruce’s unchanging game plan. Liverpool will have to beat a team whose philosophy is: “a tie is a win.”
Good news, we still have a game in hand. Bad news, it is against West Ham, thumpers of Man U and a team that has played us pretty tough in recent history. And even worse news, even if we win, we are still 10 points off the pace which means that Arsenal would have to enjoy a pretty precipitous fall from the footballing gods’ grace for us to catch them.
It’s been done before. And if Javi Masch thinks we can do it, it surely can be done, and right before his soaring price tag sees him exit Anfield. Let me be the first to dub him J-Hi. Middle name: wayToo.