Kuyt Strikes Again
Benitez fielded a very strong XI, to the surprise of quite a few fans, he opted to start both Aquilani and Steven Gerrard, he also opted to play Kuyt behind David N'Gog, as opposed to the option of lone striker. It was a rather unfamiliar layout, although it worked.
In defence it was the same four lads from the 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, with Agger only just coming back from a knock, he was named on the bench but it was Insua, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos and Carragher who made up the back four.
Lucas had to settle for an appearance from the bench as Mascherano was chosen to partner Aquilani in the heart of the midfield and Riera made another appearance on the left wing.
For the majority of the first half we appeared to have carried through the disappointment of the draw with Wolves. The lads weren't linking well together and at times were even struggling to maintain possession.
Bolton capitalised on our early weaknesses and had a few chances of their own. Muamba and Chung-Yong Lee causing problems, whilst the likes of Zat Knight and Ricketts were blocking any Liverpool counter attacks.
Bolton came closest when Liverpool's defence appeared to have been beaten, when Chung-Yong Lee found himself past Emiliano Insua and already on the front foot against Kyrgiakos, he saw his chance, after shooting with some power the ball was travelling goal bound setting up an imminent early Liverpool disappointment but then, out of practically nowhere, a steam rolling Kyrgiakos makes the run back to the goal line and produces a fantastic clearance to send the South Koreans effort to safety.
As the first half went on and with the scoreline still at 0-0, Liverpool began to find their feet, the link up of Riera and Insua was becoming more and more apparent and even Gerrard was beginning to look more lively.
The first goal came with about 10 minutes left to go. Albert Riera receives the ball in the centre of midfield and makes a beautiful long range pass out to Emiliano Insua who is loitering on the edge of the box, Insua then plays the ball, Alberto Aquilani then heads it back across the face of goal, Dirk Kuyt connects and fires the ball home for his third goal in 3 games for the Reds.
Such a great piece of team work, something that has been missing from our recent ventures. It was a clear display of a well worked goal. Kudos to all the four lads involved.
Shortly after Liverpool found themselves one up against Owen Coyle's Bolton side, Chung-Yong Lee who had been something of a presence earlier found himself in Liverpool's 6 yard box, as Aquilani came in to pressurise, he went to ground, no way was this a penalty, Aquilani had not touched him, the referee had realised this, thankfully and in the procedure showed the Bolton player a yellow card.
As the half time whistle was blown, it was clear that we were not playing too bad at all, although Bolton had made a few chances for themselves, we were on the front foot, again the defence was dealing with threats well and we also had a goal cushion.
As ever though, we could do with a second in the remaining 45minutes.
Steven Gerrard started the second half in true Gerrard style, he saw two fantastic efforts saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen. His play this weekend reflected that of the Gerrard we know and love, perhaps he is now finding his feet again after injury and disappointment.
Liverpool were now maintaining a hold on the game, but even with the majority of the possession it wasn't looking as though that second goal would come. Bolton had quietened down in terms of efforts but they were defending well.
It wasn't until 70minutes when Liverpool managed to increase their lead. Emiliano Insua took a powerful shot, aimed at goal when it took a big deflection off Bolton's Kevin Davies, so much so that the effort was sent low to the right side of Jaaskelainen and rolled into the back of the net.
2-0 up less than 20 minutes to go, we were strong, we were playing with confidence, it would have been devastating had Bolton of scored. Thankfully though the lads played comparable to their early second half performance and saw out the 3 points.
With Spurs being subject to a draw with Birmingham, it was a great result for Liverpool, effectively cancelling out the draw with Wolves when Spurs managed to get 3 points. We now sit in 5th just the one point behind Spurs. Not to forget though that Manchester City are only behind us on goal difference and also have the positive of two games in hand.
However, with Manchester City's next three fixtures Hull, Bolton and Stoke. Spurs having Villa, Wolves and Wigan and finally Villa having Spurs, United and Burnley, this spells a crucial part in Liverpools season.
Our own next three fixtures are Everton, Arsenal and Manchester City. Along with our first Europa league match sandwiched between the latter two. Ideally we would obviously like to gain maximum points from these three games, even though we are fully capable of collecting 9 points, i think it is important to be realistic, 4 points from the three games for me is a bare minimum.
With that in mind, i nervously look forward to it.