Bizarre Kuyt Goal Helps Liverpool Scrape Draw
Fans protest from the Sunderland game in March portrays a similar picture to yesterday's sit in protest at Anfield...
It was an eventful 90minutes to say the least yesterday for all those in a Red shirt and Sunderland were having their fair share of the action too. There was no beach ball this time but a refereeing mishap leading to a goal just as bizarre meant the game got off on a very strange foot.
Roy stood by his claims from a few days ago and completely changed the side that he started against Northampton. Reina was back in goal with the four in front of him including Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel and Konchesky. Midfield was made up of Cole, Kuyt, Gerrard, Meireles and Poulsen who was sitting in an even more defensive position than he has been placed in previous games. Torres lead the line.
It didn't take Liverpool long to get going after we saw a Torres goal ruled narrowly offside. It appeared we had started with the correct tempo.
Just before 5minutes Liverpool had themselves down on the score sheet although this certainly wasn't down to a good tempo.
In perhaps one of the most baffling incidents i have seen in the Premier League. The referee awards a free kick to Sunderland after a poor challenge and the ball is passed to Turner as he is near to the position the free kick should be taken from. As the referee turns his back Turner makes a flick which to my viewing and i'm sure everybody else's was clearly a pass for the goalkeeper to line up and take the free kick.
Amazingly though a quick thinking Fernando Torres took his chance and stole the ball after seeing the referee hadn't blown and after a backwards pass to an otherwise offside Dirk Kuyt the Dutchman couldn't believe how simple it was to send Liverpool ahead.
The referee had words with his linesman but for whatever reason his assistant believed that the goal should stand. Now of course i am not complaining but this all ties in with the end result, the fact that we had to be supplied with that dose of luck and terrible refereeing makes it clear that we were lucky to come away with a draw really. Depressing thought.
For the next 20minutes or so Liverpool looked stable, nothing fantastic but with some efforts on goal from the likes of Merieles and Joe Cole it was an acceptable display at 1-0 up. Things took a turn for the worse though when Christian Poulsen with a blatant handball in the box presented Sunderland with a penalty.
Darren Bent stepped up to take the spot kick. I did mention in my preview that if we could keep him quiet we should be alright and to be honest although his first goal was a penalty i think it's fair to say had we of managed to handle him better the result may have been a lot easier to take.
A decent take from Bent although it did ricochet off Pepe Reina meant the Mackems had equalised.
To make matters worse for the Reds shortly after the penalty, Konchesky had to be replaced by Daniel Agger after he picked up a knock. Agger out of position to be fair did quite well but his farewell moment made a few fans grit their teeth in extra time.
Half time was reached and Liverpool were looking as though they were running out of steam, certain match winners like Gerrard and Torres were still showing some electricity but it appeared the likes of Kuyt, Johnson and even Joe Cole were going to need a charge in the interval.
Still in this and now refreshed the Reds restarted the match on the back foot. Just 3 minutes in and Sunderland had managed to get themselves a second after a fantastic cross by Onuoha was met by the head of none other than Darren Bent.
Liverpool were looking really deflated now, performances were slowing and it was hardly an inspiring feel from players or manager to go and get that second goal.
Kuyt and Torres got themselves in the book before the hour mark at which point the boss thought it was time to make his first substitution.
Christian Poulsen was replaced by David Ngog and it was almost an immediate effect. I don't like to get on to players especially if they haven't been here very long but Poulsen just isn't working for me, not only does his play not seem up to scratch but i don't think he fits into any system that i prefer Liverpool to play.
As i said it was clear when you removed the negative style of the Dane, the side was boosted. David Ngog too for me so far this season has looked superb, if he could link well enough with Fernando Torres i wouldn't just be using him as a highly useful sub, i'd be starting the lad.
The freshness must have rubbed off onto Steven Gerrard pretty quickly because minutes after the substitution the Liverpool captain got the Reds their second with an absolutely cracking header after a Fernando Torres ball in took a deflection.
2-2 now and Liverpool clearly needed the win, it was fair to say that we didn't deserve it after our performance but nonetheless we sure as hell were going to fight for it.
Complaints were made shortly after the goal when Steven Gerrard appeared to lead with his elbow in a challenge on Danny Wellbeck. I think to be honest although perhaps Steve Bruce actually had a point this time in one of his "oh my god i'm so mad my big fat head is going to explode" rants at the fourth official, it was one of those challenges that could have gone either way.
As the clock began to push to 80 and then 90minutes Liverpool fans i assume were just as myself waiting for a substitution, we still had the likes of Jovanovic and Maxi on the bench who for me could have changed the dying moments with some effect.
Strangely however although Roy's mannerisms on the sideline appeared to show he realised something needed to change he was reluctant to do so.
Now as you will know if you tweet with me on the old Twitter, Roy Hodgson was never my first choice for the Liverpool seat but i am determined to not take the easy route and just go all guns blazing against him. I am aware this is our worst start in what? 18 years? And i too am picking up on how his tactics/style don't seem to be working at the moment but fact is, would it really matter who was in his chair at the moment? I personally can't see a clear cut change in the side, the sides attitude, the results, anything really until the source of the problem is solved i.e. the Yanks.
To cut a long story short, i don't see the benefit at the moment in jumping on Roy's back and criticising at every chance. I'm always one to say how i feel and trust me, i won't be holding back in his continued reign should things start to get too replicated.
I think it's quite clear to all of us and hopefully to him that his plan A isn't quite working, he's picking up some good results in Europe but in the Premier League a narrow victory over the Baggies and some decent performances against Arsenal and United aren't going to cut it. Low expectations or not Liverpool still need to finish within the top half of the table and at the moment that appears to be slowly but surely getting further and further away.
For Liverpool a last ditch hope of taking all three points saw Agger miss a sitter of a header and we were left with a strange feeling of relief and disbelief.
Relieved that we had managed to hold on to the draw but unable to believe how hard it was to keep hold of that point at home against Sunderland. It just wasn't on.
Another poor result to add to a string of draws and Liverpool are still perched in 15th. It's going to be a long hard season but if we can ride it out with some sort of respectable finish and hopefully with those two Yanks upstairs removed then we can try to look forward to the 2011/2012 season.
Fans gathered after the game for a sit in as part of a protest organised by supporters union Spirit Of Shankly. If you haven't already done so stand up for your club and join the supporters union here.