The "shock" defeat at the hands of Fulham monday came as anything but a shock to me really. In all truth I half expected it. The heads of Liverpool players already on the Wembley pitch ahead of their FA Cup final against Chelsea Saturday, a game against Fulham was the l;east of their worries. Dalglish said " ease up against Fulham, and risk your spot in the FA cup final." Easing into mediocrity is what the much changed Liverpool side did, and an own goal by this seasons defensive stalwart Martin Skrtel, was the deciding factor in the game. It was the Londoners' first win at Anfield in their Premier League history, but it was far from being a classic. Ex Liverpool fullback John Arne Riise made that ol' familiar overlapping run, one familiar to the Anfield faithful, but this time it was the dagger that undid the Liverpool defense. Senior players Gerrard, Agger and Suarez where given the night off, as was keeper Pepe Reina, and the play lacked their creative spark. A result that thoroughly summed up the Reds season, as they look for retribution in this weekends cup clash. Having already won the Carling Cup, Dalglish looks to hit the domestic cup double with a FA cup win.
Question is can they?
They face a resurgent Chelsea, who have booked their Champions Final ticket after defeating the mighty Barcelona. Torres looks like he's back to his old shenanigans with a hat trick at the weekend, and all around the Chelsea camp confidence is high. For me this depends on the line-up set loose by Dalglish, for when set up right Liverpool maintain good width, and are cheeky when making forward runs. To add Liverpool have proved to be a bit of a bogey team for Chelsea this season winning 2-0 in the carling cup, and 1-0 when they faced Chelsea in the League earlier this season. The fact that win was away from home, and the fact the FA cup final is at Wembley, and not at Anfield makes me feel as though they have a chance of taking silverware. Liverpool have secured a mere 24 points this season at Anfield compared to 40 last year, and 42 the year before. What happened..do balls drop off? Liverpool have always been a team for the big game, and they seem to falter against the mid to small level teams in the league. This said their clash with Chelsea this weekend is the biggest game the Reds will participate in this season. With the cards delt this is how the house will be set up.
Johnson Skrtel Agger Enrique
This in actual fact is more of a hopeful line-up as Jordan Henderson will probably start and Carroll will sit as Dalglish tries to keep it tight in midfield. This match up has story ties in abounty with most likely Torres lining up against Carroll, and the possibility of Raul Meireles starting against his old club Liverpool.
In a perfect world both Torres and Carroll would find the net, twice, and the Gerrard vs. Lampard duel in midfield is one of the ages. What I want from Liverpool is to get the wing players involved and get crosses to Carroll if he plays, and to give Suarez the ball at every opportunity. His Fantastic hat-trick against Norwich last weekend will have the Uruguayan flying on jet fuel and the Reds need to harness it like an oar of uranium.
This brings me to my next point of gaging success this season for Liverpool. Two words that sounds odd to put together, yet if they do come up trumps this weekend they will have walked away with two trophies this season. The gage for success has always come down to League standing, and the Champions League, yet a domestic cup double is nothing to shrug your shoulders at. If proven to be so, I call it a success. In the recent history Liverpool football club and fans have been used to seeing their club at the top of the EPL, and consistently reaching the latter stages of the Champions League. This is no longer the case, exceptions should change with reality and with I say hold these when you watch the Blues and the Reds march-out onto the Wembley pitch Saturday May 5th at 5:15.
Check out my summarizing thoughts post match at spotkickjournalism.blogspot.com