3 Nov 2007

Liverpool sink into the 'creative abyss' at Blackburn

Another week, another turgid performance by Liverpool, once again characterized by a depressing lack of real creativity.

Whilst Liverpool may still be unbeaten in the premiership, a run of five draws from the last seven games represents an unacceptable loss of points – 15 up for grabs and only 5 taken. This is not league winning form, and to suggest Liverpool have a chance of winning the league is now bordering on the absurd...

After the Blackburn game, Benitez argued: “We deserved more because we created a lot, especially in the second-half. We had clear chances and their keeper made some excellent saves."

Liverpool deserved nothing from the game, and Benitez once again must take the blame. Starting with three central midfielders and one up front, Liverpool’s fear of the opposition took precedence over setting out to win the game.

There was no way Liverpool were going to win the game playing the increasingly ineffective Dirk Kuyt upfront. He is not a striker – he is a midfielder! Furthermore, playing Kuyt as a lone strike is ridiculous in the extreme. He plays too deep and always drops off to collect the ball, when he should be getting on the end of things.

Kuyt is the archetypal Benitez player: A super-fit, hardworking work-horse, who will run all day but offers nothing in the way of skill, guile or genuine creativity. Kuyt was cruelly exposed as the limited player he is against Blackburn, with his poor decision-making in promising situations particularly disappointing.

Steven Gerrard had a couple of good chances, but he is not and never will be an effective link man. He is not Kaka or Zidane. He doesn’t have the footballing intelligence to carry out that role. With Sissoko and Mascherano holding, Gerrard was basically given a free role and he created next to nothing.

Once again, it took the introduction of the disgracefully ignored Peter Crouch to liven things up. Crouch and the newly fit Harry Kewell were at the heart of two or three excellent chances that almost led to Liverpool (undeservedly) winning the game.

Benitez’s cautious ‘safety first’ approach is massively frustrating. Crouch and Kewell should have started, and Liverpool should have played with two up front from the beginning, but Benitez is more concerned with setting Liverpool up not to concede. It’s only near the end of games that he dares to change things change for the positive, but by then it’s often far too late.

Benitez’s dreary brand of anti-football is a real problem, and watching Liverpool is a painful experience these days. Four years into his reign, Liverpool fans have the right to expect more. He’s assembled his own team and there can be no more excuses.

Yes, Liverpool were missing Alonso and Torres…but why was that? Because Benitez rushed them back from injury against Arsenal and suffered the consequences. As I said in a previous article, that decision will cost Liverpool valuable points, and probably any chance at the title.

If Benitez had played it smart, perhaps Alonso and Torres would have been able to play some part against Blackburn, and if they had, chances are the result would have been different.


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