13 Dec 2009

LIVERPOOL vs. ARSENAL - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Yet another HOME defeat for Liverpool. That's two in week now, and the same old problems that have plagued the club all season were very much in evidence at Anfield today.


Benitez played his favoured XI

Alberto Aquilani aside, Rafa Benitez was able to field what he considers to be his strongest team:

------------------ Reina

Johnson ----- Carra --- Agger --- Aurelio

Lucas ------------- Masch

Kuyt ------------ Gerrard ----------- Benayoun

------------------ Torres

Benitez can have no complaints; all his top players were fit, and even if everyone in the squad was fit and available, that is the team he probably would've chosen.

Kuyt scored

After a horrendous barren spell in which Kuyt has managed 1 goal and 1 assist in 18 games, he scored again for the second time in 4 matches. I am not a fan of Kuyt, but since he is *always* going to be in the team, it's good if he contributes. As such, I hope he keeps it up.

Good overall performance from Lucas

When it came to breaking up play and general defensive duty, I thought Lucas did well overall. I don't have anything against the player - he does what he's told to do and plays the way Benitez tells him to play. And therein lies the problem: Lucas may be a decent player, but Lucas/Mascherano is not an effective partnership for the success of the TEAM.

And here is the key issue for me: the failure of that partnership has nothing to do with Lucas' individual ability. He plays the way Benitez wants him to play! It's not his fault he starts every game; it's not his fault Benitez is trying to turn him into a defensive-midfielder.

I'm quite happy to have Lucas in the team, but only if Mascherano doesn't play (and vice-versa). I would not be against Lucas playing the DM role - he does it now anyway! Fans are always complaining about his lack of creative threat, but that's down to Benitez. If he started playing the DM role, that would no longer be a valid accusation; consequently, the pressure on Lucas would be lifted.

The problem is fans see Lucas as a playing a similar role to Alonso (i.e. more progressive), but he's not being allowed to do that, and as I said, that's not his fault.

No new injuries

Always a bonus, especially with our horrific injury luck this season.

Torres played 90 minutes

Nando was clearly not 100% match-fit, but the more games he plays, the quicker he'll get back to full fitness. Wait, that sounds familiar; where have I heard that before?

Ah yes - Aquilani. He's not 100% match-fit either, but did he start? NO.

Aquilani improved his match fitness a little more

Aquilani took another step towards full match fitness, and that can only be a good thing.

Attacking substitutions

Even though I disagree with the starting line-up and his choice of players to take off, credit must be given to Benitez for making attacking substitutions. Masch (defensive) went off for Aquilani (more offensive), and Ngog (goalscorer) came on for Benayoun. It would have been better if Kuyt went off for Ngog, but you can't have everything I suppose.


Aquilani on the bench

There was absolutely no reason to drop him to the bench for this game. The Fiorentina match would've improved Aquilani's match fitness a little more, and as his comments after that game proved, he was desperate to play and keep his forward momentum going.

As per usual though, Benitez played it safe.

Aquilani cut an isolated figure on the Liverpool bench; he was sat alone; looked dejected, and didn't even bother to warm up on the sidelines during the game (probably because almost every other time he's done that, Benitez has just ignored him).

Two holding midfielders at home

Words cannot really express my frustration over the continued use of two holding midfielders when we play at home. I HATE this tactic - it's is not the Liverpool way of playing and never has been...except under Benitez, that is.

I've said it once and I'll say it again: playing two defensive-minded holding midfielders at home is a sign of fear. It's a safety-first approach, and it means that instead of having 5 dedicated attacking players on the pitch, we only have 4.

Look at today's line-up:

----------- Masch --- Lucas

Kuyt ---------- Gerrard --------- Benayoun

--------------- Torres

Lucas and Masch are defensive - they both do the same job: break-up play, close down players, get tackles in etc. Then we have Kuyt, who offers more defensively than he does offensively.

That basically leaves Gerrard, Benayoun and Torres.

That's not enough to win games consistently (!), which is what we have discovered this season.

Last season, we had Alonso, who was a creative-minded player, so things balanced out a little. Yes, we have Glen Johnson this season, but he plays the majority of his game in his own half.

This is why we need Aquilani to start more games, and this is why he should've started today. He offers another creative, attacking threat, which means we then go back to 5 dedicated attacking players in the first 11.

We cannot continue with a midfield that offers NOTHING offensively.

Alonso was not a prolific goalscorer by any means but he DID score, and he created goals too; he also started off attacks and was direct in his play, the complete opposite of Lucas and Mascherano.

Playing Aquilani from the start would've signalled Liverpool's attacking intent; it would have sent the message that Benitez wanted to win the game.

Playing two holding midfielders is the ultimate symbol of Benitez's cautious approach. He sends his teams out to stop the opposition scoring, which is why his teams employ typical defensive tactics of closing down players quickly and forcing mistakes.

The mentality appears to be: 'As soon we kick off we must stop the opposing team from scoring'.

This is why Benitez plays two defensive mids -so worried is he about the opposition scoring that stacks the team with defensive-minded players. This approach is all wrong.

The Liverpool mentality is (and should be): 'As soon as we kick off, try and score. Let the opposition worry about how to stop US'.

No leadership on or off the field

After Liverpool conceded the own goal, the players' confidence visibly drained away; this is where Gerrard as captain needs to earn his money. His leadership was non-existent today. When the going gets tough, he has to rise above the horrible situation Liverpool is in and find a way to motivate and encourage his players. Instead, his head went down too, and when that happens, it has a knock-on impact on the other players.

Liverpool were essentially leaderless today, both on and off the field.

Benayoun taken off again

Once again, one of Liverpool's best goal threats is substituted when Liverpool NEED TO WIN THE GAME! Why couldn't Dirk Kuyt go off? Why couldn't Lucas go off?! Simple: They do the donkey work that Benitez loves so much. Benayoun is just a creative player, so he can be sacrificed easily.

Glen Johnson's defensive frailties

Johnson was at fault for both Arsenal goals. The first one was an own goal; the second, he didn't get close enough to Arshavin, and he allowed the Russian time and space to fire in a shot.

Johnson has been excellent at times going forward but his defensive lapses cannot be ignored. It is no coincidence that since he arrived, Liverpool's defensive performance has been woeful. Fans can blame it on Martin Skrtel all they like but Johnson is defensively suspect, and today his lapses cost Liverpool the game.

I've argued this before but he is not the answer to Liverpool's right back position. He should be converted into a right winger, which would allow him to just attack all day long.

And please don't give me this lame excuse that he's only effective going forward because he comes from defence. What a load of illogical nonsense. When Johnson has the ball in the opposition half, his starting position doesn't make a blind bit of difference. What he does with ball when he's got it is what matters.


The second-half

Utterly diabolical second-half performance. No passion, no creativity, no confidence and no ideas. This is what happens when you play two defensive-mids at home. The team might start well but that will soon tail off when the need for creativity and goal-threat starts to become an issue.

When you're losing the game, LUCAS AND MASCHERANO CANNOT HELP! They will continue to do what they always do but they will NOT score/create goals or create positive attacking situations.

If Aquilani had started, perhaps we might not have been losing in the first place; as a result of having more overtly creative players on the pitch, maybe Liverpool might have been 2-0 up. Is that not a possibility?

This is the difference between a pro-active and reactive approach.

Proactive: Start your most attacking players and go for the wi

Reactive: Start defensively. When you start losing, introduce more attacking players to try and rescue the game.

What is the team's attacking game-plan? There isn't one, and there is also no plan B. Benitez just brings on attacking players and hopes for the best. If he put as much time and energy into the attacking side of the team as he puts into planning how to stop the opposition then maybe Liverpool wouldn't be in this mess.


Liverpool paid the price for Benitez's cautious, reactive approach. The chance was there for the team to proactively go for the win bu - yet again - Benitez chose the safety-first route.

The players are clearly not motivated and are struggling for confidence, which is a concern. The most worrying thing though is this: Benitez played his best team and it *still* wasn't good enough.

Last week, Benitez tried to shift the focus onto the Owners to deflect attention away from his own mistakes. That led to the press seizing on what he said and posting a series of 'it's all the Owners' fault' articles.

Who is Benitez going to blame this week?

I guess it's time for another new start now, this time against Wigan on Wednesday.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. This is reality. Now wait for LFC fans to rip you apart! I always ask the question why did you not sign Downing & Milner. Cheap payers but really good. They were on the market for LFC. Always blame the Americans.
    I am a Man Utd fan but have followed Liverpool for 32 years as rival team. Things will improve as with the squad you have you will beat the smaller sides. Suddenly LFC fans  will say big things about Rafa how great he is. Watch this space!

  2. 1.I agree with your good.
    2. The bad:We lost to a fitter team, many of our players are returning from injuries, they will get stronger though. Glen Johnson miscues.
    3. The ugly: The ref.

  3. Rafa spent the whole budget from Arbeloa & Xabi sell for an alternative option of Lucas Leiva Who remains on the bench until 67 minute: it's an huge fact and there's no manager in the Prem Who waste the money in way like this.

  4. I was a pro-Rafa supporter but after this debacle I am firmly of the view that Rafa has taken the club as far as he can, and it is time for him to go. I agree that Aquanlani should have started to effectively win the game from the off. I get frustrated by Rafa always persistently playing average playes such as Kuyt and Lucas. Pacheo did well midweek so why wasn't he on the bench as an offensive option? 

    LFC will stand to lose more than the £20m it will allegedly cost to sack Rafa if the club doesn't finish in the top four. Chelsea did the right thing last season by ridding of Scolari with Hiddink rescuing their season by finishing third in the PL, reaching the semis of the CL and winning the FA Cup. The American owners do have the money after selling their baseball and NHL teams so they should be brave and sack Rafa and perhaps persuade Hiddink to come rescue our club!  

  5. Agree about the lack of leadership...was horrible seeing the way we just fell apart in the second half, wasn't impressed with stevie g once again...has had a very poor season by his standards!

    Also to the geezer saying milner and downing would be cheap? for a star, downing is no better than reira...also the pair of them would have cost atleast £25m!!

  6. Completely agree. As for Downing and Milner, couldn't agree more, the fact is, even with the "limited" funds that have been given to Rafa, these 2, amongst many others, are good examples of how in nearly 6 years he could and should have built a stronger squad than this.

  7. Rafa subs Glen Johnson after an unlucky own goal for another right back largely unused in this season: the managerial's style of Rafa Benitez destroy the confidence of players.
    How Can You forget the quality provided of the team by Glen Johnson?

  8. once again, another negative post - first half was very good, we outplayed arsenal and looked like the better team - that was with 2 defensive midfielders, so pls stop being so negative for the sake of it....

  9. Hi cant agree with you on the starting lne up, given everyones level of fitness that was the best eleven. A great first half performance for me changed after Mash picked up an injury near the end of the half. We were no longer closing down as well as we had and allowed Aesenal to play. Johnson was unlucky with the own goal but should have been closer for the second. Really worried now as Aqualani on first evidence dosnt seem to have given the side the much needed lift, probaby the level of expectancy we have placed on him while he was injured has grown to such an extent that unless he scored a hat trick on debut we worry we have another Robie Keane on our hands

  10. good article.  However half our team are not completely match fit and haven't been all season.  Players usually need to feel confident that they can carry out instructions from a fitness point of view before they able to fully express themselves ability wise.  Fitness wise we caried out the task in the 1st half but faded badly in the second.  Lets keep the team together and get them fully match fit.  Surely thats when we should judge them.

  11. I blame Jaimie Kanwar LOL

  12. Rafa is a drowning man. Far too regimented in his methods. Far too predictable. "Our season starts now" has the sad echo of houlliers "We've turned the corner". 

    The season is now a slow dance toward the end of benitezs reign.

  13. I do however think youre spot on about Glen being brought forward. Who will we run in his place tho. What happened to Kelly? He seemed pretty solid for us the last time he played.

  14. In 2006 Your Fans turned against Fergerson after you went out the champions league and had a bad start. Despite all fergerson had done for the club they were saying he was past it. Now all the man utd fans love him again and no one remebers that time in 2006. If things start going bad you will prob turn against him again because man utd have no loyalty.

  15. Am I the only one who though that the team were great in the first half with Lucas playing very well.

    But when we went to one defensive midfielder in the second half we lacked any ideas and never worked Almunia.

    You might be able to say that we didn't build on our first half performance (and Rafa at half time will be partly responsible for this) but you can't say that Rafa played the wrong formation.

    It was a re-energised Arsenal and a fluke of an own goal that changed the game.

    Three easier games to come now in which Aquilani should get at least 200 minutes.

  16. I love it! :-P

    Benitez should sit out his contract at Liverpool

  17. Also, Your right about Gerrards leadership, it's non existant.  The armband gets the best out of <span>him</span> (usually), but not the players around him.  He sulked through the entire second half. But to contradict myself, he looked like he really wanted to get into that central midfield area and pull the strings.  He hardly gets a touch of the ball anymore and he's feeling it.  I said it before, the hardest season of a striker is his second.  Everyone knows his strengths and weaknessess as a second striker and his aura on the field is slowly diinishing.

  18. Three easier games to come now in which Aquilani should get at least 200 minutes.

    Every team has a strike force now that can do damage.  Rodellega and scotland will be hard to handle.

  19. The GOOD : the brainwashed brigade are finally starting to see how bad things are.

    The BAD: subbing Glen Johnson - why dont you just kill his confidence ??? Aquilani didnt start !!! FFS rafa what are you waiting for. 

    The UGLY: Dirk Kuyt. WHY???? he scores a shinpad goal that is given to him on a plate. Now all the Kuyt lovers can point to this as evidence of his goal threat. what a joke.

  20. No, Arsenal were re-energised by our failure to kill them off and Johnsons OG

    The formation suggested fear and was sterile. WHY PLAY 2 HOLDING AT HOME IN A MUST WIN GAME???? Mash, Lucas and Kuyt DO NOT create attacking options for us.

  21. Its funny that Livrpool fans are slagging the ref off on blogs as arsenal fans are as well.
    Probably as he could not decide what sort of ref he was as from my point of view, sometimes he let to much go and other times he got a lot of tackles wrong.
    It was a penalty and he bottled it, (thank God)

    never liked him as he is a racist copper

    Liverpool should not get rid of Rafa at this moment because of the instabilty (finacial) could put further pressure on the club if you get a new manager.

    good luck for the rest of the season x

  22. Its a difficult one.  Our first half performance was excellent but the introduction of Aquillani did not necessarily seem improve our team.  I thought that Torres and Gerrard together shows a marked improvement on some of the performances we have had to witness so I do believe that things are getting better, just a little too late (Rafa has to take blame).  For all of our disappointing second half performance I can't remember Reina having to make too many saves either - we just could not hold onto the ball.

    This performance also highlights a few other issues in that Insua is not in the same quality of Fabio and that maybe we should be looking at selling both dossena and Insua to bring in a better left back - should not have let the versatile Arbeloa leave so cheaply.

    However, what concerns me the most is the problem of a quality second striker.  If we bring in a top quality second striker then what do you do with the midfield.  Can Aquillani and Gerrard play in the team? and what would happen to the defensive midfielders.  Actually they can be accomodated but you have to put Kuyt to the bench and move benayoun to the right and Riera on the left with Masch/Lucas partnering Aquillani and Gerrard sitting just behind Torres.  Commentators were talking about us playing our strongest team, but what they actually meant was the strongest defensive line up.

    I am really upset with losing another game but one of better first half performances I've seen.  Also I do like the idea of pushing Johnson up further.  Maybe we could push Kuyt back into right back to accomodate Rafa's best mate.

  23. More of the same won’t get us any further to or adjusted goals. Despite our scintillating performances in the last 3<sup>rd</sup> of last season and the second place achieved is history. <span> </span>The club, the players, management and board have to look at where we are now and what’s required to move the club forward.
    The form of the club will steadily improve between now and the end of the season but as Ian St John said today and I have been stating for weeks and even during August on Guilliems web site that the strength in depth across this squad is too thin. Despite only losing two first 11 players 9 players remain same in the first 11. We can blame injuries but the core issue has to reside on Benitez head.
    <span></span>I think ultimately other teams have sussed out how to contain and nullify us as an attacking threat today’s 2<sup>nd</sup> half is an example as to how to contain G&T. Despite a solid start Arsenal through the normally calm professor developed a useful 2<sup>nd</sup> half solution to contain G&T. The biggest problem for Liverpool is that we didn’t have a number 2 option. Remember Alex Ferguson treble wining team he had 4 strikers and this fact was proven particularly when he turned around the 1-0 deficit.
    Our 2<sup>nd</sup> 11 is very poor compared to the rest of the other so called top 4 and looking at us now player for player we are falling behind spurs and Man City.
    The board bad decision making and strategy and the global crisis have all added to a cocktail which has affected the club in different ways.
    The club need to make some big decisions going forward. Currently the squad as a 22 is not strong enough and as a business team they have let him down. Every good business should be working on a SWOT analysis of your competitors and business environment. The board assumed that because Manchester united and CFC didn’t re-enforce their squads to a major level that the squad was strong enough. Unfortunately they didn’t account for the improvement in squads of Man-city, Aston Villa and Spurs.
    Steady Engine room
    In central midfield I don’t think we have any significant issues at all in this area once all players are fit although Rafa gamble on the Aqua man has spectacularly failed us in the short term. I wish the fans would slightly ease off Lucas as the lad is improving and his confidence and range of passing is getting better. But I still think he should be a squad player and he certainly would get a look in any of the other big fours starting 11. We need to ensure Mash signs up his deal if not Lucas will have to take his holding role.
    Limited Strikers
    Eggnog has done a steady job this season and would have to rate him as our most improved player. He has done a good back up job but he should have never played as many games as he has. We should have a more experienced back up player with pace and technique to step in for Torres unfortunately Babel has not worked out and the manager has to make a brutal decision on him and Voronin and ship both of them away from the Premiership this Christmas. Ideally bring back Nemeth and also bring in a loan transfer forward e.g. Van Nistleroy so that we have a full complement of 4 strikers fighting for places. Look at the example of Spurs as to what this has meant for them and the performances of the strikers in the team this season. Most teams that have won titles have had a selection of different types of strikers with different types of strengths to be utilised against different types of opponents or scenarios.
    Where do we go from here?
    The board have to make a big decision either way it’s going to cost them money and near to [...]

  24. To even suggest that we played defensive football from the start is a joke. Did you even watch the first half. We played attacking football and battered them. Should have been 3,4-0 after the first half. Arsenal didn't had any answer in the first half. Total domination from us.

    The second half is a completely different story. Then Arsenal started to attack us and that changed the style of the game. We needed Masch then to be able to control the midfield. We lost that control when Aquilani entered instead of Masch.

    Masch is the key to our balance in midfield. To take him off at that time was madness. Lucas should have gone, not Masch.

    Masch may not score that many goals but he is the best ball winner in the World. Arsenal took control of the midfield because we lost to many battles without Masch.

    That is why we lost today. Rafa took off Masch. He isn't only very important to our defensive game. He also allows more players to play in the attacking half. That means that he is also important to our attacking play.

  25. What is your point. Personally I still prefer a 4- 4-2 formation but Ferguson does otherwise. I blame him for the defeat, not the Americans. It seems that you are stil in fantasy land! In 2006 we were rebuilding the side. In that time Rafa too has rebuilt his side. He had the same if not more money than previous managers. He is soon running out of excuses. Get real now before it's too late! It's ok to support your manager as long as he is able to take responsibility for his actions. For example, Wenger psyched up his players at half-time. Rafa blames his players' confidence! Or I suppose you will say remember Istambul.

  26. I'm sorry but all you did in the second half was send the ball route one back to Arsenal. That is not supposed to be rewarded as it is boring as hell and luckily it wasn't and the team who played the ball on the ground won the game... end of story.

    Gerrard should in all right have been sent off for his constant whining and screaming at the referee. Not to mention all the late tackles flying in from him, Mascherano and Lucas Leiva to name a few. I really don't like the way Liverpool play football and the way the conduct themselves on the pitch and that is NOT down to the football club itself which is a fantastic one with the best fanbase in the world but down to the negative and boring tactics of Rafa Benitez. Get that thing out of Anfield and get him to take Hicks and Gilett with him. Because in all rights Liverpool is a top 4 team and in the top 4 is where they should finish.

    I hope you turn your season around after this!

    - a Swedish Gooner

  27. and none of you saw this coming? wheres all the benetiz crawlers now!. this is what we said  would happen to this team, and guess what?, its only gonna get worse, with benetiz digging in his heels and refusing logic. when all is said and done benetiz walks away with a golden handshake......everyone of you posters who've given Jamie (and the rest of us) nothing but abuse SHOULD HANG YOU'RE HEADS IN SHAME!, you've caused this mess as much as benetiz, now will you shut-up? i bet most of you have already crawled back under your rocks! now stay there.

  28. I think Steve G has finally got his comeuppance with all his diving over the past few years. Being a massive red it's sad to see him constantly do this as he is bad at it.

    Is he and the management of our once great club that stupid that they think the refs don't remember all his dives?

  29. Oh please!  We did NOT batter them in the first half!  How many clear-cit chances did we create in the that half?  How many saves did Almunia have to make?  Liverpool had 3 shots on trget for the ENTIRE GAME, and one of those was the goal.

    So how should it have been 3-4 nil at half time?!

    I love the way people try and spin what actually happened.

    Arsenal also had greater possession than us over the game - 51% vs our 49%.

    Lucas and Masch had a good half because they did what they do: DEFEND.  break up play etc.

    That does not constitute attacking football.

    It looks great when Masch wins the ball off someone or Lucas dispossess someone but that's their job!

    Please stop blatantly twisting what actually happened.

  30. our "once great team"..... get used to that term!

  31. It was a clear penalty, idiot.

  32. I sit in the Paddock by the half way line and Aquilani warmed up a number of times throughout, why say he didn't?

  33. When you say 'great', what do you mean?

    Hustling and bustling, closing players down and stopping Arsenal playing is not what I would call great.  How many clear-cut chances did we create?  How many saves did Almunia have to make?

    It's depressing to me that defending well, dispossessing players and crunching tackles are all that's required to make fans proclaim and performance 'great'.

    Here are the facts:

    * Liverpool had 3 shots on target for the entire game.  3!  Arsenal had 5.

    * Arsenal had 51% possession; Liverpool had 49%

    I fail to see how this is anything to be happy about.  3 shots on target?! One of which was the goal?

    That was the extent of our creativity today, and that is why we lost.

  34. Milner cost less than  £8M! Downing was £10M but must have sold cheaper after Middlesborough got relegated. Where is £25M?
    Rafa wil not be on the dole if he is sacked. He will walk into another job which means that his compensation wil be less than £5M. THAT'S THE LAW. Ask any solicitor from Liverpool!

  35. Well you know better than Arsene

  36. What is Aquilani supposed to do, just magically transform Liverpools forunes with cameo appearances?!  By the time he came on, Liverpool heads were already down.  If Benitez had given him more matches before now then perhaps he'd be more up to speed.

  37. Rafa lost it the day he had a go at Ferguson. Rafa's rant!

  38. It was a penalty! Simple.

  39. Based on that pathetic performance we don't deserve to be in the top eight, let alone the top four. I'm fed up with this shite week after week. The players need to step, Alonso and Arbeloa aside this is the same team as last season. They looked resigned to defeat after Johnsons OG. Where was the heart and fight?

  40. Excellent post, Eldon.  I agree with you about the last three months of the season.  People should forget that.  It's history.  That period is NOT indicative of Benitez's reign.  it was a fluke, and was the exception to the rule. 

    The way people use that period as some kind of indicator of Liverpool's improvement under Benitez is laughable. The current run is closer to what defines's Benitez's reign: cautious approach; mismanagement of players, stubborn refusal to adapt or change anything, and inexplicable reliance on favourites.

  41. Based on that pathetic performance we don't deserve to be in the top eight, let alone the top four. I'm fed up with this shite week after week. The players need to step up, Alonso and Arbeloa aside this is the same team as last season. They looked resigned to defeat after Johnsons OG. Where was the heart and fight?

  42. Bottom line is like Cesc said they played for there manager and our players didn't. Rafa is losing trust of his own players, ex Liverpool players and week by week more Liverpool fans. 10 defeats this season everybody, had it been any other big 4 club he would have got the sack.

    He has lost the confidence of his own squad and we surely cant keep him in the job because like Ian St John said we will not be in the top 4.

    We have a team with 2 matchwinners, no width and no plan B.

  43. I agree with you. I thought that Lucas should have left for AA. I felt that if we pushed up the pitch further, we would be more susceptible to a counter attack, which Javi was better equipped to negate than Lucas.

    At this point, I am at lost for words. I can't imagine it getting worse, but I have feeling it is. Most teams go through rough patches, but this feels more than that - is it just me? The players seem to lack the confidence and appear resigned and okay with losing. Where is the fire?
    Does anyone really see Rafa being the answer to this malaise? Does anyone see us roaring up to 4th place (I can't believe I am actually hoping for just 4th place- what have we been reduced to?)
    In my humble opinion, Rafa is a good tactican, but not a good manager/leader, and he needs to go!! I don't see a good tactician leading us out of this, but a leader who motivates his players to play for pride, jersey, and the fans, who make a hell of a lot less money and deserve to have their team fight for them.

  44. it was not a penalty. first of all the ball would have gone out of play. second of all he threw himself before Gallas touched him. and third of all the referees have been watching him dive for a while so they know what they are dealing with. What goes around comes around

  45. What odds do you think there are on Johnson and Kuyt swapping positions? 

  46. Good point, Andy.  he's like the boy who cried wolf.  As a result of all his dives, Refs will be very unwilling to give him penalties now.  Same goes for Rooney, who got booked for diving on Saturday.

  47. Thanks for your comments. You raise a good point about having to accomodate Aquilani, Gerrard, masch, Lucas etc.  This is potentially a very serious problem.  You cannot play Lucas, Mash, Gerrard AND Aquilani in the same team.  It just won't work.  Someone is going have to miss out, and that is where the problem occurs.  I personally feel we could have another Robbie Keane situation on our hands - by that I mean Benitez buys a good player but doesn't know how to fit him in the team.

    Ideally, Lucas should drop to being a squad player and Aquilani should take his place as the first teamer.  I cannot see this happening though, and Benitez's allegiance to Lucas is going to drive a wedge between him and Aqua.

  48. I agree with you about Kelly.  When he is fit again he should take the right back spot, and Johnson should play right wing.

  49. Good points about Gerrard and the second striker role. This is something that really irritates me - as you suggest, he has been found out in that position but Benitez refuses to adapt.  He just keeps playing him there as if something is magically going to change.


  51. if they sack him the most they will have to pay is 18 months of his contract, and thats only if he dont get another job. what really pisses me off tho is while aquilani might turn out to be a great player, he will eventually cost the best part of 20 million, rafael van der vaart was begging teams to come for him and would have cost less than 8 million, he aint even got a squad number at real!! wesley sniejder went for less that 13 million to italy, the guy is pure class, if rafa had of put offers in and turned they turned us down fair enough, but not even to look at them in my eyes is a scandal, look at loric cana at sunderland, pure class for 5million quid!!! james milner on fire at villa for 8 million quid, i despair i really doto say he hasnt had the money to spend is a fallacy hes had plenty of money to have a better squad than we at the moment maybe he hasnt had as much as had been promised but he certainly has had more than enough to rely on an untested 21 year old striker when the chips are down!!!

  52. 2 match winners? who, kuyt and , umm..... cut it out! you've so overrated torres he thinks hes just gotta get off the treatment table and he'll win the game!, and gerrad, rubbish all season. 2 of the biggest crocks in the game. sell torres now cause he cant play with any other striker, havnt you been watching? doesnt matter who you get in. prediction; torres wont make the spanish world cup starting 11 AND gerrad wont make the english starting 11 either. thier shite performances this year have badly hurt thier careers ( but not thier pockets!) next liverpool game i think I'll watch paint dry instead.

  53. incidentally, ngog has done pretty well when asked to but it shoudnt be his responibility

  54. In times of troubles like this, the storm is apparently so strong & the Sky seems so cloudy that You can't see the golden sky at the end of the storm.
    It's not the time for highwaged and too overrated football managers, for any kind of football experts.
    They need cash, They want cash, They don't care about Liverpool FC. 
    It's the right time for the Best Loyal Servants of the Club: it's time to bring back Kenny Dalglish for restore the fight spirit of Liverpool Football Club.
    King Kenny is the only man Who can rescue Liverpool Football Club's desires of come back and save the spirit of this magnificent Club.

  55. Great points, Strebby.  If there is one excuse from Rafa's apologists that irritates me above all else it's the money excuse. The idea that he hasn't had money spend is utterly false.  I've been checking into Benitez's gross spend by going through the *actual* figures fro the club's accounts, and his gross spend is close to 300m.  That is a hell of a lot of money to spend.  What he recouped is irrelevant - if the money he has had was spent better, we'd have a stronger squad now.

    I argued all summer than we should sign Llorik Cana.  5m?!  What a fantastic buy he has ben for Sunderland.  he would've been great for Liverpool in my view.  I also agree with you re Milner, VDV and Sjneider...

    having said that, there would no point in those players coming to Liverpool, as Benitez would just mismanage them.  He'd drain all the creativity out of them and demand that they endlessly defend/trackback etc at the expense of their attacking instincts.  In other words., he'd want them to be like Dirk Kuyt.

  56. Indeed.  There are no easy games.  Every team smells blood when they play Liverpool now.  We are no longer feared in the league...not that we ever realy were under Benitez (apart from a 3 months spell last season).

  57. Good point, Andy.  he's like the boy who cried wolf.  As a result of all his dives, Refs will be very unwilling to give him penalties now.  Same goes for Rooney, who got booked for diving on Saturday.

  58. while im not and never have been a fan of babel, i just dont like the guys attitude, but i have heard rafa say, babel needs to me more tactically aware, he needs to track back more and just wrong the guy is an attacker, ive said it before, im not anti-rafa, im not pro rafa either, im in the middle somewhere, credit where its due, rafa did take us the closest we have been for 20 years, but he is so stubborn and refuses to change things, im convinced he waiting for a "i told you so" moment. he's turned kuyt from out scoring van nistlerooy in holland to one of the most innefectual players ive seen (sean dundee, bruno cheyrou anyone?) although today he did go forward with the ball in the first more than i have noticed recently.

     i wouldnt say he got rid of crouch (same as danny murphy) he told them both they are not guaranteed starting places and they chose to go, i think bellamy had to go after that golf club incident, but surely there must be better at the club after the amount of players hes gone thru. i do believe he has taken the club as far as he can now. on the upide tho i believe there is a massive difference between being a bad team and being a team playing badly and at the moment we are playing badly, no confidence, no leadership as you pointed out and simply no plan b, something has to give sooner or later

  59. benitez lucas and kuyt and peligrino   a foursome made in heaven

  60. A good critique of today's match, Jamie. I squarely blame this one on the players, despite the fact that Rafa's lineup could have been tweaked. Outside of the own goal, though, I blame our two most creative players: Benny and Nando.

    Benny is farting around with the ball too much and he had several chances to pull the trigger.

    Fit, shmit. I don't care whether he's 80 percent or 90.3 percent. Nando had plenty of time to bury that pass from Gerrard. He panicked and one-timed it. No two ways about it. I'm starting to wonder whether he has a left foot or not.

  61. I think we could solve the problems by playing two strikers in Kuyt/ ngog and torres with Aquilani, Gerrard and Masch in the middle with five across the back with jouhnson pushing up the right as a wing back . It would be a great formation and very attacking with enough defensive cover , and well its worth a try as what we are currentkly doing is just doing the same things over and over that havn't worked before.

  62. I agree. Something's gotta give, and someoner's gotta go. I'm tired of hearing Torres will leave if Rafa leaves. If we can get $80 for him, we can buy FOUR $20 million strikers. Will it be so bad? And i don't think Torres will leave. He'll never get the same fan adoration in Chelsea, or the same respect in Real. Very few players who were well-settled in Liverpool did well after they left. Ask Owen.


  63. It was Carra's fault TBH.

    <span>Starting with Fabio who was out of place to start with for the cross and subsequently failed to close down the cross and then when the ball comes in Carra overruns it. For the second again it was Carra's missed header that provided Arshavin to make the post help him. </span>

    And Lucas offered a lot creatively today than Aquilani/Benayoun/Mascherano.

    And why does Kuyt play on the right when he poaches a goal yet again in a sublime manner? 

  64. Hi Jaimie, as a South African Red I must admit Pool players good write a book on "How to Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" and Rafa could do one on "How to win friends and influence people". Over the past two years, I have watched as Hicks and Gillett divided over Rafa, then they divide again over Parry, then Rafa complaigned in the press about them, the lack of funds, Ferguson and the refs, even players seem divided and play as if they really don't want to be there, and to top it all off fans are at each others throats over him (Rafa), the level of devision is quite disturbing .....and all over Rafa. The reality is that like him or hate him Rafa has divided this club and we all know what they say about a house divided, in the end there is going to be one casualty, not the Yanks (they can walk away from it all) not Rafa (he will be laughing all the way to the bank), not the players (they will still collect their weekly paycheck) not the fans (they will be too busy slagging each other off) the sad casualty here will be LFC, that intangible something that we all support, that name that used to strike terror into the hearts of the opposition, the history, the atmosphere, the pride at saying "I am a Liverpool supporter"  If that's the casualty, what's the cause, In my view its clearly Rafa and I have no doubt that the time has come for him to go, we cannot go on like this it has to stop, Red supporters must rise up, make their voices heard, vote with your feet, force the change before its too late and history condems us for allowing LFC to divide and collapse....its that serious.

  65. as i watched that game... i saw what now must be done. fail to get europe, fix the debt, sell player( and i really mean gerrard,carrager), then the club can be reborn. accept that fact reds fans, were a slowly dieing club

  66. Hi Sa Red, I am a South African DIE HARD Red too and fully agree with what you have said. Rafa has single handedly taken control and has made a complete and utter mess of things. When will those who follow him realize this? So what if he took us to 86pts (Our highest ever) in the league last season. 86pts doesnt mean anything if you havent won the league... Imo we are going to struggle to finish in the top 4. We need a brittish manager to rectify the mess that we are in. I would even be happy to bring back Roy Evans as manager. This club is staring down a barrel of a gun and something needs to happen. The question is, will Rafa still be here next season? I for one do not hope so... 

  67. you all are right.we are not kneejerker.now liverpool is very embrassing.every team in the EPL no longer come to anfield for one point.they come for three points in their mind.This is the real proof for pro-rafa claimed only themselves LFCsupporter.if things go on like this,they will surely support rafa at europa league,finish fourt place,top ten,avoid relegation, bloody for league one championship.

  68. So you count gross spend. Maybe Rafa should sell the whole squad, he would probably get £250m and then buy new ones for £100m.

    The players he sell don't count, only the new players that he bought for £100m counts. Then we can all say that he must win the league because he spent £100m on new players. Who cares if players like Torres, Gerrard, Johnson, Mascherano, Agger and Reina is sold. The only thing that counts is that Rafa spent £100m on new players.

    £100m spent means that he must win the league. Who cares that it's a new squad. It's only the £100m that counts, according to you.

    Weird way of thinking, very weird and would get you sacked straight away if you worked for a company.

  69. Cheers Max at least there are two of us that feel that way, maybe we should stage a demo outside the Spanish Consulate demanding that they extradite Rafa back to Spain and charge him with crimes against Football and/or LFC .... juridiction might be an issue though.......just joking :-P

  70. Here we go again, more & more excuses. "However half our team are not completely match fit and haven't been all season". What next? All I can say to Benitez is that there is nowhere to hide anymore. You and all your supporters have run out of excuses. By the by, you said that "we will finish in the top 4". That was a big statement, good luck with that one... 

  71. Imagine that... So it is Wigan next, as always will be watching the game. Good luck Benitez, you are going to need it!


  73. I firmly beliee that Benitez can't hide his faults for eternity.
    Yes, actually We don't have huge transfer funds as Chelsea or Man City, but this lack of money doesn't means that We can't compete of higher level.
    19 mls of pounds at season to spend on transfer market is not a small amount of money.
    How Benitez spent this budget? The answer is simple: for signing a Right back.
    Yes, GJ, the guy is very nice and He's talented football player, but the crucial question is: Does He play in a key role? He's simply plays as right back: Liverpool had already good solutions to fill in the gap in the right side of pitch: Carragher or Martin Kelly, maybe Degen.
    Glen Johnson is ok and He plays well, and certainly I can't consider the guy the main problem.
    After spending the whole budget to sign a right back, Rafa Benitez wasted the profits revenue earned by Club for selling two players to Real Madrid, for a midfield player that certainly He doesn't consider a first choice to pick his side: despite Aquilani is fit, He's never selected for the starting XI.
    My conclusion is Benitez could really do better:

    - He can use every season a medium amount of money (and He always wastes money)
    - He has good solutions provided by Young talents of Accademy
    - He has good solutions to change the match: Glen Johnson, Ryan Babel, Gerro in the middle, Aquilani, Yossi Benayoun in front of line attack, Dossena

    Nobody want sack Benitez and certainly Nobody is happy to sack a manager, but despite the poor run of results, the lack of confidence of the team, the fact that team doesn't play well and the team doesn't create chances Rafa Benitez insists to play with the old, poor, ultra-cautious & loser selections.
    Benitez seems predicatbly like a Mars from another planet.
    Yes, We played well in the first half, but When You always pick up a defensive minded formation, the Team in the second half obviously will be caitious.
    Do You remember home match against Man City? This game is excatly the same.
    To sack a manager never represents the ideal solution, but You must accept that Benitez doesn't try to find in his team alternative options, new tactical solutions to rescue confidence of the team, and to create the conditions of a Liverpool's comeback.
    He continues, game by game, to conduct the CLub towards a total crisis.
    It's not true that He's working under extreme conditions, because He has a solid first team, many great talents, good solutions, many talented young players (Is it nice player Pacheco? Yes).
    Can He win the Title? Certainly it's impossible to win the title this Season.
    Can He do better his Job? Yes, surely, and He does nothing to turn the things right.
    Yesterday the SOS's action gained a success, bit this kind of success will not give an immediate solutions to huge problems of the club.
    To sack Benitez will not resolve all the problems, but certainly represents a first decision in the right direction.
    I can't see my Club play with no passion, fight's spirit, attitude.
    This situation hurts me.

  74. And all 3 shots were in the first half - with Lucas and Masch playing. Aquilani on and not one chance created!

    When I say great I mean we dominated the game wherever the ball was. There were times when Kuyt and Johnson were making great progress down the right, we had lots of free-kicks in dangerous areas, occasions in the first half when Lucas was the furthest man forward, not to mention the Torres one on one. Did you not feel that the goal was coming because I certainly did.

    Theycallmemrburt - so you think that playing Arsenal is easier than Wigan? Your right there are no easy games in the Premiership but I do think you can judge weather a game is EASIER.

    As for criticising Johnson, I am a big fan of this type of player. One who can get to the by-line and still get back. Don't get me wrong, there are better defenders at full back but the best full backs are those that can support the forward play like cashley and Cafu. Personally, in my view, there is nothing that he could have done with the own goal, it was deflected onto his leg - that's football. As for the second goal, I think that Arshavin has to get some credit. I thought that Johnson was tighter than the purse strings on the positive threads bag from this site.

  75. I still cant understand how some people are saying that he has not had the transfer funds. Whether he is given money or must buy to sell doesnt matter. Players are assets (players are like money) of the club which means if you are going to sell players (which he has done plenty of) you can use that money to buy replacements. He sold all of Houliers players bar Carra & Stevie and has since then built a team from scratch and has been given plenty of funds on top of that. How much more money does he need? At the end of the day he has been given the funds by Liverpool Football Club to build his own team. Can somebody please answer this question even if it was you Jamie Kanwar: BENITEZ WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE & FA CUP WITH HOULIERS TEAM. Everybody says that Benitez has improved the team after Houlier left. Why is it then that Benitez has won NOTHING with the team that he has built and is worth probably double that of Houliers???

  76. You don't honestly believe that the Americans will give us any of their hard earned profit (from buying and selling other "Franchises")??

    Personally I hope they do.  I know we all talk about how Rafa has spent millions but I honestly believe that although it has been a lot of money it has not been available to him in the right way...  Liverpool need the type of investment which will give Rafa a large transfer kitty for at least one season.  Let him go out and buy the first choice players rather than having to make do.  With the funds available he will not make signings that allow him to cover a couple of positions or that leave money to buy a cheap player for another important position.

    Liverpool need the freedom to go out and get the best players for the club without having to consider debt problems and restrictions.  Just think what could have been this season if the Americans had invested in the club to take that final step!!  Instead rather than building on the team and improving it we have mearly repaired and replaced.

    I hope that in January we either see the Americans invest some of their own cash in the club for signings or as a club we except the season is a failure and use it to blood some of the quality reserves and kids we have coming through... I would love to see Pacheco and Nemeth get a run of games in the premiership or another.  Arsenal continue to bounce back for that very reason.  They put confidence in their kids and give them the opportunity to play and improve and then when there is a particular need they have the Cash available to buy who they need.  Remember Denilson, Ramsey & Walcott??  We lost out on all three because Arsenal were prepared to spend that little bit extra and as good as guarantee their kids an opportunity to prove themselves at the top level.

  77. Ideally, Lucas should drop to being a squad player and Aquilani should take his place as the first teamer.  I cannot see this happening though, and Benitez's allegiance to Lucas is going to drive a wedge between him and Aqua.

    How about this, the best game I ever saw Lucas play was when we played Newcastle.  In that gme he switched to right mid and it looked like the shackles were removed, what a ball for Gerrards goal.  A controversial alternative to dropping Lucas is dropping kuyt, playing Aqua in the middle and lucas on the right.  the wide areas in our team are the only areas where there is a little freedom.  After all Gerrard had his best goalscoring season out there a couple of years ago and if he wasn't such a sulk would accept that it is also his best position.  I notice in matches now, all he does is pull to the right and wip crosses in.

  78. Who are you?  Probably a manc. "You and all your supporters" must be quite annoyed that you have already lost four games this season that WILL eventually rise to six or seven.  This years premier league will all be about rhythm.  anyone can beat anyone this year as Burnley showed "You and all your supporters" earlier in the season.  Judging by player and manger quotes, We, unfortunately haven't yet adapted to this realisation.  I never thought it was possible but football changed over the summer 

  79. If you go further down this article (Second page) you will find that I am a Liverpool supporter...

  80. I was sat in the main stand for the game and Aquilani warmed up for about 20 minutes literally right in front of me, he just wasn't warming up for the time of the substitution.

    Did you go the game?

  81. don't hold your breath for a response Gast, that point been thrown at jaimie countlessly, but hes too stupid to actually understand it.

  82. Why has my comment been deleted? I merely asked if you went to the game.

    Aquilani warmed up for at least 20 minutes, he was just not warming up at the time of the substitution

  83. Jamie

    i would like to make some points regarding the following statement.  While i appreciate this is not the crux of your article, for which i largely have not complaints about, this paragraph did still annoy me:

    I've argued this before but he is not the answer to Liverpool's right back position. He should be converted into a right winger, which would allow him to just attack all day long.

    And please don't give me this lame excuse that he's only effective going forward because he comes from defence. What a load of illogical nonsense. When Johnson has the ball in the opposition half, his starting position doesn't make a blind bit of difference. What he does with ball when he's got it is what matters.While his good work is obvioulsy done in the final third, ignoring his starting position is a mistake.  the key difference between him playing as a RB and RW is that when he receives the ball at RB, he is facing play almost 100%, therefore allowing him to venture forward at pace.  Obvioulsy the damage he creates is done in the final 1/3 but that is often because he is able to gallop forward on the overlap and considering his pace and the fact it will largely be the LM job to mark him, he gets a lot of success from this.  However, when playing RM, a good percentage of the time he will receive the ball with his back facing goal, making going forward much tougher.  he will also be marked by a LB who will be far more vigilent that a LM generally again making it difficult.Now i do see some merits in you assertion he should be used in midfield, and at times i could see this working but.  But to me, your comments above show an ignorance and lack of understanding of how the game is played.  You seem to suggest that just paying him further forward would automatically mean he is able to make twice as many forward runs as we see currently.  Unfortunately, it just doesn't work like that.Would you agree or disagree with my argument above?

  84. I deleted it because I'm sick of people saying things like 'did you go the game' as if it's that simple.

    Yes, everyone can go to the games; there's no problem getting tickets; and if you don't live in Liverpool or have a locational disadvantage then tha doesn't matter!  Oh, and if the millions of fans who support the club all wanted to go to the games it would be EASY.

    Just make your point without making a lame attempt to assert some kind 'I went to the game' superiority.

    I know he warmed up at some stage, but in previous games he seemed to be more active along the touchline throughout the game.

  85. So Rafa can buy mre and more playerst. He then sells the players and use the cash as i it comes from his pocket! Rafa's net spent is aroun £15M per year. Ferguson is £17M. Wenger is virtually zero. That's a FACT!

  86. I disagree with the argument completely.

    How/where he receives the ball is irrelevent.  he has the skill and the talent to do the business on the right.  Just because he 'occasionally' might have his back to goal when he receives the ball doesn't matter.

    What about other Liverpool wingers from the past?  John barnes; Steve Mcmanaman; Steve Heighway etc?  How did they manage to be successful on the flanks?  Were they handicapped because they received the ball with their backs facing goal?!  No.  They got the ball and attacked, and were very successful.

    Johnson is successful as an attacking player burely by virtue of the fact he starts as a right back and overlaps.  The overlapping effect can still take place with him playing exclusively on the right.

    In any event, in many cases where Johnson does damage, he receives the ball to feet just outside the penalty area; he then takes on the fullbacks and tries to get to the byline/into the box.

    That is what all good wingers do, and that is why he should be converted into a right winger.  Just give him a license to attack down the right.  the fact he has been a defender will help him even more in his role because he has the strength and defensive instincts that wingers/wide-players sometimes lack.

  87. Whether it was a shinpad goal or not does it matter? A goal is a goal & Kuyt scored! Who else in red scored in the match? Ok Johnson but it was an own goal!

  88. Cheers for the good luck! We really need it!

  89. It's Monday, our team lost yesterday & I get to read JK's articles! Life cannot be any better than this! LOL!

  90. first up manyooo, its heartwarming to know that all manc fans are not knobheads and totally blinkered i only know a handful of balanced man u fans and the discussion is always great(still hate yr team tho) lol

    i agree, you cant just disregard the amount he has brought back into the club from player sales, yes he has spent however much he has spent, but around(depending on which reports you read) 50% of what he has spent was generated thru player sales, but the main point is, the amount of players that he has gone thru irrespective of gross spending or net spending, he should have, in the squad, more capable players than we have now............the bottom line is tho jamie he has had money to spend and appart from reina, agger, mash torres, johnson(?) luis garcia, maybe one or two others,  his dealings have been sub standard, for some part the manager has to take responsibility for this and for some part the players themselves also have to take some responsibility every single transfer is a gamble but he should have got more right than wrong.

  91. <span>"This is why we need Aquilani to start more games, and this is why he should've started today. He offers another creative, attacking threat, which means we then go back to 5 dedicated attacking players in the first 11."</span>

    What did aquilani do in the final 30 minutes that suggested he'd do any more if he had started? liverpool were great in the first half. lost the game to 2 individual errors. THIS IS NOT BENITEZ' FAULT.

    did liverpool lose cos aquilani didn't start? no. did they lose cos they started with 2 holding midfielders? no.

    and saying having 2 holding players isn't the liverpool way is a daft thing to say, cos football changes and tactics evolve and come in and out of style. the real liverpool way would be playing 1-1-8, like they did back in 1900.

    benyoun went off cos he was shattered. completely faded from the game by the 50th minute. leave him on and let him pull that hamstring eh.

    i really can't see how much of a problem you can have with benitez after this game. my personal opinion was that he should have had a less defensive bench, and he should have done something with gerrard when he was getting marked out of the game in the 2nd half. he went wide too late for me.
    apart from that, the starting XI, the early introduction of aquilani and a further positive attacking substitution (or 2 even) were good moves.

    as much as you go on about the pro rafa brigade, you're clearly anti rafa, no matter what you say. this site is not about 'critical realism', and the fact that you're on facebook, giving updates every 20 minutes, looking for ways to slag the manager off is a givaway. most fans are too busy watching the match on tv....or maybe even watching it at the stadium itself!!!!

  92. "How/where he receives the ball is irrelevent.  he has the skill and the talent to do the business on the right.  Just because he 'occasionally' might have his back to goal when he receives the ball doesn't matter"

    have you ever watched a game called football? have a look, it's good!

    "In any event, in many cases where Johnson does damage, he receives the ball to feet just outside the penalty area; he then takes on the fullbacks and tries to get to the byline/into the box."

    BECAUSE HE COMES FROM A DEEP POSITION WHERE IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO BE PICKED UP. this is why many full backs get to the byline. kuyt does the hard work is marked. johnson can get the ball in these position because of his starting position.

    i think johnson could certainly do a job on the wing, but don't expect as many mazy dribbles as it would be easy to mark him. also, we don't have a right back at the club who is half as good as him, so a non starter, really.

  93. well why didn't you say he warmed up in your article? critical REALISM remember. or is it easier to cause mischeif?

  94. How on earth can you accurately comment on whether he warmed up or not if you didn't go to the game? That is the reason I asked if you went to the game, none of this childish superiority you talk about. Therefore isn't it a COMPLETELY (Jamie you like to use capitals in many of your articles) VALID and RELEVANT question?

    He was literally warming up for most of the first half. And at the second half he was warming up with Dossena until N'Gog got up.

    I really fail to understand how you can claim to offer critical realism when this article is clearly in part inaccurate, and secondly because you delete and label posts as "lame attempts" with "superiority".

    My question was completely valid, with absolutely none of the motives you mentioned.

    So tell me Jamie, how are you supposed to comment on whether the lad wrmed up or not if you didn't go to the game? Unless Sky have a new 'sideline warming up camera coverage'.

  95. rafa is definitely a defensive & cautious type manager. his tactics will cost us in a long terms. i dont think he will ever be a success in the premier league with his tactics. he should go to italy with that kind of play. and liverpool should not become a defensive & cautious team. how do rafa think we won all the title we've won?

  96. I think in the first half we were very good. Some will say Arsenal were poor but that was because we made them play badly. It wasn't all hustling as you suggest. We stopped them playing to their usual style and rhythm and you have to do this against Arsenal. Most of us will agree that Arsenal play the best football in the league and if you let them they will tear you apart. So what do you do? You stop them playing that way. Man Utd played with Fletcher and Carrick in midfield against Arsenal, two central midfielders that sit back and are defensive in nature. Man City played with De Jong and Barry, two midfielders that sit back. Chelsea played with Essien and Mikel, both naturally defensive. We did this with Masch and Lucas and for 45 minutes it worked. This isn't anti-football. It happens week in week out. On Wednesday Wigan will try to stop us playing. Teams like Blackburn set up their teams to stop the other team from playing every week. Its part of football. And when we did that in the first half we were easily the better team. We had the better chances and we played some decent attacking football. Torres had a good chance which he would normally bury. We had a stonewall penalty. So we could have been 2 or 3 goals up at half time. The only shot Arsenal had in the first half was a Nasri shot from 20 yards or so which was well wide.

    I'm also not sure about your use of shots on target and possesion stats. Arsenal's five shots on target will include Denilson's weak effort which was hardly a chance but was on target. Nasri's shot which was quite easily saved by Reina. Torres' chance was a better goal scoring opportunity than both of these. Other than the actual goals this was the best goal scoring opportunity of the game. It all depends on how you want to look at it; as how much of a goal threat a chance is or how many shots on target regardless of how threatening it was. When Man City played Arsenal earlier this year they had 6 shots on target compared to Arsenal's 9 but won 4-2. The shots on target stats would say that Arsenal were better but the score tells you a different story. The same with your use of possession stats. Chelsea had 49% of possession against Arsenal, Man Utd 47%, Man City 47%. Again your rationale is that Arsenal had more possession so they played better. But Arsenal lost all of those games. It doesn't matter how much possesion we had and how many shots we had on target.

    The own goal changed the whole dynamic of the game. Arsenal came out for the second half and attacked which is what you would expect them to do. For three minutes they had a bit of possession, no real clear cut opportunities and then we gave them a goal. Even after that we didn't panic or go too defensive as you suggest. In fact the next two "attacks" came from us although they didn't amount to much. And then came the brilliant Arshavin goal which came from nowhere.

    Both their goals came from errors, the obvious one from Johnson for the own goal, but again Johnson for the second. Carrgaher missed a header but Johnson didn't clear the ball. It came of him went to Arshavin who scored a great goal. What can you do about goals like that?

    The response from us was positive. Rafa bought on Aquilani. However Arsenal were quite happy to go defensive. They bought on Diaby for Walcott about 3 or 4 minutes after we bought on Aquilani. They did exactly what we did them to them in the first half; they went defensive to stop us from playing. It was a bit hit and hope from us for the remainder of the game which was disappointing, but we weren't playing any old team here, we were playing a good Arsenal team and they made it diffcult for us to mount any serious chance just as we did to them in the first. That's football; their [...]

  97. I do agree about the leadership on the field. I actually think Mascherano should be made captain but that won't happen. Too many times you see Gerrard's head drop, not because he has lost hope or because he doesn't care, in fact I think it the exact opposite, he cares too much. Sound odd but sometimes you need a bit more than passion to be a captain. You have to rally the troops, sometimes keep calm and get an overall perspective of the game and lead on the pitch. Sometimes I think he puts too much pressure on himself to perform.   

    Overall I think the first half performance and tactics were spot on. I thought the starting XI was the best selection for this particular game. An own goal and a Arshavin stunner was what changed the game. The postives are that we looked sharper going forward, there was more speed to our game, our players are all coming back to full fitness and they'll be able to look at that first half performance and take some confidence from it even though the result wasn't good.

  98. i am tired of this.  we are currently on a worse run that portsmouth! 3 wins in 15 verses their 4 in 15!  i am sick of liverpool falling below their standard. while i think it's great to stand behind your manager during tough times, i do not agree at all with the arguement that injuries are to blame.  i'm sorry but arsenal, united, tottenham have all had their own respective injury problems this season.  and guess what, they are all above us today.

    personally i think it's time for rafa to go and this arguement of well we can't afford to sack him is crap as well.  would you rather lose 30 mil getting rid of a twat who is sinking our ship or would keep that same guy and let him lead us right out of european contention.  i'm not just talking about champs league either.  this guys is looking like he wants to take us down to the bottom half of the table the way he's going. 

    now i accept that rafa will not be fired (liverpool have a history of sticking with managers).  but believe me when i say things will only get worse esp. with the busy xmas period underway.  if we get to the new year and haven't seriously turned things around i think we will begin to see more players (not just babel and masch) asking to leave the club.  and all you rafa lovers will for sure claim that everyone else is to blame for this mess.  well we will see what you have to say come may if things don't turn around

  99. i tend to agree with that zach,WE ARE LIVERPOOL! there are only a maximum of twelve games a season where we should worry about what the opposition can do to us rather than than what we should be doing to the opposition, the 6 games vs the other "big four" the everton games villa, spurs and city away, maybe one or two other depending on form etc. every other team we should be wiping the floor with, obviously there are going to be one or 2 blips, lucky goal dodgy decsions etc, but for the most part we should be battering teams, he's playing not to lose, thats not the same same as playing to win.

  100. Why does it matter that he'd lost control of the ball? It was a foul. There's nothing in the rules to say that the player has to have control of the ball. What about when a penalty is given for a player being pushed or held in the box. They don't have the ball but it is a foul.  

  101. Sorry I'm late Jaimie, but I'm here now :)

    I've purposefully stayed away from my own blog and other sites to reflect on the game yesterday. The reason being that even die hard Rafa fans, like myself, have their moments of questioning things, especially after such a torrid run.

    First off the tactics employed for the first half were spot on in my opinion. I expected Rafa to play Masch and Lucas to do exactly what they did. Which was to break down Arsenal's attacks and prevent their sublime passing game. Arsenal looked shell shocked in the first half and really struggled to compete against our pure intensity. However with two defensive midfielders you are not going to create many chances. our problem is that we didn't take the ones which came up, especially the Torres one, although we have to accept he is coming back from injury. Be honest, a few games under his belt and we all know the result would have been different.

    After going one up and already having your best defensive options on the pitch you would expect us to be able to sit it out and play on the counter attack. Something which Gerrard and Torres were doing relatively well in the first half. Although they do not appear to have quite 'clicked into place' like last season yet.

    As if we hadn't had enough bad luck this season, an own goal effectively ended the game for us. With confidence already fragile and luck always seeming to run against us (beach balls, injuries and refereeing decisions anyone?) we just looked like a frightened fighter who just took a sucker punch. We lost the intensity which had seen us convincingly terrorise Arsenal for the first half. All of this while Arsenal came at us with a renewed vigour, the flea in the ear from Wenger echoing no doubt. As the half went on hope really diminished as the players returning from injury faded.

    With a run like this you ask yourself questions. I have said that Rafa is not beyond reproach and he should not be. I stand by my reasons for giving him more time though (injuries, form of key players, bad luck etc.). The reason I haven't changed my mind since yesterday is that tactically I think his decisions were right. Masch and Lucas won that first half battle for us and he tried to bring in additional creativity to pull back after the two goals went in. We lost to the bad luck of an own goal and a superb strike from Arshavin. The tactics were right, the team selection was right. But bad luck remains while our confidence continues to be knocked.

    However, three games we should and must win coming up. If we lose any of them (without us losing half the squad through injury or illness) well I think even the most die hard Rafa fans will be starting to ask questions.

  102. plenty of luck in the 1st half but just the 1 goal, different story 2nd half +
    'Benny is farting around with the ball too much and he had several chances to pull the trigger'
    He's too weak a player - only valuable for 30 or more mins beyond which 'babel' would have a better 'attitude' and contribution to the game !
    Aquilani should have started and then maybe bring on benny to replace him - we can criticise rafa all we want because hes shite . 

  103. good post gary, especially the comparison with kuyt's stats and other players. doubt it will get a sensible response though.

  104. you have the option of paying 17m on pun-Nani and 20m on Anderson.  Rafa has never had that option until now.

  105. and Kuyt out? you`re joking of course, only in your dreams with Rafa :)

  106. A British manager? Roy Evans? Sean Dundee? Kwarme? Phil Babb? Leonhardson? playing Redknapp ahead of Jan Molby....U r a Man U fan...I knew it!! 8-)   Only joking mate, but I disagree with you 100%.  If there was an English manager out their worth his salt he'd be off to your homeland this summer with the national side.

  107. He was given funds but so as Barry Fry at Birmingham. Fry bought about 70 players while he was there but only had the option of signing the players he really wanted twice.  Kevin Francis and Ricky otto £700,00 each. Like Fry, Rafa wasn't given the option of spending his kitty how he wanted to.  i.e Gareth Barry, the money was there but Parry decided he didn't want to spend all that money on a midfielder.  We could have signed dani alves for 10-15m we ended up signing Jermaine pennant for 6.7m so we could buy other cheaper options.  This is the only season he has been given the option of doing what he wants with the money available and personally I'm happy with this Summers' signings.  You can't legislate for injury or a lack of match fitness. I hope I am painting a clear picture.

  108. liverpool were great in the first half. lost the game to 2 individual errors. THIS IS NOT BENITEZ' FAULT.

    100% agree

  109. but this site is so anti benitez they blame him for it. so much so he was getting slagged off while the game was still being played. i was too busy watching the match to go onto the internet.

    but of course, if you disagree you're pro benitez and 'brainwashed'.

    again i'll say it - LIVERPOOL-KOP, what did aquilani do in the last 30 minutes that suggested he would have been such a revelation for liverpool if he had started, or indeed, had started in any of the previous games where you couldn't believe it?

  110. I love it...

    In one breath, the pro-Benitez brigade back Rafa for not playing Aquilani becaus ehe's not match fit etc; in the next, they're slating him for not turning on the style in a 30 minute cameo!  How can he make a difference is he's not match fit. eh?

    You're just twisting the argument to suit yourself.

    When Aqullani came on, Liverpool had already mentally capitulated.  There was no fight; no confidence; and no one was really putting in the effort to win.

    What is he supposed to do - win the game by himself?!

    As a result of hardly ever playing, Aquilani has no understanding with his team-mates.  This needs to be built up; he needs to get into the rhythm of things.  He even said this himself during the week with his comments about needing to play so he, Gerrard and Torres can used to each other.

    If Benitez had played him regularly over the last month and a half then his match fitness and understanding with his team-mates would be at a higher level now.

  111. Looks like Jaimie is choosing not to reply to me when he's replied to others.

    He couldn't tell whether Aquilani actually warmed up or not, but just decided he'd make up that he didn't to bolster his argument.

    Now that's critical realism for ya.

  112. Looks like Jaimie is choosing not to reply to me when he's replied to others. 
    He couldn't tell whether Aquilani actually warmed up or not, but just decided he'd make up that he didn't to bolster his argument. 
    Now that's critical realism for ya.

  113. Interesting opinion on gerrard. Maybe he is sick of carrying the team and just cant be arsed anymore.

    Maybe it is plain embarrassment that he has for 10 seasons said, 'next year........" when any hope of the league has gone.

    Maybe he wishes he hadnt lifted the Champions league trophy, because it conned him into thinking he would soon follow it with the league. He could have played for chelsea and won the domestic bread and butter, instead of explaining away liverpools latest failings.

  114. I find interesting that Rafa has stated that the problem lies not with quality on the team but rather confidence. How does he reconcile that statement with what he did to Johnson? I wonder how pulling Johnson from the game affected Johnson's confidence?
    I know he played a large part in both goals, but was he truly at fault?
    Own goals are part of the game. Any time a ball is placed with 2-3 meters from the goal with players flying in top gears there is bound to be some problems. Unfortunately, it didn't go our way. Everyday and in every professional, amatuer, and pick-up game in the world, there is always an own goal; it is just unfortunate that it happened in a crucial period.
    The second goal, you can make a comment about not closing the space fast enough, but for the love of god, what a shot!! .5cm -1cm to the left, and that shot goes off the post. He couldn't make that shot if you gave him another 200 attempts at it, but unfortunately it did go in.
    Anyone who has played the game can sympathize with Johnson, for it was an important game and he was in center of all of the action.
    So back to my original point, if this does happen all the time, and if you look at the reactions of Reina, no one blamed Johnson, but why did Rafa? How, if the team is suffering from confidence, does this type of action increase the confidence of the team or its players?
    As I have stated many times, Rafa is a great tactician, but not a manager. He diagnoses the problem and prescribes the opposite.

  115. Fair comment but I dont agree with this thing about Rafa not having the freedom to buy the players that he wanted. Is there any proof of this or do we go by what the media and Rafa has to say?(Did Liverpool LFC ever realease any details on Benitez not having freedom in the transfer market? If so please provide us with those details) Fact is that Rafa spent the clubs's money and has made countless ridiculous signings. Bought and sold, bought and sold and was given plenty of funds on top of that and has nothing to show for it. Anyhow, who in there right mind would want to trust Rafa when it comes to money and signing players when he has made a mess of it. Yes there is Torres, Masch, Reina & Johnson but any manager would know that they are brilliant and would sign them without a blink of an eye. Benitez knows how to work his way around everyone but his time is running out... Tick Tock Tick Tock...

  116. To be honest I would rather have Roy Evans back at the helm, atleast he never made any excuses and put his hand up when he got things wrong (unlike Benitez who blames Refs, the FA, the pitch, the owners, Sir Alex Ferguson and his own players that he brought to the club.) Are we forggeting about KING KENNY? Even Martin O Niel Oh and there is also Phil Thompson but I guess they are not half as good as the MASTERMIND that we have at the moment. LOL  

  117. i'm not slating aquilani AT ALL. what i am saying is, he had 30 minutes to come on and do something positive. this is a long time, not like a 10 minute cameo at the end. he did nothing. this is not damning the player, cos i think he will be good for the team when he is settled. he is obviously a good player.
    what i am saying is, there is NOTHING to suggest that he would have done any better from the start. he wasn't supposed to win the game by himself, but it isn't unreasonable to ask for something positive from the player.
    if he had played from the start and liverpool had gone done 2-1 in similar circumstances (playing very well then losing 2 goals to invidual errors), what could benitez done then?
    having him on the bench was the best option for this game, and slagging benitez off and blaming this for the defeat is complete lunacy.

    "If Benitez had played him regularly over the last month and a half then his match fitness and understanding with his team-mates would be at a higher level now."

    true. but he would have struggled to begin with, just like he struggled against arsenal, yes? again, this is not the players fault, just a fact from a new player in a new league coming back from a major injury.
    NOW, go back a few weeks and imagine what would have happened if benitez put aquilani on against everton, when you were slagging benitez off to high heaven. would the team have produced the positive football that you were looking for? NO. he would have struggled, and the team would have struggled even more.
    i think benitez treatment of aquilani is justified after the arsenal game. he should keep introducing him at the right points, choosing which games to start, which to bring off the bench and which to leave ON the bench.
    and calling me the 'pro benitez' like it's an insult is pathetic. imagine being pro your teams

    you need to see past your anti benitez mist and look at things objectively.

  118. i think johnson was fading from the game, too, rather than it just being a confidence thing. he didn't have the energy to get forward anymore, and the swop from degen might have paid off, if degen's cross wasn't so poor. he did try and inject a bit of energy to the match though.
    i think johnson is mentally strong enough to bounce back from that. he just had a bad 2nd half, it happens to the best of them.

  119. How many more excuses are you going to make for Benitez?!  Johnson was 'fading from the game'?!  He 'didn't have the energy' to get forward anymore?!

    What the hell did we pay 17.5m for then?  A player in his mid-twenties who gets tired at the most crucial stages of important games and can't carry on?!

    The benitez apologists are getting more desperate by the hour.  The Johnson substitution is just another example of Benitez's exceedinly poor man-management 'skills'.  In a period when Liverpool are sufering from a confidence problem, Benitez just made it worse by taking him off.

    On the flip-side, Johnson has proven to be defensively suspect; it is no coincidence that since he arrived we have gone on such a horrific defensive run.  Whe Johnson signed I argued the money was spent unwisely, and I still feel the same.  He may be good going forward, but what's the point if he's costing us valuable points at the other end?

    The only solution is convert him into a right winger - that way, we don't have to deal with his defensive frailties, and the club would gain more benefit from his attacking ability.

  120. Spot on!

    I actually said to a mate yesterday that if we don't win the next three games then the questioning of Rafa is going to definately intensify.

  121. I actually think Johnson is good enough and mentally strong enough to cope with being subbed. I would expect him to start against Wigan.

    At the end of the day, if someone is playing poorly they cannot be above being subbed because it might damage their confidence. This is wholey different from continually subbing individual players, no matter how they are playing, which is what you could argue Rafa does to Benyaoun and Babel.

    I agree, there is are examples for Rafa to be questioned over his man-management, however I don't believe this is one of them - I can't recall Johnson being subbed in any other games he has started?

    He's a £17.5m player afterall, he should be able to 'cope' with being subbed when having a poor game.

  122. What will not go down well is when Benitez (The master of excuses) said that the own goal changed the game against Arsenal. So it is basically saying that Johnson was at fault for the own goal. That is going to do Johnsons confidence the world of good. 

  123. "What the hell did we pay 17.5m for then?  A player in his mid-twenties who gets tired at the most crucial stages of important games and can't carry on?!"

    most players fade at certain points in the game, and remember, johnson has only recently come back from injury, and i doubt he's 100% yet. benyoun, torres, gerrard all faded too. this happens in every football game. johnson's threat is coming forward from deep at pace. he didn't have the legs to do that at that stage. IS THIS RAFAS FAULT? no. he made the right switch, and degen at least injected a bit of energy.
    what is the problem with this????

    "it is no coincidence that since he arrived we have gone on such a horrific defensive run"

    do you not think that the lack of a consistent back 4 line up might also be a major factor, or is it easier to blame on one person.
    got any stats for the goals we've conceded that were johnson's fault, or are you just pulling an opinion out of the air.
    he had a poor 2nd half on sunday and was substituted.
    what do you view as his defensive frailties?

    "The only solution is convert him into a right winger"

    this is the ONLY SOLUTION to liverpool's defensive problems??????
    you think degen and kelly are better right backs than johnson???????


  124. What really amazes me is we keep on hearing about all our players not being 100% fit but they are playing. So if Aquilani hasnt been 100% fit, why hasnt he had a proper run in the team?

  125. So the own goal didn't change the game against Arsenal then? Because in the game I watched it most certainly did.

    Where in Benitez's statement did he blame Johnson? You're just translating what was was said into something else.

    I agree, Benitez has to improve his man-management skills, however, I don't think this is a good example to be using to criticise him.

  126. For some reasno jamie has got it in his head that he has seen Johnson attack well and therefore he should be a right-winger.  Not understanding the role a right winger undertakes for the team.  he has made up his mind and no amount of reasonable crtitcism of that assertion is going to change his mind.  I expect to see 'Johnson should be a right winger' in every other article between now and the end of the season.

    I havent' been reading this site for long, but i know Liverpool fans have been crying out for a full-back who attacks in the Dani Alves mould for years!  we have had players like Carragher, finnan, babel, Arbeloa who i have all rated but thave not been exciting enough for some fans (im not saying Jamie was one but it wouldn't surprise me if he was).  we finally get a full back who is incredibly productive in the final 1/3 and we want to convert him to a RW now and blame him for defensive fralties!  A team requires balance.  something Jamie notes very well when discussing Lucas and Mascherano, but it's the same thing with Johnson and Kuyt down the right.  they compliment each other well and i think Rafa should be creditied for that combo instead of crticised for not converting the England RB to a RW - i can imagine the headlines now if he did try that as well!

  127.  "basically saying that Johnson was at fault" Nowhere did I say it was in his statement. Benitez needed to deflect attention away from himself again. IMO all he should have said is that Arsenal were the better team in the 2nd half and that they deserved to win which they did. How would you feel if you were a player for the team, low in confidence then you hear your manager saying that the "own goal" changed the game? Confidence boost of note!     

  128. cos he's been returning from an injury which has kept him out since march, has joined a new team, is playing in a new system, in a new league, with a different language. all these things have made it more important to get his indroduction right.

    personally, i would have liked to see him play a few more reserve games, but i know one got cancelled.

  129. exactly! i have no doubt that johnson could do a decent job at right wing, but he's no right winger. he's a right back, and the best one in england.

  130. And Torres has was injured for a very lengthy spell and is already playing 90 minutes. Come on guys who are we kidding here?

  131. He is clearly not the best right back (defensively) in England.
    When looking at the question of whether he would be a good right winger we have to ask the following questions:
    1. Is there any evidence to suggest that Johnson has the skills and ability necessary to be a successful RW? The answer is YES.
    2. Is there any evidence to suggest he would NOT be a good right winger? NO.
    If there IS evidence to suggest number two, then please provide it.
    There is absolutely no credible basis for you to say that he would only be a 'decent' right winger. All the evidence of his attacking ability suggests otherwise. Furthermore, his defensive frailties have been exposed time and time again at right back, so again, there is no credible basis for you to say that he is 'the best right back in England'.
    So - based on the two questions above, please provide evidence to support your contention that he would only be a 'decent' right winger.

  132. And now it seems Johnson was probably subbed because he got a knock: http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/latest-news/duo-injury-latest-2

  133. Okay, I miss-understood what you wrote....sorry!

    I was playing in-goal for a team two weeks ago and let in a howler under my foot from a back-pass. I got the mickey taken out of me after the game. All it did was inspire me to play much better in the next two games.

    Maybe this'll do the same for Johnson, who knows, that might be the kind of person he is?

  134. Exactly Max. All the injured players we've had are playing 90 minutes but Aquilani does not.  It's ridiculous and makes no sense.  We have another Keane on our hands with Aquilani.  Benitez will continue to demotivate him, he will underperform, and he will be gone sooner rather than later...unless we get a new manager, of course.

  135. The own goal did not change the game - that is just an excuse. There was still 41 minutes to go when that goal went in.  What changed the game was the complete failure of leadership and character both on and off the pitch.
    Furthermore, the own goal brought the game LEVEL; it didn't send us behind.  There was still time to win the game.

    Benitez removing Johnson was a ridiculous decision.  Not only will it demotivate him (in an already confidence-hit phase); it will have irritated him because he probably wanted to atone for his error and was prevented from doing so.

  136. Up until the own-goal Liverpool (including Johnson) were playing with some confidence, IMO this changed completely after Arsenal drew level. Ergo it changed the game.

    You're right, there was a lack of leadership, IMO it was more notably evident on the pitch (rather than off it).

    I'll reserve judgement on Johnson untill we see how he performs in the next couple of games (assuming he plays ;) ). Maybe taking him off motivate to perfom better in training and in the next games?

    Personally I was more annoyed by the removal of Benayoun, we should have removed Lucas and shifted Gerrard back into c.midfield to accommodate Ngog.

  137. Up until the own-goal Liverpool (including Johnson) were playing with some confidence, IMO this changed completely after Arsenal drew level. Ergo IMO it changed the game. 
    You're right, there was a lack of leadership, IMO it was more notably evident on the pitch (rather than off it). 
    I'll reserve judgement on Johnson untill we see how he performs in the next couple of games (assuming he plays ;) ). Maybe taking him off will motivate him to perfom better in the next games? 
    Personally I was more annoyed by the removal of Benayoun, we should have removed Lucas and shifted Gerrard back into c.midfield to accommodate Ngog.

  138. I dont think you can simplify it as easy as that jamie.  Moving someon'e position is a complex situation and just because he is attacking well, does not automatically mean he will be a fantastic RW.  as i said before, this is largeley due to his starting positions.  Clearly, full backs get far more of the ball, especially without pressure, than wingers.  therefore, he is able to constantly come forward at will and provide a great optin down the rigght, often thank to the space Kuyt has left by bringing his marker in field (something no amount of stsats will show, just an appreciaetion of the game willa llow you to notice).  I really dont think that he would have the opportunity to make as many forward runs should he be playing further forward.  i appreciate what you are saying, but i really think a knowledge fot he game is needed to appreciate certain aspects here.

    The likes of Dani Alves, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, were they not famed for their attacking capabilities?  i dont recall any of them being successfully converted to wingers.  thats because their managers, who lets face it know more than you and i, appreciated that their work was best done coming from deep and that moving them forward would not help the develop as players.

    as far as Johnson's defensive capabilities are concerned, i fully accept he has limitations, but i also fully expect him to improve in this area at Liverpool and under the guidance of Rafa.  One thing we can all agree on surely is Rafa's defensive work has been (til this season) first class.  But i also really like his pace at the backa nd against Utd he played superbly well despite rareley getting forward, showing me what a fine RB he can be.  And let's face it, Rafa AND Capello cant both be bad judges of character can they?

  139. my evidence for him just being able to do a decent job at right wing is the fact that on the few occasions he has played there for his old team he didn't exactly set the world alight.it's been tried and he didn't turn into stanley matthews overnight.

    just because he has good attacking skills DOES NOT translate into being a great forward player. did you see him play right wing? do you have any evidence that he would be great? no. it's just an opinion pulled from thin air AGAIN.

    what better english right backs are there?

    he is the england first choice right back. this would suggest he is rather good in the position, unless you are a better judge than cappello?

    again - apart from arsenal, which goals conceded this year do you think johnson was to blame for?
    back your opinion up with fact if it's so black and white.

  140. this reply was by me, btw.

    again, regardless of how well johnson would do at right wing, he's the best right back at the club by a country mile.

  141. torres was out for a month, aquilani was out for about 7 months. big difference there, before you take into account starting with a new team, system, league, language. completely different comparing the situation with the other liverpool players returning from injury.

  142. don't be daft, medical reports are meaningless, liverpoolkop.com knows all!

  143. "The own goal did not change the game - that is just an excuse"

    OF COURSE it changed the game! football matches have a thing called momentum, which can swing on occasions such as this. you don't think liverpool were the better team before then? there was still plenty of time left, and benitez brought on aquilani with 30 mins left. plenty of time to do something, and did nothing. maybe not the lads fault, but enough to suggest that if he had started, it might not have been much different.

    as for the decision to bring johnson off being ridiculous? looks like he took a knock, which would explain why he faded so much in the 2nd half. still think benitez got that one wrong?

  144. see no comment from jaimie on kuyts stats compared to players in similar positions. this site loves to use stats, but suddenly go quiet when it doesn't fit in with thier tunnel vision.

  145. This whole AA affair stinks!!! Something is rotten at LFC. If anyone really takes a deep breath and steps back, this whole affair doesn't ring true.
    How can AA be out for sooooo long, and no one on the staff, doctors, physios, coaches knew or anticipated this? Is the medical staff that bad? How bad was his injury? I can see being a couple of weeks off, but for heaven's sake, months!!! I think there was more to this then we know.

  146. Doesn't seem like Jaimie wants to reply. Probably because it is impossible to tell whether players have warmed up or not by watching it on tv, which is a clearly valid and not controversial statement, yet he insists on using this as part of his article.

    This comment will no doubt be deleted despite holding nothing but valid points put across in a measured way.

    Such 'critical realism'.

  147. arsharvin would have scored that goal at anfield at least 1ce a season remember last season... an injured RvP is so much better than a fully fit kuyt

  148. The story goes that an independant medical proffesional said he would be back far sooner than it has turned out and quite rightly since then the LFC medical  staff and coaches have been brining him back slowly.  Of course that will not stop anyone on here having a go at Rafa.  It seems on this site that everything is Rafa's fault.  Its just a matter of days before JK comes up with an article citing Rafa as the main culprit in the credit crucnch.