Following the disappointing defeat to Swansea in the League Cup Fourth Round on Wednesday night, Pete takes a look at 5 things we learned from the match…
1) Joe Cole should never (and I do mean never) wear an LFC shirt again
Don’t care if he has a contract until June 2014, don’t care if he earns 6m a year, don’t care if we need to shop-window him for a possible January move. Just get rid i.e. buy him out if needed or just give him a free. Massive mistake from BR to play him tonight against a nigh-on full-strength Swansea. Almost unforgivable stuff. Play Pacheco, play Suso …heck play Sahin. The latter 2 only had 45 minutes against Everton at the weekend. Sahin is a million miles better …and yet he wasn’t even on the bench.
2) We got out-Rodgered by Swansea
Both teams lined up 4-3-3 on the night, in a clash of who would better implement it. Swansea triumphed on the night and by a long way, almost with embarrassing ease. Swansea played some really beautiful stuff especially when put under serious pressure. They exhibited some very neat passing triangles throughout and generally passed the ball exceptionally well, displaying quick flowing and at times almost nonchalant passing …and there were many periods where they just seemed to toy with us.
Swansea were actually a joy to watch in those phases, stringing 5~10 passes together with consummate ease. You just knew they wouldn’t give the ball away cheaply – and they were very quick and incisive in counter-attack to boot. We did try our best (at various times) to pressure them but couldn’t ever really get near them, let alone pressurize them into mistakes. Just take Dwight Tiendalli (LB) – a player who was an abject failure and a player who was totally out of his depth at FC Twente in Holland …and yet we somehow made him look like a world-beater in possession football. We really should have blown Tiendalli away. In all reality, he’s a very sub-standard LB, yet we never got at him and we never tested him. On the other hand, we very much struggled to match Swansea’s free-flowing style.
We mostly looked hurried and generally uncomfortable when on the ball. Swansea did not give that impression. Other teams have already exposed Swansea cruelly. We just couldn’t. We maybe have the better players (on paper) and to be fair this wasn’t our first-choice Starting XI …but they were by far the better team on the night. We can’t even rely on the excuse that they’ve already played together for ages – as Michu (MOTM -and what a player!), Pablo, Tiendalli, Chico, de Guzman etc are all very recent arrivals.
3) Carra still has a role to play
He made a good half-dozen last gasp blocks (on Pablo, Michu, Michu again, Dyer etc) …although ultimately to no avail. Yet without him, we might have been literally torn apart on the night. Some immense blocking …and he was in no way to blame that we played with both full-backs very high up and were thus very vulnerable to their counters, including a 3-versus-zero counter and goal. Also worthy of a note, although it’s maybe another point entirely: Our entire Starting XI versus Swansea had amassed a mind-boggling 21 career goals for LFC, with Carra actually being our joint top-scorer on the pitch ….with 5 career goals. Go figure!
4) Suarez and Gerrard are being seriously over-used
No getting around this. Suarez is our only recognized striker and Gerrard is our talisman skipper. Lose either one of them for the league campaign ahead …and we will be truly fubar’d. Yet once again they needed to be risked. Suarez will very soon pick up his 5th yellow and a ban (with no replacement on hand) and if we continue to over-use Gerrard it will surely backfire on us badly. Both are just irreplaceable.
5) Lucas is absolutely vital for us
Rodgers said after the game that Allen basically played alone in our midfield all night. A tad harsh maybe, as Gerrard was half-decent second-half and he did give us some much-needed impetus. The rest were almost embarrassingly poor though. Even Allen was probably (for me) borderline good on the night, although he was still head-and-shoulders above anyone else, which is extremely worrying in-and-of-itself. BR’s general point stands.
Our midfield – whether it be controlling the game, shielding the back four, initiating attacks or supporting attacks is nothing short of abysmal currently. Lucas (whenever he’s back) should take it to a different level …though maybe that’s just me hoping-against-hope that a player who’s been out for almost a full year can almost instantly galvanize us. He surely will though. Lucas should (hopefully) provide the instant difference between a struggling single-point-a-game team versus an onwards-and-upwards 2 points-a-game team.