So, Liverpool is back at the top of the table by one point after failing to beat a very disciplined West Ham. West Ham knew just what to do to nullify Liverpool forwards and showed, yet again, how to match Liverpool in their own turf.
Many would agree if I were to say that one point for us is justified, which is enough to go top of the table. West Ham came close to clinching a victory themselves and fully well deserved a point. They defended very well and some of their players seem to have found a loophole in the new 'ball-to-hand' ruling. Keep arms close to your body but make sure that the elbows are always sticking out to stop the ball. Their keeper also showed how every keeper that comes to LFC seem to grow wings and save impossible balls. All in all, West Ham proved again that Liverpool has a problem finding the back of the net when the opponents park the bus in front of the goal and go for the counter attack approach.
To me, the man of the match for the first hour was Hyypia. He defended so stupendously and was a sight for sore eyes. And he came close to scoring a few times too. And when Hyypia, at 35, is the man of the match for that long a period, then you know something is wrong.
The flanks for us were a real disappointment. Putting Benayoun at the right flank was utter nonsense. Kuyt is much better there and should have been played there. Benayoun kept losing possession, could not cross and a few times made a mess for Arbeloa too. He, like Riera at the left flank, kept drifting into the middle and most of the times was running around like a headless chicken. He was lost, without any conviction of what his role really was. I am still asking myself what is it that Benitez sees in him to justify his playing Benayoun in that position.
As for the left flank, Riera and Dossena showed yet again how they can't really cross. What is the use of having wingers and overlapping fullbacks when they do not provide the amunitions for the forwards?
As for Keane, well, where do I start? Suffice to say that he has lost it. Forget about seeing his old damaging striker's role in his new LFC jersey. We can all wait until the cow comes home, and he will still be struggling to come to terms as to what really happened to him. Patience, as we know, has its limitations.
People always say when Gerrard plays badly, Liverpool play badly. This game sums that up rather aptly. He lost his marbles sometime during the break. When other players see their captain trying so desperately to the extent of making a mess of things when being cool-headed would have been better, they of course become panicky too. Maybe if, a big if of course, Torres were around, we could have won this game with a Gerrard goal.
So, did Benitez choose the proper line-up for this game? As the Master, he of course knew what he was doing. But I would have started with Kuyt at the right with Keane and either Babel or Ngog in front. Kuyt because he has been so used to that position and even in this game he had to do a lot of work for Benayoun (mangkuk ayun if you want to know what I really call him). Babel with Keane would have posed more threat to West Ham defence and who knows, we would have scored a goal or two too. Babel is never afraid to let loose one of his powerful shots and is always a big threat with his speed and muscles.
Anyway, I bet there are actually a lot of fans out there who really did not believe LFC was going to win this game. They would not say it openly of course as they would be lambasted left and right. Hell, I am sure many fans are also not so convinced that Liverpool is really going to win the Premiership this season. I mean, we should be a few points above Chelsea now, not by a solitary point. But, as a fan, we will continue to have faith in the team. Although a massive makeover come this January transfer window is most welcome. And of course we have hope. As long as there is hope backed by our current position, we will always continue to have the believe. No matter how disappointing this game was for us, we should look at the one point gained, not the two lost. After all, being optimistic is a virtue they say. Maybe if I really dug deep, I might find that virtue myself.