O the sweet taste of Victory!
How we have all yearned for this feeling of joy. Beating one of the Top Fours and doing a double over them this season doesn't happen often, mind you.
When I first saw the line-up, it did look like the best Liverpool could offer this season. It looked very promising when you see Alonso and Mascherano in the middle with Torres and Gerrard upfront. I did not really care about the flanks because it is obvious that Kuyt, of late, has been playing the role of the headless chicken who can't really cross and Riera would undoubtedly stray into the middle of the park and lose possessions at crucial times. But then again, how many times have we all seen LFC fielding its best line-up, boasted a big chunk of the possession, and then drew the games this season.
And true enough, yet again we saw us doing just that and yet again we saw how this game was going to be another Wigan or Everton. And when the red card was shown to Lampard (sorry mate, when you show your studs you get a red card, immaterial of whether you win the ball or not), I thought it was going to be more difficult to win this game. Teams with ten players on the pitch always tend to work harder, except against manure of course. And true enough, we bombarded Chelsea like there's no tomorrow and still could not make the possession count.
We would have ended the game 0-0 if not for some of the things that were missing in recent games that stood out like a sore thumb. Torres almost back to his best with his magic, Gerrard playing one of his best football in recent times, Rafa going all out by taking out a midfielder and putting in a striker, and Benayoun.
If we were to believe the stories we read on the net, Rafa seems to have concluded his contract debacle and with that out of the picture, was more willing. Many of the games before this, he was accused to have played negatively by trying not to lose games rather than winning. But last night, he showed his intent by taking out Mascherano. We are also made to believe that Rafa now has more say in the transfer of players, hence Keane was not even on the bench (at the time of writing, apparently Spurs and Liverpool have agreed for Keane exit and Liverpool is eyeing Javier Saviola as a loan striker). So, a happy Rafa is a winning Rafa after all.
Torres seems to be at his best, albeit a bit rusty just yet. I assume not many of us saw it coming, his first header goal, especially the Chelsea defense. Simply superb. And Gerrard was simply sublime, given the freedom to dictate without Lampard's presence. And Benayoun, what can we really say about his yoyo performance. Last night he was like a man possessed and delivered through. And we all love him for what he did last night, until the next game when he messes up again.
The only minus point in the second half was how Babel was trying too hard to win the game alone when brought in. The kid needs to be a wee bit cool and not try to be the messiah and shoulder the whole responsibility of winning the game for us.
Now, while we all bask in glory for beating one of the most expensively assembled teams in the world, we can continue to ask the 'what if' questions. What if we had not drawn that many games this season, what if Keane was more prolific in LFC jersey, what if this important win would all be nothing at the end of the season, etc.
With this win, we are again damned to continue to hope that some miracle happens that manure somehow fumbles a couple of times before the end of the season and we go on to win all our remaining matches. Optimistic fans will say that when there's still hope, there's still a way for us to claim the 19th title this season. Pessimistic ones would rather not have the hopes at all for they can't bear the heartache of trying to answer the many 'what ifs' in May. Wonder which fan I really am..