Monday, December 05, 2005

Reds a Menace to the Title?

Its only fair, really, to come back to Liverpool.

Last week I was obfuscated to their progress a little by the fact grinding nature of their tedious victory over Manchester City. But fair is fair. Grind? It made Cliff Thorburn look like Liberace. Some geologists watching were overheard comparing the game unfavourably to the formation of the Himalayas for entertainment value. Many of the Maine Road crowd used the opportunity to put their tax returns in order.

So I apologise for not noting in this domain that the Rafalution is establishing at last the hallmarks of a championship winning team.

(NOTE: the above sentence applies, of course, in a utopian Chelski-less world, simpler times when when purple-faced beasts roamed the planet with equanimity, untroubled by tanned and overcoated hunters)

In further mitigation, I did mention the absence of Xabi Alonso and the presence of Djibril Cisse as hindrances to the Reds on that day at Maine Road which were absent for last Saturday's altogether more impressive victory. However, despite the turgidity of that game nine days ago the defensive solidity Liverpool exhibited (the foundation stone of their Champions League-winning edifice) plus their new-found and gnarled faculty for ekeing out wins are perennially stated characteristics of truly successful teams - and are of course, persistently in evidence down the King's Road this past season and a half or so.

Saturday's domination of a spirited Wigan side bodes well for Liverpool (with the caveat that Wigan's lofty status belies their true level due to the kindness of their early season fixture list) but, of course, Rafa Benitez's prime source of satisfaction will be the timely relief that came with the popping of Peter Crouch's goalscoring cherry. Benitez stuck manfully in recent weeks to the line that Crouch's worth was not to be measured in goals, but will undoubtedly be delighted at the end of striker's drought.

Justification, however, for the claim that Crouch's value is broader than simple goalscoring came shortly after the second goal, when his delightful flick into Steven Gerrard's path gave the midfielder an opportunity for a trade mark goal, denied only by a brilliant save by Mike Pollitt.

Pollitt's name, it now transpires, will go against that goal which seemingly released Crouch from his hex, an unfortunate circumstance when in truth the Wigan goalkeeper saved his team from the drubbing which Liverpool seemed capable of inflicting.

So to resilience and grit, Liverpool on Saturday added flair and essential goals from up front.

It seems, then, that over their seven match winning run, and particularly in the last two league performances Liverpool have shown that the championship winning feeling - so long absent from Merseyside as to be almost a folk memory now - may be returning.

Just a shame there isn't really a league to win anymore.


Post a Comment

<< Home