Woo-hoo. Sky have sorted it all out and we are now back on.
On previous trips to Anfield, I have had to travel there from such far flung places as Manchester, Sheffield and East London. On New Years Day, it was from Moreton on the Wirral, home of the parents of Mrs X. Under the Mersey, get on the Soccerbus and try hard to hide Bolton top. (The old sort. I eventually had to give up for a Christmas present.)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Anfield is a hole. It would be better if they just knocked down everything and made it into a car park, just like they did at Old Trafford.
If Anfield outside is a problem, the ground inside gives another. Even without a sell out of away fans, the space provided underneath the stand is tiny, with places that you are not allowed to stand as you may see the pitch with a beer in your hand. That is if you get a beer, as the scrum for the bar is rivalled only by the scrum to get across Stanley Park at the end of the match and get out of there.
So, there we were, looking forward to having a major hand in the dispensing with of a manager for the third time in little over a month. Woy had sunk just about as low as you can get with Liverpool fans after his comments about them after the earlier defeat to Wolves, and somewhere in the distance a bell of rememberance clanged due to Bolton fans having heard that one before.
Just over thirty five thousand “packed” the famous stadium as the game kicked off, a testament to a good new years eve or just the fact that the Liverpool manager had peed fans off enough for them not to turn up. And there’s that bell again.
The match started slowly, with the only incident of note being a disallowed goal that had long been flagged offside. Bolton started with only four on the bench, with suspensions, injuries, Asian Cups and, apparently, all the kids being given Christmas off, the reason for the empty seats.
Liverpool started with Stevie Gee on the bench, due, no doubt, to his tireless running against Wolves last Wednesday. He was called upon early though, Raul Meireles suffering an injury, shortly after the first real chance of the half, with Matty Taylor clearing Maxi’s shot off the line.
A couple of minutes later and we all thought we’d scored, Taylor whipping a free kick into the side netting. Sit down, shut up.
Zat Knight headed wide as the game opened up a little before Maxi once again proved that there is no keeper in the game better at judging whether a ball is going to hit the woodwork or not, with Jussi watching the ball all the way onto the crossbar and over.
Then Fabio Aurelio, in for the injured/useless Paul Konchesky, was tricked one time too many by Rodrigo Moreno. Taylor played in the free kick and Liverpool, zonal or man marking, stood still, allowing SuperKevinDavies to head in his seventh of the season. In a match based on marginals, with neither side getting a grip, this was a nice way of going into half time.
Cue cries of “sacked in the morning”, although those cries were almost shoved back down our throats moments later with a whipped cross evading all the defenders and Lucas transpiring to stick it wide from zero yards. Then Cahill had his face shoved back by Torres, which drew nothing more than a terse telling off by the ironically named Mr Friend and we went in a goal to the good.
Some wag on Twitter asked if Coyle would be swapping benches at half time. We all know he has an itchy finger, but that takes it too far.
The lead didn’t last long into the second half. Gerrard pinpointed a half volley onto Torres’ foot as he ghosted between Knight and Cahill to slam the ball over a kneeling (yes, kneeling) Jussi. 1-1 and game on. Well for most. Half the Bolton fans were still waiting to be served.
Liverpool then took the ascendancy, Torres whipped in a shot that went wide and a few crosses were dealt with well by the Bolton defence. For all that Liverpool were producing in the midfield, they weren’t getting through, until Gerrard played Maxi into the box, with the Argentinian seeing his shot blocked by Knight. The rebound fell to Stevie Gee but Jussi got his body behind the ball. Mark Davies, in for the injured Stuart Holden, found himself on the floor and the ball rolled onto his arm and away. I’ve seen them given. I’ve also seen most of them not given, but in front of a baying Kop it was good to see Mr Friend indicating playing on.
And play on Bolton did, right to the other end before Matty Taylor saw his twenty five yarder fizz wide of the post.
Klasnic replaced Rodrigo with Elmander moving over to the right but Liverpool were still looking the more likely to score, but only due to the ball being more in our half than there’s.
Then came the substution that, effectively, changed the game with Petrov coming on for Matty Taylor. Oh, Joe Cole came on as well. With this, the game became more stretched as both sides went for the winner and for the last ten minutes you couldn’t decide with Glen Johnson giving Bolton our best chance by playing the ball across defence to be intercepted by Klasnic, who should have gone on further rather than have a snap shot straight down Reina’s throat.
Knowing our record against Liverpool, we would have been happy with a draw. Then again, knowing our record of conceding late goals against Liverpool, we should have seen what was coming. Gerrard crossed, Maxi and Elmander tussled (just what was he doing there by the way?) the ball bounced across the goal line and Joe Cole helped it over the line.
It was going over the line, no doubt. What is in doubt is whether it should have stood. Cole was offside as Gerrard played the ball across and would have taken Jussi’s eye off the ball momentarily. He was certainly offside when the ball went forward to him. Replays have shown that the ball came off Elmander’s thigh and the goal was legitimate. What is hard to understand is how the linesman would have seen this. As Neil Warnock said on Goals on Sunday, if it had been at the other end……
Anyway, sour grapes or not, this is the second game in a row when we should have got at least something from a big four team that are floundering and we have been made to pay by our inability to keep a clean sheet. Other gripes are the Matty Taylor substitution, when he was playing well and the fact that players like Tom Eaves and Mark Connolly have been given Christmas off when we were already down to our bare bones.
But, let’s be clear, these are small gripes. That we miss Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong is obvious, but it isn’t in games against Chelsea and Liverpool that their replacements need to show their worth. They can start showing that against Wigan tomorrow.
Couldn’t See It From My End
Woo-hoo. Sky have sorted it all out and we are now back on.