It wasn’t pretty but it is 3 points. I can easily say, “This is what Champions are made of. Winning games when they are not playing well.” But honestly, I feel this line is getting old. A game like this, we should have won by atleast two goals and not have to sit at the edge of our seats in the closing minutes as Portsmouth attacked us seeking an equaliser.
To start off with, I was a bit surprised with the starting eleven Rafa sent out. He made four changes to the side that started against Chelsea. I expected one or two changes but not four. Rafa opted to start with Reina in goal, Aurelio continuing at left back, Arbeloa on the right, Carragher and Sami coming in for Agger. I can only assume that Agger was being rested and it was wise to put in Hyypia who was able to handle any threat Crouch possessed in the air. Riera was dropped and in came Babel on the left. Lucas replaced Mascherano in the middle. Alonso continued and Pennant came in on the right. Gerrard started just behind Kuyt.
Off we went and it was all Liverpool in the first 45 minutes. It was not a question of if we would score but when we would score. Kuyt came closest as he struck an effort that James palmed onto the post. We should have score a goal or two in the first half with all the dominance we had. But I remained calm at the break and knew that we were just going to break them down in the second half. But as the second half went on I got more and more frustrated as we were just not able to break down their defence and thoughts of the Stoke game were coming back to me. I think a lot of teams are going to come to Anfield this season and just sit back and play with eleven defenders. We seem not to be able to unlock teams at home that set out to shut us out. Rafa needs to go into the boot room and make a plan for situations like this because I feel we are going to be seeing a lot of this.
But thankfully, Portsmouth’s Diop had a moment of madness when he gifted us a penalty by fisting away the ball in the box from a corner. You would have thought he was a goalkeeper with the way he fisted the ball away. The ref just had to give a penalty with 15 minutes to go. And who else but Captain Fantastic, Stevie G stepped up to expertly dispatch the spotkick. 1-0 Liverpool. With 15 minutes left in the game I thought we were going to get a second to seal the game but the second never came and we had to hold out as Pompey were now just pumping the long ball into our box and at times we were struggling to handle them but thankfully we held on and got a precious 3 points.
We needed those points especially since Man Utd and Chelsea both won comfortably. I do not know what happened to Arsenal. From being 4-2 up with a few minutes to go, they failed to hold onto their lead and allowed Spurs to come back and make it 4-4. I am sure Rafa is going to watch that game and see exactly what happened as we take on Spurs on Saturday. We need to be careful about them as they scored 4 goals.
But for now it is all about the win against Portsmouth. A good 3 points but we need to start playing better and putting teams away especially at home. I can not really think of a man of the match for us, as no player really stood out but if I have to make a call, I will give it to Gerrard. He ran and ran and created some good openings and in the end is the man who got us the goal.
The Reds go marching on!