By: Aakash Munjal
I was hooked to TV for 6 hours from Saturday itself, with Premier League coming back after the international break and what a comeback it was. Good games, great goals, a good start before we get ready for our game at QPR.
While I watched City and Arsenal games one after the other, I told myself that one thing that has been missing in our recent games, after the unfortunate injury to Sturridge and of course the departure of Suarez (oh god, when will I stop this!!), is the X factor you need to convert chances in to goals.
Sergio Aguero’s first goal for Man City against Spurs and Sanchez’s first goal against Hull clearly shows what one moment of magic or if you want to call it, that extra ordinary finishing skills from your striker, can change the whole complexion of the game and hence, the result too. Goes without saying how it lifts up the fans and the whole team.
I was convinced that we have been missing exactly that X factor in our recent games. Clearly, Mario Balotelli has not been that factor for us and today’s game against QPR was another example.
He was poor according to me. There was nothing Super about him at all. Chances after chances and he wasted them. much like he did against Everton. And as the games are passing by without he scoring his first premier league goal for Liverpool, he is feeling the pressure , the frustration and his body language and moment in the pitch has become pathetic.
I must say, I will be the happiest man in the world if he comes good for us, but with more games passing by, more convinced I get that we need to look for alternatives now. After today’s game, I really thought that Borini might have given more positives to the game. Could be wrong, it’s a personal opinion.
That said, it was an amazing game, not because we really played well to deserve the 3 points, but the way it eventually pan out in the second half and the way, we at least never gave up and eventually got lucky! In fact, we were lucky right from the first minute with QPR right on top of us in every department of the game and with close escapes at the 28th and 34th minutes with Leroy Fer striking the bar twice.
But, I guess, it was a day, (remembering all those unlucky moments during 2012 season), we got lucky for a change. It was our day and it was just not Harry Rednapp’s.
I thought we were too predictable as well in the first half with Sterling either making the run and trying to play Balotelli or long passes thru our Middle 4, trying to counter, looking to find a player near the final third. This did not work at all and QPR enjoyed good possession and obviously more clear cut chances to score. Against the run of the play though, we did come close to score thanks to Steven Gerrard’s attempt, but in summary for me, it was a pathetic half for us. I won’t put the whole blame on Balotelli for this one. His worst came on the second half actually.
Every one during the break said Gerrard needs to go back and he did go back and it made some impact and he was in much better control of the ball. It did not made a huge different though, as QPR, I thought was still much better in the game, much more eager for the ball. I can’t remember how many times Jose Enrique was crowded and he threw the ball out?
We did not have the finishing factor we needed, was also showcased during the 47th minute, when Sterling made an excellent run, giving it to Lallana and Lallana playing Henderson in the final third, only to see him hitting it wide and over. It was repeated in the 61st minute and it was Balotelli this time in the final third, with space, but he could not convert.
It was all dull and poor for Liverpool and something special was needed to change that. And it came again thanks to our 19 year old super star. The game took an unexpected turn during the 67th minute, thanks to another great run from Sterling, winning the free kick, making use of lack of awareness and concentration from QPR players at the defence and taking a quick one and playing Glen Johnson, who swung the ball in. It was to bring Balotelli in the game, only to hit an unfortunate QPR defender Dunne for an own goal. We might not have deserved it, but I will give it to Sterling’s and Johnson’s energy there.
Then happened, what has always happened – sadly, frustrating, without a miss. We could not close off the game, yet again and conceded a loose one, yet again from a set piece. This time during the 87th Minute.
I have always been a great fan of Coutinho and his lack of form has frustrated me more than anything else, but he made an impact right from the moment he came on during the 66th minute . And how he made this opportunity count with his excellent finish to the far corner on the 90th – again though thanks to a run from Sterling and a pass this time by Stevie.
I thought we won a great game! But we had to concede again on the 92nd, only to have a different sort of ending this time, getting a winner on the 94th Minute of the game. This time it was Coutinho who picked Sterling. The moment Sterling took the ball to the final third, I was shouting “Sterling will do what Sterling does best today: put it back of the net”. He doesn’t though: he tries to play in Balotelli, only to find another QPR body ( Steven Caulker this time) and getting the ball in the net for us.
I was down laughing on the floor: what a game, what a day. But if you see the slow motion of the last goal again from another angle, you will see a disappointed and Frustrated Balotelli as he sees the ball going inside the goal. Well, he must surely be relieved that the team won, but he knew that another possible opportunity for him to score his first League Goal for Liverpool went begging.
I am extremely happy the way it ended, I want to celebrate tonight. I am very happy to get 3 points and move up the table. Very happy to see the fight back. Extremely happy to see Coutinho Scoring Assisting. But I doubt now that Balotelli will prove to be a Super One. Not because of the fact that he hasn’t yet scored, but because of his contribution to the game overall. He barely moves at times, he is caught offside so many times, simply because he is slow to get back and he has become a frustrating figure, who has missed some easy chances in last few games.
What would you do if you are BR? Should you show your trust on him and give him more time? Should you give Borini or Ricky a full game? I mean come on, hasn’t been its frustrating to see Ricky on the bench – all the time?!!
Whatever we do, we do need to pray harder to have Sturridge back in the team and probably get ready to buy another striker during January. Don’t take me wrong: I will be happy to see Mario Scoring. But I don’t see it happening: what’s your say?