English Soccer - The Merseyside Derby
Due to the quirks in the draw for the FA Cup, Liverpool were scheduled to play against Everton twice in a span of a week. The first match was an English Premier League clash while the second match was an FA Cup tie. After watching both matches, my sympathy goes out to Rafael Benitez.
They have been grinding out numerous draws and carving out close wins that even pundits have stopped to take a second look at the team. Team manager David Moyes does know what tactics to use when your back is against the wall, and that is to play defensive football. And just as I deplored Stoke for using the same tactics, I guess once you manage a team which is trying to fight for its survival, then it has to do what it has to do, including playing defensive football. Everton's mantra at the moment is quite simple, avoid defeat at all costs!
Benitez must be at his wits end trying to figure out what to do. But to criticize his Everton counterpart for the kind of strategy that his opponent employs shall not solve his problems. If Moyes thinks that it is for his team's betterment that he applies such a plan, let him be. Besides, even Benitez himself used the same tactics when Liverpool were earning praises for their European success. What Benitez should do is improve the Red's defense and use his conterpart's players as an example on how to defend with tenacity in a football game.
Liverpool could have won the first derby match last Monday if Martin Skrtel followed Tim Cahill to the spot were he stood. Cahill was free to move and meet the approaching ball form a free kick by Mikel Arteta as he headed it towards the goal. As awesome as the goal seemed, it was a goal allowed by poor defending.
The second encounter which is an FA Cup tie turned out to be a draw once again. However, it was Everton who scored first with Steven Gerrard scoring the equalizer. I bet Benitez did not forsee a third encounter with their Blue counterparts. Which makes me start to wonder, is the pressure really getting to Benitez and his boys?
Latest EPL english football results saw Liverpool draw against Wigan Athletic 1-1, Everton had a 1-1 tie with Arsenal, Manchester United won over West Bromwich Albion 5-0, Chelsea defeated Middlesbrough 2-0, Aston Villa beat Portsmouth 1-0. Chelsea has moved into second place by virtue of a superior goal difference while Liverpool slipped to third. Both have 48 points Manchester United continue to lead the league with 50 points while Aston Villa are keeping up the pressure on the Reds as they moved closer with 47 points. Arsenal are now at 42 points but still at fifth place.
The crucial games for Liverpool then shall be its February 1 clash against Chelsea and its FA Cup replay against Everton on the 4th, which shall gauge their form as the title race heads towards its final matches.
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