Liverpool v Newcastle: Squad Limitations

A dissapointing 2-1 defeat against an injury ravaged Newcastle is very hard to swallow indeed, especially when we were all over them in the first half and should have had it all wrapped up by then. The two problems that hampered the team was squad limitation and Benitez's continuing incomprehensible substitutions.

First, as poor as he has been this season, I must re-evaluate my criticism of Xabi Alonso. We dearly missed his quality passing, especially given the very wet pitch that almost caused the game to be called off. We had to play both Sissoko and Zenden for their first matches in quite a while and with Zenden playing out wide on the left he was never going to last 90 minutes. Sissoko also looked just a touch slower than usual and it's a wonder he escaped a booking from a very lenient Mark Clattenburg.

We were 2-1 down when Benitez decided to apply his black magic. Removing Zenden was no real surprise given his lack of match fitness but our limitations were exposed when 19 year old Danny Guthrie came on for him. First time I've seen him, but it seems a case of him getting a run due to injuries (Kewell, Garcia, Aurelio, Gonzalez) rather than forcing his way through the squad. The big surprise was removing Pennant for our new right back Arbeola when we're chasing the game!! Befitting his inconsistent season, Pennant's been up and down all season but in this match was quite good, repeatedly taking Babayaro to the cleaners and setting up Bellamy's goal. Removing him to push Finnan up was flabbergasting as Finnan does not beat players-he's a fine overlapping right back and an adequate right sided midfielder when need be, not when we need to score a goal.

Then, lo and behold, we bring on Crouch for Finnan with a few minutes left. So no more crosses from the right for the big man to win, epecially with Gerrard playing all over the park by this point and Guthrie totally annonymous on the left. Truly a breath-taking range of substitutions from a man who continues to frustrate me.

Overall, this reminded me of our last defeat away to Blackburn when we totally dominated the 1st half and should have cantered home. Then, as now, we wasted too many chances. We need a 20 goal a season striker, and that we don't have. Perhaps Kuyt maybe, but he was a hell of a culprit too. Agger finally had a poor game, but that's part of the learning curve, and hopefully he'll learn well from this experience.

It was frustrating, but as with the Blackburn game, stil very promising. We simply must be more clinical in front of goal and maximise Bellamy's pace. Love him or hate him, Kewell's impending return cannot come soon enough-we're stretched to the limit on the left.

Finally, kudos for Babayaro playing despite his brother dying the night before-not just that, but it was his first game back from injury suffered in December. He might well have been their weak link all night, but didn't he show some guts and determination?


  1. rafa wanted to add width to the team, which is what we lacked last season, by bringing in pennant. pennant hasn't have a great season but he's getting better match by match, i was sooo glad to see him scoring against chelsea. the problem is rafa doesn't fully utilise players who are in good form, that applies to pennant too, what a shame.

    but here's the main problem...rafa never put an effort to look for a replacement for harry kewell, be it permernantly or tempororily. kewell is injury plagued, so he definitely needs a temporory replacement; apart from that, we all know that kewell has pass his peak long time ago, so might as well get an out-and-out left winger instead of stretching riise to his limit

    like u said before....with the extra money coming from our new suger daddy....it makes a lot of sense to spend it on a new manager instead of star players

  2. Well, I must shockingly come to the Fat spanish Waiter's defense...he has got replacements for Kewell-Aurelio and Gonzalez can play there as can zenden and Garcia or even Bellamy if need be. Risse plays on the left at times too. Problem is neither aurelio and Gonzaez have shown that they can do it at this level but they have been costantly injured, to be fair.

    Use the $$$ to get a new manager? I wouldn't go that far but I will say that if we don't challenge strongly for the title next season, especially if we once again make a poor start that Benitez needs to be read the riot act.

  3. Anonymous12:17 pm

    Sounds like excuses to me! haha. Every squad has injuries, bar Man U it seems. I'm not sure what it is, but Liverpool are missing an ingredient that I thought they might have this season to seriously take them into the mix of threatening the top two. (Perhaps as you keep alluding to it has to do with management?) For all the palava regarding Chelsea crisis, we are in a Cup Final next weekend, we have an interesting post group CL encounter, are still 2nd in the league and just smashed a team to advance in the FA Cup. For all the hatred Mourinho & Abrom have gained us, I would take this any day over years of a good cup run and a mediocre league placing qualifying as a successful season. It may well be that Man U take out the title this season, but it is Arsenal I worry about adding to the mix next season rather then the Reds. As mentioned before, until the X Factor that is missing from one of Europes best squad of players arrives there will not be enough consistency to win a league. About 12-15 matches to win Europe where only the last few are sudden death and not home & away maybe?

  4. I don't know about excuses mr. annonymous (we know who you are you optus bastard...)!!!!

    So, if you want straight talking, fine. Liverpool's team is not good enough to win the league-the table doesn't lie. 2.5 seasons in, it's increasingly Benitez's responsibility. Still, how long would it have taken Mourinho without Abramovich's largesse?

    Wenger's the only one with a leg to stand on with regards to this issue.