08 November 2010

The Not-So Perfect Storm

Weather warning in effect. Gale warning in effect. Small craft warning in effect.

The above lines from Met Éireann reflected what the organisation had forecasted the weather was going to be in Dublin (and most of Ireland) over the weekend. In short, it was meant to be horrible. Absolutely horrible. 

Across the Irish Sea and the same prediction could have easily applied as defending champions and current league leaders, Chelsea were thundering over to Anfield looking to blow Roy Hodgson's red men out of their way. Thankfully, the Liverpool manager has had 35 years of experience clamping down his teams to weather the storm and once in a while take a stab back at the obvious favourites.

The team sheet didn't actually fill the ground with confidence. It seemed bold and even a bit naive by modern standards, especially against the likes of Chelsea. A couple of minutes into the game and the formation itself looked even more worrying. It was as if Hodgson had selected his best XI from the squad and threw them into an old 4-4-2 formation (with Meireles installed on the right and Kuyt, returning from injury to partner Torres up front).

Fortunately, whatever worries I had about Hodgson's apparently simplistic approach was quickly dispelled. Although half the team seemed to be under instructions to sit back and comfortably positioned themselves behind the ball, the other half were all too eager to press and harry the opposing players. The team had a good balance about it. 

Although the obvious absence was Didier Drogba (later introduced in the second half), it soon became clear that Chelsea was sorely missing the services of Frank Lampard and Michael Essien in midfield. The patched-up Chelsea midfield gave some breathing space to the Liverpool midfield especially Lucas who grew in confidence as the match progressed. Yes, all the plaudits would probably go to Fernando Torres in this morning's press but some credit has to be given to all of Lucas' defensive work in midfield. And, if there are any criticisms out there of his attacking abilities, Lucas looked like he was definitely out to prove his doubters wrong with a few deft touches, back flicks and a nutmeg or two. Looks like Liverpool's young Brazilian might yet turn out to be errr...Brazilian after all.

By the end of the day, the Met's prediction on the weather looked like it was finally coming true but, the same didn't look like it applied on Merseyside. Chelsea tried to fight back but it was too late for them by the time Liverpool's own force of nature, El Nino struck, not once but twice.

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