One Step Forward, One Step Back

After the first month of the season, Liverpool were atop the Premier League table, the squad was healthy and playing attractive football and defending resolutely. The team exhibited the sort of form that encouraged the Liverpool Doomsday Clock to move the minute hand one minute closer to midnight.

What a difference a month makes.

After the second month of the season, Liverpool now sit fourth, six points behind the leader (Arsenal). The squad is not as healthy and the football is equally unattractive as it is uneffective. While the team remains unbeaten, the football presently being played reeks of mediocracy and is not that of champions.

10minutes.jpg

In light of the troublesome form Liverpool have recently displayed, Being Sven must regrettably move the minute hand of the Liverpool Doomsday Clock back from nine (9) to ten (10) minutes to midnight.

While by no means does fourth place warrant full panic mode, Liverpool’s current form is utterly uninspiring and counter-productive to the ultimate goal of winning the Premier League. While they had taken a step forward in the first four matches of the season, that progress has seemingly been pissed away the past four league matches.

Liverpool 0 – Portsmouth 0 — A scoreless draw at Fratton Park was not a horrid result. Surely, two dropped points; but if the team were to have continued its winning ways, it could have been branded an acceptable blemish. As it turns out, it was the beginning of a trend.

Liverpool 0 – Birmingham 0 — Another scoreless draw and another single point. While possibly palatable away from the confines of Anfield versus a squad widely tipped to content for European qualification, it is certainly not acceptable at home versus a club rightfully viewed as relegation fodder. There would also be growing discontent after Fernando Torres started the game on the bench, only to inexplicably start the next match, which was a Carling Cup tie vs. Reading.

Liverpool 1 – Wigan 0 — Another away win! Sadly, an unconvincing one at that, against another pre-season relegation candidate. Yossi Benayoun scored a quality goal, but it was a moment of class amongst long stretches of ‘blah’. But, three points are vital and not every victory will be a walk-in-the-park. Champions find a way to win, regardless. Right?

Liverpool 2 – Tottenham 2 — Tottenham almost record their first triumph at Anfield in 14 years, but Fernando Torres finds a late equalizer to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat. Finding a way to wrestle something undeserved from a match? Good. Continually mailing in sub-par performances against struggling teams whom you should be beating soundly? Not so good.

Sandwiched between those results were two European matches; a draw at Porto and a home loss to Marseille. While those lackluster results only hurt Liverpool’s Champions League progress, they most certainly contributed to the squad’s continued lackluster efforts.

For some clubs, three clean sheets and five points from four matches could warrant a feeling of satisfaction that things may be looking up. But this isn’t Middlesbrough. Those results certainly don’t mean the sea has swallowed your ambitions whole, but when you’ve set a course for the league title, they’re a sign you’re in not in friendly waters.

This threat to Liverpool’s title amibitions is no secret. In the past week alone, the manager and multiple players have come forward to voice their concern and acknowledge the need for a return to a more productive form.

The captain, Steven Gerrard, whose unconvincing performances perfectly underline Liverpool’s current state, had this to say about the club’s recent folly:

We have not been ourselves of late, that’s true. The results have not been good and the performances could have been better. We are going through a dip in form which all top teams do at some stage and we just have to make sure we play our way through it. We are not performing to the standards we can do, but that will change.

I am asking the fans to trust me when I say there is no crisis here. We have fantastic players and a world-class manager and we will get things right again, there is no doubt about that.

We have now got an international break which will give Rafa the chance to look at things and work with the players who are staying behind.

For those of us going away, we have to get the jobs done with our countries and then come back ready for a massive match at Everton. If we can turn in a performance in the derby and win that game then things will be looking better again. That is what we will be aiming for.

The question is now raised; is this a matter of ‘saying the right things’ or will the captain and his teammates truly let their football do the talking? Because right now, what they’re saying is boring, forgettable and not threatening anybody.

Should the team be able to pull themselves out of this ‘rut’ and prove that such ugly and ineffective performances (as ‘ugly and effective’ would be welcome right now) really were just a ‘blip’ that they were able to immediately correct (well, it would have taken a few weeks) with a run of wins, then the Premier League crown will still realistically be within their grasp.

But should they continue to stumble and stub another toe after the international break, settling for draws (and the inevitable losses) chances are they (and we) will soon find themselves in a familiar (and sad) place when it comes to the title race.

With Everton and Arsenal on the horizon, those results, for better or worse, will be very telling.

With hope still in our heart, the LDC moves backwards.

Hopefully, for only a short time.

Ten minutes to Midnight…

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7 Responses to “One Step Forward, One Step Back”


  1. 1 ArkansasLFCSupporter October 9, 2007 at 1:37 am

    Sadly, I have to agree…we have looked awful lately. The part that makes it really hard to accept are the flashes of “brilliance” like the CC match against Reading. You just know the potential is there to be so good, but the boys just aren’t putting it together on a consistent basis. Thankfully there is still time to get it together and make a title push.

  2. 2 Blackadder October 9, 2007 at 6:50 am

    The next 3 games will be crucial:

    The game against Everton will be the changing point for Liverpool. A good performance by the lads and (even) a 1-0 will give them boost for the game against Arsenal.

    Given that DAgger and Xabi will be back for the Arsenal game, I really think we can beat them in Anfield.

    After that, Rovers away (a game that Arsenal drew) when the lads will already know the result (hopefully a draw) of the Arsenal-United game.

    if we can make 3×3 wins, I sense the clock will move again.

    A final comment: I really have no idea what precisely Pako was doing that Rafa is unable to do as well since he took over, but it seems like we are missing Pako… I have the sense that the international break couldn’t come on a better time. Rafa can see what has gone wrong and fix it…

    YNWA

  3. 3 Agent Johnson October 9, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Due to the fact that my work schedule sucks and my roommates are cheap, Sunday was only the 3rd full Liverpool game I’ve been able to watch live this year. The first two were early on against Villa and Chelsea where I was increasingly optimistic about the season. Lately, I’ve only been able to read about the poor play. Unfortunately, Sunday I actually got to witness it. To me, it really comes down to being able to control your emotions on the field and maintain composure. When things aren’t necessarily going their way, they seem to crumble trying to force the issue.

  4. 4 Georger October 9, 2007 at 10:59 am

    xabi and agger could be back for the derby

    arsenal at home is going to be tough and i would be fine with a draw in that game, but we must win the derby away. the game there last year was one of the most embarrassing displays ive ever witnessed. we HAVE to beat the fuck out of everton both times this year

  5. 5 Blackadder October 9, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    i dont know if u know it, Georger, but we HAVE to win the fucking league this year. Which means that attitudes like “im fine with a draw against arsenal” arent good enough. (sorry if that was a bit rough). we’ve got a very good team that has nothing less than arsenal or united. its normal to curve at some point in the season, im fine with that. i hope that the last month was our curve. now we know what we cant do without: Torres, Gerrard, Agger and Alonso. These are the players that rotation cannot touch. i read some interesting stuff about xabi’s form before his injury, but i think it is obvious now that his presence behind stevie helps a lot. I believe rafa knows that and that after the break everything will be fine. (that’s a bit romantic of me).

    I really cant wait for the everton game. In spite of my disappointment regarding the last 4 league appearances, i still think that this team has what it takes to win the league…

    YNWA

  6. 6 NWM October 9, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Considering their form as of late, a draw against Arsenal would be an acceptable result…only if an additional point, at least, can be garnered with the return match at the Emirates. But I digress. We need to focus on each and every present league match, and I don’t want to get into hyperbole about the international break, since my focus (as directed by Tha Gaffa) is on the Premier League Title and, therefore, Everton. But please allow me to mount my soap box…

    Blackadder: you are spot on. Xabi is sorely missed, and, as we’ve seen in the last two matches, his ability to split midfield defensive duties with SG has put the Skip in a bit of a bind. For instance, let’s look at his form in the second half against Spurs- he had no choice but to trail Tottenham’s offense surges (first minute of the second half excluded and not trying to place blame with Mascherano nor Hyypia…everyone came out flat-footed) yet still had to give effort to produce on the offensive end…although most of this effort was towards injury time and into. But the absence of our middle streamline (Alonso and Agger) has obviously been a problem towards the flow of our game.

    I think we can all agree that nothing less than three points against Everton will be an acceptable result. I truly feel that this derby will dictate the hunger of Rafa’s team.

    I thought Setanta stated they would be showing the Derby on the 20th, but I can’t find confirmation. Anyone got the skinny?

  7. 7 Jonathan October 10, 2007 at 10:22 am

    I can confirm that Setanta will be showing the Derby. It KO’s at 7:40 on Setanta, followed by Arsenal/Bolton at 9:55.


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