Tuesday 19th April 2011
Remembering a season that has been as frustrating as this one so far is very difficult and if ever there was a short period that pretty much provided a perfect summary, Sunday evening was it.
Earlier in the week we saw our visitors completely destroy Man City so we already knew before a ball was kicked it would be a difficult afternoon. If Laurent's header had gone under the bar in the first half instead of smacking it square-on, the whole game could have been different in its shape and outcome.
With Liverpool defending ever deeper however, we kept plugging away, probing, looking and hoping that we would get that one chance to see us take the lead. That opportunity came with time running out when RVP found himself through with a one-on-one.
Unfortunately the chance went begging and it looked more and more likely it would be another frustrating home result.
Deep into injury time, Cesc's twisting run saw him tripped and the chance to take the three points was there. RVP made no mistake and an intense jostle laced with just as much relief as joy ensued.
So, how did we not manage to win the game?
There are many factors I feel that make up the whole package including bad luck, extended time and downright naivety and I say that based on my thoughts on each as they happened.
As soon as Liverpool kicked off after we had taken the lead, a long shot saw us handed the ball. Everyone knows how we try and play from the back 99 per cent of the time and consequently keep possession. If we had done this we would have seen the game out. On this occasion the ball was belted clear giving our visitors the ball back. It sounds obvious but only through experiences like the next few moments can young players learn by their mistakes.
At least eight minutes of injury time were added, six of which were down to the injury Carragher experienced earlier in the half. This means the referee added only another two minutes for all the other injuries, substitutions and time wasting throughout the rest of the half.
Without looking like a case of sour grapes I really would like to know how the match was allowed to include so much further incident until it finished after 112 minutes. Surely as soon as the free-kick came to nothing the whistle should have gone.
For me, once the referee had chosen to not blow for time he had no choice on the actual penalty incident. It was a natural reaction for Manu to chase after the cleared ball and in my opinion he was very unlucky to pay for his desire to reach the ball and technically win us the game. Anyone who has played the game knows that the attacking player was simply 'clever'. We see full backs receiving free-kicks when shepherding the ball out of play for similar incidents every single week.
We can analyse all we like, overall however, it won't take away just how gutted we all felt heading back to our transport.
Having dropped points in seven home games this season it is plain to see where our most disappointing area has been.
Our away form on the other hand, has been pretty good and if we are to hang in there we will need to produce one of our best displays tomorrow night.
Seven years since we last won the title, none of us know what it feels like to experience a big round 50. You might get the chance to ask someone a little bit about that over your pre-match pint ;-)
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