I have watched people raving about Liverpool’s pass completion percentage for the last 24 hours and I’m starting to get annoyed.
Liverpool may have completed a ton of passes yesterday, but it was the one pass that Martin Skrtel did NOT complete that ultimately cost the Reds an additional two points. Skrtel’s foolish back pass was picked off by Carlos Tevez with ten minutes left in the match and the Argentine forward took full advantage.
Two points were thrown away because of one pass. I’m on record as saying that I don’t mind the “tiki taka” style employed by the likes of Barcelona and the Spanish national team, but I also can recognize that their outstanding statistics do not tell the whole story. It’s easy to complete a large percentage of your passes when a significant number of those passes are simply a one touch knock back to the original passer. Yes, you are being smart and keeping possession, but how often are you actually advancing the ball forward in a menacing manner. That is the difference between Liverpool and the two teams I just mentioned.
Both of Liverpool’s goals came from set pieces. Skrtel would’ve been the hero of the day for his aerial strike off a corner kick had he not also given the game away with his poor decision. The other goal was a Luis Suarez free kick that I’m not sure he scores 9 out of 10 times; although it was VERY well taken. Their new style of passing has yet to create a goal in their first two matches. I can understand why people are still pleased with the result based on the way the Reds played throughout the match. But these are the same people who were so cynical about Liverpool’s chances heading into the season. Have they become so desperate that (literally) giving away a victory has become acceptable? It would not have been so last season, especially had it been against a weaker opponent which is where Liverpool struggled in 2011-12.
The bottom line is this: I don’t care that the players are starting to adopt the new style more effectively. I care about results and Sunday’s result was not one with which fans should be pleased. As always there was much we could learn from Sunday’s match…
-Skrtel’s poor back pass aside, the back line still looked vulnerable especially when it came to clearing the ball out of danger. Last week’s first goal surrendered to West Brom was the result of a poor clearance and the same mistake reared its ugly head during City’s first goal on Sunday.
-The normally reliable Pepe Reina also seemed to look unsure of himself on that first goal and that’s very uncharacteristic of the Spaniard.
-Losing Lucas early on was absolutely frightening. Still no official word from the club on his status.
-The significance of the result itself simply cannot be overstated.
-17 year old Raheem Sterling was the brightest star on an otherwise disappointing day. He’s already looked 100 times more effective than Stewart Downing and it will be interesting to watch the battle between the two for more playing time.
-Despite the poor result, the players do seem to be adapting to the new system quickly.
-Both goals were truly a sight to see!
-Nuri Sahin has arrived from Real Madrid on loan for the upcoming season. The Turkish midfielder excelled at Borussia Dortmund, but failed to find significant playing time under Jose Mourinho at Madrid. The timing is fantastic, especially if Lucas’ injury is in fact serious. A Sahin/Joe Allen/Steven Gerrard midfield trio is very exciting to think about.
-Brendan Rodgers said afterwards that he hopes to get another deal or two done before the deadline and that means there’s still the possibility of Clint Dempsey making a move to Anfield.
Next up is Thursday’s second leg Europa League match with Hearts. The Reds were fortunate to earn a 1-0 victory in Scotland thanks to an own goal. It was the kind of result that made you think Liverpool are capable of grinding out wins even when they don’t play their best.
And then Sunday happened.
“Walk on with hope in your hearts and you’ll never walk alone!”