September 2009: The Anfield Review

Off the field, September saw the release of Michael Shields

Off the field, September saw the release of Michael Shields

September is always a key month in any season. It’s a chance to either keep up the opening early form from August or a chance to put a bad start behind you. If you have a mixed bag of results like we did, then it’s an even more important month to build up some real momentum.

The fixtures do start piling up as well with us playing 6 games in just 17 days. That’s all on the back of a busy international break as well which has saw a few of our players represent their nations.

During the international break we did get some great news as Liverpool fans, the, long awaited, release of Michael Shields. Thankfully Michael has been given the justice he rightfully deserved; now maybe the players can do him and the rest of us proud with some good results and even a decent performance now and then over the month.

Well the Reds did give Michael, and every other Liverpool fan, something to celebrate when we trounced Burnley 4-0 at Anfield. A Yossi Benayoun hat trick and one for Dirk Kuyt gave us our first back-to-back wins of the season.

We started slowly but once we opened the scoring, the Clarets couldn’t cope with us and we started to spread the ball around with ease. With Mascherano injured, Rafa decided to drop Stevie back into the middle of the park and partnered with Lucas, they dictated the play.

But the man on all of our lips was Benayoun, such an impressive game and now he’s opened his account for the season can he keep it up when the Champions League campaign starts?

Well, with the exception of one good run where he went past four or five of the Hungarian’s defence, Yossi was in second gear for the vast majority of the match. But truth be told so was the rest of the side against Debrecen but we were still too strong and came away with a 1-0 win.

It was another example of no player in Red standing up and being counted. We lacked real consistency and just ended up showing our class in flashes. Six games into the season and we’re still struggling to string performances, not results, together. Will we pick our socks up against West Ham?

Did we pick our socks up? In reality no but we did come away with another three points for our fourth win on the spin. There were some flashes of brilliance during the game from our boys, Torres’ opener especially but we were a joke right across the back four. As well as that, the old zonal marking issue popped up again after conceding yet another goal from a corner.

But three points is three points, and we got them against the Hammers. Will we keep the winning streak going when our attention turns to Elland Road when we play Leeds?

Thankfully we did keep the winning run going as our League Cup campaign started but once again it was another hard to watch performance from the Reds. We never really got going and were made to look average by the League 1 side.

That was all but Jay Spearing who shone for us and David Ngog who took his goal with fantastic quality to ensure we progressed to the next round. But have either done enough to earn a place for the game against Hull?

Unfortunately, for them, neither Spearing or Ngog were picked to start against Hull although Ngog did at least make the bench but didn’t come on. Those that did play some part against Hull couldn’t have given the Premiership a better send off for the month after we ran out 6-1 winners. A hat trick from Torres, a brace from his replacement Ryan Babel and a wonder goal from our captain Steven Gerrard saw us win our sixth game on the spin.

The three goals netted saw Torres take his tally for the season up to eight and top the Premiership goalscoring charts. Can he open his account for Europe when we travel to Italy to play Fiorentina?

The answer to that was a resounding no. It wasn’t Torres’ fault mind, it was the lack of service he got from the very static midfield of Kuyt, Lucas, Gerrard, Aurelio, Benayoun.

We suffered our first, and only, defeat of the month in Italy courtesy of two sloppy mistakes from our full backs. The first goal came from Insua not pushing up with the rest and playing the Fiorentina forward onside who finished the move off with ease. The second was badly defended before Johnson failed to close down the ball out wide and allowed the well fired cross into the box, which was put away with a neat finish.

Overall the month has to be seen as a success, it just ended on a downer. Something we will, hopefully, put right at Stamford Bridge when October begins. Five wins from six games, goals galore and Fernando Torres looking on fire.

In other news we were drawn in a mouth-watering tie with Arsenal for the fourth round of the Carling Cup, which will be played on the 28th of October. As well as hearing that, our summer signing, Alberto Aquilani should be ready to play sometime next month along with Daniel Agger who has also pencilled in a return to action during October.

High points

The five goals Torres has netted for us and the way in which he has done has been a pleasure to watch. He’s back on fire and give him a yard of space, he’ll score. That’s the sort of form he’s ended the month in.

The blossoming partnership in the middle of the park of Gerrard and Lucas. With those two in the middle we seem much more assured and the intent on which we attack is fantastic. They seem to have a good understanding with one another and it’s something I’d certainly like to see a bit more of.

The newfound desire from Ryan Babel. After a lacklustre start to the season he has really come on over the past month, looking interested again and showing a bit of fight.

The most pleasing thing of all though has to be the five straight wins in the month. After us being almost written out of the title race after August, to end this month just three points off the pace is a huge positive. Now lets see us build on that.

Low points

The performance in Italy was the biggest disappointment. We were poor to say the least and considering the confidence we took into that game, it hurt even more.

Other than that there wasn’t much to be down about although I’m still a little concerned with the form of Dirk Kuyt. He hasn’t got going at all this season and every time he gets a goal you think that’s going to kick-start his campaign but it doesn’t. After being fantastic last season and even in contention for player of the year, this season has been a let down for me from our number 18.

Fixtures for October

4/10/09 – Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (Premiership)
17/10/09 – Sunderland at The Stadium Of Light (Premiership)
20/10/09 – Lyon at Anfield (Champions League)
25/10/09 – Man United at Anfield (Premiership)
28/10/09 – Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium (League Cup)
31/10/09 – Fulham at Craven Cottage (Premiership)

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September 2009: The Anfield Review

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