Sunderland's goal came after the ball had hit the post twice
With Liverpool in 7th travelling to 8th placed Sunderland, the crowd expected better than this sterile affair – with a lack of quality and finesse on both sides – a game in which poor passing on a poor pitch was the order of the day.
Liverpool were still without Glen Johnson, although Steven Gerrard was named on the bench – slowly returning after the injury picked up with England a fortnight ago.
Last weekend Liverpool dominated Arsenal in the first half – and with a decent goalscorer could have scored 4. This weekend, the reds can consider themselves fortunate that they made it in to half time level.
Liverpool began with Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy, and for all their heroics in other games – it has been suggested by some supporters that these are turning in to modern day super-subs. Their performances from the bench, vastly superior to when they are handed a starting berth.
Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson played in the middle – tactically given free reign as they had the benefit of Spearing behind them – but they failed to utilise this role. Both players have been enormously disappointing in their first season at Anfield – Charlie Adam continuing to give away pointless fouls as his serious lack of pace is exposed.
The first half was tiresome – chances were few and far between although Sunderland did have the better of them – Bendtner should have scored more than once.
The second half saw Martin O’Neill’s men break the deadlock. A Frazier Campbell shot from outside the area hit the post, bounced on to the back of Reina’s body, hit the post again – and it was Bendtner who beat the Liverpool defenders to the ball and put the ball past a dizzy Liverpool goalkeeper.
Not quite as farcical as the infamous beach ball goal – but not far off.
The reds made changes 10 minutes later – eventually sending on three attacking players – and should have equalised when Gerrard did well to reach the byline. The ball going agonisingly over Kuyt’s head.
Liverpool’s league form has been dismal for the last 11 games now. The reds big problem is that when they have played well (and that still remains the majority of games) they have lacked the clinical finish to win the games they deserved to. Yesterday was one of those games that they didn’t deserve all 3 points.
With 2 league wins in 11, and only 1 in the last 8 – from nowhere Liverpool have allowed Everton to move within 2 points, to add an extra bit of fire to the Merseyside Derby on Tuesday.
With the plethora of strikers available at the top four clubs, Liverpool may regret only having one recognised striker, and a misfiring one at that, in their squad.
The reds must lick their wounds and pick themselves up for a big week ahead, Everton on Tuesday before a FA Cup Quarter Final at the weekend.