Lunchtime game today – Liverpool at Bolton, and what really should have been a walk in the park for Liverpool.
Real domination in the first half, and great to watch. Possession is so important in the modern game, but I think Premiership teams often suffer from the collective English impatience when it comes to football; “Get it up there!” is far more likely to be exclaimed from the stands (touchline?) than “Keep hold of it!”. But Liverpool resisted this, as they so often do, and their first goal, Kuyt’s exquisite header, came after a good twenty passes. Bolton were outplayed and stood off – Liverpool were free to do as they pleased with the ball.
The second half saw two rather than one up front for Bolton, and they were back in the game, pushing Liverpool further back and pushing the game into a more physical realm. But as Bolton pushed, Liverpool counter-attacked, with Torres setting up Gerrard for the game-killing second.
However, this is not the whole story. Yet again Liverpool missed a host of chances. Keane, still looking for a rich vein of form, missed from a few yards. Gerrard slid in from a similar distance to miss, Torres struck the post, Lucas’ header at the death went wide. No matter how well you play you are still vulnerable at 1-0, and Bolton could well have taken advantage if Cahill’s header on the stroke of half-time had been given, or if Ricardo Gardner had shown more composure in front of goal.
Earlier this season Liverpool played badly and won, and some suggested this was a sign of a good side. I beg to differ. Such teams will eventually come unstuck. As trite as it is to say, good teams win well. Liverpool (Wednesday aside) are now looking much stronger, and the scalps of Manchester United and Chelsea are significant. But now they need to not only play well, but convert more chances. Otherwise in a tighter game, or against better opposition they may not prevail as easily as they did today.