Big talking points this week
- Draw with Chelsea
- Suarez' conduct during the Chelsea match
- BR's use of subs
Today April 21,2013 saw us draw with CFC for the second time this term, with Suarez being on the scoresheet in both matches. Back in November it was a 1-1 draw with Suarez scoring in the 73rd minute to draw us level after a 20th minute goal by John Terry off of a corner kick which to anyone who watched todays game will sound familiar. Today it was Oscar who was left unmarked on a corner that headed home CFC's first advantage of the game in the 26th minute. The rest of the half was rather lackluster from both teams with only a few decent chances popping up for Suarez to draw Liverpool back level. The second half started out with the substitution of Sturridge coming on for Coutinho. Sturridge made an instant impact and we were playing like the high caliber squad we all know we can be. Seven minutes into the half Suarez struck a beautiful arching cross onto the left boot of Sturridge who with his first touch rocketed the ball into the lower corner of Petr Cech's goal. Not three minutes later Chelsea wins themselves another corner, which is struck long and to the far post, Suarez has his hand in the air and the ball hits it. To me it looked intentional and apparently it appeared the same way to Kevin Friend the ref for the game and he subsequently cautions Suarez and awards a spot kick for Chelsea. Eden Hazard steps up and slots it home easily, rather surprising because Pepe has a knack for guessing the direction of a spot kick correctly. It is obvious the impact that going down to Chelsea has had on the squad who seems rather deflated for about 20 minutes, but eventually starts to regain its composure and becomes a threat again. In the 79th minute BR sends on Shelvey for Downing, who consequently wastes two chances to score. Fast forward 10 minutes and we find out that Liverpool has an added 6 minutes to clinch a point. After a couple attacks lacking any real promise, Gerrard late in the 95th minute passes a ball to Johnson and completely mishits it. At this point i'm thinking we just lost to Chelsea, assuming that as soon as the ball enters play the ref will blow the final whistle. However the ball is put back into play and we win the ball back and Sturridge puts in a beauty of a cross and who is there? Suarez, who promptly heads it home past/ off of Cech. As soon as play resumes after the game Kevin Friend blows the final whistle.
In the 55th minute Suarez earns a yellow card for (IMO) deliberately handling the ball. While this is not a particularly grievous infraction, it did lead to a spot kick that gave Chelsea the lead again. This may have had some bearing on his later infraction in the 74th minute where he (after further review and better views of the incident) bites Branislav Ivanovic on the upper arm near the elbow. Suarez gets off scott free for this despite Ivanovic and other Chelsea players lodging complaints with the ref, with Ivanovic showing Mr. Friend where Suarez bit him. Personally I viewed it as another way that Suarez was trying to get the better of Ivanovic (in this case by drawing him into reacting and us getting awarded a penalty). While it was unprovoked and completely and utterly mental for him to do this seeing as there are other ways to get spot kicks awarded (like oh, I don't know actually being fouled in the box?). I'm thinking even if somehow Suarez evades any ban by the FA, he should be suspended for the rest of the season by the club. I know a lot of you out there that will read this are calling for his head on a platter but I don't think that is the answer. While no man, player or manager, is bigger than the club; Suarez should not be sacked. He should take his punishment like a man, deal with his suspension and take some personal time with a psychologist. He will be playing for Uruguay over the summer and I for one hope he comes back for preseason at Melwood (he is supposedly out of the squad for the preseason tour of Asia and the Australia). Shipping him away is not the answer here people just remember YNWA, as fans it is our job to support him no matter the infraction.
Brendan Rodgers showed both sides of the substitution equation today, he changed the squad in a positive manner with the inclusion of Sturridge at the half and impacted us negatively with the Shelvey/Downing swap. Sometimes the substitutions that he makes have a large and instant impact on the game (a perfect example being the Sturridge substitution today) and sometimes they are just flops. Subbing Shelvey on for Downing to me sounded mental, but i'm not the guy being paid to make these decisions. With Assaidi on the bench, I am quite baffled by the decision to put on Shelvey. Firstly because by the time he came on WE HAD THE MIDFIELD! Chelsea had not had a decent foray forward for nearly 10 minutes when Shelvey stepped onto the pitch. I get the he is a better shooter (by power only from what we saw today) than Assaidi but when we took off Coutinho, we lost some of the flair of our attack. Why not bring on some flair late in the game to ambush the tired legs of Azpilicueta or Bertrand? We have all seen what Assaidi is capable of against teams late in the game, so why not use him to unlock the defense?
This match against Chelsea has been a harrowing one and one hell of an emotional roller coaster, but all in all I am happy to be a fan of the greatest team in the world. YNWA