I did not bother to set the alarm clock to wake me up at 3:30 am this morning. Last season, I'd make the point to watch Liverpool's every game. "Early days" still, they all say and opposing managers all "refuse to write them off" after beating Liverpool with late goals, I say they are being very polite.
At first, I refused to believe that this current appalling form is due to the departure of Xabi Alonso. But, I now have little doubt in my mind that the Reds are missing him.... terribly.
This season, LFC is a one man team. No, not two, one. Gerrard hasn't showed up this season. This season, all the teams in the world fear only one man.... Liverpool's Number 9, Fernando Torres. The only one of Rafael Benitez's great acquisition. At 26 million pounds, he's proved to be a bargain.
His mere presence on the pitch, forces opposition teams to camp in front of their goal. They are afraid to venture out too far and leave their defenders at the mercy of his power and speed. Take him out, and you will hear the huge collective sigh of the opposition team and supporters. And, they know they can now open up and start venturing onto the other half of the field and start testing the legendary but aging Jamie Carragher, the listless Kyrgiakos, the under performing Agger and Skrtel, industrious but still inexperience Insua, the attack minded Johnson.
Last season, when Torres was injured and only manage to play for less that half of the season, Liverpool fared better because there was a strong midfield. Marshalled by Alonso. This season, there isn't anybody there taking charge in the middle of the battlefield, making meaningful passes that produce penetrating attacks. Last season, two goals isn't enough buffer to beat Liverpool. As the opposition defense tire, Alonso will put the ball through to Kuyt or Babel or (if he's available) Torres.... and the game is turned on it's head. This season The Reds only came back once against Bolton.
This season, LFC is slowly sinking into mediocrity, despite beating Manchester United at home.
As Rafa said, 80% of Torres is enough to beat Man U. Probably even less of him scored the equaliser at Craven Cottage. And, Lyon got lucky, he was at a low point then. Take him out, Fulham scored two, and Lyon equalised.
The rest of the Reds, with the exception of Benayoun.... Nobody wants them on their team right now.
Let's take a break this season....