Monday, August 14, 2006

Liverpool 2, Chelsea 1

FA Community Shield

Yikes. That is two uninspired games by our boys in blue. I'm not sounding the alarms just yet for a few reasons, but there are worries starting to creep up. If anyone did not see the game yesterday, you did not miss much. Liverpool played very well, they beat Chelsea straight up. Actually, if it weren't for a few excellent saves from Carlo Cudicini, Liverpool probably would have won by more. A note about Liverpool though, if Bellamy doesn't fully develop into the striker they desperately need, I think they will have serious problems up front. Peter Crouch is NOT a dependable striker. I don't want to hear the argument about it anymore. Just because someone is 6'7" does not make them a lead striker. Liverpool had many opportunities to bury the ball in the net yesterday afternoon, and they failed. This problem poked around last season too, and that was with Cisse and Morientes. It could be interesting to see how Anfield reacts if Liverpool struggle to score goals. To see what a real finisher looked like, we had to go no further than across the field to Chelsea's superstar Ukranian. Andriy Shevchenko sent shivers down the spine yesterday. I haven't been this excited about an athlete since watching Eli Manning explode onto the scene last year. Shevchenko is deadly when the ball is near him. Credit again to Liverpool for playing the offsides trap beautifully, frustrating Shevchenko throughout the match. The Lampard cross to Sheva for the equaliser in the 43' yesterday was what every Chelsea fan in the world was hoping for. It made our mouths water at the thought of what was to come. Andriy took an excellent first step at earning that big pricetag from Abromavich, I cant wait to see what else he can show. Unfortunately, he was the only bright spot on a very bleak looking Chelsea squad.

Jose Mourinho started his excuses the night before the game, claiming Chelsea had not been given enough time to prepare for the upcoming season. He said that Liverpool was 'supposed' to beat Chelsea because Liverpool were at 100% while Chelsea were still recovering from their USA trip. The rivalry between him and Rafa is growing with every match between the two, but a little bit of respect wouldn't be too much to ask from the Chosen One. I love Jose Mourinho. I think he is a genius of the game, and I even enjoy his mind games he plays. But there are times when he is a bit much, and really he comes off as a bit of a wank.

Hopefully, he is telling the truth this time about Chelsea not being quite there yet, where he would like them to be. It was very clear to me yesterday that the problems of the backfield still have not been solved. I was pleased with Geremi's performance, but Carvalho, Ferreira, and JT were all looking like a real mess. This backfield is a liability to the team, especially with the midfield still coming together. Chelsea need to find a piece to shore up the defense, at least temporarily until Mourinho figures out what his best midfield combination is. I don't know if Ashley Cole is the answer to this problem, I definitely do not think he is worth the 25 million pounds that Arsenal are demanding. I would prefer to pick up another centre back who could help JT. Wayne Bridge and Geremi can duel it out for that right back position, they are both perfectly suitable there.

As for the midfield, they are still gelling together. It did not help that Michael Ballack left the game so early, personally I would have left him in. It seemed to be a minor cramp that he was able to run off almost instantly. Yes it is a preseason game, and it doesn't really count; but it was a game against a major rival, and his introduction to proper English football. He needs to get some time in with Lampard so that system can start clicking the way it is supposed to. Until those two are working on the same page, attacking AND defending, this team will not succeed. The season opener is on Sunday afternoon, against Manchester City. Luckily, they are no Liverpool. This team has to make some serious changes before they are ready to play another top team like Liverpool.

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