So many times this season we have heard Rafa Benitez declare that a victory over so and so would kick start Liverpool’s season. He said it prior to the Man City game only for Liverpool to draw 2-2, then he said it again before the Everton game and despite them winning the Merseyside derby 2-0, Liverpool would go on to draw with Blackburn before suffering an embarrasing loss to Fiorentina in their final Champions League game.
So on Friday when Benitez declared Lierpool’s season began with Sunday’s game against Arsenal, you could just sense it was a disaster waiting to happen and true to form Liverpool flopped in spectacular fashion.
‘Football is a game of two halves’ is such a hackneyed phrase but never has it applied so fittingly as Liverpool despite leading at the break capitulated in the second half as Arsenal fought back to take the 3 points back to north London. Liverpool looked deflated after the second goal despite having Gerrard, Torres and Aquilani on the field which will be worrying considering one of Liverpool’s main arguements for their poor form has been that they haven’t been able to get their best players on the field (this match was Gerrard and Torres first game together since October). This deflation even trickled into the famous Anfield atmosphere who are normally vociferous but seemed resigned to their team’s defeat even when the board went up to indicate 4 minutes of extra time.
On Friday in the same presser where Benitez claimed their season would start, he guaranteed Liverpool,as well as Arsenal, would finish in the top 4 but on Sunday only Arsenal looked likely to carry that task out as the defeat leaves Liverpool in 7th place and 5 points away from 4th place Aston Villa. Liverpool have won just 3 games in 15 and even Stoke who sit in 11th position have lost less games. It gets to a stage where you no longer call this a blip or a bad spell and begin calling it what it is,a crisis.
Even more worrying than their league position is the fact that it looks like the player’s heads have dropped. The team have taken so many knocks this season so it is understandable that the player’s morale has been damaged but it does not help that Rafa Benitez is quick to claim that every game will kick start their season putting even more pressure on the team to perform.
Today Benitez has again guaranteed his team would finish in the top 4 but on the basis of what? The last we saw of Liverpool they did not show anything to indicate this and with Spurs, Villa and Man City to a lesser extent having good seasons this could be another of Rafa’s predictions that falls just short of the mark.