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Why Can’t Liverpool Always Play That Well?

Video: PL Highlights: Liverpool/Man City

Most people who watched Liverpool’s performance Monday night against Manchester City will have impressed by their display over the 90 minutes. Liverpool were dynamic, creative, energetic, imaginative, confident, unpredictable and, perhaps most importantly of all, clinical in the final third of the pitch.

This was a performance from a team that is brimming with energy. The question is why can’t Liverpool always play that well?

They’ve undoubtedly been improving ever since Kenny Dalglish took over as manager of the Reds. But everything seemed to click Monday night even better than usual. Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll up front were exceptional. Dirk Kuyt was an engine once again. Jay Spearing was inspirational in midfield. John Flanagan, in his first start for Liverpool, looked comfortable against a Manchester City side that, on paper, should have been a threat.

Some of you watching the game on Monday night may have forgotten about one player who was missing from Liverpool, a Mr. Steven Gerrard. While the captain is Liverpool through-and-through, it speaks volumes that the team was able to carry on without him. And, if anything, they were able to play with a fluidity that is sometimes lacking when Gerrard plays. Don’t get me wrong, Gerrard was not the reason why Liverpool played well Monday night, but his absence was – I believe – a contributing factor to the team’s success.

No matter which side of the fence you’re on regarding the Gerrard debate, the conclusion is that Liverpool looked like a powerful outfit Monday night that could cause opponents a whole lot of trouble next season if the Reds can consistently play at this level. That has been Liverpool’s downfall in recent years. Just when you see them capture that Anfield magic, the team seems to be too complacent in matches where they need that spark to win.

Perhaps Steven Gerrard’s injury is a blessing in disguise? We’ll have to wait and see how Liverpool does during the remainder of the season.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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16 Responses to Why Can’t Liverpool Always Play That Well?

  1. redhed17 says:

    I totally agree about Gerrard. When he plays the other players defer to him, when better passes are sometimes available.

    When he plays well, he inspires, when he plays badly, and he has played more bad than good this year, he doesn’t seem to be able to gee up the team. I hardly ever see him speaking to other players, which is something a captain should be doing, isn’t it?

    Back to the game though, we were amazing. I agree we should be playing more like that, especially at home. I can’t think of a bad performance from any of the players, and for Flannigan to come in, and not only not look out of place, but look confident and comfortable was brilliant. Not the usual display from a Liverpool youngster.

    The level has been set, it’s up to the manager and players to keep up or very close to that level. Fingers crossed

    The owners can not fail to see that they should give the King the job now, and give him the money to get more quality and depth to challenge for the title in the summer.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Some of Liverpool’s best perfromances this season have been when Gerard was not playing. Gerard has not had a good season and his presence on the field has sometimes hurt the team. The team relies too much on him to deliver. While he is still a terrific player I think he no longer has the same influence as he once had. He is till a starter but his influence will decrease when he returns next season. Without him everyone has stepped up their play, especially the midfielders like Lucas and Spearing. It hasn’t hurt that Suarez and Carroll are now the strike force instead of Torres on whom the team relied too much to score. The future looks bright for Liverpool.

    That said I think it helped that Manchester City were very poor. I don’t expect Liverpool to play this well at Arsenal on Sunday. That game will be the real test for these players.

  3. Hank says:

    I don’t disagree, but to be fair, Manchester City were terrible. I can’t remember ever seeing a team play with less conviction than they did today.

  4. Terry says:

    I agree that Gerard’s absence has been a blessing in disguise for Liverpool. Everyone seems to play harder when he is missing. The team relies too much on him, even when he is struggling. Lucas always seems to play better when Gerard is missing.

    Gerard is no longer a consistently great player. For the team to progress he will have to defer to creative players like Meireles and Suarez. If Liverpool buy wisely in the summer they will be able to get back inthe top 4. Won’t be easy but they’ll have a real shot.

  5. bayou says:

    I think it shows that Liverpool are finally improving, but also how much Man City, for all their stars, ultimately rely on Tevez to be the workhorse and the offensive power.

  6. James says:

    Gerard and Lampard no longer are as influential on their teams as they once were. Both are past their prime and Liverpool and Chelsea need to look beyond them to progress.

    It was easy for Liverpool to play well tonight because City were awful. Let’s see how well they do against Arsenal on the weekend. That will be the real test.

  7. satan says:

    Wasn’t Gerrard present in the team that beat United 3-1 a month back ?

  8. Thomas says:

    I doubted that Carrol was worth the money (and to some extent, I still think he was slightly over-valued), but he sure looked good tonight.

    Liverpool looked more like a TEAM today.

    Amazing what having some in form strikers can do for a team.

  9. PaulFromMiami says:

    So why did Mancini take balotelli off and embarrassed(subbed after entering the game as a sub) when Balotelli was one of the better city players? Dzeko, Toure, Boyata, Kolarov, Milner were much worse yet Mancini set up Balotelli to be scapegoat. How is he supposed to perform when the midfielders weren’t servicing the strikers?
    Mancini should take all the blame for this loss because the team was a victim of his stupid tactics. YOu have all that talent at your disposal yet you don’t play attacking football.
    On Adam Johnson: Can people please stop saying that this guy is better than Ashley young as a Winger? When will he realize that the simple pass is much more effective than trying to go by your man and losing the ball. He should sit down and watch Valencia play Winger to understand how the game should be played from the wing position.

  10. Gaz Hunt says:

    I don’t think Liverpool’s great play (or Manchester City’s poor play for that matter) was due to the absence of Gerrard – he’ll fit right back in next season with less of an impact than past seasons but still an important player.

    Kenny Dalglish has already converted him back to a traditional center-midfielder this season – he’s not the behind-the-striker player that he once was. Gerrard would replace or allow rest for Spearing or Lucas and he’ll fit in those positions just fine.

  11. Lyle says:

    Gerrard played in the 3-1 win over ManU as well as both wins against Chelsea.

    You wouldn’t make the Gerrard comment after the West Brom game would you? Or the games against Braga?

  12. El Tri 2014 says:

    Liverpool without Gerrard is a weaker team IMO. I just think L’pool with Suarez and Carroll is still an inconsistent team. Yesterday they beat a Man City team that is imploding and next week they’ll lose to a middle tier team. They can get up to play at a high level and then snooze for 90 minutes against weaker teams. Overall I think King Kenny and his minions know that CL next year is lost and they’re looking into rebuilding over the summer. Beating the lower teams in the PL is no incentive. They’ll get up to beat to Man City’s and Chelsea’s of the world but lose to just about anyone else. That said, I thought Suarez was always going to be a great fit for L’pool. I watch more L’pool games just to see what he will do. Be intresting to see him up against Forlan when he joins Spurs next year.

  13. joe m says:

    Just a few months ago there was talk that if Liverpool lost Gerrard or Torres they’d be doomed. Now look at them.

    I think part of their success was bringing up youngsters from the youth team. As their coach for awhile he knows those guys and what they can do and if they’re ready.

    There are still gaps in Liverpool’s game, look at when the ball got past the midfield and the defense started running around, passing to Reina to shoot it back up field. There’s room to improve, and I think sensible improvements and purchases will happen this summer.

  14. R2Dad says:

    Great to see L’pool back in the thick of it. Not my team but they sure were fun to watch. This is exactly what the EPL needs: a half-dozen teams fighting to play in Europe.

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