28 September 2008
Fernando Torres two goals in three minutes is the difference as Liverpool take the short trip to Goodison Park and come out 2-0 victors that was marred by the horrific refereeing of Mike Riley.
I am going to say it like I see it here, Mike Riley has officially ended the FA's respect campaign over the last two weeks. Last week, Soccernet picked up 40 fouls Riley called between Chelsea and Manchester United. Today, Soccernet picked up 43 and the Guardian showed 39. Fact remains, the majority of fouls Riley has called over the last two weeks have not only been severely questionable at best, but have tested the patience of even the most patient people.
To make matter worse this week unlike last week, as far as I'm concerned, Tim Cahill was unjustly sent off ten minutes from the ninety. Yes the tackle was nasty, but it was just as bad as Arbeloa's tackle four minute earlier. No one from Liverpool expected red, no one in the EPL Talk Chat expected red, and I'm convinced the only one who was convinced it was red is Mike Riley.
This is the second high profile match Riley has refereed in six days. As far as I'm concerned he's made some serious errors in judgment that have to be taken into account. From the farcical ending to last week's Chelsea/Manchester United fixture to Cahill's sending off, Riley has made big mistakes that seem to be forgiven by the FA. Yes refereeing is a tough job and they deserve respect, but when a referee continues to make mistakes to the magnitude Riley has of late, it's very hard to give Riley any at all.
As to the match itself, Riley's whistle made sure there was no flow to the match. Liverpool though dominated from the kickoff. Everton only had about ten minutes where they were on the ascendancy, even then they were unable to test Jose Reina. Liverpool in the first half were unable to break Everton down in the final third. Everton's back four and midfield were being way too forgiving and pretty much allowing Liverpool all the space they wanted when they were pushing forward.
Both Liverpool goals boil down too two fatal flaws. The first being losing possession in the midfield and the second being defenders abandoning their space giving Torres all the space in the world to do his job. On the first goal, Alonso gets the ball in the midfield and it's Joleon Lescott abandoning his space trailing Kuyt's run near post. How no one else was marking Torres I haven't a clue. Torres with that much space and time one on one with any keeper in the world is rarely going to miss. On the second goal, it was Torres himself who starts the play in the midfield after Everton fail to possess a throw in. The final blow was when Joseph Yobo went in trying to clear a tackle when the ball fell perfectly to Torres. With Howard off his line, the finish was automatic.
Robbie Keane is starting to mold into the team, but Rafa has to let him be what he is, a forward. Playing on the wing has done him no favors, and it was only when he was able to get more central was when he was his most dangerous. Everton need to figure out a way to win at home. It would also help to get chances that challenge a keeper. Yakubu up front by himself is not going to work and hopefully once Louis Saha is fully fit, David Moyes will revert to a 4-4-2. Everton's back line is also becoming a massive liability. It hasn't helped Moyes that he is just now getting a chance to mold this squad.
A few other observations
1) As much as I slagged Riley off at the beginning of this piece, I have to give him all the credit for rightfully booking Yakubu to start the second half for diving. There was at least 2 feet of space between him and Jamie Carragher.
2) Marouane Fellaini just looks out of place. Unfortunately because of his price, expect him to continue to start.
3) Liverpool's defense is reminding me of Manchester United's from last season.