What a dire match that was. All our deficiencies were exposed by QPR of all teams, and it was just embarrassing to watch. Then everything just went to hell, and it became a helter-skelter match of crazy proportions.
QPR started out the brighter, and they stayed the better team throughout the entire half as we spent most of our time camped in our own half. Zamora and Austin were too much to handle for Lovren and Skrtel, which begs the question: just how many goals are we about to ship to Real in the CL?
Johnson, although having made a crucial on-the-line save to keep the ball out of goal, was culpable for the first big chance that QPR had and was nowhere in his positioning. Skrtel had a hand in two or three, and frankly, QPR should’ve been 3-0 up before half-time. All we had were some Balotelli pot-shots and nothing of note.
No Liverpool player came out of that half with much credit. Mignolet was terrible and the entire back 4 (bar except maybe Enrique) was horrendous. Can was okay, Henderson was muted with a deeper role, while Lallana seemed unable to replicate his game at West Brom. Sterling kept losing possession, and Gerrard was completely anonymous bar a wayward cross, and a beautiful control of Balotelli’s flick before a shot sent just wide. Balotelli? Well, he just kept taking pot-shots from afar, and beyond a good run, was merely wasting chances instead of making things happen.
The entire team seemed sluggish, unwilling to fight besides a short moment of pressing against QPR, and we basically let them run all over us. The crossing did no favours either; crosses obviously favoured the bigger QPR players, and Balotelli is up against two CBs. The one moment of intricate passing we had, took out QPR players like they didn’t exist, but the moment was gone with that wayward Gerrard cross that did nothing.
Also, that Valdes to Liverpool rumour better not be rumour. Mignolet is not showing anything that shows that he can play at a top side. Or maybe we should think deeper about Achterberg as our goalkeeping coach. Even Reina’s form took a nosedive under him, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
What a madcap second half.
We started better into the half, gaining a little control over proceedings as QPR and more importantly, Zamora got fatigued. The goal came quite fortuitously, with a quick free-kick taken as QPR was still protesting the decision, and Johnson’s ball into the box was tapped in by Dunne. An own goal seemed about the only way we were going to score today, but it was a goal.
QPR kind of tapered off as they tired, but Vargas came on for Zamora and transformed them with his movement. Mignolet had to make a few saves of note, which just about redeemed that awful first half of his. Enrique showed that he really cannot be relied on, even as 2nd choice, as he was the major culprit behind QPR’s equalizer. He failed to head the ball properly, made a hash of tackling Vargas, then failed to track the man as he scored from Austin’s flick.
The game then turned QPR’s way, until out of nowhere, we were on a break, and Coutinho fired in a goal via a deflection. Despite the energy he injected into the game, he was partially responsible for QPR’s next equaliser, as he interfered with a QPR quick free-kick, which ended up a long free-kick that led to a corner and a goal.
As if things couldn’t get any madder, as injury time was running down, we went on another break, this time with a through-ball from Coutinho that Sterling managed to get onto, and knocked into Caulker’s path for a 2nd own goal and victory. Ironically, Dunne had told Caulker not to attack the free-kick that the counter-attack stemmed from just so they could defend from a break.
Again, the defending was diabolical, which is something that needs real fixing. Mignolet made a better account for himself in the 2nd half, but deserves a lot of criticism. Allen didn’t do much coming on for Can, but Coutinho had a good impact against a tiring QPR. Gerrard had much more space as he dropped back to the base of the midfield, but couldn’t influence proceedings much. A few good chances, and even an open goal came Balotelli’s way, but he just couldn’t score. And Henderson was tireless once more, but didn’t contribute as much to attack today.
Did we deserve to win? Definitely not. But we won, and that’s a much-needed 3 points in the bag. Sturridge really can’t get back soon enough.