What Do Liverpool Have To Do in the Second Leg?

Andre SherardContributor IApril 13, 2009

I’m not Mr. English football by any means. However after watching Liverpool’s match with Chelsea last week at Anfield, it was clear that the Reds are in trouble in their second leg match-up in Stamford Bridge.

After the first couple of minutes when Fernando Torres scored, I thought that it was going to be an easy victory for the Reds. But when Branislav Ivanovic scored two goals from corner kicks and Florent Malouda has the game of his life, everyone knew that it was meant for Chelsea to win on that Wednesday night.

Most of us say that this series is over and the ones that don’t think that it is over bring up when they made up a 3-0 deficit in Istanbul against AC Milan, which eventually helped them win their latest Champions League trophy. It won’t be as easy as one thinks.

Gerrard has to be healthy

One of the most influential captains for their clubs has to be on the field at Stamford Bridge. He did not do much of anything in the first leg however he is the one player that can create magic for Liverpool.

Fernando Torres is the main goalscorer for the side but Gerrard is needed to take some pressure off El Nino. In the first leg, Stevie G was totally ineffective and he wasn’t up the field as we expected.

Due to Michael Essien’s “dirty work”, he kept Gerrard at bay and pretty much left Fernando Torres stranded by himself because their wingers and outside backs did not provide much after the first couple of minutes.

After the game, It was said that Stevie G was struggling with a groin injury and he missed last weekend’s Premiership game against Blackburn. I wonder about risking Stevie G on this Tuesday, especially since they can possibly win the Premiership also.

Rafa always places the Champions League as more important than the Premiership so if he continues on that route then he should play Gerrard on Tuesday and whatever happens they will have to deal with it, but if Gerrard suffers a significant setback and cannot make the rest of Liverpool’s run-in on the Premiership title than I believe the Kop will be more upset with letting go a chance of winning the Premiership rather than going for all the glory and another Champions League title.

I do not think Liverpool can win overcome their three goal (because of away goals) deficit without Liverpool’s captain.

Midfield in general has to be better

In the first leg, Chelsea basically dominated the Reds midfield. On the wings, Malouda and Kalou were more effective than Kuyt and Riera. At the center of the park, the combination of Lampard, Ballack, and Essien were far better than Alonso, Lucas, and Gerrard. Football is a game that is generally dominated in the midfield.

Everyone says that defense wins championships and that is true, but the middle of the park is where the game is controlled. Chelsea showed for one night that they can dominate the Merseyside’s midfield.

Tomorrow night, they have to be 10 times better in order to overcome their current situation. I do not understand why Yossi Benayoun still stays on the bench.

I understand that Dirk Kuyt is a hard worker and that ethic cannot be placed on the bench however Benayoun is a player that can provide guile on the wing that Albert Riera could not do.

Also, even though most of the Englishmen say that Steven Gerrard is the best thing since sliced bread, he does need help going against Michael Essien, I’m not saying that he cannot take him on one on one but Gerrard will not be 100 per cent for the second leg and Essien has been on fire with the performances that he has put on since coming back from his lengthy injury setback.

Xavi Alonso needs to do more at Stamford Bridge, except for the 90th minute shot he took he was basically ineffective like the rest of Liverpool’s midfield. I don’t know if Javier Mascherano was unhealthy in the first leg but if he is not playing on Tuesday than it is going to leave me scratching my head.

It is clear to me that Mascherano is a better player than Lucas and he provides more than him.

I’d rather Mascherano trying to take care of Frank Lampard because Lamps had a field day at Anfield. Sometimes I wonder why Lucas was bought when I see him play because in my personal opinion he is not a Liverpool player, he isn’t as influential as a defensive midfielder as Mascherano or Xavi Alonso.

Whenever Florent Malouda is dominating his side of the midfield and having a better performance than Liverpool’s whole midfield combine than you know there are problems.

What do your Wing Backs do for you?

Even though Fabio Aurelio and Arbeloa tried to get up and down the field, they were very poor compared to Ashley Cole and the makeshift right back of Branislav Ivanovic.

The Chelsea wing backs hardly made runs forward and in fact I would say that Ivanovic was better suitable for the game in Anfield because you don’t need your outside backs like Jose Bosingwa making run after run and leaving a portion of your backline open for attack especially in a stadium where Liverpool has been unbeaten in 18 months.

Most visiting sides would rather have their backs play conservative to start off with to make sure they don’t leave any holes for the home side to exploit.

Liverpool’s two outside backs have to be better in the second leg and they cannot let Florent Malouda, (you notice that I don’t rate him as a Premier League player) run ragged around your oustide backs.

They have to take more chances and make more runs in the second leg, you do not want your outside defense exposed especially when the game is away from home but I do not think they have much choice now especially with the hole that they put themselves into. 

I don’t know if Dossena would help much because I feel that those three players (with Aurelio and Arbeloa) are basically the same player and I honestly don’t believe that they will make any sort of difference tomorrow night.

My personal opinion and with all the factors that I’ve said, I do not think that Liverpool will get the job done in Stamford Bridge. Stevie G will not be healthy and I just don’t think that Liverpool has enough to break a Chelsea team who will be compact and make sure that they do not give up anything to the Reds.

John Terry will be suspended for tomorrow night’s clash but Ricardo Carvalho will replace him and Alex has been a very good replacement for Carvalho or Terry so far.

I do not think that this match will be as eventful as last week and I’m predicting a 1-1 draw and Chelsea moving on to face Barcelona in the semifinals (Well unless Barca have a massive collapse, yeah riiiight) But I am crossing my fingers for a classic though.


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