I have been a bad blogger. I've taken ages to write this up and have no good excuse. Things I would rather do than write about this match include laundry, dishes, and watching this video. Going to Anfield is never an easy prospect for the Men in White, in fact we haven't won there since 2003. I'm generally not a huge fan of statistics used to create points, but in this case, they do speak loudly. There were points in the second half when the possession was 70%-30% in Liverpool's favor. There's something about this fixture that is constantly beyond us, And while we may be only 4 games into the season, 2 of them being wins, this was undoubtedly our worst performance.
The standards were set low straight out of the gates, with Liverpool convincingly dominating. The midfield struggled to gain possession, the defense struggled to mark the pacy Merseysiders, and the forwards struggled to do anything with the few balls they did receive. In fact the only viable chance from the Wanderers came from Martin Petrov, whose volley was easily collected by Reina. Meanwhile on the other end Jaaskelainen was a very busy man indeed. The first goal came in just the 15th minute from Henderson. Suarez played a lovely ball into the box from the left which fell for Stewart Downing. Jussi made a great stop to keep Downing's attempt out of his net, but unfortunately Kuyt found the parry and sent it Henderson's way, who then duly smashed it past the keeper. In the 26th minute, Coyle made a tactical substitution, unheard of before the 60th for the Scotsman, replacing Muamba with Mark Davies. This sparked the midfield a bit, but nowhere near enough. The half ended 1-0, a scoreline that flattered poor Bolton as it was almost all one way traffic.
The second half didn't start much better, as Liverpool only had to wait 7 minutes for another goal, this time from Skrtel (by the way, has anyone told him that his consonant to vowel ratio is way off?). He made a good run through the box, easily shaking off his marker Zat Knight, to head a Charlie Adams corner in. Just over a minute later poor Jussi was picking the ball out of his net again after Charlie Adam slide one through Zat Knight's legs and past our keeper. While I usually defend him, Zat Knight's performance was very questionable. On the second and third goals, he could have conceivably stopped them, and on the first goal he ran around the box like a chicken with his head cut off, useless to the defense.
I have tried my hardest to block the rest of the second half out of my memory. Coyle made 2 more tactical substitutions (Tuncay for Eagles and Pratley for K. Davies), switching the side to a 4-5-1, but the added fire power in midfield did little to help the possession plight. Liverpool continued looking like the were going to score, while Bolton made occasional and unconvincing forays into enemy territory. Some consolation was won for Wanderers fans in the 92nd minute by none other than Ivan Klasnic. Petrov picked up a sloppy mistake by Carragher on the left wing and carried it into the box, where Klasnic happened to be making his run. Like a proper fox in the box Ivan pounced on the tap to send it home. The best part of the goal however, was Klasnic's celebration, or lack thereof. After scoring he immediately began walking back to center field sighing. Someone had to do it.
All in all an outing to forget, but Owen Coyle should not forget the lesson learned. While his response in the second half was tactically what was needed, something Coyle has not exactly excelled at, there was an element in the side missing. While we made an admirable comeback against City, we could not replicate the same steel away from home. Coyle was brought on for his skills as a motivator and those didn't work today. This team has done some good things, but there is a long way to go before we reach the lofty goals St. Owen set out for us.