After a lengthy international break which couldn’t have come at a worse time for Liverpool, it was time for the much anticipated Merseyside derby. The cards were really against the boys for this match, with Sturridge fighting a dead leg (despite Roy Hodgson insisting he play 90 minutes in a meaningless friendly) and Luis Suarez ensuring his beloved Uruguay make it to Brazil (like they would really lose to Jordan). To be fair, I can’t really fault Suarez for wanting to play in the two-legged tie with Jordan. It will be his only chance to play a World Cup on his home continent and God forbid the Asian doormat pull an upset of epic proportions. But to fly from Liverpool to Jordan, across to Uruguay and back in short time couldn’t have helped his legs. Nonetheless they have to play the schedule laid out in front of them. They played hard and fought back to earn the point with a beautiful 89th minute equalizer by Sturridge, but they really deserved much more.
No other matchup in English football history has produced more red cards than Liverpool v. Everton. Phil Dowd is an experienced ref, and he certainly is one of the best in England so it made sense to see him at Goodison Park. He knows the volatility of this match, and I’m sure that he knows the history. He has to be expecting to see tough challenges, and replays confirm that he was well-positioned when Kevin Mirallas came in studs-up to Luis Suarez. Why only yellow? Unfathomable. He had to be consciously thinking to keep the red in his pocket unless he REALLY had to pull it out. After all, why let a derby match boil over so early in the match? Unfathomable. In every interpretation of the rule by every pundit in the game, it’s a straight sending off. If that is any other match in any other park involving any other player, he’s seeing red. With Liverpool leading 2-1 at the time, Everton would’ve been doomed to defeat. Sturridge would’ve never seen the pitch, as we would’ve cruised to at least a 3-1 win if not more. The old adage is that you get your fair share of breaks both for and against you over a 38-game schedule. Apparently that rule doesn’t apply in important derby matches. A year ago the assistant ref wrongly flagged Suarez for offsides to wave off the added time winner, robbing us of two points. Now this. The good news is that we still sit second in the ladder, and earned a valuable road point against a top 7 team. The bad news is that we have a rough December ahead with road matches at Tottenham (Sun 12/15 at 11 AM), Man City (Thurs 12/26 at 12:30 PM), and Chelsea (Sun 12/29 at 11 AM). It will take some great football and possibly luck to maintain that perch at the end of December. Either way it will be fun to watch them try!
Next match for the Reds is Sunday December 1st at 9:05 AM at recently promoted Hull City. The Tigers just lost a tough home match against doormat Crystal Palace, so you know that they will be fired up to right their ship. And recently these have been matches that Liverpool mysteriously would drop points, so it’s certainly no gimme. Note that the early kickoff on Sunday, when state laws prohibit the legal consumption of alcohol at public pubs. I’ll be watching the match from the friendly confines of Scavengers, our private satellite bar in rural Chatham County… most likely with bacon-vodka Bloody Mary’s and pints of Guinness flowing.
Lastly, I want to make sure that everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for the fact that it’s almost December and we still have hope to bring title #19 back to Anfield. At least we’re not mathematically eliminated yet, and certainly not hearing pundits put us in the relegation battle. It wasn’t long ago where that was the case. If you’re traveling this week, be safe! Cheers!
“King Kenny” Kendra