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Liverpool 1 Derby County 1 - Prem (Mar 18 2001)

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LIVERPOOL 1 Derby County 1

Report by Dave Usher at Anfield

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Scorer(s) – Michael Owen

Half Time - 0-1

Venue - Anfield

Date - Sun 18 March 2001

Star Man – Michael Owen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's not that much to say about this game really. The first half we were nothing short of abysmal, and things only really picked up when Stevie G was brought on with about half an hour left. The game was played in a totally flat atmosphere. The crowd were waiting for the players to lift them, and possibly vice versa. Either way, it never happened until late in the second half.

 

Derby scored with their first attack, and then had absolutely no trouble holding onto their lead until half time. Emile Heskey had tormented Derby at Pride Park earlier in the season, but he was disappointing today. In fact, since he left the field injured at Sunderland, for me Heskey has been crap. I don't have any explanation as to why this is (possibly fatigue), but I certainly haven't seen him play well since that day.

 

Thankfully Owen is getting better with each game. He was terrific today, and was the only player who stood out for the reds. The touch and balance were there, and he looked razor sharp throughout, despite not getting the best of service from our disappointing midfield. I also though Carra had a decent game, and had his first time shot with the outside of his left peg been a few inches lower we'd have been talking about the goal of the season.

 

I was so looking forward to seeing Litmanen playing behind two strikers, but the first half passed him by as he was man marked by the tenacious Seth Johnson. Jari also wasn't helped by a lack of movement from a static midfield, but he improved in the second half and helped set up the equaliser from Owen. Ironically, just when he was starting to have an influence on proceedings, GH subbed him in favour of Smicer. I'd like to have seen Vlad and Jari both on the field, as they have shown already this season what a good understanding they have built up.

 

By that time, Gerrard had already come on for Biscan, who once again looked completely lost out wide. Igor's confidence seems to have been affected through having to play out of position all the time, and it has to be said he had a 'mare today. Stevie G immediately grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, and started to take Derby to pieces. Whether he was running at the full back and beating him, or merely standing out wide and whipping crosses over, Stevie caused them all kinds of problems. What a player he is.

 

Despite having all the play in the second half, and creating numerous chances, we had to settle for a draw. Fair play to Derby, who I thought defended superbly. They always seemed to have a man in the right place at the right time, and although they rode their luck, they probably deserved their point for the stubborn way they defended.

 

The worrying thing for me though, is that we have yet to win a game this season after conceding the first goal. We've come back to draw with Sunderland (twice) and now Derby, but we haven't recorded a comeback victory all season. That is an alarming stat, and something which needs looking into. Whereas a certain other team (who I won't mention) can always be relied on to come back after conceding a goal, and regularly score winners in stoppage time, when was the last time we did that? It's all about mental strength, and that is something we really need to acquire if we are to avoid results like this.

 

We've still got games in hand, but we can't afford too many more slip ups like this one.

 

TEAM: Sander Westerveld; Markus Babbel, Sami Hyypia, Stephane Henchoz, Jamie Carragher; Igor Biscan (Steven Gerrard), Dietmar Hamann, Gary McAllister (Robbie Fowler), Jari Litmanen (Vladimir Smicer); Emile Heskey, Michael Owen:

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