Thought we deserved to lose, if for nothing more than our approach to the game.
I didn't mind that we started 4-5-1, although I would have preferred a 4-4-2.
I think it was a good idea but we need to do two things in that formation that we didn't do, press higher up the field, and squeeze the midfield. What we allowed instead was for them to very casually walk into our half and ping it about. This led to them controlling the first half and even though their goal didn't result from it, I think it made us desperate in possession when we had anything meaningful in their half. Also, why the fuck can't we tackle? There was a lot of token running around from the midfielders in that first half but I hardly saw anyone put in a tackle (something I have noticed more and more with Liverpool over the years).
Secondly, going forward Luis was too isolated and because we had so little of the ball, he was always trying those cute one-touch passes that more often than not didn't come off. This surrendered possesion and the vicious cycle started again. In theory, 4-5-1 should have meant that when Luis had the ball, he should automatically have 5 players in or around him. Instead, the gap between midfield and front man was too great and we spent a lot of time hitting it long and losing possession. If we were going with one up front, I'd say play Carroll instead. He has the physicality required for the job and is more suited to that position.
Also, I would have played Jonjo instead of Henderson. I'm just not sold on him at the moment - mostly because I don't know what position he is most likely to end up playing. He lacks the tackling nous of a DM, doesn't have the pace for a winger, doesn't have the creativity to play that far forward, doesn't seem to do much other than move the ball sideways and his decision making is quite woeful at times. I am sure he will improve and I do believe he could blossom into decent-to-good player, but I just don't know where he fits.
Jonjo on the other hand makes some incisive passes and uses the ball quite intelligently. I can only imagine KD was resting him because he played against Norwich and WBA but I still think he is definitely the more prodigious of the two young midfielders. I can see big things from him if he continues to progress at his current speed.
Jay - as much as I love him - is proving to be a bit of a liability. I do think he can prove to be an essential part of our squad but I don't think he could ever replace a solid DM like Lucas. He could be useful in games when we are defending a slim lead and need a bit of a motor running about making tackles and closing people down. Might be useful against the smaller (with all due respect to them) and just be rotated in for those games. He is just not consistent first eleven quality.
I also don't understand why Enrique and Downing can't gel on the left. The way they slow down the game out there is frustrating. It just feels like every time the ball goes out to the left we lose it no matter how good the build up play. This constant cutting in, then looking up, then playing it back just shits me. Get to the byline and whip it in. Why does Enrique constantly want to cross from what is, effectively, a standing position. It just gives defenders that split second to readjust. Both Enrique and Downing at their most effective have played crosses virtually blind - or it just may be confirmation bias.
Would also have started Bellamy on the left instead of the right. He and Enrique have done slightly better than the Downing-Enrique partnership. Downing has also been better down the right than he has been on the left.
In my opinion, what we should have done is to close down the midfield quickly and capitalise on the fatigue factor. Chelsea have played a lot of important games over the last few weeks while we have been pretty much been on dead rubbers for a while. Yes, of course we have been playing for pride and all that but we haven't had anything to really play for since the CC final. This may or may not have had the reverse effect of blunting us mentally. On the first half alone we should have lost. No determination to get the ball back and allowing Chelsea free reign is fucking criminal. We looked in awe and afraid of them, which is bollocks because we have had it over them for awhile now.
Now, my preference for 4-4-2 rests on the simple fact that the big fella has had a good couple of months. He was one of the good things about that loss midweek. Those goals against Blackburn and the Blueshite have done him a world of good. His ball control and link up play has improved as has his positional play in the box. Add to that, he seems to have become more determined. I think there is much hope for him yet, but then I've always thought that Andy Carroll was a good buy for us and he has the sort of physical presence we've been lacking.
Also, that second one was a definite goal for me. Fucking ref. People have been bagging Carroll for running off but I was celebrating too until I realised they didn't allow it. That goal would have changed the game. Chelsea were on the back foot, we were growing in confidence. Say what you want about the first 60 minutes but when we clicked into gear I felt that we definitely bossed it. Why we couldn't have just done that from the start is what is most disappointing.
Whether or not these were executive tactical decisions (ie the lack of back-four pressure) or whether the players didn't execute the tactics the way they were meant to we will never really know. I think we should defintely have made much more of it in the first half with the players we had on the pitch. The mentality going into the game was disappointing. We were flat in a game that could have defined our season and the players just didn't really seem up for it.
The season is a write-off but I will say that moving forward, there is hope. It's not all doom and gloom and let's be honest, we were very good at times this season even if the results don't show it. We just need a bit more luck and to harden up a little bit and I think we can very quickly go from where we are to the top 4. Of course we need to strengthen in the off season.
With Lucas to return and hopefully that the Charlie Adam coming from injury will be a new, better Charlie Adam. I do feel that we are sorted in the central of midfield with Lucas, Stevie, Adam, Hendo, Shelvey and Speo so it is not critical for us to invest in that department. Where we need a bit more personel is up front - Kuyt and Maxi look like they are out the door for sure. Bellamy can't get a decent run of games due to the persistence of the injury, so he's not going to be playing every game. I don't think Hendo is built for pace. I'd like to see more round pegs for round holes, a proper winger who is built for that position rather than players being shoehorned in. I'd like some quicker wingers and generally more direct players. We need players that can make some difference in the final third either with delivery or with actual goals - so maybe a couple of decent wingers and a striker. Finally, I think we are OK at the back with Coates, Kelly, Robinson and Flano too, but it may be wise to maybe get some young cover at left-back.
Just my thoughts!