Effra weighs up the results of the litmus test that was Liverpool vs. West Ham on the weekend.
Iâ€™ve been meaning for the last few weeks to put a bet on Liverpool winning the Premiership and West Ham the FA Cup. I like to think that it would be a proper end to the season: for all Liverpoolâ€™s foreign acquisitions, two defiantly English clubs whose fate last season was bound together by a fantastic Cup final, and in doing so sticking up two fingers at Chelski. But Saturdayâ€™s game has done nothing to convince me that it would be worth me getting down the bookies.
If Liverpool are going to win the Premiership, they shouldnâ€™t at home be giving West Ham the chance to be 2-0 up in twenty or so minutes. Chelsea and Manchester United would have made us pay heavily for a complete inability to close down oncoming midfielders and defenders outside the penalty area. Too much is going to rest on Kuyt since I really doubt that Bellamy or Crouch are Premiership-winning strikers: Bellamy wastes too much of his formidable energy on things other than goal-scoring, and Crouch manages to work hard without ever displaying a focused, competitive will to compensate for his lack of pace.
As for West Ham, despite lots of the post-match comment, I think that the manner of the defeat shows just how far we have to go to meet Pardewâ€™s rather bold claims to be on par with the likes of Liverpool. For a substantial period of the first half we seemed totally incapable of keeping the ball because Carroll and the defenders made bad decisions about distributing the ball and because neither Marlon nor Zamora are equipped to hold the ball up against good defenders. Zamora may be the Premiershipâ€™s top scorer, and I love the guy, but looking at his overall contribution he hasnâ€™t actually played particularly well once in these first three games. Away from home against good opposition we risk being lightweight until Deano returns. I know Pardew was quick to say that Reo-Coker got the better of Gerrard for part of the game but he also, for the umpteenth time, went missing for far more of it, and did so against a Liverpool midfield that lacked a defensive anchor without Sissoko.
We may have got some media plaudits even in losing, but for us the line between competing with the top teams and getting walloped by them is still pretty thin. And itâ€™s the same line that Liverpool are the wrong side of in trying to get their hands on the Premiership title.