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Thursday, 21 October 2010
NAPOLI 0-0 LIVERPOOL MATCH REPORT
Well after another disappointing result in the League for Hodgson and his team, there was a brief respite in the form of another Europa League tie, a welcome distraction. With Liverpool going into this fixture topping their group there was a welcome relief that this fixture wasn't as crucial as lets say Sunday's fixture at home to Blackburn but some much needed confidence would be key to this game.
Hodgson with one eye on Sunday changed his team and did not even take Gerrard, Torres and Meireles to Italy. I was a bit worried with team he chose against an Italian team with a hostile home support. But I was pleased to see the likes of Kelly, Spearing and especially young Shelvey starting. The defence looked pretty solid though with Carragher and Skrtel in the centre and young Kelly and Konchesky at full back positions. I was also pleased to see Jovanovic and Babel starting as they have seemingly dropped out of favour with Hodgson recently.
In what was a very passionate and hostile home support Liverpool were expecting a torrid start to the game but in fairness Liverpool coped well and settled well and passed the ball around quite well taking the sting out of the crowd. The first half was very even as both teams had possession without creating many chances. Konchesky tried to get down the left when he could, but Babel was once again a very frustrating figure giving the ball away after getting into good positions. Shelvey got better as the first half wore on and made some telling passes, one in particular to N'Gog who just failed to connect properly. Liverpool seemed happy enough at 0-0 and not needing to chase the game away from home. The best chance for Liverpool came midway through the first half when Jovanovic played a great pass through to Babel but he failed to control it and the chance was lost. Napoli almost stole a lead right on half time when a shot was cleared off the line by Konchesky but this was the closest Napoli came.
The second half was more lively and Napoli improved and pressured Liverpool in their own half and looked threatening without creating anything clear cut. Liverpool were creating their own problems too as they found it hard to keep possession. Liverpool defended well under this pressure and Skrtel in particular made some good blocks and headed clearances. Carragher came off at half time for Kyrgiakos but it was just to give him a rest for Sunday. I was pleased to see Aurelio come on for Konchesky hoping that he's put his injury worries behind him. Babel came off for Joe Cole for the last 15 minutes after another frustrating night in which he managed to miss the best chance of the night when Jovanovic sent him clear only to hit a tame shot that De Sanctis saved with his foot. Overall I believe a draw was the right result and its still a very good result for Liverpool away from home in Europe.
Its not the confidence boosting performance that we all hoped for but it was a very solid performance away from home in Europe in a hostile environment. With so many youngsters playing I thought they did well. Liverpool showed good spells of possession which is very important away from home in Europe. Top performers for me were Skrtel who defended well especially in the second half. Kelly done well against a tricky winger and Spearing worked hard and was always available for the ball out of defence. Jovanovic played really well and made two or three really good passes creating chances. Another frustrating night for Babel leaving us scratching our heads again. Disappointed with N'Gog tonight never held the ball up enough was unlucky with a good turn and shot but that was his best work.I thought young Shelvey looked really good and I would like to see him given more chances he has plenty confidence and ability. Overall a good result and performance with so many changes to the team and still top of the group.
Man of the Match - Skrtel Good defensive performance made some crucial blocks and headers when Liverpool were under pressure.