Roberto Martinez made much reference to the word naïve in his post-match interview on Tuesday night.

Martinez was spot on in proclaiming elements of the performance were as such, but when considering the bigger picture, there was perhaps a case to suggest that this was always going to be the case.

Looking at the back four who started the game, we had two players experiencing their first Anfield derby in Stones and Alcaraz and two who were quite evidently not match fit in Jags and the Paraguayan. Such disruption to a backline is likely to always lead to one or two errors whoever you come up against and it was just unfortunate that we faced this situation against them lot and their attacking unit full of pace and lethal finishers.
In Stones’ case, I thought he was again good on the ball but was obviously caught out by his over exuberant willingness to get forward. Still, it will have been a good learning curve for him and one he won’t forget in a hurry. As for Jags and Alcaraz, whilst both excellent readers of the game, neither are blessed with a great amount of pace. This combined with a lack of match fitness led to a host of problems which may have been exposed to a lesser extent had Distin been available to partner one of the two.

On top of the problems at the back, Gareth Barry arguably had his worst game in a blue shirt, whilst Pienaar was clearly struggling throughout the costly first half. When you then factor in the injury to Lukaku, the only fit striker in the match day squad, we were massively up against it.

Whilst it was refreshing not to hear Martinez using injuries as an excuse, it is hard to escape the fact that they were a major factor is deciding the outcome of the game. Coleman, Distin, Deulefeu, Gibson, Oviedo, Kone, Traore were all unavailable and with Jagielka, Alcaraz, Pienaar and even Barkley all struggling as well as Lukaku, that’s 12 first team players we didn’t have use/full use of. I can’t think of many squads who would have the resources to cope with such an injury list.

The long – term area of concern is undoubtedly up front. Lukaku has been off the pace for a while now. It is easy to forget that he is only 20 years old and has been relied on as our main/only attacker all season. The injury lay off will hopefully do him good for the run in. That leaves us with the untried Traore as our only recognised striker for a few weeks which is why Kevin Mirallas is going to be key in this period as I imagine he will be utilised as the lone forward certainly when Villa come to Goodison on Saturday.

So, our worst defeat to the dark side in 30 years, yet ironically, it was a much better performance than some of the drivel served up under the previous regime at Anfield. Mirallas was excellent and drove the side on to keep attacking even in the dying stages when all was lost.

The usual predictable nonsense has cropped up on the forums in the aftermath – how we lay down and died and how the season is over unless we bring in serious reinforcements by the deadline. Rubbish. The reality is that we did the complete opposite of ‘lying down and dying’ and if anything, tried attacking a little too much, leaving us very exposed at the back. On another day and with a striker or 2 on the pitch we would have had a couple of goals to go alongside a more solid defence. As for reinforcements, of course they would be welcomed but people seem to forget that there is a reason why there are very few deals done mid – season; the majority of talented players are simply not available and if they are, cost way over the odds.
One of the most interesting over – reactive comments which I read however, was the suggestion that a team ‘does not recover mentally from a defeat like this’. Granted, it was a significant blow but to suggest it has ruined the season is ludicrous. With 15 league games to go, 3 defeats all season, a good looking cup draw and key players to come back in to the side, it is ridiculous to think that one game has scuppered our chances.

A tricky game awaits at the weekend, but one in which a positive result will get us on the move again.

Onwards and upwards.


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