FA Cup Third Round – January 6th 2007 – Result
Luton 1 – Liverpool 1
An awful performance from the majority of the Liverpool team today, opposed by a Luton side playing out of their skins, saw this FA Cup tie end in a draw. Morale at Anfield is at a low ebb these days given the uncertainty created by the owners, yet somehow Luton – facing uncertainty themselves – were able to raise their game to earn a lucrative replay at Anfield.
When Peter Crouch scored the opener 16 minutes from the end any neutrals watching would have felt extremely sorry for Luton, who had worked hard to keep Liverpool out and in had fact managed to control the game for the most part. John Arne Riise soon made them feel better, having problems dealing with a cross and knocking the ball onto his arm and into the net for an own goal.
Rafa’s critics will have enjoyed today’s game, but really there was no reason why that team should have struggled like it did. He’d picked his strongest available back four, but as a team the players seemed almost uninterested, with perhaps a couple of exceptions. It comes as no surprise: the mood inside the club is at a very low ebb thanks to the new owner’s terrible handling of the club since they arrived. New plans for the now downgraded new stadium will be in soon, after which they can try again to get a loan to build it and pay themselves back the money they used to buy the club in the first place. In fact that seems to be the point where they will make a decision on whether to stick around at the club or sell to another bidder, likely to be DIC. The sooner the staff, players and supporters know what’s really going to happen the better.
Reports in most of today’s Sunday papers spoke of how Rafa feared he’d be sacked before the new season begins – but that’s not exactly news. It’s been the case since “the rift” as Tom Hicks calls it, back in November, and still the owners have made little real effort to show public backing for the boss. Considering Hicks was unhappy at Rafa’s complaints about the way transfer funding was slow in coming forward, and the perceived lack of respect from him in raising it publicly, they surely must see how their lack of support is going to have an impact on both attitude and moral from the players.
The replay will be in nine days’ time on Tuesday December 15th at Anfield.
Luton: 1 Brill, 21 Keane, 5 Perry, 6 Coyne, 3 Goodall, 8 Bell, 10 Currie, 16 Edwards, 25 Spring, 19 Talbot, 20 Andrew
Unused subs: 4 Hutchison, 12 Jackson, 14 Robinson, 15 O’Leary, 29 Furlong
Goal: Riise 77 (og)
Liverpool: 30 Itandje, 3 Finnan, 23 Carragher, 4 Hyypia, 6 Riise, 11 Benayoun (42 El Zhar, 86), 14 Alonso (20 Mascherano, 74), 21 Lucas, 19 Babel (10 Voronin, 70), 15 Crouch, 18 Kuyt
Unused subs: 40 Martin, 46 Hobbs
Bookings: Alonso 45, Riise 68, Hyypia 83
Goal: Crouch 74
BBC Stats: (Luton – Liverpool)
Possession: 56% – 44%
Shots on target: 3 – 7
Shots off target: 8 – 7
Corners: 4 – 3
Fouls: 9 – 12
Referee: Howard Webb