Posted by Barrie on Saturday, 16 January 2010

Rafael Benitez: The Premier League Would Miss Him If He Left

Rafael Benitez is the favourite in the Premier League sack race following the horrible form that is constantly repeated in the media and myself.

His side took the lead at Stoke today when Fabio Aurelio's free kick was forced over the line by Sotiris Kyrgiakos before the hour. In what was a dreadful game to watch, perhaps we should have been looking towards set pieces to open the scoring. The free kick given that lead to the goal was harsh on Danny Higginbotham and Stoke as the defender won the ball.

But Stoke cannot look to the referee for excuses, in fact it's what Liverpool will be doing after Lucas was booked after being brought down in the penalty area in what was the only incident worth talking about in the first half.

Then Stoke's equaliser came from a corner that shouldn't have been; Robert Huth tapping in at the back post. It was the only set piece Liverpool failed to deal with, with Sotiris Kyrgiakos worth mentioning for dealing with them prior to the last minute. The big Greek defender was a good selection from Rafa Benitez, with his aerial ability a match for Stoke's tactics. Deep in stoppage time Dirk Kuyt hit the post when he should have done better, but Liverpool could have been awarded a penalty in the build up as Lucas was knocked down in the penalty area. Perhaps Rafa Benitez won't be calling Lee Mason perfect this week ;)

Thankfully that late goal won my bet I mentioned earlier and made a good start to my Premier League betting tips this weekend.

It's Rafa Benitez's personality that you have to like. He's a character and the Premier League doesn't have enough characters. From his famous January rant last year to all his action on the touchline, what can you not love about the Spaniard?

His selection was strange today, with numerous defensive players in the starting lineup. Philipp Degen had a shocker and lasted nearly 80 minutes before their new, exciting signing Maxi Rodriguez was introduced. If he was given more time on the pitch, maybe Liverpool would have scored from open play and won the game. That's easy to say, but they looked poor going forward and created few chances. Players who were wide open at times weren't passed too and a number of crosses were poor. David N'Gog should have been subbed earlier as he continues to offer little in attack.

January is a big month for Rafael Benitez and Liverpool. He has received good money for Andrea Dossena and sold Andriy Voronin. Maxi Rodriguez has come in, but they still need a few more signings this month as well as shipping a few out.

Rafa Benitez's personality would be missed by me and many Premier League fans should he lose his job at Liverpool.

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