Monday, December 7, 2009

Twilight at Anfield: Is Alberto Aquilani a Vampire?

Alberto Aquilani is expected to make his first start of the season against Fiorentina on Wednesday. Pale with the dark features of a Carpathian prince, the Italian has yet to play a match for Liverpool during the day...

The Reds' new number four, has only played three appearances in the famous red shirt this season, all in evening kick-off games.

So far it would seem that Rafa is reluctant to give his new signing a game during the day, so it begs the question, is Alberto a vampire?

His debut was in the Carling Cup defeat to Arsenal, before he made his league debut in the 2-2 draw with Birmingham. And then two weeks later he came on as a last minute substitute against Debrechen in the Champions League.

Aquilani signed for Liverpool as a £20 million replacement for Xabi Alonso in August. However, the midfielder had an injured ankle and the early prognosis was that he needed a number of months to recover.

That recovery period has seen Liverpool's title challenge evaporate before November as well as the club being eliminated from the Champions League at the Group stage for the first time in years.

Liverpool fans have been waiting for this game for some time, as the big money signing is expected to have a massive influence on the team over the next few seasons.

As with any new player that has been out for some time, a certain anticipation has been built up, some of it unrealistic, some of it not.

He is a very different player to Alonso, and it is very unlikely that Rafa sees Aquilani as the answer to Liverpool's midfield problems.

If anything it could be Steven Gerrard who moves back in place of Lucas while Aquilani moves into that hole behind Torres, when available.

As for what kind of player Aquilani is?

He is a creative type midfielder, not great in the tackle, doesn't score that many goals, can get up and down easily, has a languid style similar to Berbatov's, has an eye for a pass in the final third, and is somewhat injury prone.

Obviously there is more to him than one measly paragraph, but you get the picture.

Liverpool and Rafa need Aquilani to hit the ground running. Signing an injured player has cost Liverpool much this season, and the managers wisdom has been questioned in the corridors of power at Anfield.

As of this moment he has yet to play match for Liverpool during the day. His pale gaunt features hide the intense intelligence of a man focused on one goal, getting out of the crypt of the reserves and into the bright lights of the first team.

He needs to do it, Rafa needs him to do it, and Liverpool's fans need him to do it. Tomorrow nights match against Fiorentina is s dead rubber, and is the ideal match to get someone match fit without having too much on the line.

It will move him closer to the first team in a major way, and the next step is for Rafa to start playing him during the day.

Just don't ask him to cross the ball...