When I saw the line-up Kenny came up with for the game against Stoke, I couldn’t quite decipher what the intent was. A few minutes past kick-off and I was still attempting to determine Johnson’s and Kelly’s position. Not quite apparent and Liverpool took time to settle down and get a foot hold on the game. I then recalled a statement I made in a recent article which highlighted that Dalglish will inevitably tweak the team to avoid being reliant on one person as was the case when Torres was around. The formation, apart from stifling Stoke whenever they attacked, provided a barrage of attacking impetus.
In previous times, the majority of efforts on goal would have probably been a result of Torres latching on to a through pass or well-placed cross. Today was different. Liverpool’s best efforts at goal during the first half came not from a striker but from two potent defenders, Johnson and Krygiakos. It was a point blank save by Stoke’s ‘keeper which kept the score level when Johnson rose to meet Kelly’s cross (I stand to be corrected on whether it was Kelly’s delivery). The point is, Liverpool under Dalglish will defend as a team and attack as a team. Build-up is of utmost importance and as long as Liverpool have players who can finish off attacking surges, games will be won.
Stoke proved to be a challenging outfit for the Reds and made it hard for Dalglish’s men to create space. The much needed and awaited opener came after a Gerrard long shot was loosely cleared, Krygiakos making way for Meireles to blast goalwards with his left foot. Another brilliant goal from the Portugese international. One nil up and Liverpool were in no mood to let the lead slip. One factor which I always stressed as lacking under Hodgson is ball retention. This deficiency has been sorted out by Liverpool’s coaching stuff and the players are well aware not to concede possession even deep in defense. Play the ball out of defense rather than hoof it up high up field, a sure way of frustrating opponents, settling down and ensures the initiative is not handed to your adversary.
As the game progressed, I thought to myself a second goal would do much to extinguish any desire by Stoke to battle on. On came the new signing Suarez, El Pistolero, and Anfield was buzzing with excitement. The boy looks his age, probably a bit younger I would say, but he is of international quality which speaks volumes about his talent. I instantly appreciated his touches, two back-heels in quick succession showed he is class. Not the finished article, mind you, but on course to become a fine World Class player and how better to achieve this when your mentor is Kenny Dalglish? Suarez sent the Kop in delirium when he caught up with Kuyt’s through ball, rounded Stoke’s goalie and shot goalwards. The ball took some time to make its way into the net and was nearly cleared off the line. A goal it was and Suarez, who has yet to put in a full training session with Liverpool, proved why Kenny was so keen on taking him away from Ajax. Awesome.
The only downside to a stupendous win is that Liverpool’s position in the Premier League table remains unaltered. Liverpool have gone from strength to strength under the watchful eyes of Kenny Dalglish. Players no longer seem uninterested. There is a wanting, a desire to do well, fight for every ball and most of all not concede goals. The next game against Chelsea will be a defining moment – not due to Torres’ presence as I’m sure Dalglish will stress against giving Torres too much respect. A win against Chelsea will propel us further up the table and dent the hopes of a direct rival of finishing in the top four. I forsee a winner next Sunday, and, I’m confident it will be the Reds who will end up victors. Dalglish has that sparkle in his eye and his aura has transcended to the players who look as if possessed with positive vibes. Without a shadow of a doubt, Liverpool football club are in renaissance.
See you next time.