While it was a good season opener, I realised that a lot is to still be improved on for Liverpool FC.
Possession was a solid near 60% and we had 13 shots yesterday, the same as Sunderland. But maybe that’s the problem. 3 total shots on target from 13 attempts for LFC. Yet it seemed like they had dominated the entire game yesterday. Our passing percentage was great. Out of 540 total passes yesterday, LFC completed 410, a percentage of 76%. LFC created 11 goal scoring chances yesterday and forced 6 corners. But in all of this, just one goal was scored by Liverpool off a great Charlie Adam delivery. Liverpool dominated every single other statistic on Sunderland as well. Liverpool had more tackles, yet less fouls. LFC won 59 of 106 ground possession duels and won 25 of 34 aerial duels. They intercepted the ball 17 times even. So what is the problem?
Yesterday, it was fitness and shot accuracy. After a near perfect first half barring an awful penalty kick and a couple shots that struck the bar, the second half showed a Liverpool team that looked constantly tired, with some of the new boys looking a bit frustrated and less active in the game towards the middle of the second half. The weaknesses in the team were clear. Jordan Henderson proved that nerves can get the best of a player in his debut, as KD said they had, and young John Flanagan showed that just because he was a solid player last year, doesn’t mean that he should start this year. I do understand that there weren’t a whole lot of options for RB with both Kelly and Johnson still suffering some sort of injury. However, the goal that Liverpool conceded was to the fault somewhat of Flanagan for not marking Larsson as he should have. I won’t take the quality of Larsson’s goal away though. Stunning finish. Anyway, for the first game of the season it wasn’t a horrific start from LFC, just not the start that everyone would have wanted. There are some positives to take away from the game after all.
For example, signing and playing Jose Enrique in our opener was probably the best move that Kenny made all day yesterday. Jose Enrique passed the ball a total of 70 times yesterday, completing 53 of them and hitting the team average on the nail with a passing percentage of 76%. He won every possession duel he went into (5/5) and every aerial duel he went into (2/2) and intercepted the ball 3 times. He was my man of the match yesterday.
Another positive, Luis Suarez looked great when he came in. Lively and healthy, Suarez was on the ball and on his game minus the botched penalty kick. He also completed 76% of his passes, going 29 for 38. and scoring our lone goal.
Another new signing to make his Anfield Premiership debut Charlie Adam also looked top notch yesterday, and his stats backed him up as well. He completed 45 of his 63 passes yesterday, giving him a 71% passing rating, but he assisted the lone goal and had a couple stinging shots himself. He won 8 of 17 ground duels for the ball and 3 of 4 aerial duels. Charlie will certainly look to build on these numbers next week at the Emirates.
Even new boy Stewart Downing looked to impress yesterday. He completed 75% of his passes (33/44) and showed that he is a player to always be watching if your the defense when he made his remarkable run down the right hand side that ended with a cut in shot ripped off the bar. However, Downing didn’t look too comfortable on the right hand side all game, something King Kenny will have to analyze.
After all the positives, there are few negatives to focus on including fitness and tactics amongst other things. I still have a few questions that I guess can’t be answered by anyone other than the King himself. Questions like, why wasn’t Aquilani at least on the bench? Why weren’t there more midfield subs made once fatigue set in? Why did Lucas look so slumpy? Why did Flanagan start when Kelly was on the bench? Injury?
Nevertheless, it was a good Liverpool season opener and I look forward to next weeks away game at the Emirates, especially with Gervinho’s red card putting him out against us. I hope to see some changes in the lineup that can secure all 3 points next week. Especially if we want to finish in the top 4 [too early to talk about it? :) ]
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