Liverpool defeated Bolton, 3-1, at Anfield in the Premier League in ultimately the Liverpool’s best performance of the season. Goals from Jordan Henderson, Martin Skrtl and Charlie Adam secured the result while Ivan Klasnic got a late consolation goal for Bolton.
Kenny Dalglish packed the midfield, contrary to my pre-match thoughts, and opted for the sole striker in Luis Suarez with Andy Carroll dropped to the bench.
Liverpool’s best available defense started with the expected Pepe Reina in goal and Jose Enrique, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Martin Kelly lining up together again in our defensive line.
Dalglish opted to have 5 in the midfield with Lucas Leiva in a familiar midfield holding role, along with Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Dirk Kuyt.
Liverpool started the half strongly, with Bolton rarely threatening, allowing Reina to spend most of the afternoon counting European Cups. Downing’s wing play was of a standard not seen at Anfield in recent years while Lucas Leiva was exemplary in the center of the park, fighting for the ball and providing it on silver plates for the likes of the Henderson and Adam, who in turn distributed well.
Henderson did well getting up in support of Suarez and his performance will start to turn many of the naysayers, after his earlier disappointing performances.
Suarez, already on 3 goals for the season, turned provider with some good work on the left-wing and providing a well placed ball into the Anfield Road box off the outside of his right boot. Downing did particularly well to hit it first time on the volley and force a good save from Bolton’s, Jussi Jaaskelainen. The rebound fell to Kuyt who played it back to Henderson immediately,who in turn rifled his shot into the top left corner at the second attempt to open his Liverpool account(Video).
Liverpool continued to dominate in the first half, with Bolton getting involved but rarely threatening. Liverpool, though, were unable to increase the lead and secure the second goal needed to provide a cushion. The match felt strangely reminiscent of the opening fixture with Liverpool overpowering the opponent, but unable to deliver the killer punch to close off the tie and I had a slight worry, that we could allow Bolton back into the game.
The injury to Martin Kelly, a precaution with a tight hamstring, forcing Martin Skrtl into an unfamiliar role at right back, was the only blight in an otherwise excellent first half from the Red’s. Suarez looked threatening throughout an entertaining half and was unlucky to see one hit the top net from a slightly heavy chip.
The second half started with the teams unchanged from the break and Liverpool attacking the Kop end. Getting the second goal would have been the main topic of discussion at the break and the substitute, Skrtl, provided it with a powerful run and header from a Charlie Adam corner(Video).
Adam, barely 2 minutes later, went from provider to goal scorer, scoring his first “official” goal of the season with an elegant finish from the edge of the box, after doing really well to create space for the shot(Video).
Liverpool started really taking control of the game, and a rout looked on the cards. A disappointed Suarez was taken off to be replaced by Andy Carrol while Maxi Rodriguez came on for Henderson.
Liverpool threatened, but were never quite ruthless enough to inflict more damage on Bolton. Bolton would score a late consolation goal through Klasnic, after a mistake by Jamie Carragher, who I felt had a good afternoon up until this point.
The key to the result was possession, with Liverpool dominating with 60% possession and Lucas Leiva(Individual Highlights) instrumental in winning lost ball back. Liverpool had double the amount of corners, 12, in comparison to Bolton’s 6, and the scoreline reflects this. The players showed hunger and attitude and this will serve us well in the long season ahead, with Suarez, Lucas and Kuyt running tirelessly for the cause.
Lucas was my Man of the Match with his hard yards in the midfield instrumental. Dalglish commended the new players and the team effort in his post match thoughts on the official site. You can also see the all the goals, highlights and post match interviews here, while I have also included Lucas’s tackles made below.