Tonight’s win against Steaua was good result after the manager decided to make 8 changes for the game at Anfield tonight. Liverpool got off to a great start with Joe Cole scoring his first of what I hope to be many goals for Liverpool. However after seeing the early lead slip, it looked like what could have been a frustrating night for reds fans.
Credit where it’s due the team kept playing and pushing trying to find an opening but the first half remained a stalemate. After half time there looked to be much more urgency in the way the team played and they kept hold of the possession for long periods trying to break to deadlock as much more focus was on going forward. In the end all the endeavour paid off as on 56 minutes Liverpool were awarded a penalty and restored their lead when Ngog stroked home a 56th minute penalty after Sotirios Kyrgiakos had been fouled in the box.
This was followed by a great strike from Lucas who came off the bench and Ngog managed to find some space and drill home in injury time. With one eye on Sunday’s clash with Manchester United Hodgson fielded a much changed side to the one that faced Birmingham on Sunday opting to leave Steven Gerrard and Torres out of his match squad.
The Europa League may not be a priority for Liverpool, their manager Roy Hodgson will be using the games in the competition to judge some of the players on the fringes of his squad. It was good to see Meireles get his first start in which he almost marked with a goal.
However there was period after conceding the equaliser Liverpool lost their way and against better opposition this may cost them as Steaua looked to have grown a bit of confidence and tried to catch Liverpool on the counter attack.
He will have been pleased with the performances of Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing who both had good games however he may be left wanting more from Babel. Although he didn’t play bad he didn’t play particularly well either. This is a player who wants more first team action but failed to put his mark as he drifted out of the game during the second half in the rare start that he managed to get.
Lucas’s delight was clear to see after he scored this player who I feel has improved a lot since he joined and does get far too much criticism, it has to be remembered that he has adapted his game to a more defensive role as when he was playing in Brazil he was an attacking player.
With the game against Manchester United, Hodgson must ensure that Liverpool don’t have a slow start to the game. It’s been clear to see that in the first half of the games we have played this season we have started slowly and been unconvincing lacking movement and passing to unlock defences There was no real spark there today for the first 45 minutes although Cole showed glimpses.
The second half will have pleased the manager as it was clear to see that the team played with more urgency and got the ball moving quicker, his words must have had an effect as it seemed like a different team walked on the pitch after the break, there was a bit more cohesion within the team. The positive and more attack minded approach meant that Ngog had got more support from the midfield as Liverpool showed their ascendency and looked to control the game in their search for a winner. Although it’s clear to see that Hodgson is still trying to get the team to adapt to his way of playing football and the team is still in a transitional period.
There are things to be wary about before the big game with Manchester United.The first thing is the ease that Birmingham managed to find openings in our defence to create chances, if United are given as many chances they may not be so forgiving in front of goal.
Secondly more invention will be needed and Hodgson will need to change the midfield partnership in order to give the creativity needed to ensure that we create chances in what will be a tough encounter.
Lastly this has probably been said before but we need a much better start to the game than we had previously, and no doubt the players will be well motivated for the clash against their biggest rivals the must put in a solid first half as this has not been the case at the start of this season.
With this said I’m sure that Hodgson will not struggle in finding his first XI as many were rested for tonight’s game and it will be interesting to see who he plays. Personally I’d like to see Gerrard, Cole and Meireles play in the same team but against Manchester United? This game may have come too soon.