Let’s just say it was not exactly the start we were all expecting. Let’s also say that when taking everything into consideration there might be some justifications, but it’s still not what we were all expecting!
At the end of the 90 minutes, the bottom line and all important aspect is the result. I am sure that in the Club’s PL marching plan for this season, yesterday’s game had been marked as a three pointer, but it was not too be. The usual ‘it was just the first game’ cliché needs to be thrown out of the window because this will be a hard fought season in which teams of the caliber of LFC need to fight game by game, point by point, so it’s really not the season to be compassionate and patronizing if we really have the ambitions we have been talking and discussing about all summer.
The good thing about yesterday’s game was a positive first 45 minutes in which the Reds seemed to want to show what playing against them this season will mean. For most of the half we were on the verge of 75% possession and that possession was not passing the ball between the back four and the holding midfielders like we did in the second half! Jose Enrique’s debut confirmed why he was bought in the first place and it was only his first game. Downing was positive, giving glimpses of pace and brilliance, Adam gave in his shift and more. The movement, alertness and concentration of the team in the first half was exemplary and exhilarating.
The bad thing about yesterday’s game was perhaps the starting line-up which even Liverpool.tv commentators declared to be ‘somewhat surprising’! In hindsight perhaps Flanno’s choice at the back was a tad audacious, because when you are third in the pecking order and the two above you are injured it’s one thing, when you are third in the pecking order and the one above you is fit that’s another. I don’t think the youngster had a positive game culminating in a stroke of amnesia when Larssen found himself with acres of space that gave him the urge and chance to produce a picture goal. I am not slamming the lad by any means; I am just saying that objectively, I’d play Kelly in his place if I had to choose between the two. Henderson too looked a bit out-of-sorts on the right and I personally expected more initiative from him. We had four new faces playing, but the Sunderland had even more! Many commented about the absence of Aquilani, which now brings me to the conclusion that his inclusion in the pre-season games was merely to showcase him and entice Fiorentina and Milan into a ‘come and get him’ frenzy. Any other reason why he was not even on the subs bench?
The ugly thing about yesterday’s game was how we lost our puff in the second half, resorting to send in a flurry of long balls for Carroll to play down to his team mates that were always a few meters too far. We were so bad in the second half that we had a 70% possession stat in the first that dwindled to just 52% overall. They eventually had more scoring opportunities than us and we should all conclude and agree that Bruce’s second half counter-measures worked and that they deserved the point. As I wrote in the beginning, we will need to take the positives out of the second half performance. I really don’t know if there were any to be honest, but we must stay positive, no?
On a final note, because I am sure many of you will add this to their comments, we were unlucky not to blow them away in the first half which would have given the second a different perspective. We did not and we should now have what it takes to recover and slam opposition like Sunderland, especially at Anfield. Phil Dowd was wrong not to send Richardson off! That foul was a sending off-offence at any minute of the game and we honestly cannot have referees reasoning that such decision too early in the game will mar the result. Not looking for excuses, just stating the facts.
Arsenal at the Emirates up next!