The Opener: LFC’s Start to the New Campaign

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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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  1. Nice article. Most of the question you had for kk almost all of us had. As for henderson to feature in that match it was because it was his former clud nothing more to it. I think adam needs to time hes challenges. Enrique was brilliant. Why did kuyt start on the bench we know he links up with suarez very well same goes too meireless. One writer wrote ‘THE PROBLEM OFF HAVING 8 MIDFIELDERS’. I think we need more of tricky playerz to provide indepth the likes of Aquiliani. Who i think would link up with suarez very well. For me maxi should be a regular select i just see him as a player who does what is required of him he is a silent assasin with hes accures being good, one of the players you cant take anything away from him too bad age is not on his side but still have it for another year or so. Spearing just sorry for him too many names to knock off good for competition same goes too shelvey

    1. I agree with you except for Maxi. I like Maxi but his consistency is poor. Too many questions to be asked but in Kenny we trust.

  2. Excellent article and analysis. I share all of your questions. While Flanno may be responsible for a couple of mistakes one of which was converted, I was impressed with his composed nature and accurate passing most of the time. Yes, he needs to up his game but he should not be ashamed of his contribution so far. That said, I think Kelly should have started yesterday or brought on in the second half.

    More importantly though, in a team that boasts Maxi, Aqulani and Merilies, Kenny should not have given Henderson a starting birth. Maybe there are plans to sell Aqulani and Kenny is trying to avoid injuri but why not use Maxi and Merilies?

    That aside, the general fitness level of the team should improve. They should press their opponents all the time and should not give them space to create opportunities. That is what league winning teams do and Liverpool have been guilty of giving their opponents time and space lots of times. The team should play the same way they play Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Utd. The playing habit should not go up and down based on the opposition! Make a habit of playing a pressing high tempo game and to do that work on your fitness!!!

    I am very optimistic this season and I’m grateful to FSG (particularly the owners) but the team should start to deliver and Kenny should be firm with his charges. I felt bad yesterday for the owners! I’m sure they expected a win as we all did. Football is tough and EPL is particularly full of surprises but we should try and do better next time.

    I have one request to Kenny – Henerson is not ready, please play the others!!!!! Thank you!!!

  3. I think the reason Aqualani was left out was the Sunderland defenders would have battered him to a pulp especially the turds that fell of the Manure pile. Let’s face it Brucy still does his masters bidding.

  4. If really KK wants to sell Aquilani why has he left it so late??KK did admit himself he would want Aquilani to stay and Aquilani did subscribe to it he would like to stay to make his mark on the team.if we loose Aquilani I m afraid we don’t have that sort of player yet that could unlock stubborn defences like him,Joe cole for me isn’t good enough old age has caught up with him and Raul Miereles isn’t that sort of player that is as creative and slick in passing as Aquilani.In my humble opinion I would like to see Aquilani in our next match otherwise the heat and pressure will all start to mount on KK especially we don’t win our next match.Moreso we should never give up in pressing our opponents the only time we could do this is if we are leading by 3 goals then we could sit back soak up pressure and hit back on a fast lane..

    1. I’d like to see aquiline in as well. Would really be interesting to see his impact on the game for us and the tempo.

  5. Have to say i thought we were fantastic going forward, yes we wasted some chances. Phil Dowd was poor and ruling out Carroll’s goal was a joke, im very happy with that first half but the second was a little flat. All in all we play good football now so why not be happy????

    1. Oh I am happy with how we did. Just could have been happier if you know what I mean. But yes Carroll’s goal should have gone through no question. Ridiculous call from Dowd but then again everyone gets shafted by the ref.

  6. Very interesting read.
    All the players should be fully fit to kick start the season, not use the first few matches to get fitter by which time we could be 7/8 points behind the top spot.
    We cannot afford to drop points like this, great to see Suarez back & the season started. Lets roll over Arsenal.
    ps – Henderson is not ready yet

    1. Hopefully good not bad haha. I agree that we need all three points and that Hendo may not be ready. Don’t think it was cause of his old club though do you? YNWA.

  7. Where did you get your stats from. “solid 60%”.
    BBC stats show 51/49%, and Sunderland had more shots.

  8. I just don’t get what Kenny sees in Henderson. He has contributed very little in the pre-season matches, certainly not enough to merit a place in the starting lineup ahead of the likes of Kuyt, Aquilani or even Maxi. Not surprisingly, he was anonymous again against Sunderland. Surely when it comes to the league, you field the players who would most likely get you the result, not base it on their future potential, who bought them or how much they cost.

    1. Hendo is good but needs plenty of time to adjust. A good player for the future. I will definitely agree that he is miles away from Kuyt, Aqui, and even Maxi. He shouldn’t start and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was dropped against Arsenal.

  9. People need to stop the whinging !!!, why should we roll over everyone we play?. We will have a good season without a doubt, J W Henry has told Kenny to spend again if needs be!!!. Let’s get behind them 100% and cheer the lads on game in game out, I’ve got no time for moaners at all, for christ’s sake we played well and should have been out of sight at half-time, watch it back today, we ripped them apart!!!!

  10. We dropped 2 points at home VS Sunderland!!UTD won 2 points away to West Brom (who beat us twice last season). UTD players seemed very hungry for 90minutes plus extra time, i did not get the same impression from our players!!! if it is our ambiition to be in top four!!! and to be Competitive as KD puts it we will have to lift our game a couple of levels and sustain it for full 90min (we were great n first 45)!!

    Question marks for me are: henderson, carrol, flanno(ito the goal conceded, also didnt quite get y 3 players went to one Sunderland player on the left from where the cross came basically unchallenged).

    Strategy: it didnt seem like we were able to change the game after they scored, which is a bit of a concern especially after the players we brought in.

    Hopefully this is a brief blip and we can quickly move past this.

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