As always much anticipation and excitement regarding the first match of the season, and with all the summer signings their is a renewed hope around Liverpool. It is always great to start of the new season with a home match but with a game against Sunderland it would not be easy as Steve Bruce and his team have a good record against the Reds in recent times, and with Sunderland also being busy with transfers during the summer, both sets of supporters would be eager to see their new signings.
Kenny has strengthened his squad immensely during the summer and not surprisingly he fielded a very strong team to start off the season. With four of the five new signings starting the match for Liverpool and Luis Suarez starting the match alongside Andy Carroll in attack it did look a completely different team from a year ago. Key players for Liverpool last season Dirk Kuyt and Martin Kelly had to be content with a place on the bench due to the strength of the squad.
A packed and excited Anfield welcomed the teams onto the hallowed turf for this first game of the season, and Liverpool started brightly lifted by their passionate supporters. Luis Suarez was involved in all the early action as he started off the way he left South America only three weeks ago.
Then on 7 minutes Suarez charged down Keiran Richardson’s clearance on the half way line and ran through on goal, but as he tried to go around goalkeeper Mignolet, Richardson clipped the striker’s heels inside the box in attempt to retrieve the situation. Referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot for a penalty but what looked like a certain goalscoring opportunity for Liverpool meaning Richardson should have been red carded, Dowd only showed the fortunate Sunderland player a yellow.
The man of the moment Suarez stepped up to take the penalty looking very confident, but to everyone’s surprise he blasted the spot-kick into the Anfield Road supporters. Sunderland were let off the hook temporarily as Liverpool continued on the offensive and they eventually took the lead in the 13th minute when Charlie Adam whipped in a free-kick which Suarez met with his head giving Mignolet no chance and sending the home supporters wild.
Liverpool were playing some great stuff as they continued to create chances. Andy Carroll was unlucky to have a goal ruled out when he finished off a Downing cross in clinical fashion, the referee’s assistant flagging for an infingement.
Suarez who was key in most of Livepool’s moves almost sent Lucas through in goal with a great turn and pass, but the Sunderland defence just managed to deny the Brazilian. New signing Downing who was looking lively then made a great run down the right before cutting inside and unleashed a rocket which smacked the Sunderland bar with Mignolet beaten.
The only threat of note from Sunderland came just before half-time when a teasing Larsson free-kick had Reina in trouble as he missed the cross completely.
So Liverpool went in at half-time in a commanding position but in all honesty they should have been more goals to the good.
Sunderland came out a different team and started to pressure Liverpool more and started to cause the Liverpool defence some problems. Then in the 52nd minute Larsson robbed Flanagan of possession before whipping in a cross but Gyan’s effort was straight at Reina.
Liverpool responded Carroll powering in a header just off target and then the big man was only a whisker away from an Enrique cross.
But in the 57th minute the game changed when Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross evaded the Liverpool defence allowing Larsson to volley past Reina.
The equaliser knocked Liverpool off their stride and they suddenly looked disjointed as Sunderland became more dangerous. For the remainder of the match Sunderland looked the more likely to snatch a winner as Liverpool lost their way and especially when Suarez had to be replaced after running himself into the ground.
It was a disappointing result for Liverpool especially with the way the played in the first half and with the chances they spurned.
It was a very strong side that Kenny started the season with but I was surprised to see that Kelly and Kuyt never started but this shows the options that Dalglish now has available to him. Liverpool played really well the first half but if you don’t take your chances it comes back to haunt you. Surprised but very pleased to see Suarez starting and he was superb, shame about the penalty miss. The new signings did well, especially Enrique who only signed the day before, although I felt Henderson was a bit off the pace and left Flanagan exposed a bit at times. Decisions went against us too as Richardson should have walked and Carroll’s goal should have stood. But disappointing they way we lost our way in the second half when Sunderland equalised. Still its only the first game and plenty of positives to take out from the game.
Man Of The Match – Suarez – won and missed a penalty but never let it bother him and scored a great goal soon after. He really is a class player.
written by Jamie McLaughlin website at www.anfieldnews.com