It is testament to how expectations have risen at Anfield after they won their first 3 games that they were expected to comfortably beat Swansea last night. Yes, we gave them a 5-0 drubbing last season, but that was at home and with Swansea missing a host of key players a week before their League Cup final. Make no mistake, the Liverpool that we have known between January 2013 and Rafa’s last season in charge would have lost that game. As it is though, we have drawn at a stadium where the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea also drew last season, while Arsenal lost. It is a little bit worrying how we tail off so badly in the second half of games this season though. Last night though, that had a specific reason, and one reason alone.
Philippe Coutinho. This lad is such a talent it is unbelievable. He doesn’t have much pace but runs like the ball is tied to his feet. He has the awareness to spot a pass and the cleverness to quickly twist into any space available. He has the ability to thread passes through the eye of a needle and is a constant roving, attacking menace in the final third. And that is exactly why Liverpool’s performance tailed off so poorly in the second half. Coutinho went off injured, and there was nobody left to keep the probing of Swansea’s defence up. Iago Aspas is a nifty little player, but he has looked out of depth in the last two games. There was no cohesion to the forward play at all, we just kept gifting the ball back to Swansea time and time again. Aspas and Sterling were absolutely anonymous after coming on, and Sturridge looked absolutely knackered, playing as he is not being fully fit. All of these factors led us to being fairly toothless in attack in the second half.
Jordan Henderson. How much can this guy run? How long? Would he last if every game was 120 minutes long? These are the questions that run through my mind when I think about Jordan Henderson. The amount of effort he puts into every game is absolutely incredible! Other aspects of his game have tremendously improved as well. Did anyone notice the sublime one-two with Coutinho that ended up with Coutinho shooting straight at the keeper? Fantastic player to have in the side, and could potentially play in the number 10 role if Coutinho is injured for a few games.
All of which brings us to Victor Moses. He provides us pace and power up front, and trickery on the wings. Took his goal well yesterday and should’ve had an assist to his name as well for the brilliant cross which eventually forced Vorm into a save from Sturridge’s header. Solid debut.
Our other debutant last night was Mamadou Sakho. Interesting player, isn’t he? As he stepped into the side in place of the injured Daniel Agger, he showed glimpses of why Liverpool swooped for him as soon as he became available. He has power and a commanding aerial presence we have long lacked. It does seem to me that he will take a little time getting up to the speed of the Premier League, but that is only to be expected. He threw himself into challenges a couple of times which led to Swansea shots but was very good in the air. Just seems to be lacking a little bit of match sharpness at this point in time but made a couple of absolutely fantastic tackles late on.
We’re back at the top of the table (for now). While no one is, or should be expecting us to stay there, it does provide something for Brendan Rodgers to build upon. We have our top league goalscorer from last season, Luis Suarez to come back after one game. If we are 4th or near in January, expect more signings to take us a notch higher. In the current scenario, it is hard to be anything but positive about this campaign.
C’mon you Redmen! Let’s go get that fourth spot! Or who knows, even higher.