Should we call it a bad day at the office? Maybe, but how bad was that?! We are lucky that Suarez is back for the next game or we could have been in very, very serious trouble over the short term. The side lacked creativity of any sort in the absence of our two attacking talismans and frankly speaking, Wednesday’s trip to Old Trafford doesn’t fill me with confidence even with Suarez returning. I’m not trying to be overtly negative. I know we can only get better than this because that is the worst I’ve seen us play for a long, long time.
Our troubles were apparent the moment I looked at the team sheet. In the absence of Philippe Coutinho, I was looking forward to Henderson playing in his position, Sterling starting to provide pace down the right and Joe Allen alongside Lucas and Gerrard in the middle of the park. Instead we saw a yet again ineffectual Iago Aspas and four center backs in our back four. As soon as I saw Sakho and Toure at full back positions, I knew that we would have no penetration from the flanks, which is a very key part of our game with Enrique and Johnson. With our full backs taken out the game as an attacking threat, it was left to just our front three of Sturridge, Henderson and Aspas to provide the spark in front of goal, but that was never going to happen without the usual numbers that we get into attacking positions and without a creative player to create goalscoring opportunities.
Simon Miglonet – Can not be spoken of highly enough. The triple save in three seconds was an absolute blinder as was a finger save from an Osvaldo shot. Is reinforcing my belief of him being a brilliant shot stopper and may well be Liverpool’s best bit of summer business.
Mamadou Sakho – Anonymous at left back. Made an absolutely fantastic last ditch tackle to deny a goalscoring opportunity after being shifted to center back. Seems like a typical slow but extremely powerful defender. I enjoyed a brilliant and perfectly clean tackle by him ending up with a Saints player on the deck.
Daniel Agger – Was at fault for the goal. Defensive set pieces have been our Achilles’ heel for what seems like time immemorial now!
Martin Skrtel – After a beast of a performance against Manchester United, I would say he was our poorest player in defence yesterday. Game was typified by a moment in which he let the ball run behind him from a back pass and turned only to find it had run out of play.
Kolo Toure – Struggled at right back even though he fared better than Sakho at left back. Made one or two decent attacking runs but not enough to pose a constant threat.
Lucas Leiva – Did what he always does well. completed 43 of his 45 passes in the game. Can’t fault him for the midfield looking very weak.
Steven Gerrard – Probably the poorest player on the pitch last night, the Liverpool captain will want to banish this game from memory with a win against Manchester United in the League Cup. 1-0 down, chasing the game, he gave the ball away constantly and needlessly and invited unnecessary pressure at a time when Liverpool should have been the team applying pressure.
Jordan Henderson – Had an ok game. Nothing special. I was looking forward to seeing him in this role seeing how well he linked up with Coutinho behind Sturridge in the last game but nothing to shout about here.
Victor Moses – Being billed as someone who would provide and strong and pacey option up front upon his signing, Moses really didn’t do enough for me. There were flashes of potential, but nothing that would make anyone sit up and take notice of him in this game. Chelsea won’t be too disappointed with having sent him out on loan.
Iago Aspas – Nondescript.
Daniel Sturridge – Tried to do it all by himself and ended up trying too hard at times. Was selfish, which I didn’t like. I understand that he is on fire, but there were occasions when he could have passed to a teammate in a better position rather than going it alone.
Raheem Sterling – I thought he was bright after coming on. Definitely injected pace on the right and cannot be expected to turn the game on his own at this stage in his development.
Jose Enrique – That he is a better option than Sakho at left back speaks volumes of the paucity of our options in full back positions. Is decent defensively, but is a real liability going forward. The overriding image I get in my head when I think of him in an attacking position is either a backwards pass or a cross that goes over everyone’s head and out.
Luis Alberto – Might have been a decent starting option. Not given enough time to show what he can do after scoring a hat-trick for the U21’s.
Two simple points of concern.
1. This may be in hindsight, but tactics were way out of order. Four center backs made no sense right from the word go and took too long to introduce Enrique and a measure of normalcy to the lineup. Square pegs do not fit in round holes.
2. I’m just speculating here, but Steven Gerrard recently said that this is the most gruelling pre-season he has ever had. Look at our players who have been injured or played with niggles so far this season – Johnson, Coutinho, Toure, Cissokho, Coates, Agger, Sturridge, Enrique. Enrique supposedly didn’t start yesterday because he had a knock to his knee. Coincidence? I pray to god not else we will tail off very badly because the games will keep coming thick and fast.
I don’t feel entirely confident for the United match because I don’t think the problem of width will have been addressed by then. However, let’s all just take a moment to remind ourselves that Manchester United have David Moyes as their manager and laugh!