There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. On Saturday Brendan Rodgers trod that line with remarkable closeness.
His starting line-up against Aston Villa didn’t hold too many surprises, giving Daniel Sturridge his first start after his goal scoring return from the bench last week hardly raised eyebrows. The man whose place he took was, however, a surprise omission.
Without Lucas Leiva to shore things up in midfield, mopping up any potential danger and being the link between defence and midfield, the amount of room in the centre of the park instantly doubled. Despite having Steven Gerrard playing deeper than usual, the skipper couldn’t replicate the job the Brazilian brings to the side, ironically allowing the likes of Gerrard to get forward, and it was a decision that could’ve been more harmful than dropping only two points.
Winning 5-3 away at Stoke the previous weekend, the confidence Rodgers took from that, coupled with Aston Villa’s defeat to Arsenal, must’ve had some influence on his decision to go 4-4-2 against the Midlanders. On paper it was a game we should be winning, at home you’d expect nothing less, but taking into account Villa’s form on the road is better than that at Villa Park a note of caution had to be adhered to.
Despite opting to go with a line-up that was more open than it should’ve been, it’s a good sign in a manager that he knows when to scrap his plan A instead of waiting for the result to come. Bringing Lucas on, and later Joe Allen to replace the injured Brazilian, brought some steadiness back to the team and saw Gerrard venture further forward to supply Suarez and Sturridge.
Rescuing a draw after being 2-0 down is a positive that Rodgers will be focusing on but there still remained a few more question marks to come from Saturday’s game.
Steven Gerrard playing deeper didn’t work at the weekend, it didn’t fully work at the Britannia either, and it shows that now is still not the time to be moving him further back and restricting his attacking prowess.
Going further back still, there remains some lingering questions over elements of the defence. Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure, not for the first time this season, didn’t look a steady partnership and one that doesn’t seem to communicate well. Finding a permanent centre back partnership is slowly becoming a must as the need for stability becomes ever more important in what could be a vital season for the club.
Remaining in defence, which is exactly what he should be doing, and Ally Cissokho was found out of position on a number of occasions. The loss of Jose Enrique to injury has disrupted the balance in defence slightly more than Rodgers anticipated. Jon Flanagan’s reappearance in the side seemed to have bridged the gap till the Spaniards return but even his injury has caused problems leaving the on loan Cissokho our only recognised left back.
Despite the problems listed above, if we can show the same positive attitude that Brendan Rodgers did when scrapping his plan A at half time we can hopefully get things back on track and call this game a mere blip.
To Bournemouth we go.