Liverpool FC - Keep On Running...
There's a certain inevitability you face as a Liverpool supporter when
watching a match this season. You know that we will play attractive
football. You know that we will dominate possession, regardless of
opposition – and you know that we will create chance after chance.
Unfortunately, you also know that (inevitably)
you’ll leave Anfield or wherever your travels have
taken you thinking “if only we had someone to
put the ball in the net...”
It’s something I touched on in the previous
column, and a theme I’m sure we’ll be revisiting
over the course of the season unless a striker is
signed in the January transfer window. Ignore the
nonsense about “lack of value” in January that
you hear from some quarters. Liverpool have
concluded some great business over the years
with Agger, Arbeloa, Mascherano, Rodriguez and Skrtel joining the club during the month of
It’s imperative that reinforcements are made, or
it’s going to be another long season culminating
in the now familiar “if only...”
On the pitch, Liverpool faced West Brom for
the second time in just over a month -- the
first instance being the Premier League season
opener which Liverpool lost 3-0. On this
occasion, it was the less glamorous Capital
One Cup with Brendan Rodgers fielding a side
consisting of academy graduates and fringe
players -- both with their remit being “show me you deserve a place in the team.”
Oussama Assaidi and Samed Yesil both linked
particularly well, with Assaidi being the main
outlet for much of the game, and involved in all
that was good about Liverpool’s play. Nuri Sahin
scored 2 wonderful goals -- his first, a strike from
30 yards being the pick of the bunch. Seb Coates
and Andre Wisdom once again gave assured
displays in defence, with the latter already
looking a safer bet than Jose Enrique who’s had
an alarming dip in form over the last few months.
The game finished 2-1 to Liverpool and the
difference in performance compared to the
opening day defeat was heartening.
The 5-2 victory against Norwich was the clearest
indication yet of just how Rodgers wants this
Liverpool team to play. Metronomic with their
passing, incessant in their pressing and strong in
the tackle -- every player making himself available
for the ball at all times. There’s no room in this
project for players who like to “hide”, with work
rate and a willingness to be positive in possession
key elements of the formula.
Suarez (rightly) took the plaudits after scoring a
hat-trick, Allen is never anything less than an 7/10 and Sterling continues to develop at a staggering
rate, but for me -- once again, Suso caught the
eye. At only 12 months older than Sterling, it’s
hard to understand why the national press aren’t
giving the same attention to Suso as to Sterling,
but rumours of Real Madrid watching the player indicate that it won’t be long until he’s an
A 3-2 defeat against Udinese in the Europa
League was disappointing as Liverpool had
completely controlled the first half, with Jonjo
Shelvey scoring the opening goal. Shelvey has
been touted as the heir apparent to Steven
Gerrard by many at the club, but it’s only been
this season that his performances have matched
the promise. Assaidi picked up where he left off,
Henderson and Downing were much improved,
and Joe Allen again pulled the strings at the heart
It all went wrong in the second half. De Natale
showed his undoubted class, scoring after a mistake by Glen Johnson. Udinese were
suddenly a yard quicker, closing down with more
purpose and it wasn’t long before the pressure
told. Seb Coates scored an own goal to make the game 2-1 to Udinese before Pasquale made it 3-1
just two minutes later. Suarez scored from a free
kick making the game 3-2, and the introduction
of Sterling from the bench turned the game back
in Liverpool’s favour.
For the last 15 minutes, it was all Liverpool with
Sterling the fulcrum for wave after wave of
attack. Initially it was seen by some fans as a
negative, that Sterling -- a 17 year old was our
“great hope”, but with every assured display he
gives, that jaded view gives way to hope that
Liverpool may have produced their best crop of
youngsters since the MacManaman/Fowler days
thanks to the changes made at the academy by
A game against Stoke City is always tough. Tony
Pulis sets his team up to play a certain way. It’s
just a shame that “way” doesn’t involve more
football and less of what I can only describe as
borderline assault. Stoke have been consistently
in the top 6 spenders in football the last few
years, so to have spent £80 million pounds on a side whose only discernible way of playing is
to play long ball and kick your opponents off the
pitch, is as disappointing as it is classless.
Pulis’ comments after the match about Suarez
showed that lack of class starts at the top, and
trickles down. The game finished 0-0.
A 1-0 victory against Reading was the perfect antidote to the anti-football on display last time out. Suso made his first start after signing a new long term contract, Wisdom once again got the nod over Enrique and Brad Jones replaced Pepe Reina in goal.
Liverpool, after a slow start, moved through the gears and took control of the game. Sahin
showed further signs of adjusting to life in the
Premier League, linking play superbly and almost
opening the scoring after four minutes. Glen
Johnson got forward at every opportunity, Suso
played some Alonso-esque passes around the
pitch, and Joe Allen was diligent as ever.
Suarez turned provider, and sent Raheem
Sterling clear on goal to score his first League
goal after 28 minutes. 1-0 Liverpool, and the
celebrations from the players and crowd
cemented the view that we’re watching a very
special player at the beginning of a long journey
into Liverpool folklore.
The ironic cheers on 37 minutes that greeted Suarez winning a free kick, were as loud (if not louder) than those that rang out for Sterlings goal previous. There’s a growing sense from all connected to Liverpool FC that the treatment of Suarez has now gone beyond a simple dislike of the player.
Let’s get one thing straight. Suarez dives.
Absolutely. No Liverpool fan would suggest
otherwise. But then so does Ashley Young,
Gareth Bale and a whole host of British players,
and therein lies the problem...
At a time when the FA and PFA are furiously
trying their best to be seen to uphold the “Let’s
Kick Racism Out of Football” campaign, they’re
ignoring a case of (at the very least) Xenophobia.
The FA rules are such that offences by or against
a player should be judged on their individual
This is clearly a situation where an individual’s “reputation is now before him” at the expense of a fair and equal treatment.
This is nothing new, as players have suffered
from this for as long as I can remember.
Maybe it’s time to now look at the nationality of those who’ve suffered most, note the pattern and make the change.
KEV DIXON ||
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