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      Liverpool FC - Keep On Running...

      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 January.


      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 established name.


      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 of midfield.


      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 Rafa Benitez.


      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 merits.


      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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