As everbody knew going to the Liberty stadium was not going to be a formality and it was far from it in the end. Having been totally dominated in the first half it came as a surprise the teams went into the changing rooms with the scores level. On a number of occassions Mignolet made some outsatnding saves to thwart the Swansea attack. Going into half time with either side yet registering on the scoreboard Gary Monk will have been the happiest of the two managers. Brendan Rodgers will have had a lot to say to get his team up and ready for the second half where they couldn’t play much worse.
As you would expect Liverpool were better in the second half where Joe Allen was particularly impressive with his tackling and moving of the ball. Liverpool were always going to have some form of pressure at one point and after a clever flick from sturridge for Henderson to run onto we were presented with it. The Swansea defender beat Henderson to the ball but, the path the defender decided to take clearing the ball was in line with Henderson. This lead to a deflection that looped the goalkeeper leaving him stranded and Liverpool one goal to the good. Taking the lead afforded Liverpool the opportunity to sit back and counter with devastating affect. Daniel Sturridge struck the post late on to give the Swans a late shock.
Liverpool showed their resilience all game pressing the ball, tackling players and holding out for a result that perhaps on the balance should have been a draw. This reilience was not a part of the side that came second last year with the idea that if you score one we’ll score two. The distinct change in identity has meant that Liverpool are more defensively independent and are able to cope with an onslaught and come away with 3 points. With Manchester United on Sunday the Reds will be feeling a lot better about the game in Anfield where they can move one point clear of their rivals with a win.
Having received the sad news that Steven Gerrard will be ending his 17 year journey with Liverpool this year brought about a lot of thoughts and feelings about clubs security and how they move on without; such an iconic character that is very much part of the makeup at Anfield. The months surrounding his announcement has made a lot of fans questions who will the new Mr Liverpool and will he be a current player or a superstar bought in to create a buzz around the place during a solemn period. It would seem vice captain has been bestowed the job to succeed Stevie and carry the team on to bigger and greater things.
Some people including myself have at times wondered why Brendan has chosen Jordan as an ideal character and having paid more attention of late I couldn’t agree more he is the best candidate. The first thing you can ask of any player is that they put themselves about the pic, harassing and hurrying the opposition and Henderson does this all game every game. Henderson in his time has shown he has excellent fitness and stamina through his tireless performances mimicking a younger Steven Gerrard who would run until the ball was out of play. We have all come to know and love a Steven Gerrard wonder pass from deep within his own half finding the feet of his desired team mate, with the captains absence Jordan has been doing this with no problems. Having found himself with new responsibilities he has become twice the player I thought he was. Jordan has instilled a belief into the team that every time we go out we can win the gam comprehensible. Every time he has captained Liverpool we have not lost a game and this could possibly come down to the sharing of responsibility. When you have a player on your team like Gerrard you half expect them to win games for you and this over reliance has cost us dearly over the years and now the team realise that they need to step up. Not only has Coutinho added goals to his game so has Henderson from all ranges.
Knowing we are losing a club legend that we have all loved to watch at his best, perhaps now is a good time to say thank you for all that you have done for the club and you have set Liverpool up for the future to prosper and go on to win many trophies.
Both teams having come off good results meant this was expected to be an exciting game that never really got going. From a Liverpool stand point the game could not have gotten off to a worse start with our main man at the back Martin Skrtel being knocked unconscious by an aerial battle with Rudy Gestede that ended with Skrtel landing awkwardly. As you would expect the necessary safety precautions were taken to ensure that any head or spinal injuries were avoided. Kolo Toure then was forced on earlier than expected and put in a good effort at restricting Gestede to a number of chances.
From the off Liverpool dominated possession as you would expect being the premier league and form side in Europe, disappointingly there was no penetration or tempo to the game making the job even simpler for Rovers. There were a few occasions where you felt that something might come from this but, due to either a lack of supply or poor supply the forward players did not really get a look in. The closest Liverpool even got to scoring was a Kolo Toure goal that was deemed offside from a free kick played in by Coutinho who was amongst a list of frustrated players.
As the game drew on you could sense that it would be the one goal that decided it and Rovers looked intent on sitting back and going for the draw to take them back to Ewood Park. Surprisingly Mario Balotelli made a late entry to the game, which, will have come as a shock to some pundits due to the very limited game time since the return of Sturridge. Balotelli did cause some havoc in the box creating space for Daniel Sturridge who had several penalty appeals all dismissed by Andre Marriner.
Some would say this was a lacklustre performance from Liverpool who lacked tempo for the whole game and others would say this was an excellent defensive display from Rovers who defended their lines from attack right through to the goalkeeper
Surprisingly Liverpool lost 1-0 to Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday which will have come as a big shock to all those watching the game. Liverpool assuredly had the best part of the possession which adds to the confusion of the result, Rodgers will have been pleased how we controlled the game, change the tempo and knowing when to speed the play up.
As always Liverpool were weak at the back and until this is resolved we will leak goals and lose games we are in control of. Aston Villa with no disrespect should be a straight six points bearing in mind how much Liverpool have spent on signings this year. Balotelli, Coutinho and Raheem sterling to name a few, are capable enough to win a game single handed, so why when Daniel Sturridge is injured do we lose with no explanation.
Not taking away any plaudits from Aston Villa they have played very well this season, could this possible be one of the final rungs on the development ladder and see a mature Villa side. The start to the season will give great hope and encouragement for the year to Paul Lambert who did have some job concerns the previous campaign.
Overall, I would categories this as a missed opportunity for Liverpool to push on and show the form which saw them achieve Champions League football last season.
Liverpool has gotten off to a reasonable start gaining 6 points out of 9 which considering the quality of opposition is pretty good going. The minor blip against City which showed some defensive frailties was easily resolved in the changing rooms afterwards where Rodgers discussed the importance of concentration at all times. Against Tottenham, Liverpool picked up where they left off last season picking them apart bit by bit leading to numerous opportunities for Mario Balotelli to open the scoring on his debut. Liverpool usually finds Aston Villa to be tricky customers some may say Liverpool’s bogey team who seem to highlight flaws within the side.
Aston Villa has still to feel their first loss of the season, which will fill them with confidence going into the game away at Anfield. So far this season Fabian Delph has looked the bright spark in a Paul Lambert side that tend to struggle for goals and his performances have awarded him the chance he received against Norway to make his first international appearance for England. The impressive Ron Vlaar will not have to concern himself with the illusive Luis Suarez, which will take a lot of pressure off his shoulders.
For me Liverpool have too much firepower not to win Villa comfortable but as previous results have suggested you can never really put it past them.
It has been on all of our minds what does Liverpool need to do to take the clubs first ever premier league title ending the drought of 24 years without a league title. Interview afetr interview with Liverpool players and manager alike have all said they are taking one game at a time a cliche in world football. Often we hear managers and players saying this as an excuse not to loom forward as not too put pressure on themselves relieving it from those competing against them.
This mantra has seen Liverpool regain the top spot in the premier league where they rightfully deserve to be since the turn of the year being undeafted in the league. In that time they have faced many a good team namely; Arsenal, Southampton, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs winning them all convincingly but before and after each game the mantra remained one game at a time which is becoming quite the footballing philosophy around Anfield. What this mantra means for the players; they really have one thing to look forward to not “oh we have Spurs next week” but ” we are paying Sunderland today and our main priority is the 3 points here today” this philosophy has seen the side look a lot more convincing against the smaller league side and most importantly the recently promoted sides that in previous years we have struggled greatly against. Liverpool have dispatched the majority of the smaller sides a part from the obvious hiccup against Hull City (a newlty promoted side).
Looking at only the immediate future and focussing on the next game has ensured that anything else going on outside of the club is not a distraction like the dubious claims of Jose Mourinho. Without the distractions of last years incident involving Luis’ and his ban we have remained quite quiet in terms of on and off field antics meaning there has been no particular emphasis on our players. Surprisingly the media have left Liverpool to their own devise this season without the usual speculation of our best players leaving and ownership changes. The stability of the side and club could stem from the calmness of the backroom staff who work with the players everday on and off the pitch ensuring happiness in all aspects of their life. Raheem Sterling is one who springs to mind when talking of a calming factor, as he has thanked and praised Rodgers for his help settling hiom into the side this season allowing him to express himself more freely.
Tonight Liverpool will be facing Sunderland at Anfield after a series of trips away from home for the reds which has seen them go on an unbeaten streak which has coincided with Daniel Sturridge’s rich vain of form and Luis Suarez’s return to his goal scoring ways after 5 games without a goal which is a drought for him.
Sunderland will be going to Anfield with a weakened side with the loss of Fabio Borini who is on loan from Liverpool which is unfortunate as he has been a good source of goals for the black cats who are in struggling times fighting it out towards the bottom of the table. Sunderland have had a difficult season with the loss of a manager who bought eleven new players who still seem not to have settled in the league yet, especially considering it takes a season or two to aclimatise to the pace of play in the premier league.
The game will be an intriguing encounter bearing in mind that both sides have their own motives for winning the game. Liverpool will want to extend their unbeaten run which will help them in the title challenge with a game in hand closing within one point of the league leaders if they get a win. Despite Liverpool’s intentions to win the league Sunderland will be looking to the spoil the party and wheel away with a point which will take them one step closer to securing their premier league status.
My prediction is a 4-0 home win for the reds putting them within a point of Chelsea at the top.