by Shanks Grandson Christopher William Shankly Carline
So after the wonderful tonic that was our 3-0 win at Spurs, the international break provided a period of longevity that Liverpool fans really wanted to do without before seeing the players taking to the field again in club colours. By the end of the International round of fixtures, it had additionally provided a serious frustration for Liverpool’s physio’s and club doctor!
The news that Daniel Sturridge returned home from England duty with a rather serious thigh strain that leaves him doubtful for the Everton game was greeted with anger and frustration by Brendan Rodgers and the fans, exacerbated by the news that Joe Allen and Emre Can also returned home with injuries of varying severity. All missed the cut for the Villa game as a result, and Rodgers was suitably distressed enough to leave Sterling on the bench, with all the good intention at heart to protect the 19 year old from the burgeoning pressures being put on his shoulders as the saviour of the national side.
It meant Liverpool’s team to play Villa, though packed with international talent, had an air of the unknown about it. The front 3 on paper, completely changed from the front 3 last year that rattled so many goals on route to almost winning the Premier League. And it told.
The performance was disjointed and lacked tempo, pace or cutting edge. Players looked like it was the first time they had ever set foot on the field together, and perhaps in some cases it wasn’t far off being the case, but the fact of the matter is that an average Villa side (yes they have had a decent start to the season against lesser teams) won far too easily at Anfield. It wasn’t like Senderos and Baker were making last ditch challenges. It wasn’t like Guzan was having to perform miracles in goal.
A bundled goal from Agbonlahor after 10 or so minutes should have easily been cancelled out and more by Liverpool in the remaining 80 0dd minutes. It wasn’t, Senderos stooping to beat Lovren to a corner and the rebound being scruffily turned home by the Villa man. We huffed and puffed with little end product. Lallana making his debut tried his hardest to inspire and showed some neat touches, but was offered vey little assistance from his team mates in the final third. Markovic started well but faded; but there is enough evidence to suggest he is a talented player. Coutinho far too often had to come deep, too deep; to get the ball, and was offered little by way of movement in front of him, although the little Brazillian nearly snatched something from the game, hitting the post with a curling effort late on that had Guzan beaten all ends up.
We were offered an insight this week as to why Micah Richards came to blows with Mario Balotelli some years ago at Carrington. “I told him he has to move'” proclaimed Richards in a training match. You can see his point, Mario far too often was pedestrian and seemed to be waiting for it to happen for him rather than MAKING it happen for him. Contrast that to a front three last year of Suarez, Sterling and Sturridge who so constantly are on the move, interchanging and making defender’s lives a misery, and you can see why last year we plundered over 100 goals, yet yesterday struggled to muster more than one shot on target against Villa. Must do better is the verdict for Mario if he is going to lead the line. The bright side is that of last years front three, we still have 66% of it ready to return in coming weeks and the return of Champions League Football to Anfield tomorrow night.