Everyone keeps expecting Daniel Sturridge to slow down and start showing the inconsistency patches he’s been known for in the past, and yet his start of the season for Liverpool is about getting everything right, and being the main reason the team is still undefeated in all competitions.
No one expected the League Cup match against Notts County to become such a tricky affair, dragging on for 120 minutes and Liverpool players barely holding on after losing three players to injury during the match, resulting in them being left with 10 men after Kolo Toure made his exit, holding his groin. He was preceded by Aly Cissokho and Joe Allen leaving the pitch. Not starting players, but still vital ones Liverpool can’t afford to see injured for too long. Toure, if injured, is huge headache for Rodgers.
Their second half collapse might tell of players becoming to complacent, or maybe a manager who didn’t prepare them for a League One rival that might realize it has nothing to lose, and start attacking in the second half like they have nothing to lose.
Liverpool had no problem dominating in the first half. Raheem Sterling who some almost forgot about scored an impressive goal off a solo effort, and Daniel Sturridge scored his first of the night after a fantastic Steven Gerrard pass. One of the big things for Sturridge, who had Jordan Ibe, Raheem Sterling and Luis Alberto playing with him up front, is the way Gerrard and Coutinho keep looking for him. Coutinho might a bit selfish at times, too greedy with his dribbles towards the box, but it seems like he and Sturridge have a very good understanding.
Somehow things went very wrong for Liverpool in the second half, reaching an extra time no one really needed. Liverpool aren’t in Europe this season, so the issue of fatigue and overplaying some players isn’t a major factor. But for players like Steven Gerrard, Kolo Toure and Daniel Agger, playing 120 minutes or close to that isn’t part of the plan.
With Manchester United coming to Anfield on Sunday, the Kolo Toure issue becomes a huge problem. Liverpool simply don’t have a centre back to use, as Andre Wisdom moved to the middle to fill in for Toure during extra time, while Raheem Sterling did a terrible job as a right back, which is nowhere near his more natural position. The same kind of personnel change, putting Wisdom in the middle of the defense next to Agger, might be disastrous against Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
Gerrard, Coutinho and Sturridge. Those are the three that made the third and decisive goal happen, before Henderson’s crafty fourth. Gerrard was clam enough in his defending to set Coutinho loose on the counter attack, and the Brazilian actually looked for Sturridge instead of choosing the more frustrating option. Sturridge did enjoy a terrible reaction from goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski, but on a night with so many things going wrong for his team, it was expected for something to go Liverpool’s way.