The season is starting to look better and better for Liverpool, getting magical performances from Philippe Coutinho, surprising flair from the hard working Jordan Henderson while Joe Allen, flying under the radar, develops into a trustworthy defensive midfielder.
We will begin with Allen, an expensive signings from Swansea that hasn’t had the easiest time at Liverpool into his third season at the club. It was never quite clear what formation is best suited for his unique skill set and often, there’s someone better than him regardless of the formation Brendan Rodgers used.
But the decline of Steven Gerrard and a more recent injury to Lucas (something that always happens) put Allen in the driver’s seat, or in the defensive midfielder position he has often struggled with in the past. But against Manchester City, a team that’s always difficult to keep up with, Allen put in a quiet performance without any mistakes in the back and unlike Lucas, has the passing ability and vision to actually build attacks from behind.
Of course, none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the incredible performance from Jordan Henderson. The thing everyone will remember is his fantastic goal in the first half, hands down the best of his career, but he made a huge difference in the second half with something a lot less creative: Actually matching Yaya Toure stride for stride and providing the physical presence necessary to limit the Ivorian’s influence on the match.
And Coutinho? This is his season, after some up and down moments last year. For the second straight season, he scores a memorable goal to take down City late at Anfield. Last season it almost got Liverpool a historic championship. This season it’s “only” for the right to play in the Champions League, which is almost as important for a club trying to re-position itself as one of the top 4 in England and a force to be reckoned with in Europe.
Maybe above all was Liverpool showing how good it’s set up for the future in terms of personnel. Daniel Sturridge hardly played and could have ended up scoring twice. Raheem Sterling might have been exhausted and sloppy in the second half but he’s on his way to becoming a world class talent, just like Coutinho is turning out to be. Jordan Henderson is a signing that Liverpool will be happy with for the next decade and Emre Can might turn out to be that good as well. Despite the rough finish and tragic memories from 2014, 2015 has been a source of joy and optimism that’s addictive for the team’s fans.