Nothing impressive about the win over Anzhi Makhachkala, so you have to dig deep to find things to be happy about. Stewart Downing scoring another impressive Europa League goal is probably it, as Liverpool struggled to come up with the 1-0 win.
Brendan Rodgers didn’t do his youth thing this time. Yes, Raheem Sterling played in the second half, but he plays every match. Andre Wisdom got another start as full back and Oussama Assaidi got another start on the left wing, but it was either him or Suso. Liverpool needed a win, and they managed to get it despite none of their senior players, and especially Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard, looking any good.
Luckily for Rodgers, using Stewart Downing as a left back for the second time this season (vs Hearts was his first attempt) worked out fine. Downing took over for Glen Johnson and didn’t show a reborn magician at the position, but if there’s one thing Downing knows how to do well is attack down the flank. He drifted well into the middle and surprised everyone with a wonderful shot with his right foot to secure the win.
The rest? So-so defending while Anzhi didn’t look too eager to find a winner. Steven Gerrard played sideways and not forward, Raheem Sterling seemed to be mesmerized by the fact that he has a league goal to his name and forgot to equip himself with a pass button into the match. It was mostly him and Luis Suarez against four and five opposition players anyway for most of the second half, as either lack of confidence or lack of will kept the players stuck in their own half on their own attacks.
The closest thing to a goal was Daniel Agger snatching the ball with his head out of the goalkeeper’s hands and score, only to see a referee who’s not too sure of the rules make the “safe” decision and book Agger for being creative. Is it allowed? No one’s really sure. It mostly depends on how big of a player are you and the courage this referee has.
The energy levels won’t be the same come Sunday, when Liverpool play Everton. What about the quality, against one of the better teams this season in the Premier League?
Liverpool’s need for a striker next to Suarez or as a backup to him looks more dire from match to match, as the lack of attacking options and for someone to threaten the goal besides Suarez continues to hamper this team’s fruitful efforts in the middle of the park. If a change isn’t made in January, or the midfield (Steven Gerrard especially) begins taking a lot more involvement with some shots on goal, the potential for a rise up the Premier League table is very limited.