Some seasons are defined by certain moments. If Liverpool do end up smiling about this season, they’ll probably remember the 3-2 win at Upton Park over West Ham as somewhat of a milestone victory that made it clear that Brendan Rodgers is on the right path. No Luis Suarez, a weak Steven Gerrard, but a team that showed it can move on beyond the big names who sometime take all the credit and the spotlight.
One of the biggest worries for Liverpool fans before the match was how the team will look without Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan striker accounted for over 50% of their goals before the visit to Upton Park, where the Hammers lost only once prior to yesterday’s match. Liverpool needed to go behind to start playing the kind of football Rodgers has been waiting for, but that did produce only their second away win of the season while managing a comeback win for the first time in this campaign.
False 9 is probably the most popular tactic variation of the year. What one Lionel Messi can create for the rest of the world. Liverpool simply don’t have another striker at the moment except for Luis Suarez. Fabio Borini is still out and Adam Morgan from the youth team is, well, a youth team striker. Raheem Sterling doesn’t mind being the man positioned at the top of the pyramid, but he’s much better playing a wider position. If in previous years Steven Gerrard was the one who spearheaded Liverpool’s second wave attack, it looks like Jonjo Shelvey is showing everyone the role is going to be his, maybe sooner than later.
He didn’t score the final goal, the 79th minute own strike by James Collins, but was there, always, to draw out the centre backs and create the space needed. The whole idea about the false 9 works when the midfielder in disguise is a good enough goal scorer to draw the attention of the defense. While Shelvey is still some way from being a complete player and a consistent one, he’s definitely one of those who keeps one eye on the goal at all times. His passing should get better, but in terms of his shooting and off the ball movement, he’s probably Liverpool’s most dangerous midfielder.
Maybe Liverpool won more than a match. Maybe they won back players. Joe Cole scoring a goal was probably the most surprising thing about the match. More than the comeback, more than the win. A player who was branded as unwanted by the team and by anyone else in the league or around Europe. Liverpool tried dumping him somewhere, but couldn’t find a buyer. A man who was heralded as “just as good as Lionel Messi” when he first arrived at the club by Steven Gerrard finally got himself a moment in the spotlight, something many thought won’t happen for him again in his Liverpool career.
For the first time this season, the upper half of the table. The fourth place Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard keep talking about? Only foru points away, but they mustn’t think they’ve arrived. This team is too shallow in its squad depth to think it’s on the golden path from now on. Finding the right use for Steven Gerrard; shaking up Raheem Sterling from his bad form and turning him into a more effective player. Liverpool are better than the early part of the season suggested. The question is just how good they really are, and if the 3-2 win at West Ham is indicative of a pattern or just an insignificant spike in a disappointing season?