It almost ended in huge disappointment for Liverpool, who were looking for their first season-opener win since the 2008-2009 season, their best since the inception of the Premier League. But the Daniel Sturridge goal giving them the 1-0 lead over Stoke City was enough, thanks to Simon Mignolet saving the penalty from Jonathan Walters.
Yes, five years since Liverpool, thanks to a Fernando Torres goal, beat Sunderland on the first weekend of the Premier League season, which ended in a second place finish, only their second since the beginning of the Premier League, finishing four points behind Manchester United.
Does this mean that 2013-2014 will end with a few more smiles for Liverpool? The offseason itself, that was about avoiding the bad signings of the past, and focusing on younger, promising and cheaper players was a decent indicator. Liverpool didn’t play a perfect match, but were the much more dangerous team that deserved a much bigger win.
It’s only Stoke City, true, and only one goal, but Liverpool have struggled against Stoke since the two first met in the Premier League, drawing with them three times at Anfield and rarely finding themselves as winner on the road. The same struggles in the air on defense against the crosses and headers of Stoke, but the combination of Kolo Toure and Daniel Agger managed to plow through, with a little bit of luck.
Title challengers? Champions League? Too soon to say. But Liverpool have a lot more going for them this season, even without the presence of the still suspended Luis Suarez, than they’ve had in a very long time. There are tougher tests ahead, but this is still a far from complete side, that might still add a player or two before the end of August. It took Brendan Rodgers some time, but it seems he’s finally seeing the Liverpool team he envisioned when he first took the job.