Entering something of a do-or-die season for Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool, through a beautiful Philippe Coutinho strike, managed to rise above the dreadfulness of their season opener to pick up a win in a stadium they usually don’t leave with smiles on their faces over the last few years.
There’s a lot of bad and also some good in Liverpool’s season debut, picking up a rare away victory over Stoke, who couldn’t bulldoze and bully Liverpool players like in years past. Christian Benteke didn’t do much up front as balls just didn’t come his way, but he’s not a small player Stoke players can push around. Dejan Lovren was extra physical and the combination of James Milner and Jordan Henderson in the middle of the pitch should be very industrious for Liverpool, who looked even better when Adam Lallana came off and Emre Can helped the team take over the match with a reinforced strong middle.
Above all this is Coutinho, who wasn’t having a very good match, but has already shown his tendency to score big goals late in the match, often with a touch of flair. As if out of nowhere, and reminiscent of a few others he has scored over the last two and a half seasons, he belted a shot that is already a guarantee in the countdown for best goals this season.
Will Brendan Rodgers lose his job if he doesn’t finish in the top 4? Most assume that is the case, but is finishing behind Arsenal, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs not the realistic place of Liverpool? As always, the fans and the owners are ambitious, even if they once again couldn’t make that marquee, eye-popping signing this summer. Roberto Firmino made an unimpressive cameo, but he’s a signing Liverpool can’t allow to fail.
Joseph Gomez made mistakes, but played well considering how young he is and the situation. Nathaniel Clyne, another Southampton import for the club (along with Lovren and Lallana in the current lineup) reminded Liverpool fans of how much they don’t miss Glen Johnson, and just might be the team’s best addition this summer.
Daniel Sturridge will return, and Rodgers is going to have his hands full when it comes to selection problems. The first thing to try and improve on from the opening win is the supply line to Benteke, which should be about more than the random cross to the box. He can handle a more ground-based approach. He only needs midfielders to get him involved.