After Luis Suarez scored that wonderful free kick in the 66th minute, it seemed like Liverpool won’t let their lead go for a second time. They did, ruining Brendan Rodgers to claim his first Premier League win since becoming the Liverpool manager, but gave him and the fans plenty of reasons to smile and look forward to after outplaying Manchester City for most of the match.
What didn’t work? You can sum it down to two simple mistakes – Pepe Reina misjudging a cross, allowing Yaya Toure to equalize; Martin Skrtel trying to pass back to the keeper without looking or without noticing the lurking Carlos Tevez, giving up two points of the deserved three on a day in which he scored a fantastic opening. Sometimes there’s no deeper meaning and conclusion behind things.
But usually there is, and Liverpool have yet to fully adapt to what Brendan Rodgers envisions this team to be. They were forced to make a quick change very early on, as Lucas had to be replaced by Jonjo Shelvey, forcing Joe Allen to play a more holding role than initially thought, but you can tell that Allen should be quite a hit at Anfield and the key to everything Rodgers is trying to build, beginning with the midfield. Jonjo Shelvey seems in the right mindset and Steven Gerrard, if he’ll physically be up to, still has plenty of inspirational performances left in him.
Rodgers hasn’t been shy about ringing in the changes – Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Jamie Carragher. They’re not in his plans. Maybe in matches against teams like Hearts, it’s never bad having good players in your rotation; but in general, they’re not part of the future he sees for the club.
The best thing about Liverpool’s game wasn’t the pass & move which isn’t quite there yet, it was the ability of the front trio, led by a ferocious yet easily distracted Luis Suarez, joined by Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling on both sides, making it quite a problematic afternoon for the Manchester City defensive trio. Sterling, still not 18, seems to be an immense talent developing at Anfield, who have been waiting for someone to burst through the youth ranks for quite some time. The finishing touch is still missing, but you see the kid has football.
Borini, not much older himself, is someone who already has a few goals in the Serie A to his namen, including one of the coolest goal celebrations around at the moment. He’s constantly in motion and very hard to keep track of. He also needs to work on his last touch and his blind-understand with Luis Suarez, who was busy and hounding defenders as always, but seemed a bit out of sync and working on a different rate than everyone else.
This needs to be the season Saurez breaks out and has a big Premier League season in terms of his scoring production. No one is doubting that he’s Liverpool’s most important attacking player; The stat sheets and the goal column need to show that as well, and yesterday’s fantastic free kick was probably a sign that this season should be very different, at least for him, but maybe also for the club, than the disastrous (eventually) campaign under Kenny Dalglish last year.