Unlike previous years, Liverpool are picking up the points they’re meant to, which means that through a comfortable opening schedule, they’ve had very few results one could call disappointing. However, things get tougher very soon, and for that, it’s going to take a lot more than Luis Suarez and his incredible scoring ability to remain among the top 4 with a slight advantage in the race to a Champions League ticket.
A 4-1 win over West Ham is slightly better than expected, but Liverpool managed to make things complicated for about 15 minutes, which against better sides won’t go unpunished. The Steven Gerrard injury (nothing serious) created a huge problem and disorganization in the midfield, leading to another own goal from Martin Skrtel. It took the team some time before they pulled themselves together, and Suarez got on the scoresheet twice, with the final goal being indecisive between it being his or an own goal.
Liverpool play better when Rodgers isn’t trying to invent the wheel. Suarez up front, and a forward, or very attack-minded player being very close to him. After the debacle at Hull City, Rodgers has given up on trying to use Victor Moses in a situation he simply can’t succeed in, and brought back Philippe Coutinho into the starting lineup. The Brazilian isn’t putting up the numbers he did last season, but he’s the best passer and quickest thinker Liverpool have outside of Suarez, making him integral to play with.
Raheem Sterling had a very slow start, but at some point he stopped wasting time making up his mind with the ball and started playing to his strengths – speed and agility, without thinking too much. Liverpool looked a lot more dangerous the moment he stopped holding up play and trying to look like a playmaker, instead becoming the kind of winger / inside forward Rodgers wanted him to be all along. It didn’t bring a goal, but plenty of dangerous chances.
In the back Simon Mignolet was fantastic, but the best player Liverpool had to offer was Mamadou Sakho, by far the best centre back the team has. Injury and some weird Rodgers decisions have kept him out of the lineup for a short while, but he should be the second name on the team sheet after Suarez. Incredibly hard to beat in the air or on the ground, Sakho made up for plenty of mistakes Martin Skrtel made.
Nothing is new about Skrtel. A decent central defender, nothing more. Not one who knows what to do with the ball at his feet, and has a terrible sense of timing and tackling, which is the main cause for all his mistakes and “unlucky” touches, that at some point have a lot more to do with poor skill than actual luck. Glen Johnson is of the same matter at the right back positions, and Rodgers needs to start thinking about someone to play instead of him.
Liverpool couldn’t have asked for more at the beginning of the season – second place, 4 to 7 points behind the league leaders, and a dream season from Luis Suarez. It’s not going to be enough for a league title, but as long as they beat the teams they’re supposed to, this season is going to end with a big smile on everyone’s faces.