mmmm…. the smell of promise, cut short like buns toasting in the oven pulled prematurely from their toasty creation, somewhat resembled Liverpool's opener against Sunderland. All the gyp seemed justified until Liverpool's first half dominance was quickly forgotten after being done by a top drawer volley off the boot of Sunderland's Seb Larsson. If you are to lose, that is the way to do it. I say lose even thought the final score read 1-1, but for the Anfield club it was a loss. All the excitement of the coming season and big money signings created a stir of hope and promise, that due to the result has been put on hold. seen in the fantastic reception received by the fans for the opening of the 2011-12 EPL season.
In the first half Liverpool looked to have jet- heeled enthusiasm, spraying passes around and retaining possession well. Luis Suarez looked to have not skipped a beat on the back of his fantastic half season for Liverpool, and a Copa America, earning a penalty which he thrashed over the bar. However this was quickly forgotten when he nodded in a cross at the front post from fellow new-boy Charlie Adam, to make it 1-0. Newboy's Charlie Adam, and Jordan Henderson - playing against old side- looked good in the first period, and in collaboration with Lucas bossed the likes of Lee Cattermole and young Jack Colback. Taking into account the abundance of midfielders at Dalgleish's disposal, bringing on the likes of Raul Miereles in the 2nd-half should provide sustained midfield domination for the whole 90, but Sunderland clawed their way back in to contention.
As the whistle sounded for the break, Liverpool had felt that they should have been at least 2 to the good, after a mazy run from Downing, saw him cut onto his left but his shot riffeld of the crossbar. On the whole Downing was docile in the game, but the added width was an improvement, and the balls into the box from Downing and Adam look to pay dividends in the future.
The impotence in Liverpool's play subsided, and the crowds fanfare dwindled as their grip on the game loosened. Sunderland still struggled to trouble Reina in goal, until a ferocious volley changed this and Seb Larsson finished in fantastic style, hitting it first-time at the back post. Reina had no chance, as the Swede who signed on a free from Birmingham scored on his debut. This was the last significant chance for either side as the game petered out towards its climax.
Liverpool should feel as though the game was theirs to take, with a massive home support behind them, and the excitement of what could be in the upcoming season. We all recognize that the Dalgleish dynasty will take time to build, but an opening fixture win was necessary. You cannot pull much form the first match but the doubters will voice their opinion using this as proof that a top-4 finish will not be in the cards for the Merseyside club
Newest signing of the bunch Jose Enrique was cast into the fire, after only completing one full training session with the club, making his debut against Sunderland. The Spaniard had a decent game, getting caught out a couple of times, but overall slotted in quite well with Liverpool's back- line. Had limited forward forays but linked up well with midfield anchors and Downing on the wing.
Suarez looked up to his old shenanigans, thought his energy levels drained towards the end of the match, fitting of the amount of football he has played this summer.
Andy Carroll, though predominately anonymous, linked decently, with on-running players. Ferdinand, had him in his pocket for most of the game, but his ability to find space to get his ponytailed head on the ball was un-canny.
With the return of Steven Gerrard looming like a ominous shadow, Dalgleish has to find where to play the no. 8. Will he play him behind Carroll, pushing Suarez out onto the wing? Will he start him in the place of Henderson? Will he have deeper role next to Lucas. The uncertainty is worrisome, but a player of Gerrards stature must play, even thought during his Injury last season Liverpool played some of their best football.
Conceding goals was a feature in their pre-season fixtures, and although it took a piece of brilliant skill to undo them Saturday, the threat is still there. Young Flannigan had a difficult game in the right-back spot beaten to easily by Ji-Dong Won and Larsson.
Patience is Key for Dalgleish and Co. and like said in his post match interview, more is expected of his players. His new signings will take time to settle into the idiosyncrasies of Anfield, and when the team faces Arsenal next weekend it should be on.
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