LIVERPOOL’S league season got off to a very depressing start yesterday with a 3-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion. The goals came from Zoltan Gera, Peter Odemwingie (penalty) and Romelu Lukaku, and they provided Liverpool with their worst ever result in an opening Premier League fixture.
What could have gone wrong pretty much did, but Liverpool started the game reasonably well and looked the most likely team to score in the opening exchanges.
Fabio Borini had Liverpool’s first chance on 5 minutes, heading wide after a Stewart Downing cross. Not surprisingly, Luis Suarez was Liverpool’s biggest individual threat and on 15 minutes he had a well-struck shot saved by Ben Foster after ghosting around two West Brom defenders. Then on the half hour mark, the Uruguayan missed a glorious opportunity when he fluffed a far post header after Glen Johnson’s cross.
Generally, Liverpool displayed an endearing willingness to implement Brendan Rodgers’ principle idea of bossing possession. Indeed, some reports have suggested that Liverpool’s pass count across the whole game outnumbered the total passes made by a Liverpool team in any game for four seasons.
After a loss however, statistics like this will provide absolutely no relief for the manager and players, and the possession counted for nothing when Zoltan Gera smashed in a terrific volley from 25 yards out, just before half time. It is always one of the worst times to concede, but planning for a goal of such quality is impossible. Overall, it was a pretty even half but Liverpool were behind.
The second half began in a similar vein, Liverpool’s patient passing continued but no chances came. On 58 minutes however, the wheels began to come off. Daniel Agger was adjudged to have fouled Shane Long at the edge of the area and a penalty was awarded. The incident came after a swift West Brom break and the Dane was Liverpool’s last man. Accordingly, the red card was shown and Agger looked completely bemused. He probably had good reason to question the decision, the penalty call falls into the ‘soft and slightly harsh’ category, but he will know that any modern day striker goes tumbling to the ground upon the slightest of contact. There was an element of justice when Long missed the spot kick, his tame effort saved easily by Pepe Reina.
The game was all but over, but West Brom slammed another nail into the coffin on 77 minutes when Romelu Lukaku headed in a Liam Ridgewell cross. The goal was slightly unlucky in that Youssuf Mulumbu’s shot deflected well to Ridgewell and Liverpool didn’t have time to re-adjust their defensive positioning after clearing the preceding corner.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but for many years Liverpool fans have emphasised the importance of an opening day victory. It breeds confidence, momentum and a collective feel-good factor across all areas of the club which can often provide a solid foundation to the season. With better teams to come in the forthcoming weeks, Liverpool will need a victory against Premier League champions Manchester City next Sunday or they will already find themselves behind the league’s top teams. More importantly, it will get the club back on track and relieve some early tension for the new manager. Early mutterings from several Liverpool fans appear to be along the lines of ‘you can pass the ball all you want but it counts for nothing if you don’t score’. Fair point, but the same fans should not expect Rodgers to change.
L4L Man of the Match
Joe Allen. Nothing spectacular from the new signing and he didn’t have much competition, but he was the basis to Liverpool’s passing game and he performed admirably considering it was a debut appearance.
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