THANK God it’s over! Tedious is what it is; tedious and pointless. You dull your way through it, chewing the furniture and checking the calendar. Are we there yet?! Thankfully, we are; it feels like a small eternity, even though it’s been only a couple of weeks.
I am of course talking about the timing of the international break. Three weeks into the new season is obviously the ideal time. Yes, that sounds about right. Great for those who have had a rough start and need to regroup; not so great for those who have gained momentum right from the off.
After Swansea last night, all of Liverpool’s first four league games so far have had something about them making them a bit different from what you would expect to see from Liverpool FC this season. There have been good football in patches, but we haven’t yet fully seen the LFC I think Brendan Rodgers is aiming for.
Stoke is Stoke, no matter what everyone says. It’s not quite yet walking and talking like a gazelle…if you know what I mean. Liverpool played well for about 70 minutes, before the opponent starting Stoking themselves and the Stokeness reached a familiar level.
United are also more or less still United; besides, the games against them aren’t exactly the ones you use to measure and look for something that can be identified as a Liverpool performance. There’s too much heat in those games to make any sort of conclusions. And then there was the case of the early goal.
The first half against Aston Villa looked more like what I envision as a Liverpool away performance. That’s where we saw the measured and controlled approach. The second half not so much, and although I don’t think the shift in initiative and game pattern was by choice alone there were some highly tangible pragmatism behind the way Brendan Rodgers chose to shut up shop. We didn’t play badly though – we just played differently.
Swansea should have been the first real indication of what we should expect as our default 90-minute game throughout the season. There were no parked bus, no extra defensive precautions and no naturally added fuel due to the opponent being who they are. In theory it should have been more of a pure footballing contest, and therefore the first indication of where the team stands on the development ladder. However, again, a differing Liverpool performance between both halves still leaves us wondering.
So far we have seen a more dogged and organised Liverpool, rather than the easy-on-the-eye stuff we attribute to a Rodgers team. It’s been a combination of the two obviously, but picking just one I think most Liverpool fans would say we have seen the gritty version so far rather than the more flamboyant. Which is fine at this stage of the season, when it’s all about the points; not to mention a hugely welcome characteristics to have. After three clean sheets there must have been a certain level of confidence growing among the group – a level we probably weren’t even close to being at this time a year ago. Unspectacular solidity shouldn’t be underestimated, and it gives us a good platform to build on.
However, now comes the more tricky phase: developing our attacking game further while maintaining the defensive solidity. Some of it will come as the season progresses through the everyday practice and teammates gelling, but given the fact that there now is another first team defender to integrate in Mamadou Sakho it’s not necessarily an easy exercise. The next few games leading up to the away trip to Arsenal should be a good opportunity to see if we are on a similar level attacking wise to what we came to expect during the last few months of the previous league campaign.
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