A look at the Premiership table this morning is good news for Liverpool fans. Two wins out of two and only Chelsea keeping us off the top. However, those who watched the first two games will know that we could just as easily be languishing in the bottom half of the table with Manchester United!
One should be positive. Sides don’t play well every game of the season and it’s a good sign that even if things aren’t falling into a place, we have managed to summon up the mental fortitude and willpower fashion out results. One of the Sunday papers took the opposite view, but they would wouldn’t they?
“Of course the other way of looking at things is that Liverpool have now got away with poor performances twice and are threatening to exhaust a season’s supply of fortune before August is out.”
Hmm the more we win the luckier we get. However, the point is noted. For all Sunderland and Middlesbrough’s endeavour, sides such as Aston Villa, next, and then of the course The Mancs, in a few weeks time, should provide sterner opponents. There is also the matter of Standard Liege this Wednesday. If the first leg is anything to go by, where they outfought and outmuscled us and are unlucky not to be visiting Anfield with some sort of lead, we will need to improve.
Jamie Carragher, one of Saturday’s saviours makes the point.
“I know people expect us to get through, but it’s not as if we are playing a Mickey Mouse team. The Belgium league has a lot of quality and their Champions are used to getting into the group stages. They caught us a bit cold in the first leg… they were spot on tactically hitting us on the counter attack. We didn’t play well and we know we will have to improve at Anfield”
One of areas were we might look to move up a gear is on the flanks. Match of the Day drew attention to our lack of width on Saturday in their post match analysis. Although there is no denying there is an issue here, part of this is due to the fact at present we haven’t the players to facilitate this. We lack the anchoring attributes of Mascherano and, to lesser extent, Lucas who have been on Olympic duty. Their presence in front of the back four enables us to be more expansive further up the field. However, we’ve also lacked wide players such as Babel (also Olympic duty) and Jermaine Pennant (ask Rafa!).
Torres in particular seems to have suffered from having play concertinaed down the middle. He was going to a marked man regardless of this added burden and has acquitted himself well showing the physical and aerial side of this game.
In meantime Rafa’s quest for another wide player continues. Stewart Downing seems to have been resurrected as the £14m new target. However, with the transfer window only open for a week or so, surely time is running out especially if we have to sell others (Voronin and Pennant were suspiciously absent from the squad on Saturday) and/or want to hammer out more complicated, longer term deals with “add ons”?
Either way I suspect we’ve an important and eventful week coming up. Trying and changing times but I guess, for all our problems on and off the field, a quick look at the table, even at these early stages, would lead one to conclude that things could be much worse?