What a first game! Really put a dampener on the preparations and optimism surrounding this season, but relax, there is still a long way to go! Nobody can say the Reds played badly, they were quite good in the first half only falling behind to Gera’s wonderful volley, but once again it was Liverpool’s profligacy in front of goal that came back to haunt them.
Liverpool started well enough, lining up in a lopsided 4-3-3 formation with new signing Joe Allen making his Liverpool debut, and had a great number of chances, most created by Luis Suarez but unfortunately failed to convert them. Well, at least they didn’t hit the post! Suarez had Liverpool’s best chances of the game, a header from point blank range that was sent over, a gift from Ben Foster that he blasted over and another header too which he headed wide. Agreed that he is doing well to get in those positions to score but he is under pressure as most of the time he is the creator as well as the scorer. Luis is a brilliant player, but too much is being expected from him!
Seeing Saturday’s stats, the frontmen really need to get serious about their business, because, quite frankly they were not in the game! There were a total of 9 shots taken, 7 from Suarez and 1 each from Johnson and Borini. You cannot expect Borini and Allen to start banging in goals immediately, so understandably their attempts would be low, but for a seasoned player like Gerrard or even Downing that is quite shocking! The game was a shocking one overall. Liverpool were complacent, judging from the misplaced passes and cheap penalties given away. It was just the first game, no doubts they will improve! West Brom on the other hand were a different side altogether. Had it not been for their poor finishing it could easily have been five goals!
In the positives Joe Allen impressed, with a pass conversion rate of almost 96% and chipped in with 3 tackles and interceptions, the highest for Liverpool.
There are a still a few areas that need to be improved on, mainly in front and at the back. A striker is a must and if Borini has been bought with this in mind then play him there, or play Carroll there. Suarez alone is just not going to cut it! A new winger was also necessary, and Assaidi will be a welcome addition to the squad, especially because Downing lacks the confidence to beat his man and sometimes it is frustrating to see him pass back. Lastly, a secondary left back. Liverpool do not have anyone to fill the void in the left back position if Enrique is out and while Johnson is a solid backup, he is not a permanent solution.
Refereeing decisions were debatable and perhaps a tad harsh, but the contact was there in both cases, though with Agger, it seemed to be outside the box. But these things happen. We should be making our own luck and not lamenting decisions.
All in all, an unexpected result, but a learning experience especially for identifying weaknesses in the squad. Things will get better as the new players start to gel and the old players get used to the way Rodgers wants them to play.
In Brendan We Trust!
The full game stats are below: