Lacklustre Liverpool began the Premier League season with a shock 3-0 defeat at the hands of Steve Clarke’s West Brom side. It was something of a reality check for the Reds following their comfortable win over FC Gomel in the Europa League and an impressive friendly victory in the pre-season clash against Bayern Leverkusen.
Brendan Rodgers was brought in to guide the Merseysiders to a higher finish than the disappointing eighth place they managed last term, while overseeing an improvement in the style of play. There was some evidence at the Hawthorns of the latter, particularly during the first half, but the dismissal of coveted defender Daniel Agger after the break saw Liverpool capitulate in a worrying manner. In truth, the hosts could and should have scored even more goals in the second half. Rodgers has much to ponder over the next few days.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing of all for Reds’ fans is that the Anfield outfit will face Manchester City and Arsenal in their next two Premier League fixtures. Should Liverpool taste defeat in those two crunch home clashes, then there may be some discontent shown towards the new manager. On the other hand, three points against champions City would completely turn the mood around on Merseyside – and that is what Rodgers will be hoping for.
While there were many things that went wrong for the Reds’ boss, including Agger’s dismissal, giving away two penalties, Liverpool’s inability to cope with West Brom after going two goals down and Luis Suarez’s failure to convert some good chances, one positive was the performance of new signing Joe Allen. The Welshman looked comfortable in the middle of the park alongside Lucas – playing short, crisp passes and keeping the midfield ticking. The former Swansea star is good in possession and that will help Rodgers hugely as he looks to implement his style of play on the team.
While analysing only the first performance of the season can lead to inaccurate conclusions, Liverpool did appear to lack a cutting edge at the weekend. Another striker may be needed before the transfer window closes. Based on the performance of winger Stewart Downing, recent signing Oussama Aissadi may also get a chance to impress sooner rather than later.
The Reds now have a chance to prepare for the upcoming league match against City with an important Europa League test against Scottish side Hearts. A win in midweek would lift spirits in the camp and Rodgers could use the opportunity to hand other members of the squad a chance to shine ahead of the test against the Premier League champions. While the defeat against West Brom was undoubtedly disappointing, Liverpool still have 37 games in which to turn things around. A good performance against Manchester City would go some way towards giving the supporters confidence that Rodgers is the right man to take the Reds forward.
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