Liverpool Focus – Reds make strong start inspired by Sturridge and Toure

It took Liverpool seven games to secure their first six points in the Premier League last season, yet Brendan Rodgers’ side have managed that feat after just two games in this campaign. Following on from the Reds’ deserved 1-0 opening victory against Mark Hughes’ Stoke City at Anfield, the Merseysiders managed to clinch another slender victory at Villa Park on Saturday evening, leaving their record at two wins, two goals and two clean sheets from two games.

Former Manchester City and Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge was the hero once again, with his excellent strike sealing maximum points for Liverpool against Paul Lambert’s battlers. The young English striker has been in phenomenal form for the Reds since his move to Anfield in January and it is largely thanks to his timely goals that the absence of suspended Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez is not yet being felt.

However, having impressively registered two clean sheets, much credit must also be handed to Liverpool’s hard-working defensive unit. New goalkeeper Simon Mignolet won a number of admirers following his late penalty save against Stoke and the Belgian also made some wonderful saves to keep Villa at bay on Saturday.

But the performances of Kolo Toure at the heart of the Reds’ defence have also been a significant talking point and attracted positive attention. Although Kop idol Jamie Carragher, who retired at the end of last season, is widely thought to be irreplaceable, former Arsenal and Manchester City centre-back Toure is proving to be similar to Carragher with his strength, leadership and experience. Indeed Toure, who Rodgers shrewdly brought in on a free transfer this summer, could prove to be the bargain of the transfer window.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are set to face League One side Notts County in the second round of the Capital One Cup at Anfield on Tuesday night. The Reds were disappointingly dumped out of the competition by Oldham Athletic at the fourth round stage last season and, given that Liverpool will not be participating in any European cup competitions this season, Rodgers will be desperate to see his side improve and progress in the domestic cup competitions this term.

The former Swansea manager is likely to make some changes to his starting line-up for the first time in a competitive game this season, with a handful of younger players expected to be given a chance to impress, but given Liverpool’s poor form in the tournament the last time they were involved, Rodgers is also likely to show a reasonable level of respect to the Reds’ lower league opponents. Winning a trophy, just as Reds’ legend Kenny Dalglish managed in 2012, would see the already-popular Rodgers’ approval ratings increase to an even higher level among the fan base.

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