After dominating Stoke all game with Daniel Sturridge scoring his first of potentially many this season and Asmir Begovic pulling off save after save of equal excellence, Daniel Agger had given a way a 90th minute penalty. It had a familiar feel to it, particularly last season at Anfield – Liverpool bombard the opponents and their woodwork, waste chance after chance and then somehow end up drawing or losing the game.
As you all know Simon Mignolet saved Johnathon Walter’s penalty (not the hardest thing to do, I know). But it was a sign this year could be different for Liverpool. The season had started on a high and since then it’s only gotten better. Sure we’re only 3 games in, but you would be very foolish in failing to recognise Liverpool as genuine top 4 contenders this year. Here’s why.
Liverpool were one of the biggest winners in this summers transfer window. Brendan Rodgers survived the initial drama of Luis Suarez demanding a move away from Anfield by reaffirming his stance that the player would not be going anywhere and although managers aren’t going to say anything else, it’s clear he meant it. The newspapers still looked for the smallest of signs that Suarez could be leaving the club, but the saga was really put to an end when Arsenal failed to back up their first bid.
In the midst of it all, they picked up Kolo Toure on a free transfer, which could yet turn out to be one of the shrewdest deals of the season, recruited Iago Aspas, Simon Mignolet, and towards the end of the market Mamadou Sakho, Tiago Ilori and Aly Cissokho in defence while Victor Moses also signed up for the year. Add that on top of Daniel Agger turning down Barcelona and Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing finally being taken off the books and you’ve got a close to perfect sumer.
The side is no longer reliant on Luis Suarez. They’ve showed they are more than capable to play without him towards the end of last season and the start of this one. But it’s important to remember he still is a Liverpool player and once his ban is over it’s hard to imagine him being made to train with the reserves or sit on the bench all season. After all, he is one of the Premier Leagues best players and he’s only going to improve any squad. His return will leave Liverpool with one of the most dangerous set of attacking options in England.
Daniel Sturridge is a player with a point to prove, and it shows. He hasn’t stopped scoring goals since he signed in January and it’s a measure of his improvement that England are currently despairing his current injury problems. Phillipe Coutinho is a player of the highest quality too, the kind of diminutive and tricky no.10 becoming more and more fashionable in English Football.
In failing to qualify for the Europa League last year the club has taken a step backwards to go forwards – albeit unintentionally. This year there will be no gruelling trips to Russia alongside the extra burden of at least six group stage games and the likelihood of more after. Not to suggest that the Europa League is a chore, but this year for Liverpool their absence is really something they will benefit from. They can focus on the league much more and get that extra bit of rest in between.
So, so far so good at Anfield. As I mentioned the season is still very young, but we’ve seen plenty of reasons for them to be positive and not many to be negative. It could be an exciting year for Kopites.