Still plenty of room for improvement for LFC
Everybody wants to win. But Liverpool’s draw with Swansea City on Monday night could prove beneficial in the long-term.
For a start, it stops people becoming too carried away with the start to the season for Brendan Rodgers’s side.
Yes, it has been encouraging, and no team would quibble at being top after four games. But there remains plenty of room for improvement at Anfield before they can be truly considered top-four challengers.
The way the Premier League is nowadays, two or three good results are all that are needed for supporters to start dreaming, a feeling exacerbated by the slow starts made by Chelsea and Manchester rivals United and City.
The result was about right at the Liberty Stadium. Trailing at half-time, Swansea’s mind was made up that they had to go for it in the second half, and if Liverpool looked the only side that was going to win for the first hour, it was the Swans who finished the more likely.
It is a concern that Liverpool have fallen away in the second half of all four of their league games so far. But teams that have good seasons tend to become stronger and stronger the longer the campaign progresses.
It’s no use being at your top level in the opening weeks.
Liverpool’s problem is that the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and, on Monday, Victor Moses aren’t particularly great at regaining possession.
So when teams start to press, Liverpool, at present, are guilty of dropping off too much and allowing the opposition possession. I’m sure that’s something Rodgers will look to address. They weren’t helped by the enforced defensive changes. You want consistency at the back; as a defender, it’s all about partnerships, whether that be the player alongside you, or on your inside or outside depending on your position.
It was understandable Mamadou Sakho looked a little nervy on his first game. But there’s no doubt he can play, although to what level remains to be seen. Gerard Houllier thinks Sakho will be a star – and for £18m you would hope he would be.
Losing Glen Johnson was a big blow. The more you see of Andre Wisdom, the more it becomes obvious he is a much better centre-back and the more his body language suggests he’d rather not be playing right-back. Rodgers might not have much choice, however.
Martin Kelly is nowhere near match fit, and it might be that Kelly has to be loaned out to get the games under his belt. That, though, would leave Liverpool incredibly short should Wisdom pick up an injury in the next month.
Both Kelly and Wisdom would benefit from regular games elsewhere for differing reasons.
Coutinho’s injury on Monday was a turning point, but the Brazilian has perhaps epitomised Liverpool thus far in that he has been good for the opening hour and then faded in the final third of matches. I hope he hasn’t dislocated his shoulder because that can be worse than a broken leg in terms of pain. Believe me, it hurts.
Mind you, Liverpool should have enough to beat Southampton at home even without Coutinho, although Rodgers will want his side to create more chances than they did at the Liberty Stadium.
Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the Capital One Cup game next week against Manchester United.
What price Luis Suarez marking his return by reclaiming the headlines?