Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Liverpool v Sunderland Post match: Reds must produce more

The 1-1 draw at home to Steve Bruce’s Sunderland wasn’t the result most Liverpool fans would have suspected before kick-off. Liverpool, a team that is supposed to be on the up and challenging for a top four finish versus Sunderland, a team that many have suspected of struggling this season.

The result seems a particularly bitter pill for Liverpool fans to swallow, considering the spell of dominance the team had in the first half. Liverpool looked assured on the ball and despite Suarez missing a penalty and Andy Carroll having a goal disallowed (perhaps unjustly), they dominated throughout the first 45 minutes, creating good movement on and off the ball, keeping the majority of possession and scoring a great goal through Charlie Adam’s cross.

It was unfortunate then to see Seb Larsson score a glorious volley past Reina in the second half. Any Liverpool fan would be forgiven for not seeing it coming, Sunderland snatching an equaliser at Anfield in a game were Liverpool looked like the only likely winners. But most football fans out there will know that Seb Larsson is certainly a dangerous player and when given that amount of freedom inside the opposition’s box, he’ll score goals. It was a pity then that John Flanagan and the rest of the Liverpool defence hadn’t been given that insider’s knowledge. However that is perhaps too harsh on the young right back, after all this was the first game of the season, the pressure was on and he’d be forgiven for thinking the opposition was Manchester United, what with Kieran Richardson, Wes Brown and Ferdinand all at the back (albeit, the less talented Ferdinand brother). Mistakes like that by young players will always be remembered too and he’ll learn. Thank God.

A better question is why did two Liverpool players allow such a fantastic cross into the area in the first place? If more talented opposition is given that sort of freedom on the wings Liverpool will find themselves leaking goals.

One of the other big talking points of the match I’m sure we’ll all hear over the next few days was the performance of Luis Suarez and more importantly, the decision to play him so soon after the Copa America. Considering he won the entire tournament on his own (if you believe what all the pundits say), you would have thought he deserved to miss a match, which on paper should have been 3 points. For me Suarez dropped too deep, and more often than not was found lurking around the right wing as Henderson tucked inside, leaving Carroll somewhat isolated which was a shame considering he won a great deal of the aerial challenges. Ignoring his shocking penalty, his goal from Charlie Adam’s superb cross was well deserved and he made up for his earlier mistake.

It must be noted though this wasn’t his best performance for Liverpool and his arrival back into the squad has probably come a week too soon. His substitution after an hour for Raul Meireles, was a good idea from Dalglish and was meant to give the Reds more strength in midfield. It was just a shame that even with the quality in the centre, Liverpool all too often lumped the ball up field for Carroll to knock down, bypassing the central players in the process.

It’s very easy to criticise Liverpool for not finishing the game off but a draw is one point better than a loss and if next week when they remain unbeaten after facing Arsenal, all could be forgiven. Liverpool fans and Kenny Dalglish have high hopes for this season and the manager hopes to challenge for the title too, but that ambition needs to be matched by the performances of players on the pitch.

From today’s performance it must be said that Kenny’s ambition is not being met by some of the players and that’s the biggest disappoint of the Sunderland match. Not the 1-1 score line.

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