Liverpool do just enough
Apologies for the late wrap, as I had to wait for the replay on FSC and then I got caught up in that bonkers Barca match. Only Barca would play a 5-4 match down to 10 men for the second half.
God knows we've sat through too many matches where Liverpool couldn't find the one goal that would win it. Or when they couldn't find the one to kill it off and were hit with a sucker-punch to lose out on more points at home. So the fact that they did both today, got their first league win at Anfield, and kept a second straight clean sheet, I'm not going to wail and moan that the performance wasn't vintage or that they dropped too deep or that a better team than Reading would have punished them. Does it ever look that good after an international break, especially considering some of the places some were flying back from and when?
The first half was what we've grown suicide-inducingly familiar with. Liverpool dominating possession, but playing in front of a packed defense and really not making any penetration. Some missed chances here and there, but they finally got the moment of brilliance it takes to unlock such a rearguard. Suarez's flick and Sterling's finish were straight out of the First Class Lounge.
Sure, from there they dropped off, and were sloppy. The midfield was kind of all over, and Wisdom was exposed by Suso's lack of support and youth. We'll just have to live with that. Suarez's radar got the raspberries from Lone Star again, missing several chances that would have made this a much easier time. But whatever. Whatever.
-I want to get this out of the way first. While the rest of the world hates Luis Suarez, and some of his antics and the crowd's to go along with him weren't easily digestible, the reason we support him so much is moments like after Sterling's first goal for the club. It wasn't that it meant so much to Raheem, or the team, but it looked to mean so much to Suarez. Maybe he was delighted that he set it up, but I think he was genuinely delighted for his young teammate who he could be lining up next to for years. That's why his teammates love him, that's why the support loves him.So everyone else can bite me.
-Speaking of Sterling, he was obviously told by Rodgers that in Borini's absence he's going to have to make more penetrating runs and not always stay out wide. Especially in opening half hour, Sterling could be found in the box and towards the center more than we've ever seen him. With Johnson providing the width anyway, this is something we all want to see more of. His position for the goal is not one we would have seen him take up just a few weeks ago.
-A bouquet of something to Brad Jones. While he's been jittery in other performances, he was commanding today. No cross gave him trouble, he punched and cleared well, and stopped the few prime chances he saw. Not that I want him starting as a habit, but it was his best in a Liverpool shirt.
-Your other man of the match was Glen Johnson, who was up and down the field not four days after having to trudge through whatever that surface was in Warsaw. The whole defense was good, with Agger and Skrtel quite commanding against the surprising onslaught that came late.
-I still worry about Allen as the only defensive minded midfielder. His chasing nature -- which is what makes him the player he is -- still leaves the defense exposed when Gerrard and Sahin (who was kind of pants today) caught up the field. But didn't today, so fine.
It's all fine. It's three points, it's a win at home to start a pretty big week. Oh, and look at that, only five points behind Spurs in 5th? That's been way worse....