Liverpool stroll in the 2nd half to a win
It's funny how football can make you feel vindicated and stupid all within minutes of each other. To wit:
-I was overjoyed to see Suso given the #10 role from the start, as he'd been so effective there in a couple of sub appearances. I was worried when he was hauled off after half an hour and almost in a rage when it became obvious it wasn't because of an injury. But then again he was brought off for Jordan Henderson, a player I've wanted to see get more time on the field. So conflicted. Of course, it changed the whole match, so I'm left where I can't complain. Which is exactly where I want to be.
-While I appreciated the creativity and risk-taking of putting Jose Enrique in midfield, I didn't see how it could work. A perfect example was midway through the first half when Enrique gathered in a clearance from the Liverpool box at the halfway line with his back to goal, and promptly lost it. The crowd groaned, but all I had was sympathy. Because how often has Enrique found himself in that position? All the angles from midfield are different, and I didn't see how Enrique could cope Then the 2nd half happened.
And for once, Liverpool had an easy victory we've been waiting for since Axl and Slash were talking, or at least that's how long it seems. Henderson linked Allen and Gerrard through sheer effort, while also supporting the forwards in front. He simply has boundless energy. Once Enrique got a feel for everything he and Johnson scorched the Wigan right. Raheem Sterling was magnificent on the right. The defense was barely breathing hard. Gerrard and Allen barely put forth anything because they didn't have to.
The first half wasn't pretty, but considering how many other teams with a lot of players involved with those ridiculous midweek internationals laid a total egg today, it wasn't just usual Liverpool malaise. And Liverpool unlike the others recovered in time.
Oh, and that Suarez guy.
-I get tired of reading articles that are headlined or themed, "Where would Liverpool be without Suarez?" Yeah? Where would ManUre be without Van Persie right now? City without Silva? I could go on. There's nothing wrong with riding a world class player on a hot streak. You'd be an idiot not to. Yes, there's a huge drop between El Pistolero and his teammates. But considering his position and the team's style, everything is kind of designed to funnel to him. He's going to look head and shoulders above everyone because of that.
Now with that said, his two finishes were stellar. His first where the service was behind him, how many times do you see that ballooned into the stands? The second perfectly placed. You can't help but giggle when a striker is this lethal. It doesn't seem real.
-Enrique's wonderful game gives the manager another option, because with him it's more of a 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1 than a 4-3-3. I don't know how often Enrique will start in midfield, but when facing teams with dangerous right wingers, it's now another option. Not just to double up defensively, but to keep fullbacks pinned if Enrique can keep this up.
-Henderson is in such a weird place. He doesn't compete with Suso, Shelvey, or Gerrard for most advanced midfielder. He's not in the discussion with Lucas and Allen for holding midfielder. Yet somehow I want him to see more games. With the high-pace and pressure Rodgers wants, that's what Henderson does better than any midfielder Liverpool have outside of Allen. He's got a role to play, he just has to be patient.
-Some of Raheem Sterling's combinations with Suarez were just...well, above what a 17-year old should be doing.
Yeah, still in 11th. But the gap from 5th to 11th is five points. Still a long way to go, but that unbeaten streak is now at seven and comes with a little more gloss. Still many tasks to go. But if Swansea and a very fragile Spurs side can be seen off in the next two league games, along with a Zooropa tie on Thursday....let's just see where things stand then, shall we?