10 Aug 2015

'Machines!': Gomez, Coutinho etc on Liverpool's 'outstanding' performance vs. Stoke. Gross exaggeration?

After weeks of build-up, Liverpool's much-hyped grudge match against Stoke City is over, and despite an underwhelming performance overall, the Reds somehow contrived to snatch all three points. Results-wise, it's a great start to the season, but the manner of the performance doesn't bode well for the tough schedule ahead.

Post-match twitter reaction:

Jim Beglin

"Worth the wait - Coutinho magnificent!"

Phil Thompson

"Great result,great start,Coutinho the little magician"

Ray Clemence

"Good performance Liverpool. Some promising performances. Great Philippe Coutinho goal. Might take time to get best of Christian Benteke"

John Arne Riise

"Clyne and Ibe, machines!!! Glad I'm not up against those 2 at the same time"

Joe Gomez

"Quality result and clean sheet away at Stoke, great experience for me making my debut... Great support from travelling fans as well"

Philippe Coutinho

"Great team win! As always, we never walk alone! Our supporters were great today, like they are in every match!"

A few points:

* A positive result, but Liverpool barely deserved the victory (IMO). Three shots on target all game, and the team barely managed to create anything significant for the entire 90 minutes.

* Despite that, in his post match interview, Rodgers engaged in usual premature triumphalism, and used the word 'outstanding' on no less than FOUR separate occasions: "I thought the players were outstanding. You saw his [Benteke's] quality today...he was outstanding today. Nathaniel Clyne has been outstanding. It was an outstanding collective performance"

* This is one of my main problems with Rodgers: the performance was NOT outstanding by any stretch of the imagination; Benteke did okay, but he did not deliver an outstanding performance; ditto Clyne, and the rest of the players. Any objective fan can see this, yet Rodgers clearly thinks that the fanbase is irretrievably stupid, and will just accept whatever he says without question.

* Why can't Rodgers just tone it down, and moderate his ridiculous penchant for counter-productive ego massage? He's basically sending the message that the Stoke performance is acceptable, when it's anything but.

* Solid performance from Lovren, who appeared to be very vocal at the back, and did a good job at organising players at set-pieces. A defender's primary role is to stop the other team scoring, and a clean sheet means he (and the entire defence) did their job. As such, Lovren and Skrtel must retain their places for the next game. A settled defensive partnership is absolutely key to an effective defensive unit, and there's no justification for changing Skrtel/Lovren after a clean-sheet.

* A mixed performance from Gomez, but that's only to be expected on his Premier League debut. Caught out of position on a few occasions, and guilty of some naive defensive play, but he didn't make any mistakes that led to goals, so he's already one step ahead of Alberto Moreno.

* Benteke had absolutely nothing to work with for practically the entire game. He made some great runs, and held the ball up well, but got shafted by ineffective attacking play across the board. Benteke is capable of creating goals for himself, and I'm sure we'll see that in the coming months, but like any striker, he'll also need service, and he got nothing today.

* Speaking of poor attacking play: Adam Lallana was arguably the worst player on the pitch. The guy is a busted flush: regularly gave the ball away and/or misplaced passes, and regularly shrugged off the ball due to being a lightweight. Rodgers was right to take him off, and Liverpool marginally improved without him.

* As usual, fans are raving about Emre Can, but I don't see what all the fuss is about. I recall only one tackle and one pass worth talking about, yet some make it sound like he put in a Beckenbauer-esque performance. Can didn't play badly, but he's not the second-coming of Steven Gerrard.

* Milner and Henderson? Meh. Barely had any impact, and created only one chance between them for the whole game. If this is Liverpool's central midfield partnership for the entire season, then it's less than inspiring right now.


* Nondescript debut from Firmino. Looked lively, and actively went looking for the ball (which is always good), but didn't really have time to get in the game.

To be fair, three points is always the priority right now, and Liverpool achieved that. Winning ugly is a good habit to develop, but the result has papered over the cracks a little, as has Rodgers' ludicrous insistence that the players were 'outstanding'.

On the opening day of last season, Liverpool scraped a barely-deserved 2-1 win over Southampton. After the game, Rodgers delivered his usual 'the players were outstanding' schtick, and fans were shouted down for failing to be less than ecstatic about the result.

What happened? Liverpool were soundly beaten 3-1 in the next game, and won only 3 of the next 8 games as all the problems painfully evident in the Southampton game came home to roost.

To me, it feels like history is repeating itself.

There are tougher tests to come, this level of performance is not going to cut it against the likes of Arsenal (now a wounded animal after their opening day defeat), and Manchester United.

I wish I could feel more positive, but after the train-wreck of last season, I'm not going to get carried away by one average performance, even if it did end in victory.

PREDICTION LEAGUE

I'll post the results and table tomorrow. Thanks for taking part!

Author: Jaimie K



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