I am having flashbacks to the beginning of the 13/14 season when The Studge bagged us three wins out of three, all 1-0 victories, as we eagerly awaited the return of the flawed genius Suarez. The start of this season feels oddly familiar as Liverpool supporters refill their Xanax prescriptions.
Bournemouth started out brightly with both possession and quickness from their forward line of Wilson and King. Their players had quality movement, passing and possession for large portions of the first 25 minutes of each half. They were hard done by a soft foul on Lovren in the box that negated Elphick’s header. Lovren looked to use the slightest of contact to encourage the referee to whistle. Liverpool supporters were grateful it didn’t stand and it would foreshadow some slanted refereeing in our favor for the remainder of the match.
Benteke opened his LFC account in the 26th minute by guiding a Hendo cross into the back of the net. However, Coutinho started in an offside position when the cross came in and made a play for it. Even though he didn’t make contact, the linesman should have flagged per the new rules. Neither Phil or Ben will care as it is their job to put the ball in the back of the net and leave it up to the referees.
That goal would end up being the decider, but for me, it was just the beginning of a very complete game for Benteke. If he manages to keep up performances like these, only the fiercest doubters will be holding out. He won the majority of his aerial duels including a couple nice defensive headers. I felt he held up play well when played to feet. Unfortunately due to Bournemouth’s pressure, he didn’t have many beneficiaries from his knock downs off of clearances. However, he is a viable target man that will allow the defense a release valve of sorts. Let’s just hope we don’t rely on the long ball too much.
Rounding out his day, he also had a fantastic pin point cross to switch play and another unselfish square ball across the 18 yard box to set up Coutinho who will be rue his first touch letting him get closed down and his shot blocked. Benteke also managed to pick a couple defenders pockets and chase down what appeared to be a lost cause of a pass at the corner flag, retaining possession. Lastly, he was unlucky not to complete the brace, seeing his shot hit off the cross bar in the dying embers of the match (possibly with an assist from the goalies saving finger tips).
Coutinho rightfully continues to be the focal point of the attack and also the beneficiary of some weak fouls. The Bournemouth midfield and defense worked hard to make things uncomfortable for him and not allow him free rein over the danger area 10 yards outside of the box. Phil is unlucky not to do better with two quality chances.
A bit surprised Lallana got the start over Firmino. He was missing for large parts of the first 25 minutes, but has grown into the game later in the half. As much as I want to see him be creative going forward, he continued to track back and help out the defense. Something Firmino did not seem too keen to do, perhaps the reason he hasn’t started the first two games.
My last big takeaway was the 10 minutes on the pitch Moreno had when coming on for Coutinho. It was his tenacity and drive that impressed me the most. He had one tremendous 40 yard run that ended with winning a free kick on the edge of the box. And he had two to three quality clearances to break up the seemingly endless Bournemouth push for an equalizer.
I want to see passion and fervor out of our players. Hendo, who was subbed after 50 odd minutes for a left ankle knock, routinely provides it as does Skrtel and Milner. But, I’d really like to see more of our lads get after it. It’s clear we’re not playing the football Rodgers wants, but we’re getting closer. We also have more squad depth, which should push the starters to take their opportunities.
Our defense was solid bar a handful of miss cues from Gomez, none of which were glaring errors, like the point-dropping ones from the previous season’s defense. Migs had only a few saves to make, but handled them well in edition to punching and shepherding a couple crosses out of the danger zone. Bournmouth’s Ritchie had a quality strike kiss the outside of the post.
Hey, it’s three points, and we’ll take it. Now for that prescription…