5 Lessons Liverpool Learnt By Drawing With Sunderland

A game of two halves if ever there was one, but despite the result, Liverpool fans have plenty of reasons to be cheerful following the 1-1 draw with Sunderland…
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A game of two halves if ever there was one, but despite the result, Liverpool fans have plenty of reasons to be cheerful following the 1-1 draw with Sunderland…

Perfect Balance

Well, almost, but I'll get to the negatives in a minute. From the off it was clear what the addition of three left footed players has done for the team. Where we've often struggled with inverted wingers and, on too many occasions, full-backs, the three new lefties added to Daniel Agger helped us stretch the play and produce some crisp one and two touch football down the flank, with a couple of three and four pass moves featuring Downing, Adam, Enrique and Suarez/Carroll sending a roar across the city. The negative side here is that we were as bad on the right as we were good on the left. Flanagan and Henderson looked infield too often resulting in some lop-sided play and only Downing in the first period had success from the right. This, of course, wasn't really noticeable in the first half because the quality of the play on the left was of such a high standard but became all too apparent after the break when Suarez had run out of steam and we needed to use the full width of the pitch.

Flanagan and Henderson need time

An expansion on the point above. Henderson was clearly nervous and the fee did appear to be weighing heavily. He did the simple things well, but they were very simple, and as a pair him and Flanno offered little penetration. The difference Kuyt made in his 30 minutes on the field was huge and it is a shame that he wasn't on the field when all of the new boys and Suarez were flying. Flanagan had a mare. At fault for the goal and troubled throughout he looked half the player of last season and all reds will be hoping that Kelly and Kuyt pick up where they left off when paired together. My main concern with Henderson was not his inability to outside the full-back as he isn't a winger but that he didn't have the drive that the other three new boys showed, Adam, for one, appeared to have lunched on a side of beef the size of Kirby.

I wouldn't swap Suarez for any player in the Premier League

Sergio Aguero might be a good player but, at £38m, if he's twice as good as Suarez then I’m the ghost of Maradona. More than just a menace, he had no right be as effective and effervescent as he was in the first half after his Copa America exploits. He is the key to us finishing in the top four. The Sunderland defenders didn't know what to do with him in the first half, cleverer than a Tevez and more easy on the eye, his first touch at times made it appear he was on a completely different level to everyone else on the pitch and the way he constantly pops up in space to be the perpetually moving apex of the triangles Liverpool used was further proof that he is a much better player for this Liverpool side than Torres would’ve been. Terrible penalty mind.

Sergio Aguero might be a good player but, at £38m, if he's twice as good as Suarez then I’m the ghost of Maradona

Three left feet

There’d been rumbling from some quarters about the new signings but all of them, bar Henderson, were very impressive. Quicker than I remember and comfortable on both feet, Downing scotched any notion that £20 million was too much as he probably shaded Suarez as our best player in the first half. Great link up play, intelligent switching of flanks and an eye for goal prove he is a shrewd signing. Went missing in the second half as the malaise set in but he wasn’t alone. Adam was also impressive. His hunger and dedication in the middle of the park dovetailed well with Lucas and he showed that his dead ball delivery will be a big asset this season. Some good short passing was slightly hindered by an over-eagerness to pass through gaps that simply weren’t there and I think he will work even better as part of a midfield three. Jose Enrique looked like he had played for us for years, showed all of the qualities that persuaded us to by him, never looked under pressure and the only time he was caught out of possession his pace got him out of trouble. As he is so left-footed it will be interesting to see how he copes against Arsenal next week if they use Gervinho and Arshavin cutting in from the flanks.

442 is exciting but could get us into trouble

Show me a Liverpool fan who doesn’t want to play with wingers and pace and I’ll show you a black heart. 4-4-2 will, when everyone is fit and settled, probably be enough at home and against some of the weaker teams in the division and I’m sure Kenny has several more formations to use. I wouldn’t be surprised 3-5-2 to be rolled out at some point and there was probably a case in the second half to go 4-3-3 with Adam, Lucas and Meireles in the middle and Kuyt, Downing, Carroll up top. Sunderland looked the slightly fitter team which is a bit of a worry and they look to have definitely improved on last season. They way they pulled us all over the pitch at times was frustrating and three across the middle would have stemmed this.

Carroll is more than a target man but needs a goal

The one he scored would’ve done as there was simply no foul. His link up play was, at times, very, very good today. He calms the play down and is a solid passer of the ball with his left foot. It was interesting to see Suarez winning headers and him running off and he showed a deftness around the box. Unfortunately, his heading wasn’t at its best and he slowed towards the end but his and Suarez showed enough as a partnership for us to dream of a place back in the top four and beyond.

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