Yesterday I wrote that the players would make the fans proud with their performance against Leicester. Well, not quite, but we were at least happy. Three points and three away goals is something to like. But nothing to brag about. To beat a bottom club with a awful recent record and restricted to ten men for the final half hour isn´t particularly special. Only a minimum requirement from a top club like Liverpool. So the job was done and now awaits tougher assignments.
The 3-1 victory at King Power Stadium was our second in a row and stabled a red ship about to sink deep not long ago. However, it was not a great display. In the first half both teams were completely out of sorts and in the second Liverpool up their game just about enough to overcome the newcomers.
But as usual we had a few scares in defence and the attacking play was not better than average. For instance, the Reds had just three shots on target and the home team managed twice as many attempts in total. Afterwards Liverpool players claimed it could have been a larger win, well, that was a bit off the mark. Luck was as much involved as ability in the two goal win.
On the whole it seems like Liverpool slowly but surely is getting their house in order. The defence was not perfect but more determined and aware than before. The attacks had more belief in them and slightly more penetration, especially when Leicester threw everything forward to cut the deficit. Then som huge gaps opened up but Liverpool could only exploit them once or twice. Too often the players missed the decisive pass and was dispossessed. Or tried to dribble and do things on their own and subsequently fail - instead of using teammates.
The midfield did their job a bit better than in preceding matches but we lack the capability to quickly move forward. Too often the player in possession need four or five touches and a look around before deliver the ball. The passing game must have a much higher tempo. Perhaps it can be aquired through training. If not, some players has to be replaced.
In this matter I don´t think Jordan Henderson is good enough for a major role in a Liverpool midfield. Everybody raves about him and his work rate. But what does he actually bring to the team? He hardly ever wins the ball, neither with tackles nor interceptions. He is in other words not a good reader of the game. Ha can´t head the ball, his shooting is well below par and has he anytime in his career used the left foot? The goal he scored yesterday would any player from the top six divisions in England managed. Henderson sometimes show brilliance with passes but this good actions comes to seldom. He needs to improve on everything and be a constant force in games to be a future successor to Steven Gerrard as the lynchpin in the middle of the park. Right now he is miles away from achieving that.
Gerrard was once more placed in a attacking role. He knew this position like his own pocket once and is slowly getting to know it again. This was his best effort in the role and when playing this is where he ought to be. As we saw yesterday, he is lethal when roaming around the penalty area sniffing up chances.
Despite two wins on the spin Liverpool is far from the class showed last season. But we are at least not as bad as a few weeks back. Perhaps the team is on the mend and on a surge up the table. We are in the top half now but a bit from top four. This small momentum need to be kept and to do that a victory against Sunderland at Anfield on Saturday is a must.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 14th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 2.
Left a gap at the near post to concede and a mishit clearence could have meant another goal. His distribution was awful and he was back to his shaky worst.
RB Javier Manquillo 2.
Had no impact in the forward play but was almost never troubled defensively. Only played for 45 minutes.
CB Kolo Toure 5.
A steady performance with assured defensive action and pretty good distribution.
CB Martin Skrtel 3.
Seemed dizzy in the first half being in the wrong place a lot of times. Guilty of several clumsy clearances. Was more his old self in the second half.
LB/RB Glen Johnson 2.
Isn´t comfortable in left-back oposition neither defensively nor offensively. Improved a bit as a right-back in the second period.
DM Lucas Leiva 5.
Won the ball repeatedly, often with smart interceptions with foot or head. Was at fault for some dangerous free-kicks but on the whole a fine game as a defensive shield.
RM Adam Lallana 3.
At full throttle from the off. Offered som trickery and scored a vital goal. But after that he was almost invisible.
CM Jordan Henderson 3.
He is too often a passenger, seldom winning the ball and seldom having an impact attack-wise. Scored a killer goal but didn´t do much more.
LM Raheem Sterling 5.
Ran a lot, was lively and created. But he tried too often to dribble instead of passing to a well placed teammate. Hacked down on several occasions but kept on going.
AM Steven Gerrard 5.
Grew into the game after a slow start and showed his attacking qualities with fine passes, game intelligence and cool goalscoring nerves.
CF Rickie Lambert 3.
Was never in the game. Lost too many duels in the air, ran offside on many occasions and never really threatened.
LB Alberto Moreno 2. (Replaced Javier Manquillo after 45 minutes).
His offensive qualities was not on display and defensively he looked a bit nervy.
RM Joe Allen 1. (Replaced Adam Lallana after 70 minutes).
Played for 20 minutes but was never in thick of things.
CB Dejan Lovren 2. (Replaced Raheem Sterling after 95 minutes).
Two good clearences at the end when Leicester chased a goal.
Another must win game taken care of. Now awaits another versus Sunderland when:
We Go Again.