No-one should ever think that Brendan Rodgers is slow on the uptake. Since he was appointed manager of Liverpool, he has quietly gone about the business of rebuilding the club and getting it moving in the right direction. Riding out storms such as the ‘Suarez bite’ affair, have been rough passages, but the Anfield faithful must be greatly encouraged by the progress made, and the dismantling of an Everton side –admittedly stripped of half of their regular back four – in the Merseyside derby was reminiscent of the Liverpool of old.
Just over a week ago, an Aston Villa side, struggling in the Premier League, turned up at Anfield for what most expected would be a regulation win for the home team. Paul Lambert however had discerned just how his team could hurt their hosts with a trio of pacey forwards playing on the break. It worked extremely well until Agbonlahor injured himself crashing over the hoardings in front of the Kop and blunted their prime speedster. At that stage with Villa ahead and always looking the more dangerous, Liverpool had a problem.
Of course the injury to Agbonlahor was a factor, and the forward was substituted just after the break, and yes, Liverpool did score just before the break. By that time however, Rodgers had already reshuffled his team to address the problems that Villa had posed, and at half-time he made a substitution to reinforce his changes. The result was that in the second half, the home team dominated, equalised and could have gone on to win the game. Why mention all of this now, you ask?
I do so merely to emphasise how quickly Rodgers recognised the problem and resolved it. The Everton game also showed that in the light of that, and perhaps not only that, his system had again evolved and Liverpool almost played like an away team, lulling their opponents forward to create space and counter-attack. For the Villa forwards, substitute the ‘triple S’ of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling, and you have a forward line capable of burning most defences with a mixture of pace and guile.
The win against Everton cemented Liverpool’s fourth place position in the league and underscored their credentials for a top four finish. Teams below them, expecting a collapse f form may well be disappointed. With Rodgers at the helm, this club is primed to go places.
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