at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Was it really just six weeks ago that Liverpool slumped to a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of the season? Having watched Brendan Rodgers’ side swat aside Norwich 5-2 at Carrow Road, it seems incredible that this was the club’s first Barclays Premier League victory.
After that off-day at the Hawthorns, Daily Mail posed five questions the new manager needed to answer. After Saturday’s display, we thought it only fair to look at them again.
Is Luis Suarez the best pivot around which to base his attacking options?
On Saturday’s evidence, undoubtedly. The difference now is that the Uruguay forward converted his opportunities and has team-mates capable of creating more chances for him.
He was a menace all afternoon, typified by his wonderful second goal. “Luis is a complete footballer,” said Rodgers. “He’s clever in his technique. He makes chances for himself. But we certainly have created more for him.”
He now appears to be the only one of Kenny Dalglish’s big-money purchases who has a real future on Merseyside.
Why spend £15m on Joe Allen, then use him out of position?
Allen looked the part on Saturday. In fairness, all of Liverpool’s players looked far more comfortable with the 4-3-3 system. Rodgers used Allen as a holding midfielder alongside Lucas on the opening day; on Saturday the Wales international was used in a more withdrawn role, behind the impressive Nuri Sahin, but his energy was invaluable in closing down Norwich’s midfield.
Steven Gerrard looked anonymous. Was this the best use of England’s skipper?
Gerrard is another who appears to be getting to grips with what is being asked of him. He does not have the energy of old but the sign of a class player is how they adapt.
His passing remains of high quality and, when he did press forward with urgency, he forced John Ruddy to tip over his diving header and scored the fourth goal.
Early days, but Gerrard is such a good player that he will come good.
Both Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger looked shaky against West Brom. Has that situation improved?
WHEN they’re on top of their game, these two are arguably the best centre-back pairing in the league. But this wasn’t a vintage display, exemplified by Skrtel’s sloppiness in cutting out the through ball that led to Grant Holt’s second.
The way Liverpool play leaves them more exposed than they are used to. This remains the area where Rodgers lacks options.
What has changed?
Rodgers has improved his squad with the likes of Oussama Assaidi, Samed Yesil and Sahin increasing his attacking options.
Liverpool will concede more because the emphasis has changed but, as Norwich skipper Russell Martin said afterwards, they are a more fluid attacking force now.
“The way Rodgers has them rotating – all over the pitch – means you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.
And now that Sahin is getting up to speed with his fitness, Rodgers also has a goal threat other than Suarez.
Liverpool are by no means the finished article, but, all in all, exciting times.
NORWICH CITY (4-4-2): Ruddy 5; Martin 5, Barnett 4, Turner 4, Garrido 4; Snodgrass 5, Howson 5, Johnson 6, Surman 5 (Hoolahan 56min, 6); Jackson 5 (Holt 46, 6), Morison 6 (Tettey 79, 6).Subs not used: Bunn, E Bennett, Tierney, R Bennett. Booked: Barnett.
Scorers: Morison 61, Holt 87.
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Reina 6; Wisdom 7, Skrtel 6, Agger 6, Johnson 7 (Carragher 73, 6); Gerrard 7, Allen 7, Sahin 8 (Henderson 66, 6); Sterling 7, Suarez 9, Suso 7 (Assaidi 59, 6). Subs not used: Jones, Coates, Downing, Borini.
Scorers: Suarez 2, 38, 57, Sahin 47, Gerrard 68.
Referee: M Jones
Man of the match: Luis Suarez – Daily Mail