It's the same old story,
same old song and dance, my friend.
Well, I was certainly hoping we'd left this behind. Apparently, the odor of last season, or at least the first half of it, is going to take more than just a lot of Fabreeze to clear out. No matter how much cash you spent on midfielders.
You probably can say this out loud before you're done reading me write it: Liverpool were thoroughly rubbing Sunderland's ass in the moonshine for the first half, but only managed one goal, letting them hang around and not letting anyone be comfortable. After the break, they came out noticeably flatter, gave up a goal on some slack defending, and combined with the flaccid start to the half and the shock of being equalized, were too disjointed to do anything about it. Disappointment in enhanced because of how good the first half looked. Thoughts:
-John Flanagan is going to hear a fair share of questions about his second half, and that's totally fair. Why he started over Martin Kelly is your guess, because I don't have one. Maybe it portends to Kelly being used more in the middle this season. However, the goal wasn't entirely his fault (it did require a circus finish), as three Liverpool players were drawn to Asamoah Gyan who was tangoing with the corner flag and wasn't really presenting that much of a danger. This left Elmohamady far too much space to send in a cross and no one came to close him down either. But the rest of Flanagan's half wasn't exemplary either, giving the ball away, getting scorched by Larsson, and perhaps the worst part was totally petrified of getting forward, which left Liverpool completely lopsided. An overwhelming majority of attacks came down the left, as Henderson had drifted inside and Flanagan wasn't making up that space.
-That said, it could have helped if Henderson would have covered for Flanagan as we know Kuyt would have.
-I was shocked that Luis Suarez started, but I'm glad he did. He should have reduced Sunderland to 10 men, but I've never counted on Phil Dowd for logical decisions. That is the definition to shouting at the rain. But it was obvious to anyone that Suarez was going to tire badly, and he did. He's only had five days training, and should have been hauled off well before the 75th minute.
-But then again, he was Liverpool's main danger, so it made sense. But the fact a player clearly stepping on his tongue was counted on so heavily doesn't exactly encourage.
-We saw both sides of Charlie Adam. Some of his set piece delivery and passing was heavenly. But in the second half he was frequently out of position, and his tackling might have to be put in the "Scholes-ian" category.
-Andy Carroll was lively in the first half, should have had a goal but didn't get one after another ridiculous decision from the assistant. Apparently the assistant can be no more cogent than the ref they are assisting. But he too petered out in the second half when Liverpool's only plan was to decorate his skull with the imprint of the ball.
-If Suarez was the main danger, Stewart Downing was right behind him. Showing the same confidence and prowess on the ball in the preseason, Downing was always creating something.
-Why did Aquilani play every preseason game if he wasn't even going to make the bench for the opener? I guess we know where his future lies now, but with Suarez only able to give you a half, it sure would have been nice to have another player who could have slowed things down when the team was so disjointed, showed some composure on the ball, and at least provide the possibility of showing some class and a moment of inspiration.
-It's only one game, but Jordan Henderson has put himself on the top of the list of players who will lose their place when Steven Gerrard is healthy.
Last season started with a disappointing draw at home, and the following game Liverpool traveled to a top four contender and got crushed. They go to The Emirates next week. Let us pray the pattern does not continue.