Not exactly what we had in mind.
Well, the first 12 minutes kind of were. While they didn't create any chance that procured a save, Liverpool were much more lively than we've seen, incisive, and played some good stuff. And then a dumb goal happened, and we went back to seeing everything that's made us so jumpy the past couple weeks. Poor defending, on top of lazy defending, mixed with dumb defending. It's not a good combination. At least the second half was played at a much higher pace, with Liverpool much more forceful in possession. But they still didn't score from open play. All in all, it's not much to hang your hat on.
-Today was another example of just how important Lucas is, and in the spree in the midfielders aisle, Liverpool don't appear to have a capable backup plan when the Brazilian isn't around. Jay Spearing and Charlie Adam were so easily bypassed by the second string of a Norwegian midtable side. They gave the Valerenga midfield far too much time to look up and pick out a pass to a criminally open attacker that the defense let wander out into the grazing fields. Adam gets too far forward to be counted on to hold, and Spearing is a little too active and gets caught out of position. That was fine when Lucas was there to fill in, not so much when Adam is up the field looking to create.
-Their performance was only eclipsed in the doofus category by both Glen Johnson and Jamie Carragher. Considering this was Johnson's first game, I'm tempted to give him a pass. But good god, when he didn't have the ball he looked straight out of the remedial class. Constant turned, never tight enough when he wasn't, most of what Valerenga did came down the Liverpool right. The penalty sprouted from Johnson attempting to get enough time to contemplate Tolstoy in his own box. When they got past Johnson, they found Carragher in village drunkard form. Nowhere near where he needed to be on the first goal against, Carragher looked slower than usual (which is saying something), uninterested, and just plain bad. Carragher's margin for error has always been small due to his lack of pace, but when his brain goes?
-When Jack Robinson looks your most assured defender, people should be hitting the alarm.
-On the flip side, I can't be the only one who thinks that Alberto Aquilani should go from the "Everything Must Go!" bin to the starting 11 against Sunderland. Only on the pitch for 15 minutes, he was clearly the class of the players, taking three wicked corners -- on which Agger scored on two -- and rasping two Thor-like volleys with each foot. Composed, creative, threatening. With Gerrard's injury concerns, and Raul Meireles apparently dead, is Aquilani really so surplus?
-Stewart Downing also looked good, composed on the ball. However, while I get having him on the right makes him a more scoring threat, it means Kuyt was on the left where he's even more tucked in than he normally would be. With Robinson's inexperience leading him to not get forward that much, Liverpool were completely lopsided. If they want to maintain Downing on the right, another solution on the left must be found.
-I think Johnson just got caught upfield agian.
-Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson stood upright for most of the match, that's about all I can say. It's a funny world where you buy Adam for 8 million pounds or so, and can't find a buyer for Aquilani, isn't it?
-Andy Carroll was ok, but aside from the slightly overused tactic of punting it up to his skull, his inclusion leads to another problem. Liverpool tried to play this like you and i play Fifa 11. Spray the ball out wide, work a pass or two out there, cross it in. While this is certainly a tactic to be used, Liverpool never combined that with trying to get through the middle either. Without Suarez, there's not really anyone to scare a defense with a clever run behind or beating a couple men with the ball. Liverpool were just far too predictable. With that much of an outlay this summer, should we really be so dependent on one guy?
-You're free to worry now. The defending is still a clown college, there doesn't appear to be a solution at left-back yet, and no one's clearly defined a formation or starting team yet. Our best player of the preseason is being shoved to any Serie A side that will take him. And there's only one game left for things to straighten out before the curtain rises.