Needless to say the last few opening games of the season have been a big disappointment. After getting five consecutive away days under Rafa the fixture computer handed us two consecutive home games that we have failed to win. Last year against Arsenal, in which somehow we played quite well, even down to ten men, but still managed to only come away with a point. This year, against Sunderland, with four new faces in the squad, we again only managed a draw. It was an extremely disappointing result.
Had we composure in front of the goal, and Phil Dowd had done his job, we would have been out of sight after the first 45 minutes. If that same tackle from Kieran Richardson that happened in minute six happened around the 20 minutes mark, or not in the first game of the season, the ex-Manchester United player would have been sent off. It was a clear goal scoring opportunity as Suarez was going to tap the ball into the net.
Liverpool did have other chances to increase their lead in the first half, and most of our good play came down the left side with Downing and Enrique doing well. Carroll scored a perfectly legitimate second goal, which should have put us out of reach but somehow the assistant ref spotted a push that never happened and he disallowed the strike. I was not impressed with Henderson on the right and was shocked that he was picked over Kuyt. I'm sure Henderson will be a fine player for Liverpool, but I would have rather had Kuyt start and Henderson come on later, if required. I think Kenny got that decision wrong.
Suarez and Carroll seemed to have a good understanding of each other and I thought Suarez tired a great deal in the second half and his lack of match fitness showed. Enrique had a solid debut and I thought young Flanno had a great first half and a disappointing second half. I think Johnson or Kelly will be back in the line up for Sunday.
Sunderland must have been very pleased to go in 1-0 down and they started to boss the second half right from the off. Charlie Adam was not providing any cover for Lucas and Sunderland started to take the middle of the park. I said out loud during the game that an equalizing goal was coming. The goal was a great strike, but the defending to allow the cross in was a shambles. Instead of their goal galvanizing us, Sunderland seemed to go on and sense a win, and at this point in the match Sunderland sensed that Liverpool were on the back foot.. I actually thought they were going to win it at the death, but only some poor finishing on their part prevented them from getting the three points.
Overall it was very odd game as we looked very unfit in the last 20 minutes. Downing and Enrique were the pick of the four debutants with Adam looking a touch slow and Henderson struggling on the right. We need to take our chances and kill games off when we get a chance.
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