The start has finally arrived. The Premiership season started on Saturday and now my life can return to normal. It had been a tough couple of months without my daily feed of Premiership action. I managed to catch a bit of the Arsenal match as that was the first game of the season. I saw Nasri’s early goal and I thought that Arsenal were going to win the match by a mile but when I tuned back to watch the conclusion of the match, I was surprised that they had failed to build on their early goal. No disrespect to West Brom but I would have thought that Arsenal would have won by more. As I waited patiently for our match at the Stadium of Light, I had the pleasure of witnessing Usain Bolt breaking the 100m record at the Olympics. Imagine having that kind of pace down our left wing!
So finally, the wait was over as I saw Stevie G, lead the Reds out against Roy Keane’s troops. Firstly, I was shocked when I saw the players coming out, I knew going into the match that Alonso was not 100% fit and there was a possibility that Plessis would take his place but I did not predict that Sami would start alongside Carra ahead of Agger and Skrtel. I have nothing at all against Sami, I actually think he is a great defender but I would have thought Rafa would go with Agger from the start. I hope Rafa will not be rotating the central defence a lot this season. Rafa has to decide who is best two in the heart of the defence are and stick with them. Then if injuries or fatigue crop in, he can then rotate.
It was never going to be an easy game against Sunderland. It is never easy playing away from home in the first game of the season. In all the time Rafa has been in charge, he has never had a game at Anfield as the first game of the season. There is just something special about the opening day of the season and it will be nice for a change to have it at Anfield. But nonetheless, we had to deal with what was presented to us. I was largely frustrated during the game and I thought for large periods “here we go again, this is going to end a draw.” But when Alonso came on at the break for Plessis, one could see a change for the better of the team. Alonso, for me, is world class. I would love nothing more than for him to stay the season at Anfield. I think he is the only player who can confidently shoot from the half way line and expect his effort to go in. He almost did it again on Saturday and what a goal that would have been.
I have to mention the Keane – Torres partnership: I have never expected it to work straight away. It is going to take some time and patience for this combo to work. I must say I was pulling my hair out when Keane blocked Torres’ shot on goal. That was a clear sign that this is a new partnership. Hopefully in a couple of weeks time, we will not see such happening again. But the way Keane and Torres reacted and shaked hands after that blunder just goes to show that they both know they need to work on their partnership. But what was a bit worrying for me was that, Torres looked much better when Keane was taken off the field and subsequently that is when Torres’ goal came. I saw it in the Euro’s when Torres was playing with Villa for Spain, Torres was not at his best. And now him upfront with Keane may not be working straight away. Could it mean that Torres prefers to lead the line by himself? He did it so well for us last season and he did it for years at Athletico Madrid. Some say that Keane should play just behind Torres in the role that Stevie G played for most of last season, then there are some who say Keane should play upfront next to Torres. I personally would want to see Keane just behind Torres as it looks like Torres prefers leading the line by himself. And I am sure Keane will do well in that position and even get a couple of goals from there.
But it is still early days and I am sure in the weeks to come we will see how Torres and Keane work in partnership. I have confidence this will work out well. what was rather disturbing to me in the build up off the game was the news that Rafa was on the verge of quitting because of all the board room problems happening at Liverpool. Can we please shut up and get on with it on the field! Last season we got distracted by the board rooms squabbles and we only one day into the new season and we at it again. Rafa is only human and he can only take so much. 9/10 in Rafa’s shoes would probably have thrown in the towel and walked away from this mess in the hierarchy of our team. For me it is simple; Rafa is the coach, Rafa picks the players he wants, if the money is there to buy the players Rafa wants then give him the money. This Gareth Barry drama is getting too me and I just want it to end. I had a look at the Aston Villa game yesterday to see how Barry was playing and he put in a great display. I saw that he is also no longer the captain of Villa. I actually feel sorry for Barry, he has been put through a torrid time over the last couple of weeks and he deserves better than that.
I then also got a glimpse of the Chelsea game yesterday and I must say they looked good. But I think it was just first day happiness for them and they will come back down to earth when they face stiffer competition, but hold on, Pompey are not a bad team! Seeing Manchester United only manage a draw against Newscastle yesterday bought a smile to my face. It may only be the first game but they are already 2 points behind us!
All in all, I am happy this Monday. We did not play too well against Sunderland but we got the 3 points. We could easily have only left with 1 point but ‘that is what Champions are made of’. You get points even if you did not expect them. There is still a lot of work we need to do before we start firing on all cylinders. But if we can pick up points along the way before we peak then that will be great. Babel will be back now after Holland were knocked out of the Olympics so that is a bonus. I am sure him and Benayoun will be competing for the job down the left, that if Barry does not join us. I can not wait for Mascherano is return, we need his bit in the midfield.
Looking at the week ahead, International games in midweek (that still surprises me that they have these games right at the start of the season!) and then it’s Middlesbrough at home on the weekend.