I am ecstatic after our 4-0 win over Stoke last night. Going into the game, I knew that we had to put in a better performance than we did against Spurs but I still had memories about Stoke’s visit to Anfield last season when they frustrated us into a 0-0 draw. But all that changed last night when Torres gave us the lead after 4 minutes. It may not have been a spectacular goal but a player like Torres just needs to keep scoring goals to build the confidence up.
We looked in fine profile last night as we attacked well. I was a bit concerned by the number of free kicks we were giving away in dangerous areas. A better team would have punished us with all those chances. I think I was just as nervous for Ayala last night as he was for himself. You could see the guy was not comfortable at times but Carra talked him through the game and he came out well. It could have been a different story if Stoke had opted to play with two men upfront, that really would have tested Ayala. But credit to the bloke for stepping up and I hope he can build from this.
Now the main crux of this post has to centre around Glen Johnson. He was head and shoulders my Man of the Match yesterday and I don’t think many of you would disagree with me. We have been missing a genuine attacking threat down our right and Johnson has just filled that gap for us. He seems to be doubling up as a right back and a right winger. We know Kuyt does not have the greatest pace and skill to be a wing wizard down the right but now he has the perfect compliment in the form of Glen. The two of them (Kuyt and Johnson) seem to have already struck a great understanding with each other and if teams thought that our only attacking threat was through Gerrrard and Torres, they better think again as Johnson and Kuyt are going to unlock many defences this season.
Johnson capped off his home debut with a stunning goal to make it 2-0 just before the break. The technique he showed with his scissors kick was of the top draw. You would expect a finish like that from Torres but Glen showed that he can also do it. For 90 minutes Glen was an attacking threat and his defence was also rock solid. A 10 / 10 performance by him and long may it continue. It is refreshing to see us being able to attack from the right back position again. I think the last time we had a right back attacking threat was back in the day of Rob Jones and Jason McAteer, now that was a long time ago!
There has to be special mention about our third goal…sheer class by Steven Gerrard. I have not seen a turn like that in a very long time. Usually you see players make turns like that and a goal does not come from it but this time Gerrard laid it on for Kuyt to make it three. Gerrard’s turn last night reminds me of the ‘turn’ Redondo did on Henning Burg in the Champions League a couple of seasons back.
N’gog came on to make it 4-0 and it was virtually a tap in but all goals count and maybe that goal will spur the young mans confidence. Yet again, the creator of that goal….my man Glen Johnson.
I have just been reading reactions from the game this morning and Rafa has made special mention to Lucas’ performance past night. Yes, he played better than he did at Spurs but still he needs to up his game in my opinion. What is concerning me though is that it seems that Mascherano is having the ball at his feet more now than he did when Alonso was there. I am not saying Mascherano is a bad ball player but I would be expecting Lucas to be the one running to the middle of the park and picking up the ball from Mascherano and then Lucas would make the call and decide which way to go. But I guess Lucas is not ready to take up this responsibilty and thus Javier is the one ‘dictating’ play from midfield. I guess that is why we signed Aquilani because that is exactly what he will be doing (dictating play from midfield). One thing Lucas has improved on though is his ball retention. He is not giving the ball away like he used to last season which is a bonus.
All in all, great performance by the Reds and we now just need to build from it. I can not help but laugh at Manure after they lost to Burnley last night!!! We already ahead of them on the table!