Two Games, Two Different Contests and Two Different Teams
The last seven days could in the future been marked as those that proved Liverpool Football Club were in deed on their way back.
On Wednesday we played Stoke in the Carling Cup and with Stoke being one of those teams that we seem to be unable to beat, it was either going to be a game where Liverpool folded once more, or indeed a game where they showed that yes, Stoke are team that we can finally add to the list of those that can be put to bed quite easily.
It was a game where the team was expected to be different from the one that had played Norwich the previous Saturday, a game as we know that ended in a draw due in the end to our defensive failings. It was and players such as Sebastian Coates, Martin Kelly, Jay Spearing and Andy Carroll returning to the team. Stevie was given the evening off, which meant that Jamie was the evening's Captain.
It was one of those games again that started with Liverpool playing well until Sebastian Coates, who with seconds to think about it, made a wrong move which ensured that Stoke got the first goal of the game. Thankfully though the team did not fold and as they came out for the second half, there was immediate evidence that a fight back was in progress. Jay Spearing and Martin Kelly were absolutely fantastic and deserve to be in the first eleven for every game.
As the half progressed there were the usual missed decisions by referee Lee Probert but thankfully, these did not affect the way the game panned out. It became a proper cup contest and with both teams fighting to ensure they went through, Luis Suarez suddenly found his confidence once more in front of the goal with an absolutely stunning goal.
He did not stop there though, and give minutes from time; his second of the evening went into the back of the net. Liverpool was through to the next round and will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Yesterday attention again reverted back to the Premier League with Liverpool playing West Bromwich, now managed by Roy Hodgson. Now Roy as we know had a torrid time as Liverpool manager this time last year and has spent the last seven days trying to rewrite Liverpool's history during his tenure at the club. Would this affect the way he set his team out to play was a question, I had asked myself many times.
I need not have worried though as the game was totally one sided from the beginning to the end. Kenny had again changed the team's personnel and showed that once Jamie and Stevie's playing days come to an end Liverpool can manage without them. Yesterday they were both missing, Jamie with a knock he received during the Carling Cup game and Stevie apparently due to an injury he picked up in training earlier in the week. Andy Carroll was again playing up front with Luis Suarez and proved that the partnership is beginning to show dividends. I will admit, as you know to being very sceptical about Andy but yesterday he proved that he is slowly beginning to adapt to the Liverpool Way of playing - his overall performance was much better.
We had Daniel Agger back from injury with Martin Sktel in the defence and they both did extremely well. Our midfield was controlled by Lucas who had a fantastic game and to be honest I cannot understand why he was not the captain yesterday. That young man lives and breathes the club, so to me it would have been the obvious choice. It is far better to have a player on the park in the position that one that has to remain in his goalmouth.
The game as usual was not devoid of incident with the linesman ruling that a push by Jerome Thomas was indeed a penalty after referee Lee Probert appeared to dismiss the offence. It was then given and Charlie Adam stepped up in the absence of Stevie and Dirk. The ball hit the back of the net and Liverpool were 1 goal to the good,
This appeared unsettle West Bromwich even more, and what little confidence they had drained away so much so, that Roy rather than rubbing his face, took his coat off and threw to the ground in anger. I am sorry but, he only has himself to blame. If your research is done properly, you know what your team is going to face and should be prepared for it.
What he said to them in the dressing room is anyone's guess but for a short time in the second half it appeared that they would have the upper hand. Lucas though as I have said, had other ideas and he ensured that Liverpool kept control of the midfield. The football of course was the same pass and move style that Kenny has brought back to the club. A style of football that ensured another goal was possible.
It happened of course on the forty fifth minute with Andy Carroll outwitting the West Bromwich players and finding the back of the net. Liverpool now had a bigger advantage and with the clock winding down, you wondered if they would have the lapse of concentration that appears quite regularly in the closing minutes of games.
They did not and the victory means that Liverpool is now in fifth place in the Premier League. A place that means providing they continue to progress that moving upwards into a Champions League place is now a massive possibility.
It also showed that the players are beginning to understand each other to such an extent that it does not matter how many times they are slotted in and out of the team. They all play for Liverpool Football Club and that is the most important part of their development.