Scott with some thoughts on Liverpool's weekend win:
This is starting to remind me of two seasons ago when it was always two steps forward then one or two back. Liverpool played well enough to win against West Brom on Saturday but can they repeat that week in and week out? Losing to “lesser” teams was beginning to define this season so let’s hope that has at least stopped. In any case, 3 points were dearly needed and finally won, even if controversies continue.
For one thing, it is always troubling to see a penalty called when it is the incorrect call. In this case, however, I’m willing to give Michael Oliver a pass. Admittedly, this is probably easier to say given that Liverpool eventually won the game, but when a foul happens that close to the area at full speed, it can be difficult to adjudge the exact spot of the infraction. And I thought the young referee did very well otherwise.
The larger “controversy” of course was the fact that Rickie Lambert started over Mario Balotelli. ESPN’s Steve Nicol can claim that the move was just a natural rotation as Brendan Rodgers wanted to rest the Italian, but I’m not buying it. If Balotelli were scoring goals, and maybe if he ever managed a facial expression that wasn’t a scowl, Rodgers would have had him starting that game. How the Super Mario will react to the benching will tell a lot about how his tenure at Anfield will go. Fortunately, upon entering the game in the second half, he was industrious and solid with his hold-up play and passing. But, still, his shots weren’t particularly threatening.
I, for one, while joining the Liverpool faithful who lament Balotelli’s goal scoring paucity, am still able to see the quality in his play that could allow him to contribute mightily in the future. His poise on the ball and vision are really impressive. Specifically, he seems to always be aware of where his teammates are and able to make the one-touch pass or flick, not to mention the fact that he is very willing to do so. As others have pointed out, it is still too early to judge Balotelli’s play and it could very will improve significantly upon the return of Daniel Sturridge, with his pace and ability to drag defenders with him.
In the meantime, let’s talk about Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana. The former is able to create something out of nothing by sheer willingness to run hard. And the latter is showing he may be fully healed as his cheeky move prior to the one-two with Henderson prompted 4 replays and the summoning of all my family members to the room to watch. I look forward to what they can continue to create in the future. And hopefully no more controversy.
This is farlieonfootie for October 6.