In which Correspondent Scott continues to cling stubbornly to his delusions of grandeur over Liverpool's prospects this season:
The Liverpudlians of week three in the EPL looked to be the older, bigger, better brother of last week’s team. They didn’t deliver a merciless Manhandlers United-type beating to the hapless Bolton Wanderers, but they did dominate with mostly crisp play, a sense of urgency and solid defense (save for the one Jamie Carragher lapse). Starting with an abundance of energy, yet patiently working the ball from the back when needed, the team is be beginning to gel. Still, however, the lion’s share of offensive creativity begins with Luis Suarez. Consider his beautiful outside-of-the-foot curling cross to Stuart Downing in the 15th minute: although Downing did well with it, Jussi Jaaskelainen deflected to Dirk Kuyt who layed off to Jordan Henderson, whose first attempt was blocked before the second sailed into the netting. Suarez will probably take little comfort in the praise he will surely receive for his inspiring performance, as he is all about goals and didn't get one. His only blemish on the day came when he rather over-confidently attempted to chip Jaaskelainen on a break away in the 24th minute instead of picking a corner, his effort bending the top of the net the wrong way. When Martin Skrtel came on for the injured Martin Kelly in the 29th minute (to join Daniel Agger in completing the “Tat two” [hee hee]), it was nice to see a modicum of depth on the defensive side of the pitch. One would think that with the return of Glen Johnson from injury and the imminent arrival of Sebastian Coates, Liverpool’s defensive troubles may be at least stabilized. For, yet again, new signing Jose Enrique was solid in the back and scarily dangerous on the attack. So five minutes into the second half, despite a sublime half-field break away pass to Suarez in the 21st minute, I find myself thinking about the fact that Charlie Adam has not had the impact on this team for which one would have hoped. To that point in the season, he had no goals, had been overshadowed by the inspirational Suarez and had been dreadful on free-kicks (he drilled another into the wall in the 4th minute) despite a vaunted reputation in that respect. Then, just as I’m listening to the commentator relay Sir Alex Ferguson’s assertion that Adam’s corner kicks alone are worth $10 million, Adam’s corner kick finds the streaking, inky Skrtel for a clinical score. This, just before Adam scores himself, not 3 minutes later, with his RIGHT foot. Call him Stella because he has got his groove back! In the end, a frustrating day for Suarez (capped by a no-call on an obvious back-pass in the 72nd minute) was still a step in the right direction for the Reds who, with both winter and summer signings, have given themselves a chance to compete for the title and certainly play Champions League football next year. There is, of course, more work to be done.
Just as they should have netted a couple more against Arsenal the previous week, more goals should have been scored on Saturday – such profligacy will be punished in Manchester. Also, as the midfield is beginning to gel (Stella must keep his groove going, and provide the kind of spark that Suarez has), the defense must do likewise to prevent the mental lapses that can lose a game. And finally, Andy Carroll, the $35 million signing, needs to step up and prove at least half his worth. Norwich Note: Norwich City will be nine months pregnant by the end of the season given the number of times they've been screwed during the last three weeks. A bogus red card for the valiant ‘keeper, John Ruddy, will make life even harder for the courageous Canaries who gave Chelsea a handful and showed pluck throughout. You have to love a team -- newly-promoted, down a man and playing a Goliath -- that continues to press for the equalizer, even if it doesn’t come. Importantly, Grant Holt got on the scoreboard (and is sure to be there more so in the weeks to come), even if it was due to yet another blunder from the Chelsea liability known as Henrique Hilario.