Liverpool beat Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday night to progress to the next round of the Carling Cup. It was a mere 364 days ago after Northampton Town came to Anfield in the same competition and left victorious after winning on penalties. Roy Hodgson’s decline at Liverpool gained momentum from that point on, and Liverpool supporters will hope the momentum this time around is firmly behind their team for this weekend’s Premier League clash at home against Wolverhampton Wanderers after forgettable results away to Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur.
Sebastian Coates slotted in for the injured Daniel Agger alongside Jamie Carragher at the heart of the defense with Jack Robinson at left back and Martin Kelly restored at right back for the League Cup clash. Many questions were asked following Sunday’s defeat at White Hart Lane, where an immobile Martin Skrtel faced a pacey Gareth Bale. Kenny Dalglish was questioned as to why more natural right back like Kelly or John Flanagan weren’t given an opportunity instead.
Jay Spearing, Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy also started the game. It was a triumphant return to the starting XI for Bellamy as he slotted home with his left foot after 7 minutes after a well worked move that involved Jay Spearing, Maxi and Luis Suarez.
The biggest positive from Wednesday nights game was not only the return of Steven Gerrard to first team football, but also the impressive movement and understanding between Suarez and Bellamy. Kenny Dalglish has not yet found the best way to involve striker Andy Carroll, and Bellamy’s display with help complicate things further. Bellamy gives Dalglish a selection headache ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash at home to Wolves. Dirk Kuyt gave yet another lung busting performance and added weight to the argument as to why he should be the first name on the team sheet week in and out. Kuyt went on to add a second goal after a decisive counter attack involving Bellamy and Maxi, which ended up with Kuyt’s right-footed shot hitting the upright and going in.
Liverpool were unable to keep a clean sheet however. Jay Spearing kept the a ball in play but not able to keep his balance in the 18-yard-box by the end line, leaving Brighton substitute Vicente Rodriguez one-on-one with Jamie Carragher, which ended up with the referee pointing to the spot for the Seagulls. Ashley Barnes duly dispatched the penalty for Brighton to make it 1-2. Liverpool supporters will worry once again about the defensive shortcomings that were all too evident for most of the second half in this Carling Cup encounter.
Jamie Carragher is an all or nothing defender, and some of his recent mistakes can be put down to just that, his playing style. Many argue Carragher is getting too old, but with an injured Daniel Agger, Kenny Dalglish may be forced to throw in young Uruguayan defender Sebastian Coates to play alongside Carragher. While a problem is also evident in midfield with the under performing Jordan Henderson, the energetic Jay Spearing may have done his case no harm after an encouraging show against Brighton.
This result was expected by the Liverpool faithful, perhaps the game was more even than they would have liked or expected, but the mini slide has been halted and the panic has abated for now among the few doomsday Liverpool supporters that always pop-up after a defeat. It’s nowhere near a crisis and let’s not forget this is a new squad. Time will tell, but for now it is still a work in progress.
|Brighton & Hove Albion||1 – 2 (HT 0 – 1)||Liverpool|
|Barnes (pen) 90+0||Bellamy 7|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||