By Jonathan Carroll
Former Liverpool stalwart Sami Hyypia brought his Bayer Leverkusen team to Anfield for Liverpool’s final tune-up game before its Premier League season opener against West Bromich Albion at Anfield next Saturday. The 25,000-plus crowd left with a sense of optimism after watching an impressive outing from Brendan Rodgers’ team.
Of course that optimism around Anfield seems to be present before the start of every season, but with Rodgers’ new system taking shape and murmurs of more players supposedly coming in next week, it looks to be building up to a very interesting season. With only three minutes on the clock, youngster Raheem Sterling collected a Jose Enrique pass before dribbling past a couple of defenders and curling an exquisite finish into the bottom right hand corner.
Lucas later tapped home to make it 2-0 after a well worked free kick. Following on from Thursdays outing against Gomel, where Liverpool dominated for the most part, the Reds continued on as if they were a well-oiled machine for good parts of the first half. It’s imperative Liverpool supporters don’t get carried away with good or bad results early on because this is a work in progress, but positive signs exist.
The one touch passing, movement off the ball, intelligent runs and immediate defensive pressure when possession is lost is great to watch. Rodgers will continue to work on perfecting the system he wants to play with his squad and more players need to be signed for a long season with a squad that currently lacks depth.
The second half by comparison was quite drab. A Charlie Adam dummy set up Andy Carroll’s left footed strike at the Kop end before Sidney Sam struck a low screamer past Pepe Reina, which was loudly applauded around Anfield only for the Bayer striker to motion to the crowd to be quiet. Strange. The space that Sam was afforded was also quite strange and something that needs to addressing following today’s game.
Carroll’s future still remains somewhat uncertain and looking at his role today, one would assume that if an interesting offer comes along he could be sold without hesitation. Adam probably falls into that same category. Rodgers’ squad is probably in most need of an attacking wide man with pace. Whether or not Clint Dempsey fills that category remains to be seen. Theo Walcott may be a better fit but that deal was probably never more than paper talk.
The visit of West Brom next Saturday will give the Anfield faithful a better chance to judge their team against competitive opposition. So far Rodgers approach has yielded positive results and opinions.
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Reina, Kelly. Carragher, Coates, Jose Enrique (Robinson 46), Lucas (Spearing 46), Gerrard (Henderson 46), Shelvey, Downing (Adam 46), Sterling, Suarez (Carroll 46)
BAYER LEVERKUSEN (4-3-3): Leno, Schwaab (Carvajal 67), Wollscheid, Toprak (Hosogai 46), Kadlec (Castro 46), Rolfes, Bender (Hegeler 67), Reinartz, Bellarabi, Schurrle (Sam 46), Kiessling (Junior Fernandes 69)
Substitutes: Friedrich, Yelldell, Carlinhos