Although Liverpool’s 2015-16 season is well underway, building work continues in earnest.
Manager Brendan Rodgers worked hard in the offseason to lay the foundations for the new-look Reds’ campaign. He’s undoubtedly happy with his team’s progress, following Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth on Monday in its home opener.
Bournemouth will surprise some teams in its maiden Premier League season. The Reds nearly became the Cherries’ first victims, but their experience in England’s top flight sustained them when their desired quality failed to appear on the Anfield carpet. Resilience and opportunism won the day for a Liverpool team which is in good position with a perfect six points after two games in new campaign.
Christian Benteke scored the only goal in a game that was closer on balance of play than the scoreline reflects. The Belgian striker scored and celebrated his first goal for Liverpool in front of the Kop. His subsequent commanding display offers encouragement that the Reds’ futility in front of goal is a thing of the past, but he will need better and more plentiful service in order to meet expectations.
We haven’t reached the point in the season where it makes sense to follow the standings, but Liverpool’s start gives the Reds the cushion to help absorb whatever happens in the coming weeks and months. Liverpool visits Arsenal next Monday at the Emirates Stadium, knowing it will have to raise its game in order to compete with teams at the top end of the standings. Trips to Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City then beckon before the Reds’ schedule eases in early December. Liverpool won’t deny it must raise its performance level in the brutal stretch of upcoming road games. We won’t deny the Reds have a right to confidence given the points it already has earned.
Premier League (@premierleague) August 17, 2015
Liverpool’s defending is a principle reason for the Reds’ bright start. Bournemouth never lost its will to play attacking soccer, but few of its forward ventures reached Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Liverpool defended with organization and focus throughout, although they did so with less sharpness than in the previous game.
That teenage defender Joe Gomez struggled at left back comes as little surprise. He’s 18 and playing out of his natural position. Martin Skrtel and Nathaniel Clyne played well enough to cover for Gomez’s shaky moments.
The same goes for Dejan Lovren, whom Tommy Elphick was beat on an early header only for the referee to disallow the goal. Lovren recovered and played with authority, which bodes well for his and Liverpool’s future prospects since he thrives on confidence.
Rodgers now must solve his first major problem of the season. Jordan Henderson limped out of the contest in the 51st minute due to a foot injury that could rule him out of next week’s game. Rodgers might re-fit his midfield in Henderson’s absence, but it’s hard to see how the captain’s absence can have positive effects on Liverpool’s midfield balance.
10 - Jordan Henderson has 10 assists in the Premier League since the start of last season; more than any other English player. Spark.—
(@OptaJoe) August 17, 2015
Nevertheless, Liverpool’s work will continue.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@LFC