Fernando Is Back
Sometimes he does make you think "Where would we be without him?"...
It may have taken a while longer than we're used to and i'm with the conspiracy that he's had to wait for his new hairstyle to settle in... But Fernando Torres got off the mark for the new season yesterday in an otherwise evenly poised tie against West Bromwich Albion.
Hodgson again chose to field Agger as a make shift left back in his back four with Skrtel, Carragher and Johnson completing the set up. Reina was in goal and it was Jovanovic, Poulsen, Lucas and Kuyt who made up midfield. Captain Steven Gerrard had the role sitting just behind lone forward Torres.
A slow start by Liverpool meant West Brom were able to try their luck, the Baggies weren't too prolific in front of goal but the defence had some scares when players like Fortune and Dorrans managed to get through the midfield blockade of Poulsen and Lucas and into the danger areas.
Despite this Liverpool eventually found their feet and Torres followed suit after his very early shot on goal which forced Scott Carson into a save. Torres settled even more as the minutes went by and with supporting play from the likes of Kuyt, Gerrard and Jovanovic it was clear it wouldn't be long before a flash of brilliance from the Spaniard.
The Reds would have to wait until after half time though for their Spanish saviour and even with West Broms best efforts, they too would need to have some patience if they were going to be fruitful in these 90minutes at all.
In the second half both sides were becoming slightly more aggressive, with a new sense of urgency for that vital game changing and points winning goal it was time for serious business. The likes of Martin Skrtel and co were getting very stuck in with their tackles and so too were the West Bromwich Albion midfielders, James Morrison who would later be punished was being rather careless with a few of his challenges but the Reds fought on.
Just before the hour mark Roy felt it was time for a change, a respectable stint from Milan Jovanovic saw him replaced by Maxi Rodriguez.
Minutes later a corner created quite a shocking site for a Liverpool fan after Martin Skrtel of all people smashed a half volley and was inches away from seeing it hit the back of the net. He must be quite frustrated because he always without fail is awaiting his chance from corners and i've seen him take a few shots, most of which are headers but he just doesn't seem to have that bit of luck on his side... We'll all keep our fingers crossed for you Martin.
Speaking of volleys...
One man who knows what he's doing when it comes to that skill is El Nino himself. When he played the ball out to Kuyt on the wing it was evident from his request for that ball back that he had a plan. Kuyt answered the Spaniards request and hit first time by the number 9 it was only the bounce on the ground before the ball went into the net that spoilt the display.
A fantastic goal from Fernando and hopefully now he has his landmark 50th goal at Anfield we will see several more from the forward this season... I have absolutely no doubt that we will.
It was another shot from Fernando Torres that nearly saw the Reds go 2-0 up just 5minutes later but a reaction save from Scott Carson denied us our second.
In the twenty minutes before time a baffling couple of decisions from manager Roberto Di Matteo who decided to take off Graham Dorrans (who i thought was their best player) and bring on Somen Tchoyi (excuse my ignorance but who the hell is he when you need an equaliser?). Di Matteo also then switched Marc-Antoine Fortune who again was impressive for Chris Wood.
To make things worse for the Baggies James Morrison after a tackle on Fernando Torres was given an early bath. The red card was possibly a bit harsh but fueled by his earlier poor challenges perhaps he did not have too much to complain about.
Liverpool swapped Torres for Ryan Babel within the last ten minutes and the Reds managed to see out the rest of the game to take away the 3 points.
Not a brilliant win by any means but i feel by the end of the 90minutes we did deserve it. Strangely enough Phil Brown actually made a good point on MOTD2 saying Liverpool would be drawing games like that last season and i have to say i agree, it's these silly 1-0 wins that could be the difference this year. We all know full well that teams like United are often praised for the amount of slim margins they win by in difficult games.
Next up we have Birmingham away and then Steaua Bucharest at Anfield before one of the big clashes of the season against bitter rivals Manchester United.