|Image via skysports.com|
Christian Benteke was given his first start under manager Brendan Rodgers but he had little to no support up top and collected just five touches of the ball in the penalty area. It's certainly no coincidence to me that a lone striker at Liverpool hasn't successfully worked since the disappearance of Luis Suarez and even he played regularly in a front two.
Our wingers are far too selfish (not always a bad thing) and even players like Milner and Henderson who I would expect to provide the odd cross just didn't seem to be keeping their eyes peeled for Benteke on Sunday. This concerns me moving forward but thankfully we still have time to correct that and I seriously hope that when Sturridge returns we revert to two up top.
The first half was relatively uneventful for the Reds who opted to remain cautious and protect their net after the embarrassment they suffered last season at the Britannia. Stoke is a tough place to go and in all fairness just keeping a clean sheet was probably a positive for Brendan Rodgers' side.
Players like Charlie Adam and Biram Diouf were causing some issues for Liverpool but Mignolet was only called into serious action on a couple of occasions. The most dangerous moment for the Reds was when Glen Johnson found himself central in the box with the ball spinning at his feet, a beautiful opportunity to rub salt in the wounds but he somehow managed to spoon it over.
Emre Can entered the fray just after the hour mark and I must admit after initially being sceptical of the decision he did bring some much needed stability and time on the ball for Liverpool in the centre of the park. Ten minutes later and we also got our first real sight of Roberto Firmino who looked extremely lively in the minimal time he had on the pitch.
I discussed on Twitter over the summer how Firmino would have a lot to prove and the weight of the world on his shoulders but I hope he can forge a good partnership with his compatriot Coutinho and settle in to a cracking Liverpool career.
It was all down to the magician in this game though and at 86 minutes after picking the ball up in the centre of the pitch, a short run from Coutinho followed by a perfect strike left Butland with little hope of preventing the inevitable. As the away end went crazy and the "Olés" began to sound, it was brilliant to see football back for the 2015/2016 Liverpool season and in such superb goalscoring fashion.
The game was by no means perfect but a 1-0 win at Stoke for the first match of the season is a bloody good result in my opinion. Here's hoping we can carry our winning form through to our next game with Bournemouth.
I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:
@LFCKirstyLFC Stoke v #lfc what were we looking for? A performance, a clean sheet, wipe clean 6-1 display and 3pts. 3 from 4 #notbad— susan macneill (@liverbirdsuz) August 10, 2015
@LFCKirstyLFC a game where we learned to dig deep and get results on our favour.— Suman Karki (@tsuheart_LFC) August 10, 2015
@LFCKirstyLFC more points than chelsea and arsenal combined :p— Ryan Dell (@ryande91) August 9, 2015
@LFCKirstyLFC 92 1/2 minutes of meh 30 seconds of brilliance— Tim McFarlane (@tim_mcf1) August 9, 2015
@LFCKirstyLFC Hope Brendan starts the next game with the team that finished the second half, more resilent and fluid. Ibe as impact sub.— Dave P (@Sarkies_Proxy) August 9, 2015