Liverpool traveled to London yesterday needing a win to get their season well and truly rolling, and despite deserving less than nothing from a match that bottom of the barrel Queens Park Rangers dominated throughout, they left the Capital with all three points and a bump into fifth place. Sometimes, I suppose, you get what you need.
A lack of composure from serial own-goal scorer Richard Dunne following a quickly taken Reds free-kick saw the Irishman divert Raheem Sterling’s low cross past Hoops ‘keeper Alex McCarthy to open the scoring. The hosts were knocking hard on Liverpool’s door all day and there was little surprise when they pulled level through Eduardo Vargas when he smashed home a knock-down from Charlie Austin. A 1-1 draw looked to be a good result for either side, but the calamity that followed no one could have predicted.
We never looked comfortable holding a one goal lead with just under a half hour left to play, but it came as something of a surprise to see Liverpool hang on to beat West Bromwich Albion and claim their first win since demolishing Tottenham Hotspur at the end of August. Three points — finally.
It was a whole lot of the same for much of the first half until Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson combined in stoppage time to send the Reds into the break with the lead and the former Southampton captain to the locker room with his first goal since moving to Anfield over the summer. Saido Berahino made no mistake from the spot after being gifted a penalty that never was, but Liverpool fought back with Raheem Sterling centering for Henderson to pass the ball through three Baggies players and into the net for the winner.
Football isn’t a funny old game, as the old adage might lead you to believe — it’s days like these that you know it’s a cruel one.
Steven Gerrard sent Anfield into raptures with a trademark free-kick that all but put a stamp on Liverpool’s dominance in a tense Merseyside Derby, but Phil Jagielka’s picture perfect injury-time blast from a full thirty-yards out left the boys on the Kop slack-jawed as it swerved past a diving Simon Mignolet at speed before bulging the top corner. It wasn’t the banishment of 15-years of Anfield misery Everton so hoped for prior to kick-off, but with three points looking certain to be added to their neighbours tally, it’s better than they expected — and far more than they deserved.
It’s a disconcerting pattern that needs to be rectified sooner rather than later. I’d say it was two weeks in a row that we conceded an early goal to put our backs against the wall before the match even really got started, but that’s not entirely true — this week, we gave up two of them.
Oddly enough, West Ham United looked a bit like the Liverpool of last season that we’d all become accustomed to as they raced out of the gate. Winston Reid headed home his first goal in just under a year after a mere 80-seconds had been played and summer signing Diafra Sakho made it two with a well worked chip well before the ten minute mark. Raheem Sterling pulled one back before the break and the Reds looked on course to find an equalizer after it, but Morgan Amalfitano rounded out the win on the counter-attack as the hosts claimed their first home victory of the season.
It’s Aston Villa, isn’t it? Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers did his absolute best to banish the myth of the “bogey team” last year by downing pretty much each and every one of the sides that the Reds have traditionally struggled with, but the Villains have continued their amazing run of form at Anfield to keep their unbeaten start to the season going.
Full credit to Villa boss Paul Lambert — his side came with a plan and they executed it to near perfection. Contain, stifle and counter-attack was the name of the game and when Liverpool leaked an early one, there was no need to deviate from it. Kopites everywhere don’t even have to watch Gabriel Agbonlahor’s early goal to understand that it was born not so much out of the visitors ingenuity and work rate as it was out of the Reds terrible record on the backfoot. It killed us last year and it’s starting to do it again.