Even though our lead at the summit of the Premier League lasted for only a brief moment, our time at the top stands in stark contrast to our fortunes at this time last year. While August was anything but kind to the Reds last time around, we’ve now taken 7 points from our opening 3 matches and our emphatic win over Bolton has gone on to clarify our position as an re-emerging force to be reckoned with. Even though Ivan Klasnic pulled back a late consolation in injury time, the 3-1 scoreline was more flattering on the Trotters than it was on us.
Owen Coyle thinks the only difference between the squad that decimated his Bolton side and the one that only scraped by after a offside Joe Cole winner is a £110mil but that is only an offhand attempt to discount a side that was on song throughout proceedings. The wealth gap between the two teams may now be much more pronounced than in the past, but that never kept Bolton from grinding out a result in their no nonsense way against teams in the past.
If Coyle’s side couldn’t cope with Dalglish’s guile, why not just say so? Right from the outset, the high octane, full throttle attacking gave you the sense that we weren’t going to end scoreless. The paring of Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez up front provided maximum mobility and the industrious work of Lucas in the center of the park gave us the impetus to move forward freely. Liverpool began the first half as they had a forthnight ago against Sunderland; confident, with the swagger of a team looking to mark their mark from the outset and after only 15 minutes, the mark was made.
Chances for Stewart Downing and Luis Suarez had previously gone begging but Jordan Henderson was the first name on the score sheet with his first goal in Liverpool red. Dirk Kuyt set up the £20mil man who sent a beautiful curling effort past the diving Jääskeläinen after his first shot was blocked. Even Bolton attempted to make a match out of it with a period of sustained pressure, the excellent backline pairing of Jaime Carragher and Daniel Agger were able to weather the storm after a well struck chance from Petrov stung Reina’s gloves.
By the time the half rolled around, an injury to Martin Kelly forced Martin Skrtel onto the pitch and in the 52nd minute, the big Slovakian lost his marker to head home a picture perfect corner from the in form Charlie Adam. Less than a minute later, it would be Adam who would put the icing on the cake by being the second summer signing to score his first Liverpool goal today with a low drive from about 18 yards out.
With the points effectively tallied up, all we needed to do was see out the remaining 35 minutes. Jose Enrique put in another assured performance down the left and again made a case for cut rate signing of the season with a foray or two down the flank while still managing to keep it water tight at the back. The sole breach came two minutes into stoppage time when Ivan Klasnic lashed in a well worked shot from close to range to deny Pepe the clean sheet and put a slight damper on the festivities.
The so called “damper” lasted, in Dalglish’s estimation anyways, for about 40 seconds. The Kop was jubilant. The media nay-sayers were subdued. Liverpool was top of the table. And me? I was smiling as wide as could be.