Liverpool put a winless September to rest with a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion yesterday to claim their first three-points since downing Tottenham at White Hart Lane on the last day of August. With Reds boss Brendan Rodgers tinkering with the side that lost 1-0 to FC Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday, a more advanced role for Jordan Henderson paid out in spades.
“We flipped the midfield triangle about and played with Stevie controlling and Jordan just in advance of that. “It gave him more licence to go into the corridor” the Northern Irishman explained in his post-match press conference. “He’s the one player in the country that can really dominate a game without the ball due to his running capacity. That forward run allows him to offer the combination with Adam for the first goal, and for the second goal he arrived in the box and finished really, really well. It was a big performance from him today.”
A clever back-heel from the vice-captain following some fancy footwork on the give-and-go from Adam Lallana saw the 26-year old open the scoring in first half injury time before Saido Berahino equalized from the spot just after the break. Henderson paired his assist with a goal of his own to earn his side the three points, but it was the opener from Lallana that really got the Kop rocking with that ingenious creative spark — conjuring something from nothing, if you will — surfacing for the first time since he pulled on the famous red shirt.
“It was a wonderful goal. I thought he was very, very good today and his intensity and work rate in the team was exceptional. He showed his quality” continued Rodgers when asked about the former Southampton captain’s first goal for the Reds. “You saw the supporters’ reaction to him, I think they really appreciate what he is trying to give the team. I’m delighted for him. He’s a wonderful, technically-gifted player and works very, very hard. He scored a wonderful goal, which is what we needed.”
Video courtesy of BeanymanSports
“Performance-wise we’ve still got a way to go. The speed of our game, the movement and the intensity in our game still needs developing and improving” he explained with an audible touch of resignation in his voice. “But I’d rather have that now and then do what we’ve done over the last two seasons – get better and better as the season goes on. But whilst you’re searching for that, it’s important you find a way to win.”
Following a September to forget, three points was about the only way to stop the rot. That it came in a performance that continues to fall well shy of the standards we set last season fails to register at this point in time. With an international break in front of us and a number of key players expected back after it, shows a hint of sun on the horizon for the days ahead — days that will no doubt be filled with a lot of hard work and quite possibly some more disappointment. For now though, a win and a place in the top half of the table will more than suffice.
“What you have to do is find a way to win and today we did that. That was against a team who came to here with big confidence having won 4-0 comfortably last week and winning 1-0 in their last away game at Tottenham” concluded Rodgers. That’s what gives me hope as a manager – even though we’re in a moment where we’re not at our footballing best yet, but I know the character and depth of honesty in this team. As we work more together, the quality in our game and the performance will improve.”