5 reasons for Liverpool’s good start

October 2, 2013 in Premier League by George Curtis

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I had a nosebleed the other day. It wasn’t because Fernando Torres gauged me in the face with his claws or because the weather has gotten nose-numbingly cold. It’s because Liverpool are in a position of solidarity at the top of the Barclays Premier League table, and it feels so damn good. It’s an unfamiliar climate up there – the last time the Reds were sitting pretty in second, Gordon Brown smiled. Talk about once in a blue moon. But Brendan Rodgers has manufactured Liverpool’s best start to a league campaign in 20 years and he’s had a little help along the way.

Daniel Sturridge’s form

Unfancied at Manchester City, surplus to requirements at Chelsea, indispensable at Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge has become a goal machine since making the switch from London to Liverpool last January. Rodgers has upheld his promise that the England international will play exclusively through the middle, despite the presence of Luis Suarez. It is true to say that Sturridge has reveled in the no.9 role, dropping deep at time, finding space, wriggling through defences and firing his way to seven goals in all competitions. Suddenly, aided by the additions of Iago Aspas and Victor Moses, Liverpool have a plethora of attacking options, but there will be no removing Sturridge from the heart of Liverpool’s attack.

Defensive stability

Not only have Liverpool strengthened in attack but in the form of Tiago Ilori and more pertinently Mamadou Sakho, defensively they look sound also. Sakho’s presence has forced Daniel Agger out of the side, no mean feat in itself, and with Martin Skrtel returned to form and Kolo Toure fit again, selection headaches extend beyond the front three.

Change of system

It would have been very easy for Liverpool to stick with a winning formula after the first three matches but the manager identified the need to change things around, even if we didn’t. Sakho’s arrival spelled an alteration in shape, with Jose Enrique pushed further forward on the left and Jordan Henderson occupying a right wing-back position, allowing a back three to form. In doing that, Liverpool have been able to offer more support in the midfield, an area that was outrun at times in the second half versus Manchester United, as well as against Southampton at Anfield. The switch paid dividends at Sunderland, as Suarez and Sturridge combined to help the side to a 3-1 victory which lifted them back to 2nd in the table.

Suarez factor

He’s only played one league game but the very fact that Luis Suarez is still a Liverpool player has provided the club with a massive boost. For how much longer that is the case, nobody knows, and one feels that it would be naïve to think club and player have forgotten everything that’s happened. Talk of a new contract sounds promising but should be taken with a pinch of salt, with many people feeling that the club are waiting for Real Madrid to take him off their hands. Whatever the case, for the time being he is a Liverpool player. Despite not being completely match fit yet, Suarez was at his effervescent best against Sunderland, scoring two goals on his Premier League return. With him in the side, Liverpool will surely only improve.

Simon Mignolet

People often overlook the role of the goalkeeper but Simon Mignolet’s contributions to Liverpool’s cause have been as significant as Sturridge’s. Without a last minute penalty save against Stoke City on the opening day and a crucial stop late on from Christian Benteke at Aston Villa, Liverpool’s start to the season might have looked extremely less impressive. Mignolet has excelled in his short Anfield career so far, displaying the attributes that won him many plaudits during his Sunderland days. Pepe Reina might feel hard done by at losing his place to the Belgian stopper but few ‘keepers would push Mignolet aside in this form.