Weekend: 27/08/07 (+Sunderland V Liverpool Report)
- Arsenal 1 Man City 0
- Aston Villa 2 Fulham 1
- Bolton 3 Reading 0
- Chelsea 1 Portsmouth 0
- Derby 1 Birmingham 2
- Everton 1 Blackburn 1
- Man Utd 1 Tottenham 0
- Middlesbrough 2 Newcastle 2
- Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2* See below for detailed match report.
- West Ham 1 Wigan 1
Liverpool’s trip to the Stadium of Light was first up last weekend; an entertaining game saw Liverpool create plenty of chances before finishing off Sunderland with a goal from Voronin after 87 minutes. Fernando Torres looked impressive throughout, creating a number of chances for himself and for strike partner Voronin and Momo Sissoko was excellent in midfield, emphasising Liverpool’s new found strength in depth with an accomplished display in midfield, as well as the first goal. Sissoko enters the record books as the scorer of Liverpool’s 7,000th goal and it was a terrific strike to match the prestige of the Malian entering the record books.
Things thefc100 learnt from the game:
(1): Sunderland will struggle this term while they lack a striker full of confidence. Despite being in good positions and playing some eye-catching attacking football at times, Sunderland rarely looked like scoring. Liam Miller was particularly guilty of shooting from long-range at one point when Sunderland had finally got past Alonso and Sissoko and had numbers bearing in on goal. Andrew Cole might solve the problem. If Sunderland were playing in the Championship he certainly would, the Premiership requires better service from midfielders, being a good goalscorer is simply not enough.
(2):Liverpool’s strength in depth is more impressive this season than any other in recent memory, but will it eventually cause problems? Momo Sissoko came in for the injured Gerrard and performed exceptionally in the talismans absence. The Malian was back to his best after a poor patch last season following injuries and a lack of confidence. The problem lies herein: while Sissoko was excellent, the chances of him taking Gerrard’s place long-term are between 0 and 1%. Therefore, despite Gerrard’s talk of ‘places not being guaranteed’, the fact is, a hell of a lot of midfielders are battling it out for three positions, particularly the one alongside Gerrard, currently filled by Rafa’s golden boy Xabi Alonso. Javier Mascherano, Yossi Benayoun and Lucas Leiva have yet to play at all so far this season and with Harry Kewell and Fabio Aurelio returning to fitness to provide competition for places on the left, the midfield is about to get even more congested. That’s not to mention the fact that Crouch is clearly not favoured by Benitez and as a player who above probably all others in the Premiership is hugely affected by confidence, this does not bode well for the Liverpool striker, the club’s top-scorer last season but reduced to a ten minute cameo against Chelsea so far in the Premiership this season. One area that Benitez seems to have neglected is centre-back where Alvaro Arbeloa is now back-up to Hyypia and Agger for tomorrow nights game with Toulouse (assuming that Hyypia is fit after breaking his nose on Saturday). Carragher’s injury is of greater concern than Gerrard’s as the cover for Gerrard’s position (s) is extensive while Carragher is one of a kind for Liverpool at the back. Benitez has hinted that defensive cover will be sought before the transfer window closes this weekend.
Sunderland face a trip to Old Trafford next to take on Roy Keane’s former club Manchester United (01/09) in a game that anyone who’s interested in football is expected to tune in for! Keane Vs Ferguson has got the mouth watering since the fixture lists were announced and despite gaining their first win of the season on Sunday against Spurs, Ferguson will not be relishing the chance for another ‘old boy’ to put one over his team. Following that, Sunderland host Reading (15/09), visit Middlesbrough (22/09) and host Blackburn (29/09) and Keane will be hoping to pick up some points in those three games. Reading crumbled at the Reebok on Saturday, Boro are unpredictable at the best of times and Keane will relish pitting his team against former teammate Mark Hughes as Blackburn round off the month. While Utd should beat Sunderland, Keane’s men will pick up points in the other games and will go into October with their fate still very much in their own hands having survived a tough start to the season. Keane will need to bring in a couple more players this week though, as injuries to key players have left Sunderland looking short on quality.
Liverpool host Derby (01/09), face Portsmouth (15/09), host Birmingham (22/9) and go to Wigan (29/09) in September as well as the return leg of the Champions League qualifier with Toulouse tomorrow night. On paper, Liverpool should be right at the top of the table when October comes around. Any team looking to win the Premiership would expect maximum points from these four fixtures, albeit Portsmouth away is a tricky fixture in anyones’ calendar (and a fixture Liverpool have struggled in recently). The remaining three teams are all expected to be fighting relegation come the end of the season and although Birmingham and Wigan have both made decent starts to the season, expect Liverpool to be top going into the tricky month of October when Spurs, Blackburn and Arsenal should provide sterner opposition.