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Liverpool 1 Sunderland 1


All the debate post match here has been about the yellow card shown to Kieran Richardson for the last-man foul on Suarez early in the game.

Suarez missed a penalty but scored minutes later

Dalglish got it right at the start when he talked about how no-one wants to see a guy given a red card that early in the game (season) and in truth it makes a sort of sense. Had Suarez buried the penalty Liverpool could have strolled it and there would not have been a reason to look at the incident as a talking point.

Personally feel that Suarez, unlike Steve Bruce’s claim, had timed his run around the keeper perfectly, would have scored and was thus denied a legitimate goalscoring position by the foul. Did Richardson know what he was doing with the foul? Probably, but the slightest contact at full tilt was always going to send Suarez to ground, legitimately, as a tangle of legs ensues once one foot stops doing what it’s supposed to with a trip.

 

(Courtesy of Sky Sports. Video from YouTube)

That said, a yellow card and a penalty is probably the right call for the good of the game, depending on how blatant it is. Had Richardson taken Suarez  down nearer to the half way line with a clear run on goal looming ahead of the Uruguayan a red would have been justified. However Richardson did attempt to match him for pace, and did reasonably well. Once the keeper closes the striker down and the defender is back far enough to make a difference, the incident gets downplayed to a yellow in my opinion.

The £16 million pound question

The rest of the game was both satisfying and worrying for Liverpool fans. Downing and Adam looked bright, and perhaps more of a talking point was Carroll’s strike being wrongly ruled out for a push that was barely evident. How Jordan Henderson fits into the team is more of a question mark. This is a player who was called up for England in the first half of last season before being dropped by Steve Bruce when his performances dipped. He’s also not had a full summer break, having played for England u-21s in their Euro 2011 tournament, where he failed to shine.

Gerrard will (presumably) eventually return to full fitness, while Raul Meireles, if he stays at Anfield, will expect a place and generate more of a threat going forward. Once again it seemed as if Liverpool were in decent control of the game with few Sunderland chances, but it is breaking teams down as Ashley Young just did for Manchester United that will prove crucial.

Dirk Kuyt ended the season in good goalscoring form but is not a right-winger and Dalglish seems to realise that pace is needed for Liverpool when going forward. Kuyt will have a role, potentially in more defensive formations against the bigger teams, but Meireles and Gerrard may be needed to break down weaker opponents at the expense of Henderson and Adam.

Chelsea and Arsenal both drew, getting Liverpool off the hook slightly, but both had away games. This should have been a banker for a strong Liverpool team aside from Gerrard, Johnson and Skrtel being absent. Arsenal next week shouldn’t be a crucial game but is, as the Gunners are struggling for morale and will be missing key players with Gervinho and Song expected to miss out through Joey Barton (or suspension as the FA will no doubt call it).

Expect a similarly attack-minded Liverpool team but fitness and the possible appearance of some new Arsenal players will no doubt have a bearing….

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