Early Doors

Young stars have Liverpool looking forward

The second weekend of the season in the Premier League was a lot like the first in many respects.

Arsenal are still rekindling the magic of their glory days with another goalless bore draw that would make former boss George Graham proud.

Eden Hazard continues to prowl around the football pitches of England with all the cunning and lethal menace of the runaway lion which is apparently on the loose somewhere in the Essex countryside.

Carlos Tevez is once again bearing messages in reference to places in his native Argentina on t-shirts, which does not exactly ease any fears that the striker who just a few months was trying to move back to South America is not homesick anymore.

But there was something different to observe this weekend as Liverpool gave genuine cause for optimism for the first time in what feels like a long while.

The Reds claimed a 2-2 draw against Manchester City at Anfield, and can feel aggrieved that they didn't manage to take all three points against the champions. Were it not for two awful errors in defence from the home side then Brendan Rodgers would have been toasting his first league win as Liverpool manager.

After last weekend's horror show at The Hawthorns in which Liverpool were beaten 3-0 by West Brom, this was just the kind of response that was required to avoid their season spiralling into yet another bout of self-pity before it had even really begun.

Summer signing Joe Allen may have cost an eye-catching £15 million, but he once again showed why he is likely to be such a key component in the new Liverpool. The Welsh midfielder's performance was low-key but highly effective, with his passing stats once more very impressive. And it was not just sideway shuffles between him and team-mates five yards away, either — just as he did against West Brom, every single one of Allen's long-range passes found their intended targets.

The 22-year-old was not the only youngster who has given Liverpool fans cause to look to the future instead of dwelling on a tumultuous present. For a long time now, many supporters have been telling anyone who'll listen about the huge potential of winger Raheem Sterling, and he showed what all the fuss was about against City.

The 17-year-old played the full 90 minutes on his Premier League debut and he did not look out of place.

Add to the mix Jonjo Shelvey's enforced introduction just five minutes into the game following Lucas Leiva's injury and Sebastian Coates in defence and it's easy to see why Rodgers was so pleased with the contribution of the club's younest team in almost a decade.

"I thought we were outstanding against a top side, the champions," Rodgers said after the game. "Once we managed the first five or 10 minutes, tactically the players were terrific.

"We're disappointed not to win the game but there were a lot of young players giving us great hope for the future. The fight and the quality we played with today - and the atmosphere - was incredible."

It was not all rosy for Liverpool's bright young things, mind. Striker Fabio Borini was again unable to make a significant impact up front, although with Andy Carroll seemingly rooted to the Liverpool bench these days the Italian should still have plenty more opportunities to make a starting spot his own.

Martin Kelly, meanwhile, had his part to play in the comedic mix-up which gifted Yaya Toure the chance to equalise at 1-1. Still, the right-back was upstaged by Martin Skrtel, whose catastrophic back pass handed Tevez the chance to level at 2-2 and send yet another shout-out to downtown Buenos Aires. Having also been culpable for conceding West Brom's second penalty the previous week, Skrtel is probably relieved that he has already got a new contract in the bag.

But, on the whole, there were many positives for Liverpool and for Rodgers. Prior to Sunday's game the Reds had only picked up just 18 points in 20 Premier League games in this calendar year. That is just the kind of dwelling on the club's recent past which they will be hoping they won't have to do in the coming months.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Marseille won again as well. Allez les Marseillais. Maybe I'll see you all this week? I am hopeful that things will be sorted out soon. Other clubs are in but I only want to play in Marseille. This is the place for me. Hopefully, QPR and Marseille can finalise the deal in the next few days. My heart is already in the Vélodrome. Not gonna cry about it. Maybe it's just time to move on. I enjoyed parts of last season and believe I am more than capable of playing this year. But the manager doesn't. Such is life. I have no problem with this as its my fault I am banned for 12(10 now) games." — Joey Barton expresses his desire for a mooted move to France with Marseille to happen in a lengthy series of posts on Twitter.

FOREIGN VIEW: "Real was very bad, an unacceptable match. The only message I want you to take away tonight is that it was a deserved defeat for us. This was a match in which the defeat was absolutely deserved. More than two matches with just one point it was a horrible match." — Jose Mourinho was not a happy man after his Real Madrid side lost 2-1 at local rivals Getafe.

COMING UP: Watch highlights of each and every one of the weekend's Premier League matches online right now or just catch up with our compilation of all the goals.

Later you can peruse our selections for Team of the Week, and Jan Molby will be giving us his thoughts on the weekend's action.