Luis Suarez celebrates scoring against SwanseaLiverpool’s 5-0 thumping of Swansea was a good response to two poor results in the week, but Brendan Rodgers is still six to 12 months away from having a consistent team capable of challenging the top four.
It was a great way to answer the critics. You can have question marks against the team Swansea put out, who not only seemed weakened but unmotivated.
It has been said they had one eye on the League Cup final, but they had both eyes on it if you ask me. You can’t blame them though, as it’s their first opportunity to win a major trophy.
For Liverpool though it was a fantastic performance. They created a lot of opportunities and – unlike against West Brom and Zenit St Petersburg – they stood up and took them.
When Liverpool score first they look like a top team; when they concede they struggle, fall apart even. That is down to inner confidence, which they clearly lack.
Part of that is cyclical – the run of not beating any of the top teams plays on their minds. They lack a bit of belief in being able to beat them precisely because they haven’t beaten them.
That side of Liverpool’s confidence will come one step at a time. They have just beaten a top-10 side, so they now know they have the ability to do it.
Previously they had put in great performances against the best sides in the country, but finished empty handed.
They should have beaten Manchester City twice, and when they were leading 2-1 at the Emirates they did not look like a team who believed they could hold on to a lead.
When Liverpool are at it, they are as good as anyone; when they are not, they can be poor.
I think we will have another six to 12 months of what we have seen from Liverpool recently. Some great performances, some poor ones, and a general inconsistency and fragile confidence. That will take a while to iron out, it will come with experience, as they grow accustomed to the new style of play, and it will come with results.
Zenit are an example of a team Liverpool will continue to struggle against. Liverpool did create chances against them but didn’t take them. Zenit are a physical team and one packed with quality – I think they’ll enjoy coming to Anfield, and I don’t think Liverpool can turn it around.
If you want to play, Zenit will play; if you want to stand up to them they’re happy to get physical. They have a perfect mix of Latin and European players, foreign flair and local grafters.
They have top class if not world class players, players who know their way around a pitch and are capable of great goals. Hulk is a great example of someone who is both technically gifted and streetwise. And, as we touched on earlier, once Liverpool went 1-0 down they lost their heads a bit and it was an uphill task.
Liverpool will miss Daniel Sturridge – who has given exactly what they previously lacked in front of goal – and Philippe Coutinho, both of whom are cup-tied in Europe.
Sturridge is a big addition but an equally big loss in Europe. Coutinho probably had the perfect opportunity to make an impact as you never get a physical game against Swansea. It won’t be that way against Sunderland as some of the qualities he’s lacking will be exposed against teams like that, but then that’s what Sturridge is for.
They were good acquisitions, and vital now that poor Fabio Borini is out for the season.
How unlucky can you be? People were unsure when Liverpool signed him for big money and he is desperate to make an impression. He’s probably guilty of trying too hard to show what he can do, to show that – while not the biggest – he can handle the physical side, and as a result he has picked up two bad injuries.
I feel incredibly sorry for him but he’ll have to cope, show some mental strength and bounce back for next season. He’s got time on his side because of his youth but his first 12 months at Liverpool will have been a nightmare from him, one he’ll do well to forget.
He’ll learn and come back stronger, but as with Liverpool in general I don’t think you’ll see the best of him this year.