After two tricky ties in the first two games of the season, things didn’t look any easier in the third either. A trip to north London to face a revamped Arsenal side with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Matheiu Debuchy joining over summer. Things got slightly easier for the Merseyside club as they faced West Brom at home and then got their Champions League run kickstarted away in the Czech Republic with an away tie against League Champions Sparta Prague.
It was a clear but surprisingly bitter day at The Emirates as the teams lined up before what was sure to be a thrilling encounter. In the opening 15 minutes Liverpool seemed to be dropping deep and soaking up pressure well, with the London club resorting to tossing balls into the box for Frenchman Olivier Giroud to no avail. An incisive counter put Liverpool 1-0 ahead as Lavezzi’s cross span off of Gibbs’ foot into the path of new signing Emre Can. The German u21 made no mistakes and blasted the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box with a sweetly struck first time hit. Liverpool’s advantage was doubled as starlet Raheem Sterling pounced upon a loose ball after an epic goal mouth scramble which should have seen ex-Southampton man Rickie Lambert score at least two times.
After the break Wenger’s boys came out with a vengeance and made it 2-1 with a great header from captain Thomas Vermaelen who showed the hunger to get to the ball first and rose above left back Alberto Moreno to nod the ball home. Liverpool sat deeper and deeper inviting pressure upon themselves, Arsenal seemingly couldn’t break the wall of players they were faced with. Liverpool’s set piece woes continued as Vermaelen again scored from a corner in the 71st minute to bring the scores back level. Some good keeping from Simon Mignolet was enough to keep Liverpool in the match who went home with a third successive draw.
“It was a shame to lose another 2 goal lead and we need to work on our game management. It’s matches like these which are the difference between titles and second place.” said the Liverpool boss after the match.
Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool
Can (17), Sterling (30)
After a poor start by Liverpool only picking up 3 points in their opening 3 games, albeit in tough fixture, they looked to start picking up more points here against West Brom back at Anfield. With a trip in Europe in the week the Liverpool first team was changed to rest some key players and a comfortable win was on the cards.
Things didn’t go to plan as West Brom looked a tough side to break down and were exposing Liverpools full backs playing high up the pitch with some quick counters. Both sides went into the break with very different mindsets. One intent on holding on to a draw, the other desperate to win the first match of Carraghers reign. Liverpool prayers were answered as Argentinian Lavezzi was pulled to ground in the penalty box. In Gerrard’s absence vice-captain Daniel Agger stepped up to put Liverpool 1-0 ahead with a confident penalty. Agger takes penalties for Denmark is an accomplished taker of spot kicks, incase any of you thought it was an odd decision. The rest of the second half went very much like the first. Very few chances went either teams way and the result was no further goals.
Liverpool fans may not be happy with the performance from the side but 3 points is 3 points at the end of the day and it propels Liverpool further up the league table.
Liverpool 1-0 West Brom
Champions League nights are back. Liverpool have an affinity with the competition and the club hasn’t felt the same way since it was ousted from the top 4 a couple of years back. Brendan Rodgers did an excellent job in taking the club to title challengers last season and new man Carragher will be hoping to go one better. Carragher has been there and done it, he won the Champions League as a player back in 2005 in the most famous final of all in Istanbul. But every champion starts somewhere and somewhere in this case is Prague.
As expected the English club dominated the game with around 60% possession up until half time. Nothing came of the possession however with very few shots on goal. Whatever the newly appointed manager said at halftime must have spurred on the players as 8 minutes into the second half Ezequiel Lavezzi pounced upon a comical error as a long ball by Lovren was missed by the Prague keeper and Lavezzi, like all good strikers do, anticipated the mistake and tapped home into an empty net. The goal reinvigorated the 5 time winners as Lavezzi doubled his tally with a goal Messi would have been proud of in the 71st minute. The 28 year old picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, he attacked the center back and nutmegged him on the edge of the box before bending the ball into the far corner. The crowd knew it was a special goal and even the Prague fans applauded such a brilliant piece of skill.
Sparta Prague 0-2 Liverpool
Lavezzi (53, 71)
A 2-0 win on their return to the biggest stage of them all was a relief for Liverpool fans. Matches like these are important to get 3 points on the board and assert your authority back in Europe.