Liverpool fans and players alike are on a high after the team defeated Stoke 1-0 to avenge the severe beating they received last season, losing to the opposing team 6-1 in May. Liverpool hoped to come back strong and seem to be on their way. The beginning of this season has seen a great start for Liverpool after their performance on Sunday.
Philippe Coutinho delivered the brilliant kick that has launched Liverpool into a winning start and shaken off the cloud that hung over the team. Stoke hosted this redemption match at the Britannia Stadium, the same site that last saw them leaving Liverpool in utter humiliation. Many thought that there would be a repeat performance of 11 weeks ago, but the away team dug deep to come out on top in the end.
Most of the game was a lackluster affair and seemed to be heading towards a draw between the teams. The last few minutes of the game, however, saw Coutinho delivering a masterful strike from 30 yards for the win. The kick itself was impressive and made even more so since it won Liverpool the game and seems to be a habit of Coutinho’s.
3 - Three of Coutinho's four Premier League goals in 2015 have come from outside the penalty area. Vital.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 9, 2015
Majority of the player line up were present during the debacle of the last game against Stoke but the first game also saw some debut players as well. Nathaniel Clyne, Christian Benteke, Joe Gomez, and James Milner were put forward by Liverpool, AKA the Reds while Stoke – the Potters – saw Marco van Ginkel, Ibrahim Afellay, and former Liverpool full-back Glen Johnson.
In comparison to the loss they suffered during that embarrassing goal filled game last season, the 1-0 win is quite tame but Liverpool has no trouble celebrating the win. The team has established their presence this season – albeit they seemed rather cautious during their play – and has made progress with their performance thanks to Coutinho.
BBC sport‘s coverage has the manager’s reviews of the Liverpool/ Stoke opening match. Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool’s manager, is more than happy with the players’ performance and looks forward to the remaining season, especially after the last defeat.
“It was a good performance after a long pre-season, to get the win after what happened here last season was even more important. We showed great character and determination as a team and our quality came through. Coutinho did very well, he has only been back three weeks, but he is at a good level of fitness. He did a wonderful spin to get away from Glen Whelan and then got the shot off which beat Jack Butland who is an excellent keeper. It was a wonderful goal to cap a really good performance.”
In contrast, Stoke’s manager Mark Hughes believed that no team deserved the win and a draw would only have been “the fair result.”
“Liverpool have invested a lot of money this summer but I did not see £80m worth of difference between the teams…We will get stronger and be more creative. In terms of the performance as this is the first day of the season I am quietly confident we can go on from this point.”
The debate about whether or not Liverpool can strengthen their own performance as they will soon face opponents such as Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea etc in their upcoming games continue. One thing is for sure though, Coutinho has definitely proved his worth with that game winning goal and put Liverpool on the right path.
Liverpool’s next match will see them paired against Premier League newcomers Bournemouth on August 17, while Stoke is due to play Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
[Photo Courtesy of Clive Brunskill/ Getty Images]