Coutinho (right) challenges for the ball with Yaya Toure in Monday’s game against Man City.
WHAT an exciting Champions League draw for Liverpool!
Not the toughest group, thankfully, but after a five-year absence, I can only imagine the hair-raising atmosphere in Anfield, especially when we meet our good old friend, defending champions Real Madrid.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the match against the Premier League defending champions earlier this week.
On that rainy Monday afternoon, the first 40 minutes of play carried some hope that the Reds would manage to finish with three points in hand. Alas, the pace, power and determination of the opponents eliminated such possibility.
In the 41st minute, Manchester City drew first blood with Stevan Jovetic slamming the ball home. That same minute also marked the beginning of Liverpool’s downward spiral for that evening which ended with no less than three injuries. No complains about Glen Johnson’s misfortune though — he needs a break from the pitch as much as we do from watching him trying to defend.
Nevertheless, injuries are a worry in the bigger picture. With the Champions League kicking off in three weeks’ time, we need all the manpower we can use. Next weekend will see more than half the team away on international duties so let’s just hope they all come back unscathed.
City were the deserving winners, and Liverpool’s setbacks weren’t something that we did not already know. The defence is still our weakest link and despite efforts to beef it up with new hopeful players, it is evidently still a work in progress. Apart from the fumble that led to the first goal, Alberto Moreno did fairly well in his debut and for someone whose name was barely heard of, Lazar Markovic was a live spark when he came on for Philippe Coutinho. His accurate passes, daring interceptions and chance-creating bursts were proof that all is not lost. In the long run, at least.
First defeat aside, we do have something to celebrate (preferably without fireworks) — our ninth signing of the season, Mario Balotelli. Where do I begin with this one? Initially, I had my doubts. Are we really going to replace one bad boy with another, I wondered. As the rumours quickly evolved into a sealed deal, I came to accept it. It was a good bargain to begin with. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that he will leave his antics at the door and Anfield will be the ground where he finally matures.
The one thing I am absolutely certain is that regardless of his special struggles with training bibs or the hazardous house parties he throws, as long as he scores the goals we need, Liverpool fans will love him with all our (battered) heart and soul.
Yes, he bears similarities with the long gone Luis Suarez but isn’t that what we wanted? A replacement that would live up to the mark, someone who’s not a work in progress but a reliable, proven striker and a big name that opponents will know of well enough to fear. Balotelli fits the bill quite well if you look at it that way.
He should be available for tomorrow’s away clash with Spurs and I’m sure it’s a debut that fans across the league are eagerly waiting to witness. It won’t be an easy one as Mauricio Pochettino’s boys will fight hard to extend their victorious start to the season. I still have hope in our lads though, so I’m expecting an optimistic but narrow win.
The writer invites you to live tweet with her (@pamellalim) during the match tomorrow.