After the first ten minutes....
- Nice to see Agger back to fitness and back in favor.
- All the early play down Liverpool's right with Downing and Johnson. I think the idea is that Downing will tend to cut inside on to his left foot and Johnson can overlap and exploit that space. Might be something to watch when the season starts. Johnson is very expensive for a defender (13.37) but he will look to get forward. For the money I'll go with Zabaleta in week one and then Arsenal host Liverpool in week two, but your mileage may vary.
- Downing taking corners from the right, not Adam, but not taking them very well at all.
- Henderson is the midfielder breaking forward to try to support Carroll and Kuyt.
- Nice to see Kuyt getting a game at forward, but it's hard to see him playing there when Suarez returns. Indeed it's hard to see him getting the wide-right berth back either, which is a bit of a shame.
- No Meireles today because of injury. I wonder if he would have played had he been fit, and who would make way -- the question we'll likely be asking all season about any number of Liverpool midfielders.
- Spearing looses his man between the lines and a quick ball out to the left is turned back across the 18-yard box. Liverpool's back four were retreating in a very organized fashion, including Johnson who perhaps should have come to try to cut out the cross, but the ball in front caught them flat-footed and the advancing Strand tucks the ball into the far corner.
- That was against the run of play, but Liverpool looked unable to cope the first time Valerenge upped the tempo on them. Hopefully that's just a symptom of pre-season and not anything more sinister.
Valerenga 2 - 0 Liverpool
- 2nd verse, similar to the first. This time Spearing tackles the ball right to Valerenga who get the ball quickly to their left. Glen Johnson's attempts to "tackle" and "clear" just end up with the ball at the top of the box where Agger and Carragher go in high/low on Ogude and concede the penalty. Reina guesses the right way, but can't stop the kick.
- Liverpool's defence is picking up right where they left off last season, which won't do them, or fantasy managers, any favors.
Through 40 minutes....
- Agger is not shy about shooting from distance. One set-piece from distance just clears the bar and after carrying the ball all the way into the attacking third he unleashes a huge shot which Valerenga is happy to see punched clear by the keeper.
- Is Steve Bruce watching this? If he can get Sessegnon and Gyan attacking Johnson and the right-side of that Liverpool defence, there is joy to be had.
- Carroll is very isolated, though a lot of that seems to be his reticence to track back. He would be a great change-of-pace option off the Liverpool bench. You know, if they hadn't made him the eighth most expensive football ever.
No sooner said, than...
Valerenga 2 - 1 Liverpool
Valerenga 2 - 1 Liverpool
- From a short corner, Downing comes inside on to his left foot (note to every Premier League defence, Downing is going to try to cut inside on to his left foot) and crosses for the far post. Agger's jump puts off the defence and Carroll chests the ball down and volleys home.
- Carroll's ponytail is longer this year. He must have been taking good care of it over the summer months.
Jumping ahead to the 80th minute as the 2nd half didn't stray much from the template established in the first, Until...
Valerenga 2 - 2 Liverpool
- Aquilani has been on the pitch for two minutes and his stat sheet looks like this:
- 2 corners won
- 2 successful crosses
- 1 shot on target
- 1 assist
- That's 11 fantasy points in Y!'s system after just two minutes of play! I have been harsh on Liverpool this off-season because I don't understand the team they are trying to build and because they're making it difficult to predict, for fantasy purposes, whom to pick from what should be a good side. On the flip side, I'm liking Aquilani more and more, probably because he's such a lost cause. He's the backup quarterback on an American football team. Everyone loves him because he hasn't done anything wrong yet! This cameo will do his stock a world of good, whether or not it actually helps his Liverpool career in the slightest. Maybe the best thing it could do would be to speed up a transfer, and thus end his Liverpool career quickly.
- Oh, it was Agger who got the goal with the more usual route for a central defender - from a corner, with his head.
Valerenga 2 - 3 Liverpool
- Another shot from Aquilani is pushed behind for a corner, which he takes himself. The ball bounces through the box and falls to Agger (again!) at the far post who scores easily.
- That's two goals for Agger on three shots, and another shot, corner won and assist for Aquilani who is up to 19 points for the day on Y! scoring (16 if Kuyt got a touch on the ball before it came to Agger.)
Valerenga 3 - 3 Liverpool
- Fellah bounces off Flanagan, comes inside of Carragher, and smashes a shot past Reina. It looks as if this match will end even, and deservedly so.
That's all for me. I think Liverpool are going to be much the team they were at the end of last season... suspect defenders and reliant on the individual brilliance of Suarez. Maybe that will change as the new players find their roles -- if there are defined roles for the new players. But there are some real frailties here and a half-decent Premier League side will be able to exploit them.