Skip to content

Without Luis Suárez, The Brendan Rodgers Project shines at West Ham

Dec 9, 2012, 3:34 PM EDT

FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-LIVERPOOL Getty Images

The story ahead of Liverpool’s Sunday visit to West Ham was the absence of their only goalscorer, but after an impressive comeback win over the Hammers, the narrative has becoming one of expectations. Liverpool was supposed to be playing this way all along, the Rodgers Revolution set to bring substance along with style. Few begrudged the Swansea import his slow start, but after a trip to Upton Park that produced one of Liverpool’s best performances of the year, fans would be right to wonder if their Reds have turned a corner. Is something finally clicking?

Glen Johnson got Liverpool on the board early with what’s becoming a very Glen Johnson goal – a blast from the edge of the area from just to the right of goal. Liverpool gave two goals back – a tough hand ball called for a penalty followed by an own goal from Steven Gerrard – before a well-built Joe Cole equalizer started the Reds’ comeback. Their winning goal was credited to West Ham’s James Collins, but given the buildup that led to the winner, Liverpool would be right to take full the credit for the goal (as Jonjo Shelvey did while celebrating the score). With their 3-2 win, the Reds jump into the table’s top half, sitting 10th with 22 points.

MORE: Roberto Mancini insists Manchester City didn’t deserve to lose

MORE: Everton jumps Tottenham for fourth place

It was what the club wanted when they brought in The Brendan Rodgers Football Project, a product that really started to shine after Joe Cole came on for José Enrique in the 22nd minute. With Jonjo Shelvey playing through the middle in place of the suspended Luis Suárez, Liverpool had the movement and freedom to play with the fluidity that Rodgers wants. It was only after watching them perform without Suárez that you realized their dependence on him has turned into a lack of confidence. When they went from having to get the ball to their dangerman to not being able to, Liverpool came to life.

Much of the play went through Raheem Sterling on the left. Shelvey challenged the left channel, opening space for Cole behind. The setup combined for perfect execution on Liverpool’s equalizing goal, Shelvey dropping from Collins to open space in the middle before Sterling found Cole.

source:  Can Liverpool carry this forward once Suárez returns? It doesn’t seem that difficult. There’s nothing that Shelvey did today that Suárez is incapable of going. If anything, Shelvey’s success as the number nine could make life easier for the first choice striker. Whereas Liverpool often presses to get the ball to Suárez – playing hopeful balls into innocuous spots knowing Suárez can make them dangerous – Sunday’s success may encourage Sterling and the other attackers to take more of the work on themselves. If they can prove dangerous independent of Suárez, the quality of Suárez’s chances could improve. The only drawback: There doesn’t appear to be a natural place for Shelvey.

Some may point out that the performance came against West Ham – a good team, but one whose personnel choices make them particularly susceptible to Liverpool’s style. If Brendan Rodgers’ approach can’t succeed against Sam Allardyce’s, especially after Mohamed Diamé leaves injured, then there’s no hope, right? While there’s some truth to that, it also unduly leans on the caricature of the Hammers being a bunch of ball-hoofing thugs. It also fails to recognize that (at least in defense) a lot of Premier League teams resemble Big Sam’s.

MORE: Breaking down Sunday’s Manchester Derby

MORE: Chelsea gets their breakthrough at Sunderland

If this type of performance becomes the norm for Liverpool – if they bring Suárez back in and start playing with him, not to him – the team will compete for Europe. With Lucas Leiva back, they have their full midfield in tow. Once Fabio Borini recovers from his foot injury, the attacks corps will be at full strength. Only two points back of seventh with a kind fixture list until Jan. 13′s trip to Manchester United, the Reds may be ready to make a run.

Latest Posts
  1. Liverpool plays to compact 1-0 win over Olympiacos

    Jul 27, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT

    LiverpoolOlympiacos AP

    Liverpool looks focused on improving its shape heading into the upcoming Premier League season.

  2. MLS Roundup: Dallas pulls out heroic draw, Valeri gives Timbers late win

    Jul 27, 2014, 10:17 PM EDT

    Fernandez Getty Images

    Raul Fernandez held Vancouver to a draw while Portland won a 3-2 barnburner with Montreal.

  3. Petr Cech says he won’t back down at Chelsea anytime soon

    Jul 27, 2014, 7:24 PM EDT

    Cech Getty Images

    With Thibaut Courtois hot on his trail, Petr Cech isn’t about to let the youngster’s hype get in the way of his 11-year Chelsea career.

  4. VIDEO: Mario Balotelli takes amazing selfie with two pitch invaders

    Jul 27, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    Source, Twitter: @NA_B27 Source, Twitter: @NA_B27

    AC Milan got hosed, but Mario Balotelli had some fun as a second-half substitute.

  5. Martinez tells Everton fans “of course we’ll get” Lukaku

    Jul 27, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT

    MartinezLukaku Getty Images

    It may have been in jest, but Roberto Martinez has set rumors alight.

  6. Teams confirm Dejan Lovren completes transfer from Southampton to Liverpool

    Jul 27, 2014, 5:37 PM EDT

    Lovren Getty Images

    Lovern becomes the third Southampton player to move to Liverpool this summer.

  7. Four thoughts from Manchester City vs. AC Milan (including Balotelli’s on-field selfie!)

    Jul 27, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT

    20140727-181926.jpg

    AC Milan got thumped for the second straight US preseason friendly. What does it mean?

  8. Premier League return for Van der Vaart? His old manager Redknapp hopes so

    Jul 27, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    VanderVaart AP

    Having played under Redknapp for 2 years at Spurs, the QPR boss wants him back.

  9. Jan Vertonghen says Spurs have offered him a new 5-year contract

    Jul 27, 2014, 4:09 PM EDT

    Vertonghen Getty Images

    With a good World Cup, Spurs has affirmed the importance of Jan Vertonghen’s presence to their back line.

  10. Carlo Tavecchio in racism row after calling African players “banana eaters”

    Jul 27, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT

    Closed stands at the Stadio Olimpico reflect Roma fans' punishment for 'territorially discriminatory' chants aimed at Napoli fans. Closed stands at the Stadio Olimpico reflect Roma fans' punishment for 'territorially discriminatory' chants aimed at Napoli fans.

    What Italy needs is an FIGC president that works to prevent racism, not one that uses racist terms when referring to players from elsewhere.

  11. Cuauhtémoc Blanco is back in the top division of Mexican soccer

    Jul 27, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT

    blanco AP

    At 41 years of age, the forward has made a return with Puebla, although he was unable to help his new side break a goalless draw.

  12. Michael Bradley was none too pleased with officials in Toronto’s loss to Kansas City

    Jul 27, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT

    michael_bradley Getty Images

    The referee handed out eight yellows and sent a Kansas City player off, although they still came back to take all three points.

  13. Pep Guardiola has a job for life at Bayern Munich

    Jul 27, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    Germany Soccer Champions League AP

    The manager can stop worrying — he doesn’t need to keep bringing in multiple trophies to keep his job with the Bavarian giants.

  14. Thierry Henry evades questions on retirement

    Jul 27, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Thierry Henry, Oriol Rosell, Soony Saad AP

    The New York Red Bulls star and former France international is adopting a wait-and-see approach to the end of his playing career.

  15. Loïc Rémy fails medical, move to Liverpool is off

    Jul 27, 2014, 10:42 AM EDT

    Newcastle United's Remy celebrates his goal against Tottenham Hotspur during their English Premier League soccer match at White Hart Lane in London Reuters

    It’s back to QPR for the forward, while Brendan Rodgers will need to seek other options to help compensate for the loss of Luis Suárez.

  16. Arsenal confirm signing of Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina

    Jul 27, 2014, 9:54 AM EDT

    ospina AP

    It’s official! The Colombia goalkeeper joins the Gunners on a long-term contract, and is expected to make his first appearance next month.

  17. Inter consider swapping Fredy Guarín for Manchester United’s Chicharito

    Jul 27, 2014, 8:59 AM EDT

    guarin Getty Images

    Internazionale need more firepower up top. United need more depth in midfield. This switch seems like an ideal solution.

  18. Carlo Ancelotti expects Ángel di María back for preseason training

    Jul 27, 2014, 8:06 AM EDT

    angel_di_maria Getty Images

    The Real Madrid manager seems to enjoy destroying the hopes of players, clubs and fans by putting to rest rumors of summer transfers.