Premier League Week 1 Scores: Liverpool's X-Factor Performers in Early Triumph
Who deserved Man of the Match against Stoke?
Although the amount of opportunities created by the hosts might have yielded a much higher goal count, Brendan Rodgers will certainly snap at the chance to take those three points, thanks in large to a fluid team performance.
Having said that, the game wouldn’t have produced the same results were it not for the stars on display as a number of Reds stepped up to the plate in a big way.
Faces both old and new contributed to Liverpool’s table-topping display in the early weekend action, all of whom can be considered as majorly responsible for their side’s current position of first.
All statistics come courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Essential in breaking up the Potters’ forward movements, Lucas continues to fulfil a less glamorous but nonetheless crucial role in Liverpool’s lineup.
The Brazilian anchor took no less than 88 touches over the course of the 90 minutes, second only to Glen Johnson (89) and Steven Gerrard (113) within his own team.
However, it was Lucas’ six tackles that stood out as most prominent for the South American, restraining the likes of Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch from having their desired impact on the game.
Kyle Martino was quick to point out the midfielder's influence on Twitter:
If you watch the ball, you miss much of Lucas' importance. Movement is extraordinary; cutting off passing lanes, providing options.— Kyle Martino (@kylemartino) August 17, 2013
With Gerrard providing the more flamboyant playmaking, Lucas’ job is a lot more simple in essence, but the man himself is nonetheless a technician within his own realm.
The first scorer of the 2013-14 Premier League season, Daniel Sturridge’s consistency might leave some Liverpool fans wondering whether they even need Luis Suarez to stick around at Anfield.
Now having scored seven goals in his eight league appearances for the Reds, Sturridge teamed up well with Iago Aspas in attack, but was the primary target in attack, holding the ball up well and distributing to his wings with relative comfort.
The most telling contribution of the day was Sturridge’s well-struck effort from outside Asmir Begovic’s area, skidding low past the Bosnian’s outstretched left hand.
Playing with the most confidence he has in his career, the striker looks like a terrific fit in his new responsibilities and is thriving under Rodgers.
A star purchase for Liverpool since arriving at the club in January, Philippe Coutinho continued to play a key part of the Reds’ playmaking movements against Stoke.
The Brazilian’s passing accuracy remains mediocre at just 80 percent, but what does squeeze through often leads to a real scoring chance for his side when in the final third of the pitch.
Coutinho’s movement off the ball makes him an easy target when moving forward and the youngster did well down Liverpool’s right flank, making a magnificent six key passes for his side.
In the dying minutes of the fixture, it looked as if Liverpool’s deserved victory might’ve come crumbling down after Martin Atkinson saw Daniel Agger handle the ball in the area, awarding the visitors an 88th-minute penalty.
However, Simon Mignolet, though not known for his penalty-saving abilities, read Walters’ technique well to get down low to his right, palming away the Irishman’s effort with ease.
Billy Liddell tweeted this video of the Belgian's stop:
Mignolet penalty save https://t.co/i2upTu2FzN— Billy Liddell (@Liddellpool) August 17, 2013
Although that was the major contribution, Mignolet kept Walters and Crouch out on several other occasions, stretching well to make five saves in the match and keeping his clean sheet intact.
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