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Charlie Adam dominates Lee Cattermole
Kenny Dalglish's lengthy pursuit of fellow Scot Charlie Adam was finally ended when the Blackpool captain was allowed to follow his heart to Anfield. Of all Liverpool's many signings this summer, the midfielder was probably the first to go on the starting XI team sheet to sit in beside Lucas Leiva.
A smart, accurate passer of the ball, Adam's left foot took no time in wrapping itself around balls to team-mates, free-kicks and corners all over the field. Steven Gerrard's injury setback was cause for concern before this match, but after the No. 26's performance on Saturday, Liverpool fans should know that creativity in midfield is in very safe hands.
The first thing Adam gave to Liverpool was the kind of deep-lying vision that (yes, here we go again) Xabi Alonso took with him to Real Madrid. Quick, incisive balls up to Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and out to Steward Downing were key to the impressive performance the Reds delivered for the first 45 minutes against Sunderland.
Secondly, and no less important is Adam's ability on set-piece situations. Again, Liverpool have lacked a player with this kind of delivery since Alonso. Suarez's nicely taken headed goal was the result of an accurate cross splashed into the box by Adam, in that perfect area between the mob of players and the goalkeeper.
Now, I'm a massive fan of Raul Meireles and I think he deserves a spot in the starting line-up, but clearly the axis of Adam and Lucas will be Dalglish's go-to pick for the heart of Liverpool's midfield. As happy as Gerrard was to see the Scot's performance, he should be prepared to pack his bags and venture out onto the right wing where Benitez was so keen to deploy him.
Liverpool did fade badly in the second half, but Adam continued his good work, despite picking up a booking in the 60th minute.