It happens every year. I sensibly predict that United will win the league (I’m told by a good source that London’s hacks are predominantly backing City – surprising based on the Charity Shield) but I always think Liverpool will outdo Arsenal/Chelsea in the league and then they don’t! I was thinkng the same this week.
Obviously no Gerrard today, but in the early exchanges against Sunderland (and in the pre-season action I saw) I thought they were looking promising. Carroll looks awesome. He’s the type of forward that you imagine would be a nightmare to play against. You would certainly be wanting an ice bath after the game! I thought he didn’t do much wrong to Anthon Ferdinand for the disallowed goal, and his technique was absolutely sensational! He was turning Ferdinand inside out at times! Suarez was quiet in the 2nd half and he took a pretty ugly penalty, but great strikers goal, and if he isn’t burnt out from the Copa America he is going to score and set up a hatful.
In midfield Adam and Downing looked dangerous at times. Downing was superb in pre-season and I was eating my words as I’ve been one of his biggest detractors over the years. But they were lax in possession too often (particularly Downing) and they will get punished by City, United, Chelsea etc if they give the ball away like that. In the second half they really struggled to hold onto the ball. It was summed up in the last minute when Enrique, under little pressure, floated the ball harmlessly into Mignolet’s arms. In injury time, Downing turned his man well but put in another inert cross that was gathered comfortably by the Sunderland keeper.
So, in summary, I still think they have a chance of finishing above Chelsea and Arsenal, but they will need to gel pretty quickly and start making more of their home games against likely midtable opposition.
Credit to Sunderland though, a great result for them, and fantastic to see an early contender for Goal of the Month from Seb Larsson. For US supporters who are keen to follow Sunderland’s progress, I’d recommend Chris Young’s column in the Sunderland Echo… he really knows his onions when it comes to the Rokerites/Black Cats!