Liverpool’s 2-1 win over championship side Brighton & Hove Albion in the third round of Carling Cup was a major boost after back-to-back defeats against Stoke and Tottenham. Kenny Dalglish rung seven changes from the team that suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hand of Spurs last weekend, and this included giving full debuts to summer signings Craig Bellamy and Sebastian Coates.
The latter was especially instrumental in the win and scored the opening goal, had a hand on the second and also saw his 35-yard freekick come off the crossbar. Bellamy’s linkup play with Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez Luis Suarez was especially a joy to watch as it allowed the Merseysiders to play their fabled pass and move style of football.
The win against the Northampton-esque banana skin was vital. However, nothing compared to the sight of Steven Gerard exchanging a hug with Luis Suarez on the touchline before making his long-awaited return from a six-month groin injury. So was the excitement so much so that even Seagulls’ supporters joined their fellow Kopites in welcoming the return of Captain Fantastic, who finally abandoned the suits on the stands to don the famous red shirt with No.8 tucked on its back in the 73rd minute.
He may have limited himself to some short passes and half forward runs but the sight of him touching the ball in an active game is always enough to nudge up the tempo at Anfield. Stevie won’t admit it but he like all others know that his presence in the field makes the Kops’ sing a little louder. For the manager, he add class and never-say-die attitude, for the players, guile and creativity, and for the supporters, he oozes confidence and is the epitome of class, leadership and composure, to name but a few.
His return, to quote the King ‘will be like a new signing’. With Kuyt, Maxi and Bellamy having a good showing at Brighton and the captain returning, the selection headache returns in full throttle for Kenny Dalglish. Charlie Adam, Lucas and Gerrard will all be competing to boss the central midfield position. Maxi, Jordan and Kuyt for the right wing, while it’s now debatable whether Bellamy (if he doesn’t play on the wing) will be an understudy to Caroll or vice versa.
Glen Johnson, Fabio Aurelio and Daniel Agger are the only players who are still in the Melwood treatment table. The return of the talismanic captain however means the club should move onwards, and upwards.
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