I should have spent more time on Sunderland in my preview of their match versus Liverpool, but I didn’t want to make it a season preview. They definitely need to add attacking options and put a leash on Lee Cattermole. But Stéphane Sessègnon is impressive; Ahmed Elmohamady, Kieran Richardson & Gyan are all big factors, and their back line was well organized, essentially making Andy Carroll irrelevant. Think they will finish 8-10.
Liverpool still has a cutting edge problem, though they are more balanced then before. Suarez is a beast to play against. He uses his speed so well to play inside-out, and then he also has the “craftiness” to win penalties and kicks. He will for sure make a lot of enemies around the league. Dalglish played Luca Leiva, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, and Charlie Adam (the latter three all newly arrived in the squad), with Kuyt and Meireles only subbing in late once things got urgent after Larsson’s flying side-volley that pulled Sunderland even. Again looks like its gonna be hard on Merseyside to strike the right balance.
After watching the first 40 minutes of Man City and Swansea’s Monday night football match, 3 observations: Swansea did well to purchase a young athletic GK as he will be needed to make more than a few reaction saves. YaYa might be my hero. And MCFC are right back to playing with two defensive MFs, despite being at home and against a team that has advanced 4 divisions in 6 seasons.
Which leads me to a last point. Can we abandon the idea that they and others play a 4-2-3-1? Look at how they play, not how they line-up for the kickoff. Two defensive central midfielders sure. One central attacking mf in Yaya. One wide mf who cuts inside as much as possible in Adam Johnson, one trequartista in Silva, and one forward in Dzeko.
Liverpool played the same: Adam and Lucas. Henderson. Downing. Suarez. Carroll.
Chelsea does it too. Mikel and Ramires. Lampard. Malouda. Kalou. Torres.
Arsenal last year did it too, at least when Walcott didn’t play.
This really counts on their full backs to get forward to provide most of their width, otherwise there just is not enough space on the pitch.