Every international break seems like the longest international break ever, and this one is particularly cruel given that Liverpool don't pick back up again until Monday evening in Wales. The summer months certainly took their sweet time in passing, often with a fair bit of disappointment and punishment, and now FIFA have conspired against Liverpool's strong start in hopes of denying them a clear title run. I'm not being a conspiracy theorist, swear--just ask David Moyes!
It's to your benefit if you've forgotten much of the past two weeks, especially if you paid attention to Roy Hodgson's England side, so let's catch back up on the goodness that Liverpool achieved before the break as they get set to face Swansea City in a few days.
Reasons to Celebrate: Well, it was a home victory on the first day of the Premier League season for the first time in twelve years, which is nice. Also, Simon Mignolet double-save at the death season-defining explosion of joy. And "Holy mother of Fowler football is back I don't quite understand all of these feelings that I'm feeling. Mostly I'd like to apologise in advance to everybody I know for the constant mood swings and alcohol-fuelled bouts of joy/sorrow they're going to have to deal with over the next nine months or so. Who's stolen Lucas' shirt and why is he in the final third? After playing at centre forward throughout the preseason, Aspas taking positions just off and around the main striker was something new, and his tricky link-up play turned out to be one of the most encouraging parts of Liverpool's attacking game." Noel's First Thoughts post-match. **SEE CRUCIAL ELIZABETH BACKSEAT DRIVER ADDITION IN THE COMMENTS**
Reasons to Panic: Stoke are happiest when you are most miserable, and they were at their cannibalistic best when Daniel Agger foolishly flailed an arm to knock down Charlie Adam's set piece delivery in the 88th minute. Liverpool are gonna Liverpool, unless they're not anymore, and this had the makings of another late collapse until Simon Mignolet's heroics. Getting a second goal is not a bad thing. Another opposition goalkeeper had the day of his life at Anfield. Liverpool have to play Stoke again. Stoke supporters will eventually learn how to use the internet.
Highlights: Lucas v. Stoke City
Reasons to Celebrate: Two wins in two to start the season is excellent. The developing bilingual link-up between Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge is most encouraging. Simon Mignolet is good at saving shots in crucial situations. The team likes to celebrate with each other. Villa beat Arsenal at the Emirates and should have salvaged a draw at Chelsea, and are going to give plenty of teams a torrid time this season. Brendan Rodgers has nice teeth.
Reasons to Panic: "These away kits of ours are horrible. I don't know how we're going to hold up in away matches while witnessing such monstrosities cloaking our heroes. Aspas didn't quite combine with Sturridge today and it might take time for Liverpool's number 9 to build a relationship with other attacking players. It wasn't a surprise to see him substituted with just over twenty minutes to go. Liverpool's second half was full of nervousness and poor possession meant that by the end of the match, possession was generally even between the two sides with Liverpool enjoying the ball a little more overall." Chuck's First Thoughts post-match.
Highlights: Daniel Sturridge v. Aston Villa
Reasons to Celebrate: Progress in cup competition is always a good thing. I think. Jordan Henderson was dreamy in his late cameo, killing the match off with a wonderfully taken goal and his subsequent assurance that there was no joy to be had for Notts County supporters. Raheem Sterling was tireless on the night, especially when asked to deputize at fullback. Liverpool won, and we have attached a positive value to winning. That means this was positive.
Reasons to Panic: "So. Set-piece defending. One of these days Liverpool might want to think about sorting it out. Particularly the part where half of the squad decide it'd be a good time to take a quick nap while Yoann Arquin heads home unmarked. And to then follow up a spot of terribly shoddy set-piece defending by being scored against on the break after hitting the post a handful of times and wasting countless other opportunities to put the game away? How very Liverpool. In retrospect, if you're going to struggle to close out a match against lower league opposition with the game going to extra time, it'd probably look better to start with the kids and be able to say you never really cared. It'd also make it less likely to end with Kolo Toure injured and looking like he'll be out until the new year." Noel's First Thoughts post-match.
Highlights: Raheem Sterling v. Notts County
Reasons to Celebrate: "Third game in and Liverpool sit top of the league by being the only side with a 100% record after three games. As Liverpool's famous anthem rang out in victory as a fitting tribute to Bill Shankly, let's remember the great man's immortal words today, 'If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.'" Chuck's First Thoughts post-match.
Reasons to Panic: There is no way we can withstand this type of pattern forever--I'm not using the royal we here, I'm talking us as supporters with unstable emotions and blood pressures, heart rates, and blood-alcohol concentrations that are dangerously high. One goal per game isn't likely going to cut it. Glen Johnson got hurt. Iago Aspas was particularly noodly. I had to leave the room a few times in the final ten minutes. There were five minutes of added time. Lucas gave away some silly fouls in dangerous areas. I lost consciousness for awhile.
Highlights: Jordan Henderson v. Manchester United