On the whole, Liverpool haven’t been brilliant in their opening two matches, and have relied on a wonder strike and some controversial officiating. In the end, though, they’ve come away with what matters, taking six points from the first two games of the season.
While Philippe Coutinho’s goal against Stoke was a clear moment of individual brilliance, Adam Lallana was just as impressed by Christian Benteke’s goal in game two. Even if it should have been whistled offside, the midfielder contends it was a brilliant finish and just what Benteke was brought in for.
"That finish was brilliant technically," said the creative midfielder. "Getting good contact on the ball like that, he almost got another one at the end when he hit the crossbar. That’s what he’s all about. He’s a big presence up there. He’s great in the air and good with his feet. He brings teammates into play."
Benteke being able to put away his chances was always expected, but his ability to bring teammates into the game and link up with the players around him has been a pleasant surprise. The only problem now is Liverpool getting those players around him more often, something they’ve largely struggled at.
If they can manage that, either through formation and tactics or the approach of the players as they grow more familiar with Benteke, he could be a real difference maker for the club. If they can’t, he’ll still score his share of goals, but as against Bournemouth it will begin to feel Liverpool aren’t getting the best out of him.
Liverpool struggled all last season to bring their strikers into the play, sending out a lone forward more often than not and then failing to support him. The early signs are that Benteke has more talent than last season’s options, but too often in the early going he has found himself similarly isolated.
A goal for Benteke, though, is a starting point. Or at least Lallana hopes it will be, just like a pair of wins by 1-0 margins will hopefully be a building block for a Liverpool side that still has everything to prove after the disappointments of last season’s at times miserable campaign and its sixth-place finish.
"People asked questions about our mentality and our fighting spirit last week at Stoke," added Lallana. "We showed that there and we took it into the Bournemouth game. Sometimes you have to win a game 1-0. It was massively important for us.
"We know there’s room for improvement and we’re working hard in training to achieve that. But I also think it’s important to see this side of us. There’s no doubt we have a lot of ability in the squad and I think you’ll see our performances improve over the coming weeks."