Liverpool’s first two games of the 2015-16 season have been something of a mixed bag. On the whole, the team hasn’t exactly impressed, and manager Brendan Rodgers’ tactics have left plenty of room for doubt and question at a time he has admitted he has to earn trust back.
They’ve earned all six available points, though, which at the end of the day is what really matters, and a few of the club’s new signings have certainly impressed. With a difficult trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal up next, Rodgers is looking to highlight the positives this week, and in particular the new players.
"I thought they did well," the manager told the club’s official website. "I thought James Milner was outstanding, Nathaniel Clyne you can see is such a good defender and wants to get forward and the young boy, Joe Gomez, at 18 years of age this is a big step up for him, but he’s coping very well.
"Benteke will be disappointed he didn’t get two goals, but he got off the mark and his all-round play was excellent. Firmino came on and worked hard, and he knows he’s adjusting to the Premier League and that his fitness and game will get better."
All have had their moments over the first two games, though for most the standouts would likely be Clyne and Benteke, who have both done the jobs they were brought in to do at a high level. If there are any doubts, it is whether Liverpool can set up to get the best out of Benteke and not whether he has talent.
The others have had their moments, too. Milner has looked industrious, though the lack of a true holding midfielder behind him has appeared limiting. Gomez, meanwhile, looks the best 18-year-old right-footed centre half filling in at left back one could imagine—while mostly solid, it’s been clear it’s not his position.
Now, the question is whether all get the start for the third game in a row—with Firmino limited to minutes off the bench—when the Reds face Arsenal on Monday. Given Rodgers chose to play an injured Jordan Henderson against Bournemouth rather than use the club’s depth to rotate, that might seem the safe bet.
Rodgers, though, insisted selecting the same starting eleven that faced Stoke wasn’t a sign he’s already got a set first team in mind. Instead, it was simply down to picking the players best up to speed; the side Rodgers saw as giving the hosts the best chance of dispatching the newly promoted Cherries.
"It was about picking the best team," he said. "A number of the boys aren’t up to speed yet fitness-wise, which is understandable because they came back later. It’s about picking the best team to get the points and they played very well, [and] it was as much about the team that finished the game."