Without a midfield over the past few weeks, much of the type of football Brendan Rodgers promised upon arrival had disappeared. A thin squad last season forced the manager's hand a bit; the first few weeks of the 2012-2013 campaign saw a clear shift in the style of play, and ahead of this season many had hoped that, with added depth, we'd see something similar with improved results. That hasn't been the case, however, as Rodgers opted for numbers at the back and up top rather than through the middle, leaving a possession-focused approach something for another day.
Yesterday turned out to be something close to another day, with a three-man(ish) midfield of Lucas, Steven Gerrard, and Jordan Henderson. And while there wasn't necessarily the death by football, flowing, involved, passing movements, there was the pressure further up the pitch with a clear intent to disrupt West Brom and win the ball back as soon as possible.
According to Rodgers, it's all by design given his displeasure with how things had been trending:
"Today, we pressed the ball much better - I think that was the key for us. Our idea is to press the ball high. We had a couple of weeks during the international break when a lot of the players were away and it was hard to find cohesion and structure. I said at the beginning of the week to the players they needed to get back to pressing the ball higher, and that would allow us to dominate the ball more. I thought how we pressed it, high up in those areas, was excellent."
For two weeks in a row, the manager's on the pulse of areas of concern. You'd expect that, of course, and it'd be naive to think that the issues we've been discussing are completely lost on those at the club. But seasons past have taught us that the most obvious concerns aren't necessarily always addressed, so to hear Rodgers speak openly about the areas that need to be addressed is heartening.
Hopefully this signals a continued process for Rodgers' squad of working back toward an effective balance of their style this season and the principles he espoused upon arrival. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge force his hand in attack, but there's still room--albeit of the narrow sort--to set out a squad that can pressure, pass, retain possession, and support the goal-getters up top. If that happens, days like yesterday can become the norm rather than the exception.