[dropcap]P[/dropcap]hilippe Coutinho scored the only goal to bring home a 1-0 victory for Liverpool against Stoke City. The opening match of the season for Liverpool was heading for a draw, but the Brazilian midfielder had other ideas and came up with a stunning long-range strike to bring the three points for under pressure manager Brendan Rodgers. A major reason for Liverpool’s failure to qualify for the Champions League last season was the poor start. Even though this slender 1-0 victory does not raise a lot of confidence, it is significantly better than last season. Here are some reasons why this campaign should be better than last season.
A good start is of paramount importance if Liverpool are to stay in touch for the Champions League places. The Premier League is an extremely tough place for chasing teams to climb up the table in the second half of the campaign. At the start of last season, Liverpool managed only two wins from the opening five games. Manager Rodgers complained that his team had the bad luck in terms of the fixtures, as the team played against the likes of Manchester City in the opening few weeks. This time around, Arsenal and Manchester United await the Reds in a short while.
It was imperative to take some confidence into these games. Liverpool play at Anfield for the first time this season when they take on AFC Bournemouth next week. The Premier League newcomers suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa, but they cannot be taken lightly even at home. Rodgers claimed that he is happy that his decision to take off Coutinho was delayed. The Brazilian managed to take advantage of the huge space afforded by Stoke City defenders to score a wonderful long-range shot. In getting this victory, Liverpool claim some revenge for the 6-1 thrashing that they received from Stoke at the end of last season.