It may not have been the victory that he would have wanted, but there was a sense that Brendan Rodgers saw the first glimpse of the Liverpool he is trying to create against Manchester City on Sunday.
A 2-2 draw with the champions was the least the Reds deserved as Rodgers managed to coax the first impressive performance of his short reign in charge of the Merseysiders.
Liverpool had beaten Heart of Midlothian in the Europa League three days earlier but the 3-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion the week before was the result in the minds of all connected with Liverpool and the memory of that horror show was banished to a large extent with a display that had most of the hallmarks of a Rodgers team.
The passing was crisp and accurate, there was plenty of width and with some outstanding individual performances (most notably teenager Raheem Sterling and the sublime Joe Allen), Liverpool fans were left encouraged by a much improved showing.
Hearts won just four away games all season in the SPL last term and haven’t picked up a win in two away league trips this time either.
There is still plenty to work on, of course, with a lack of penetration still a concern, and you only have to look at the goals Liverpool conceded to see that defensive issues remain. The first goal was a catalogue of errors, while the mistake from Martin Skrtel was horrendous and could certainly be attributed to Rodgers’ insistence on passing out from the back at all costs.
While these issues are still to be ironed out, there will be times when this team, a work in progress if ever there was one, will come unstuck (perhaps when they least expect it) but I would be amazed if Thursday night is one of those occasions.
Hearts travel to Anfield for the second leg of this Europa League qualifier with it all to do after Liverpool snatched a late 1-0 win a week ago and the size of their task is laid bare by the odds on offer: bwin make the Scottish side 10/1 to claim a famous victory, with the draw at 5/1 and a home win just 19/100.
It is hard to see past Liverpool whichever way you look at this and that price is to be expected. Hearts were a tad unfortunate not to get a result up at Tynecastle and gave as good as they got for large periods, but the own goal from Andy Webster was a mortal blow and boss John McGlynn knows that his side had to travel south with something to hang on to if they were to stand a chance of progression.
Hearts won just four away games all season in the SPL last term and haven’t picked up a win in two away league trips this time either. And it is hard to see that changing at Anfield, where Rodgers looks as though he is going to address Liverpool’s poor form under Kenny Dalglish.
But 19/100 isn’t going to make anybody rich, so much better is the 3/5 that Liverpool are winning at half-time and then at full-time.
In Rodgers’ three games at Anfield, Liverpool have led at half-time in each one. Two of those (Bayer Leverkusen in a friendly, Gomel in the Europa League) ended up with victories and although they didn’t see the job out against City, the Reds have more than enough to hold on against Hearts, even if changes to the team are expected.
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