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Liverpool benefiting from improved finishing

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Try to find a game where Liverpool managed to secure three points by mustering as many as five shots last season and it would be a bit of a struggle.

Liverpool played some very attractive football for much of last season - especially during the second half of the campaign - with Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge making lasting impressions after joining Liverpool in January, but the reds were also renowned for an inability to either kill teams off or make their dominance count.

Of course, both Coutinho and Sturridge rectified that to an extent, along with controversial striker Luis Suarez. One-sided affairs such as a 6-0 victory over Newcastle on Tyneside, 5-0 demolitions of Norwich and Swansea and a 4-0 win at Wigan were indications of that. There was certainly an added ruthlessness in Liverpool's play. They were starting to make their dominance count by winning at a canter and not allowing teams a way back into the game.

However, they still lacked ruthlessness at times, something that rivals Manchester United have been excellent at during the Sir Alex Ferguson era. An ability to be effective with your chances and withstand the worst of pressure to hold out for victory is vital. 

Now the new Premier League season has dawned on us and Liverpool's two games this season have cultivated 1-0 wins in both games. Both were very different games and at times Liverpool were equally impressive in both.

The fluid, attacking football was expertly personified by the gem they possess in Coutinho in a 1-0 win at Anfield over Stoke. But this was a completely dominant display by Liverpool and were they not thwarted by Begovic with such regularity, it could have been a cricket score. This was a game that heralded 26 shots on goal and despite just the 52% possession it was a mostly comfortable afternoon. However, the backbone in the side was tested with a penalty late on and Mignolet rose to the occasion, becoming a new saviour for the Kop. In recent seasons, that might have been two points dropped.

The game against Aston Villa had similarities to the Stoke game, but was very different in other ways. The first half was complete domination by Liverpool yet again, to the extent you could have been forgiven for thinking it was an exhibition. The fact that Liverpool made 3339 passes in the first half - and more than 17 teams in the Premier League have made in a full 90 minutes - is testament to that.

The second half was a more competitive affair. Benteke was largely disappointing in the first half, displaying a poor first touch on numerous occasions while leading the line ineffectively and it would have been surprising to see him carry on in that vein. Aston Villa were not as flat and lethargic as they were in the first half and had the better of the second half. It was a courageous effort from the hosts and they could have got more from the game on reflection.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for keeper Simon Mignolet's performance, saying: "In the second half you expect more pressure from them but overall Simon has made a couple of terrific saves and we got three points."

That in itself, is an indication of the strides Liverpool have made. They had a lowly five shots on goal compared to Villa's seventeen, but still got the decisive goal to end up with three points. It's results and performances like that which will allow Liverpool to fight at the higher echelons of the division and actually compete for top four.

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Topics:
Premier League
Football
Liverpool

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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