- Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0
- Mario Balotelli made his Liverpool debut
- He didn't score but showed glimpses of class
- Sterling, Gerrard and Moreno all on the score sheet
Mario Balotelli didn't score but, once again, it was still all about him.
The Italian striker made his much anticipated reintroduction into English soccer Sunday when he started for Liverpool against Tottenham Hotspur.
Liverpool ran out comfortable 3-0 winners with goals from Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard and new signing Alberto Moreno.
But before, during and after the game, all eyes were on the mercurial Balotelli, who showed flashes of both his brilliance and profligacy. On any other day he might have had a hat trick, but he missed his three clear cut chances in the first half.
Yet Balotelli's work rate and approach play on and off the ball impressed his new coach Brendan Rodgers.
"He is a good man and I think if you take away the circus around him, and the circus he invites himself sometimes, control the background noise and get him focused on his football, he'll make mistakes ... but he's going to be a real handful for defenders," Rodgers said after the game.
Rodgers also revealed that Balotelli had never defended at a corner before coming to Liverpool.
"For the first time in his life he marked at a corner," Rodgers revealed.
"Serious. International player, won three titles, and we were doing corners and I said, 'are you picking up [opposition players] at the corners'. He said: 'I don't mark at corners.' You do now."
It was almost a dream debut for Balotelli but he managed to head the ball straight at Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham goal. But Rodgers' new system, with Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge up front and Raheem Sterling playing behind, paid dividends. In fact it was Sterling who broke the deadlock when he scored at the near post following a Jordan Henderson cross from the right hand side.
A Steven Gerrard penalty and a stunning Alberto Moreno strike made sure of the points and ensured Balotelli's return to English football was a winning one.
Later in the day Arsenal continued their indifferent Premier League form with a 1-1 draw against Leicester City. With the transfer window about to shut, Arsenal's depth of forward options had been under scrutiny before the game.
But it was one of coach Arsene Wenger's big summer signings, Alexis Sanchez, who put Arsenal ahead before Leicester City equalized through a Leo Ulloa header.
Arsenal had 24 chances during the match but couldn't break down a team who were promoted from English soccer's second tier last season. "Tough, tough," Wenger told Sky Sports after the draw.
"A draw was fair. We didn't play well enough. We lacked a bit of creativity. We've had two tough weeks, three away games. It is not an excuse, but we are a bit jaded. In the end we could have lost it."