Monday, 31 December 2012
On Sunday 30th December, in the last Premier League game of 2012, Liverpool faced QPR at Loftus Road. Liverpool dominated the whole game, and came out comfortable victors.
The first half performance from Liverpool was scintillating. They played the sort of football we all hoped for when Brendan Rodgers was appointed as manager (though incidentally, he wasn’t at the match due to illness), with the team passing the ball around brilliantly, stretching the opposition, and creating chances. They carved through QPR’s defence with ease, and the first goal looked inevitable right from the start. Sure enough, in the 10th minute, Luis Suarez opened the scoring with a great goal. Suarez continued to look exceptionally lively, in my opinion the best he’s played all season. He darted around, terrorised the defences, but also passed when it was the right option. He got his reward for such excellence, with another goal in the 16th minute. Liverpool continued to press, and Agger headed home in the 28th minute to make it 3-0. In all honesty, we could have been 5 or 6 goals up at half time, but we had to settle for 3.
In the second half, the tempo dropped significantly. Although QPR never looked at all likely to score, I was quite disappointed with this. After the first half performance, I wanted the players to go out there and carry on where they left off. They created a few chances, but were not able to score again, meaning the game finished 3-0. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter at all, because we went on to comfortably get the three points. However, it would have been a huge lift for the players and fans had they gone on a real rout. They were certainly capable of scoring more.
Suarez looked absolutely deadly in this match, with no trace of the ankle injury which looked set to keep him out of the game, and, until he came off injured, Enrique looked great. Other performances worthy of note were those of Allen, who pulled the strings exceptionally in midfield, and Agger, who got forward a lot, resulting in a goal, and defended well on the very few occasions he was called upon. Sterling was disappointing, but showed some promising signs. Downing also played quite well, and played a large part in the second goal. I certainly hope he doesn’t get sold in January, as he has been an asset to us in the last few games.
On the whole, I was thrilled with our performance. Although QPR were frankly poor, Liverpool capitalised on their bad play brilliantly, and the first half was the best 45 minutes of football I have seen them play all season. Admittedly it was a shame they slowed down in the second half, but overall I was delighted with the win.
Sunday, 16 December 2012
On 15th December, Liverpool put in a lacklustre performance against Aston Villa, resulting in a 3-1 loss. Although there were some decent individual performances, such as those of Glen Johnson and Stewart Downing, in my view a 3-1 loss to Aston Villa at home means that no player did their job well enough.
You may be thinking that this is a little harsh. Perhaps you’re right, but as a Liverpool fan I am fed up of seeing my team lose games we should be easily winning. We have a whole team of very talented players, and a very good manager, and yet the results still aren’t coming. I thought that maybe after our win at West Ham we’d turned a corner, but it seems not. It is so frustrating to know that had we played to our full potential this season we would be in the top 4, but as it is we are sitting in 12th place.
To be fair to Aston Villa, they did play well. I said on Twitter before the game that we would have to be wary of Benteke, a striker I rate very highly. I was proved right, as Benteke went on to score two and assist the other. Weimann was also impressive. However, the fact still remains that Aston Villa are a team we should be beating.
The worst part is there is nothing specific I can put my finger on to explain why we are doing so badly. Obviously one of the problems is finishing, but that can’t be the only reason. If the problem cannot be identified, then it is almost impossible to solve. I hope that one of the problems, the issue of having only one real striker, will be solved by the imminent return of Fabio Borini, but to be honest he didn’t impress me when he was fit at the start of the season.
In conclusion, Liverpool continue to frustrate me. I can see all of the talent in the team, but it just doesn’t seem to be working out. I am not used to seeing Liverpool in the bottom half of the table, and I don’t like it. I sincerely hope that we can turn the results around soon, because I am not sure I could take another loss to a relative weak team such as Aston Villa! We need wins, and we need them soon. Rant over.
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Today (Sunday 9th December), Liverpool won 3-2 in a dramatic away win against West Ham United. All three of Liverpool’s goals were scored by ex-West Ham players, Johnson, Cole and Shelvey. West Ham’s goals came from an own goal from Gerrard and a penalty, scored by Noble.
In the first 10 minutes, I have to admit I was worried. West Ham were attacking well, and Liverpool were just sitting back and absorbing the pressure, not looking too comfortable. However, Liverpool looked fairly threatening on the counter, and so it proved on the 10 minute mark. Glen Johnson absolutely tormented the West Ham defence, darting through two or three players before smashing it into the top corner brilliantly from outside the box. It was a superb goal, and for me Johnson was our best player throughout the match. After this we played excellently, and we were unlucky not to add another one, with both Shelvey and Sterling coming close.
However, in the 35th minute, the match was turned on its head. The referee, Lee Probert, awarded West Ham a penalty for a dubious Joe Allen handball. The ball was smashed at him from a yard away, and he couldn’t really have got out of the way, although his hands were raised. Mark Noble slotted it away comfortably. This spurred the Hammers on, and they got back into the game. Things got worse for Liverpool just before the break, when a ball whipped in by Jarvis was headed in by Steven Gerrard. The own goal was almost comical, as the header was so well paced, and would have been a quality goal had it been at the other end of the pitch!
Fortunately, Liverpool came out strongly in the second half, but for about half an hour the sides were at a stalemate, with nobody coming up with many particularly meaningful attacks. However, on 75 minutes, Liverpool finally drew level. An exquisite ball from Sterling put Joe Cole through on goal, who finished beautifully into the bottom corner. This served as a platform to spur Liverpool on to the win, and from this point on they were by far the most positive side. They were rewarded for this positivity when substitute Jordan Henderson whipped in a wonderful ball, aimed at Shelvey. James Collins just beat him to it, and somehow ended up inadvertently lobbing his own keeper; the second time this has happened to poor Jaaskelinen recently. Admittedly this was a rather fortuitous way to regain the lead, but on balance I think we deserved the goal.
West Ham gave Liverpool a few scares in the dying moments of the game, but they held on for the victory, gaining us a much needed 3 points. With that we finally move back up into the top half of the table, and are in fact currently only 4 points away from a Champions League spot. Overall I think we gave a great performance, and really showed that we can cope without Suarez. Jordan Henderson impressed me when he came on, and Sterling looked good in the second half, but as I said earlier my Man of the Match has to go to Johnson.
Sunday, 2 December 2012
On Saturday 1st December, Liverpool played relegation candidates Southampton at Anfield. Despite having a plethora of chances, Liverpool only managed to get one goal, but were solid at the back and earned a 1-0 win.
This game was notable in the fact that it featured Lucas. After returning from a long-term injury a few months ago, he then promptly got injured again, and only yesterday returned. He has been sorely missed, and I think he improved our midfield no end. He is capable of pushing forward, but is mostly defensive-minded and kept the team solid, making us less vulnerable to the counter-attacks we have been so susceptible to so far this season. The fact that we were able to keep a clean sheet is in my opinion, partly down to the return of Lucas.
Our attacking was also quite good. Suarez and Shelvey both struck the post in the first half, either of which could have ended up in the net on another day (I’m still not sure how Shelvey’s stayed out). It looked like it was going to be one of those days, but fortunately Daniel Agger was on hand to snatch a goal for Liverpool, a powerful header into the corner after a good cross from Glen Johnson. In the second half there were fewer chances, but Liverpool came close a couple of times. With the game nearly over, a wicked cross was whipped in from Gerrard, and for some reason Suarez tried to punch it into the net. This was completely stupid, and got him his 5th yellow card of the season, meaning he misses our next game (against West Ham United).
Overall, Liverpool were very solid in this game. They never looked like they were going to concede, and created some good chances going forward. Once again they should have converted more of these chances, but what matters is that we converted one of them and got the three points. Having Lucas back was a great boost, and I think he made the difference.
Sunday, 25 November 2012
Today (Sunday 25th November), Liverpool faced Swansea in a Premier League clash at the Liberty Stadium. Liverpool created a lot of chances and the hosts had a few decent opportunities, but the game ended 0-0.
In the first 10 minutes of the game, Swansea were playing the better football. Pablo Hernandez looked very bright, and they were creating some decent chances. However, they never really tested Pepe Reina, and after about 15 minutes Liverpool had got into their stride. Jose Enrique was playing brilliantly, threading through some great passes and attacking with real intent, and Suarez and Sterling looked lively. The biggest chance of the first half fell to Sterling, after the ball came back to him from a corner. He took a touch, then smashed the ball ferociously goalwards. It was a wonderful, dipping shot, but somehow stayed out after smashing against the underside of the crossbar. Minutes later, Enrique had a goal disallowed for offside. It was tight, but probably the right decision.
Liverpool continued to dominate the match after the break. Although Swansea were creating some good chances from counter-attacks, LFC looked the most likely to get a goal. However, Steven Gerrard, most unusually for him, was being extremely wasteful in possession. Some of his passes were awful, and had he been more accurate I think Liverpool would have got a goal. After about 60 minutes, the game died down a little, and the teams reached a stalemate, with the two sides playing the passing game that Rodgers introduced to both the clubs. Then, at around the 80 minute mark, Swansea suddenly upped the pace of the game, worrying Liverpool with some penetrating attacks. However, this didn’t last long. After a clearance from a Swansea corner, the ball bounced over a Swansea player’s head, leaving Sterling and Suarez through on goal with only one defender to stop them. This really should have resulted in a goal, but Sterling’s return ball to Suarez was much too heavy, and the huge chance was gone. In the dying moments of the game, substitute Jonjo Shelvey nearly won the game with a great pile-driving shot, which was smartly saved by Tremmel.
It seems that once again I will have to end my article with the same conclusion I keep writing: Liverpool had the majority of the good chances, but weren’t clinical enough. I was impressed with our defending today, and a clean sheet is always a good thing, but I was disappointed not to get the three points. We need to get some wins on the board, and although our long unbeaten run is very respectable, the fact is we still lie 11th in the league. In all fairness to Swansea though, they did play quite well, and maybe a draw was the fairest result.
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Brendan Rodgers was appointed as Liverpool manager on the 1st June. This means he has been in charge of the club for over 5 months, but what has he achieved?
The key thing that Brendan Rodgers has changed at Liverpool is the style of play. We were never a team totally reliant on long balls, but under Dalglish’s management possession was never exactly a priority. Rodgers has changed that. He has shifted the team’s focus, implementing a tiki-taka style of play that worked so well for him at Swansea. This has taken a while to bring in to the team, as even for the most seasoned professionals changing to a new style is hard, but it seems we are getting there. LFC have now gone 7 Premier League games in a row undefeated, so it is clear that after a shaky start, the results are starting to come.
However, it isn’t just the style of play Brendan Rodgers has changed. He has also altered the formation. Whereas before Liverpool normally played 4 at the back, Rodgers has modified it so there are three main defenders, with two more defenders slightly further up the pitch, sort of like wing backs. Then there are three in midfield, who’s role it is to pull the strings and control the play. Finally, there are three strikers, two of them (usually Sterling and Suso) playing wider with the other (almost invariably Suarez) playing down the middle. This formation switch has worked well, particularly the introduction of the wing backs. Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson, who were both attack-minded full backs in the first place, can now play with a lot more freedom. This allows them to contribute a lot more to attacks, without constantly worrying about tracking back. The success of this was highlighted in the Wigan game on 17th November, where Liverpool were able to get three goals, with Enrique scoring one of them and assisting another.
Finally, Rodgers has also made some significant personnel changes. For me, Joe Allen has been the best summer signing. He passes brilliantly, and is the perfect candidate for controlling the play from the heart of the team. Nuri Sahin, who was brought in on loan from Real Madrid, has also been moderately successful, with a few solid games in midfield. However, where Rodgers has really disappointed me was the purchase of Fabio Borini. To be fair to Borini, he hasn’t had much chance to prove himself, as after only a few games for the club he broke his foot. However, in the small amount of games he did play, he looked really poor, and I can certainly think of better ways the 11 million pounds could have been spent. Hopefully Borini will come back from his injury refreshed and I will be proved wrong, but at the moment it does look like he was a waste of money.
Overall though, I think Rodgers has had a generally very positive effect on the club. He has retained the club’s brilliant work ethic, whilst also bringing in some new ideas of his own. Admittedly his first few results were very poor, but implementing new ideas always takes a while, and given enough funds and time I can see Brendan Rodgers guiding us back into the top 4, maybe not this season but certainly in the near future.
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Yesterday (17th November), Liverpool faced Wigan at Anfield in a Premier League match. They breezed to a convincing 3-0 victory, and at the heart of it all was once again Luis Suarez, who netted two goals. As great as it is to have such a skilled and prolific striker in our team, it does lead me to ask this question: What would we do without Luis Suarez?
First, some figures. Luis Suarez is the top goal scorer in the Premier League this season, with 10 goals to his name. He has started every Premier League match we have played. He also has 2 assists to his name. Liverpool have scored 17 goals in the Premier League in total, meaning Suarez has scored more than half of our goals.
It’s easy to see why. In all honesty, who else do we have? Raheem Sterling is very good, and chips in with goals from time to time, but he’s really a wide player rather than an out-and-out goal scorer. There is Borini, who is out injured until the new year, and was particularly inspiring before his injury anyway, and that’s about it in terms of experienced strikers. There are of course younger players who could step up if the need arose, such as Samed Yesil, but I cannot envisage them becoming long-term solutions to our lack of striker problem for at least a year.
You may be wondering why this is a problem. Who cares if one person is getting all our goals? As long as we score, what’s the big issue? In the short-term, I would agree. Whilst Suarez is available, it is fine that we utilise him so much, and being our one main striker it is understandable that he gets so many goals. However, what if he got suspended, or worse, injured? He is only one yellow card away from a suspension, and if he does pick up that one match ban, we will almost certainly lose that match. We cannot rely so heavily on one player, because unforeseen circumstances occur, and we have to be ready for them.
To be fair on the rest of the LFC team, other players make big contributions to the team. Sterling has provided a lot of assists, and Agger and Skrtel have been solid at the back. Joe Allen has also been very good at pulling the strings in midfield. But all of their play is geared around getting Suarez in to score, and if he was not there all their hard work would be fruitless.
Overall, although Suarez is a world class striker, we really need to find him a suitable strike partner in January, or at least a decent back-up in case Suarez is ever unavailable. Much as our big win against Wigan thrilled me, it also once again highlighted our utter dependence on Suarez, which cannot continue.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
Today (Sunday 11th November 2012), Liverpool played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The game ended 1-1, with goals coming from John Terry and Luis Suarez. A minute’s silence was held before the game to remember all the soldiers who have given their lives in conflicts past and present.
The game started quite badly for Liverpool, with Chelsea dominating possession and making some incisive attacks. There were a few half chances, including a long shot from Daniel Agger which was blazed well over, but mostly Chelsea were on top. Sure enough, it was the home team who opened the scoring. The ball struck referee Howard Webb, which indirectly led to a Chelsea corner. The corner was whipped in well and defended poorly, and John Terry capitalised with a good header to put the home side in front. Shortly after this, Terry was stretchered off after a collision with Luis Suarez. From then on both sides sat back a little, with minimal action occurring for the rest of the half.
However, this all changed at the start of the second half. Both sides came out strongly, with Liverpool launching many attacks and coming close to scoring on a few occasions. In doing this though, Liverpool left themselves exposed to counter-attacks, and Fernando Torres came close to scoring against his former club on 2 or 3 occasions. On the 60 minute mark, Brendan Rodgers decided to make a change, Suso coming on for Sahin. This made a big impact, and Liverpool slowly began to take charge of the game. LFC kept piling on the pressure, and it finally paid off in the 73rd minute. Suso whipped a corner in, Carragher flicked it on brilliantly, and Luis Suarez was on hand to header it in from close range, his 8th goal of the season.
From here-on-in, Liverpool really dominated. They made a few decent opportunities, but didn’t create a big chance to win it until the 88th minute. Suarez raced on to a through ball, beating the offside trap, and found himself one on one with an advancing Petr Cech. He tried to take it round the oncoming keeper, but Cech just managed to get a leg to the ball, keeping the two sides level. It seemed that the action would be over at this point, but it was not so. Deep into the 4 minutes of added time, Suarez released Enrique with a great ball, who’s shot was saved very well indeed by Cech. This proved to be some of the last action of the game, with the full time whistle blowing less than a minute later.
Before the game I would certainly have taken a point against this in-form Chelsea side, but based on our performance today I was a little disappointed with the draw. We did well to only concede one under the first half pressure of Chelsea (thanks in part to Brad Jones, who had a pretty good game), and came out very strongly in the second. Our goal was very good, but Suarez should really have buried the winner when he got through against Cech. Overall though, I am very pleased with the point. Liverpool have now gone six premier league games undefeated, which is certainly a step in the right direction. A draw away to Chelsea is an achievement Brendan Rodgers and the team can be very proud of, and I hope we build on this solid performance in next week’s game against Wigan.
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Today (4th November 2012), Liverpool will face Newcastle at Anfield. Newcastle have shown fairly good early season form, but Liverpool have looked sharper in recent matches. Even so, this will be a tough game to win.
In my opinion, the biggest threat that Liverpool will have to cope with is the Newcastle attack. Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba are a deadly strike partnership, and although Ba is recovering from an injury it seems likely that he will play. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel are generally a solid pairing in centre defence, but are prone to making stupid errors occasionally. They cannot afford to do this today, as Ba and Cisse will punish them.
However, it is not like Liverpool themselves pose no threat going forward. Though we were left short on strikers after Borini broke his foot, Suarez, Sterling and Suso make a wonderful attacking trio. Suso and Sterling are both young, but have already proved they are up to handling the pressure of the big games. Saying this, Sterling was very poor in our last game (against Everton), and he will have to perform better today if we stand a chance of winning.
There is also the question of who we will play in goal. Reina is apparently still a doubt after picking up an injury on international duty a couple of weeks ago, which one would think meant that Brad Jones automatically steps up. Not necessarily. Doni, after taking almost a year out of football for personal reasons, has now returned. Personally I think it unlikely that he will feature, although he was second choice goalkeeper before he left. I would like to see Reina play if he is fit enough, because although Jones has impressed in his last few games, up against prestigious forwards such as Ba and Cisse I think we need someone more experienced in goal. However, if Reina is not fit (or not chosen by Brendan Rodgers), then I am sure Jones (or potentially Doni) will step up.
Overall, I think that it will be a tough game today. Newcastle are a good side, especially going forward, and our defence will have to be on top form to keep them out. Also, Suarez’s form is rather hit and miss, so I think he will have to have a good day for Liverpool to win.
Friday, 26 October 2012
Liverpool moved comfortably up to top of ‘group A’ yesterday (25th October), after a fairly uneventful 1-0 win over Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala.
Liverpool looked lively from the start of the game, skilling out defenders (including ex-Blackburn captain Chris Samba) with ease. Assaidi also looked lively, with some lovely bursts of speed to open up the opposition. However, despite Shelvey being provided with a good chance to open the scoring (which he blasted well over), the first half ended goalless.
Half-time saw Brendan Rodgers make a change, with Sterling coming on to replace Glen Johnson. This meant that Downing, who thus far had been fairly ineffective, dropped to left back. The second half started as the whole of the first half had gone. Liverpool were pushing forward a lot, and trying to get goals. Agger and Skrtel both tried shots from distance early in the half, and Shelvey had a good chance too. Finally the goal game, from the unlikely source of Stewart Downing! He hadn’t been able to contribute to the attacking much at all in the first half (when he was playing at left midfield), but when he was moved to left back he suddenly found his ability to attack again! He cut in from his wide position, and fired the ball into the bottom corner. It was a very good goal, and prompted the Kop to start singing ‘Stewart Downing, he scores when he wants!’
This goal prompted Anzhi into finally making some attacks of their own. Samuel Eto’o tested Brad Jones on 70 minutes, and Agger was forced to clear from near his own goal-line near the end of the match. Fortunately, Liverpool were able to withstand the rather belated Anzhi pressure, and finished the game comfortable victors.
Overall, I think that the best way to describe Liverpool in this match is solid. They were up against a team with very good attackers, and kept them out with apparent ease. They also managed to create some good chances, although I would have liked to have seen more of them taken. If they can retain this form against Everton in the derby on Sunday, I think we should be able to get the three points.
Friday, 19 October 2012
Fact: Except for Liverpool fans, nobody likes Luis Suarez. Indeed, even some LFC fans are turning against him. Ever since the Suarez-Evra racism issue, the press have picked on him, labelling him as a liar and a cheat. I have largely been trying to ignore this anti-Suarez campaign, but when it got to the point that our number 7 striker was being labelled by someone on this very website as such a cheat that he deserved to be sold, I decided I had to act! On that note, here is my defence of Luis Suarez.
Firstly, I’m going to talk about the racism issue. I must make it clear that I am not defending what Luis Suarez did, and certainly am not defending racism. However, I do have a problem with the FA’s inconsistency. At the time of the Suarez-Evra issue, I thought that Suarez should just take his punishment, and although I was frustrated that we’d lost our best striker for eight games, I didn’t feel that the punishment was particularly unjust. However, after the verdict was given on the recent John Terry racism issue, I was outraged! The cases are almost identical, and yet for some reason Terry got half the ban, just four games! To me, this seems like clear evidence that the anti-Suarez media campaign has spread to the FA. It is disgraceful that the organisation representing all of English Football can show such bias and unfairness.
The other main issue people have with Luis Suarez is his supposed diving. Again, I am not trying to pretend that Suarez is entirely innocent in this matter. Suarez does often exaggerate the extent of fouls, and also occasionally goes down under no contact whatsoever. This is against the rules, and therefore should not be overlooked. These rules are applied to Suarez, and that I have no problem with. However, what about Gareth Bale’s blatant diving in recent matches for Tottenham and Wales? I’m also pretty sure chest-stamping isn’t allowed, but Robert Huth got away with that one! Where is the consistency? Referees have an expectation that Suarez will cheat, because the media are constantly telling us he does, not focusing on all the other cheating that goes on the Premier League. Because they expect this of him, they judge him more harshly than other players. In fact it has got to the point where the media has given Suarez such a bad reputation that even when he is fouled, the referees overlook it. This is absolutely unacceptable, and is one of the main reasons why Liverpool have made a less than satisfactory start to the season.
In conclusion, although Suarez may well deserve the punishments given to him for racism and diving, so do many players. Luis Suarez has become the scapegoat for all cheaters in the Premier League, which is totally unfair on him and on Liverpool.
Sunday, 7 October 2012
Today (Sunday 7th October), Liverpool faced Stoke City at Anfield. Despite the home side creating a decent amount of chances and dominating possession, the game ended as a goalless draw.
I will start with the positives from the game. The first is that they were able to continue the passing prowess that they showed at Norwich. They were moving the ball around very nicely, and had a very large percentage of possession. These weren’t just short passes either. In the first half particularly, Gerrard played some exquisite long balls, which nearly carved open Stoke’s defence on many occasions.
Another positive to take from the game is how much Liverpool seems to have tightened up at the back. To be fair, Stoke didn’t have many meaningful attacks at all, but on the few occasions that they did push forward Liverpool handled it well. There were also a lot less stupid errors. As a result we were able to keep a clean sheet, which is encouraging.
On the other hand, our chance conversion was once again poor. I have had to say this so many times, and I really hoped that we’d turned a corner last week at Norwich when we scored 5. However, they were simply not able to reproduce this scoring form today, despite creating a lot of goal-scoring opportunities. Admittedly we were unlucky, striking the woodwork an incredible 4 times, but it seems to me that we need to put a lot of work into our finishing.
I was also quite disappointed with Raheem Sterling today. He has been a stand-out player for LFC so far this season, but some of his movement and energy seemed to be lacking today. He had his moments (such as when he made a great run past 3 or 4 Stoke players near the end of the game, only to be stopped by a Dean Whitehead foul), but generally he wasn’t able to do much when he got the ball. Without Sterling’s bright runs to vary the play, Liverpool became a little over-reliant on Luis Suarez. However good Suarez is, he can’t do anything without sufficient back-up from the rest of the team, which in my opinion there wasn’t enough of today.
Overall, I think Liverpool deserved to get the three points from the game. They had by far the most possession and created quite a lot of chances. However, a combination of poor finishing and an over-reliance on Suarez meant we were not able to find the net, and thus only came away with a point. Hopefully Liverpool can work on their shooting, and become more efficient in front of goal. If this happens, Liverpool should soon be back to winning ways.
Sunday, 30 September 2012
On Saturday 29th September, Liverpool played Norwich at Carrow Road. They played exceptionally well, and won 5-2, with Luis Suarez scoring a hat-trick. The other scorers were Nuri Sahin and Steven Gerrard.
It was a well deserved victory for Liverpool. Luis Suarez played phenomenally, getting three goals and an assist. However, it wasn’t just an individual effort. The team were passing and keeping possession well, and apart from Skrtel’s error that gifted Grant Holt a goal they defended very well. The ease with which Liverpool were scoring goals is very encouraging, as finishing and chance conversion were huge problems for us last season.
Although fans can take heart from this victory, a lot of people are still questioning why it took so long for us to get our first win. To me, the answer seems obvious! To adapt to a new manager is hard for any club, especially when he brings with him a brand new style of play. In our first few games, the tiki-taka way of playing that Rodgers likes so much wasn’t quite working for Liverpool, and they couldn’t play to their full potential. Now, however, the players have been able to fully adjust to this more technical style of play, and are a much better team because of it. This is where our season begins. If Liverpool are able to maintain this level of play, they may stand a chance of turning around our bad start and challenging for a top four spot.
The main problem with this is our striker’s reliability. So far I have not been impressed with Borini, and Suarez seems to either be inspired or useless. On his day, he will terrorise defences and score with apparent ease, yet he sometimes plays extremely poorly and seems unable to shoot properly. The fact remains that if Liverpool want to stand a chance of once again becoming title challengers in seasons to come, they will need to become more consistent.
Obviously the win against Norwich was extremely encouraging, but I think the key now is to stay calm. Liverpool played extremely well, but they need to maintain this level of form. If they play with such assurance and confidence against Stoke next week, I think they should win easily, and if they continue like this for the rest of the season, then maybe, just maybe, we could be set for a long-overdue return to the top 4.
Monday, 24 September 2012
On Sunday 23rd September, Liverpool lost 2-1 to Manchester United. Unlike some of our other defeats this season, this game certainly brings fans many valid reasons to complain. Things just never seem to slot into place for Liverpool at the moment, and the question that has to be asked (to mis-quote Mario Balotelli) is why always us?
Firstly, it has to be said that Liverpool were clearly the better side in the match. They played brilliantly, and Manchester United were underwhelming. So how did United come away from Anfield with all three points? I know people say this after every game, but this time I think it is fair to say we have a valid reason to blame the referee. LFC were totally dominant in the first half, with Manchester United seeing very little of possession. The passing style of Brendan Rodgers was working well, and United were not getting a look in. However, very near the end of the first half, referee Mark Halsey showed Jonjo Shelvey a red card. How Halsey reached the decision that Jonjo deserved red I shall never know, seeing as all he did was go in for a 50/50 ball. Both Shelvey and United defender Jonny Evans went in two-footed, and both got something of the ball. The only difference was that Evans started writhing about on the floor, whereas Shelvey got up and chased the ball, committed as ever to the cause.
Once Liverpool had been reduced to 10 men, they could hardly be expected to play fluid, passing football. With United’s one man advantage, it would have been almost impossible for LFC to maintain possession for long stretches at a time. However, I was hugely impressed with how Liverpool responded. They kept up the pressure until the end of the first half, and then came out just as attacking at the start of the second. Despite United having a man more than Liverpool, the majority of the meaningful attacks were still being mounted by LFC. Sure enough, this pressure paid off just minutes into the second half, with a great goal from Steven Gerrard. In a huge fixture such as this, it seems Liverpool can always rely on Steven Gerrard, who certainly gave all his doubters something to think about. It seemed Liverpool may triumph, despite the poor refereeing decision that had gone against them.
Unfortunately though, the captain’s goal seemed to kick-start United into action. They finally seemed to be able to make the most of their one man advantage, and began to see a lot more of possession. In fact, they hit back at Liverpool in just 3 minutes, through a lovely strike from defender Rafael. In all fairness to Man U, their build-up play was good and it was a very sweet finish. However, this did not seem to put out Liverpool’s fire, and Suarez twice came close in the coming minutes.
With Liverpool playing so well and United nowhere near their best, it seemed Liverpool were certain to get at last a point out of the game if not more, even though they had a man less than the visitors. However, Halsey once again intervened. Liverpool were trying to push forward again, when a wayward pass from youngster Suso allowed Valencia to sprint 40 yards up the pitch. In my opinion, Glen Johnson did absolutely brilliantly. He sprinted down the pitch and managed to get back at Valencia, throwing himself into a tackle to try and win the ball back. However, he didn’t get the ball, and neither did he touch Valencia. He slid to the side of both man and ball. However Valencia still went down (somewhat predictably), and Halsey, who seems to simply enjoy seeing Liverpool suffer, awarded a penalty. This was grossly unjust. It almost seemed that justice would be done when Reina made a brilliant attempt to save the Van Persie penalty, but in the end it was just too well placed. The fact that this penalty was given was made even more of a sore point given the fact that LFC had already had two or three legitimate penalty shouts turned down.
In conclusion, the fact that Liverpool got nothing out of this match was massively unfair, and almost entirely down to the referee. Firstly he put Liverpool at a massive disadvantage by sending off Shelvey, and then practically gifted United a goal by giving them a penalty. LFC can be extremely encouraged by their performance, and on any other day with any other ref (except perhaps Howard Webb!) they would certainly have taken all three points.
Thursday, 20 September 2012
This evening (Thursday 20th September), Liverpool will face Swiss side Young Boys at the Stade de Suisse. Brendan Rodgers has fielded a very young and relatively inexperienced side, but could this backfire on Liverpool?
Firstly, I must make clear that I am very much in favour of young players being given a chance to prove themselves in the first team. To have a successful club, you must have a successful academy and youth system. The young players can’t stay in the youth and reserve squads forever, and it is good to see the likes of Raheem Sterling making the step up to the regular first team. Liverpool are expected to win against a side such as Young Boys, so Rodgers might have made a good call in picking this game to give some of the younger players their chance.
However, I personally think that this is a bad strategy. I for one want to see Liverpool do well in the Europa league this season, and it would be awful if we were to lose to a side such as Young Boys, in a game which we should be able to win fairly comfortably. Youth should be fed into the first team slowly, not all thrown in at once. I know it is a possibility that all the young players will do really well and get a win for LFC, and I certainly hope this happens. However, I think we would have been better off only including a few young players in the side tonight, and fielding a mostly experienced team to try and secure the result we need.
On the other hand, as you will probably know, there is an extremely important Premier League clash with Manchester United on Sunday. I can see that players need to be rested for this game, as it is arguably more important than our fixture tonight against Young Boys. Hopefully, as Manchester United fielded an almost full strength squad in their game against Galatasaray in midweek, we will have an advantage over them. Most of our main players won’t have been in action for over a week when it comes to the game against United, so this could give us the edge we need to win our first game of the Premiership season.
Overall though, I think a bit more experience should have been included in the squad for tonight’s game against Young Boys. More experience would have made the win easier to seal, and playing so many young players is definitely a risk, but hopefully it will pay off. We shall have to see how things pan out tonight.
Sunday, 16 September 2012
In the late kick-off game on Saturday15th September 2012, Liverpool faced
at the Stadium of Light. Despite
dominating the match, they could only manage a 1-1 draw. Fletcher was the goal
scorer for Sunderland, and Suarez netted for Liverpool.
I think Brendan Rodgers will have been pleased with the way his team started. They were passing it around nicely, getting the ball forward and creating chances. However,
Liverpool were unable to make the most of these chances,
and after 29 minutes were punished. Totally against the run of play, Sunderland mounted a good attack down the right wing and
got a good ball into the box, which Fletcher buried. Although it pains me to
say it, Reina was once again partially at fault for the goal, coming for the
cross and missing it.
After this, I was pleased with how well
Liverpool responded. They didn’t
let the goal get to them, and continued mounting good attacks, although not
quite as regularly as they had been before the goal. Once again Sterling was playing exquisitely, and causing the Sunderland defence a lot of problems. I was also more
pleased with Borini’s performance than I have been in previous games. Suarez
also looked lively, and should have been given a penalty when he took the ball
round two defenders and was then tripped up. The referee did not give it, and
to add insult to injury booked him for simulation.
With all of
forwards looking so bright and lively, it seemed inevitable that they would
score. However, I started to get worried when we were still a goal down with 20
minutes to go. Eventually though, after a great piece of play from , Suarez was able
to smash the ball into the net from close range. Sterling Liverpool
had a fair few chances after this as well, and were unlucky not to go on and
win the game.
Overall, I think
Liverpool played very well and can be pleased with their
performance; however the recurring problem of finishing again has to be brought
up. With such dominance and so many chances, it has to be said that Liverpool should have won the game. On the other hand,
although we didn’t get the result we were after, I think there are many
positives to be taken from this game. We should build on this result to try and
get the win next time out, against Manchester United. What a sweet first win of
the season that would be!
Monday, 10 September 2012
After three games of the 2012/13 season,
Liverpool lies 18th
in the table. In their first three fixtures against West Brom, and Arsenal they have conceded 7
goals. This has prompted many to question the reliability of Manchester City Liverpool
goalkeeper Pepe Reina. The question is, can our hero of so many games really be
losing his touch?
It is true that in the last few games, Pepe Reina has made some notable errors. One example would be the shot hit straight at him that he knocked into the net in the Hearts game, another when he came and flapped at a cross against Man City which led to their first equalising goal. Certainly Reina will not be happy with conceding 7 goals in three Premier League games, and some would say that this is clear evidence that Reina is past his prime.
However, there are definitely two sides to the argument. Firstly, Reina is only 30 years old. Brad Friedel is 41, and is still arguably one of the best ‘keepers in the Premiership. The theory that Reina has got too old to play at the top level to me, therefore, seems unlikely. But could it just be that he has lost his touch, not because of age but simply because he is not as talented as he once was? Before jumping to any conclusions, it has to be noted that most of the world’s best goalkeepers have had a bad run of form at some point. Tim Howard, American first-choice ‘keeper, had a massive dip in form near the end of his time at Manchester United. He now plays for Everton and has done extremely well there. Even Petr Cech, who holds the record for most clean sheets in one season, has had some pretty bad spells for
in the past. However, these two goalkeepers (and many others like them)
returned to full form after these dips, and again began to pull off some
stunning saves. The key to this is that the club and its fans did not
immediately ask for their departure, they kept faith. Chelsea Liverpool
fans should do the same; Reina has served us so well in the past, to say he
deserves to go after just three or four poor games in a row is ridiculous.
In conclusion, I think that Pepe Reina has not lost his touch; he is simply having a bad run of games. Although I know
Liverpool cannot afford this
poor form to go on much longer, I think the fans and the club should definitely
give him time to get back to his usual, brilliant form.
Sunday, 9 September 2012
Since Brendan Rodgers took over and announced that he had been provided with very limited funds, fans of LFC have started asking questions about club owners FSG (Fenway Sports Group). However, most fans were prepared to accept that FSG were putting all they could into the club, but the money simply wasn’t there. It seems this is not the case. One of the owners of FSG, who also own MLB team Boston Red Sox, recently boasted of how the Red Sox are one of the biggest spenders in baseball. This caused outrage to fans of LFC, and it does raise questions as to where FSG’s commitments lie.
On the face of it, it does seem like FSG are effectively giving up on
to focus all their efforts on the Red Sox. However, on closer inspection,
are pretty much in the same boat. Both clubs are getting rid of a lot of
players in an attempt to lower wage costs (Red Sox star Adrian Gonzalez is just
one of the big name departures), both are suffering dips in form, and both are trying
to return to former glory. FSG are approaching both situations in pretty
similar ways. Although Fenway Sports Group are indeed making more funds
available to the Red Sox, they are not simply ‘doing a Boston ’.
The funds are being spent extremely shrewdly, with a large focus on free
agents. Simply pumping a club with money and saying ‘buy who you like’ leads to
a disjointed team and ultimately a waste of funds, and that is not the FSG way. Man City
Also, due mainly to the rather large issue of Andy Carroll’s departure and distinct lack of replacement, it is easy to forget that
transfer window was not a complete failure. Everyone is focusing on the fact
that Carroll shouldn’t have gone (which is absolutely true, see my views on the
matter here: http://www.liverpoolfcfanscorner.com/1/post/2012/08/carroll-loaned-out-a-good-decision.html),
but forgetting that we made some good signings. Joe Allen looks set to be a
great purchase, Borini has already earned himself a place in the starting 11,
and new signing Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid showed promising signs against
Arsenal. FSG cannot be accused of providing no funds, seeing as Borini cost
£11million and Allen cost £15million. Although it is nowhere near as much as
teams such as Chelsea, Man United and Man City, Liverpool are still the 5th biggest spenders
in the summer transfer window. Personally I don’t think that gives us much to
Overall, I think people are being a little harsh on FSG. They may be providing the Red Sox with more funds, but they are handling the spending of both these prestigious sports clubs in very similar ways. Also,
Liverpool fans should
not lose perspective, as FSG provided enough money to make LFC the 5th
biggest Premier League spenders this transfer window. They may have made some
mistakes, but Liverpool fans need to get
behind them. With a bit of luck, FSG will be able to turn the fortunes of both
the Red Sox and the reds.
Friday, 31 August 2012
Firstly, I must start by giving the reasons Rodgers has given for loaning out Carroll. He says that he does not fit into his tiki-taka style of football, and
cannot afford to have a £35 million striker on the bench. Also, Carroll did not
have a good season at LFC last year, which resulted in many people believing he
simply does not fit in at the club.
However, I disagree. If you are signed for a prestigious club like
for a club record fee, and are being bought as a replacement for Fernando
Torres, you are bound to feel a lot of pressure. Unfortunately, this pressure
got to Carroll at the start of the season, and he simply didn’t perform. Near
the end of the season though, there were signs that Carroll was returning to
his old form. He put in some great performances, the most notable being the FA
cup final against .
To me, loaning him out at a time when he seems to be returning to form is not a
great move. Chelsea
On the other hand, it is true that with our current squad it is fairly hard for Carroll to get regular first team action. Rodgers is right in saying that Andy will benefit from more playing time, and if Rodgers refuses to give him that at
then a loan is a good option. If Carroll does return to Liverpool
at the end of his loan spell I think he will be a much improved player. In
fact, if that happens, I think Rodgers will have done quite a successful deal.
However, what bothers me is the fact that West Ham have been given an option to
buy. If, like I expect he will, Carroll continues getting better throughout his
time at West Ham, they are certain to want to buy him permanently. Although
this will aid Liverpool financially, we will
have lost a great striker. I think we would have been better off offering West
Ham a simple, straightforward loan that meant we automatically got Carroll back
for next season.
Now we come to what I believe is the key point. Although the ‘tiki-taka’ style is very good on paper, sometimes it goes wrong. This was demonstrated at
where mostly we played this system very well, but just one slip from Skrtel
left us level again and in need of a goal to win the match. Carroll came on as
a substitute, and very nearly scored (he was denied only by Jack Rodwell’s
off-the-line clearance). I think that by getting rid of Carroll, we lost our
plan B. By relying purely on a smooth, passing game, Rodgers is leaving very
little room for error. Man City
Overall, I believe loaning out Carroll was a bad idea. It puts a lot more pressure on the team to master Rodgers’ preferred style of play quickly, as now the team have no back-up. Carroll was a good option for
Liverpool, as he
allowed them to vary their play a little, and occasionally play a long ball up
the pitch. Now they have lost this option, and with it lost a player who was
just returning to form. I may be wrong, but I think this is a big mistake.
Sunday, 26 August 2012
At 16:00 on the 26th August, Liverpool kicked off their first home game of the new season against premier league champions,
. Despite going ahead
City Liverpool only managed a 2-2 draw. However,
to lead twice against the reigning Premiership champions is no mean feat, and Liverpool played extremely well.
Things weren’t looking too good for LFC at the start of the game. After 20 minutes, they had seen less than 40% of possession, and their only real chance had fallen to Fabio Borini, who narrowly missed. However, things soon started to look up.
applied a good spell of attacking pressure, which eventually won them a corner.
This they took full advantage of. Gerrard whipped a brilliant ball into the
box, and Skrtel, charging in from the edge of the area, buried it in the net. I
think a key factor in this goal was patience. Liverpool absorbed ’s
pressure early on, and when they got into their stride were able to attack
strongly and grab a goal, something they struggled to do last season. Man City
The pressure did not stop after the goal. On the contrary, it acted as a turning point in the match. The rest of the half was all
Liverpool. They piled
on attacks when in possession, and were very unlucky not to get one or two more
before the break. However, I think the main reason for their success was the
pressure they applied off the ball. The
players were not being given any time on the ball, which caused them to make
some uncharacteristic mistakes, meaning that often they conceded possession
cheaply. This LFC capitalised on, and though they did not dominate possession,
they made a lot out of their attacks. Manchester City
As the second half began, it looked like
Liverpool were set to continue
their commanding performance. They were mounting promising attacks, and
remained confident in possession. However,
were starting to come up with a few attacks of their own, and, though they had
posed little goal-scoring threat previously, they managed to equalise in the 63rd
minute through Yaya Toure. A cross came in which Reina came for and missed;
Kelly, who was expecting Reina to claim the ball, was simply hit by it! The
ball fell perfectly into Toure’s stride, who smashed it into the deserted net.
Solid as Man City Liverpool had seemed, this was
definitely an error from Reina, and Kelly could possibly have reacted quicker.
Liverpool did not dwell on the mistake. They resumed as
if nothing had happened, and continued piling massive pressure on City both on
and off the ball. Consequently, the scores did not stay level for long. A
magical free kick from Suarez in the 66th minute made sure of that.
It was from a fairly long way out, and I expected Gerrard to try and get it up
and over the wall. expected this too,
but even if they had known what was coming they couldn’t have stopped it!
Suarez curled it beautifully around the wall, and into the bottom corner beyond
the reach of Joe Hart. A great way for him to open his account for the premier
league season. Maybe
Rather than rocking back onto their heels at this point, Liverpool continued putting good pressure on
City weren’t seeing much of the ball, and were wasteful with it when they got
it. Man City Liverpool looked secure, and the result
pretty much settled. Unfortunately, 10 minutes from time, goalscorer Martin
Skrtel made a huge defensive error. He had nowhere to go, and so, thinking he
was safe to do so, attempted a pass back to his keeper. He was unaware that
Carlos Tevez was lurking in that area. His pass directly picked out Tevez, who
found himself clean through on Reina. In fairness to him, he took his chance
very coolly, although the goal was a total gift.
Liverpool then brought on Andy Carroll, who did make a good impact, but wasn’t enough to bring
Liverpool a late winner. Although LFC were the much
better side, and certainly deserved a win based on their performance, they
could only pick up a point as the game ended 2-2. However, the team played
extremely well and showed encouraging signs, especially youngster Raheem Sterling (who was given his first Premier League start),
who was a breath of life for Liverpool.
Although it would have been great to grab a win against the champions, there is no point brooding over the draw. Not only is it a very good result, but if Liverpool’s best was deserving of a win against the Premier League champions, we can certainly take hope for the rest of the season. Maybe this new, attacking
is a sign of things to come. I know I hope it is.
Sunday, 19 August 2012
On Saturday 18th August 2012,
Liverpool played their opening
match of the season against West Bromwich Albion. They lost 3-0, with goals
from Zoltan Gera, Peter Odemwingie (penalty) and Romelu Lukaku. On the face of
it, there are very few positives to be taken from this games, and lots of
negatives. This is partly true, however there was more to the game than the
result might suggest.
The first thing to mention is that in the first half, the game was not at all as one-sided as the scoreline suggests. In fact, Liverpool created more attacks than
Brom in the opening 45 minutes. Their build up play was extremely
good (mostly), and they crafted a lot of good chances. However, the problem was
once again their finishing. I have had to say this hundreds of times, but Liverpool are still not showing the clinical finishing
required from a club that wants to compete for a top 4 position. If this cannot
be improved, then I fear that hopes that LFC might break into the Champions
League again this season are unrealistic. Despite this, it shouldn’t be
forgotten that lots of attacks were made, which is a very good sign.
Liverpool could not continue creating attacks in the
second half. Zoltan Gera had scored a stunning volley at the end of the first
half, and it seemed that took the life out of LFC. However, this was not the
main reason for Liverpool’s decline in the
second half. By far the biggest contributing factor to Liverpool’s
poor second half was some dubious refereeing by Phil Dowd. Early into the half,
Shane Long managed to break through the Liverpool
defence. Daniel Agger attempted to get back at him, and Dowd deemed that he had
used excessive and illegal levels of force to do so, and gave West
Brom a penalty. This in itself was a little controversial, as the
incident was right on the edge of the area, but that was nothing compared to
what happened next. The referee sent off Agger. Now I am a massive LFC fan, but
I am also reasonable, and accept that Agger fouled Shane Long. However, it was
certainly not a foul worthy of a red card. Although Pepe Reina managed to save
the subsequent penalty, with LFC only having 10 men and having to chase the
game they were as good as beaten.
As if this wasn’t enough, Dowd then decided to award
West Brom another
penalty! Now I may be seeing this differently to everyone else, but to me it
seemed that Shane Long came up from behind Skrtel, tackled him, and then fell
over. When I saw the referee pointing to the penalty spot I thought it must be
some kind of joke. Odemwingie stepped up to take this one, and unlike Long he
managed to bury his penalty. This left Liverpool
two goals down. There was nothing controversial about the third goal, which was
simply a good header from Lukaku. However, Liverpool
would probably have been able to clear it had they had 11 players on the pitch.
To sum up, it is hard to draw any meaningful conclusions from this game.
may well have come back in the second half, but the match was ruined by some
shocking refereeing decisions. However, Liverpool
will need to show some better finishing in subsequent games if they want to get
Monday, 6 August 2012
Striker Luis Suarez has returned to Liverpool, after
crashed out of the Olympics in the group stages following a defeat by . Great Britain Liverpool have had to play all their pre-season games and
their recent Europa League qualifier without him, but how will his return
affect the team?
Last season, Luis Suarez picked up an 8-match ban for supposedly racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. This was extremely unfortunate, and meant that Suarez was unable to contribute fully to
last season. However, in most of the games he did play, he performed extremely
well and provided the injection of skill and finesse the team needed. In my
opinion Andy Carroll is extremely good, but he needs someone more technically
advanced to work with, and on the rare occasions he and Suarez got their
partnership working well, they were deadly. In the pre-season campaign, Liverpool have been playing well and showing a lot of
encouraging signs, but they have been lacking any clinical finishing and fluid
play in the opposition half. I believe Suarez’s return will bring this, and
with it bring goals.
Technically, Suarez demonstrated how accomplished he is on many occasions last season. My particular favourite moment was his lob from 40 yards against
, which was simply sublime. He is
probably the best player in terms of technical ability in the entire Norwich Liverpool squad. However, a team cannot succeed when it
is built around just one person. It may be a cliché, but if Suarez is going to
be used to his full potential, Brendan Rodgers must make sure he builds a
strong chemistry between Suarez and the rest of the team. If he manages to do
this, Suarez will be a massive asset, and create and take chances by combining
with the rest of the team, rather than having to rely solely on his individual
In conclusion, if Rodgers can unlock Suarez’s full potential, he will play a vital role in the team for the coming season. He is an amazing talent on his own, but if he gels with the rest of the team under Rodgers like he never quite managed to do under Dalglish, Suarez may just be able to fire LFC into a top 4 spot in 2012/13. I especially hope the club decide to keep Andy Carroll, as I think there is massive potential in the Suarez-Carroll-Borini partnership that may just be unlocked if they are given regular games together.
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Bellamy has been playing well since the start of the Olympic campaign, scoring Team GB’s only goal in a 1-1 draw with
He also played superbly against the UAE, creating some great chances for other
team-mates. I was particularly impressed with his crossing. The Welsh
international signed for Senegal Liverpool at the
start of the 2011/12 campaign on a free transfer, but hasn’t been particularly
successful at the club. However, in the few games he has played, he has shown
New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has offered all
Liverpool players a
fresh start under his regime. Personally, I hope Bellamy will seize this
opportunity and possibly even break into the first team. His form at the
Olympics has been exquisite, and if he is able to carry that over into the new
season I think he will be an asset to Liverpool.
He has also been combining well in the Olympics with fellow Welshman Joe Allen,
who seems likely to join LFC. If this happens, the two players will hopefully
continue to gel, and in turn bring good results for the club.
However, it cannot be denied that Bellamy is ageing. Although he is still a very advanced player technically, his once explosive pace isn’t what it once was, and unfortunately he may not be able to keep up to a professional standard much longer. There is also quite a lot of interest in him from his former club,
and Liverpool could not be blamed for trying
to sell him. Saying this, I personally think he should definitely stay at the
club. He has been able to keep his fitness at a world-class level for a long
time already, and I see no reason why he can’t stick around for a while longer!
Overall, I think Bellamy should seize the opportunity he has been given at LFC. A new manager means another chance, and Bellamy is certainly impressing in Team GB. If he transfers this form to the Premier League for
he may have a big hand in leading the club to success in the coming season.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
Liverpool’s Pre-Season Form- Should We Be Worried?
Just over a week ago, Liverpool left Anfield behind to go on their tour of America. Their first game of the tour was against Toronto, which ended in a 1-1 draw, and their second game was a 2-1 defeat to AS Roma. Their next match of the tour is against Tottenham.
Brendan Rodgers has only recently taken the reins at LFC, and I don’t think he will be particularly pleased with his first two results. Toronto is not exactly a world-class team and yet we could not manage to beat them, and losing to AS Roma will have been disappointing. However, it has to be remembered that Rodgers is using this pre-season tour to assess some of the reserves. Liverpool haven’t fielded anything like their strongest team in either of the two matches. The first and second choice goalkeepers Reina and Doni were not even taken on the tour! This makes the results a lot more understandable.
Although the teams fielded haven’t been full strength, there have however been members of the normal starting 11 involved in the games. With Carragher and Enrique both playing against Toronto, it is a little worrying that the team still let a goal in against such a small team. This is also the case against Roma, with two goals being conceded despite Skrtel playing alongside Carragher and Enrique, making it a close to full-strength defence for Liverpool. However, LFC were playing their 4th choice goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
Also, despite the results, lots of encouragement can be taken from these first two games under the Rodgers regime. For instance, 712 passes were made by LFC in the game against Toronto (the first time Liverpool have made more than 700 passes in a game since 2008), with a pass accuracy rate of 92%. This is extremely impressive, and suggests the tika-taka style of play is already well on its way to being fully implemented at the club.
In conclusion, I don’t think the first two results from the pre-season tour are any particular cause of worry. Although the results haven’t come, the way the team have been playing is very good, and shows the club is heading in the right direction. Also, considering so many reserves are playing, the results (especially only losing 2-1 to Roma) are actually quite impressive and encouraging. Hopefully, with a full-strength team, this new style of play will bring the results that Liverpool need.
Friday, 20 July 2012
Two years ago, Alberto Aquilani was bought from Roma by Rafa Benitez for 17million pounds. He was dubbed ‘the replacement for Alonso’, but his first season at the club was plagued by injuries. For the subsequent two seasons he was loaned out, first to Juventus and then to AC Milan. But now ‘the Aquaman’ is back.
Many thought that he was due a return last season, as he impressed in his pre-season games with Liverpool. However, he was loaned out to AC Milan, and all things considered has had a pretty poor season there, getting just one goal from 14 Serie A starts and 9 substitute appearances. However, he did manage 6 assists in total in the league.
Although his Serie A form wasn’t great, I personally think he should be given a chance at Liverpool. I know I keep on going on about Brendan Rodgers and his new style, but I really think that the new Liverpool Rodgers is creating will be a club that really suits Aquilani. He likes short passing, keeping possession and neat, clever play. He is the sort of player that theoretically should fit into Rodgers’s plans very well.
Obviously, the ideal signing to help implement this new midfield style would be Xabi Alonso. He is the king of midfield, and is so versatile I think he could probably fit in with any style. Saying that though, he is particularly suited to the sort of play Rodgers is bringing to LFC. There is some talk that Liverpool may attempt to bring Alonso back to Anfield, although personally I think this is just rumours, as I don’t think the club have the funds to make a realistic offer for such an amazing player. However, last year Alonso did say how much he missed Liverpool, and he refused to rule out a return to the club at some point.
To sum up, Liverpool need somebody who can bolster their midfield, and turn them into the side Rodgers wants them to be. Alonso returning would be ideal, but failing that I think Alberto Aquilani should be given another chance. He is exactly the type of player LFC need, and has gained a lot of experience from his two years on loan. He was once marked as the next Alonso, and if he can fulfil that potential and play the passmaster role at the club, he may well bring a lot of success to the club.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Andy Carroll. The cause of much debate between Liverpool fans. He was widely criticised for his performances in the first part of the 2011/12 season, but seemed to return to some of his old form by the end of the campaign. Now there is only one question being asked by supporters; should he stay or should he go?
The most obvious impact Carroll leaving would have on the club is the financial one. They signed him from Newcastle for £35million, and now are holding out for an offer of £20million. If this offer were to be met, Liverpool would be making a loss of 15 million pounds, which would be awful for the club. £15million is no small sum of money, and should not just be being squandered because Brendan Rodgers doesn’t think Carroll fits into his plans. However, there is an argument that LFC should just try to cut their losses now, as Andy Carroll is no benefit to the club if his woeful form from early last season returns.
Another point I think is key in the Carroll debate is the very recent signing of Fabio Borini. His preferred position is the wide striker role, and a wide striker needs a danger man to aim at. Someone with a big physical presence, who on his day can terrorise defences. In short, someone like Andy Carroll. If these two strikers can create a good partnership, it will do amazing things for LFC. In my view, Borini’s chances of doing well at the club will be seriously hindered if Carroll is sold.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, I think it is simply unfair to sell Carroll now. He hit form at the end of last season, was by far our best player in the FA cup final, and had just started to fit in at the club. To sell him now would be stupid, as it would get rid of a good player who is constantly improving, and would also be harsh on Carroll at a personal level, as his end of season form should be being recognised by the club.
Overall, I think selling Andy Carroll would be a huge mistake. There are no real financial benefits, it could have a knock-on effect on our exciting new signing Fabio Borini, but most importantly we would be losing a great player.
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Yesterday (Saturday 14th July 2012) Liverpool confirmed the signing of Fabio Borini from Roma. The price is said to be around £7.9million. I think this a great buy for LFC, and that Borini will be a great asset to the team.
Dirk Kuyt left LFC earlier in the transfer window, and Maxi looks set for a return to Newells Old Boys. Liverpool needed someone who could fill in the hole left by these departures, and Borini is the man to do so. He is a striker who operates in a wide position, and is a perfect replacement for Kuyt, as he can play in a right striker position alongside Carroll and Suarez.
Also, he proved a big goal threat for Roma last season. He netted 10 times in the season, and those goals came from only a small amount of games, as his appearances were limited due to injury. LFC last season were creating some good chances, but weren’t converting enough. Borini will hopefully change this, and become the clinical finisher that Liverpool need.
On top of this, he is the young talent that the club really need to bring in. He is only 21 years of age, and has already been capped internationally. He will be able to grow as a player at Liverpool, and hopefully become a world class striker.
In conclusion, I think Borini is a great signing, and could really turn around Liverpool’s fortunes. He is the wide striker that is required, but more importantly he will get goals for the club, and goals win games. If Borini and Liverpool are able to get the goals flowing again. I think they could be set up for a return to the top four next season.
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
After the departure of Kenny Dalglish from Liverpool, the board spent a long period of time trying to decide on suitable people to approach about the vacancy left at the club. One of the first names mentioned was that of Brendan Rodgers, and after three long weeks they managed to lure him to the club.
To me it seemed an odd choice at first, as Liverpool’s style is very direct, compared to the short passing style implemented at Swansea by Rodgers. However, this passing game, compared by some to that of Barcelona, could do wonders for Liverpool. What was so lacking at the club last season was the ‘killer ball’, that one pass that released one of our classy strikers into the clear. But under Rodgers, that could all change.
However, this new system being implemented at Liverpool does leave some good players somewhat stranded in no-mans-land. For instance, Andy Carroll, who really hit form near the end of the season, thrives on long balls hopefully punted up field, or aerial crosses looped into the box. It was in these sorts of situations that he really did well. These sorts of chances will be in short supply under the club’s new regime, and one word that certainly doesn’t spring to mind when Carroll’s name is mentioned is passmaster.
There is a lot of interest in Carroll from other clubs (he has been linked with Fulham, West Ham and AC Milan), but personally I don’t think he should just be offloaded by Brendan Rodgers because he doesn’t fit into the style of play Rodgers implemented at Swansea. Carroll can adapt his playing style to some extent, and if Brendan Rodgers is as good as people say he is, then I’m sure he can find a place for a world class player like Carroll in his vision for the club.
Overall, I think that if Carroll can be included in it, this new vision for LFC is really exciting. Liverpool have lots of great players, and if Rodgers can get them to really gel as a team and become a tight unit like that he managed to create at Swansea, Liverpool may well be able to return to their former dominance.