Friday, 26 October 2012

Post-Match Thoughts- Liverpool vs Anzhi

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

Lay off Luis Suarez!

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

Liverpool vs Stoke Post-Match Analysis

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.