Tuesday Sep 2Posted by: James Nelson  No Comments »

We’re In Good Shape Now

It may just be me and my quirky ways, but when the summer transfer window shuts I can’t help but look through the Liverpool team full of new names and faces, and missing a few old ones, and imagine what I would have thought if you’d shown me that squad at the start of the window. The absence of Luis Suarez would jump out straight away, but in his place Mario Balotelli would have me rubbing my eyes with disbelief. I’d also be wondering if Southampton put some sort of special ‘everything must go’ offer on their key players, while noticing Alberto Moreno and Lazar Markovic and thinking that we’d recruited some of Europe’s top young talent as well.

The transfer window ‘slammed’ shut yesterday, though for Liverpool it was more a case of being closed quietly without so much of a shrug of the shoulders from our side. We got our business done early and left ourselves with minimal stress for transfer deadline day; putting ourselves in the ideal situation of being ready to act if a good opportunity reared its head, but otherwise being very content with the state of our squad.

A couple of players were given the opportunity to leave on loan to get more football elsewhere, with Sebastian Coates going to Sunderland, and Oussama Assaidi heading back to Stoke. Earlier in the summer it seemed the latter would be leaving on a permanent deal, but he couldn’t agree personal terms. Though with Stoke now paying 100% of his wages to get him there, and him seemingly happy to remain on this wage, it seems odd that the original move broke down. We missed out on a reported £7m transfer fee, and Assaidi once again will have a season of uncertainty as to where he will be in the long term.

Perhaps the biggest talking point for us was whether or not Fabio Borini would still be a Liverpool player this season. An offer came in from QPR for the Italian, but he too couldn’t agree a wage and the deal fell through. Having already rejected a move to Sunderland, it was clear that Borini wasn’t in any hurry to leave Liverpool, but the lure of London life could potentially have been a factor. But the 90k a week wage he was asking for was never going to happen, and he seems to have priced himself out of the move.

It’s a strange situation, as you could either look at it as incredible dedication and belief from Borini that he will force himself into the Liverpool team, or on the other hand he is deluding himself and is happy to pick up his weekly wage here knowing he will play very little football. There were whispers that he may be holding off leaving just now in the hope he gets a move back to Italy soon, which may not be far off the truth.

From our point of view, it’s a shame to miss out on the high transfer fee that either Sunderland or QPR had offered for him, as we are now unlikely to receive such an offer in the future, with teams knowing he’s dispensable here, and him being unlikely to feature much this season to retain that value. But what we are left with is a player to bulk up the squad a bit, who will be ready and waiting in the case of any injuries, and now with a point to prove. Or if we do fine on the injury front, he has no right to complain about lack of first team football.

For some players, a manager will go out of his way to fit them onto the bench and give them a few minutes here and there, to keep them a happy member of the squad. Much the same way someone like Rickie Lambert knows he isn’t part of our first eleven, but he’s always in and around the squad and has got a couple of cameos off the bench. But by rejecting two moves away from the club, Borini can’t have any grievances if he is furthest down the pecking order, and only featuring when we are absolutely down to our bare bones as a team. In that sense, he’s not a bad player to have around just in case of any injury/suspension emergencies.

Earlier in the window we’d seen the likes of Pepe Reina, Iago Aspas, Martin Kelly, and Daniel Agger leave, but none of those players would have been significant parts of our squad this season, so it was best all-around that they moved on and we trimmed the wage bill. Aspas will likely leave permanently next summer, but the other trio all leave on good terms as far as I’m concerned, and I wish them all the best.

Therefore the only departure that changed things for us this season was Luis Suarez. While no one can claim that Mario Balotelli will come in and do more for us than the Uruguayan would, he is probably the best possible striker we could have realistically got in this summer, and it brought a smile to my face to see Arsenal spend the same amount of money on Danny Welbeck as we did on Balotelli, only reinforcing what a fantastic deal we got for the Italian. The rest of the £75m we received from Barcelona has been used to assemble a significantly stronger squad than that of last season, meaning that, as tricky a summer it seemed we were facing, there’s absolutely no Luis Suarez-shaped hole in our squad. And we can take that as a very successful transfer window indeed.

By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)

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Monday Sep 1Posted by: Antoine Zammit  No Comments »

VIDEO : Raheem Sterling vs Spurs (By @MostarLFC)

Monday Sep 1Posted by: James Barlow  No Comments »

Too much individuality, pass it!

So having watched a few games now, both friendly and League, I have noticed something that is creeping into our side. The Man city game showed this perfectly and was the reason why they scored more than we did. Simply put, we tried to hard and did not work as a team, I shall explain.

At the moment we seem to be a hurry, a hurry to show everyone that last season was not a fluke, as well as trying to make up for the loss of Saurez. The attack still seems to gel ok, but I would still like to see them just keep it simple sometimes. Too many players trying to hard to do it on their own, if a pass was made a few seconds earlier, even a fraction of a second earlier with a simple pass, it may have created a shot on goal but more likely retained possession. Against City, we saw this perfectly. City didn’t really try do us one on one, they know our defenders can mark you out the game, all they did was look for the space and knock the ball there with a simple pass. Where we on the other hand, were trying to run around one two many opponents, nearly every attack, when we did pass it, it was often in the heavily congested central area outside the box and most of the time we lost the ball.

I would just like to us to pass it around more, draw the opposition out if they have already got back and set. The time for beating opposition with skill is when you have the space to run at them (counter attack), back to goal and turn (see GOD against Villa).

Another thing that might help us retain the ball while attacking, would be the back four pushed further up and supporting, looking for clearances that can be rolled (not humped back in). When pushed up like this, you need pace to cover the initial counter, we have that now so close that gap between Defence and Midfield.

YNWA a promising start, calm down the glue will come!

Sunday Aug 31Posted by: Antoine Zammit  No Comments »

Redmen TV : Spurs 0-3 Liverpool: Flying Moreno Completes Reds Rout | Uncensored Match Reaction Show

Liverpool got back to winning ways with an excellent 0-3 win over Mauricio Pochettino’s high flying Tottenham Hotspur side. Raheem Sterling opened the scoring in the first half, with Gerrard doubling the lead from the spot in the 2nd. Alberto Moreno drew the plaudits though with a sensational solo tackle, run and strike to seal the win.

Sunday Aug 31Posted by: Shantanu Singh  No Comments »

The Defensive Conundrum

31st August 2014, LFC go back from White Hart Lane with 3 points after securing a 3-0 victory against Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side. On a cursory look at the score-line, most people would term it a comfortable win for the Reds, but Liverpool’s defense ensures that the neutrals watching are in for an entertaining ride no matter whom they are playing, be it Manchester City or Crystal Palace. A new make-shift center-back partnership of Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho was deployed in the wake of Martin Skrtel’s injury. A little miscommunication and nervy moments were expected from the new defensive pairing. But the overzealousness of Lovren coupled with the lack of sharpness in Sakho’s passing ability, led to several occasions during the game that could have been easily exploited by the Spurs side had they been as clinical as Manchester City last week.

Dejan Lovren was brought from Southampton to provide Liverpool with greater defensive solidarity

One of these opportunities arose when Lovren came buccaneering for an aerial ball just outside the box. The ball was clearly meant for Sakho to clear. With Sakho approaching the ball and Lovren coming in too, there was clear space for Chadli to breakthrough in case the ball did fall to him. That is exactly what happened. Lovren lost the header to Adebayor who headed the ball into Chadli’s path. Chadli subsequently unleashed a powerful shot at Mignolet who, like he has been doing for a long while, came up with a great save to keep Spurs at bay. If that had gone in, it would’ve been 1-1 and the plot of the game could’ve easily turned.

Sakho entered the starting XI with no pre-season game time and was expected to show some rustiness. Usually really good at picking out midfield players from his own half, Sakho was terrible in his delivery this afternoon. His eagerness to play a first time pass into a teammate’s path led to interceptions in the defensive half by the Spurs side and could’ve easily led to goalscoring opportunities had Spurs again possessed the lethal edge in attack. Lamela and Eriksen looked nowhere close to their incisive best during the game and thus Liverpool survived these lapses in concentration.

One to two defensive errors during a game can be tolerated, but Liverpool’s defense continually looks shaky no matter who is thrown into the center-back positions. Is it because the players are just not good enough? Well Sakho was France captain a little while ago and Lovren a rock at the back for Croatia at the World Cup, so to call them poor players is a travesty. Then what is the reason behind them looking so vulnerable. It’s miscommunication. If Lovren and Sakho call out for a ball clearly then they won’t end up going after the same ball. Proper communication is what makes good defenders great. Lovren was bought to bring that quintessential leadership quality into the defensive organization of the team. However, oft times its Simon Mignolet who keeps berating the others for improper cover and pleads for greater solidity and orderliness. Lovren needs to check his overzealous nature of going after every aerial ball that is thrown at Liverpool’s defense. There are two center-backs for a reason. Sakho on the other hand will only get better with his distribution which was shambolic to say the least. Playing more games should help fix that. Well, hopefully.

I’m not saying that the Liverpool defense needs to be inch-perfect in every game throughout the season. Each team is likely to have hiccups throughout the season. Heck even Chelsea shipped in 3 goals against Everton (who shipped in 6, but wait why are we even talking about Everton). But title-winners are outrageously consistent. Here’s hoping Brendan Rodgers can continue tinkering his defensive pairings to provide ample assurance to Liverpool fans all over the world. Well there’s Real Madrid coming over in October and Ronaldo, Bale, Rodriguez and Benzema would be sitting in their plush homes in Madrid, laughing their way into the night after watching Liverpool’s defensive performances.

On a side note, it is worth commending the performances of both full-backs Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno. Both looked solid from the word go. They provided ample attacking verve with Moreno scoring a breath-taking solo effort for the 3rd of Liverpool’s goals. He certainly has the pace and ability to go on and get more in a Liverpool shirt over the years. Carragher referred to him as ‘probably the best left-back Liverpool has had since the treble winning season’ and that does mean something. With Manquillo performing solidly on the right hand-side it’s hard to see Johnson getting back into the first team unless Rodgers decides to add nervous excitement back into the lives of Liverpool supporters.

Sunday Aug 31Posted by: Tom Noon  No Comments »

Tottenham 0-3 Liverpool

Rodgers said of the Balotelli signing that he didn’t want to talk about the new striker from AC Milan every week. But at 13:25 at White Hart Lane, all eyes were on Super Mario, who arrived late out of the tunnel, typical of a man who loves the limelight. By the end, his thunder had been somewhat stolen by the brilliant Raheem Sterling and the impressive Alberto Moreno, although Balotelli certainly had an impact on his debut.

 

Liverpool played Tottenham twice last year, winning 5-0 against AVB’s side at White Hart Lane, before a similar drubbing to the Tim Sherwood managed team at Anfield. Yet under Pochettino, signs had been promising. Misfits Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli showed form in their opening two fixtures, which they won without conceding. Liverpool on the other hand had been average in comparison to the excitement they provided for much of last season. A scrappy 2-1 win at home to Southampton was followed by a disheartening 3-1 loss away to Manchester City. A win at in-form Tottenham would be a solid statement to send out to fellow title rivals.

 

The enigmatic Italian almost made the dream start to his Liverpool career after just two minutes, but his header from Sturridge’s cross was parried away by Lloris, and the follow-up went wide. Liverpool started strongly, and the reward came after seven minutes. Manquillo won the ball back from Chadli, getting it out to Sturridge who found Henderson in an advanced position. Henderson’s perfectly weighted pass evaded Kaboul and Vertonghen, allowing Sterling to score from close range. The move, involving three English players, will have delighted the onlooking Roy Hodgson, hoping to build a team capable of challenging at the biggest stage.

 

This was the first time Spurs had conceded in the league this season, but Pochettino’s men were almost level immediately, Adebayor’s attempted lob failing to trouble Mignolet. Moments later, Sturridge came close to doubling the advantage, only to see his left footed drive drift just wide of the post. Balotelli continued to cause havoc in the Spurs defence, and was unlucky when he headed wide from Gerrard’s searching free kick. After a period of being pressed back into their own half, Tottenham bounced back with their own period of possession. New recruit Dejan Lovren impressively used his skill to prevent a decent opportunity for Chadli, while Sakho atoned for giving the ball away by making a last ditch tackle on Adebayor, to prevent a glorious opportunity. An error strewn period of the game continued, after a poor back pass from Bentaleb gave Sterling the chance to set up the advancing Moreno in acres of space. However the England winger scuffed his pass, allowing the home side to reclaim possession.

 

Balotelli showed glimpses of how he and Sturridge will link up, with a well-timed backheel giving his new teammate a decent chance for a shot on goal. Luckily for Pochettino, his keeper was alert, and able to save Sturridge’s effort comfortably. The new signing tormented the defence on his debut, doing brilliantly to hold off the advancing Spurs players, but after Lloris rushed out of position to clear the ball, Balotelli’s 35 yard effort towards an empty goal ended up well wide. With Gerrard having a poor half by his standards, Henderson stepped up, controlling the game while demonstrating grit and tenacity, as if this were his audition for the currently vacant role of vice-captain. Lovren and Sakho were making their first appearance as a centre-back pairing, and it showed, when their lack of communication saw them both go for the same ball, allowing Chadli a free shot on goal. Fortunately for the two, Mignolet, who had had precious little to do previously, was alert to tip the shot over the crossbar.

 

It was just minutes into the second half when Liverpool doubled their advantage. Joe Allen was caught in the box by Eric Dier, under limited but certain contact. Balotelli has a near perfect penalty record, but it was the regular taker, Steven Gerrard, who sent the ball into the bottom left hand corner to beat Lloris. The home side attempted to escape from a difficult position, but a Chadli cross failed to reach Adebayor, and Moreno reacted superbly to prevent an easy opportunity for Adebayor, following a mistake from Lovren. Despite the chances for Tottenham, Liverpool put the game to bed after 60 minutes. New signing Alberto Moreno won the ball back in his own half from substitute Andros Townsend, and kept running down the left hand side, before unleashing a left footed drive into Lloris’ bottom right hand corner.

 

Tottenham rarely challenged from that point, their main priority appeared to be preventing the 5-0 embarrassment suffered last season. Emre Can and Lazar Markovic were given half an hour to impress, but shortly after Sturridge forced a good save from Lloris, it was Sterling who came close to a ‘goal of the season’ contender. In a manner similar to that of his former teammate Luis Suarez, Sterling picked up the ball of Emre Can, humiliating two Spurs with his excellent footwork. In a manner unlike Suarez, however, the finish was awful, and comfortably gathered by Lloris. The remainder of the match was a formality, and the feelings at the final whistle will have been ones of optimism for Liverpool fans, compared with the worries felt last week at the Etihad. It’s hard to say whether Balotelli will hit it off at Liverpool, but judging by his performance today, the early signs are promising.