Paul’s back on the news update to give his verdict on whether Liverpool really are in the market for England and City Goalkeeper Joe Hart and whether we actually need him?
By Sam Gleeson
Liverpool’s meeting with Middleborough on Tuesday night (23/9) comes at a time of frustration for fans, management and players alike but could provide a suitable pick-me-up and a useful warm up for this weekend’s Merseyside Derby. With the added pressure of a poor start to the season, Brendan Rodgers may seek to rest some of his key players for the cup tie and give the fans a chance to see the added depth the squad now has.
However, with Middlesbrough sat comfortably in the Championship play-off positions and having enjoyed a good start to the season, Liverpool cannot afford to be complacent with this tie and risk a shock early exit from the cup. Liverpool’s league campaign last year masked our poor cup performance and rightly so, putting The Reds back in the Champions League after a 5 year absence. But this season, the club will be hoping to impose themselves better in the domestic cups and perhaps lift some silverware in early 2015.
Coming off the back of an emphatic 4-0 win against Brentford, Boro will be in high spirits and full of confidence under the management of ex-Real Madrid player and assistant Aitor Karanka. One of Karanka’s potential threats is that of his compatriot Enrique García, better known as Kike. The 24 year old Spaniard has netted on 5 occasions in 10 appearances since arriving at The Riverside from Murcia for a reported fee of £2.7M and is proving to be a shrewd piece of business from Karanka and the club.
Another player enjoying a great run of form for Middleborough is current captain Grant Leadbitter who has scored 6 in his last 6 for the club putting him on 7 goals in all competitions, a fine return from midfield. Leadbitter could provide a problem for Liverpool’s defence on Tuesday as his set piece delivery has been lauded recently in the Championship and has been facetiously compared to Brazil legend Roberto Carlos by the Boro faithful.
Others players to watch on the night include ex-Red Daniel Ayala, who made 5 appearances for Liverpool in 09-10 Premier League campaign before leaving the club to play for numerous Championship sides and recently Norwich back in the top flight. Belgian striker Jelle Vossen (on loan from Genk) is another player to keep an eye on. Despite having not scored in his opening three appearances for the club, he boasts 12 appearances for his country and Champions League experience with his parent club.
Wingers Patrick Adomah and Emilio Nsue are two more players in form and could provide problems down the flanks with the latter having played for Spain youth ranks up to Under 21 level.
However, Brendan Rodgers will as always be looking to attack the Middlesbrough defence and show off the new found depth in Liverpool’s squad by potentially giving opportunities to some of the squad’s younger players on Tuesday Night. One of the players available for this role is Lazar Markovic, who has found playing time hard to come by early in his Liverpool career and could have an excellent opportunity to display his attacking prowess to the management.
Two more players who could possibly feature in the squad to face Middlesbrough are U18 pair Jerome Sinclair and Jordan Rossiter. Both players have impressed Rodgers under his reign and both regularly train with the first team. Sinclair was handed his first team debut by Brendan Rodgers back in September 2012 in the League Cup and due to a string of injury problems hasn’t featured in this first XI since. The pacey forward has impressed for the U18’s recently, scoring twice in their UEFA Youth League win over Ludogorets Razgrad and could be due his long awaited re call in to the squad.
Jordan Rossiter’s development is one of the most closely followed by Reds fans and rightly so, the 17 year old shows footballing maturity way above his age and isn’t afraid to boss some of the bigger boys around when it comes to keeping the midfield in shape. I hope numerous comparisons with players in the current starting eleven don’t hinder Rossiter’s progress as a player as his vision, passing and positioning on the pitch are as good as many players much elder than himself. These qualities and his typical Scouse ‘never say die’ attitude could earn him a well-deserved place in the squad.
Hopefully a slight jiggle of the starting 11 will prove refreshing for Liverpool this week and set the club back in the right direction for the weekend.
By James Giblin : @jaygiblin
Every fan should know what happened yesterday. For those who don’t, there have been articles written about it. It quite literally fills me with anger at the thought of writing about the game in detail. It was the worst game I have seen since the days of Roy Hodgson at Anfield. I watched in horror at how easily West Ham picked Liverpool apart with the simplest of passes and capitalised on Liverpool’s horrendous defensive line. We gave them the game on a platter.
Brendan’s selection was wrong
What bothered me most was the squad selection. Fabio Borini has done little to convince anyone that he has the ability to seamlessly slide into Liverpool’s first team against West Ham. Especially against West Ham in fact. Any game against an Allardyce team will be a physical battle. Borini – with not much Premier League experience under his belt – should be thanking the manager for a place on the bench. He doesn’t track back enough, which is a major flaw for a player who offers very little going forward. If he is on the team-sheet against Everton, it will be a disaster.
After the game there were a lot of fans feeling sympathy for Mario Balotelli. I on the other hand, feel nothing but let down when considering the job he’s done in a red shirt so far. Against Villa he was poor. Against Spurs he was poor. Against West Ham he was poor. Against Ludogrets he had a good 30 seconds. I’ll give him his due, he holds the ball up well, but he lacks energy. For me he’s constantly being put in the first team on reputation. Rickie Lambert is far more deserving of a starting spot up front. But because Rickie isn’t considered a “tortured genius” he’ll never get the recognition at Anfield that he deserves.
Our central defence is the worst it has been for years
It really, really is. I am a massive fan of Dejan Lovren. I believe in the right defence, he can be an amazing leader. It just so happens that all of his centre-back compatriots are utter idiots. I am still completely bewildered as to why Liverpool kept hold of Skrtel and let go of Agger. People may argue that like Sakho, Agger is left-footed, but who cares? He and Lovren could have been a decent defensive partnership. Both at least have half a brain.
Steven Gerrard. I’ve loved this man since I was in primary school. He held a place on my bedroom wall from late 90’s to late 00’s. The man has been ever present forever it seems to the fans. However, he did not turn up against the Hammers. I’m not going to slag him off too much though, the big man is allowed the odd bad game. It is in these circumstances that his fellow midfielder must pick up the torch and do the business. No one did. Everyone was poor and it stopped Liverpool playing their game.
I often leap to the defence of our keeper. He has the hardest job on the pitch. If defenders slip up at any point and a keeper produces a magnificent save, the error is forgotten and the brilliance is remembered. If the keeper doesn’t make a save, he picks up most of the grief from the fans. However Mignolet was at another level of piss poor on Saturday. His positioning was laughable and his attempts at saving were even more desperate. A big part of his job is to scream at that defence. He needs to protect himself by organising the boys in front of him. The fact of the matter is though, he lacks a voice and he’s paying for it.
The reports suggesting Valdes is eyeing for a move to Liverpool may give him the kick in the backside he needs.
What can we learn and how can we improve?
The answer is pretty simple. Players keep being picked because of their status in the game rather than on merit. People seem to want to see Sakho in the team because he is the France captain. People want to see Balotelli because he’s the bully beating, dogs home saving, “why always me” lad. I’ll admit, for quite a while I liked seeing the name Sakho on the team-sheet because he’s a beast. I’ve changed my mind recently because he’s an idiot who makes costly mistakes. It’s up to him and Balotelli to improve in training and earn a place back in the starting XI.
Players like Suso and Can who had excellent pre-seasons aren’t getting a sniff at Liverpool because people are too scared to give them a chance. They fit into Liverpool’s system and understand the Liverpool way of playing. They are young, they are eager. Give them a chance.
After two less than acceptable recent performances, Liverpool made it a hat-trick of dross yesterday as they were well and truly outclassed, outfought, outthought and outwitted. Well and truly outeverythinged.
The writing was on the wall as Brendan Rodgers gave starts to Lucas Leiva and Fabio Borini. Mamadou Sakho was sacrificed in favour of Martin Skrtel as predicted in the LFC File preview but a place for Lucas came as complete surprise. And Borini? Why? Thus with the bizarre selection, began the truly bizarre.
Liverpool fell behind in less than 120 seconds to a Winston Reid effort after Liverpool reject Stewart Downing’s early free-kick was nodded on by James Tomkins. Liverpool’s defence looked on in their usual static fashion. Frozen. Five minutes later, the visitors went further behind after Diafra Sakho’s punt from the right wing flew past a bewilderingly out of position Simon Mignolet and into the net.
Brendan Rodgers withdrew Javi Manquillo who Sam Allardyce had clearly singled out for some “attention”, replacing him with Sakho to make a back three. Up until then, I don’t think Liverpool had strung three passes together in anger only to find themselves in familiar – and losing – territory once again. The change had some effect but in fairness, Liverpool were always going to be chasing the game from thereon in .
Raheem Sterling pulled one back for Liverpool on 26 minutes to wipe the smile off Allardyce’s face, as the visitors seemed to wake up and finished the half strongly. Mario Balotelli began to show himself alongside the abjectly hopeless Borini. Steven Gerrard constantly misplaced passes along with Lucas, trying to outdo him in this regard. Henderson worked and pressed. Sterling chased back and Alberto Moreno got hemmed in.
The second half began with Adam Lallana coming on for Lucas. A change that was made 46 minutes too late in my view. Rodgers waited 75 minutes to take Borini off and replace him with Rickie Lambert. Liverpool dominated the second half but West Ham stuck to their task, much like Aston Villa did a week earlier. To confirm to the traveling fans how poor a performance they’d paid for, the visitors fell to a late sucker punch on 88 minutes for the second time in five days. Having poured everybody forward in search of an equalizer, a forward punt by Downing found Morgan Amalfitano in acres of space to head on upfield and slot home the knockout blow.
Brendan Rodgers said after the game that the team didn’t start with the right intensity. I think he should have replaced “the right” with “any” to be more precise. Up next is the derby with the noisy neighbors and I’d hate to be in Rodgers’ shoes if we lose that one.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
An abysmal Liverpool performance saw the reds come away dejected and empty handed from Upton Park, as West Ham cruised to a 3-1 win. Sam Allardyce’s men were two up inside 10 mins with goals from Winston Reid and great chip from Sakho. Sterling pulled a goal back with a great strike, but Liverpool couldn’t break the hammers down, and Amalfitano wrapped it up it the final minutes….
Liverpool travel down to the Smoke today to take on Sam Allardyce’s West Ham side at Upton Park looking to turn around an indifferent start to the new Premiership season.
A win for the Reds would potentially put them back in the top four and back in contention after their disappointing run of results. Hopefully the nail biting win in the week can kick start the season proper.
Team wise, there’s a chance Martin Skrtel could return following a week of training. If I were pressed I’d say Dejan Lovren would be my choice to sit this one out as Mamadou Sakho has just been ahead of him In terms of performance so far this season but I feel Brendan Rodgers will probably sacrifice the latter In favour of the Slovakian. That said, Sakho is not the best under pressure and Upton Park is not one for the proverbial stroll in that’s for sure.n So Skrtel could well make the difference today between three points and a big fat zero.
The midfield should stay as is due to injuries as neither Emre Can or Joe Allen are ready to return. Philippe Coutinho will be given another chance to get his season back on track as the 22 year-old Brazilian has performed below expectations of late, and partner the newly named vice-captain Jordan Henderson in the ‘engine room’. Captain Steven Gerrard will of course remain in front of the back four, and Raheem Sterling at the opposite end of the diamond supporting the attack.
I’m hoping Adam Lallana and Mario Balotelli are given the chance to continue their development upfront as Daniel Sturridge remains sidelined. Follow us on Twitter for the confirmed lineup and match updates.
So another stern test awaits Rodgers’ team and I’m looking forward to an improvement on the last few performances. The team needs to get back to the brand of football that served them so well last season, and the ‘diamond’ formation I’ve hinted at should do the trick. The showing in the week against Ludogrets was poor. Full of persistence yes, but very little invention from what I saw. And let’s not mention the defending.
Sam Allardyce spent most of the week criticising Liverpool because they saw through his attempts at gamesmanship last season. Not watering the grass, allowing it to grow long enough to inhibit the run of the ball etc. On the other hand, I don’t think Allardyce prepares for the visit of Crystal Palace or Hull in the same way so he’s obviously guilty of some kind of inverted flattery. Thanks Sam!
Elsewhere – the match of the weekend has to be Chelsea’s visit to the Etihad Stadium tomorrow to take on Manchester City. A win for City and a poor result for Aston Villa who host Arsenal at Villa Park will blow the race wide open as we head into October. Bring it on!
Me, I’m off out with the Mrs in time to get back, kick back, tune in and crack open a cold beer. Heaven on earth…
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
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