Friday Oct 3Posted by: Guest Writer Comments Off
As Saturday’s show down against West Brom draws closer there is no sign of Sturridge making an appearance as he continues to recover from a thigh strain he picked up while training with the English team. The striker has been sorely missed during the last six consecutive games which resulted in disappointing performances from the team and Wednesday’s defeat against Basel was eye opening, as both Rogers and Gerrard openly criticized the team, lamented Suárez and shed light on the Balotelli Situation -the striker has only scored one goal since making his move in early September.
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The other big concern for Saturday’s match and for the rest of the season is the weak performance of Mario Balotelli, who is still struggling to become accustomed to Liverpool’s style of play. The Italian has failed to score for four games in a row now, and Rodgers was criticized for his performance during the Basel match but maintains “The boy is trying, he is working hard.” On top of just two shots on target during the match, reports claimed the Rodgers was furious with the player as he walked straight down the tunnel after the match instead of applauding the traveling fans like Rodgers asked.
Gerrard speaking about the disheartening group B encounter stated “I thought we were too soft all over the pitch. I thought they wanted it more, which is very disappointing”. The only goal of the night was conceded from a set piece which has been Liverpool’s downfall this season and something that Rodgers is working on in practice.
Something which was not expected from Rodgers after the midweek match was his comment on Balotelli’s transfer “There were very few who are top class who were available and Mario Balotelli was a calculated gamble that we had to try to work with.” After Suárez’s £75m move to Barca, the Reds originally tried to get Alexis Sánchez but the Chilean decided to choose Arsenal instead.
Everyone knew that the ‘settling in’ phase for the team would be long. With so many new players on the team, everyone trying to find their feet, Brendan trying new formations not to mention the added demand of the midweek match it’s not a surprise that we are having problems. It is time for the Reds to refocus on the objectives of the club in the Premier League, hopefully by 3pm Saturday.
Friday Oct 3Posted by: Guest Writer Comments Off
As the Reds prepare to take on West Brom in the Premier League this weekend, all eyes will be on Reds Boss Brendan Rodgers as he seeks to reignite the attacking spark of Liverpool which devastated defences and yielded over a hundred goals last season. That spark, alongside Liverpool’s early first half goals, have been largely missed this season – only in the games against Spurs and Southampton did we see flashes of the deadly attacking force Liverpool were last season.
The first cracks perhaps surfaced in the defeat to City when the defending Champions simply pried open Liverpool’s gaps and took the points with their efficiency in front of goal. The back-to-back defeats to Aston Villa and West Ham had then served to underline Liverpool’s somewhat inability to strike back when their opponents open the scoring early, while the draw against Everton was hardly an impressive derby display by either side. That said, two goals scored while conceeding five is largely an unsightly statistic for the Reds, and to worsen things came the lacklustre display against Basel, who duly punished the vistors by bagging all three points.
In Switzerland, Liverpool’s defence contrieved to once again mix things up when Skrtel almost caused an own-goal from a corner, with Basel capitalising on the chance to score the only goal of the game. Either side of Skrtel and Lovren, Enrique and Manquillo hardly brought calm to Liverpool’s flanks, instead they were often finding themselves exposed against Basel. Lovren, touted as Liverpool’s new defence leader, has been decent so far this season, but much needs to improve if he is to fill the gap left by Carragher’s retirement. In midfield Gerrard and Henderson have been doing their roles pretty decently but their input in the final third has been somewhat reduced this term.
However the main disappointment came from the front line, with the Reds’ new-look attack hardly troubling the organised Swiss side.
Sterling was lively as usual, unfortunately having his 5th minute strike ruled out for offside, but the likes of Balotelli, Markovic and Coutinho had a game to forget. Not that they were exceedingly poor, but that they were hardly up to the mark we would all have expected them to be at. Coutinho’s form has been erratic this season, Markovic has struggled to build on his lively debut since arriving, and Balotelli has found the net just once in seven appearances.
Sturridge’s continued absence has hardly helped matters, but more worringly has been the new signings not hitting the ground running since the season began. Adam Lallana on the other hand had his start to life at Liverpool hampered by injury (he is improving game by game now) while Rickie Lambert has been spending more time on the bench than on the pitch.
A front line lacking the spark and a fragile backline who can’t seem to keep a clean sheet is an alarmingly posionous mix that is set to damage Liverpool’s hopes and expectations for the season. David Moyes’ ill-fated tenure at Manchester United last season was in itself an example of how the work and achievements of the previous season can all be naught in a matter of months when increasingly obvious problems aren’t solved effectively and results turn into a bad run.
As a Liverpool fan I don’t feel inclined to criticise the club I support but the truth is that our summer signings haven’t been slotting in well and our defensive problems remain as they were last season despite cash being splashed in the summer on yet more defenders. While it is indeed still early days in the season, the danger of Liverpool’s season spiralling into mediocrity can hardly be ignored.
The alarm bells are ringing – ringing softly for the time being.
Ahead of Saturday’s 3pm kick off against West Brom the lads are joined by Craig ‘Ozzy’ Austin and RMTV debutant Peter Phillips to bring you the Uncensored Match Build Up Show. Don’t forget to vote for us in the Football Blogging Awards in the VIDEO category. Simpy tweet …. I am voting in @TheFBAs for @TheRedmenTV as the Best #Video Football Blog
Thursday Oct 2Posted by: James Nelson Comments Off
We all knew that there would be a settling in period at the start of this season, where perhaps performances and results weren’t quite what we’d ideally like whilst players found their feet individually and collectively. But that is a very different thing to looking completely devoid of identity as a team; with no solid system in place, square pegs in round holes, and the same mistakes being made over and over again.
They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Now our hand was slightly forced in that matter in that we lost Luis Suarez, who was a massive reason we ‘weren’t broke’ last season. But we’ve gone from having a good structure that seemed to bring the best out of all of our players, to looking like we’ve completely forgotten how to play football. Obviously we are dealing with Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen being out injured, and players like Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho struggling for form. And the less said about our defence, the better.
But we seemed to sign players in the summer that implied Brendan Rodgers had a very specific change in style in mind. We went all out to bring Adam Lallana to the club, whilst also spending a big chunk of money on Lazar Markovic. We then brought in Mario Balotelli, who couldn’t be more of a different sort of striker from Suarez if he tried. The signings we didn’t make almost made just as much of a statement; Emre Can was the only midfielder to come in, and as a young player it’s doubtful we are looking to throw him straight into the mix when he’s back fit. Therefore it seems Rodgers is relatively happy with Gerrard, Allen, Jordan Henderson, and Lucas Leiva as our midfield options. Not a lot of depth there though, and we really seem to be lacking a ‘midfield enforcer’. At centre back, we also put all our eggs in one basket in shelling out £20m for Dejan Lovren, who hasn’t made the best of starts.
Against Basel yesterday, we played a 4-2-3-1 system. We tested the water with it in the last couple of games and on paper, looking at the players in the line-up, it might have seemed like the best suited formation to play. But it negated everything that worked for us last season, to the point that the role for pretty much every player in the team was affected. Gerrard wasn’t as deep, therefore the centre backs couldn’t split as far, therefore the full backs couldn’t advance as much, therefore the wingers had to start wider etc, etc. Henderson also had to be more disciplined in midfield, so the only players the change seemed to benefit were Coutinho, who had more space in his favoured number 10 role, and Balotelli, who has been looking very isolated in his games so far, so needed either a strike partner or a link man in behind.
If I had to guess, I’d say we were trying to build the team around Balotelli in the hopes of him getting a goal or two to kick-start his Liverpool career. So far he has been quite poor playing up front alone. It just doesn’t suit him at all. Suarez and Sturridge were/are good at it for us because they can drop deep and link play, drift wide to find space, and dribble well enough to bring the ball forward themselves. Balotelli is very much a ‘box player’. Outside of it, he doesn’t offer much, besides his strength and holding up of the ball. But then he struggles to find the runners in behind him, and usually ends up resorting to an occasionally well struck long shot. And the way we’d been set up, that is pretty much all we’ve seen so far of ‘Super Mario’. He hasn’t set the world alight, but how many decent chances can you say he’s missed? Not many, he just hasn’t had the service. I’m not pointing the finger at the rest of the team, but that’s the sort of player he is and we knew that when we signed him.
So to get Balotelli in the box more, we could either go with two up front, or play a number 10 behind him. Coutinho got the nod, but that meant the 4-2-3-1 beat out the diamond, leading to the effect on the rest of the team as mentioned above. Having puzzled a few people with the signing of Rickie Lambert, I would at least have wanted us to show our trust in him by giving him a game when the circumstances dictated. Completely altering our formation to avoid playing him can’t exactly be a massive confidence boost to the lad.
So the game itself was as disjointed as you would expect after such needless changes. It was a performance of 11 individuals instead of one team. I don’t want to make out that it was all bad, but the positives were minor things like Markovic showing some confidence, Coutinho looking more like himself, and Jose Enrique getting his match fitness up. Our season has moved on from a slow start to genuinely poor form, but nothing is disastrous yet. We can still turn things around, but we need to get a move on.
Ironically, after saying all this, it was yet another set piece that we actually conceded from, so the switch in system wasn’t even directly to blame for the loss. But come the West Brom game on Saturday, I hope to see us go back to basics and show faith in the structure that led us to 2nd in the league last year.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)
Liverpool threw away the chance for some precious away points with a 1-0 defeat to FC Basel in the Champions League. Marco Streller gave the Swiss side the lead but a toothless reds side were unable to force their way back into the game.
Wednesday Oct 1Posted by: Guest Writer Comments Off
Very quickly I’ll give my thoughts on tonights game.
Lackluster is a word that comes to mind but , all around I felt we were sloppy and a bit rough around the edges. It was a performance too expect from the Liverpool in 2012-2013. It was almost like nobody was ready to grab the game by the neck and stand up and be counted for. We gave the ball away way to much from the midfield and Mignolets distribution. We’ve become so accustomed to blitzing teams in the opening minutes , that all seems a distant memory.
We had a couple of clear cut chances , lacked character and the confidence to put them away , was clearly shown by Sterling’s heavy touch when he was basically clear through.
Balotelli offered a moment or two with his free kick and when he used his strength and skill to get away from the defender towards the corner flag to be brought down , second half he was anonymous really as was the rest of the team. We seemed to go down to easy and not get stuck into what honestly was a mediocre side in Basel without sounding too harsh.Their goal as well . Poor defending from a corner Mignolet makes a reaction save right to their big centre forward who put it away.. Moving on..
People are rightly going to question our dealings in the transfer window , I for one have a couple of doubts on the calibre of player we brought in , only Moreno , Lallana and Manquillo have shown us why we brought them in. We spent a decent sum on Lovren and Markovic. I’ll start with the latter of the two. He ( Markovic ) after his last season he was touted to have bags of potential however he looks confused , looks nervous and afraid to take a risk. He’s blessed with blistering pace and is noted for his dribbling skills , neither of which I’ve seen bar his cameo vs City. He takes way too much out of the ball rather than take a risk and have a go.
Lovren was described as a leader to bring stability and solidity to our defense , I dont see that either. He does make some really nice last ditch tackles and can attack a ball really well at set pieces but I dont see any leadership from him and he hasnt exactly performed as a leader in my book either.
Steven Gerrard solely based on his performances looks past it. Tonight he was sloppy , giving the ball away and made a cynical foul tonight when you’d expect him to make the tackle. Its the story of his season really. I dont think hes cut out for the DM role , he lacks the energy to do so , its a lot of leg work to put on a 34 year old whos carried us through so much , maybe save him for the big games or as a substitute to change the game.
A month or so into the season we have been blighted by injuries which understandably takes its toll on the squad. Our main striker Daniel Sturridge is out , Joe Allen , Sakho and Emre Can to name a few. With the money we spent you would have thought we have enough to replace the injured however we miss Sturridge and Allen so much , for me Allen is underrated. Only now do you realize how much of the running around he does , closing down and retaining possession are among his best assets , I for one am looking forward to him coming back.
Emre Can is another transfer we paid a modest sum for , hes a young talent and with great stature , Maybe he could play the Gerrard role who knows.
With 2 wins 1 draw and 3 losses from our 6 premier league games theres no doubt the pressure is on us. A defeat in our 2nd game of the CL adds further to that. Pretty soon it will be too late to play catch up.
Bring on West Brom to Anfield. YNWA.
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