By Sunday Ikakke Ikpe
Watching the Liverpool – Sunderland game today was for me fascinating. Though I saw only the first half of the game, I think I saw enough to form an opinion for the season. I could not help but begin my analysis with the statistics which were, obvious.
The matching began from looking at Houlier’s ‘pentible’ winning team of 2001. Of that team there was only one player left on the field. Jamie Carragher. I had to make that comparison because 2001 is a significant land mark, and I am of the opinion the team had arguably the best midfield in the whole of Europe and maybe the world. Second comparison was with the 2005 Champions League winning team, and that didn’t offer much of a difference. Then the team compared with players under Rafa – and immediately I realized there were seven new players starting the game with the analysis of the outfield players showing 50% of the defence as new, 75% of the midfield new (coming in the summer of 2011) and 100% of the attack coming in January 2011. The diagnosis – a new team getting to know each other. This is Kenny’s team.
Looking at the team there were some really good points. The defence did not fall apart and looked like it could hold. Considering Johnson wasn’t in the line-up we can safely say the defence is close to perfect. The midfield requires the most thought. There were players that looked good, showed good ball control, the passing was… not perfect, but would pass. The attack was what we have come to expect from Carol and Suarez. Let’s return to the midfield. This was the point of most of my concerns. The new guys looked like they had all the stats, and qualities that would qualify them for the premiership Kop (sic), till you imagined them in FIFA 2010 or 11.
Skills would have been 80 and above (on a scale of 0 to 100). Then the worrying parts. Acceleration would be less than 75 for all except Lucas, response time was also low something in the range below 75 also. Ergo, if you were playing the all wonderful FIFA by EA Sports, and mind you real life isn’t too far from that, this team would be good but not good enough to win the one coveted title the EPL. This team can however make the champions league finishing third or more comfortably fourth, and I see no reason why this team would finish lower.
In the older EPL the mini league that earned a maximum of 18 points involving the big 4 in the past has been expanded to 6 and consequently 30 points. How LFC handles these opponents will go a long way to determine how we finish. Reaction time can make the difference as can acceleration of the players. Man United and Chelsea has great response time, they don’t think before they respond. Arsenal have the best acceleration and I don’t think the absence of 2 players has changed that. Tottenham has both qualities and the only suspect is Man City.
I tried to understand why the relative lethargy in the otherwise fantastic team. Downing and Henderson looked like they needed to impress and simultaneously not get things wrong in front of the Kop. Adams looked like an adopted child trying hard to fit in with the biological children. But then again, this may be the ‘getting to know each other’ part. I hope it is.
If this teams problem is one that has to do with gelling, then we are in luck and we should hope they gel quick, cause if they do WE WILL WIN THE PREMIERSHIP IN THE 2011/2012 CAMPAIGN. If they keep playing this way, we are guaranteed a place in the 2012/2013 UEFA Champions League. Whichever it is we have a chance with a bit of luck, and I am sure Kenny is a lucky coach, of winning a cup competition be it the Carling Cup or the FA Cup.
Sunday Ikakke Ikpe