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Liverpool lackluster in Stoke draw

14 Jan

On the positive side, Liverpool can control the ball pretty well. But other than that, it was a pretty poor performance from the home side.  In a drab 0-0 draw with Stoke, the Reds dominated possession, but failed to create enough chances.

Liverpool came out in a 5-4-1 formation with Sebastian Coates, Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel anchoring the back line and Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique providing the width up and down the field.  Dirk Kuyt was the lone forward.  I don’t really understand the reasoning coming out in such a defensive formation, especially against a team like Stoke.  This is a game Liverpool could have and should have won, but the players seemed slightly off-put and confused by the formation change.

The Reds were able to dominate midfield play and kept Stoke from getting much of anything going offensively.  However, there was a severe lack of connection between the midfield and Kuyt and more often than not, there was no one in box to receive a dangerous cross. Kuyt pulled back to chase the ball and as a result, there was basically no one playing up top, which would be fine if the object of the game was to not score goals.

Liverpool introduced Andy Carroll early in the second half, but like many of his appearances as of late, he had little influence on the proceedings. Craig Bellamy came on shortly afterwards and was unable to provide much of anything as his corners and crosses constantly found the head of a Stoke player.

Liverpool looked much like they did in the loss to Manchester City, although thankfully, Stoke doesn’t have the same kind of offensive threats. The inability to create any good chances today stems partially from the fact that there simply weren’t ever enough people getting forward.  Once LFC got to the edge of the box, it was all lateral movement and no one looked to make cuts through the box to create space.

It’s odd how Liverpool went from creating a ton of chances and simply not being able to finish to a complete dearth of decent looks recently.  The absence of creative force Luis Suarez obviously hurts, but the rest of the squad has to figure out a way to get good chances without him (at least for four more matches).  However, even with Suarez in the lineup, Liverpool has struggled to find the back of the net consistently.

Can you imagine if Liverpool had won even half of the games they’ve drawn?  They would be sitting pretty in the top four, that’s for sure.  It’s incredibly frustrating to watch them struggle so mightily in front of the net (or the final third in general) when they are playing well defensively and through the midfield.  There are still a couple weeks left in the transfer window and I think that buying a proven striker would be a good call at this point.  Carroll is still young and inconsistent and Suarez is obviously suspended and can be flaky in his own way in front of goal.

 

 

Liverpool win, but lose Lucas for the season

2 Dec

Liverpool advanced to the Carling Cup semifinals with a 2-0 win over Chelsea Tuesday, but lost Lucas to injury in the process. It was a good win for the Reds, who looked the dominant side for much of the second half (I didn’t get to see the first).  Chelsea’s defense is struggling mightily at the moment and will likely be their downfall (or AVB’s downfall if they don’t get stuff together).

Things finally seemed to be clicking into place for Liverpool – confidence was high after solid results against Chelsea, Man City and Chelsea again and the squad finally looked comfortable with each other out there.  Then Lucas got hurt, tearing his ACL and putting him on the sidelines for the rest of the year.  It’s a big blow for the Reds since Lucas has been having an excellent season and been a constant among an ever-tweaked midfield lineup.

I will admit that I haven’t always been the biggest Lucas fan.  His proclivity for committing stupid fouls in dangerous positions and general clumsiness caused me to exclaim ‘F**kin’ Lucas!’ so often that I still call him that.  His game has improved quite dramatically over the last couple seasons and he has turned into one of Liverpool’s most consistent players, the unsung workhorse in the middle, if you will.

While the Reds certainly have no shortage of midfielders on the roster, do they have one that can play that defensive mid role like Lucas did?  They’ve already recalled Jonjo Shelvey from his Blackpool loan and Jay Spearing is another young option as well.  I think the next couple games could be a bit of a struggle as the team looks to replace a key cog and Dalglish is forced to tinker with the lineup once again.

Liverpool takes out Stoke in Carling Cup

26 Oct

Luis Suarez was en fuego for Liverpool today, netting two second half goals in a 2-1 win over Stoke in the Carling Cup to send LFC to the quarterfinals. The Reds were clearly the more threatening team in the first half, but could not hit the broad side of a barn, much like Saturday’s contest against Norwich. Of course, Stoke took the lead just before half on an Kenwyne Jones header on pretty much their only chance of the half. The Stoke goal was largely set up by Sebastian Coates’ failure to clear the ball out of a dangerous area, so yeah, might want to work on that.

Suarez finally got tired of seeing his shots get saved/go wide in the second half, scoring his first after juking a defender at the edge of the box and unleashing a gorgeous shot into the far side. He scored the game winner on a header (take notes, Andy Carroll) off a pinpoint cross from Jordan Henderson in the 84th minute.  Well done by all parties on that one.

The Reds have been playing decent football in their last few games, but have been struggling to put the ball in the back of the net. Today’s match was the first time since the derby win on Oct. 1 the team has netted twice. Hope this means the floodgates have opened for Suarez, who has been playing well but struggling recently to hit the net.

LFC has a good chance to go into the international break with a couple Ws, taking on West Brom this weekend and Swansea next week, however, they have got to learn to put teams away. LFC has struggled against teams lower in the table and stepped up against the big guys and that has to change, they need to play with the same kind of intensity and desire in every game. Dropping points against a team like Norwich or in upcoming games against West Brom and Swansea could really come back to bite them in the ass.

Liverpool is red, not blue

17 Jun

I got this email today and it made me wonder why is Liverpool’s third kit blue?!  I don’t understand.  Will someone please enlighten me?

2011-12 Premier League schedules released

17 Jun

The fixture lists for the 2011-12 Premier League season were released today.  Liverpool will open at home against Sunderland, Jordan Henderson’s former club.  Hopefully they can get off to a better start this season than they did last year (but let’s be honest, it couldn’t get much worse than it did at the beginning of last season).  Liverpool then takes on Arsenal away and concludes August home against Bolton.  February will be a tough month too with games against Tottenham (H), United (A) and Everton (H).  LFC concludes the season away to Swansea.

As per the Premier League’s archaic policies , you can check out Liverpool’s complete fixture list here and all the Premier League teams here, but not on this blog since apparently a schedule is not public information or copyrighted or some other such nonsense (and I would have to pay out the wazoo for the right to post it).  Because my little website will cause such a headache for the massive behemoth of the Premier League. Morons.  But I digress.  The bottom line is that Liverpool will have to play more consistent football in order to make a play for the top four.  They can’t just get up for games against the big guns, but have to get positive results against the Wigans and Swanseas of the world too.

Only 57 days til next season starts…

Positive changes have LFC looking toward bright future

27 May

Liverpool didn’t exactly finish the season on the best of notes, getting shut out in its last two games against Tottenham and Aston Villa.  The losses meant that the Reds finished in sixth place, one spot out of Europa League qualification.  Even though it’s disappointing to not be playing in Europe, who would have thought we’d even have a chance at it in January?  I, for one, thought we would be lucky to even finish in the top half of the table, but oh, how things can change over the course of a year.

2010-11 was one hell of a dramatic season for Liverpool with the painfully long, drawn-out ownership battle taking center stage early on and fraying nerves everywhere.   It didn’t help of course that the team was playing rather poorly and looking like they would all rather get a root canal than be on the pitch.  In the end, the bad guys were ousted and John Henry and Fenway Sports Group took over.  While new ownership does not necessarily mean success is in the offing, John Henry and co. helped kick start the change in atmosphere around the club.

It wasn’t too long before they decided that Roy Hodgson was not the right man to lead Liverpool.  At the point of his termination, Hodgson had the Reds in 12th place and only four points clear of the bottom three – clearly unacceptable.  For the first five months of the season, the team looked like a bunch of lost puppies out there.  There was no hustle, no passion, no heart.  It was incredibly depressing to watch.

Enter one Kenny Dalglish.  You might have heard of him, he’s a little bit of a legend.  He signed on to be the caretaker manager of the club through the rest of the season after Hodgson’s departure and there couldn’t be a starker contrast between the sides PD (pre-Dalglish) and AD (After Dalglish).  While Hodgson’s side relied way too heavily on the long ball, Dalglish clearly emphasized the importance of passing.  It did take a little bit of time for the players to get used to the system (LFC did lose its first two games under Dalglish), but once they did, they were a new (and dangerous) team.

Of course, the season’s drama couldn’t simply go away with the hiring of a new manager.  During the January transfer window, rumours started popping up about Fernando Torres wanting to leave the club.  At first, I’m sure I was one of many to dismiss it all as typical transfer BS, but as the rumblings got louder, I got more worried.  (In retrospect, I’m not really sure why as its not like he was in stellar form prior to leaving).  He ended up signing with Chelsea and Liverpool was able to use the absurd amount of money they received to buy Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

Looking back, it was an awesome decision.  Torres never found his stride at Chelsea either, scoring a grand total of one goal and honestly, I’d rather have players that want to rock the red for LFC.   And Suarez?  Well, he is something else.  The Uruguayan didn’t score a lot of goals, but he certainly set up his fair share.  He was an excellent signing and will only become more dangerous for LFC.  Carroll is a bit more of a question mark.  He was hurt a good chunk of the spring, but he also has potential to be a big scoring threat.  They’re both young and talented, which is exactly what LFC needs to be successful in the future.

Anyways, getting back to the team, as they became more and more comfortable under Dalglish, you could see the positive changes.  There was hustle and fight and determination – all the things you should be seeing out of a top flight team.  Players like Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez stepped up to the plate big time and the passing game quickly became one of their strongest attributes.  By no means were the final five months of the season perfect, but there was drastic improvement and hope for the future and that’s really all you can ask for out of such a turbulent season.

Dalglish recently signed a three-year deal to stay on as manager, which is obviously great news for both players and fans.  Steven Gerrard will also return after missing the last three months of the season with injury.  There are younger players stepping into key roles like Lucas and Jay Spearing.  There should be some action on the transfer market this summer as well because let’s face it, we struggled with width all year and could definitely do with some strong wingers.

It really is an exciting time to be a Liverpool fan – a major turnaround from this time last year.  I’m already pumped for next season.  Is it August yet?

LFC decides: Dalglish is the man

12 May

After leading Liverpool back from the brink, Kenny Dalglish has been rewarded with a three-year deal at the club.  Since he took over in January, he had led the team from 12th place to the verge of clinching a spot in the Europa League (that would be fifth place, people).

While moving up the table is clearly fantastic, the real change with Dalglish has been in the attitude of the team.  He has instilled a sense of pride that was missing earlier in the season.  You can see the changes in the players every time you watch a match.  There’s more hustle, fight and determination.  People aren’t giving up on plays.  It seems like half the goals the team has scored lately are the result of staying strong throughout the entire run of play (here’s looking at you, Maxi).  Opponents aren’t having enough time to string passes together because they are constantly being harassed.  And speaking of passing, oh my, how Liverpool’s has improved.  The whole pass and move thing seems to be working quite well.

He has also done a great job of keeping a strong squad on the field while still dealing with a string of defensive injuries as well as the loss of Steven Gerrard.  Heck, at this point, it doesn’t even look like the team needs Gerrard out there (although with the way they have been playing, adding in a healthy Gerrard is kind of a scary thought).  I also like how he has given some of the young players a chance to play and is actually giving them significant time on the field.  Developing young players is key for the future and he recognizes that.

This was absolutely the right move for the team.  Dalglish has rejuvenated the squad and the fans and I, for one, am so incredibly excited about what next season could bring.  The team has a lot of talent returning and hopefully a couple smart summer transfers could vault the squad back into the top four.