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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.

 

 

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Wasted chances prove costly in loss to Fulham

6 Dec

Clint Dempsey scored his 37th Premier League goal to lead Fulham to a 1-0 win over 10-man Liverpool on Monday, Dec. 5.  LFC’s Jay Spearing was harshly sent off with about 20 minutes remaining.  Anyways, onto thoughts and observations from the game…

  • The Reds are struggling mightily to put the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis.  Granted, the framework isn’t helping the cause, but too many chances are being missed.  Liverpool easily could have had the lead before Spearing’s red card, which leads me to…
  • Ah, yes, the red card.  Spearing clearly got the ball first, but caught Dembele on the follow-through.  Very harsh for a red card as Spearing was just going hard to get the ball.  I thought the ref had done a good job up until this call, which obviously changed the game dramatically.
  • I am not sold on Andy Carroll at all.  I realize that a strike partnership isn’t born overnight, but Carroll looks lost out there.  He looks like he doesn’t know what to do or where to go whenever Suarez has the ball.  You could see it early on when Suarez played a through ball and Carroll was rooted to the spot.  Additionally, he is not finding enough ways to get into dangerous spaces on a regular basis.  He had a couple decent looks tonight, but after his shot right at Schwarzer, he disappeared.
  • The Reds definitely missed Lucas out there today. Dempsey and Dembele had way too much time on the edge of the area to get off good shots. That’s the kind of defensive lapses that will come back to bite you in the ass.  As a whole, Fulham had too much time to operate in the midfield.  I realize it will take some time to adjust to playing without Lucas, but who will step into that role?  They need someone in that defensive mid role to be successful.
  • I have to give props to Clint Dempsey for his goal today.  He’s now the all-time leading American scorer in the Premier League with 37 goals, surpassing Brian McBride.
  • Inconsistency is killing this team.  Coming off very solid performances against Chelsea and Man City, this was Liverpool’s game to lose.  The team has struggled to play consistently well all year and needs to learn to keep the pressure up (and for the love of all that holy, score goals) for every single game.

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.

Manchester teams looks to continue strong start

26 Aug

Both Manchester United and Manchester City have started the season in dominating fashion and will look to continue that form Sunday against Arsenal and Tottenham, respectively, teams both fighting for their first wins of the season.  Meanwhile, Liverpool aims to improve on last season as they take on Bolton, where they only won once in the first eight games of the year (yikes).  Definitely a solid slate of games this weekend, especially considering the top four clash between Aston Villa and Wolves kicks off action for game week three.

TV SCHEDULE
Saturday, August 27

Aston Villa vs. Wolves – 7 a.m. ET/ESPN2 (Live)
Wigan vs. QPR – 7:23 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Swansea vs. Sunderland – 9:53 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Chelsea vs. Norwich – 10 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Blackburn vs. Everton – 10 a.m. ET
Liverpool vs. Bolton – 12:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Sunday, August 28
Newcastle vs. Fulham – 7:53 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Tottenham vs. Manchester City – 8:30 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
West Brom vs. Stoke – 9:53 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Manchester United vs. Arsenal – 11 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Premier League predictions

12 Aug

The 2011-12 Premier League season starts tomorrow and I can’t wait. I am so ridiculously excited.  My prediction?  This is one of the closest title races in a long time and it comes down to the last couple weeks. As much as I hate to say it, I think that Manchester United will win its second straight title as Chicharito takes the league by storm. I peg Man City as runners-up as the team builds on its success last year. Even without Tevez, Sergio Aguero is more than capable of picking up the slack. Liverpool makes a triumphant return to the top four after two years out and Chelsea rounds out the top four.

Champion: Manchester United
Top Four: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea
Relegated: Swansea, West Brom, Wolves
Golden Boot: Chicharito, MU

TV SCHEDULE
Saturday, August 13
Blackburn vs. Wolves – 2 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Delayed)
Fulham vs. Aston Villa – 9:30 a.m. ET/ESPN2 (Live)
Liverpool vs. Sunderland – 10 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
QPR vs. Bolton – 9:55 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Wigan vs. Norwich – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Delayed)
Newcastle vs. Arsenal – 12:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Sunday, August 14
Stoke City vs. Chelsea – 8:25 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
West Brom vs. Manchester United – 11 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Monday, August 15
Manchester City vs. Swansea – 3 p.m. ET/ESPN 2 (Live)

*One more plug for Fantasy Premier League: http://fantasy.premierleague.com and the code is 1335966-299712!

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?