Tag Archives: Andy Carroll

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.

 

 

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.

Lots of promise for Liverpool

12 Aug

So now that the Premier League season is about to start, I’ll be doing a better job of blogging (I swear!).  I can’t stand writing about summer transfers because it’s all just a giant cluster and you never know what the hell is going on, thank you Cesc Fabregas. Anyways, it’s that glorious time of the year again when anything is possible and everyone can dream of beating Manchester United.

Oh, what a difference a year makes for Liverpool Football Club.  There’s new owners,  a new (well, in a sense) manager, a pretty much completely new midfield, and new optimism.

Kenny Dalglish reinvigorated the team after an awful start last year and that energy carries over to the new season.  Liverpool’s new owners (thank god) showed that they were willing to spend money both in January and over the summer.  January signings Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll made an immediate impact, specifically on the mentality of the fans.  Suarez in particular was a creative spark that Liverpool was missing.  The team wasted no time this summer signing every midfielder possible including Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, as well as defender Jose Enrique and goalie Alexander Doni.

Much has been made of all the options that Liverpool has in the midfield and who will play where. There’s a multitude of strong possibilities and in all honesty, it’s a good problem.  Depth is not a bad thing.  I, for one, am intrigued by what formation the team will play in the opener tomorrow to try to accommodate the best team possible.  With all the possibilities, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a few games to figure out the group with the best chemistry.  (And as a quick side note, the ridiculous amount of options made it incredibly difficult to figure out whether to pick an LFC midfielder on my fantasy team.  I didn’t, at least not until there’s some semblance of a regular starting lineup.)

At the forward spot, LFC will rely heavily on Suarez and Carroll.  Suarez is coming off an MVP performance for Uruguay in their Copa America title run.  While the duo did not get much chance to play together last season as Carroll was still recovering from injury, their chemistry will be key to success this season.

The defense was bolstered with the signing of Enrique from Newcastle, but the center back spot in particular is still a little on the thin side.  Martin Skrtel is hurt and Daniel Agger is probably going to get hurt tomorrow because that’s just how he rolls, which leaves old man Carra in the middle.  The team will likely make use of young players like Martin Kelly, John Flanagan and co. and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, although there might be some growing pains along the way.

After the way that Liverpool ended the season (minus the last two results), fans have every reason to be optimistic about this season.  The Reds are more than capable of putting together a strong season and making a run back into the top four.  I am so pumped.  Is it Saturday yet?

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?

Reds falter at West Brom

4 Apr

Yeah, the team clearly wasn’t helped by two defensive injuries in the first 25 minutes of the game, but that’s hardly an excuse for the way Liverpool played in a 2-1 loss to West Brom.  They looked like team USA (prior to the other team scoring the opening goal of course).  That is definitely not a compliment.  LFC couldn’t string together passes and just looked sloppy all over the field (although not as bad as Sunderland looked against Manchester City, but I digress).  Giving away two penalties is a mistake uncharacteristic of the squad.

Sotirios Krygiakos played poorly, but what other option did Kenny Dalglish have, other than going to a three-back formation?  It’s not like the team has a wealth of healthy defenders and the team has not played well with three backs.  Andy Carroll was ineffective up top and let his temper get the best of him several times.  Raul Meireles and Jay Spearing never really clicked into a solid partnership in the middle of the field, although Meireles did supply the assist for Martin Skrtel’s goal (off a corner).  The team missed Steven Gerrard’s distribution in the middle as well as Daniel Agger’s confidence and passing out of the back.

The bottom line is that this was a must-win game for Liverpool.  Yeah, it’s great when you can step up and beat up on the big boys, but you’ve also got to be able to win against teams like West Brom and West Ham.  The Reds are five points back from Tottenham and Spurs still have a game in hand.  A spot in European competition is looking increasingly unlikely and would likely require Spurs to fall apart in addition to some stellar results from LFC.  A clash with Manchester City is up next.

Kuyt, Suarez shine in win over United

7 Mar

Liverpool’s recent addition Luis Suarez had his coming out party against Manchester United yesterday. The Uruguayan dribbled circles around three United defenders before sending the ball across the goal for Dirk Kuyt to sweep home for the game’s opening score. His vision and ball skills are something that Liverpool had been lacking until his signing. Dirk Kuyt benefitted from the presence of Suarez as he notched his first hat trick for Liverpool.  The duo caused problems all day for United with their movement around the field.

Liverpool was the better team by far in this clash. Their passing has improved drastically and they are able to pass the ball out of tight spaces now where before they would simply hoof it clear.   Steven Gerrard was not as involved in the attack as he has been in the past, but along with Lucas, they made it difficult for United to work though the center of the field.  Even though Fabio Aurelio went off early with an injury, the back four adjusted well as Jamie Carragher moved to right backm Glen Johnson went to the lef and Sotirios Krygiakos came in to partner Martin Skrtel in the center.  Raul Meireles also played a very good game, proving his value at both ends.  He cleared a Berbatov shot off the goal line (definitely no hand ball there) and made some good runs on the offensive end.

Other than the fact that Liverpool clearly dominated the game from start to finish, the other main talking point was Jamie Carragher’s poorly timed challenge on Nani at the end of the first half. Old Man Carra caught Nani high on the shin with his studs showing and was only shown a yellow card. As much as I love Carra and LFC, I’d have to say it was a red card tackle since Carra got him high on the leg and was nowhere near the ball. However, Nani didn’t help the situation by writhing in pain and then getting up and pushing the ref and yelling about the foul and then falling over again. It made the whole thing look like theatrics. Moments later, Rafael came flying in studs up at Lucas, but only earned a yellow card as well. The first half ended on quite the heated note, but the tension did not carry over into the second half.  In a lame move, Alex Ferguson did not speak to the media afterwards nor did any of the players.  Poor sportsmanship at its best.

The team played with the fire that they lacked against West Ham last week.  With the season coming down to the wire, Liverpool has to put the same effort and intensity into all its games, not just against the big guys.

Oh, how could I forget, Andy Carroll made his debut as a substitute.  He did not have much to do, but the partnership of the big Carroll along with the small and speedy Suarez has potential to make some waves.  Kuyt will probably drop into the midfield once Carroll is fit for the starting lineup.

We’ve got a new #9 (and #7)

1 Feb

It’s official, the Fernando Torres era is over at Liverpool. The striker is now a Chelsea man. (Ugh, that sentence was harder to write than I thought.) While a stellar player while on form, Torres has contributed his fair share to Liverpool’s woes this season with lackluster and less than inspirational performances. You want to go right when things are starting to look up? Fine, your loss. Let’s move on, shall we?

With Torres gone, Liverpool replaced him with not one, but two, strikers. (Woo!) New No. 7 Luis Suarez (yeah, the same one who batted away the shot off the goal line in the Uruguay-Ghana game) and No. 9 Andy Carroll will look to partner up top for the Reds. Carroll is still out for a couple weeks with an injury, but should be back to health soon. They are both young and talented and I think they both have the potential to do good things (aka score goals).

Of course, the Torres transfer just made this weekend’s clash with Chelsea that much more juicy. I, for one, can’t wait.

More details and thoughts on the new duo to come later!