Tag Archives: Daniel Agger

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?

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.

Carra returns as Liverpool does the double over Chelsea

7 Feb

Liverpool’s clash with Chelsea would’ve been a big game regardless, but the transfer of Fernando Torres from Merseyside to London made it that much more intense. Here’s my thoughts and observations on the game and the excellent 1-0 result for the Reds.

  • After the astounding amount of goals and ridiculous games on Saturday, it would have been hard for Sunday’s game to match the craziness.  The super-hyped match was not particularly exciting, especially in the first half.
  • Fact: Fernando Torres looks bad in blue. Although I must admit, it wasn’t as disturbing as I thought it would be to see him line up for the opposition.  Weird, yes, but disturbing, no.  His craptastic day was nice to watch though.
  • Welcome back, Jamie Carragher, we missed you.  Carra might not be the youngest guy out there, but his leadership and smart tackling made the difference yesterday.  His tackle on Torres’ shot was beyond clutch as he helped the Reds earn their fourth straight clean sheet.  Having Carra back in the lineup will make a difference as Liverpool continues to build momentum.
  • Kenny Dalglish’s 3-5-2 stymied Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti.  Chelsea’s forwards (Torres, Drogba, Anelka) could not do anything to penerate Liverpool’s back three of Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger.  Liverpool was also able to dominate in the midfield, thanks to the strong midfield diamond of Lucas, Maxi, Gerrard and Meireles. Lucas is quickly becoming a vital part of Liverpool’s success.  He’s starting to play with more confidence and makes fewer bad mistakes than he did even a season ago.
  • Maxi Rodriguez did not have the best of games for Liverpool.  He came close to making Torres an instant hero for Chelsea after gifting the striker a poorly placed pass only 90 seconds into the match.  Thankfully, Torres fired well over.  Rodriguez also missed a sitter late in the first half after a cross found him unmarked at the back post.  I already had my hands raised in celebration…but then he somehow managed to hit the crossbar from two yards out.
  • Thankfully, Raul Meireles ensured that Maxi’s miss did not cost Liverpool with his fourth goal in five games.  Meireles has come to life for the Reds as of late.  Meireles played more like an attacking mid yesterday, forming an integral part of the diamond that kept the Chelsea midfield in check.  He was all over the place, tracking back to make tackles and sprinting forward to provide an option at goal.  On his goal, you can see that he started his run from about 30 yards out and comes streaking towards the far post unmarked.
  • Chelsea was actually more effective going forward after Torres came off the field.  The change allowed Anelka to push up further and created more space.  Ancelotti has a difficult task ahead in trying to integrate Torres into the game plan.  The removal of the totally ineffective Spaniard was greeted with raucous cheers (and jeers) from the Liverpool fans and the Reds scored four minutes later.
  • Luis Suarez did not see the field for Liverpool, despite scoring a goal in his debut Wednesday.  To be honest, the Reds were clicking without him and once they scored, there was no need to bring on another striker.  It’s a good move by Dalglish though as Suarez is still adjusting to the team and how they play and Dalglish saw no reason to upset the balance.  I’ll bet that Suarez will see the field against Wigan at the weekend.
  • I loved Daniel Agger’s elbow to Torres’ face.  Cheap? Of course.  Did it deserve a card? Probably. Worth it? Definitely.
  • With the win, Liverpool moves up to sixth place, only six points out of fourth.  (Chelsea and Tottenham both have 44 points, but Chelsea is fourth on goal difference.)  There are still 12 games left in the season and the resurgence under Kenny Dalglish has fans (including myself) thinking that Champions League might not be such a pipe dream after all.
  • The arrival of Kenny Dalglish has clearly reenergized and revived a floundering, passionless side. Liverpool is playing with fight and passion and playing possession football. What a concept.  I loved what Dalglish said after the win, “It’s four games now and we’ve played different systems and got no goals against. That’s not down to any system – it’s down to them and their great pride and work and fantastic respect for this football club.”

YNWA.

Gerrard is fit again

22 Dec

Word on the street is that Steven Gerrard has recovered from a hamstring injury that has kept him out for a month and that he will be good to go for Sunday’s game at Blackpool. The Reds have gone 2-2-2 in his absence, but will really benefit from the leadership he brings to the field. Liverpool has a span of five games in 15 days beginning with Blackpool and they will need all the healthy players they can get.

Reportedly, Daniel Agger will also be fit to play against Blackpool. This is particularly good news as the center backs have been struggling (to put it nicely) as of late. The Skrtel/Krygiakos pairing has been especially dysfunctional, so bringing someone else into the middle has got to improve things. (Right?!)

A strong start on the games post-Christmas could go a long way for Liverpool.  Even though Manchester United leads the pack right now, there is no really clear separation between the top teams.  Granted, I’m not saying Liverpool will win the league, but they definitely have a chance to work their way back into the top four IF, and that’s a big if, they can start stringing some positive results together.

European drama

12 Oct

Euro 2012 qualifiers continued today and I finally got to watch some of the action. (Yay for ESPN3 at work!) 

  • Germany absolutely dominated Kazakhstan and had Mesut Ozil been able to find the back of the net, the Germans could have won 7-0 instead of 3-0.   I love watching Germany play. They spread the field so well and move the ball up the field quickly on counterattacks. They currently sit top of their group with four wins out of four games.
  • In the same group, Azerbaijan upset Turkey, 1-0.  Turkey looked lackluster against Germany last week and obviously did not improve much today. Turkey can still qualify, but they have a lot less margin for error now.
  • Seriously, can Liverpool catch a break?  Both Dirk Kuyt and Daniel Agger picked up injuries playing for their respective countries and first reports say that Kuyt could be out until February.  However, I’m skeptical of that as he was able to walk off the field under his own power and did not look like he was in too much pain.  Guess we will just have to wait and see.
  • England was zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, sorry, I fell asleep there. Yeah, that bad. Way to go Montenegro.
  • Spain was able to hold off a plucky Scotland, thanks to a late goal from Fernando Llorente. I have to give props to Scotland though for not sitting back against the defending champions of everything. They kept their calm after going down 2-0 and were close to pulling off a huge draw.
  • Robbie Keane missed a couple big chances to give Ireland a win over Slovakia.  He had a penalty saved and also skied a clear look at goal. Keane and Ireland had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
  • Of course all the teams I said that needed to win this week did. France, Portugal and the Czech Republic all got their campaigns back on track.
  • The Faroe Islands, yeah that team with a -13 goal difference and not a point to its name, frustrated Northern Ireland in a 1-1 draw. Way to go, little guys.
  • Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the chaos in Italy.  The match between Italy and Serbia had to be called off completely due to “crowd disturbances”. In other words, Serbian hooligans were throwing flares on the field towards their own team (I don’t get it either) and were generally causing massive amounts of trouble.  The game was originally delayed just over half an hour, but had to be abandoned only six minutes after starting. If you want a startling first-hand account, check out http://twitter.com/marcotti.

Liverpool needs to find some passion

23 Sep

Well this season has sunk to a new level of suckitude already as Liverpool managed to lose to League Two side Northampton on penalties in the third round of the Carling Cup yesterday. Really, Liverpool?!  There are pretty much zero positives to take out of that game other than the fact that it better serve as a wake-up call for the team.  While Liverpool did not field a full-strength squad against Northampton, players like Ryan Babel, David N’Gog, Daniel Agger, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Lucas Leiva should have been able to notch a win.  Milan Jovanic scored an early goal for Liverpool, but the team could not figure out how to close out the win (working on penalties might be a good place to start).

The Reds are not exactly brimming with confidence as they sit 16th in the table with five points out of five games and yesterday’s loss does not help the situation.  A win this weekend against Sunderland would be huge as three points would see them jump into the top half of the table (as long as they can stay away from any beach balls).

There’s questions out there about whether Roy Hodgson has bitten off more than he can chew and players like Daniel Agger are already spouting off about how they are not fans of Hodgson’s system and don’t want to change the way they play.  I still think it’s too early to judge Hodgson as manager of Liverpool, but he does need to figure out how to get the entire team firing on all cylinders at the same time and he needs to do it decently soon.  Of course, Hodgson is not the one out there playing the game, so all the blame for the poor results can’t be on his shoulders.  The players have to step up their game as well.  Players like Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres need to lead the charge and get their teammates fired up.

This could be a long season for LFC

25 Aug

The optimism I had about this season quickly fizzled after Monday’s debacle against Manchester City. Opening the season with a 1-1 draw against Arsenal was an acceptable result and hopes were high (at least with me) that things could be turned around from last season. But oh, how that buzz faded on Monday.

Manchester City ran circles around Liverpool. It was like watching a giant game of keep-away for 90 minutes. Just painful. The absence of midfielder Javier Mascherano clearly hurt, but overall the team just looked lost. They couldn’t string together passes, didn’t take advantage of their few opportunities and were constantly beat to the ball. At one point, possession was 63-37 in favor of Manchester City.

It sucks to lose, but I can accept a loss against a team that played well like Man City did.  However, I can’t accept the manner in which Liverpool lost.  There was no passion, no spark.  Roy Hodgson has got his work cut out for him.  He’s got to figure out a way to get Fernando Torres back in form.  Torres has been off since Spain’s World Cup run and desperately needs to find the back of the net and some confidence.

Hodgson also has to get this whole Mascherano situation figured out.  The midfielder wants out and supposedly refused to play Monday (Thanks Masch!).  Quick aside: Can I just say how much that bugs me when a player wants a transfer but isn’t getting it so he decides he won’t play/try and act like he’s five.  It’s obnoxious and disrespectful behavior and I hate it. (Keep in mind Mascherano’s contract runs through 2012.)

I also realize that the squad’s got a new coach and it’s going to take a little bit of time to get used to that.  I don’t think the season is completely over, like it was suggested on Yahoo! UK today, but I think the team has got to step up its game.

The Reds are currently fourth from bottom in the table.  I realize it’s only been two games, but that is just not acceptable.  They play West Brom on Saturday and will hopefully finally get a win and some semblence of pride.  But before they play West Brom, they’ve got to head to Turkey for the second leg of the Europa League clash with Trabzonspor.  Oh yeah, and they’ll be playing that game without Steven Gerrard, Torres, Daniel Agger or Maxi Rodriguez.  This season is off to a phenomenal start. 

Here’s hoping it gets better and for the love of all that is holy, FIND NEW OWNERS ASAP.  This ownership mess is casting a pall over the entire club and something has got to change if Liverpool’s going to get back to the level it should be.  Tom Hicks and George Gillett need to F&%$ off and actually put the interests of the club at heart, but that’s clearly just wishful thinking.