Tag Archives: Jay Spearing

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 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.

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?

What up, Maxi?

25 Apr

Maxi Rodriguez was the unlikely hero in Liverpool’s 5-0 demolition of Birmingham Saturday, notching a hat trick in his first league appearance in over a month. Workhorse Dirk Kuyt and late sub Joe Cole (remember him?) also scored. The goals weren’t necessary pretty (with the exception of the Luis Suarez to Maxi one), but they all count. The nature of the goals just served as a reminder of how far this team has come since January. There’s more fight, more desire and more hope for 2011-12, it’s pretty awesome. Seriously, I have high hopes for next season.

It was a dominating performance by a resurgent Liverpool side. The defense put on another solid performance as John Flanagan and Jack Robinson continued to show that the future is bright. Lucas and Jay Spearing controlled the midfield well and did not give Birmingham much time to get anything sorted.

With four games to go, the Reds sit in sixth place with 52 points. Tottenham is fifth with 55 points and a game in hand. Manchester City’s win today over Blackburn gave City 59 points. The Reds are definitely not out of the running for a spot in Europe and they have four winnable games remaining against Newcastle (H), Fulham (A), Tottenham (H) and Aston Villa (A). Tottenham has it a little bit tougher with games against Chelsea (A), Blackpool (H), Manchester City (A), Liverpool (A) and Birmingham City (H). Liverpool will have to continue to play passionate, aggressive football (and of course win) if there’s to be any chance at Europe next year.

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.