After Another Frustrating Day, Liverpool Are Still Sitting Pretty

7 Feb

Once again Liverpool were left frustrated by refereeing decisions going against them, two controversial penalty decisions awarded by referee Jon Moss infuriated the home support.

The first penalty awarded was spurned by Tottenham’s prolific striker Harry Kane as Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius saved his effort from 12 yards, but the England striker made amends in the final seconds when he converted his second spot-kick of the game to keep Spurs just two points behind Liverpool in the Premier League table.

A draw was probably a fair result to end such a titanic contest between to teams playing to win, Liverpool had the better of the first half but Tottenham were very impressive in the second half and didn’t deserve to lose.

But despite the result being fair, the same can’t be said about the decision making by the match officials, and it’s not the first time this season that Liverpool have been left frustrated by decisions going against them.

Personally I wouldn’t want to see Jon Moss referee another Liverpool game again, I thought it was harsh when he sent Mane off against Manchester City earlier in the season but Sunday’s performance was so bad it felt like Liverpool were playing against twelve men and he was doing all he could to prevent the home side winning.

 

The warning signs were there in the first half when Liverpool players were correctly punished by Moss blowing his whistle to give free-kicks but the same didn’t go for Tottenham’s players committing fouls, as Moss just waved play to continue and his reluctance to give Liverpool a free-kick was rewarded by one of the loudest cheers of the game when finally gave the home side a decision midway through the first-half.

The debate has raged whether Moss was right or wrong to give the penalties, but there is no doubt that both were very soft awards.

Positives

Despite the disappointment and frustration, Liverpool can take many positives from the game.

Loris Karius has a lot to prove to remain Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper, but I thought he played very well against Spurs and felt it was extremely harsh to criticise him for the punch the led to Victor Wanyama’s thunderbolt.

Karius looked confident and assured and his decision making was much better.

Salah was once again the star man and his goals are so valuable to Liverpool’s chances of finishing in the top four, he is unplayable at times.

Liverpool’s midfield were superb in the first half against a very strong Tottenham midfield, although they ran out of gas in the second half, we must realise that they won’t play against such a good midfield often this season, and it was great to see Henderson have such a good game despite fading in the second half.

Firmino once again showed how he is so important to Liverpool’s attack with his workrate and link-up play.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was superb on the right side of defence by providing some great defensive cover combined with some brilliant attacking play that resulted in some tremendous crosses.

Andy Robertson is making the left-back position his own with some fine performances and this was another, and the Scot is proving to be a dependable defender in the left-back berth that we’ve not seen for a while at Anfield.

The defensive partnership of Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk proved to be a good selection by Jurgen Klopp, the two defenders were superb in the heart of Liverpool’s defence despite both being involved in Tottenham’s two penalty awards.

As a unit Liverpool defended superbly for the best part of the game and there is no doubt that van Dijk makes the defence much stronger with his leadership qualities.

After the weekend results Liverpool are still third in the Premier League table and they are still looking very good to finish in the top four at the end of the season.

 

 

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Klopp Is Taking A Gamble By Not Strengthening His Squad

26 Jan

Liverpool have been in great form the last few months and are well placed to finish in the Premier League’s top four at the end of the season despite last Monday night’s disappointing defeat to Swansea City, but it doesn’t look like manager Jurgen Klopp will be buying any players to strengthen his squad despite losing his talisman, Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona earlier this month.

With rival teams like Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United all looking to strengthen their squads for the business end of the season, Liverpool seem to be happy enough with the squad they have to see out the remainder of the season.

Klopp made a key signing at the beginning of the transfer window by bringing long-term transfer target Virgil van Dijk to the club, but with the amount of money spent on the big defender, many Liverpool supporters were concerned that the money was only being spent because Liverpool would be receiving a lot of money for the sale of Coutinho, and a few days later their fears were realised.

By allowing such an important player to leave midway through the season had many supporters thinking that Liverpool must have someone lined up to come in, but with only a few days to go until the transfer window shuts, there doesn’t look to be any sign of new arrivals.

It seems as if Klopp and Liverpool are taking a massive risk by not adding quality to their squad and the defeat to bottom club Swansea City last Monday night highlighted a few of the team’s deficiencies.

Liverpool faced another team that defended very deep with the intention of frustrating the Reds’ attack last Monday night, and there are many teams that deploy similar tactics in the Premier League.

Many people suggested the absence of Coutinho was a big miss for Liverpool in such a game because he is the type of player that can provide that defence-splitting pass or perform that 30-yard-strike into the top corner that can win a match.

But Liverpool don’t have Coutinho anymore and the midfield looked short of creativity with Wijnaldum and Can in particular devoid of ideas or creativity in the middle of the park.

Jordan Henderson will return from injury soon, but he isn’t the most creative player either and Liverpool’s midfield looks short of creativity.

Liverpool’s attack is well documented and praised but Roberto Firmino plays such an important role combining the likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Oxlade-Chamberlain in attack and it would be a major concern if he was to be absent despite Adam Lallana’s return from injury.

Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings are the only other options to replace Firmino because Daniel Sturridge’s career at Liverpool looks like being over.

Goalkeeper is another big concern, and now Klopp has basically told Simon Mignolet that he is not good enough by making Loris Karius his number one, but neither keeper look good enough for Liverpool.

When you look at Liverpool’s Premier League rivals, Klopp’s squad doesn’t look as strong and when you observed the bench against Swansea the other night, you couldn’t see any game-changers to ignite a Liverpool comeback.

I think Klopp is taking a massive gamble by relying on the squad he has to see out the rest of this season because Liverpool are in a real fight to finish in the top four and it is vital that they achieve this despite what happens in the Champions League or FA Cup.

 

Klopp Must Solve Goalkeeping Problem 

17 Jan

Liverpool are going in the right direction with Jurgen Klopp in charge, and the impressive 4-3 win over Manchester City was a great example of what they can do against some of the best teams around.

Klopp has made Liverpool into a team that doesn’t seem so reliant on individuals anymore, as Sunday’s tremendous win proved after losing Coutinho a week earlier to Barcelona, and new signing Virgil van Dijk to injury.

A few years ago losing key players like Luis Suärez was disastrous but Klopp has a team capable of beating the best regardless of who he has available for selection.

Liverpool’s attack is one of the most feared in Europe and the signing of midfielder Kieta from Leipzig will bolster the midfield.

The Reds’ defence has been criticised in recent years but the signing of van Dijk from Southampton will only help solve that problem along with impressive players like Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez or Trent Alexander-Arnold playing either side of him in the full-back positions.

Klopp has slowly but surely improved his team since his arrival but still needs to solve his goalkeeping position because no Liverpool supporter is convinced with either Simon Mignolet or Loris Karius between the sticks.

Klopp has recently stated that Karius will be his number one keeper but in my opinion he hasn’t shown me anything that makes me think he is good enough, and City’s first goal on Sunday gave his critics more ammunition after seeing him beat at his near post by Sane’s strike.

Mignolet is okay but not good enough either to be Liverpool keeper and at his age you feel he is as good as he’s going to get, whereas Karius is still young enough to improve into the keeper Klopp hopes he will.

I don’t think Klopp will sign another keeper or another player for that matter this transfer window because I reckon he is going to give Karius a run in the team until the end of the season to prove himself before he decides if he needs to sign another goalkeeper in the summer.

The fact that Karius will have van Dijk playing in front of him might help him because Liverpool’s new signing is a tremendous organiser and will help his confidence.

Hopefully Karius can prove us all wrong and Klopp right that he is good enough to be Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper, time will tell.

My Whirlwind 24 Hours 

8 Dec

I live in Scotland and getting down to Liverpool games is very difficult for me, between family commitments and financial reasons curtailing my chances, never mind the difficulty in getting match day tickets, I’d love to go more often.

But on Wednesday night I was fortunate enough to attend my first Liverpool game this year, this was my first game since the 3-0 win over Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final last year.

I booked a hotel a couple of months ago for Wednesday night in the hope that I could find a couple of tickets for the Spartak Moscow game, I chose this fixture because I knew I wasn’t working and because European nights at Anfield are special.

As time went on and the closer it got to the Spartak fixture, I wondered if I would be lucky enough to get tickets so that I could take my daughter with me to the game.

I got in touch with a guy that said he could get me tickets a couple of months ago, but earlier this week he couldn’t get me two tickets together, so I had virtually given up hope of travelling down.

To make things more awkward for me I had the option of working an overtime nightshift on Tuesday, and after sensing that I wouldn’t be getting tickets, I committed myself to working the nightshift.

Then on the Monday night I messaged a friend to see if he could help me find a couple of tickets as a final attempt, although I had basically given up hope in all honesty.

So on the Tuesday after having a long-lie in bed because I was working nightshift, I got out of bed about lunch time and checked my phone, and with great surprise I noticed that my friend had messaged me to tell me that he could get me a couple of tickets.

So I quickly checked that my daughter wanted to go and messaged him back to tell him I wanted the tickets.

I was so happy at the thought of getting tickets for the game, but I had to work a 12 hour nightshift first, thankfully it wasn’t too bad a shift and after a few hours sleep we headed down to Liverpool after my daughter finished college at lunchtime.

I knew it was going to be a rush to get down to Liverpool and meet up for the tickets before the 7.45 kick-off.

But after racing down the M6 we got to our hotel just after 6, then dumped our bags and got a taxi up to the Twelfth Man pub where we met my friend.

After downing a couple of pints we took our place on the Kop.

We couldn’t have picked a better match to go to and within a couple of minutes we were cheering as Coutinho slotted home the first goal of the night from the penalty spot.

I tried to sing along to some of the songs being sung but my voice was giving up before half-time and having to cheer a further four goals in the second half didn’t help my poor vocal chords.

But what a game, we both left the ground beaming with happiness before realising that finding a taxi would be virtually impossible, so we headed down the hill towards the city talking about the game as we walked before waving a taxi down that took us back to our hotel.

We arrived back to our hotel about 10.45 both starving after not having time to eat the whole day, so my next mission was to find a takeaway, and after a bit of a search and quite a walk I finally found one and when I got back to the hotel we scoffed our food like we had never seen food before.

We left the hotel around 10 the next morning and drove to Formby to visit my old friend that still goes to Liverpool games at the age of 90.

After a bit of lunch generously provided by my good friend, we headed back home to Scotland.

It was a hectic and very tiring 24 hours, but well worth it and I could probably go to another 100 Liverpool games and not see them score 7 goals despite them already managing this twice this season.

But my daughter and I feel very lucky to have witnessed another great European night at Anfield and it will live long in our memory.

A Night For Change

1 Nov

Liverpool face Maribor tonight at Anfield in the Champions League, the Reds won 7-0 a couple of weeks ago against the same opponents and Liverpool supporters will be hoping for another convincing win.

Every game holds significant importance and tonight’s fixture is no different, but surely tonight Klopp can make a few changes to his team to give a few players some much needed game time.

Unfortunately Danny Ward is injured, because I would have liked to see him given a chance between the sticks as I’ve had enough of Simon Mignolet and Karius isn’t good enough at present, although I’d expect Klopp to play the German keeper after playing him in every Champions League game this season.

I’ve also had enough of Dejan Lovren, with his performance at Wembley last week being the final straw for me.

Klavan isn’t good enough either, so I’d like to see Joe Gomez in the centre of defence alongside Joel Matip tonight.

I’m still baffled as to how Alberto Moreno gets a game, he has no defensive discipline and plays as a left winger despite hardly ever creating a chance with his poor deliveries.

Surely Andy Robertson should be given a chance at left back?

The young Scot has only started a couple of games for Liverpool, and has arguably been man of the match in both performances.

But strangely Robertson can’t get a game in recent weeks, so tonight would be the ideal opportunity to play him.

It can be dangerous to make too many changes for any game but another two players that I would like to see play tonight are Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Solanke.

Livepool spent a lot of money on Chamberlain, yet the former Arsenal star can’t get a start at his new club.

I was disappointed that he didn’t start in the win over Huddersfield at the weekend, especially with Mane and Coutinho missing, so hopefully he’ll get a start tonight.

I believe Klopp will go with Daniel Sturridge in attack again tonight, especially after scoring in the 3-0 win over Huddersfield.

Personally, I would like to see Solanke start as he gives so much more than Sturridge does, he holds the ball up better and works his socks off, whereas Sturridge doesn’t.

Sadly, Sturridge isn’t the player he was and I think Solanke deserves a chance.

Another reason to make changes is to give some players a rest before Saturday’s trip to West Ham.

Regardless of who Klopp selects to play tonight, the important thing is that Liverpool win but it would nice to see a few changes.

Klopp’s Loyalty To His Defence Must Change

23 Oct

Liverpool’s 4-1 drubbing from Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium yesterday was embarrassing for Reds’ supporters and surely manager Jurgen Klopp has to make changes to his defence.

Liverpool’s defensive problems have been talked about for far too long without any sort of improvement, but hopefully yesterday’s performance will force Klopp to make changes to his defence.

I’ve always tried to give Liverpool players time but yesterday reminded me of the time when former manager Bill Shankly decided he had to make changes to his ageing team that he stayed loyal to after watching his team lose to Watford in the 1970 FA Cup Quarter Final.

Shankly stayed loyal to his players that gave him so much success in the sixties but that defeat signalled the end for the likes of Ron Yeats and Ian St John.

Klopp has shown a similar form of loyalty to his defence since he arrived at Anfield two years ago, with Joel Matip being the only new defender regularly playing in defence since Brendan Rodgers’ era.

In my opinion Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet should have played their last games for Liverpool yesterday.

Lovren produced the worst defensive performance I’ve ever seen from a Liverpool defender and Mignolet showed once again why he isn’t good enough.

They have both had good games for Liverpool in the past but yesterday showed why they can’t be trusted with Lovren producing numerous mistakes that could have produced more goals for Tottenham before Klopp decided enough was enough by pulling him off in the first half.

Mignolet made a poor decision to come out for the first goal and should have gave Matip a shout to leave the ball before he made the poor header that led to Tottenham’s third goal, and the fourth goal was a Mignolet mistake that we as Liverpool supporters have seen far too frequently, as he flapped at another cross before Harry Kane scored his second goal of the game.

Time will tell if Klopp will be as ruthless as I would but I’d make drastic changes to the defence and start by giving Danny Ward a chance in goal.

I’d like to see Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back with Matip and Gomez in the centre of defence, and I’d play Andy Robertson at left back because he is an upgrade on Moreno despite the Spaniard’s decent start to the season.

 

Liverpool Need To Beat United To Kick-Start Season

13 Oct

Liverpool face bitter rivals Manchester United tomorrow at Anfield in a lunch time kick-off. The fixture is one of the biggest in the Premier League calendar and tomorrow’s clash is as important as ever.

Jose Mourinho’s team have been in impressive form since the start of the season and are currently sitting joint top of the Premier League on points with their local rivals Manchester City.

Liverpool started the season brightly but have lost their way in recent weeks after suffering a 5-0 hammering to Manchester City, the Reds are currently 7 points behind both Manchester teams in the Premier League table and tomorrow’s game holds more importance for Klopp’s men.

Defeat for Liverpool would leave them 10 points behind United, and although it is still very early in the season, a gap that big would hard to claw back and a loss would end most supporters hopes of challenging for the title.

United have Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini both missing through injury for tomorrow’s clash, but Liverpool’s bad news concerning Sadio Mane, who will miss the next six weeks of action after suffering a hamstring injury playing for Senegal is a major blow for Jurgen Klopp.

Mane has been in superb form since joining Liverpool and to miss such an important player for such an important fixture is a massive disappointment.

But Mane’s injury could present Liverpool’s new big money signing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain with the opportunity to prove himself at his new club.

The former Arsenal player has struggled since joining Liverpool, but in fairness, he hasn’t made many starts for his new club.

Chamberlain’s pace and power could make him the ideal replacement for Mane, although Klopp might decide to move Philippe Coutinho out on the left to fill Mane’s absence.

Whatever team selection Klopp decides it is vital for Liverpool to take something from the game and a win could kick-start their season after a disappointing run of results prior to the international break.

I expect Jose Mourinho to play defensively at Anfield with the intention of hitting Liverpool on the break, and I think Liverpool have to play on the front foot and press United from the start, hopefully they can get the first goal because Liverpool’s style of play takes a lot out of them, and I’ve noticed their energy and form dips the longer the game goes on.

It will be another intriguing encounter at Anfield but hopefully Liverpool can find a way to win to get their season going again.

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