In recent weeks, we have been involved in many transfer stories and I am going to look at some of them and the likelihood of it happening.
Possibly one of the biggest names linked with Liverpool is one of Barcelona’s Brazilians Dani Alves. Dani Alves has had little news on his contract, which, expires at the end of the season, and he is still yet to be approached by the club. For me this is an unlikely transfer in consideration of all the clubs. Liverpool have employed a youth policy that is taken very seriously, so the chances of them signing a 31 year old are not very high. Also Barcelona are unlikely to leave it too much longer before offering a new contract that will probably be a one year extension. Possibly the biggest factor Dani Alves’ close friend who he plays with for club and country will have a role to play in getting him to stay.
Another potential transfer that has been spoken about recently is Miralem Pjanic. AS Roma have already said they will not part easily with the much coveted midfielder because he has been so impressive since his move in 2011. According to reports, coming from Italy Pjanic would be prepared to make the move to England providing the club could agree the transfer fee. Liverpool is believed to be leading the race now with speculation that a bid of £37 million is on the table. Having heard the reports and understanding Liverpool’s need to sign a player of significance in absence of Steven Gerrard this is a likely transfer.
For the final part of my transfer round up, the out of form, Radamel Falcao has been highly linked with the reds having turned us down last summer. This is coming on the back of his lack of games at United where he has struggled for goals. Last summer we almost signed him with United coming in last minute to lure him away. This is a transfer that I would very much like to see happen, because of what he would add to the team in goals and experience. This year we have lacked that clinical lead striker that we had last year in Luis Suarez but with the creativity in the team we could spark a resurgence to goal scoring normality for the Columbian next year.
That has been my transfer round up which, I hope you all have enjoyed. The next post will be about players and positions where I feel the club could do with strengthening and building on.
Having disappointingly lost to United are we down and out of those teams competing for the top four? Some people think that our chances have disappeared as quickly as Steven Gerrard did on Sunday. Others including myself see this as an opportunit to complete another miraculous comeback. More recently we have been under dogs when it comes to challenging for the title but, we sure gave everyone a scare last year only losing out by 2 points. Perhaps this is another chance to cause an upset and seriously mount a challenge on the top four.
It was inevitably that we would face defeat again by the end of the season, so you could say it is better to get it out of the way now and go on another push towards the summit. Yesterday told us a lot of things about the team. Firstly and most importantly we need to start games far better than we have in recent weeks. In these sort of games you expect the opening 30 minutes to be hotly contested conceding possession consistently but, we got dominated against United. What was even stranger about this is that we are known for our possession game, whereas you expect United to attack down the wings at pace. Another thing yesterday told us that we need to be more adaptable during the game, Emre Can was against Fellani all game and had a torrid time of it, struggling in the aerial battles. This could have been easily resolved by sticking Skrtel on him, who is far more competent in the air. It has been further cemented into my mind that Raheem Sterling has some attitude problems. He is the sort of player you hope to be watching in the future in a red shirt scoring 30 or 40 goals a season which, is realistic having watched his development in to a senior key player. When played out of position you do not see the same desire to play for the team whereas, when he is playing further forward. This lack of effort suggests to me he is definitely not worth more than £100,000 a week on performances like that against United.
For me and many of us optimistic fans this will be an uphill struggle to overturn the 5 point deficit; that is the gap between us and the prize of Champions League football. Knowing what we are capable as a side I know we can grow stronger with the remaining 8 games. Most importantly though, we will be looking for other teams to do us a favour and get victories against United who still have to play; Arsenal, Chelsea and City.
As everbody knew going to the Liberty stadium was not going to be a formality and it was far from it in the end. Having been totally dominated in the first half it came as a surprise the teams went into the changing rooms with the scores level. On a number of occassions Mignolet made some outsatnding saves to thwart the Swansea attack. Going into half time with either side yet registering on the scoreboard Gary Monk will have been the happiest of the two managers. Brendan Rodgers will have had a lot to say to get his team up and ready for the second half where they couldn’t play much worse.
As you would expect Liverpool were better in the second half where Joe Allen was particularly impressive with his tackling and moving of the ball. Liverpool were always going to have some form of pressure at one point and after a clever flick from sturridge for Henderson to run onto we were presented with it. The Swansea defender beat Henderson to the ball but, the path the defender decided to take clearing the ball was in line with Henderson. This lead to a deflection that looped the goalkeeper leaving him stranded and Liverpool one goal to the good. Taking the lead afforded Liverpool the opportunity to sit back and counter with devastating affect. Daniel Sturridge struck the post late on to give the Swans a late shock.
Liverpool showed their resilience all game pressing the ball, tackling players and holding out for a result that perhaps on the balance should have been a draw. This reilience was not a part of the side that came second last year with the idea that if you score one we’ll score two. The distinct change in identity has meant that Liverpool are more defensively independent and are able to cope with an onslaught and come away with 3 points. With Manchester United on Sunday the Reds will be feeling a lot better about the game in Anfield where they can move one point clear of their rivals with a win.
The days of top four certainty are over for English clubs. The top four that was once Arsenal, Chelsea, LIverpool and Manchester United has disspated with the demise of Liverpool and United. This year we have seen the resurgence of both sides wanting to be included in Europes elite competition. This year deciding who will be in the top four will not be a formality, with even Arsenal in doubt having been there every year under Arsene Wenger. For me there are five teams in contention with Chelsea and City having already secured their position fighting it out for the league title. What makes the battle for Champions league even more interesting is that 5 points splits the teams. I’ll not go into definitive positions but who’s in and who’s not getting the much coverted Champions League football.
Arsenal and Liverpool for me will be the teams that find themselves in the top four come the end of the season. Unfortuantely that means Manchester United, Southampton and Tottenham will miss out and I’ll tell you why. Manchester United have been performing poorly all season but, have found themslves in and amongst the race for European football. In my opinion their luck is about to run out and rightly so, no team deserves to be this high up the table having yet to turn up properly. As for Southampton they began the season fantasically but, have began to peter off now. Most likely due to the volume of games and players tiring as Southampton lack a depth in squad. Tottenham have been fortuante enough to find themselves a goal machine in Harry Kane who has been superb all year. Had they put him in the team earlier in the season perhaps, they would be far closer to securing a second stint in the Champions League.
Arsenal under Wenger have never failed to secure a top four finish and this experience will help them as the games are closing in on single figures. Wenger has come under a lot of scrutiny since the defeat to Monaco but, going out of the Champions League next week might help their league objective. Liverpool are the form side in the whole of Europe, yet to taste defeat since the turn of the year in the league. The change in formation implemented by Brendan Rodgers has rejuvenated this squad who are aiming towards the heights of last year.
If you feel like the top four will look any different to how I have suggested it will, comment down below the team that will, who they’re replacing and why.
With the vast majority of us Liverpool fans being in complete and utter shock when he decided to move having only just signed a new contract Luis Suarez swiftly departed to one of his dream teams in Spain to kick off his career again. Having once again been naughty biting another player on this occasion Cheillini the Juventus and Italy centre back we as fans were preparing to yet again wait for the return of our talisman this season. In a surprise £75 million bid Barcelona lured him away knowing full well he would not be available for much of the season, showing their intent in signing him top help the club progress in the absence of Alexis Sanchez.
Having got Suarez back fit and free of suspension he was thrown straight into the team failing to score in his first seven games for the club. This then lead people to question whether or not Barcelona’s risk had been worth while all along and had they just wasted such a significant transfer fee. During this period Suarez was showing his metal through assists finding Messi and Neymar on several occasions, proving he had that creative spark but lacked the end product at the time. Since then he has been on a mission for the side scoring in the Champions League more recently against Manchester City twice at the Etihad.
It is only fit that we talk about this great player in advance of the All star charity match taking place at Anfield in the coming weeks. Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have selected there squads and the first forward Stevie chose was obviously the Barcelona star who has now scored 1 in every 2 games this season. This change in form has coincided with the Catalans rise to the top of the table knocking their biggest rivals off of the summit.
Since Chelsea won the champions league which was only recently English teams have been seen to be struggling against the larger sides in Europe but why? For a large period of time English teams dominated the European stage on occasion hosting the four teams in the semi finals. The sudden deterioration of the top quality European sides has come as a shock to a large number of people yet the expectation to succeed has continued and is this perhaps an outdated opinion.
Having watched English teams truly struggle for the past few years I have wondered why have we taken steps back when we were once so dominant and struck fear into the hearts of the opposing teams. Some people may question the quality of teams as a whole having gone down. For me this point can not be argued because as a nation we are one of the biggest traders being involved in high valued transfers every market, so the quality does exist. This then makes us question the maturity and experience of English clubs. Manchester City have one of the oldest starting line ups on average in the competition at around 27 years of age so that shows significant playing experience. Despite the premier league being arguably the most exciting league to watch because of all the goals, we must ask why there is such a large amount of goals being scored every game.
As a nation we have lost appreciation and respect for the art of defending. Having grown up watching the likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in their prime, I have become accustomed to that solid centre back who is dependable and will make game saving tackles or clearances. Looking at the sides in the champions league this year across Europe the defensive qualities of the top teams is exceedingly better than ours. Lets take each of our four teams as an example of defensive immaturity. Arsenal have a world cup winner in Mertesacker who is lacking pace and any form of coordination when running back to his own goal. We then look at Chelsea who undoubtedly have the best defence in the Barclays Premier League yet have had to play a youngster called Zouma in place of an experience centre back like Cahill who was superb last year but, has struggled this year. Liverpool this year have finally managed to resolve the defensive frailties from last year now that they no longer have a Champions league campaign that saw no real leadership or desire to defend. As for Manchester City supposedly there best player and captain Vincent Kompany has been a mere shadow of himself.
While the defensive frailties still exist English teams will not progress far into the tournaments being heavily dependent on the attacking prowess they possess because simply other teams beat them on that basis as well.
Having received the sad news that Steven Gerrard will be ending his 17 year journey with Liverpool this year brought about a lot of thoughts and feelings about clubs security and how they move on without; such an iconic character that is very much part of the makeup at Anfield. The months surrounding his announcement has made a lot of fans questions who will the new Mr Liverpool and will he be a current player or a superstar bought in to create a buzz around the place during a solemn period. It would seem vice captain has been bestowed the job to succeed Stevie and carry the team on to bigger and greater things.
Some people including myself have at times wondered why Brendan has chosen Jordan as an ideal character and having paid more attention of late I couldn’t agree more he is the best candidate. The first thing you can ask of any player is that they put themselves about the pic, harassing and hurrying the opposition and Henderson does this all game every game. Henderson in his time has shown he has excellent fitness and stamina through his tireless performances mimicking a younger Steven Gerrard who would run until the ball was out of play. We have all come to know and love a Steven Gerrard wonder pass from deep within his own half finding the feet of his desired team mate, with the captains absence Jordan has been doing this with no problems. Having found himself with new responsibilities he has become twice the player I thought he was. Jordan has instilled a belief into the team that every time we go out we can win the gam comprehensible. Every time he has captained Liverpool we have not lost a game and this could possibly come down to the sharing of responsibility. When you have a player on your team like Gerrard you half expect them to win games for you and this over reliance has cost us dearly over the years and now the team realise that they need to step up. Not only has Coutinho added goals to his game so has Henderson from all ranges.
Knowing we are losing a club legend that we have all loved to watch at his best, perhaps now is a good time to say thank you for all that you have done for the club and you have set Liverpool up for the future to prosper and go on to win many trophies.
Both teams having come off good results meant this was expected to be an exciting game that never really got going. From a Liverpool stand point the game could not have gotten off to a worse start with our main man at the back Martin Skrtel being knocked unconscious by an aerial battle with Rudy Gestede that ended with Skrtel landing awkwardly. As you would expect the necessary safety precautions were taken to ensure that any head or spinal injuries were avoided. Kolo Toure then was forced on earlier than expected and put in a good effort at restricting Gestede to a number of chances.
From the off Liverpool dominated possession as you would expect being the premier league and form side in Europe, disappointingly there was no penetration or tempo to the game making the job even simpler for Rovers. There were a few occasions where you felt that something might come from this but, due to either a lack of supply or poor supply the forward players did not really get a look in. The closest Liverpool even got to scoring was a Kolo Toure goal that was deemed offside from a free kick played in by Coutinho who was amongst a list of frustrated players.
As the game drew on you could sense that it would be the one goal that decided it and Rovers looked intent on sitting back and going for the draw to take them back to Ewood Park. Surprisingly Mario Balotelli made a late entry to the game, which, will have come as a shock to some pundits due to the very limited game time since the return of Sturridge. Balotelli did cause some havoc in the box creating space for Daniel Sturridge who had several penalty appeals all dismissed by Andre Marriner.
Some would say this was a lacklustre performance from Liverpool who lacked tempo for the whole game and others would say this was an excellent defensive display from Rovers who defended their lines from attack right through to the goalkeeper
West Ham as the home team have a lot to prove because one of their main problems last year was there ability to win at home. For a side that has investors, executives and managing directors all wanting them to push on this season Sam Allardyce has a tough task to turn them around. West Ham this year have shown improvement in terms of build up play as they are now less reluctant to knock the ball 50 or 60 yards up the pitch but, instead play nice neat passes around the midfield.
For some reason whether it be time to settle or chemistry the Liverpool players have not followed the mould they set last year getting off to quick starts and blowing teams away early on. Perhaps this is the aftermath of Luis Suarez’ departure that left a massive gap on and off the pitch with his enthusiasm and class. It does take time to adapt to the premier league so the new players will be given this year to settle in and perform. With Liverpool featuring in the Champions League it is imperative that the league form doesn’t slide because of this and a top 4 position is achievable. This is an excellent opportunity to put in a good performance for the fans as the last two games have left fans disappointed and wanting more.
On paper Liverpool do look the better side, spent the money, brought the players in however with recent lacklustre performances who is to say West Hame won’t hold out and win at home. Realistically I can only see this game ending in a draw with both teams hoping to truly kickoff for this year.
As it always is the first night of Champions League football is an exciting but, important time for clubs it helps them get underway with the competition and settles the nerves. It is an especially special occasion for any concerned with Liverpool because it’s the clubs return after a five year gap which can only make the atmosphere in Anfield tonight more intense. For Liverpool fans there is nothing like a european night at Anfield anywhere in the world, the stands will be rocking. What most fans including myself will be looking forward to is when we sing You’ll Never Walk Alone because as a Liverpool player if that doesn’t get you fired up nothing will.
Liverpool will be hoping to get off to a good start and set a fast tempo today because as we all saw last season they could win games in the first 20 minutes if the pressing and passing were on point. Mario Balotelli will obviously play a large role in the team today with the absence of Daniel Sturridge but, more so because of his european and international experience.
Ludogrets will face a harsh time tonight if they are sluggish to close down and stop Liverpool having most of the possession as it is becoming more important to break up the play and stop any rhythm and momentum they may have. Due to how unknown Ludogrets are Liverpool may be in for a surprise but who can tell as european nights do often throw up the odd anomaly of games.
Frankly, Liverpool should walk away with all 3 points and be topping the group on goal difference, as Madrid face a tough task in the form of Basel who have shown their resilience against the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea.