Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool showing their resilience

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.

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Race for the top four

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.

Jordan Henderson Liverpool Captain?

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.

Liverpool vs Blackburn Rovers Post match Analysis

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

Liverpool vs Aston Villa Post Match Review

Surprisingly Liverpool lost 1-0 to Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday which will have come as a big shock to all those watching the game. Liverpool assuredly had the best part of the possession which adds to the confusion of the result, Rodgers will have been pleased how we controlled the game, change the tempo and knowing when to speed the play up.

As always Liverpool were weak at the back and until this is resolved we will leak goals and lose games we are in control of. Aston Villa with no disrespect should be a straight six points bearing in mind how much Liverpool have spent on signings this year. Balotelli, Coutinho and Raheem sterling to name a few, are capable enough to win a game single handed, so why when Daniel Sturridge is injured do we lose with no explanation.

Not taking away any plaudits from Aston Villa they have played very well this season, could this possible be one of the final rungs on the development ladder and see a mature Villa side. The start to the season will give great hope and encouragement for the year to Paul Lambert who did have some job concerns the previous campaign.

Overall, I would categories this as a missed opportunity for Liverpool to push on and show the form which saw them achieve Champions League football last season.

The final Act

The final act of the season is for me to round up and evaluate  if the season was a success or a failure. Ideally I would like to have been saying the wait is over we are finally part of the elite group of teams who have won the Barclays Premier League but as most would expect it has been another let down.Start of the season if you told me we would finish fourth then I would have no issues with that and be talking about how this is a platform for next year. The lucrative prize of Champions League football forcing us to build and improve on this season, however if you told me we would be challenging for the title and just miss out on winning I would be annoyed but pleased at the great improvement from the team. Now when I am asked how I feel it is a mix up of anguish, confusion and disarray, how can a team so dominant for the most part of the season come undone in just two games: chelsea and Crystal Palace.

This season should really be a celebration of the great achievement from everyone involved with the club, starting with the ground staff, the media teams, training staff, Brendan, players and most importantly the Reds faithfull who turn out every game to see it all unfold. recent years have been an uphill struggle for everyone invloved in the club wondering when we will hit the big time again and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This season nobody could argue we have been the side that has been the most exciting, inventive and exhilirating to watch and for that we have Brendan to thank. Brendan’s understanding of players freedom to move within a set structure has allowed us to play adventurous football that will undoubtedly go down in Liverpool folk law with vivid memories of possible a premier league classic Liverpool 3 – 2 Manchester City.

As always we do need to recognise the protagonists of the plot, to begin with captain fantastic has found his place in the team which benefits all parties Defenders needing cover, strikers needing service and the energetic box to box players like Jordan Henderson. This year Stevie has chipped in with a fair share of goals scoring over 10 in the premier league joining the SAS on the list of high scorers. We couldn’t go without mentioning Martin Skrtel who has been tremendous all season with his last ditch challenges reading of the game and his presence in the box on corners. A particular young man named Raheem Sterling could not go without a mention for his dynamic running of games either; as part of a three man attack or as the point of the diamond ensuring that our doubts of young English talent is put to rest. Two men who have been superb all season Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have easily engraved themselves into kop history of greta strike partnerships joining keegan and toshack, Rush and Dalglish. This has been an especially potent season for them both, Daniel Sturridge has been a bright light for English forwards showing that power and pace does still exist beating Wayne Rooney to being the highest scoring british player in the league. Inevitable he wouldnt have benefitted the team as much if he did not feature alongside the allustrious Luis Suarez who against all odds stopped at Anfield to become the leagues most dangerous man equalling Cristiano Ronaldo for goals seeing them both share the spoils for the european golden boot.

Lastly, a great deal of appreciation should be shown to Brendan Rodgers who has turned this team around into a champions league side who can only see things going forward. For a final note to quote myself at the end of every season “Next years our year”

One Game at a Time

It has been on all of our minds what does Liverpool need to do to take the clubs first ever premier league title ending the drought of 24 years without a league title.  Interview afetr interview with Liverpool players and manager alike have all said they are taking one game at a time a cliche in world football. Often we hear managers and players saying this as an excuse not to loom forward as not too put pressure on themselves relieving it from those competing against them.

This mantra has seen Liverpool regain the top spot in the premier league where they rightfully deserve to be since the turn of the year being undeafted in the league. In that time they have faced many a good team namely; Arsenal, Southampton, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs winning them all convincingly but before and after each game the mantra remained one game at a time which is becoming quite the footballing philosophy around Anfield. What this mantra means for the players; they really have one thing to look forward to not “oh we have Spurs next week” but ” we are paying Sunderland today and our main priority is the 3 points here today” this philosophy has seen the side look a lot more convincing against the smaller league side and most importantly the recently promoted sides that in previous years we have struggled greatly against. Liverpool have dispatched the majority of the smaller sides a part from the obvious hiccup against Hull City (a newlty promoted side).

Looking at only the immediate future and focussing on the next game has ensured that anything else going on outside of the club is not a distraction like the dubious claims of Jose Mourinho. Without the distractions of last years incident involving Luis’ and his ban we have remained quite quiet in terms of on and off field antics meaning there has been no particular emphasis on our players. Surprisingly the media have left Liverpool to their own devise this season without the usual speculation of our best players leaving and ownership changes. The stability of the side and club could stem from the calmness of the backroom staff who work with the players everday on and off the pitch ensuring happiness in all aspects of their life. Raheem Sterling is one who springs to mind when talking of a calming factor, as he has thanked and praised Rodgers for his help settling hiom into the side this season allowing him to express himself more freely.

Fear Factor

This season has seen Liverpool break yet another record which for us shows exactly the fire power at Brendan Rodgers’ disposal. In 11 games this season we have scored 4 or more goals a record previously held by manchester United who had 10 to their name. What signigicance does this record have and what does it mean? Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with, with a array of attacking talents who all seem to be on very fine form. Luis suarez being our marquee striker already hitting 29 goals in the premier legaue with six games remaining, who is accompanied by the second top goal scorer in the league Daniel Sturridge who has 20 goals complimenting those of his partner. Between the two they have 49 goals and are bidding to be the most lethal strike force in the premiership with a record of 55 goals still to be beaten. Obviously the strikers usually the take the head lines but with such young creative sparks assisting at every opportunity its no wonder why. Phillipe Coutinho has been an absolute class act this year helping out in all areas of the field dribbling from out wide and breeching enemy lines with delicate through balls. Raheem Sterling has been one of the best young players in the premier league this season gaining yet another man of the match against a rather lack luster Spurs side who faced ANOTHER drumming from the red men.

The fear factor is starting to get into Anfield visitors heads already putting them a yard behind the Liverpool players on the pitch. The vast majority of teams are now going to the home of the reds expecting a loss which is compliment to how Brendan Rodgers sets out his side. There are various things the other team fear about Liverpool this year but it’s mainly because of a certain Luis Suarez. With teams focussed on cutting him out of the game, other players have been able to step up and score goals taking the limelight from him which has helped him get more involvment in games. A very underrated part of Liverpool’s team, has been the importance of Steven Gerrard’s role setting up attacks. Gerrard is always in a pocket just ahead of the two centre backs which is a similar role to what he oplays for England which then allow him to pick up the ball and string play together. The passing range he has available is amazing, short, long range, outside of the foot you name it he can do it. A particular example of his ability to pass was his assist for Daniel Sturridge’s goal against Fulham at the Cottage.

It’s a Red New Year

For my future blogs I’ve decided based upon feedback on twitter to make the blogs shorter and brief. This will be the first of the new format.

It’s a Red New Year

Since the turn of the new year Liverpool are undefeated excluding the loss in the cup against Arsenal at the Emirates following up the 5-0 thrashing of them in the previous week at Anfield which was more than embarrassing for the Gunners. That game was a prime example of the ever improving side under the stewardship of Rodgers showing the arsenal of attacking options available to the red men. Liverpool have been superb home and away with great displays like the Arsenal victory, the Merseyside derby and most recently showing how the squad can adapt to swift formation changes the 3-0 victor at St. Mary’s.

With the mentioning of the Southampton victory previously and also it being the most recent, it would be more appropriate to talk about that with regards to Liverpool’s rich vein of form this year. Liverpool as they have done throughout BR reign pushed high and forced Southampton into mistakes and a faster tempo which meant passing errors would be more frequent allowing Liverpool to capitalise with the unbelievably fast attack they have on the counter. The story of the first half was with both team not having much luck in front of goal.

The second half got under way with another one of Liverpool’s explosive moves going forward with the usual end result a Luis Suarez premier league goal which left Southampton stunned like it has other previous red’s opposition. Normally after the first goal it becomes an onslaught on the opposition teams goal leading to further key chances being created by the little Brazilian and his majestic jinking in and out of defenders waiting for the ideal time to slide in a delicious pass to a member of the SAS. Strangely this time at St. Mary’s it took slightly longer than expected to double the lead, it took the introduction of the dynamic flair Raheem Sterling with his first touch to help the red men put real separation between them and the The Saints. As the game was about to come to an end Suarez ran his man down into the ground with a final cut back in side on to his left foot forcing the Saints defender to take him down and the leaving the ref with no choice but to point to the spot where Gerard ended any hope of a dream come back.

Has Rodgers Saved Liverpool?

Has Rodgers Saved Liverpool?

It has been a very interesting spell under the boss at Anfield which has brought about changes to the dynamics and structure of the club. Rodgers implemented his unique passing style of football at his previous club Swansea City which saw them promoted to the premier league. The passing football seen at the Liberty Stadium was mesmerising at times, one and two touch passing from one end to the other usually resulting in a goal or good chance being created. This particular style of passing football could be described as Arsenal or Barcelona-esque with how pressing and winning the ball back quickly with the intent to pass their way through teams. Such tactics could only be performed with willing runners and passers like the lights of Joe Allen who is now currently at Liverpool and Leon Britton who remained at Swansea not following his manager over to Merseyside. Joe Allen in his year at Swansea played the most passes in the premier league and also averaged the most passes a game, proof of the footballing intent at the club, playing it the right way. Swansea often lost under Rodgers due to either not having a plan B in struggling games or lack of height and physicality. Joe Allen, Leon Britton, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge to name a few were frequent starters in the side and are all very gifted and talented with the ball at their feet but when the opposing team had the ball they struggled. Toe to toe they would not out muscle 9/10 players but BR (Brendan Rodgers) knew this hence the fast paced movement of the all which meant; that the ball was already moving again before any player could be closed down and tackled.

At Liverpool now, Rodgers is equipped with probably one of the most talented midfielders to have stepped on a football pitch Steven Gerard. Accompanying him could be a number of players but, most recently Jordan Henderson who has come on leaps and bounds since BR’s arrival especially this season. The passing range Steven Gerard has is phenomenal which means in just one pass Liverpool could be on the counter attack from anywhere on the pitch. Liverpool had a roller coaster first season with the new manager in charge being very inconsistent but everybody knew it would be a very big transitional period at the club if it was to return to former glory; much like the situation with David Moyes at Manchester United currently. The first half of the season could be summed up as BR trying to find the right formula/players to provide him with the necessary tools to implement his style of play. The second half had some clear contrasting factors; Coutinho and Sturridge. Immediately the little Brazilian magician began to cast his spell over those who visited BR’s red men and he wasn’t his best signing either, the young man from Chelsea was. Coutinho added a creativity the club had been lacking for some years now perhaps the absence of Benayoun? Phillipe has an eye for a pass unlike any other player and the manager fully appreciates the artistry behind his work hence his immediate insertion into the side on return from his injury. BR’s understands how to get the best out of frustrated players like the lights of Sturridge and Suarez. When he spotted Sturridge he realised behind the frustrations at Chelsea he would potentially become a very powerful attacking threat for Liverpool. The obvious finesse and speed added by BR’s willingness to let Daniel play through the middle has created one of the most feared partnerships in the premier league. The second half of Brendan’s first season was only a starting point for this season surge to the champions league places.

Throughout the team this year there has been a noticeable amount of dynamism which is evidence of the hard work Rodgers and the staff have put in with the players. The players have formed a special bond with the head coach especially Luis Suarez who was having issues on and off the pitch the season before despite his prolific form towards the end of last season. As a result of this special bond Suarez has been more determined then ever to prove his loyalty to all those connected to the club; by his outstanding goal tally which had taken him to 20 at the January. There have been many great performances individually like Suarez at Norwich which was a common theme last year as well, but the team has stepped up and repaid the manger with wins again Spurs, Everton and most recently Arsenal one of the main title contenders.

It is to be seen what else Liverpool can produce this season but under the leadership of Brendan Rodgers us as Liverpool fans and neutral supporters should be very excited about what is just around the corner.