Tactics & analysisPosted by Leif Larsson Sat, June 20, 2015 14:18:11
The whirlwind 2013/14 season promised a new dawn for Liverpool. But it was all a flash in the pan. I started a blog after that season and hoped to write about a team challenging for the title or at least for honours. But the Reds failed miserably last season and threfore I am putting my blog to bed, at least as long as Liverpool is among the also-rans. There is no point writing about a club destined for 5th to 8th place in the league. Even if it´s my beloved Liverpool FC.
Every Red fan want to see Liverpool be a club to be reckoned with again, a team to respect and even to be afraid of. But that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Not as long the ambitions are as low as they are now and the ability to build a great side is almost non-existent.
When world-class Luis Suarez left Liverpool bought eight players of decent quality, at best. None of them were hardly better than what we already had. We need to be buying top-class players, not solid or promising ones. I am talking of players like Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Edinson Cavani and Robert Lewandowski. Only these kind of performers will take us to the next level, to a platform where we can compete successfully domestically and in Europe. And it´s of course not only strikers we need, also midfielders and defenders of higher standard than what we got now. To sign average players like Danny Ings and James Milner is all good and well but it will just keep us scrambling for Europa League places, if even that.
Hopefully the owners FSG and manager Brendan Rodgers realizes this and sign at least two players of the highest calibre this summer. It´s time for FSG to put their money where their mouth is. I doubt it and if we don´t buy well then another disappointing season in the doldrums awaits.
When Liverpool get their house in order and start to act like a big club I will come back and write about them again. When it´s any point in saying:
We Go Again.
ListsPosted by Leif Larsson Sun, May 31, 2015 14:03:53
The 2014/15 season is history and not one to be remembered fondly. Anyhow, I have created a list with the ten best Liverpool players, or perhaps it should be called the ten least worst performers.
Here it is, from 10 to the best.
10. Alberto Moreno.
Had his ups and downs but showed promise especially in going forward. Still not good enough defensively.
9. Raheem Sterling.
When he used his pace and combined with his teammates he was really dangerous. But was too keen too dribble and lost possession far too often.
8. Adam Lallana.
Blew hot and cold all season. Disappeared in games as often as he played his smart attacking part.
7. Jordan Henderson.
Worked hard in almost every game but couldn´t keep a steady form and was never the go-to-guy as he should be by now.
6. Mamadou Sakho.
Awkward in body movement and ball handling and made som silly mistakes. But he proved to be quite reliable in defence and a hard man in tackles.
5. Emre Can.
A bit naive defensively but was not afraid taking part in attack, not all that successfully, but still. Strong with decent technique.
4. Steven Gerrard.
Nothing special about his last season at Anfield. He scored a few goals but was not as dominant as he can be. Had a lot of midfield roles and took care of them in a respectable way.
3. Martin Skrtel.
Best red defender by a country mile. Made some of his usual errors but on the whole he was solid both on the deck and in the air.
2. Simon Mignolet.
Started lousy but recovered well after a spell on the sidelines. Made some spectacular and point-winning saves and steadily improved his overall game.
1. Philippe Coutinho.
Was breathtaking at times when waving his magic wand, hitting incredible passes and scoring fantastic long-range efforts. Sometimes invisible in matches and must aim for a more consistent high standard.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Mon, May 25, 2015 10:38:10
Once again we made an average side look like Barcelona. Liverpool´s performance yesterday versus midtable Stoke at Britannia can be described in many bad, and truthful, words. Here are some: rotten, pathetic, feeble, worthless, incompetent, woeful, shameful and whichever synonym you can come up with.
Liverpool needed to produce a fine effort to give Steven Gerrard an appropiate send-off, to secure a Europa League place and end the season well to wipe out recent bad memories. Did we do it? No, on the contrary, Liverpool produced the worst performance in years going down 6-1.
The defence was everywhere but in the right place, a schoolboy team or a Sunday League side has more cohesion and organization. Mistakes was as common as locusts of Egypt, the aggression non-existent, the pressing likewise and the attacking play slow, uninventive and without spark or conviction. It couldn´t have been worse, especially in the first half when Stoke had their own way for 45 minutes all over the pitch. Liverpool improved slightly in the second period but that was probably due to Stoke easing off. Thank God, otherwise it could have been double figures.
The worst thing was to see such an uninteresting approach at the start and especially the lame response in the second half. A Liverpool team trailing a midtable side 5-0 at halftime should come out as hungry wolves after the break in an effort to redeem themselves. But no one seemed to too bothered with the state of things. It was the usual huffing and puffing. On the sidelines manager Brendan Rodgers looked like he didn´t care. He should be raging mad to see Liverpool give in so easily. But he appeared detached as if he was watching paint dry. No emotions, no anger, no shouting, no armwaving, no nothing.
This season Liverpool has for some odd reason made sides we should beat look like European heavyweights. Aston Villa outplayed us in the FA Cup semifinal, Crystal Palace did it twice in the league and West Ham, Newcastle and Hull also made us look like fools. And if this was not enough, the most pitiful showing in years was produced yesterday.
It´s almost 40 years since Liverpool trailed by five goals at half-time and 50 years since we lost by that margin and the 6-1 defeat was the heaviest ever in the Premier League. I have trouble understanding how this can happen just a year after we played the most attractive football seen in the Premier League for a long time. If the downfall depends on us losing Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge this season then the other players must feel utterly ashamed aswell as Brendan Rodgers for not knowing how to replace the Uruguayan and how to form his team.
Yesterday he once more came up with a strange formation. He fielded no strikers, instead attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, winger cum midfielder, were forwards. Behind them four central midfielders were selected. At right back we had Emre Can, a defensive midfielder and perhaps central defender but in no way a fullback. That selection backfired when Can´s naive defending presented Stoke with their first three goals.
On the whole it was a peculiar line-up where it was unclear how the team should form itself. Even the players seemed to be confused and not knowing what their roles were. The manager is more and more like Gerard Houllier and Rafael Benitez at their worst when they in their stubborn ways were determined to show that they were much smarter than everyone else and picked peculiar teams and formations.
Brendan Rodgers want to look like a clever manager with his endless changing of formations and tactics. But nothing good is coming out of his tinkering, instead he should focus on figuring out his best eleven, his best formation and stick with it.
Well, that if he gets the chance to do it next season. I think he is a capable man-manager, knows his football and is not afraid of trying new things. But there are huge question marks for his ability to motivate players, to get them to believe in themselves and above all finding the right players in the transfer market. He bought eight new players last summer and none has been a success and some of them quite the opposite.
Perhaps he will get one more year to prove himself but nothing but a top four finish and even some silverware will save him in a years time. And he must do it without any large player investments this summer. The owners will not let him squander £100 M again. At the same time I wouldn´t be surprised if Brendan Rodgers´ tenure at Anfield is terminated in a few weeks or even days.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 38th and final league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 2.
Hadn´t much help from the defence but could have done better with some of the goals.
RB Emre Can 1.
Worst defensive effort from a red player in years. At fault for the first three goals.
CB Martin Skrtel 2.
Battled hard but was too often in a wrong position.
CB Mamadou Sakho 3.
Pretty solid display but was taken for a ride on a few occasions.
LB Alberto Moreno 1.
Outmuscled in defence and provided no attacking threat.
DM Lucas Leiva 1.
Couldn´t get hold of the Stoke midfield and was constantly overrun.
DM Joe Allen 1.
Passed the ball well for a while then he completely disappeared.
CM Steven Gerrard 2.
Invisible for long periods but gave it a go in the second half. Fine goal but to no avail.
CM Jordan Henderson 2.
Ran a lot to help out the defence. No contribution in attack.
LF Adam Lallana 2.
Had his moments but his finishing was poor.
RF Philippe Coutinho 1.
Passed the ball badly and his dribbles didn´t came off.
LF Jordon Ibe 4. (Replaced Alberto Moreno after 45 mins).
Best red player. Lively and beat his man all the time but the final ball never found a teammate.
RB Kolo Toure 2. (Replaced Emre Can after 45 mins).
Decent effort but was fooled once or twice.
CF Rickie Lambert 2. (Replaced Joe Allen after 69 mins).
A couple of good actions but nothing more.
This was the worst Liverpool performances in years. Well, it was no wonder as the season also was one of the more disappointing ones in recent times. We didn´t manage to fight for the title once more and not even for a Champions League place. In Europe we produced lousy displays in both Champions League and Europa League and were nowhere near any success. In the domestic cups we fell dismally at the final hurdle before the final. In a lot of matches against average opponents we made them look like world-beaters. In crucial matches we fell short again and again.
The Reds had a fine sequence when Tottenham, Southampton and Manchester City were beaten on the spin, but that was almost the only thing to be happy about during 2014/15.
It´s plain and clear that we need reinforcements in management, and all around the team and the squad. Then there can be a reason ahead of next season to believe that:
We Go Again.
PreviewPosted by Leif Larsson Sun, May 24, 2015 14:33:31
Last fixture of the Premier League is here and Liverpool players have four things to play for. Show pride and dignity towards the Liverbird on their chest, secure a Europa League place next campaign, give captain Steven Gerrard a winning send-off and create platform to build on ahead of next season.
Liverpool failed to win Gerrard´s last game at Anfield and must make amends now when we soon take on midtable Stoke at the Britannia. He is worth a victory in his last showing in Liverpool colours. It would be a pity if he and his colleagues would come unstuck in his last two games.
To lose the final two matches of the season doesn´t bode well for the future. If that happens then we really have let the season fizzle out in a lamentable way. It´s always better to end on a happy note so memories of defeat doesn´t linger on. Liverpool has in fact lost the two final games just on three occasions during the Premier League era. That´s enough.
A win is of course the aim today and could be necessary to secure an Europa League spot. But a defeat can also be enough. There are a lot of variables to consider. Teams that end up in 5th, 6th and 7th position qualify for Europa League if Aston Villa loses to Arsenal in the FA Cup final. If Villa wins then only the teams in 5th and 6th place qualifies for EL, then together with Aston Villa.
Liverpool is in a good position to make it. We are on 62 points in 5th place, one point ahead of Tottenham in 6th and two points better off than Southampton in 7th. We have a better goal-difference than Tottenham but worse than Southampton. So to avoid 7th place we need to finish on the same points tally as Tottenham or one point ahead of Southampton. If Tottenham and Southampton wins then we must beat Stoke to keep both rivals below us. A draw means that Liverpool drops to 7th place. But even that can be enough since it´s more likely Arsenal lifts the FA Cup than Aston Villa. It´s also odds-on that both Tottenham and Southampton are unable to pick up wins. They have tough away games at Everton and Manchester City respectively.
In some quarters Europa League is something to shun. The opinion being it takes focus off the league and a worthless thing to win. I beg to differ. Every tournament is worth triumph in and EL even more so nowadays when the winner qualifies for the Champions League the following season. And if Liverpool is aiming to be one of the big boys again then we must cope with a lot of fixtures. That is what big teams do. Europa League, along with the domestic cups, provide perfect opportunities for youngsters and fringe players to get experience and game-time. It´s no use playing 13-14 players in the league, having the rest of the squad warming the bench and being rusty when called upon. More matches developes the squad in a lot of ways.
Finally my take on the Raheem Sterling saga. It seems certain now that Sterling really wants to quit Anfield. If we keep him then we have an unhappy and disgruntled player on our books. Such a figure can both upset the dressing-room and is not likely to perform to the best of his ability.
If we force him to stay then he is likely to warm the bench or underperform. This will make his market value will drop alarmingly. At the moment we can probably get at least £ 40 m for him. So there is no point keeping him and paying wages to a player who isn´t pulling his weight and just waiting to get away.
And I can´t understand why Liverpool is so eager to make him stay. He is nowhere near a top class player. Somehow he has obtained a reputation with others and a high opinion with himself which in no way correlate with his actual ability. Perhaps he can be a top player in the future but right now he has got pace but not so much more. His shooting and finishing is laughable, his first touch average at best, his game intelligence mediocre and his decision making (dribbles too much) poor. He promised a lot when playing with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez but this season on his own, so to speak, he has never been near the level he seemed to have aquired. Sterling is just a promising kid but Liverpool is in no shortage of them. These guys could easily be as good as Sterling, if not better: Jordon Ibe, Jerome Sinclair, Harry Wilson, Joao Carlos Teixeira and Sheyi Ojo. So we don´t need the ego of Sterling in our ranks. Sell him ASAP and collect maximum fee while it´s possible.
This is team I would select for our last league game of the season (in a 4-4-2 diamond formation):
GK: Simon Mignolet. RB: Javier Manquillo. CB: Martin Skrtel. CB: Dejan Lovren. LB: Alberto Moreno. DM: Emre Can. RM: Steven Gerrard. LM: Jordan Henderson. AM: Philippe Coutinho. RF: Jordon Ibe. LF: Adam Lallana.
Manquillo should get a game to prove he is not forgotten. Can must be given a chance to make the DM position his own. He is a bit to naive, yet anyway, to be a defender. Joe Allen and Lazar Markovic are not better than the players I have picked so they end up on the bench.
A few players are on the way out and therefore no point in playing them. Players like Glen Johnson, Kolo Toure, Lucas Leiva, Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, Rickie Lambert and Raheem Sterling.
So now this pretty dull season ends but it´ll soon be forgotten and in a couple of months it´s time to clear the throats and roar:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Sun, May 17, 2015 13:14:39
It was a double-edged sword to witness yesterday. An era came to an end at Anfield and Steven Gerrard was celebrated in a fine way. At the same time the team couldn´t arrange a last home win for him. That´s a major worry when we move into post-Gerrard times.
After playing at Anfield for almost 17 years our captain took his final bow against Crystal Palace last night. The occasion was emotional and everybody participated to make it a nice event. Sadly Liverpool lost 1-3 and that dampered the mood considerably. Steven Gerrard had some tears in his eyes but didn´t cry. I guess he was afraid he would do so he brought his three daughters to take care of and focus on after the match.
It´s of course sad to see Gerrard leave but as always life goes on and so does Liverpool FC. The saddest thing was to watch how we once more got outplayed by a team worse than us, bot on paper and form-wise.
Steven Gerrard hasn´t been much of a leader this season and I can´t see anyone in the present squad being a future boss and motivator on the pitch. When the going gets tough we don´t get going. In fact, quite the opposite, we buckle and roll over and give in.
So in the summer we need to sign a true leader, a go-to-guy when things are going south. Jordan Henderson is by no means that man. Liverpool must find a midfield maestro with a playmaking capacity, a never-say-die attitude aswell as leadership qualities. Is he out there? Perhaps, but he won´t be cheap so the owners must open up the war chest and pour out the pounds.
If they don´t spend then Liverpool is destined for another season among the also-rans and even a place further down the table. Beside a leader figure we also need an established 25-goal striker and reinforcements all around the team. I´d say four or five top players to be able to compete for at least top four. Is the owners ready to splash the cash? I´m not so sure. They did when Kenny Dalglish asked for it and got some dross. Brendan Rodgers also got he nod to spend and also mismanaged the funds. Will FSG trust him once more? As I said, I doubt it. This summer we will most likely see fewer signings than last time around and the most expensive ones costing around 15 million pounds. In other words, the squad will not be strengthened.
Hopefully I am wrong and FSG put their money where their mouth was when they took over. They promised to spend to make Liverpool a force again, now is the crucial time to do it.
And finally another matter. In sports, numbers belonging to iconic players sometimes get retired, no one else is allowed to wear that number in the future. Regarding Gerrard´s number it would be appropriate, but in fact unnecessary. Because who in their right mind will knock on the manager´s door and ask for number 8? Well, no one in years to come, that´s for sure.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 37th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 3.
Not one of his best matches. A bit passive when Palace scored.
RB Emre Can 3.
Kept going forward but no end product. Committed himself too much in defence.
CB Martin Skrtel 4.
Decent display but made some rash tackles and got out of position at times.
LB Dejan Lovren 3.
Seemed nervy again and was troubled in the air and on the deck.
RWB Jordon Ibe 3.
Was pretty harmless and didn´t threaten the opposing defence.
DM Steven Gerrard 4.
A quiet last match at Anfield. Tried to get a goal in the second half but mishit hit chances.
CM Jordan Henderson 2.
Is out of form and didn´t contribute much. Not a leader in the making.
LWB Alberto Moreno 1.
Provided nothing in attack and had a lot of trouble in defence.
RF Adam Lallana 3.
Nice finish for 1-0 but didn´t offer so much more.
LF Philippe Coutinho 3.
Was involved far too little. Never got going.
CF Raheem Sterling 1.
Played for himself once more and created nothing.
CF Rickie Lambert 1. (Replaced Jordon Ibe after 65 mins).
Played for 25 minutes but was never seen.
DM Lucas Leiva 2. (Replaced Adam Lallana after 65 mins).
No big mistakes but no impact either.
LF Jerome Sinclair 1. (Replaced Alberto Moreno after 87 mins).
Just made up the numbers.
A lame last game at Anfield this season and sadly none of the Reds rallied to give Gerrard a fine send-off. One final match remains to make sure the captain can end his career at Liverpool on a happy and winning note. It´s essential that:
We Go Again.
PreviewPosted by Leif Larsson Sat, May 16, 2015 12:45:44
Well, we have now reached the time when it´s only hours away before Steven Gerrard takes his last shots, passes and steps as a Liverpool player at Anfield. The match against Crystal Palace this evening will be all about his farewell to his home crowd and the small matter of three Premier League points.
Football is a team game with winning as the prime objective. But from time to time actual matches plays second fiddle to something else. The Liverpool vs Crystal Palace game is such an event. How can it not be? Because when one of Liverpool all-time greats is due to play his final home game in a red shirt everything else seems trivial.
A possible win against a mid-table side with hardly any bearing on league placings is not going to raise nowhere near the emotions our iconic captain´s good-bye will create. I can already sense how emotional everybody will be, me included. In fact when I think of him leaving for good a tear appears in the corner of my eye. I guess it will plenty more of that in eight or nine hours from now. Okay, Gerrard has got one more game to go after the encounter today, Stoke away, but this match feels like the real bye-bye, ciao, au revoir and adios.
But it´s also a competitive match to be played and Stevie is determined to conclude his Anfield connection with a win. But Palace will be geared up, they don´t want to be called unprofessional for giving Gerrard, and Liverpool, an easy and pleasant ride in his last home match. So they will fight for every ball and make it difficult for the Reds.
Hopefully the home team realizes the responsibilty they´ve got and work their socks off to give Gerrard the appropiate send-off. He has had some bad moments in recent times, a happy occurrence is long overdue.
Crystal Palace has lost four league matches on the trot while Liverpool has picked themselves up after som indifferent results. So form is pointing to a home victory, so are statistics. The teams has met quite often in cup competitions in the last 20 years with a mixed outcome. But when it comes to Anfield league matches the Reds are superior. The last five games has ended in four home wins and a draw.
This is the Red team I would field to grab a historical win:
GK: Simon Mignolet. RB: Emre Can. CB: Martin Skrtel. CB: Dejan Lovren. LB: Alberto Moreno. DM: Lucas Leiva. RM: Steven Gerrard. LM: Jordan Henderson. AM: Philippe Coutinho. RF: Raheem Sterling. LF: Adam Lallana.
Nothing more to do than keep our fingers crossed, the handkerchiefs close by and hopes for the future intact. I´m sure that even after Steven Gerrard has gone it will be possible to say:
We Go Again.
MiscellanousPosted by Leif Larsson Thu, May 14, 2015 14:40:56
How incredibly quick 17 years flies past you. It feels like yesterday Steven Gerrard made his debut in a Liverpool shirt - but in fact it was 16 years and 6 months ago. And now it´s just two games to go, and only one at Anfield left. It´s hitting home and it´s not a nice feeling.
On the 29th of November 1998 local lad 18-year old Steven Gerrard entered Anfield in the 90th minute to make his first appearence for his beloved Liverpool FC. He started five matches and came on as a sub in eight matches in the 1998/99 season. The following season he really established himself and from time to time kept players like Danny Murphy, Vladimir Smicer and Jamie Redknapp out of the starting eleven.
His scored for the first time in a red shirt on the 5th of December 1999 when Liverpool demolished Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 at L4. Up to that match I was not completely convinced about the raw youngster but in that game he really arrived for me. The turning point was his fantastic solo goal to make it 3-1. Then I knew Liverpool had discovered some heck of a player.
The way he at full speed danced past two defenders, what we now would describe as Coutinhoesque style, and hit a low shot into corner was pure magic.
The goal can be seen ocn You Tube at this adress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVc65NiCXIY - fast forward to the 21st minute of the clip and enjoy.
Since then Gerrard has scored a lot of important and spectacular goals, played over 700 matches for the Reds and won a few trophies along the way. My all-time favourite Gerrard goal is the one he scored against Olympiakos which sent Liverpool through from the group stage of the 2004/05 Champions League and we all know how that campaign ended. Check that goal out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9AW3RjHjmA.
The memories are in abundance but soon enough no new ones will be created. It will be strange to see Liverpool without Captain Fantastic next season. I have always thought of him as the perfect role model for footballers, both on and off the pitch. We will probably never again witness a player of the same calibre representing Liverpool for so long and with such distinction.
Hopefully Steven Gerrard can end his playing career in Liverpool with two wins and a couple of goals. I will certainly have my fingers crossed. And would it not be a fitting end if he could get a hattrick against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday in his last outing in front of (crying?) Kopites? Gerrard will never say we go again as a player but perhaps he can return as a manager in the not too distant future and once more utter his own cult words:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Mon, May 11, 2015 17:14:07
We needed a win, got a draw, should have won, but didn´t. The 1-1 draw at Chelsea yesterday was Liverpool´s season in a nutshell. Our football has been decent, often enough the Reds has seen more of the ball than the opposition and created more chances. But when it comes to converting we have not been good enough. Hence no Champions League football next season.
Liverpool is now six points behind fourth placed Manchester United and 14 goals worse off goal difference-wise. Just two league matches remains and we must beat Crystal Palace 8-0 at home and Stoke 3-0 away at the same time as Man Utd loses 0-2 at home to Arsenal and 0-2 at Hull to get on even terms with the Mancs. As you can see, no dice. We are stuck with Europa League next campaign.
The performance versus champions Chelsea was quite good but far from great. Liverpool was slightly better than the home side but we missed a couple of gilt-edged chances and that was that with that. The only thing to aim for now is to give fans a couple of good showings and Steven Gerrard a winning sending-off. To finish fifth is not bad by any means considering the strength of the Premier League but nothing Liverpool should be content with. We haven´t finished fifth for ten years so that´s a bit of a novelty but hardly anything to take comfort in.
Last season ended in disappointment but gave hope for the future. This season ends in the same mood but with less hope. In a year´s time hope must be restored, I am sick and tired of having the losing feeling at the end of the season - after season. A top four finish, perhaps even a title battle, is minimum requirement next time around and also some silverware to enjoy.
Finally some words about the peculiar Chelsea support. They sang a song throughout about a player from their rivals and held up signs with his name. Okay, they taunted and mocked Steven Gerrard, but still, it was him they sang about and his name they flashed in the stands. I didn´t hear any song about their own Eden Hazard, player of the season, or John Terry, Willian, Branislav Ivanovic or any other of their players. None of the Chelsea names was seen on signs in the stands. Despite their champion status.
And furthermore, the Gerrard song was a Liverpool song they´ve adjusted, no idea of their own. I understand why José Mourinho is jealous about the Anfield crowd. Okay, Kopites sometimes sing about opponents to mock them but not hours on end and like Chelsea fans when the player isn´t even on the pitch. They have this season sang about Gerrard´s slip even when they´ve faced Sunderland, Hull, West Bromwich and Arsenal and all other teams.
Odd behaviour indeed. And pitiful when they could have gave their own players that vocal support instead. I think every Chelsea player hate that their fans sings about an opponent and not of their own.
Do you think Liverpool fans would have sang about a Chelsea player slip the season before if we were celebrating a Premier League title? Of course not. But, then again, we have the best fans in the world, Chelsea have not, to put it mildly.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 36th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 4.
Could perhaps have saved the goal. In trouble in the air on a couple of occasions.
RB Emre Can 5.
Kept Eden Hazard quiet and attacked with eager and determination.
CB Martin Skrtel 6.
Effective tackles and lead the backline well.
CB Dejan Lovren 6.
Formed a well working partnership with Skrtel. Hardly any mistakes.
LB Glen Johnson 6.
Defended properly and was more involved in attack than in a long time.
DM Steven Gerrard 4.
Hit several fine passes but had trouble in his defensive duties. Smart headed goal.
RM Jordan Henderson 4.
Mixed god stuff with bad. Invisible in periods.
LM Philippe Coutinho 4.
Missed some easy passes and was not at his best. Some nice moves though.
RF Raheem Sterling 5.
Best effort in a long time. Moved a lot, used his pace but his delivery was erratic.
CF Rickie Lambert 2.
Too slow for this division. Lost aeriel duels, most significantly when Chelsea scored.
LF Adam Lallana 6.
A constant threat with his trickery and clever moves. One of his best displays in red.
CF Jerome Sinclair 2. (Replaced Rickie Lambert after 68 mins).
Couldn´t really get into the action but showed some nice touches. Promising debut.
RF Jordon Ibe 3. (Replaced Adam Lallana after 71 mins).
Made some dangerous runs but also lost the ball to easy.
DM Lucas Leiva 1. (Replaced Steven Gerrard after 79 mins).
No particular impact.
Two games to go and soon it´s time for a pivotal transfer summer. How we succeed this time will probably have effects for a long time. We must sign at least two players of the highest calibre and one of them a 25-goal striker. Do it, please, and give meaning to the expression:
We Go Again.