ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Thu, April 09, 2015 18:31:49
It was not a vintage display but it took us to Wembley and kept hopes of a trophy intact. Liverpool ´s 1-0 win away to Blackburn in the FA Cup sixth round replay was spiced with both luck and magic. Now we can look forward to a Wembley semifinal showpiece versus Aston Villa on Sunday April 19.
The magic came from our own wizard Philippe Coutinho who once more hit the winner this spring. He has created a pleasant habit of putting the ball in the net giving us the final edge. Same story yesterday when he combined smartly with Jordan Henderson before smashing home from an acute angle in the 71st minute. It looked easy but was anything but. Our playmaker made it look like shooting practise in a training session. He knew early how to shoot and converted expertly.
Luck played it´s part in the closing stages when the Blackburn goalkeeper Simon Eastwood had a glorious chance to score after a corner but shot straight at Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet. The right Simon won that duel. Simon says.
On the whole Liverpool dominated the game and could and should have won a bit bigger. But it doesn´t matter, the Reds made it to the semifinal, despite a few hiccups.
Play-wise we must up our game if we are to progress to the final. Defensively we were a bit vulnerable at times even if Blackburn seldom put us to the test. Our attacking creativity has waned lately and it´s necessary to speed up the passing to make it easier to open up opposing defences. Right now Liverpool is playing too slow and particularly in the first halfs.
When Martin Skrtel and Emre Can returns then defence will be meaner and Adam Lallana can make the attack more inventive. If the squad can stay injury-free for the rest of the season then a trophy might be heading to Anfield. But we have to go down to Anfield South (Wembley) and pick it up.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 6th round replay (quarterfinal) of the FA Cup (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 7.
Dominated in the air and made at least three great saves, one matchwinning one at the death.
RB Glen Johnson 6.
Strong defensive display and pretty good going forward.
CB Mamadou Sakho 2.
A couple of odd decisions almost gave Blackburn a goal. Injured early on.
CB Dejan Lovren 5.
Won everything in the air and cleared the ball well. Distribution not up to par.
LB Alberto Moreno 3.
Had little trouble defensively but didn´t contribute so much attack-wise.
DM Lucas Leiva 4.
Did his defensive job but not so much more.
RM Jordan Henderson 4.
Appeared to be uncomfortable on the right and missed some easy passes. Nice pass for the goal, though.
LM Joe Allen 3.
Couldn´t stamp his authority on the game. Weak in duels.
RF Philippe Coutinho 6.
Started slowly but grew into the match. Created chances and hit the matchwinning goal.
CF Daniel Sturridge 2.
Bad first touch let him down constantly and he wasn´t sharp enough when chances came his way.
LF Raheem Sterling 5.
Troubled the home defence throughout with his speed but his shooting was awful.
CB Kolo Toure 6. (Replaced Mamadou Sakho after 28 mins).
Not a single mistake after coming on and even saved the day with perfect tackles and blocks.
CF Rickie Lambert 1. (Replaced Daniel Sturridge after 85 mins).
Too little time to make a mark. Missed a header which should have hit the target.
Liverpool is back at Wembley after a three years absence and hopefully we can make the most of it beating Aston Villa in the semifinal and then Arsenal or Reading in the final. Silverware is long overdue and therefore:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Mon, April 06, 2015 11:42:48
Finally it´s official, Liverpool will miss out on Champions League positions after the dismal 1-4 defeat against Arsenal in the Premier League. Manager Brendan Rodgers admits a top four finish is out of reach now but stand-in captain Jordan Henderson claims there is still hope. The boss is right on this one, we are going to end up among the also-rans this season scrambling for Europa League places. We are eight points behind Manchester United with seven games remaining. We´ll never catch them.
After the pitiful home loss against Man Utd our backs was against the wall facing Arsenal. A win was necessary but we never had a chance. The Reds started slowly, as we done too many times this season, and our defensive play was, to put it mildly, rubbish. Okay, we upped our game a bit in the second half but to no avail, the damage was already done and the home win sealed long before the final whistle. When it mattered most we came up with the worst display of the season. Not a good sign.
Our only goal left is to win the FA Cup and secure a Europa League place. I´m not so sure we can achieve any of it. Even if we eliminate both Blackburn and Aston Villa in the FA Cup we probably have to overcome Arsenal in the final. Taking the last meeting between the teams into account it seems like an unsurmountable task.
If we land in 5th or 6th place inte final Premier League table then a Europa League place is ours. Some think that the competition is a disturbance and takes focus off the league. But Liverpool must get as much European experince as possible to develope as a team, especially as we have got a pretty young squad. If we are to be a force again then we need to be able to manage both domestic and European challenges at the same time. Just as any big club do.
But now that we´ve blown our CL chance the EL qualification will be a tough one. The players will feel disappointed about missing out on CL and it could take some time to recuperate. In the meantime the chasing pack containing Tottenham and Southampton could overtake us. They have already given up on CL places and is back on track aiming for another European possibility.
Furthermore there is rumours about Brendan Rodgers giving the team a rollicking for not ”playing for him” and rumours also says that the players got annoyed by his critic. Well, if he gave them a roasting, it was appropiate. The players should in fact give it to themselves for performing so badly in the two matches we needed to win.
Okay, mathematically we still have a chance to reach top four but it would take a miracle, we had ours in Istanbul in 2005, and since they rarely come by I don´t expect a another is waiting around the corner.
When Liverpool lost 0-3 against Manchester United in December I gave every player the rating 1 in a scale between 1 and 10, 1 being the lowest grade. I think when a big club as Liverpool goes down by three goals to a club of similar status then the effort doesn´t qualify for anything more. It´s the same this time, every Liverpool players who participated versus Arsenal gets the grade 1.
In a couple of days the whole season can go south when we face Blackburn in the FA Cup sixth round replay. Nothing but a win is thinkable when:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Mon, March 23, 2015 10:07:35
After the Liverpool vs Manchester United game you must wonder how much can go wrong. Apparently everything. Gerrard madness, a lousy ref and a lame Red performance made it extremely easy for a mediocre United to win and take charge in the top four chase. The untimely 1-2 defeat at Anfield yesterday was completely unnecessary. But we cling on to hope like a crackpot not knowing better.
Liverpool had a great chance to take command in the fight for Champions League places yesterday. But we blew it in a pitiful way and now the prospects are bleak. You can easily blame referee Martin Atkinson for the defeat. But he had just a small part in it. Okay, he was really poor, as he too often is. The red card on Steven Gerrard was right but he should also have sent-off Uniteds Phil Jones after his knee-high whack-down of Jordan Henderson. Why Atkinson just showed the yellow is beyond me. It was career-threatening tackle far more dangerous than Gerrard´s stamp. And the penalty given at the end when Emre Can and Daley Blind tussled was just ridiculous. A lot of other calls were also wrong, Atkinson is not good enough for the Premier League, simple as that.
If Jones had been sent-off then the match would have developed in quite a different way. Liverpool dominated the second half with one man less and had it been ten against ten we would at least managed a draw, that I´m sure of, and kept the CL fight wide open.
But the major fact behind the loss was our disappointing slow start to the game. Liverpool let the visitors take charge. The Reds appeared a bit tired and scared and played pedestrian and dull football. Too many times this season Liverpool has started like this and it has got to stop. Especially at Anfield it should be us on the front foot dictating the game. After United´s first goal it was uphill all the way and Gerrard´s madness didn´t help matters. The most annoying thing about the defeat is the fact that Man United didn´t play particularly well and is a decent side, at best. They were there for the taking and we let the opportunity pass us by. That´s sad because now United have got the momentum and the confidence. It should and could have been us in that position.
We´ve now learned the hard way that this Liverpool team has a long way to go before being able to dominate these kind of games. Stand-in captain Jordan Henderson hasn´t got the authority, yet, to boss matches of this gravity. He went missing yesterday, as was Philippe Coutinho. They are both fine footballers but are still not the go-to-guys when the going gets tough and the stakes are high. They need to improve on this if we are to have any chance in the top four battle. It´s eight games to go so all is not lost. But we got a real dent in our smooth running machine, it must be mended promptly.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 30th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 4.
No apparent mistakes but could have done better to keep out the first goal.
RB Emre Can 3.
Battled hard but is sometimes defending naively. Few attacking actions.
CB Martin Skrtel 5.
Took care of business in a determined way but was out of position once or twice.
LB Mamadou Sakho 6.
Won every duel and didn´t give the ball away. Best Red on the day.
RWB Raheem Sterling 3.
Isn´t cut out for wingback role and was completely ineffective.
CM Joe Allen 5.
Passed the ball fairly well but also lost possession a few times.
CM Jordan Henderson 2.
Didn´t show the leadership qualities required in this kind of match. Has a lot to learn.
LWB Alberto Moreno 1.
Weak in defence and distributed the ball badly.
RF Adam Lallana 2.
Seemed lost and couldn´t make any impact.
CF Daniel Sturridge 4.
Isolated in the front line but created some chances and scored from a difficult angle.
LF Philippe Coutinho 2.
Almost invisible in the first half and improved just marginally in the second.
CM Steven Gerrard 1. (Replaced Adam Lallana after 45 mins).
A frenzied and stupid action destroyed his last game against Man United.
CF Mario Balotelli 1. (Replaced Alberto Moreno after 66 mins).
Had almost half an hour to do something but didn´t.
The hope of top four has diminshed dramatically and the only thing to salvage the situation is a win in our next league game, the one against Arsenal at Emirates on the 4th of April. A tough proposition indeed but if we draw or lose then we are six or nine points behind Arsenal and probably eight points behind Manchester United and and then it´s game over in the Champions League quest. So there is still a glimmer of hope but now it´s all down to one utterly hard away game. It must end in a Red victory so we can continue to believe that:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Tue, March 17, 2015 16:25:12
Liverpool is still on board the top four train riding their luck. The 1-0 win against Swansea yesterday came in handy and was due to quality performances from goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, midfielder Joe Allen and centreback Martin Skrtel. Plus a helping hand from Lady Luck.
The hardfought victory at Liberty Stadium means that Liverpool keep up with top four rivals Arsenal and Manchester United. We are just three points behind the Gunners and trailing the Red Devils with two. At the same time the Reds climbed away a bit from Tottenham and Southampton, who lost and drew at the weekend, and we are now four points ahead of them. More and more it looks like a three horse race for two Champions League places, perhaps even four horses if Manchester City continue to drop points. The Sky Blues are only four points clear of Liverpool. A lot can happen in the final nine matches.
But it was a close shave yesterday. Liverpool could easily have drawn or even lost versus Swansea. In the first half some excellent saves from Simon Mignolet kept Liverpool on level terms. Mig has improved beyond recognition in recent times and is taking care of every aspect of the goalkeeping job in a confident way. He dominates his own area, punching when it´s on and catching when necessary. His lightning quick reflexes has kept the opponents out on a numerous of occasions in matches since Christmas. He was at it again against Swansea.
Liverpool was outplayed in the first half and it was only custodian Mig and a stubborn defence lead by Skrts, Martin Skrtel, and several ball-winning and ball-keeping actions from Joe Allen, our own Welsh Xavi, who dragged us all the way to halftime without conceding.
In the second half it was more of the Liverpool we´ve seen lately. The Reds were aggressive, won the ball early, refused to give away goal-chances and created quite a few for themselves. Liverpool had a lot more energy than Swansea late in the game and the Red stamina level is apparently good.
Okay, the goal was lucky in it´s conclusion but the passes from Skrtel and Daniel Sturridge were brilliant spur of the moment actions and then the manic run from Jordan Henderson, which appeared to be futile, paid off. A good team has luck on its side.
Mignolet, Allen and Skrtel has upped their game considerably as of late. On the whole Liverpool is far better than the side we saw in the autumn. But there is still room for improvement. Too often we start matches slowly and it can come back to haunt us. It could easily have done that yesterday. Another distressing thing is the way several players are blowing hot and cold. The consistency isn´t really there with, for instance, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling, Alberto Moreno and Jordan Henderson. They are not playing bad but too often a bit worse than their best. They need to hit their highest level in the final stretch if Liverpool is going to make the top four dream real.
Another worry is that Daniel Sturridge is far from top form. Against Swansea he pulled the trigger too slow, took too many touches and was a bit lazy at times. He must raise his game significantly to even make the starting eleven. Right now I would prefer an attacking trio of Lallana, Sterling and Coutinho. They worked perfectly together before but the introduction of Sturridge has disturbed their rhythm, their mojo. Recently Sterling and Lallana has shared the job as right wingback and either of them is really up to the job. And they don´t seem to like it.
But as long as Liverpool is picking up three points I am satisfied. May it continue for a long time also called nine games.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 29th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 7.
Selfconfident effort capped with with several fine, matchwinning saves.
RB Emre Can 2.
Made a lot of wrong decisions and was too easily tricked.
CB Martin Skrtel 7.
Tough in the air, strong in duels and safe in his passing.
LB Mamadou Sakho 4.
A bit nervous at the start but grew into the game.
RWB Adam Lallana 3.
Lost the ball too often and didn´t create so much.
CM Joe Allen 7.
Hardly missed a pass and won the ball via tackles and interceptions. Worked hard all over the pitch. Man of the match.
CM Jordan Henderson 5.
Invisible in the first half but was more involved after the break. Lucky, but deserved, goal.
LWB Alberto Moreno 3.
Had trouble in defence and his distribution was far from staisfying.
RF Raheem Sterling 5.
Came to live in the second half when he used his pace to create goal-chances and free-kicks.
CF Daniel Sturridge 3.
Tried too many fancy things when there were better and more easy options. His finishing needs to improve.
LF Philippe Coutinho 5.
Was as lively as always but his passing was not top notch nor was his shooting.
CM Steven Gerrard 5. (Replaced Alberto Moreno after 64 mins).
Came in and steadied the midfield and spread some fine passes.
RWB Glen Johnson 1. (Replaced Adam Lallana after 88 mins).
Too little time on to do anything special.
Nine matches to go and Liverpool is still in the top four mix. It will be difficult to keep our magnificent streak with wins and clean sheets going but it has to be done in order to reach Champions League places. Next game, against Manchester United, could be the deal breaker, the watershed moment. A win would really make it possible, and joyful, to once more declare:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Mon, March 09, 2015 16:18:32
A typical case of complacency. Liverpool believed they would win no matter what. The team had played so well lately that a win against Championship side Blackburn was an open and shut case. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) football is seldom that straightforward and predictable. So we have to endure another nervous and unnecessary replay in the FA Cup.
The 0-0 draw at Anfield in the FA Cup sixth round between Liverpool and Blackburn yesterday could and should have ended in a convincing home win. The visitors have been praised for their great game, smart tactics and good defensive work. Well, how it ended didn´t have so much to do with them. If Liverpool had attacked with the same tempo in their passing as of late then the scoreborad would have read 3-0.
But almost everytime in possession Red players took three or ten touches and thus slowed the match down allowing Blackburn getting into the right defensive positions all night long. The holes were there but Liverpool never acted quick enough to use them. We were too cocky believing Blackburn would crack. If we had played more of a one touch game then we would have penetrated the vistors wall on a number of occasions. Now we never threatened to do that.
And when Brendan Rodgers realized that the barn door was shut he ordered Liverpool to start crossing, often high balls, instead of trying to find gaps centrally. Well, this tactic gave us a couple of half-chances but when such a strategy is adopted why not put on Rickie Lambert, who is strong in the air, instead of Mario Balotelli who clearly isn´t. Bad call from the manager.
Okay, there were a few things disturbing Liverpool. Such as us having a hectic schedule lately, getting Martin Skrtel injured early and the fact that the back three was a complete new one compared to the one used in recent times. But this is not enough to justify such a flat display.
Defensively we were not bad but acted more nervous than normal. And that disrupted play all over the pitch. Missing Joe Allen in midfield was also a blow, bigger than expected. His replacement Emre Can was not quick enough in mind or feet to keep up the passing pace.
It was a lazy performance from Liverpool. There were hardly any unselfish running to open up space for others. And too often the player receiving the ball had his back to the Blackburn goal. It´s impossible to play effective football that way.
The decision making was also back to its worst. Dribbles, passes and shots came at the wrong moment. A worrying thing was the way that we lost so many duels. Blackburn outmuscled Liverpool almost every time it was a fight for the ball.
Blackburn proved to be a mediocre team with set-pieces and high punts upfield as their only offensive weapons. The Reds should down such a side. But we created extremely little and when Kolo Toure is the guy closest to scoring then you now it´s gonna be a frustrating night.
Afterwards the manager and players were pleased to have kept a clean sheet and still being in the hat for the semifinal draw. Noone admitted it was a dreadful showing. I think the right reaction would have been to be utterly disappointed and even ashamed. At Anfield Liverpool must be able to easily beat such an inferior opponent. But it can´t be done with an 80 percent effort.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 6th round (quarterfinal) of the FA Cup (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 4.
One great save rescued the Reds. Not tested so much rest of the time.
RB Glen Johnson 4.
Solid in defence and didn´t lose possession as often as he usually do.
CB Martin Skrtel 1.
Just played a couple of minutes before his injury.
LB Dejan Lovren 4.
A steady display, defended well and didn´t miss many passes.
RWB Lazar Markovic 1.
Ran straight at opponents losing the ball and missed a lot of passes.
DM Emre Can 3.
Strong in duels but dwelled on the ball and was sloppy in his delivery.
CM Jordan Henderson 4.
Kept the ball in the team but created very little attack-wise.
LWB Raheem Sterling 3.
Ineffective as a leftsided wingback. Lost the ball too often.
RF Adam Lallana 3.
Released the ball too late and his crosses never found a teammate.
CF Daniel Sturridge 4.
Fought well alone versus two defenders but only managed to create a couple of half-chances.
LF Philippe Coutinho 3.
Invisible in the first half, created a little more in the second.
CB Kolo Toure 4. (Replaced Martin Skrtel after 11 mins).
A good performance defensively in the centre of the back three.
CF Mario Balotelli 1. (Replaced Lazar Markovic after 59 mins).
A couple of nice touches but on the whole too selfish.
Just when Liverpool appeared to have wiped out their sluggish performances one more came. Hopefully this was a one off, it was definitely a wake up call. It will be a tough replay at Blackburn early April and Liverpool must raise their game a lot to progress in the FA Cup to be able to say:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Thu, March 05, 2015 15:12:00
A potential stumbling-block was duly taken care of when Liverpool skilfully and in a confident manner easily disposed of Burnley at Anfield yesterday. The 2-0 win was necessary and kept us close to Champions League spots in the table.
Liverpool was expected to win against the 19th placed team and did it without fuss. Burnley had earlier managed draws at Chelsea and Manchester City but this time they were never near getting a result. The Reds dominated from start to finish and could and should have won by a larger margin. We missed several good chances. The finishing is still one of our weak points, but it´s improving and is at the moment sufficient enough to lead to victories. Especially as the defence has improved beyond recognition compared to the months before of Christmas. Liverpool has recorded six clean sheets in the last eight matches. Before Christmas we shut up shop just four times in 17 fixtures. A remarkable sea-change.
It was also nice to see Liverpool putting in the same effort versus Burnley as we did against Manchester City a few days ago. No slacking and believing it would be an easy match. Everyone gave 100 percent in running, working, pressing and even mentally. Right from the off Liverpool sat themselves down in the front seat and didn´t even invite Burnley to the ride. It was never going to be anything but a home win. The attacking play was inventive, quick and highly entertaining.
Several player had good games. Emre Can defended an created intelligently and skilfully in a couple of positions. He´s becoming a real Kop favourite. Martin Skrtel is starting to be the effective hardman he was a few years ago. Adam Lallana was all over the pitch trying to unlock the away defence with smart moves and trickery. Joe Allen is also growing into the team and is offering fine passing and the ability to slow down or speed up the game at he right moment.
Jordan Henderson does the same and his passing is brilliant, whether he chose the short, the long, the difficult or the smart one. In recent weeks he has grown immensly compared to the figure low on confidence a few months back. Now he holds his head up high, bossing midfield football-wise and has the aura of a true leader, in fact more of a general than a captain.
His tranformation is fantastic and one I never anticipated. Every aspect of his football has improved aswell. I take my hat off and bow to the new Liverpool enforcer. We don´t have to worry about Steven Gerrard leaving anymore. Henderson is ready to step up and be the main man in the middle.
Furthermore, together with Joe Allen he has formed a well-oiled and well-working tandem in the middle of the park. If one of the two attacks, the other one holds the defensive fort and vice versa. If anyone a while ago had suggested that they could be a successful duo in central midfield that person would have been laughed off. Not anymore. Let´s hope Allen and Henderson kan keep this performance level up for at least ten more league games. And hopefully manager Brendan Rodgers doesn´t split up the partnership when Steven Gerrard is fit again. We are more dangerous offensively and more secure in defence with the present duo in midfield.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 28th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 5.
Hardly anything to do but dominated his area and looked assured.
RB Emre Can 7.
Strong in defence and active and creative going forward.
CB Martin Skrtel 6.
Didn´t lose anything in the air and made no errors.
LB Dejan Lovren 4.
Defensively okay but missed several passes, many of them hoofs.
RWB Adam Lallana 7.
A gifted display with a lot of running, trickery and creativity.
CM Joe Allen 6.
Another fine performance from the Welshman. Hardly missed a pass all evening.
CM Jordan Henderson 9.
Perhaps his best effort in a red shirt. Was everywhere, passing, probing, breaking up play and always being at the right place doing the right thing. Capped it with a smashing goal and a perfectly crossed assist.
LWB Alberto Moreno 3.
Didn´t create anything offensively. Must improve his final ball.
RF Raheem Sterling 5.
Seems speedier now than just some weeks ago. Offered some new tricks but is still too much in love with the ball.
CF Daniel Sturridge 5.
Missed two or three gilt-edged chances but finished cooly with his head. Still not in his best form.
LF Philippe Coutinho 6.
Wasn´t as involved as he can be but on the ball he made things happen. Close to another wonder goal.
RB Kolo Toure 4. (Replaced Alberto Moreno after 73 mins).
Played it safe and never let anyone past him.
RWB Glen Johnson 2. (Replaced Daniel Sturridge after 83 mins).
No particular actions, good or bad.
CF Rickie Lambert 1. (Replaced Raheem Sterling after 90 mins)
Too little time to have any impact.
All four rivals for a top four finish won their mid-week match so it was important Liverpool did the same. For the first time this season we have won four league matches in a row and clocked up twelve games without defeat. And we must stretch the sequence to 15 because the next three fixtures are extremely important. They could be decisive in Liverpool´s top four chase. We face Swansea, Manchester United and Arsenal and probably need to pick up at least seven points to still be in the mix. Bearing in mind the way we play right now I wouldn´t bet against us to manage that as:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Mon, March 02, 2015 14:29:38
Liverpool produced their best performance of the season yesterday. The Reds defeated the reigning champions, played really well and made it happen despite preparations far from ideal. The 2-1 win versus Manchester City at Anfield was another enjoyable step towards a top four finish in the league. And behind it all was magician Philippe Coutinho and his copycats Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen.
I was optimistic ahead of the game, mostly due to our recent previous displays at home against Man City and our fine matches in the league in recent weeks. At the same time I was afraid that our strenous trip to Turkey in midweek would be costly and make us tire at the end of the game. But instead Liverpool was the far more alert side in the closing stages, despite having at least 48 hours less than Man City to recover. In fact, our pressing and aggression was more intense in the final quarter than during the rest of the match. It was good on the whole, fantastic in the last 15 minutes. After Philippe Coutinho´s magnificent goal the Reds were marvellously determined to keep City at bay.
The performance was almost a perfect one. The passing was crisp and often going forward. The defensive work oustanding all over the pitch. And the creativity on a maximum level. The only thing missing was more telling final balls. But it didn´t matter. Man City closed the gaps pretty well at the back but then the Reds took to long range shooting. The two goals were out of this world.
We have learned that Philippe Coutinho can unleash these kind of incredible strikes, it was his third in a short time. But it was a bit of a surprise that Jordan Henderson also had it in his toolbox. His opener was even harder and more wellplaced than Coutinho´s. More Coutinho-esque than a shot from the real Phil.
Joe Allen was also in Coutinho-esque mood. He wiggled and swerved his body in the process conning opponents before hitting inch-perfect passes. Just like Coutinho does. Perhaps Henderson has studied Philippe´s shooting and Allen his moves.
If Coutinho was man of the match then Allen wasn´t far behind. It was his best effort in the red shirt. Aswell as keeping the ball in the team and often finding teammates in fine attacking positions he also constantly broke up play and stifled City playmaker David Silva. Both Coutinho and Allen proves that you don´t have to be big to be a great footballer.
Last season it was a privilege to watch the goal exploits from Luis Suarez. This season it´s even more pleasant to see the magic and football expertise from Philippe Coutinho. Besides his clever moves, feints, excellent passing and game intelligence he has now added another ingridient, the long range shot. This will make him even harder to handle for opponents and produce even more entertainment for us fans. Let´s hope he keeps it up and even improves then Liverpool will rise in the table and best of all, his prize will rise to heights where not even Barcelona or Real Madrid can afford him.
A funny thing about Philippe´s winner yesterday is that after the match against Southampton, where he scored a similar goal, I urged him in an entry on the blog to do the same against Man City and hopefully have the winner. And he did. Maybe he is reading this blog. :)
The win against Man City was a prestigious one but gave us nothing more than three points (and perhaps more self-confidence). But the Reds must come down from cloud nine in a hurry, on Wednesday we face relegation strugglers Burnley and it takes a 100 percent effort to down them aswell. If overconfidence creeps in, then we are in trouble. Three points against Burnley are as valuable as the three we gained yesterday. If we slip up then both Manchester United and Arsenal can pull away further. We are close to them now, just 2-3 points behind, next step is to overtake them, not lose ground.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 27th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 6.
Insecure in the beginning but recovered well and overall a steady game.
RB Emre Can 5.
A good defensive display but not so effective going forward.
CB Martin Skrtel 7.
Majestic in the air and strong in the tackle.
LB Dejan Lovren 4.
Started a little shaky but grew into the match. Must improve his passing.
RWB Lazar Markovic 2.
Wasted the ball too often but did a decent job defensively.
CM Joe Allen 8.
A top effort. Hit numerous perfect passes and won the ball a lot.
DM Jordan Henderson 7.
Started slowly but soon enough he was the boss in midfield.
LWB Alberto Moreno 4.
Not so dangerous in attack as he has been. Quite good in defence.
RF Adam Lallana 7.
Was all over the pitch creating and worked hard throughout. Unlucky not to score.
CF Raheem Sterling 5.
Seemed a lot sharper than in recent times but can do better.
LF Philippe Coutinho 9.
Fantastic display capped with excellent passing and a beautiful winner. Involved in everything for 90 minutes.
CF Daniel Sturridge 3. (Replaced Lazar Markovic after 76 mins).
Is slowly improving. Missed a sitter when he should have scored.
RB Kolo Toure 4. (Replaced Alberto Moreno after 83 mins).
Came in and made the defence even more impregnable.
Liverpool is slowly but surely climbing the table and is now in fifth place. In a few weeks we have passed West Ham, Southampton and Tottenham. Next challenge is to leapfrog Arsenal and Manchester United. If we can stay in this mood and form then it´s a distinct possibility. Just to make sure:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Fri, February 27, 2015 09:59:26
A half-decent first half followed by the most inept 75 minutes this season could only lead to the Europa League exit door. Liverpool was back to their worst self versus Besiktas yesterday .
Okay, Liverpool had to shuffle the pack and leave out major figures due to injury. And matches has arrived quick and regularly. But this doesn´t justify the bad performance, only to a certain extent. The Reds should be able to put up a better showing than in the 0-1 defeat in Turkey.
In the first half we played quite good and could have put the issue beyond doubt if Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling had put their fine chances away. After the break it was another story. Besiktas dominated completely, created chances and the home goal was inevitable. The Turks continued to run the show all the way through the second half and in extra-time aswell. We were lucky to get to a penalty shoot-out.
In the second half Liverpool was back to bad habits displayed in the autumn. The Reds lost almost every duel, missed an enormous amount of passes, many of them simple ones, the movement and running were almost nonexistent, the players didn´t make themselves available for a pass, there was no aggression och pressing to win the ball, absolutely no attacking ideas, and we released the ball too late and got ourselves into trouble or dispossessed time after time.
I could go on but best thing is to forget this sorry showing, perhaps the worst of the season, and move on.
Liverpool is no longer in the competition and it could be a blessing in disguise. Progress would have weared the squad down even more and we would hardly have gone all the way and lifted the trophy. An elimination in the semis for instance would have meant a lot of matches leading only to disturb our chances of winning the FA Cup and finish in top four in the league. Now we can concentrate on the two remaining domestic assignments. I think that is all we can handle right now with all the injuries and the tiredness demonstrated yesterday, Yes, Liverpool appeared to be physically drained. To be relieved of European duties can be the refresher we need ahead of the season run-in.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the second leg of the Europa League round of 32 (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 6.
A good and assured showing, no chance on the goal.
RB Kolo Toure 5.
Took care of his defensive duties without fuss.
CB Martin Skrtel 6.
Dominant in the air and determined on the ground.
LB Dejan Lovren 4.
No errors defensively but wasted the ball too much.
RWB Jordon Ibe 3.
Covered well in defence but had no attacking impact.
DM Joe Allen 1.
Missed passes, got dispossessed and was often out of position.
DM Emre Can 2.
The home team ran rings around him and no offensive contribution.
LWB Alberto Moreno 6.
Worked like a slave and was creative going forward and aggressive in defence. Best Red on the night.
AM Raheem Sterling 1.
Lost the ball all the time and finished poorly on a couple of occasions.
CF Daniel Sturridge 1.
Had a glorious chance to score but opted for his unbeliviable usual dribbling and wasted the opportunity. Lazy and selfish effort.
CF Mario Balotelli 2.
Didn´t do much but tried to get some attacking play going.
RB Javier Manquillo 3. (Replaced Jordon Ibe after 76 mins).
Did his defensive job, nothing else.
RF Adam Lallana 4. (Replaced Mario Balotelli after 82 mins).
One of few eager Reds. Did have a go at the home defence but had no back-up.
CF Rickie Lambert 2. (Replaced Daniel Sturridge after 105 mins).
No particular contribution apart from his cool penalty.
In my entry yesterday I posed the question if the Liverpool squad was good enough to cope with injuries. The answer was no. Now that question is taken care of the next one is if we can compete on two fronts and make sure that manager Brendan Rodgers finally can lift som silverware. I won´t hold my breath but still:
We Go Again.