PreviewPosted by Leif Larsson Fri, May 08, 2015 08:48:48
Liverpool has got a very important assignment on Sunday. It reads: Beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and thereby give yourself and the fans belief that we can compete with the best come August.
Some still believe that Liverpool has a chance to finish fourth and qualify for Champions League next season. I´m not among them. With three games to go we are four points behind Manchester United in fourth. Theoretically it´s doable, we can leapfrog them, but it won´t happen, not even if we down Chelsea.
But even so, a win against this season´s champions is essential because there is always next season. If the Reds grab a victory in London then a statement is made: We are capable of beating the best team in England on their own turf, watch us go next campaign.
After last season´s slip-up versus Chelsea at home, which cost us the title, we have an obligation to put one over the Blues and claim some revenge even if we no longer can make them miss out on the Premier League trophy. Especially Steven Gerrard should be eager to atone for his devastating error in the game versus Chelsea at Anfield last season.
The Liverpool vs Chelsea fixture is always a tense one. It´s like a derby. The teams hate to lose to each other and always gives everything to win. Just because of that it´ll be a game well worth watching.
The best thing we now can hope for is for Liverpool to end up in a final 5th position. A new rule states that the losing finalists in the FA Cup won´t get a Europa League place, as was the case in the past. So if Aston Villa goes down to Arsenal on 30th of May the teams in 5th, 6th and 7th place in Premier League will qualify for Europa League. So even if Liverpool want to avoid the EL it will be difficult to do so and virtually impossible if Arsenal wins the FA Cup.
Hopefully we can end the season with three straight wins and build a mental platform to have in the back of our minds when the next season kicks off in August.
This is the team I hope starts against Chelsea (in a 4-4-2 diamond formation):
GK: Simon Mignolet. RB: Glen Johnson. CB: Martin Skrtel. CB: Dejan Lovren. LB: Alberto Moreno. DM: Lucas Leiva. CM: Steven Gerrard. CM: Jordan Henderson. AM: Philippe Coutinho. RF: Jordon Ibe. LF: Adam Lallana.
Perhaps Javier Manquillo should get a chance at rightback, Emre Can or Joe Allen in midfield and Mario Balotelli, Lazar Markovic, Raheem Sterling, Rickie Lambert or Fabio Borini in attack. But I think the eleven I picked is the best to cope with Chelsea this time when:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Sun, May 03, 2015 17:52:57
Liverpool reached average level and it was enough to dispose of releagion threatened Queens Park Rangers yesterday. But the 2-1 at Anfield victory came too late, there is still no chance of reaching top four despite Manchester United losing their third match on the trot last evening.
If Liverpool had played to their right level and defeated Hull and West Bromwich in the two preceding matches then we would have been in fourth place right now, one point ahead of Man Utd. They haven´t picked up a single point in the last three games and if we had collected nine, not the four we managed, then it would have been game on inte the top four battle.
Now it´s game over. Okay, it´s theoretically possible for the Reds to leapfrog United but it will not happen. United won´t lose four matches in a row and if they win the next one against Crystal Palace, I think they do, then we must beat Chelsea away to keep the four point distance. We have always trouble getting something from our visits to Stamford Bride so a loss is a likely outcome. Then we are seven points adrift with two games to go. So even if it on paper looks like we can end up in fourth, reality will soon kick in and eliminate that notion.
The game against QPR was nothing special. Liverpool played with a little more energy and moved and passed the ball better than in the last couple of games. But it was hardly vintage. Our finishing was extremely poor. How professionals like Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana can fail to even hit the target from a few yards out, with a gaping goal in front of them, is beyond me. The whole team must start practising finishing, they are mediocre at it, to put it mildly. Only Philippe Coutinho shows that he has got the knack and the knowledge from time to time.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 35th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 4.
Not tested at all besides needing to clear a couple of crosses.
RB Emre Can 4.
Decent in defence, likewise going forward. But nothing special.
CB Martin Skrtel 5.
Won almost every duel and acted the hard man. A bit misplaced when QPR scored.
CB Dejan Lovren 5.
Another accomplished effort. Hardly any mistakes but just like Skrtel too slow to stop the goal.
LB Glen Johnson 3.
Not a performance to remember. Lazy tracking back at times.
DM Steven Gerrard 4.
Did his job without fuss or excellence. Bad penalty, skilful header for the winner.
RM Jordan Henderson 3.
Couldn´t get into the match. Sent too many passes the wrong way.
LM Philippe Coutinho 5.
An average showing by his standards. Calm and assured when scoring.
RF Raheem Sterling 1.
Awful once more. Missed an open goal from five yards and kept making wrong decisions.
CF Rickie Lambert 5.
Worked really hard and created space and chances. Nice pass to open up for 1-0.
LF Adam Lallana 3.
Mixed good with the bad. Incredible miss when it was easier to score.
LF Jordon Ibe 2. (Replaced Adam Lallana after 68 mins).
Two or three fine runs but made little impact.
RM Lazar Markovic 1. (Replaced Glen Johnson after 84 mins).
Didn´t anything of worth during his cameo.
DM Lucas Leiva 1. (Replaced Steven Gerrard after 89 mins).
Too little time to be noticed.
A lucky win and Liverpool did their job, nothing more. A game nobody will talk about in the future. Just to move on and state:
We Go Again.
PreviewPosted by Leif Larsson Sat, May 02, 2015 09:32:13
Last season Liverpool had no European football to deal with. We fought for the title and ended up in second place. Should we make sure to drop enough points now in the four remaining league matches to finish in seventh place and be without the European games next season and then perhaps once more be in a title fight? If so, then we should let strugglers QPR beat us at Anfield today. Sadly it´s not as easy as that to get into a battle for the major silverware.
A reigning opinion among some managers and so called experts is that Liverpool managed a title push last season because we had a lot fewer matches than the opponents and therefore could rest more and always be fresh in the league. Another common point of view is that the title assault was due to a certain guy called Luis Suarez and I am inclined to agree more with that. So even if Liverpool would lack European commitment next campaign there is no guarantee that we will be among the teams gunning for the Premier League trophy.
To be able to end our 26 year title drought we need two or three super signings in the summer, especially a striker who can score 30 goals, keep himself injury-free and create a lot on his own. There aren´t many of those players around, but that is what we need. Without such an acquisition Liverpool can forget about another tilt at the biggest domestic prize. The current crop of players aren´t good enough to overcome all the other big guns in the same season, maybe one, perhaps two, but not all four of them. I am of course talking about Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal. But with a Suarez kind of player it´s possible to get near, and even beyond, we saw that last season.
If Liverpool against the odds succeed to lure one or two superstars to Anfield then a schedule without European games would benefit a title charge. The problem is no top players want to sign for a club which has finished seventh and because of that appear to be far from qualifying for the Champions League in the near future. Furthermore, Europe League isn´t anything top players are intrigued by - should we finish 5th or 6th.
So Liverpool is in a fix. If we finish in seventh place, outisde European places, we have to make do with the current squad next season and perhaps some new names, but not of star quality. But perhaps we have a better chance to reach top four than if we finish fifth and must engage in Europa League. But a fifth position can possible make quality players at least think about coming to Anfield since we almost made it to the CL positions and obviously have the potential to do so.
I guess the best thing is to let things take care of themselves and always try to win the match in front of you. As the Reds should do today. QPR is currently in 19th place, four points behind Leicester in 17th, just above the relegation zone. The Londoners must grab about eight points in their last four fixtures to avoid the drop. So they will give everything to win at L4.
Liverpool has missed out on every target this season, top four finish was the last one to vanish, and appears to be really downhearted. The only thing we can hope for this afternoon is that our quality will shine through and give us a narrow win versus QPR. A 1-0 home victory has been the result at Anfield in the last three meetings with QPR. I could live with another one.
Now that the season has petered out it could be time for some new names to get their chance. I would line-up like this today (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: Cameron Brannagan. LM: Adam Lallana. AM: Philippe Coutinho. CF: Samed Yesil. CF: Jordon Ibe.
Cameron Brannagan has been in the squad a couple of times and it´s time to give him a chance to start. He will be 19 in a week´s time and a debut in a red shirt would be the perfect birthday gift. Samed Yesil has been plagued by injuries for a long time but is now back scoring goals in the U21 team. It would be interesting to see if the 20 year-old striker, soon 21, can be more lethal than his misfiring teammates.
As you can see I would bench Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen, Lazar Markovic, Glen Johnson, Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli. None of them has lived up to required standard this season. They must realize that a place in a Liverpool team is not a God given thing, it´s something you have to fight for like mad - everyday. Just one more thing:
We Go Again.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Wed, April 29, 2015 19:07:59
I expected another poor effort and got one. There is not so much to say about Liverpool´s 1-0 defeat at Hull yesterday. Just the fact that there is no chance of Champions League football next season.
The Reds performed a litte bit better this time compared to the match against West Bromwich on Saturday. We were a bit more eager and moved better. But the attacking play was not up to par. Almost everytime we tried to penetrate in the middle where a couple of buses were parked. The gilt-edged goalscoring opportunities were few and far between. In defence we were caught napping now and then and on the whole Hull deserved their victory.
We could have created more with better wingplay but it was almost non-existent. And when Jordon Ibe and Raheem Sterling tried, they had a low rate of success. Their intentions were easy to read and the ball was lost.
I can´t understand why a lot of Liverpool players must take several touches and then try to dribble everytime they get on the ball. They must learn how to distribute quickly and accurately - and then move on for a return pass. If we can´t get a fast passing game going then a lot of goalless displays are waiting.
Not so much more to say about this weak showing. It was worse than a Liverpool side should come up with but that has been the case a lot in recent times.
Some call for manager Brendan Rodgers head but I think he should be given one more season. He has got some good ideas about the football and style of play but when it comes to recruiting new players neither he nor the transfer committee are good enough. We need to bring in someone with vast knowledge about players, domestic and abroad, to give good advice. Then it´s of course up to the manager to decide.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 34th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 5.
A few good saves but was in trouble in the air on a couple of times. Not to blame for the goal.
RB Emre Can 3.
A bit naive in his defensive duties and no impact in attack.
CB Martin Skrtel 4.
Out of position sometimes and a few poor decisions. Pretty solid, though.
CB Dejan Lovren 5.
Started a bit shaky but grew into the match. Strong in duels.
LB Glen Johnson 5.
One of his better efforts, both defensively and attack-wise.
DM Joe Allen 3.
Kept the ball in the team but didn´t contribute in attack.
RM Jordan Henderson 3.
Ran around a lot but a lot of without making any particular impact.
LM Philippe Coutinho 4.
Missed more passes than usual but his temmates hardly ever gave him good options.
RF Jordon Ibe 2.
Tried the same thing all the time and seldom beat his man. Ineffective.
CF Mario Balotelli 1.
His laziness gifted Hull the goal and was completely toothless in attack.
LF Raheem Sterling 1.
Didn´t use his pace and stranded on the opposition all the time.
CF Rickie Lambert 1. (Replaced Mario Balotelli after 65 mins).
Imposed himself in the air but without any measurable result.
LF Adam Lallana 1. (Replaced Jordon Ibe after 65 mins).
Tried to get into the match but failed.
RB Lazar Markovic 2. (Replaced Dejan Lovren after 76 mins).
Made a couple of useful runs but nothing more.
When Hull scored I knew it would be another huff and puff effort on the road to defeat. Let August come quickly, then:
We Go Again.
PreviewPosted by Leif Larsson Tue, April 28, 2015 10:37:26
What if…is the reigning feeling right now. What if Liverpool had been able to beat West Bromwich on Saturday and then managed to down Hull in Hull tonight. Well, then it really would have been a dogfight for fourth place since Manchester United lost two games on the trot. They have collected 65 points and if Liverpool had won the two mentioned games we would have been hot on United´s heels, just two points behind with four games to go. Now, even if we defeat Hull, and that´s a big if, the margin will be four points, a substantially much more difficult gap to close with just four fixtures left.
It would have taken just one ball into the West Brom net to make the rest of the season interesting. But it wasn´t to be, now it takes some kind of miracle for us to pass our arch rivals in the table and grab fourth.
So the match versus the Tigers is all about showing professionalism and perform well. But Hull won´t roll over and die, on the contrary, they will fight for their lives since their Premier League existence is in jeopardy. They are at the moment just one point above the dreaded relegation zone. After recently just collecting two points in six matches Hull dropped into the stay-up battle but in the last game a welcome away victory kept them just above the bottom three.
The Hull-Liverpool fixture is a rare one. The teams has met just 13 times in the league through the years. Six of those matches were played out in the second tier in the fifties. The last seven is Premier League matches since the 2008/09 season. Liverpool has a strong upper hand winning eight of the 13 clashes losing just one - but the defeat came in our last visit to the KC Stadium. Hull beat us 3-1 in December 2013. Liverpool took revenge on New Years Day, 2-0, but the first encounter this season ended in a dull 0-0 draw at Anfield.
Hull has in fact just lost once in the last four league meetings. Time to give them a spanking again like Liverpool did in September 2009 winning 6-1. Okay, 6-1 is too much to ask but a decent display by Liverpool and a win is long overdue. I will be utterly disappointed if once again fail to show pride, guts and grit and some fine football.
This is my team tonight (in a 4-3-3 formation):
GK: Simon Mignolet. RB: Glen Johnson. CB: Martin Skrtel. CB: Dejan Lovren. LB: Alberto Moreno. DM: Emre Can. RM: Steven Gerrard. LM: Adam Lallana. RF: Jordon Ibe. CF: Mario Balotelli. LF: Philippe Coutinho.
I don´t fancy Can as an outright fullback hence Johnson and Moreno inte line-up. Jordan Henderson has been tired in recent games and needs a rest. Gerrard has not played well this season but because of his his great long-serving effort he deserves a lot of game time in his final few matches for the Reds. Raheem Sterling is very selfish in normal circumstances, even more right now, perhaps he wants to show how clever he is in order to get a transfer to one of the Spanish big boys. Whatever the reason, he should be benched and at the same time Balotelli is worth the chance to start two games on the spin. He is not a good option, but the best we have.
I am prepared for another lacklustre showing and a win would be a pleasant surprise as:
We Go Again.
HistoryPosted by Leif Larsson Mon, April 27, 2015 09:50:15
Tomorrow Liverpool travel to Hull for the fourth top flight meeting between the clubs at KC Stadium. The Reds have recorded just one win, it came in the spring of 2009. Let´s go back six years and check out the 3-1 victory.
This season Liverpool was close to winning the league but had to settle for a second place finish behind Manchester United. On the 25th of April when we faced Hull away the title chance was still very much a possibility. Though diminshed because we drew against Arsenal in the previous match and lost ground to the league leaders. So Liverpool was a bit downhearted and dispirited coming to relegation battlers Hull.
It showed in Liverpool´s performance. It was a shoddy display but somehow the Reds managed to down a fighting home side. Luckily Hull was not so prominent in attack and Liverpool produced quality on a few occasions and that was enough to grab the three points.
The first half was about to end goalless when Xabi Alonso in the dying seconds smashed home on the volley from his own freekick rebound. Hull got a man sent-off and Liverpool took control and played a little bit better. In the 63rd minute Dirk Kuyt popped up to steer the ball into the net with his head. Game over? Not quite. Hull kept plugging away and when the Kop defence took a nap Geovanni made it 1-2 in the 73rd minute. The match hanged in the balance until the last minute when Dirk Kuyt scored his second and the points were finally in the bag.
To win when not playing well is often the trademark of a league winner. But not his time. Despite just losing two out of 38 league fixtures and amassing 86 points Liverpool came up short and finished four points behind Man Utd.
I wouldn´t be surprised if Liverpool in the current state produce another bad showing tomorrow. But as always the win is the important thing when:
We Go Again.
Sources: lfchistory.net, statto.com, soccerbase.com.
ReviewPosted by Leif Larsson Sun, April 26, 2015 11:19:40
The 0-0 draw between West Bromwich and Liverpool must have been the most boring match in the Premier League this season. Especially the first half was so dreary that I would rather have watched paint dry. The performance from West Brom was the worst of a home team in PL for a long time and against this lame team Liverpool only managed a draw and in the process top four hopes were killed.
Liverpool owed fans a strong display after the miserable one versus Aston Villa in the FA Cup. But the Reds didn´t live up to the responsibility and instead produced another pitiful showing. We can in all certainty not reach the Champions League postitions anymore and the risk is that we have to endure five final tedious matches.
After the game both manager Brendan Rodgers and a couple of players said in interviews that they still believed in a top four finish. Well, you should never give up, but they are deluded. If we can´t down this poor West Brom team how can we suddenly be able to win five on the trot against similar teams and better? Some of them fighting for PL existence. Right, we can´t.
When 16 league games remained I predicted Liverpool would finally land on 67 points and miss out on top four and end up in 5th or 6th place. At the moment we have collected 58 points and the total tally of 67 is still plausible, as is the 5th or 6th position. We had a brief spell of good football and fine results but when the crucial matches against Manchester United and Arsenal came along we crumbled. Same again yesterday when a win was needed, once more Liverpool failed to grab the necessary victory. I don´t expect us to suddenly be different and cope with pressure and amass 15 points which perhaps won´t even be enough to qualify for a CL place.
We have to forget this season and especially the match yesterday. We started slowly, owned the ball, but created nothing in the first half. In the second the Reds were a bit more energetic, but not much. Two fine chances were squandered and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet had to come up with one or two fine saves to rescue us from an embarrassing defeat. On the whole an awful showing from Liverpool.
There was a lot frustrated gestures between Red players showing there is unrest in the squad. The selfish actions on the field didn´t help. Raheem Sterling thinks he some kind of world class star. Almost everytime he gets the ball he tries to dribble and nearly always he loses the ball. Jordon Ibe and Mario Balotelli followed the same ill-advised path. Other players did it from time to time. And almost every time a dribble was tried a pass to a better placed teammate was the right decision.
Decision-making is not the best feature in the Liverpool side. Furthermore, every player is so in love with the ball they need three, five or seven touches before releasing it. Could be poor game intelligence, bad ball skills or sheer laziness not making sure beforehand what the best move is when getting the ball. Captain Steven Gerrard has been a first touch master for years. He doesn´t dwell on the ball, just passes it along to someone he already know is there. Just as the old pass and move team decades ago did. It´s beyond me how other Liverpool players have avoided to learn how to quickly move the ball and themselves. They have a great opportunity to study the master himself in training and in games. Soon enough he leaves, who is going to learn them then?
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 33rd league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 6.
Not much to do but came up with point-winning saves and also punched well.
RB Emre Can 3.
Untroubled defensively but totally ineffective going forward. Clumsy passes.
CB Martin Skrtel 4.
A decent display but was caught napping on a few occasions.
CB Dejan Lovren 6.
Best Liverpool player. Tackled well, was always in the right place and delivered well. His best showing in a red shirt. Not that the opposition was tough.
LB Glen Johnson 3.
A bit nonchalant in his defensive work at times. No attacking threat.
DM Steven Gerrard 5.
Didn´t stand out in any way but passed the ball well and kept his cool.
RM Jordan Henderson 3.
Invisible for long periods. Should have scored from his fine close range chance.
LM Philippe Coutinho 5.
Got on the ball a lot and really tried to find a way through the home defence. Only player with clever intentions.
RF Jordon Ibe 3.
Ran down blind alleys a lot and didn´t create much. Unlucky with his woodwork shot.
CF Mario Balotelli 2.
Played for himself and didn´t contribute to the attacking game.
LF Raheem Sterling 1.
Dribble, dribble, dribble. Can anyone tell him football is a team game. Overrates himself.
CF Fabio Borini 1. (Replaced Mario Balotelli after 75 mins).
Ran around like a headless chicken not getting anything done.
LF Adam Lallana 3. (Replaced Jordon Ibe after 75 mins).
Came up with a few tricks to trouble the home defence a bit. But no end product.
Once more Liverpool failed to live up to expectations and left us fans with a uninteresting run-in. Nevertheless:
We Go Again.
CelebrationPosted by Leif Larsson Sat, April 25, 2015 11:38:59
He is currently standing on 499 league matches for Liverpool and if he plays today (he probably will) Steven Gerrard reach the impressive landmark of 500 league outings for the same club. Only Jamie Carragher, with 508 games for Liverpool, and Ryan Giggs, 632 for Manchester United, have managed the same feat during the Premier League era.
Steven Gerrard made his debut in a red shirt in 1998 and recently he played his 700th competitive match for Liverpool. And now another milestone beckons. During his 17-year spell at Anfield Captain Fantastic has achieved a lot and the Champions League triumph in 2005 is the highlight of his career.
His final game as a Red is now only weeks away and then the 34-year old (35 on May 30) crosses the Atlantic to start a new football chapter with Los Angeles Galaxy. His decision to depart is partially due to the prospect of nothing being an automatic choice for the starting eleven. Stevie G wants to play regularly the career through.
But I´m not so sure he will be in the Galaxy team all the time. Not if his recent performances is anything to go by. Gerrard has been subdued and appeared uninterested as if his heart is somewhere else. I think he mourns that everything soon is over and perhaps even regrets his decision to leave Liverpool. But pride, and contract, will stop him from change his mind.
Sadly if he or anyone in the Liverpool staff had thought about his role a bit more he could have stayed on. I have written about it before and I think he could have been a perfect centre-back for at least three seasons. He is good at every aspect of the job and would have got a new lease of life in a new role and maybe even got the chance to lift the Premier League.
Now the chance is gone and Gerrard has to live with it. So it´s goodbye soon but before that we have to congratulate our talisman for his 500th league match and hope that he returns and manage Liverpool some day. I´ll be waiting and in the meantime:
We Go Again.