The midfield - What's the answer?

BriAnfield246

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I think we found out today what the answer is to the midfield! Fabinho, Gini & Kieta / Shaqiri. With Ox coming back at the end of the season and Henderson for cover / fresh legs.
I totally agree with you, in fact i'd argue that Henderson can be more of an impact player off the bench! This withstanding, I'm also of the belief Van Dijk should be handed the captaincy, he has all the necessary traits has shown he can control & motivate the team and more importantly he is passionate about Liverpool..
 

Noo Noo

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The answer will be different for most games. That's why we invested to improve the squad. It's not as simple as picking 3 midfielders and sticking with them every week.
I think you're right here.
Interesting that it could be Wijnaldum that glues everyone together though. Possibly Milner too I guess.

We have 3 or so different formations and players that can rotate within those systems. All of which can be used to suit individual circumstances before or even during games.

Huge credit to Klopp and coaching team for developing all of this and of course getting the players in that would fit within these systems.
 

TheSweetSilverSong

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I think the answer to our midfield is depth in quality, and tactical versatility, and that we're pretty much there.
Simply put, options that can play in the system and last the season at the same level. To do that, you need depth, rotating efficiently so that the midfielders are not burned out by February.
Players that can serve different tactics, depending on the opponent. For example, not starting with Shaq in attacking/creative midfield if we need to be more controlled, but fielding him at the start if we need to be more attacking and dangerous, or during the game if we need to turn a game around. And vice-versa, taking out a more creative midfielder for a player like Wijnaldum or Milner if we need more control after a lead, etc.
Can depend on formation and tactics, on opponent, on result, on home or away double leg, rotation, form, and so on.

Fabinho-Wijnaldum-Keita seem to be the strongest 3 at the moment, but who can deny Shaq's impact - admittedly, a lot of people feel he can act best when subbed in and change the game, and I agree with that, but certainly there will be games where he'll start.

Fabinho's rise is being noted by many, and Klopp was patient like he was with Ox and it's surely paying off.
He's world-class in my opinion, and it will show more and more - at least by next year I believe it won't even be a discussion whether he is world class or not, but to me he already is now. Added to our world class mix of Alisson, Van Dijk, Salah and Firmino (I know it's very tempting to put Mane, Keita and Gomez in the mix, or even Robertson (!!!) but they fall just short at the moment, or still getting there in my opinion), 5 players of world-class level is the stuff of Trophy-winning teams, when in the right frame and playing style that can bring forth their qualities.

Fabinho's rise will be a new lease for Henderson in my opinion, despite people thinking it will mean his displacement from the starting XI.
Firstly, Henderson hadn't lasted a full season for years now, as lack of depth meant he had to play even if half fit at times, or without being fully recovered, which led to further damage. Now Klopp has the luxury of resting him whenever fitness is an issue, protecting him and making him more durable for the season (that's the concept at least). Secondly, it frees Henderson from the defensive role, and allows him to function further forward when fielded together with Fabinho, which is my preferred position for him, like in the earlier days. I think he'll need a bit of playing time to rediscover his game there, but I predict it can work wonders for him. Feel free to disagree, it's just my opinion and my feeling and use for the record, I am not interested in defending him if he's slated by anyone, I am aware he has a lot of critics, to which I don't totally disagree to be honest, but I value Henderson nonetheless and believe that in this new set of givens he'll benefit (and thus Liverpool will benefit).

Back on point, we have so many options now, especially once Ox returns:

Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson, are the three that could be fielded to do a job deeper, with either of the latter two being the case if Fabinho is not fielded in a 4-3-3, or in a double pivot with Fabinho in a 4-2-3-1.

Keita, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner, Lallana, Ox being the 6 that provide the options for the 2 central midfield roles in a 4-3-3, in the shuttler roles, with Lallana of course not at his best at the moment just yet, and quite questionable whether he'll ever be again or whether we'll cash in in the summer and get a replacement, and Ox hopefully to return and be the player he was before injury.
But seeing the partnerships with Fabinho behind them in a 4-3-3, the combos of central midfield show how much depth in quality we have, and how much longevity it can give to our midfield in a season:
Keita-Wijnaldum
Keita-Henderson
Wijnaldum-Henderson
Keita-Milner
Wijnaldum-Milner
Henderson-Milner
Ox-Keita
Ox-Wijnaldum
Ox-Henderson
Ox-Milner

and that's before even adding the combos with Lallana (won't do it now, as you get the picture).

And finally, attacking midfield, where again a number of players can provide options. Lately even Firmino dropped deeper in a more of a #10 role, and while people do criticise the option, it may be some time before we see the benefits of this move, and maybe, just maybe, once again Klopp knows what he's doing and it's no different than when he fielded Firmino as a #9 and people had doubts. We'll see. But for now, I'm putting him in the options, as he is, de facto, an option for AM.
Keita, Shaqiri, Firmino, Ox, Lallana (with the latter remaining to show he can be an option anywhere, but putting him there regardless, I still remember what he can do if he somehow reaches his prior form).

Tactically, the factor giving us flexibility is that we have multiple players performing similar functions, so we won't be denied if a player misses out or opted out. The player whose qualities we'll find harder to replace if opted out in my opinion will soon turn out to be Fabinho, in my opinion, but still, we are used to being successful with other players doing a job well done in defensive midfield.
But, for example, Shaq is very efficient in a role performed by Ox last season, and when Ox returns, we'll have two options that can offer that. Similar with ball retention, passing, pressing etc., where multiple players can perform those roles, whether instead of one another, or even in tandem.

I think that these factors where the ones we were lacking last season, where we had to endure with Wijnaldum-Henderson-Milner throughout the season, with the only cover being Ox, who anyway needed his time to find his game in that role so wasn't really an option early on, and got injured before the end of the season so wasn't an option at the end either. And Lallana missing pretty much the whole season anyway. The triumvirate was less flexible, and utterly burned out too, and it cost us in every competition. Not because of their lack of quality, as so many people rushed to point out, but because of the lack of support, flexibility, and protection. The addition of Fabinho, Keita and Shaqiri, and the option of dropping Firmino deeper to field Salah centrally, as well as Wijnaldum upping his game a level, Milner miraculously still being as top fit as he ever was, and Henderson (yet to be seen, but my feel at least) being more free to play further up in midfield, changes all that, and makes us so much more competitive, on multiple fronts too.

So in my opinion, there may be a few more tweaks, whether minor or major, still to see, but midfield issue defined and answered by Klopp.
 

red arizona scott

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I agree with TheSweetSilverSong post."I think the answer to our midfield is depth in quality, and tactical versatility, and that we're pretty much there."

"Fabinho-Wijnaldum-Keita seem to be the strongest 3 at the moment, but who can deny Shaq's impact - admittedly, a lot of people feel he can act best when subbed in and change the game, and I agree with that, but certainly there will be games where he'll start."

It will be real interesting for the City and Bayern lineups. Gini absolutely. Fabinho probably. I think Kieta vs Henderson vs Shaq is not obvious. Henderson adds the best control and leadership to the group from these 3. Shaq probably the playmaker quality best but not sure he is part of a more defensive sound.. Who does the best press (forcing TOs) of these 3 I don't know--probably Kieta. Do think it is advantage there are lot good players here, and anticipated tactics better fit certain players, and tactics can be changed within the match. Got to be hell to prepare for Liverpool right now..

"Back on point, we have so many options now, especially once Ox returns:
and that's before even adding the combos with Lallana (won't do it now, as you get the picture)."

Honestly I think it should not be assumed Ox and Lallana will not be regulars in meaningful games. The other guys are playing too good in a tough time of the season. And then I think Milner would be ahead of these two. Ox may or may not get regular time 19-20 season and lallana has questions too. If he stays for the salary of emergency/3rd teamer/lesser cup player, why not keep him, but he would have to want that.

"So in my opinion, there may be a few more tweaks, whether minor or major, still to see, but midfield issue defined and answered by Klopp."
Agree, looks like largely settled, and with many good options for minor tweaks game to game or within match.
 

Billy Biskix

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This is the most versatile midfield we've had in years. No coincidence that this is the area where JK has rotated the most because there are just so many options now that he can switch between different systems and personnel depending on the opposition.

Henderson/Milner/Gini are the old guard, the trio who I suspect JK trusts the most, flat when it comes to creativity but the go-to guys for a press-a-thon against the big boys. Fabinho seems to offer the potential at least for the best of both worlds with his range of passing and aggression in the tackle. Keita's been in and out but has the ability to provide a bit of forward thrust. Drop Shaqiri in there for added creativity against the low blockers. Even Lallana's showing signs of life. When Ox returns the main problem JK will have is keeping everybody happy. So many options at that point he really is spoilt for choice.
 

cynicaloldgit

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If it wasn’t obvious before tonight, it should now be clear that the best and most balanced midfield we can, erm, field is Fabinho in the deepest role (or as the number 6, if you prefer hipster vernacular), Wijnaldum as the all-rounder (8) and Keïta as the most attacking (but not a true number 10) of the trio.

Probably.
 

Nikola

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If it wasn’t obvious before tonight, it should now be clear that the best and most balanced midfield we can, erm, field is Fabinho in the deepest role (or as the number 6, if you prefer hipster vernacular), Wijnaldum as the all-rounder (8) and Keïta as the most attacking (but not a true number 10) of the trio.

Probably.
Not sure about Keita yet - in ideal scenario, the third guy would be AOC, so that Keita can acclimatise to Premier League. Fabinho and Wijnaldum, I certainly agree on, even though Fabinho's passing in his own half has me tearing out my hair in certain moments. For now, I'd stick with Firmino being the third guy for home games, with probably Milner being selected for away games.
 

lfc.eddie

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If it wasn’t obvious before tonight, it should now be clear that the best and most balanced midfield we can, erm, field is Fabinho in the deepest role (or as the number 6, if you prefer hipster vernacular), Wijnaldum as the all-rounder (8) and Keïta as the most attacking (but not a true number 10) of the trio.

Probably.
Actually strongest would be a 2 deeper mid and one roaming one that task to attack more. Fabinho + Wijnaldum/Henderson and Firmino as attacking mid. We probably need a right and left winger/midfielder to support the 4-2-3-1 setup. Having moved to that formation, even though we conceded a goal, we looked far more dangerous and composed.
 

AussieLad

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Not really sure why there is so much hate towards the midfield the Klopp selected last night.

Yes, we have better options, but it is these 3 midfielders that were pivital to us finishing top 4 last season, including making the C/L final and were also key in us not only beating, but dismantling the supposedly best team ever 3 times in the first 6 months of this year.

Whilst they struggled last night, they are no mugs, so I think a few people need to chill a bit and think before spouting some of the dribble I've seen so far.
 

[email protected]

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Not really sure why there is so much hate towards the midfield the Klopp selected last night.

Yes, we have better options, but it is these 3 midfielders that were pivital to us finishing top 4 last season, including making the C/L final and were also key in us not only beating, but dismantling the supposedly best team ever 3 times in the first 6 months of this year.

Whilst they struggled last night, they are no mugs, so I think a few people need to chill a bit and think before spouting some of the dribble I've seen so far.
I think 'were' is the key word here. Nothing stands still and teams, especially top teams, study and analyze to the nth degree on how to get an edge whilst also having quality personnel to carry out that edge on the pitch. Bar Allison, that team was actually last season's. I wouldn't say its found out as such, but its no longer an unknown and even last season that midfield was also found wanting on occasion and often against lesser lights.

Its fine to point out last season and the good but there were also negatives with it which continued into this season. As I noted in the Pre - Match, that 3 has had a tendency to drop deep when under pressure and that is exactly what happened. Solid, workmanlike and dependable is basically what they are as a combination. When the front three fire on a counter, it matters less but snuff that out and end up behind the game and the contrast becomes stark.
 
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Caradoc

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My son and I discussed the midfield options leading up to the match because we thought it was the area where the game would be won and lost. We both agreed that playing Henderson and Wijnaldum together in a match of this likely pace and intensity would be a mistake. But I still expected Klopp to play that midfield trio. He did and it proved to be a mistake.

I said going into this season that selection would be a case of horses for courses. Last night Klopp selected the wrong horses for the course.
 

lfc.eddie

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Yes, we have better options, but it is these 3 midfielders that were pivital to us finishing top 4 last season, including making the C/L final and were also key in us not only beating, but dismantling the supposedly best team ever 3 times in the first 6 months of this year.
I think you may have given them a little bit too much credit here. One of the quartet in the midfield is now nursing his knee, and none of the three played key role in goals we scored last season. A lot of what has happened last season coincide with Ox-Chamberlain found his groove and a few of our stale performances came soon after he fucked his knee against Roma.

Maybe it is good enough for us to finish top 4 and that should be something we would and should come to expect now. But for the title, we need one of the three to be the standout player in big matches. We looked a bit stale in the middle of the park, and Man City had all the joy of pinging the ball around for us to chase.
 
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Caradoc

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Not really sure why there is so much hate towards the midfield the Klopp selected last night.

Yes, we have better options, but it is these 3 midfielders that were pivital to us finishing top 4 last season, including making the C/L final and were also key in us not only beating, but dismantling the supposedly best team ever 3 times in the first 6 months of this year.

Whilst they struggled last night, they are no mugs, so I think a few people need to chill a bit and think before spouting some of the dribble I've seen so far.

They had Ox back then. He would have made a big difference last night but at the expense of one of that trio.
 

GermanRed

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Would like to know what was the thinking behind starting Milner who was injured in the last two weeks instead of Fabinho who is clearly on the up. Experience?

Unfortunately Keita is not ready for such a strong opponent and Ox is injured.
 

Incognito

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The way I see it, Ox was the ideal player to play the third mid in these kind of games. Not only does he drive from the center and connect the attack with our defense, he protects the FBs very well. Now, with Ox injured and Lovren playing and knowing city are going to come all guns blazing at us with lot of pressure on our FBs, Klopp would have had a dilemma on who the third mid should be. Between Shaq/ Keita/ Fab and Lallana -
Shaq definitely doesn't provide the defensive cover
Keita hasn't played for a while and still integrating
Lallana same as above
Leaves with Fabinho and might have been a shot - but maybe Klopp felt he might get overwhelmed by the occasion. He had misplaced few passes against Arsenal at home and maybe wasn't ready for such a huge game? I myself see him as a long term solution but I understand the rationale why Klopp would have preferred a defensive trusted set up in midfield for this game.

Further, Milly and Gini both had an off game simultaneously which affected us. The three would definitely not be a long term solution but currently our other mids are in learning curve and given time and going ahead we may see a Robertson type permanent place for one of the mids.
 

Red Ted

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The answer is to move Henderson & Milner on in the summer & invest in someone of real quality, someone who is capable of dictating a game, keeping the ball and using it well under pressure along with creating & scoring goals, a D Silva/Eriksen type.

Unlike our attack & defence (with Gomez) there is massive room for improvement in our midfield, I like Milner, he's a good player but he's on his last legs & there's no room for sentiment when it comes to sport at the top level, not if you really want to be the best anyway.

Klopp wants to faze Henderson out but Keita not doing it, Fabinho taking a bit of time & Ox being injured has hampered those plans, when our midfield is all fit we will see less & less of Henderson.

As of now for our midfield, Fabinho has proved over a number of games he should be starting now, mainly along with Wijnaldum, with those 2 playing it then really needs to be one of Keita & Shaqiri, we really could do with Keita showing some consistency now when he gets his chances again.
 
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Iluvatar

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My son and I discussed the midfield options leading up to the match because we thought it was the area where the game would be won and lost. We both agreed that playing Henderson and Wijnaldum together in a match of this likely pace and intensity would be a mistake. But I still expected Klopp to play that midfield trio. He did and it proved to be a mistake.

I said going into this season that selection would be a case of horses for courses. Last night Klopp selected the wrong horses for the course.
I agree, it seems Klopp's default "go to steady eddie" type midfield. He knows what he gets with those three, he gets hardwork, he gets a shift and he gets them doing exactly what he asks on the pitch.

We set up to win the ball high up and pounce. Unfortunately City didn't make a single mistake (bar the one which got Kompany a yellow). Which meant the solid midfield 3 whose main source of creativity is to force mistakes didn't result in anything and thus the first half we created nothing bar the sublime front 3 combination which lead to some of the strangest chaos I've seen! How we didn't score!!! The fine margin indeed.

Tactically Milner, Henderson, Gini are far far too similar to create the type of penetrative passing game we need. Once Fabinho came on and we shifted back to a 4231 we looked far far better.

None are bad players, in fact they are all excellent but as a three it doesn't work v's the better teams anymore. They seem to have got wise to the strategy and nullify it accordingly.

As per magic (Not plagiarized in anyway!) https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/fabinho-conundrum-could-force-jurgen-15628085 The Echo agrees.
 

Abdel

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That Midfield works when we are at home where the crowd is pushing , they are lifted and more aggresive to win the ball high up th pitch .
However away against a big side ( Napoli , PSG , City ) they are less adventurous and it force all the block to play deeper in a pocket of space , in this situation Henderson isn't the player who is going to carry the ball and break the opposition press , but at the same time , i do understand Kloop reluctance to go with two CM as he fear to be outnumbred by the City Midfield who plays with 3 there and are Known for being creative and mobile , until Fab learn how to play in 4-3-3 JK will stick with the Hendo-Gini-Milner in this type of games
 

red arizona scott

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For me Fabinho and Gini have to start in midfield.
The rest I’ll leave to Klopp.
I agree. I think in hindsight Klopp would have started Fabinho, and played Shaq sooner. I think he went with experience, it was two of the top 5 teams in Europe clashing and it was at their place. In the end it was a match of centimeters as he correctly points out (Mane's posts out, Sane's posts in), but at the same time Liverpool felt a tad bit low in aggressiveness until they got behind. Much better than effort than at Napoli and at Redstar, the only truly bad performances of the season. Win the home matches and the away matches vs teams 2 notches below in talent and the result won't matter, and maybe in the end we can appreciate a lot about the highest quality match I have seen by anyone this year in league or CL.
 
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Some great comments and just wanted to put my take on it, got to agree got some good options for the midfield but I feel we need some real quality in there,so to turn the screw when we need it,don't feel we have that when we needed to get something out the game, Keita just looks a bit lightweight, Hendo not doing it for me and I agree on previous post give VVD the Captaincy,Milner good for 45min only,Fabinho starting to to fire and i think will be ok, I think we need to splash out on some quality think leaving it till the summer will be too late, I'd love someone like Frankie de Jong but think PSG have got that deal, I'd just hate to see this advantage slide over the next month or so.
 

Redsi73

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The answer is to move Henderson & Milner on in the summer & invest in someone of real quality, someone who is capable of dictating a game, keeping the ball and using it well under pressure along with creating & scoring goals, a D Silva/Eriksen type.

Unlike our attack & defence (with Gomez) there is massive room for improvement in our midfield, I like Milner, he's a good player but he's on his last legs & there's no room for sentiment when it comes to sport at the top level, not if you really want to be the best anyway.

Klopp wants to faze Henderson out but Keita not doing it, Fabinho taking a bit of time & Ox being injured has hampered those plans, when our midfield is all fit we will see less & less of Henderson.

As of now for our midfield, Fabinho has proved over a number of games he should be starting now, mainly along with Wijnaldum, with those 2 playing it then really needs to be one of Keita & Shaqiri, we really could do with Keita showing some consistency now when he gets his chances again.
Whilst i agree that there is room for improvement in midfield, your statement that Henderson and Milner should be moved on in the summer is bizzare.

They have both proved time and time again their value to the club and whilst Milner may possibly move on ( last hurrah at Leeds ), Henderson will not be going anywhere.

Whether or not Henderson continues to be a starter is a different story, with Ox on his way back, Fabinho finally proving himself, he will more and more become a squad player.

What we do seem to lack in midfield is mobility, i would very much like to see Ox, Fabinho and Keita as a midfield three. They are all positive players always looking to progress upfield, rather than what we sometimes see is the slow transition from midfield into attack
 

Magnus

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I have not yet decided on what I think is the ultimate best midfield we got.
However, I have some thoughts: Fabinho has shown he has the most natural talent I think, so I think he will gradually take up a first team slot, but I have seen his suicidal passes and realise there is a reason why he often does not yet start.
Gini is still young and plays well, he can improve and think he is one of our best. Milner is excellent when the tempo is normal to high, but can't handle what City unleashed when it comes to speed (in truth, no one in our team could that night, apart from maybe Robbo) .
I thought Oxford-Chamberlain was excellent before he got his unfortunate injury, and I desperately hope that he will get back to that level and even maybe improve. But it is in truth hard to say with such injuries. One never knows, one can only as a fan hope that he will be the same.
As for Henderson, I am skeptical to him. In some games he is a very good player, but in others, he slows the team down a lot. He is a nice tactical choice tough, but not sure we can afford such an expensive player as a tactical choice. A bit of a shame that he was the established captain really, as I think both VVD and Milner maybe are better suited for that role (that is subjective opinion de luxe though), but demoting him is dangerous for squad morale.
 



Red Ted

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Whilst i agree that there is room for improvement in midfield, your statement that Henderson and Milner should be moved on in the summer is bizzare.

They have both proved time and time again their value to the club and whilst Milner may possibly move on ( last hurrah at Leeds ), Henderson will not be going anywhere.

Whether or not Henderson continues to be a starter is a different story, with Ox on his way back, Fabinho finally proving himself, he will more and more become a squad player.

What we do seem to lack in midfield is mobility, i would very much like to see Ox, Fabinho and Keita as a midfield three. They are all positive players always looking to progress upfield, rather than what we sometimes see is the slow transition from midfield into attack
What's bizarre about moving on the players that can be quite easily improved upon and buying better ones therefore improving our first team/squad and giving the club a better chance of winning the big prizes?
 

Flobs

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If it wasn’t obvious before tonight, it should now be clear that the best and most balanced midfield we can, erm, field is Fabinho in the deepest role (or as the number 6, if you prefer hipster vernacular), Wijnaldum as the all-rounder (8) and Keïta as the most attacking (but not a true number 10) of the trio.

Probably.
Probably not! ;-)
 

Flobs

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For me Fabinho and Gini have to start in midfield.
The rest I’ll leave to Klopp.
With Fabinho and Wijnaldum, just like Henderson and Wijnaldum, Fabinho would lack vertical passing options for his style. Fabinho Henderson would be much wiser.
 

nobluff

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Not really sure why there is so much hate towards the midfield the Klopp selected last night.

Yes, we have better options, but it is these 3 midfielders that were pivital to us finishing top 4 last season, including making the C/L final and were also key in us not only beating, but dismantling the supposedly best team ever 3 times in the first 6 months of this year.

Whilst they struggled last night, they are no mugs, so I think a few people need to chill a bit and think before spouting some of the dribble I've seen so far.
I guess Karius was also pivotal? I really don’t like this “proof” from last year, that is being used to defend the trio to such a degree, that it’s almost like a personal insult to criticize them. I personally think Mo, Bobby, Mane, Virgil, Robertson and Ox were the pivotal ones, with the rest not as pivotal. I think the form of the front three glossed over the deficiencies of Gini, Hendo and Milner as a midfield trio. The responses on the midfield trio have been quite well thought out for the most part, with not many people calling them mugs, instead just commenting that they don’t perform that well together, more often than not.

Dribble or an opinion not stated as fact?