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The TIA Off the Ball Debate

Broomy

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The TIA Off the Ball Debate

ONE QUESTION AND ONE QUESTION ONLY ANSWERED DAILY BY TIA FORUM MEMBERS....


ARCHIVE
Click on each link for the article


FIRST TEAM DISCUSSIONS
Oussama Assaidi - A Debut Performance (Zoky)
The Midfield Dynamic (OhyaBeauty)​
Daniel Agger - Stability and Reliability (lfc.eddie and HarryFloyd)​
Words of Andre Wisdom (Nikola13)​


PREMIER LEAGUE MATCH ANALYSIS


LEAGUE CUP MATCH ANALYSIS


THE EUROPA LEAGUE DISCUSSIONS
Liverpool v Anzhi Preview Match Panel (Nikola13)​
The Europa League Table and Fixtures
The Europa League Question (PAISLEYtheGREATEST and Billy Biskix)​


PREMIER LEAGUE DISCUSSIONS

U21 DISCUSSIONS
Jerome Sinclair - Who is he? (Sweeting)​


U18 TEAM DISCUSSIONS


 

Broomy

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SAMED YESIL - U21 DEBUT PERFORMANCE



Monday - Off the Ball with Sweeting

Liverpool’s new signing Samed Yesil made his Liverpool debut as Rodolfo Borrell's U21s thrashed Chelsea 4-1 at Griffin Park on Friday night. The Germany U21 international played for 58 minutes and gave a lively display and had an effort cleared off the line. Sweeting, how did you assess his performance against Chelsea’s U21’s?

SWEETING : "Samed Yesil gave a very promising performance in his debut against Chelsea, although there were some weaknesses to his game - for example - Yesil had numerous opportunities and probably should have scored several times but for now he receives the benefit of the doubt.

The obvious thing to judge Yesil by is his goalscoring record (81 goals in 107 appearances in all competitions) and going by his opportunities he will definitely score goals, he is always looking for a route to goal or to fashion a chance for himself however this is not what most impressed me about his performance. For my money the most impressive attribute of Yesil's game was his superb link up play; several times he dropped deep to create a passing lane and improve our ball retention in the final third which in turn helped us create more chances than if someone who is more of a poacher, such as Morgan, had led the line.

In future I will feel the need to compare Yesil and Morgan, in terms of style and development, but right now it would be unfair on both having only just started the season and Yesil only playing 58 minutes. Having said that, if Yesil starts scoring regularly then he will most likely jump ahead of Morgan in the pecking order, but that remains to be seen.

Still learning English, Yesil has a long and difficult road ahead trying to fit in, though with Liverpool's striker crisis it is not unfeasible to think he could make the first team squad in the near future.

Most importantly though we must not rush him. He arrives with a huge reputation, comparisons to Gerd Muller, and at a team with little or no options in their frontline but Liverpool must be patient and allow him to mature at his own rate. Do not compare him to Muller or Klose, he is neither, he is Yesil and his career will be what he makes it. The talent is there but it needs to be delivered on a consistent basis."
 

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THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT


Tuesday - Off the Ball with Sweeting and Nikola13

Following Raheem Sterling’s call up to the England squad last week, Brendan Rodgers believes that Sterling's rapid rise will act as an inspiration to the club's Academy players. There has been alot of talk recently regarding the abundant quality we currently have throughout our reserves and youth team... Nikola13 and Sweeting, in your opinion, which 3 players are the most promising young players at the club at the moment in the U21 or the U18 team and explain why?

Sweeting said:
For this question I'm going to pick some players who I consider the most interesting of the U21s and U18s. Although they may not be the 'best' players in the academy set up I consider them to be potential first teamers or players who have suddenly and dramatically improved their form...

Also, I will answer this question under the assumption the following players are 'first team' or have represented the first team enough times for people to already have a general idea of who they are and what they are good at....
  • Jack Robinson
  • Jon Flanagan
  • Raheem Sterling
  • Suso (as he has recently been called to first team squad and people already know so much about him)
  • Danny Wilson
  • Dani Pacheco
  • Adam Morgan
On that basis, the players I will be looking at are...

Michael Ngoo
Versatile, quick, strong and with decent (though improvable) heading ability; Michael Ngoo is fast becoming the stand out player in the reserve team set up. He helped himself to eight goals in pre-season and has started the league campaign with three goals and an assist in the opening four games.

Forget the awkward frame, Ngoo has learned how to use his body to great affect and surprisingly one of his best abilities is his pace and dribbling ability - at times he is literally unplayable. Last season he only managed four goals in seventeen appearances but he was often playing from the wide positions as part of an interchangeable frontline with Sterling and Eccleston.

Promoting Ngoo would solve several problems; he is completely different from any other striker in our squad (or anyone else's for that matter) he is in rich goal scoring form and him leaving the U21s would allow Morgan and Yesil to make that position their own.

The time is right for Michael Ngoo.


Krisztian Adorjan
I thought he'd blown his chance. When Adorjan was 17, he was the shining light of a talented U18s squad. Now 19, Krisztian had previously struggled to adapt to the rigours of reserve team football.

This season however, he has come alive - maybe his time in the USA re-ignited his passion for the game - or maybe he realised he needs to fight for his LFC career, either way something is very different about the Hungarian this season. Already he has matched his goal haul from last season (2) and improved his mobility massively making him an option for any of the three 'second striker' roles. At times last season Adorjan was more of an obstruction than a weapon, Suso has never been allowed to play in his preferred position because of Adorjan's lack of versatility and this hurt Liverpool's team but this season he is a vital lynchpin for the squad.

It remains to be seen if Adorjan's form is just a purple patch or a genuine upturn in fortunes but if he is still running the U21s attacking almost alone by Christmas he is going to be difficult to ignore in the next wave of 'promotees'. Could do with a loan spell though, to get him some mature match experience.


Brad Smith
Here is a name I never thought I'd mention for a first team role.

Brad Smith is an Australian/English youth team full back who thrives off his pace and strength. Similar to Glen Johnson he is terrific going forward but can be suspect defensively and suffered a long term injury last season restricting him to just eight appearances. Well he's making up for lost time.

This season he has looked considerably more dependable than before his injury, while he still has electric pace he appears to pick his forward movements more carefully and his improved showings led to him completely shutting out Chelsea's new signing Marko Marin while playing out of position at right back. Overwhelmingly left footed, he needs to work on his right foot and continue on his decision making and defending but if his rate of progress is anything to go by then Jack Robinson might have a real contender for his mantle of best youth left back.

[b][color=#b22222]Nikola13[/color][/b] said:
Jack Robinson
Jack Robinson, a 19 year-old, has been my first pick for a while when it comes to Liverpool's youngsters and he would have surely got more playing time and prominence had it not been for successive injuries over the course of past two seasons. In my opinion, he has been the best young player we have in our Academy for a while.

I pick him over Sterling and Suso because he always looked as though he was born with immaculate attitude, passion for the club and excellent reading of the game, while his other notable attributes include aggression in pressing, well-timed and pretty strong tackling, very good technique and intelligence to choose when to stay behind and when to bomb forward. If he can sort out his injury problems - which won't be easy but hopefully it can be achieved - and improve a few aspects of his game like crossing and physical build, for example, we may be talking about future Liverpool first choice left back and possibly captain of the team.

Ryan McLaughlin
Ryan McLaughlin is similar to young Jack Robinson, only that he's a right-footed player and with very notable desire to bomb forward whenever presented with opportunity to do so, mainly because he's a great crosser of the ball and likes to utilise his pace to get past his opponents. However, unlike the most of modern offensive fullbacks, this 17-year old is very, very aggressive in defending and his commitment in pressing and tackling should see him do well in Rodgers' fluid 4-3-3 system.

His attitude had gained him a quick promotion to Liverpool's Reserve/U21 team and a pre-season trip to USA with first team (only a year after joining the club) where he hadn't looked out of place and a call-up to Northern Ireland's senior team soon followed, only for injury to prevent him from joining up with the squad. His great manners, humbleness and love for his club have already endeared him to Liverpool fans, who are expecting great things of him in the future.

Jordon Ibe
Jordan Ibe is another one whose progress has been impressive since he made his switch to Liverpool. This 16-year old forward has already made it to senior team and scoresheet of Wycombe Wanderers before being bought by Liverpool last winter. His predominant position for Liverpool's sides from U18's to first team has been right wing, where he displayed maturity that belied his tender age. Not afraid to use his impressive physique and pace, as well as dribbling skills, he has been a revelation and has quickly become earmarked for fast-tracking into older age groups.

Another notable aspect of his game has been his desire to track back and help out his team in defensive phase of the game, a rare trait indeed for more mature wingers, let alone a teenage one. In future, I expect him to become more of a centre forward because of his aforementioned physique and finishing skills and every Liverpool fan will hope that he maintains his attitude and works his way toward bright career here.
 

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THE EUROPA LEAGUE QUESTION


Wednesday - Off the Ball with Billy Biskix and PAISLEYtheGREATEST

Liverpool return to Europa League action this Thursday and BSC Young Boys will look to become the first Swiss side to beat Liverpool FC in over 40 years as the Reds come to Berne in UEFA Europa League Group A.

Liverpool were handed a tricky task in the group stages of the Europa League this season as they come up against Italians Udinese, Russian moneybags Anzhi Makhachkala and Swiss side Young Boys in Group A.

Should Brendan Rodgers be best using this competition to give some of the more junior members of the squad a chance of first team action, or is the Europa League a trophy too important to experiment in? Should we be always fielding our best team, or giving more senior players a rest?

Billy Biskix said:
This club's reputation is built on our achievements in Europe. From the sixties when Shankly first led us into battle against Europe's elite in front of a baying Kop, through the seventies and eighties when our UEFA Cup and European Cup triumphs confirmed we were the best club side in Europe, and after exile imposed after the horrific events at Heysel, our resurgence first under Houllier and then Benitez when Champions League qualification became a mere formality. Great European nights both at Anfield and overseas. This is what LFC is all about.

Why then do I feel so indifferent about the Europa League? Is it because it's played on a Thursday? I just can't get used to the idea of football being played on a Thursday night. Just seems so wrong. Is it because we entered the competition as a booby prize following elimination at the Group stages of the CL in 2010? For me it kind of marked the point at which if our bubble didn't completely burst then it certainly started to deflate fairly quickly. Is it because the games have been so flat and boring? The match in 2011 against FC Braga at Anfield was possibly the most dispiriting 90 minutes of football I've ever witnessed. Maybe it’s a combination of all these things, but, whatever it is, the Europa League doesn't really float my boat.

How then to approach it this season? So far, BR has given every indication that he intends to take the competition very seriously. He fielded a strong side in the second leg against Hearts. Playing Gerrard and Suarez just three days before the Arsenal game seemed an unnecessary risk at the time, but ultimately we were grateful for Suarez being on the pitch because it was his brilliance that got us through. The question now is will BR continue to field a strong team or use the Europa League as an opportunity for further experimentation and the blooding of the many promising youngsters we have on the fringes of the first team?

What has frustrated me over the last ten years especially is that we haven't given youngsters a chance. The Europa League provides that opportunity. Before the season I hoped that the Europa League would be the platform on which promising youngsters like Sterling, Shelvey and Kelly could get regular football but now these players are already establishing themselves in the first team. It is actually fantastic to think that for them the Europa League is probably a chance to put their feet up.

We are in a strong group. Young Boys, Udinese, Anzhi are all decent teams who we'll struggle to beat even with a full strength team out, particularly away from Anfield. I just hope that BR doesn't choose to play too safe. If this club is ever going to rebuild it needs to establish itself as a club that will give youth a chance. It's the only way forward. We can't buy ourselves out of trouble any more. We need to play the kids and see if they can do it for us. It's a risk but it's one worth taking. Some will crash and burn; others will improve a little with every game. You can see it with Sterling now. Every game he seems 10% stronger, 10% more intelligent with his use of the ball and above all 10% more confident. He now knows and we know that he can do it. Now we know we've got a player who could be part of the backbone of this team for ten years. There are others out there too who could make the step up but we won't know until we play them.

So I really don't want to see a £20 million winger playing at left back when we already have a perfectly good young full back in Jack Robinson. I don't want to see Joe Cole when I could be seeing Suso. I want to see Yesil and Assaidi show us what they can do. We really have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving youth a chance in this competition. If it means that we don't make it through the Group and have to wait a little bit longer for the great European nights to return to Anfield, so be it.

Shankly once said, correctly, that we existed to win trophies but I hope he'll forgive me if I say that for this year only I don't care too much for winning the Europa League. I see it as a golden opportunity to create a new cadre of good young players who can help rebuild the club. A base for the next ten years.

PAISLEYtheGREATEST said:
Team Selection - is Brendan Rodgers stuck between a rock and a hard place?

On the face of things Thursdays match could fly under the radar, but in reality, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, it's a big game for the club.

Stripping things down it looks like a great opportunity to give some youngsters and fringe players a chance, Suso, Pacheco, Morgan,Flanno and Robinson could gain some valuable experience in a relatively large competition, but with that comes risks, can the club afford another negative result? Can they take the risk of not gaining a much needed win in order to give much needed rest to Suarez, Allen, Agger, Johnson etc? Can we afford to play those players making them more fatigued before a massive game 3 days later and even risk injury?

The question that has to be asked is, what is more important, a confidence boosting win, or the main players given time to rest?

I firmly believe that Brendan must play the youngsters, let them grow and develop, give them the belief that you trust them, Suso and Pacheco in particular impressed during pre season, they need this chance. They may even impress Brendan suitably enough that he considers them for premiership action. This is their chance to show that they deserve to be in his thoughts before Downing and Cole's of this world.

Brendan Rodgers said it himself a couple of weeks ago, Young players will run through fences for you, the older players will look for holes in it to get through. Where we are as a club just now, we need those young players to run through those fences.

We have heard for a few seasons now that the youngsters need to learn from the experienced players, well I firmly believe that it's now at the stage where the experienced players need to feed off the fearless factor that our youngsters play with.

To add to the above, the fact that we are playing United 3 days later furthers my belief that the elder statesmen can't be risked in this game, in truth, a couple are playing on reputation, but need to play in the League match in the hope their class shines through.
 

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NextGen Series
Inter Milan 3 - 2 Liverpool Match Report


NextGen Series Special - Off the Ball with Sweeting

Liverpool might have lost their opening NextGen game but Borrell will have taken many positives from the game. TIA Forum Member Sweeting provides our match report to an entertaining game in Italy.

Sweeting said:
Two goals from Krisztian Adorjan were not enough to salvage a point as Liverpool U19s were beaten 3-2 in Milan on Wednesday as their NextGen campaign got off to a disappointing start.

Liverpool knew they were in for a tough match against the reigning champions and so it proved as Inter came racing out the blocks in the first few minutes, pressing Liverpool high up the pitch and forcing centre back pairing Stephen Sama and Lloyd Jones into several long balls, conceding possession cheaply.

It was Jones’ debut in the NextGen tournament and he was nervy from the off, usually a composed defender, he was caught either trying to overplay or panicking and clearing the ball when under little pressure. He could have done with a little more cover from his more experienced college Sama but he too was having a difficult start to the match and couldn’t really lend any additional help to the young Welshman.

It was no surprise when, or how, the Inter Milan goal arrived. One of the Inter midfielders looped a bass post pass into the box and the inexperienced Jones got caught underneath the flight of the ball – unable to make a firm contact with his header he simply knocked it into the path of Forte and the Inter striker had time to pick his spot and score.

It really was a poor goal to concede from Liverpool’s point of view but you have to feel for the sixteen year old centre back; if he had been able to get a good challenge in in the opening five minutes it may have settled him but alas he never got that chance and it was his resultant hesitancy that cost Liverpool.

To be fair to Jones he steadily grew into the game and made a last ditch interception in the closing minutes which stopped a certain goal – at just sixteen years old he is a huge talent and days like today are a good indicator of how a player will respond when he is playing poorly. His second half performance showed strength of character and that will have pleased Borrell.

Minutes after the opening goal Inter were nearly gifted another as goalkeeper Belford, reluctant to kick it long, tried to play a shirt ball to Craig Roddan. The young Scouser lost possession leaving Inter 2v1 in their favour but thankfully the referee adjudged Roddan – correctly – to have been fouled.

It wasn’t just the young Reds who were making defensive mistakes, Liverpool countered quickly on Inter after a corner and there was very nearly a mix up between the goalkeeper and centre back which would have left Liverpool’s fifteen year old striker Jerome Sinclair with a tap in but Inter got away with it.

Soon after though Inter were punished for sloppy defending, what should have been a routine clearance was dallied on and Sinclair challenged for the ball in the penalty area leading the referee to point to the spot for a Liverpool penalty. It looked a tough call on Inter as it appeared Sinclair was actually the one who committed the foul but from the resultant spot kick Krisztian Adorjan – who has been in sparkling form this season – converted his third goal of the season to give Liverpool an unlikely equaliser.


Inter responded well to the blow of losing a goal though and it wasn’t long before they went back in front. Stephen Sama slipped on a throw in which allowed Forte to turn him and cross to Belluci who side footed home from three yards.

The half time whistle went and Liverpool trudged off the pitch having been completely outplayed; only Ryan McLaughlin, Yalany Baio and Jordan Ibe could really be happy with their first half performance.

After the break Liverpool looked much brighter. Adorjan, on the periphery of the game in the first half, started to drift from flank to flank picking up possession in dangerous parts of the pitch. As a result Liverpool started to cause problems for the home side with Ibe and Sinclair both getting good sights of goal – Sinclair in particular forcing a quality save.

During the first half Inter pressed Liverpool high up the pitch to good effect but now they dropped off and allowed the backline to hold possession which settled Sama and Jones but Inter were still dangerous on the break and should have got a shot away following a Liverpool corner however they tried to walk it in and Sama recovered twice to stop the danger.

One of the stand out players, Ryan McLaughlin, was substituted halfway through the second half. It was the Northern Irishman’s first game of the season following an injury and he appeared to exacerbate it when he slid into a mesh fence just off the pitch. Kristoffer Peterson replaced him, moving American Marc Pelosi into his favoured central midfield position and Yalany Baio went to right back. Soon after Jerome Sinclair also came off, replaced by Sam Gainford who experimentally played upfront.

The changes did not have the desired affect however and Liverpool conceded again. A nice passing move in midfield led to the Inter Milan striker getting free on the left hand side of the penalty area and he fired in from a tight angle to essentially finish the tie off.

Once again Inter dropped off and allowed Liverpool to dominate possession, clearly happy with the 3-1 scoreline. They were nearly made to pay for this however as a powerful run from 16 year old Jordan Ibe led to him being fouled and Adorjan stepped up to score his fourth goal of the season – already his second free kick, doubling his goal haul from the last campaign.

In the end though the Italian team were clear and deserved winners, but Liverpool’s second half performance left room for optimism. A lot depends on the form and fitness of Adorjan for potential success in the competition as he is the key player for this side.

Player Ratings : Belford: 6, McLaughlin: 7 (Peterson: 6), Sama: 5, Jones: 5, Smith: 6, Roddan: 5, Baio: 6, Ibe: 7, Adorjan: 7, Pelosi: 6, Sinclair: 6 (Gainford: N/A)
 

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Oussama Assaidi - A Debut Performance


Thursday - Off the Ball with Zoky

Liverpool escaped with their 41-year unbeaten record against Swiss teams intact against Young Boys in the opening game of their Europa League campaign on a whirlwind night at the Stade de Suisse. Brendan Rodgers praised the Liverpool debutants Wisdom, Suso and Assaidi following the thrilling 5-3 victory over Young Boys in Switzerland.

Assaidi, our Summer signing was forced to wait for his first Liverpool appearance due to a niggling groin injury after signing a month ago, but impressed on his Liverpool debut during his 67 minutes on the pitch in Switzerland. Zoky how did you assess his performance against Young Boys? What will he bring to the Liverpool's attacking play this season?

Zoky said:
Considering it was a team with a lot of changes, for a European trip it was a pretty positive debut for the lad. Overall you can still see that at times he should maybe stick closer to his man when we're defending and that physically he's got room for improvement, but apart from that he did well. But he kept his position relatively well and looks a bit elastic, leaves the impression that he could be a player who can bounce off people and go behind them. Or the term Rodgers used when he talked about people like Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling, "body work".

As it's also the first time I saw him play, I like the fact that he keeps his head up while playing, didn't always opt to cut inside and shoot which is what a lot of these type of wingers like to do. Dominantly right footed, he showed some good touches, footwork, reaction and willingness to play some pass and move stuff in tight areas.

In the first half almost everything we created came from the flanks, some nice little interchanges with people around him. Also tried 2 crosses that didn't find their target, one of them was good so it was a pity we didn't get enough bodies inside the box in the first half. Perhaps he's not the quickest on longer distance but I think he timed his runs well when to wait for the pass from Enrique and co.

His first more serious mistake in the game came at around the 25th minute when Enrique was ahead of him, he found himself a bit deeper, picked the wrong pass, but tracked back in Jose's position to fill in the gap. 10 minutes later he received the ball in a more different situation, with the back to his opponent, turned well, should have maybe got rid of the ball sooner (Suso was his only option for a pass though), but when he lost it near the opposition's corner flag made sure that he pressured as soon as possible which ended in a foul. As for challenges, he won two 50-50's and lost one

Few minutes into the second half, he switched positions with Downing and moved to the right. Didn't see much of the action and didn't do as well as Stewart did in helping Wisdom defensively, but what was positive was the few times when he tucked into the box when the cross came from the left.

This resulted in him taking up a nice and simple goal situation in the 50th minute when Henderson attacked the first post, when Downing aimed for the free Oussama on the second. 5 minutes later he quickly got on the end of a long pass from Brad Jones after we successfully and quickly dealt with a corner, nothing special came out of that and it was a technical mistake. In the 57th minute he again found himself inside the box, this time he attacked the opposite one, but Sahin's cross ended up where he was minutes earlier. His last real contribution came around the 65th minute when he again played a good pass and move action.

As for what he can bring to our attacking play this season...

Still early days, we didn't pay much and we generally don't go abroad to pick these little transfers and especially these attacking unknowns. He doesn't have much pressure on him with the price we got him for, especially now that Sterling has surprised everyone how well he's done.

The main thing for him will be to learn the basics of what Brendan wants really, defensively and offensively. The good thing for me it seems like he isn't always willing to do the same stuff once he gets into a position to express himself. Won't go on to say that he's as good a passer and mover or intelligent as Maxi, but here with players coming from smaller leagues or clubs it's important to stay patient in a lot of actions. The need to understand that it takes time to break defensive teams down, learn how to play against teams who don't leave much space. For now if he can be a surprising aspect to bring off the bench, it's something we lacked in recent years someone fresh to bring on in those wide areas or between the lines.
 

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Preview Match Panel
Liverpool FC v Manchester United FC
Sunday 23 September Kick-Off 13.30​


Preview Panel Special - Off the Ball with Kopstar

BBC's Match of the Day commentator Steve Wilson recently commented "There are many fixtures which could claim to be the biggest derby in English football, but only one game which, though not strictly a derby, can claim to be the biggest fixture."

ThisIsAnfield forum Member Kopstar previews Sunday's visit of Manchester United to Anfield....

Kopstar said:
So, this is the most anticipated game between the two greatest sides in the history of English football since...well...the last one. In the corresponding fixture last year Liverpool took a deserved lead through a Steven Gerrard free-kick but we failed to take advantage of our overall superiority and ended up sharing the points when Javier Hernandez came off the bench to equalise with about 10 minutes to go. Kuyt and Henderson both then had chances that went begging but the game merely reflected a microcosm of our season. Exciting, incisive attacking play based on pass and move that failed to reap its just rewards.

There was also a minor scuffle between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra but thankfully that was largely brushed over and is now long since forgotten. We largely have Comolli to thank for diffusing that situation because, I won’t lie, that could have been a real hot potato.

The media like to drag it all up though and once again the focus will be on whether they’ll shake hands and whether in Uruguay they go with two kisses on the cheek or three. These details are important. Also in the mix are the abusive chants sometimes sung by a minority of Liverpool and United fans respectively. Will United fans mock the families of the dead, will they pour scorn on the attempts to seek justice that have been so emphatically vindicated? Will Liverpool fans sing about runways and the lost generation of one of the greatest teams so cruelly cut down by fate? Someone make sure Damien’s on the end of a ‘phone as this could get complicated.

Let us hope that at the conclusion of this game any reference to the fans are in terms of commendation for supporting their team and honouring their own fallen by respecting those lives lost by their rival. Mostly, let us hope that our attention has been drawn to an engrossing spectacle on the field of play.


Is this a must-win game for Brendan Rodgers? Without a win the start to our league campaign will rank as the worst in our history. It was always going to be tough for Rodgers and I personally felt before the start of the season that we were not going to see a fluid performance and an intuitive understanding between the players to make the system Rodgers wants to implement fully effective before the end of November. I thought then that we would be 10th come Christmas and then maintain top-four form for the remainder of the campaign that would ultimately see us finish in around 6th.

I have seen nothing to make me change my mind although it is significantly compromised by the fubar made regarding our options (or lack of them) up front. However, it can’t be denied that the performance against Arsenal and the results against West Brom and Sunderland were disappointing.

However, we come off a morale-boosting victory in the Europa League against Young Boys in which Rodgers played a team made up largely of youth. In effect it was a reserve team and the senior players expected to start against United were rested. Some have pointed to that as a positive but it could go either way – particularly at the beginning of the season where fitness and sharpness could still do with some assistance. Particularly, too, where the players are trying to gain greater familiarity with a new playing style and new team-mates. Not to mention the fact we weren’t in Europe at all last season.

What has become clear is that Enrique is not an automatic starter this season. His performances since the start of the calendar year haven’t merited it and our back four looks strongest with Kelly, Skrtel, Agger and Johnson. So much so that I prefer Johnson at Left Back. He provides a good attacking outlet and I feel his defending is much better when any opposition player cutting inside against him does so against his stronger foot.


As for the midfield and attacking areas there must be question-marks over the fitness of Nuri Sahin. So far he’s looked a bit off the pace but hopefully that will improve because there’s no doubt that if he gets back to the form and fitness he showed for Borussia Dortmund we will have an exceptional talent on our hands. For now though I think he’ll need to content himself with a place on the bench because we cannot risk losing the midfield battle against a United team that still includes the metronomic mastery of a certain Paul Scholes (if he starts).

I expect to see the front six unchanged from the game against Sunderland and line-up as follows:

Gerrard Allen
Borini Shelvey Sterling
Suarez​

Gerrard owes us a game. He has been poor recently and my own feeling is that the following comments from Rodgers were directed primarily at our captain,

“We're still getting the balance in a couple of areas of our game. We build the game very well through the thirds, but it's about making sure that when we arrive in the final third, if we can't find the moment to score straight away, we maybe have to have that wee bit more patience.”

Too often Gerrard has lost possession in decent areas of the pitch by trying to force a pass that was simply not on. I’m all for passing forward rather than from side-to-side but for Rodgers’ system to work Gerrard needs to pick his moments with far greater care. The team needs to manoeuvre the opposition allowing movement and passing to expose a weakness that we can then exploit – it is less requiring of a glory ball from Gerrard that is more likely to hand possession back to the opponent than it is to create a goal-scoring opportunity.

Against a United team that remains strong we will require patience – if possible we must try and get behind their back four who are all starting to lack pace in their relative old age. To do so we will need to ensure that we utilise Sterling at the right moments.



Opposition player to watch:
Shinji Kagawa

This guy can spot a pass, he can find space and he’s more than capable of both creating and scoring goals out of very little. He is adept at operating between the lines so in the continued absence of Lucas, Allen’s going to have to keep an eye on where he is.
If Paul Scholes gets to start then it’s worth keeping an eye on him too. That’s obvious given his qualities but he has been one of the best players ever to play in England so admire what he does while you still can.

Key head to head:
Raheem Sterling v Rafael Da Silva


He may be young but if Sterling gives Rafael a working over this could be our most profitable avenue of attack. If he gets passed Rafael and is able to run at Vidic and Ferdinand then United could be in considerable difficulty.

Prediction: 1-1

We need a win but unfortunately we won’t get it. What we will get are signs of improvement and increased understanding. We’ll be tighter at the back than we have been so far this season but I think we will still be ruing the fact we lack a clinical finisher in front of goal.

It might make it the worst start to our season in our history but having played City, Arsenal and United in those opening few games I’m hopeful that we will now see a steady improvement so that by the time we visit Chelsea in November the team will be playing with understanding, confidence and importantly starting to convert its play into points.
 

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THE MIDFIELD DYNAMIC


Saturday - Off the Ball with OhYaBeauty

TIA Forum Member OhYaBeauty takes an indepth look at how the midfield could be set up in Rodgers' system this season and the players that would fit into it.

OhYaBeauty said:
The Midfield Positions
Brendan Rodgers sets his team up to play possession based football. We all know that. But the dynamic of the midfield that he wants isn't fully understood. Rodgers uses three central midfielders (from here onwards simply referred to as midfielders; wingers are wingers) to maintain possession of the ball, move it forwards, and set up opportunities for the three forwards. The midfielders in his system fall into three categories: a defensive midfielder, a passing midfielder, and an attacking midfielder.

The defensive midfielder in Rodgers' system is not the type that we're familiar with in England. We're used to tough tackling destroyers in the mold of Roy Keane and Javier Mascherano who snap into tackles and play a very physical game. Rodgers prefers to use a more South American defensive midfielder called a "volante". The volante tends to intercept more balls due to clever positioning than engage in tough tackles. Not that the volante doesn't tackle, its just less of an "all action" style and a more thoughtful, apprehensive approach. The volante is also different than the typical defensive midfielder with the ball. Volantes come back to the central defenders, pick up the ball, and move it forward to the other midfielders where other defensive midfielders can have less responsibility on the ball.

Leon Britton fulfilled the role of the volante under Rodgers at Swansea. He had a very high pass completion percentage as well as a high interception count. He made tackles as well. Busquets fills this position for Barcelona. Lucas Leiva fits the bill for this position perfectly; we've seen him become a great defensive midfielder in the past few years but his ability to pick the ball up off the defenders and move it forwards (he doesn't just pass sideways, preseason was evidence enough of this for those still skeptical) to the more creative players and the wingbacks. Nuri Sahin can play as a volante though it isn't his most natural position. He reads the game well enough defensively, but he's better suited a bit further forward. Joe Allen can play this role, and indeed he has in Lucas' absence so far. However, he is more suited to the next position in Rodgers' midfield.

The passing midfielder in Rodgers' system isn't quite the same we're used to at LFC. The benchmark players are obviously Jan Mølby and Xabi Alonso. They were noted for their ability to sit deep and spray the ball around the pitch. Rodgers likes his passing midfielder to play short passes to the four players ahead of him and the wingbacks.


More importantly, though, the passing midfielder has great movement and always finds space so that the attack minded players in front of him have an easy outlet pass to him in order to maintain possession and switch the point of the attack. I think of this player as a metronome because that's what people call Xavi Hernandez, who very much fulfills this role for Barcelona. Xavi plays a bit further up the pitch than Busquets, and always find spaces to receive the ball from the players ahead of them if they're in trouble, then plays a quick, short pass to switch the point of the attack.

Joe Allen fulfilled the role perfectly at Swansea and Rodgers obviously brought him here to continue in the same vein. There isn't anyone in our midfield that can play this role as well as he can. His passing is fantastic, but its the way he's always available for an outlet pass that has impressed me the most so far. Sahin can also play this role; he's a natural passer and has good movement, but he does go for a "Hollywood pass" a bit more than Allen (judging by his Dortmund time and his first few games with us) and his movement needs to improve as well. I think Henderson might be learning this role at the moment as well. Gerrard seems to fancy this role for himself as a way of extending his career the way Scholes did, but he tends to break up the passing rhythm when he does.

The last role is the creator. This one is very similar to the attacking midfielder in most other teams. He's expected to play ahead of the other two midfielders, hold possession of the ball with dribbling skills, and pass the ball on to the forward three using clever passing and flick-ons. At times, the attacking midfielder drops deeper into midfield to pick up the ball while at others, he plays more like a second striker behind the front three.

At Swansea, Rodgers used Gylfi Sigurðsson in this role. He scored a few goals and assisted a few as well. Rodgers is really spoilt for choice in this role here at LFC. Gerrard is arguably the best player at this role in England's history, and though his star has faded a bit with his legs, he's still competent as an attacking midfielder. Unfortunately, his all-action style doesn't fit into Rodgers' system as well as it fit into Rafa's counterattacking system.

Shelvey looks a very similar player to Gylfi Sigurðsson and could be tailor-made for this role, but his rash tackles make him a weak link in a high pressure defensive system. Henderson might be able to perform in this role, but I think he'll be better off as the metronome. Sahin did this a bit for Dortmund, but has transitioned to a deeper role since then. I think he could still play it in a pinch, however. Suso looks a perfect fit for the role in two or three years time.



The Midfield Dynamic
Rodgers always uses a three man midfield. The three can vary in their relative positioning, though. We can see either a 1-2 or a 2-1 orientation of the three. I think the default, when Lucas and Allen are both available for selection is the 2-1:

Volante Metronome
Creator​

However in Lucas' absence, the creator has gained more defensive responsibility, leading to a flatter 1-2 midfield:

Volante
Creator Metronome​

Regardless of their orientation on the field, the flow of the game looks the same; the volante picks the ball up off the defense, moves it on to the metronome who exchanges passes with the volante and the creator until either the metronome or the creator can find a gap in the opposition defense and thread it through to the forwards.


The Personnel:
- Steven Gerrard: Seems to fancy himself for the metronome role as a way of extending his career the way Scholes did at United, he ultimately plays too many Hollywood balls to be a metronomic midfielder and his forward runs put him in places where he isn't available for the outlet pass. He really only fits as the creator or one of the front three.
- Lucas Leiva: A tailor-made volante and easily first choice in the position when he's available for selection. He'll not play any of the other roles.
- Joe Allen: Perfect for the metronome role and he can also fill in as the volante in Lucas' absence, though this does leave us without a metronome.
- Nuri Sahin: Can fill any of the three roles in midfield, but is probably best as the passer. Faces a fight to make himself first choice at any of the three positions but he should easily be first choice off the bench if anyone is out injured or needs a rest.
- Jonjo Shelvey: Looks like a natural creator for the midfield, he does have deficiencies in defense which can break up a high pressure defensive game, but as the creator he doesn't have too much defensive responsibility. He can't play the other roles due to his deficiencies.
- Jordan Henderson: Was a creator when he moved here but in the Young Boys match he showed he can play a deeper role as a passing midfielder. I think he'll be molded into Allen's backup the way Rafa molded Lucas from an attacking midfielder into a world-class volante.
- Suso: Could be the future of the creator role for midfielder, but that's 2 or 3 years away. He should get game time in the Europa League and the cups, though.


The defensive side of the ball
An important part of the possession based system Rodgers implements is the high pressure defense used to regain the ball once its lost. Pep Guardiola is famed for saying "You win the ball back when there are thirty metres to their goal not eighty." Rodgers lived by a similar mantra at Swansea, though we have yet to see the high pressure that Barcelona plays implemented here.
 

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Tactical Analysis
Liverpool 1 - 2 Manchester United
Sunday 23 September​


Monday - Off the Ball with i_still_miss_fowler

Robin van Persie's late penalty secured a 2-1 victory for Manchester United against 10-man Liverpool on an emotional afternoon at Anfield yesterday, TIA forum Member i_still_miss_fowler provides an indepth tactical analysis of the game for us...

i_still_miss_fowler said:
Background
This was always going to be a day full of emotion, thankfully by and large local rivalries and race issues were side issues to Hillsborough and football on the pitch. Poignant tributes, mosaics and the KOP in full voice were fitting acknowledgements, providing an especially moving backdrop to today’s game.


First Half
The match started well, Liverpool dominating possession, maintaining a formation which we had seen in prior games a 4-3-3 or more accurately 4-1-2-3. Allen sat in front of the back two, with Gerrard and Sheverly providing a dynamic in midfield, sharing both attacking and defending duties. Whilst prior games had been hindered with the team coming to terms with Rodgers tactics, maintaining possession to the expense of attacking threat, the team today were far more direct, more reminiscent of the previous manager.

This was largely as a result of our front three and Gerrards direct play. Borini often came deep and central searching for the ball, providing the extra man in midfield (linking up play), while Suarez provided our main attacking threat through the centre with a flexibility also to come deep. Sterling meanwhile wide right using his pace to beat his man (Evra) or dift into a more dangerous position.


United by contrast were very much a 4-2-3-1 with Van Persie leading the line, Valencia and Nani providing the width and the disappointing Kagawa (nullified by Allen) in the center. During the first 30 minutes along with Giggs and Carrick the two CM , United were unable to get the ball. They were far too concerned about maintain a rigid formation, standing off their counterparts giving us far too much room. When they did have the ball both Nani and Valencia simply ran themselves into trouble.

Although clear cut chances for Liverpool were few, we had pace were direct and had conviction with 59% of play during this period. The following 5-10 minutes were typified by scrappy play, with needless errors puting ourselves under more pressure allowing United back into the game. Six minutes before half-time Shelvey made a rash 50:50 tackle, a harsh but correct red card given. Evans on the receiving end however was just as guilty and either both or neither should have been sent off. A wry smile by Ferguson as the player walked down the tunnel after berating him, told its own story. United applied more pressure before the end of the half, but were unable to build upon the two earlier long range speculative efforts from outside the box.


Second Half
At half time Borini replaced by Suso to help provide better link up play with our attack, while United brought on Scholes for Nani to help control the centre of the park were United were badly losing out and add some passing quality. Suso had an immediate impact, beating Scholes on the left with a cross which came to Johnson, with the ball subsequently ending up with Gerrard for well taken goal. It was nothing less than we had deserved.

Less than 5 minutes later though United were level through their first real attack. As much as I personally dislike Rafael, it was an excellent goal, which topped off a great game for the player, he had provided urgency to United as well as an aerial dominance at the back. Despite this and having only 10 men though, heads did not drop and we continued to give as good as we got.

At this point in the match I couldn’t tell if our formation was 4-4-1 or 4-3-2 with Sterling either given freedom (remaining wide right) to provide attacking threat with Saurez or more likely tactical ill discipline by the youngster, who had generally had a good game. This was surely partly why he was replaced by Henderson, and the manager made a surprising shift in tactics.

Our formation became essentially 4-3-1-1, with Allen, Gerrard and Henderson in the center of the park, with Suso linking up with Saurez in the center (as opposed to his earlier position on the left) allowing him to influencing the game even further. I must admit I was somewhat scratching my head that Sahin was not brought on for this role instead, however the younger did a good job


This consequently gave Evra the freedom to get forward, who had previously been beaten again and again by Sterlings pace and movement, preventing the fullback getting forward. Consequently this change further opened up the game. With Evra attacking, Kelly also started getting forward more providing an attacking threat during the final third of the game, even coming close with a header from a Johnson cross.

Unfortunately Suso made a careless pass, leaving Agger under pressure. United broke and Johnson in recoverly just before the tackle he clipped the United players heal, giving away a soft penalty. Even worse Agger was injured with suspect knee ligament damage, perhaps the biggest blow of the day.

Despite a negative result, we can take great heart, in that despite being down to 10 men for 50 minutes, we limited United mainly to shots from outside the box (5 out of 7), United were only in our attacking third for 24% of the game and as a whole we generally outplayed them. Work ethic and charcter were far greater than we have seen in recent weeks, while it was good to hear the KOP in full voice during the last 10 minutes dispite being behind.


Loss of Agger
Everyone one knows how important Agger is to the team in a defensive sense, but today also illustrated how important he is in attack. During the game he made 4 surging runs forward. These runs drew United players out of position creating space for others. When we went down to 10 men, his reading of the game and movement is what allowed Johnson to continue to get forward freely, regularly moving up the pitch offering support, and coving the full back.

During corners and freekicks his intelligent play created one of the best opportunities. Gerrard’s shot from a corner which went just wide, was all down to Agger creating space, by blocking Giggs in a text book manner giving Gerrard acres of space. His movement also created further troubles for the keeper, and a separate corner, simply by good positioning was able to create space for himself. Unluckily cross was too high as he would have had a free header.


Gerrard- Sterling- Suarez link up play
A feature of today's game was the more direct attacking approach. As can be seen from the graphic below Gerrard made a number of successful long balls, particularly and regularly finding Sterling on the right, who had the beating of Evra all day


Likewise Gerrard also find Suarez, and Borini by it was Sterling that was providing the main outlet on the break, with his pace, direct play and urgency.

The Youngster was able to take on his man and beat him (yellow dots) or was fouled (white triangle) but also find Suarez with short through balls.


As can be seen below, those passes were almost exclusively Sterling passing to Suarez, illustrating how an understanding is developing between the two.


Although I have not been one to criticise Downing, it was a class above anything we have seen by the man who didn't even make the bench today


Summary
it was a similar story to many a game last year. The better team lost. Suso and Sterling are particularly bright aspects of our play and it seems our future, finally bearing the fruits of our acadamy. Mentaiility was far better for this game, the difficult job for Rodgers will be mainting this, especially if results continue to go against us, or against lesser teams.

For me despite the result, was one of our best displays, we can only hope lack of cutting edge wont be our downfall.
Discuss this tactical analysis article over at Tactical Analysis Liverpool vs United
 

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SUSO LOOKING TO IMPRESS


Tuesday - Off the Ball with Sweeting

Suso was introduced as a half-time substitute against Manchester United replacing the injured Fabio Borini at half-time and turned in an impressive display on his first appearance in the Barclays Premier League making an immediate impact by kick-starting the move that led to Liverpool's opener.

Sweeting, having followed Suso's progress through the Liverpool reserve team, what will Suso bring to the Liverpool first team and where is his best position?

Sweeting said:
Suso is a technically sound footballer with a good brain and outstanding natural ability. As well as this he does possess the ability to score and create goals from open play - plus is a decent set piece taker. Since arriving at the club from Cadiz he always looked destined for the first team, catching the eye with his outstanding distribution at reserve team level aged just 16.

However, it has been a difficult road for Suso; perhaps he didn't rise through the ranks as quickly as he felt he deserved to and has spent the last season and a half on the right side of an attacking midfield set up rather than his preferred position of just off the striker. This positional change though was essential for Suso's development - over reliant on his left foot even now - he is greatly improved at using his right foot and, essentially, his work ethic is far better than when he first arrived.

For the first team Suso will bring a great deal of 'bravery' (as Rodgers defines the word), he is not afraid to pick the ball up in any situation and will take the course of action he feels is best - unlike some of the more senior players at the club - Suso doesn't care if isn't applauded everytime he gets the ball... if he wants to shoot, he shoots and his head won't drop if he misses.

He is also a good playmaker and has recently added goals to his resume which only makes him a more exciting prospect. He, like Sterling, is still at the very beginning of his career - taking his first steps into professional football - as such we shouldn't expect too much too soon so I won't list any more strengths. Suffice to say he is a good footballer and Liverpool FC loves good footballers.

I think it will take Suso a little while to adjust fully to first team football, Sterling has hit the ground running but I feel the Spaniard may just need a little more time - he doesn't have incredible pace and so he needs to think his way around a game which takes time to learn at this level. He is a natural centre attacking midfielder but could be deployed on the right or slightly deeper in midfield as well.
 

DEVGRU

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Suso is pure quality and he has matured a hell of a lot from last season when I last saw him play...he can only get better and better and has so much confidence on the ball..excellent passing...I like the fact we are finally giving youth a chance.
 

jimmydestiny

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He did well, but still has a huge amount to learn. Defensively he is suspect imo and he us still unsure when to make forward runs at times but these things can be worked on. On the balk he looked good both Midwest and against united, two big forward steps. I for one hope that continues. Confidence will help a whole lot
 

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Preview Match Panel
West Brom v Liverpool - League Cup
Wednesday 26th september​


Preview Panel Special - Off the Ball with Hope in your Heart

Liverpool begin their defence of the League Cup with a trip to West Brom on Wednesday night. ThisIsAnfield forum Member Hope in your Heart previews our visit to the Hawthorns where Liverpool will be aiming to start a successful defence of the trophy with a win.

Hope in your Heart said:
Pre-match thoughts:
After the club's worst start in the league since more than 100 years, pressure is truly on now for the next league game at Norwich, a team which has had an indifferent start to the campaign as well, and definitely must be beaten in order to avoid early implosion of BR's relationship with the players, and to allow him to build his project further. Confidence breeds success, we all know this, and confidence can only come from a win, that's why this game against Norwich is definitely the focal point of this week. It has to...

That's why I for one expect a team starting on Wednesday with mostly second blades and youngsters, who did well when called upon against YB, and definitely deserve to be selected. The team I expect to start against WBA would be a close copy to the one which started at Berne last week, with maybe one or two senior players included, like for instance Reina in place of Jones. The travel distance isn't too high, contrarily to last thursday, so it means we could also see several senior players on the bench for this one.

The team I would like to see on Wednesday is:

Pacheco Morgan Assaidi​
Sahin Henderson Suso
Enrique Coates Skrtel Wisdom
Reina​

While the forward line will inevitably be one of youngsters and hopefuls, especially after Borini's injury, and the midfield picks itself (same than against YB), the most difficult spot is the defence. With Agger and Kelly out, Johnson will likely play on the right against Norwich, while Coates will hopefully replace Agger.

Central defenders can play every three days, especially early in the season, so I'd throw a solid partnership in, with Coates and Skrtel. This game will allow them to build up some understanding before the all-important game three days later.

While Enrique seems to be off-form, he surely needs playing time to regain it. As for Wisdom, his performance against YB deserves a further chance.

I'd also play Reina instead of Jones, who wasn't very convincing at Berne.


The opposition:
WBA have now an experienced and very capable gaffer, whom we happen to know very well, as it is Steven Clarke, formerly Dalglish's assistant manager, now sacked by fsg, but proving how good he is with WBA. Mourinho couldn't laud him enough when he was his assistant at Chelsea, so did Kenny, and I still struggle to understand why, if Kenny really had to be sacked, fsg didn't consider replacing him from the inside, with this extremely capable man and tactician.

As expected, he has managed to immediately shore up WBA's defence to one of the best in the league so far, especially at home, with so far not one single goal received. Their run since the beginning of the season has been the following:

3-0 win against us on the opening day
1-1 draw at Tottenham
2-0 win against Everton at home
0-3 loss at Fulham
1-0 win against Reading at home

As a result of this fine season debut, they find themselves in fourth spot, with ten points from five games. As they have had a good season debut, and certainly have some expectation for this cup competition, I expect them to come out with a near full-force team on Wednesday.


Key man to watch:
I was asked to put in this feature, but it's not easy to find one stand-out performer in this team. As could be expected, Clarke is all about team-work and good tactical organisation, and that's what you get from WBA nowadays. Six of the seven goals scored so far have all been scored by different players, which underlines this point. However, if I had to chose one, I'd go for Youssuf Mulumbu, their 25-years old defensive midfielder, who has been the pillar of their midfield since a couple of seasons now (named club's and fans' player of the season at the end of the 2011/12 season) . He's the one who makes the midfield tick, and works hard in front of the defence.

Another one to watch is Romelu Lukaku (19), currently on loan from Chelsea, who is a powerfull, aggressive striker with much pace and seems to have a great future in football. He scored two goals already for WBA, and will be a dangerous threat on wednesday. Due to his pace and power (when combined with Morrison) makes me think that Carragher must not be selected for this fixture


Key head-to-head:
Key confrontation on a tactical level will surely be in midfield. If Suso is played ahead of Sahin and henderson, like against YB, it will be interesting to see how he copes with Mulumbu's hassling and physical presence, and how he still can create something.


Prediction:
I hate to make predictions, as I'm utterly bad at this exercise. I'm currently not inclined to much optimism regarding issues related with LFC, so it may influence how I see this pan out, but here we go: due to what has been said above, I expect us to lose this game 2-0...

Obviously hoping that I've got it completely wrong (as said, there are big chances that I indeed am!). Any positive result from this one would be a big plus for the club, one we could all be delighted with. But the key focus has to be on next Saturday...
 

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West Brom 1 - 2 Liverpool : 5 things we Learned
League Cup - Wednesday 26th september


Wednesday - Off the Ball with PAISLEYtheGREATEST

Nuri Sahin struck a late winner as holders Liverpool recorded a 2-1 victory over West Brom in the third round of the Capital One Cup. PAISLEYtheGREATEST takes a quick look at 5 things we learned from the game tonight....

PAISLEYtheGREATEST said:
West Brom 1 - 2 Liverpool - 5 things we Learned from the Game

Goalkeeper
The need for a suitable back up was never more evident after 3 minutes when Brad Jones dropped a bread and butter cross. He didn't have a great deal to do after that, but a sure sign that you have no confidence in a keeper is when you are watching him come for a cross, or deal with a passback, you become tense. Jones gives you that lack of confidence. A suitable back up is needed not just to help improve Pepe, but for evenings like this.

Our 3rd choice centre back
Sebastián Coates has been blooded in gently since his arrival last summer, and although he can still be suspect in certain situations, which defenders aren't? He does the meat and bones of a defenders work extremely well. His tackling, and timing of is top rate, the instinctive way he can read the game is a major and he always appears so calm. The time has come for Coates to be our nailed on 3rd choice centre back, and i fully expect to see him really challenge our Skrtel and Agger for a starting berth.

The Kids are alright
I feel a bit of a fraud writing this when Sweeting has this side covered to perfection, however what this game has shown is that our future is in very safe hands. A game where Sterling didn't have to come off the bench as the other youngsters were showing their worth. The beauty of the team, and the real positive is that these youngsters are growing up together, playing the same style, understanding one another and developing together. Make no mistake, it's the start of something special. Although he wasn't alone in the move, the dynamic, assertive run by Suso, and playing the correct pass shows the class that this boy carries

Stewart Downing
The only real negative of the night for me. His touch, awareness and skill set tonight was a real let down, nothing came off for him, and you could say it was just an off night, but these off nights are becoming more and more frequent, and tonight he was firmly put in his place by the youngsters. Assaidi showed him up tonight, that was a wingers performance and Rodgers could do a lot worse than show Downing a video of the youngster and how to take on defenders and pick your pass. It's not his fault he was signed for 20m, and you can't fault his workrate but we have to be honest. He just isn't good enough.

Being Clinical
This is no negative, just a small observation, that we need to show a more clinical attitude in front of goal when presented with opportunities. A few occasions Yesil and Sinclair were blown off the ball, thats just their inexperience showing, give them time, and let their bodies and strength develop and they will progress with that. We need to be more clinical infront of goal. I would love to see Robbie Fowler added to the coaching team, young enough that the players there will know, and respect who he is, still fit enough to teach them in training and as clinical as you can get. Having Fowler at the club to assist the strikers could only be a positive.
 

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I agree Broomy on all but two points. Thought Jones did well after initial blunder, thought he may have had a slight push. After that he commanded the crosses really well. And on Fowler, IMO he had something you just can not teach, that natural instinct. Is Rush still at the club? He has all the coaching merits I think over Fowler.Although any of these through their commitment to the club would be good thing.
 

jimmydestiny

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You guys are talking about Rush and Fowler being good coaches for the young lads, thats fair enough but don't suggest the young lads will know who they are. One was born in 96 ffs lol
 

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Jerome Sinclair... Who is he?


Thursday - Off the Ball with Sweeting

After celebrating his 16th birthday last week, Jerome Sinclair became the youngest ever player to represent Liverpool last night. The striker came off the bench against West Brom to make his senior debut aged 16 years and six days, supplanting Jack Robinson, who was 244 days older when he made his first Liverpool appearance.

Sweeting takes a quick look at the rise and rise of young Jerome Sinclair for us....

Sweeting said:
Jerome Sinclair became Liverpool's youngest ever player on Wednesday night as he came off the bench at just 16 years and 6 days old, a record that will probably never be broken. Liverpool fans will obviously be hugely excited about such young talent getting game time but what can they expect from Jerome Sinclair if and when he appears again?

Signed from West Bromwich Albion last year, the then 15 year old Jerome Sinclair broke into the U18 set up at the end of the season, giving tantalising cameo appearances suggesting big things to come. In the pre-season of 2012-13, Sinclair helped himself to eight pre-season goals and started on fire for the U18s scoring twice in a 3-3 draw with Wolves and being a constant nuisance to Inter Milan in the narrow 3-2 defeat in the NextGen Series.

Sinclair has pace to burn, is very strong (for his age) and has hugely impressive movement. Not someone who enjoys playing between the lines, he is very much a striker, constantly trying to break the offside trap and score a goal. Has a good football brain and is seemingly never phased by his surroundings.

That's not to say he's perfect of course - at 16 no one is - his link up play is quite poor and he misses easy chances too often, usually then firing in a rocket from 20 yards to make up for it. He is a player who prefers to play off instinct than judgement, hinting at a lack of composure and the fact he often tries to burst the net rather than find the corners.

However, at sixteen years old it's really hard to find fault. He's such an exciting talent and looks around the same level a certain Mr. Sterling was at the same age. His superior physical build will help him progress quickly through the ranks while his talent should secure him a long term future.

With Sterling, Ibe and Sinclair Liverpool have three excellent attacking talents under the age of 18 who all prescribe to the Rodgers' model. Watch this space.
 

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Sweeting, do you really think he's on the same level that Sterling was at the same age? I haven't seen much of him, but I get the impression he's a Bent type striker who plays on the shoulder of the defender. Not exactly Rodgers' ideal striker, is he? He likes more of a between the lines player, no?
 

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Sweeting, do you really think he's on the same level that Sterling was at the same age? I haven't seen much of him, but I get the impression he's a Bent type striker who plays on the shoulder of the defender. Not exactly Rodgers' ideal striker, is he? He likes more of a between the lines player, no?
Depends what type of game we are playing I'd guess. His passing and general inter-play needs to improve, it's not as poor as say Adam Morgan but not as strong as Samed Yesil and that's probably a good benchmark to get to.

And yeah, for me is around the same level that Sterling was at [only just] 16, although he does play a different position as well so progress will most likely be at a different rate.
 

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Norwich v Liverpool
Saturday 29th September​


Preview Panel Special - Off the Ball with OhYaBeauty

Liverpool return to Premier League action this Saurday afternoon with a trip to Norwich. Brendan Rodgers is still searching for his first league win this season. ThisIsAnfield forum Member OhYaBeauty previews our visit to Carrow Road...

OhYaBeauty said:
1) Pre Match Thoughts:
Questions abound about who will start this one. Will Agger and Borini be fit? Can Assaidi, Pacheco, Robinson or Sahin play two games in four days? Will Jose Enrique be given another chance and does he still have a knock? Is Suso going to be given his first Premier League start?

Reina​
Johnson Skrtel Agger Enrique​
Allen​
Gerrard Sahin​
Sterling Suarez Assaidi​

Rodgers has said that Agger is likely to play against Norwich. Coates is another option for Agger's spot, but I think we'll see Daniel come Saturday (even though most of us would like to see him rested). I think he'll also play Enrique because Robinson has just played 90 minutes and might have difficulty with a very physical Snodgrass.

Allen and Gerrard are a lock to start in midfield, and I think Sahin's midweek form will see him join them though Suso is an outside bet. What remains to be seen is whether Gerrard will take on an advanced role in a 2-1 shaped midfield or if he'll sit back with Sahin in a flatter midfield. He seems to prefer sitting back nowadays.

The forward line is pretty easy to pick. A couple of dangerous wingers and a dangerous forward. Assaidi might not start as he's just had 90 minutes. Probable replacements are Suso (on the right), Pacheco (on the left) and Morgan (through the middle with Suarez moving to the left).

The midfield battle should be won by Liverpool, with Norwich looking to hit back on the counter down Liverpool's left, which is a bit suspect defensively.

2) Opposition Player to watch:
Most would probably say Grant Holt, but I'm going with John Ruddy. I expect Liverpool to boss this match; our midfielders are better than theirs by a country mile and we'll hold the ball well. Their defense won't realistically be able to keep us from getting shots off, so it comes down to Ruddy to keep it out. Liverpool's biggest struggle is putting it in the net, either because the opposition's keeper has a worldie or the damn posts are too thick. The key to this game will be John Ruddy. If he plays well, Norwich have a chance of a clean sheet.

3) Key head to head:
Besides the Liverpool vs. the goalkeeper battle, the other key battle in the game will be Robert Snodgrass against Jose Enrique. Enrique is badly off form, which could give Snodgrass a chance to supply Grant Holt. Any chance Norwich has will likely be on the counterattack, and down Liverpool's left.

4) Prediction:
The midfield battle is easily won by the reds. The forwards initially struggle to finish but score once before and twice after halftime. Holt capitalizes on a half-chance at some point when Pepe Reina makes a minor mistake. 3-1 to Liverpool. Suarez, Sterling, Suso, and Holt to score.
 

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Norwich 2 - 5 Liverpool : 5 things we Learned
Premier League - Saturday 29th September


Saturday - Off the Ball with Nikola13

Brendan Rodgers won his first league game in charge at Anfield after a Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool brushed aside Norwich City. Nikola13 takes a quick look at 5 things we learned from the game at Carrow Road....

Nikola13 said:
Norwich 2 - 5 Liverpool - 5 things we Learned from the Game

First league win of the season
At last, Liverpool fans, players and management can breathe a sigh of relief. A string of great performances has finally yielded a league victory and everyone connected to Liverpool will be hoping that it's only the dawn of a bright day. And what a way to get the first league win of the season! Incisive passing, confident dribbling, wise use of possession and finally some edge in attack - five goals, all of them from open play.

Luis Suarez
Performances that could outshine the one that got him Man of the match award today are really few and far between. Three beautiful finishes, one assist and being a constant thorn in opponent's defence got Liverpool fans signing his name throughout the whole ninety minutes of today's match against Norwich. What was also very encouraging was that Liverpool today looked like a team on the same wavelength to him, which was one of Liverpool's biggest problems during last season.

New signings and Nuri Sahin
Liverpool's starting line-up in today's match consisted of two summer signings (Allen and Sahin) and three youngsters promoted from U21 team (Sterling, Suso and Wisdom), with Assaidi, another summer signing, coming off the bench for Liverpool. It would be fair to say that all none of them left anyone unimpressed with their commitment and talent, moreover when one takes into account that it was Suso's first full league match, while Wisdom also made his league debut. Pick of this bunch has, in my opinion, been Nuri Sahin with an all-round performance that yielded him a goal, assist, few very good tackles and, as icing on the cake, well-timed tricks that will undoubtedly raise his profile with Liverpool crowd and get kids talking on Monday in school yard.

Defence
Sir Alex Ferguson recently criticised his defence, asking them publicly: "Does our attack have to score three goals in every game for us to win it?" Even though it's only his first league victory with Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers will be asking the same question of his defenders, namely Martin Skrtel whose mistake led to the second Norwich goal. Even after such an accomplished performance, Liverpool's defensive problems will continue to give Rodgers headache and he will have to find a solution for it.

Collective
One of the less noticed aspects of Rodgers' management of this Liverpool side is the effort he put into making Liverpool a team consisting of eleven players complemented by substitutions, slowly getting rid of "one/two man team" moniker that was bestowed upon Liverpool sides that had Steven Gerrard and later Fernando Torres at their best. While there will always be passages of fine individual play, every player seemed subdued to the purpose of team, with each and every one of them carrying out their duties in responsible manner.
 

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Suso vs Norwich

According to the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool will reward Suso with a new contract following the Spanish youngster’s breakthrough into the first team. The 18 year old's current deal expires next summer and talks over an extension are already underway with Rodgers determined to keep him at Anfield.

Here is his impressive match compilation display from Saturday's 5-2 win over Norwich...


(Match compilation by Brainzgaming over on Youtube)
 

Mascot88

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I can't remember the last time I saw a teenager with such an assured first touch and ability on the ball. His technical ability for 18 is something else.

Hope we can tie him down.
 

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Liverpool 2 - 3 Udinese : 5 things we Learned
Europa League - Thursday 4th October


Friday - Off the Ball with mafiaman20

Antonio Di Natale delivered a virtuoso display as Udinese came from behind to stun Liverpool in the Europa League. TIA forum member mafiaman20 takes a quick look at 5 things we learned from the game at Anfield last night....

mafiaman20 said:
Liverpool 2 - 3 Udinese - 5 things we Learned from the Game

1) Lucas’ Absence
Liverpool's defensive frailties have been highlighted numerous times this season; shipping another three goals last night and the fact that the team’s last clean sheets came at home to FC Gomel (Aug 3) and during the away victory to Hearts (Aug 23) are particularly telling.

The absence of Lucas Leiva has not helped matters, while Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Nuri Sahin do their best to protect the back-four when the can, they simply aren’t up to Lucas’ standards defensively, yet that’s obviously to be expected as they are different styles of players but also raises the issue of the squads’s lack of another genuine defensive midfielder.

While he’s still missed in the Premier League, a more settled team can deal with his absence more effectively but when chopping and changing during cup competitions his importance can become more apparent, providing crucial cover for those still getting accustomed to playing as a unit and with new partnerships still in their infancy.

Overall the entire team needs to improve defensively; concentration levels need to be maintained at all times and more communication is required. Lucas’ comeback will be a welcome return and will provide an increased confidence among the defence but more work is needed on the training ground until that time arrives.


2) Borini’s Form
Fabio Borini has come under some criticism from certain sections of Liverpool’s support yet going by his performance against Udinese he has the potential to be a good player for the club provided he gets proper service.

His tracking-back and impressive work rate was there for all to show but what have may gone unnoticed was his clever movement in and around the box. Playing in his preferred centre-forward role, he engineered one or two of his own opportunities but his several good runs into the box were let down but not being provided with the service he requires. Oussama Assaidi’s reluctance to swing in a first time ball into the box meant Borini’s runs were wasted, he was left making a forward run only to have to check back to stay onside, expecting a cross that rarely arrived.

Goals will come for Borini provided he gets the right service, his confidence doesn’t look as diminished as some people have been saying but any goal he can grab in next few games to end his drought will be important to aiding his development as a Liverpool player.


3) The need to push home the advantage
What was cruelly exposed against Udinese was, as with last season, the team’s inability to push the advantage when they’re on top. Liverpool were dominant in possession throughout the first half but failed into increase their tally to take a comfortable half-time lead. Come the opening seconds of next half, their failure to do so was duly punished.

As has been said many times before, ‘possession is nothing if you don’t score enough’. Liverpool could do with being a bit more decisive on the ball rather than passing for the sake of it. Perhaps rather than trying to emulate Barcelona, they could take a leaf out of Borussia Dortmund’s book. While they mightn’t have got a result against Manchester City on Wednesday evening they showed terrific ball retention while carving out numerous opportunities by being more direct and forward-thinking.

Another gripe I have about the current set-up is passing the ball back to Reina, we’ve already seen it before with Martin Sktrel’s backpass during the Man City game, but during almost every game a dodgy moment arises with the defence knocking it back to Pepe. It’s a accident waiting to happen and probably in a major fixture knowing Liverpool’s luck.


4) Shelvey’s Continued Progress
Jonjo Shelvey’s progression as a Liverpool player has been clear to see after Kenny Dalglish gave him a increased role within the team. While he can be a tad rash in the tackle, which can be but down to inexperience, the 20-year-old (easy to forget he’s so young) shows a maturity beyond his years when the ball is at his feet, slick, clever passes are becoming the norm for Jonjo, he may lose the ball occasionally but when he does so he’s usually attempting the right thing at the time.

He’s also beginning to show traits of leadership and influence, perhaps most finely demonstrated in his game-changing performance against Young Boys. I’ve heard some fans saying Jonjo is ‘shite’ and can’t understand it, his excellent run for his goal is reminiscent of a certain Steven Gerrard, who I feel Jonjo may be the most natural successor to in the future. Maybe not quite as explosive as Gerrard but the most similar we have at Liverpool at this moment in time. I for one I’m glad he’s with the Reds, if he continues to learn and progress as he’s been doing he will be a very important player for Liverpool in the future and England at international level.


5) The importance of a natural finisher
Antonio Di Natale proved how important a natural finisher can be to a team with his superb finish at the beginning of the second half followed by his excellent hold-up play and lay-off for Pasquale’s goal.

While I’ve talked up Borini’s potential as a goalscorer, I think he’ll be more in the mould of Dirk Kuyt, only with better feet and more pace. A natural finisher, as has been well documented is required at Liverpool and the utmost most be doing in acquiring one in January.

Di Natale showed that a clinical finisher can really be the difference, he won the game for his team with the few chances he got in a game they didn’t deserve to. If Liverpool can find a man like that it won’t be long before they’re challenging for top honours again.
 

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Preview Match Panel
Liverpool v Stoke - League
Sunday 7th October​


Preview Panel Special - Off the Ball with Mascot88

Liverpool return to action against Stoke City at Anfield on Sunday aiming to record back-to-back wins in the Barclays Premier League. TIA Forum Member Mascot88 previews our upcoming match at Anfield...

Mascot88 said:
Pre-match thoughts:
Sundays visitors to Anfield represent perhaps the biggest test of Rodgers' young team so far. We'll certainly play much better sides than Stoke, but we won't play another team that contrasts so completely with the style of our own. Where we will look to play football on the deck and attack, Stoke will defend in numbers, sit deep and counter.

Pulis has Stoke well drilled, but the approach should be quite straightforward. Soak up pressure, break from the back, use Crouch to hold up the ball, and try and nick a goal from a set piece. I wouldn't be surprised to see us take 70% of possession, and we'll almost certainly dominate midfield, so the key test for Liverpool is concentration. The mistakes we've been making in defence will be a huge source of encouragement to Stoke.

According to a few fan forums Stoke will most likely field Kites, Adam, Whelan, Nzonzi and Walters as a midfield five. We know that Adam can be pretty good with the ball, but can't really be arsed to chase around for it. This area of the pitch should be controlled by us.

Reina, Suarez, Gerrard, Skrtel and Agger are a given, and although they are young, that they didn't play 90 against Udinese means we'll probably see Wisdom, Suso and Sterling. I think Suso is at his best in a central attacking midfield berth, but Sahin's recent form will probably see him get the nod there. Rodgers has played Suso on the right of an attacking three, and as 'midfield' in this game will probably be about 5 yards outside the Stoke box, he'll probably do well there.

The thing that really excites most Liverpool fans about the young side Rodgers is building is not so much the ability to stand toe to toe with the best teams in the country - we've never really had a problem with that - but the ability to roll over the 'lesser' teams, where 3pts should really be the minimum expectation. That's something we've struggled in recent years, as we've never really had an answer to 'park the bus'.

So we should see a midfield and front line packed with skill and trickery. Gerrard, Sahin, Suso, Suarez and Sterling can all do the unpredictable at speed, and it should be interesting to see if we finally have the kind of fluid attack, patience and mentality to break down the archetypical 10 man defence.

---------------Reina-----------------
Wisdom Skrtel Agger Johnson
----------------Allen------------------
---------Gerrard Sahin-------------
-----Suso---Suarez--Sterling-----​


Opposition player to watch
He's big, he's red (and white), his feet stick out the bed, Peter Crouch already has 5 goals this season, so it's hard to look past him, especially as the main threat Stoke pose is from dead balls. And he usually does well against us. If Adam can get on the ball feeding him, then we could be in trouble.

He's surprisingly good with his feet for a big man, y'know. To cope with Crouch, Rodgers could be tempted to play Seb Coates. I wouldn't be surprised to see him feature, given the arial threat Stoke pose.


Key head to head
Suarez v Shawcross. The skillful, unpredictable playmaker v the no-nonsense, rugged centre half. I expect Suarez to pull out all the tricks to bamboozle Shawcross, and I expect him to get kicked in return. The key decider for this battle will be if Suarez gets any protection from the referee at all.

If Shawcross gets carte blanche to kick Suarez about all afternoon, as we've seen in previous games, then the most important skill Suarez needs to show is the more mature and professional mentality he seems to have found this year. But if the Ref gives him a fair crack, Luis could run riot.


Prediction.
The omens aren't good for Stoke. I dont think they have ever won a game of top flight football at our place. Apart from the usual face palms (a few seem strangely confident they'll have the beating of Carragher - presumably they'll target him by aiming long balls directly at the bench) there are quite a few on the forums worried they're going to be on the end of a drubbing.

I fancy a win, but it will be tight. Maybe 2-1. I also think Sterling will grab a goal, Suarez to continue his hot streak, and a defensive calamity to rob Reina of a long awaited clean sheet.
 

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Liverpool 0 - 0 Stoke City : 5 things we Learned
Premier League - Sunday 7th October


Monday - Off the Ball with Hope in your Heart

Stoke produced a solid defensive display to hold off Liverpool and take a hard-earned point away from Anfield on Sunday afternoon. TIA forum member Hope in your Heart takes a quick look at 5 things we learned from the game at Anfield yesterday....

Hope in your Heart said:
Liverpool 0 - 0 Stoke City - 5 things we Learned from the Game

1) The first clean sheet
An important positive to note from this match, is that we finally managed to cut out stupid and costly individual errors at the back. Apart from an Europa League match against Hearts, we have been unable until now to keep clean sheets. That has been extremely frustrating for the players (look at how Reina screamed out of desperation when having to take the ball out of his net at Norwich...), and horribly costly regarding where we stand in the league table.

This time around though, there can be no complaints. In-form Crouch was completely marked out of the game by Agger/Skrtel, and although it has to be said that Stoke were looking for that 0-0, with maybe the odd chance to score from a free-kick or a long ball in the box, our defence still managed to cope well with any threat coming from them, especially on aerial balls, while our tackling rate stands at 92.3%, which is excellent.


2) Physical challenge? Bring it on!
As usual, Stoke began the match with their rough, physical challenges, and, during the first half, there were too many unpunished of them. Referee Lee Mason obviously went with a very tough, old-fashioned line. All kinds of challenges were tolerated on both sides. Obviously, the team wanting to play more football was always going to suffer from this, and indeed, we struggled to keep possession during the first half. The possession rate after the first half was around 53%-47%, which shows how difficult it was for the lads, especially the young ones, like Sterling or Suso, who really had to dig in deep to cope with the aggressivity in this game.

But after the break, everyone played much, much better. Stoke were denied any meaningful chance, and were dispossessed from any consistent possession. At the end of the match, possesion rate had shifted towards 64%-36%. That means that during the second half, we had possession of the ball during 75% of those 45 minutes, and this domination resulted in some clear-cut offensive actions, which could and should have given us that elusive winning goal.

Bottom-line is: the players, and it applies for all of them, managed to raise their game during the ninety minutes, despite of the fact that they were being given a right beating by the Stoke players. They managed much better to avoid the tackles/assaults, to keep passing the ball at fast pace, to keep consistent pressure on the Stoke goal. They passed that physical test, and that bodes well for the future.


3) Lack of composure in front of goal
The following stat will immediately highlight the problems we had in front of goal: shots at goal 18 - shots on target 2. Generally, all our attacking players played with some kind of blinkers. They lacked coolness and composure when confronted with a chance. This is highlighted by several actions: Gerrard trying to put too much high balls on the head of a team-mate in the box, instead of going for a more simple option (moves breaking down as a result), Sterling trying to shoot (post-hit), instead of passing towards a free team-mate in the box who would have scored 100%, Suarez trying to dribble the whole of the Stoke defence inside of a pocket-handkerchief etc.

Suarez hadn't his scoring boots on yesterday, and as a result, our attack immediately nosedived towards mediocrity. As great a player Suarez is, when he tries to do everything by himself, he can become a disturbant factor for the team. Yesterday, we had that kind of scenario: Luis had obviously decided that he'd score all by himself, and as a result, always tried to dribble his way in the box and apply the finishing himself. It could have worked off at one or two occasions, but generally, it hindered the team to provide more threat as a collective unit.


4) Where to play Suarez
For that reason, it's my firm opinion that Suarez should be played on the right or the left from our attacking line, but not as the spearhead. One action during that match highlights what I mean: in the first half, Suarez took the ball and was allowed a bit space on the left to start one of his mazy dribbles. He nutmegged one, two Stoke players and found himself in a wonderful position in the box to pass the ball back. He saw Sahin and passed it perfectly. Sahin's shot was deflected by the back of a defender. With a slightly bit more of luck, it could have gone in either way, like against Norwich in a similar situation.

This was a perfect attacking move, but we saw too few of them, especially during the second half, when enjoying so much possession. Had there been two or three more of them, we would celebrate a victory today. If Suarez was allowed to play more on the wings, and less in the center, he'd provide more chances with his runs, and allow other players to display their attacking threat: Sahin, Gerrard, Borini etc. He'd probably score more himself as well. It's probably no haphazard that his best scoring record (111 goals and 37 assists in 159 matches) dates from his times with Ajax, when played on the right or the left of a 4-3-3, with a proper center forward spearheading the attacking line.


5) Patience required
When trying to summarise this match, there are very contradictory feelings emerging. It's frustrating (again) having to settle for a goal-less draw at home against Stoke. It's annoying to see us spurn that many goalscoring opportunities by lacking that coolness and vision for the last defence-splitting pass, or for that calm finishing. It's enraging to see us unable to break them down, like Chelsea made it, with a late goal during a very similar match. It's an anguish to find us only three points above the first relegation spot, while the big guns seem already out of sight in the table.

But there are signs which allow for a quiet optimism regarding the future. For instance the way how we collectively improved in the second half, when compared to the first. It shows that this team is hungry, and willing to learn from it's mistakes. Also the fact that we were finally able to cut out the defensive individual errors, or how the youngsters coped with this rough, physical game.

So, the bottom line would be that we are in a frustrating place at the moment, but that we have every reason to keep faith with this team. Patience is required right now, from everyone linked to this club. Given the necessary time, it will be rewarded.
 

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Brilliant write up by Hope abdolutely perfect. Looking forward to the Sweeting review in particular too.
 

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1. We have good lookin players. Probably the best set of players in the entire premier league. Hair and all.
2. We can defend. And defend very well when we want to.
3. We can play fancy football, great passing, great vision but can't put the ball in the net because we never have anyone in the 5 yard box in the opposition half. Ian Ayre. What were you thinking on transfer deadline day?
4. We always get screwed by referees. If its not for unseen two footed challenges, this time, its for Stoke players getting away with playing rugby for 80 minutes of the entire match.
5. We have some very talented and brave youngsters who are at least, been given a chance to develop and shine..kudos to Rodgers.
 

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Daniel Agger - Stability and Reliability


Tuesday - Off the Ball with lfc.eddie and HarryFloyd

Daniel Agger signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool on Friday signing a two-year contract extension to his contract, which was due to expire in 2014...

We caught up with TIA forum Members lfc.eddie and HarryFloyd to gauge their reaction to the news last Friday...


Harry, many believe Agger's commitment could be the next step towards an exciting future for Rodgers' side. How big a boost is Agger's new deal to Liverpool?

HarryFloyd said:
Agger's new deal is a shot in the arm for Rodgers and the playing squad. He's one of the senior players, a cosumate professional and from the look of things a well respected figure in the dressing room. Not to mention our best defender (even if he's seemingly made of glass), who has seen it all with us, the highs and the lows- that experience is invaluable. His presence brings stability and reliability in our defence and also sends out a clear message- loyalty, hard work, good work ethic and performance will be rewarded. I'm pleased with this.
Eddie, what did you make of the continuing transfer speculations regarding Agger during the transfer window last Summer?

lfc.eddie said:
"Daniel Agger had voiced out over and over again that he is happy in Liverpool FC, and belonged to Liverpool FC. That is a signal sent from the player to the club owners. He said it loud and clear, he never wanted to go anywhere other than here. Daniel Agger's quality is well known not only in English Premier League, but the whole of Europe.

A few seasons ago, AC Milan tried to pry him away from us and failed. Incidentally Agger got himself a new contract extension that summer. Then everything went quiet, mainly because it would be way too expensive at that point in time to take him off our hands.

Last summer, the transfer rumour shenanigan started again. This time it was the oil-rich Man City. We persist, Agger refused and we again gave him another contract extension.

To me, it is all the doing of his agent trying to get a new contract for his client. It also puts the club officials at the edge of their seats so that they don't take a player like Agger for granted. Personally someone needs to be on top of this thing and players of his quality should be monitored when it comes to their contract. He doesn't need to nor deserve to be dragged through this debacle again.

Eddie, how important will it be to have a fully fit Daniel Agger playing this season for Liverpool?

lfc.eddie said:
A fit and healthy Agger will always be a force to be reckoned with. I have become his fan as soon as I saw him arriving with his calm and collective attitude at just 21 years of age. Scoring his first goal, the equaliser at Anfield against West Ham. A screamer that swerves in the air more audacious than Kim Kardashian's ass in a bikini, hits the back of the next, top right corner, leaving the keeper hopeless and rooted to ground.

That is not the only goal. He is dedicated, always give his all, and never shy of taking a long range shot with a great left foot of his. To me he keeps the backline composed, he is as vocal as Carragher and definitely a captain material.

Now that he had signed a new long term contract, I hope he can keep going and play for us for many more years to come. Unique, ball playing centerback with a sweet left foot. There's only one Daniel Agger."
Harry, with Agger being a key individual in a squad that is rapidly decreasing in age, can Daniel Agger also play a major role in the development of the club's young starlets?

HarryFloyd said:
Agger is a top professional. He's the leader who knows how to marshall the defensive resources around him. A lot of young defenders are coming through- Coates, Kelly, Wisdom, Sama, Flanagan, Robinson, McLaughlin etc. They can learn a lot from Agger and I believe he too can help these lads develop into better defenders- with bits of advice, guidance and encouragement.
Finally Harry, Daniel Agger has spent six years with the Reds since arriving from Brondby in 2006 and has gone on to make 178 competitive appearances in addition to recording nine goals to his name. Harry, what has been your favourite Daniel Agger moment from the past 6 years and why?

HarryFloyd said:
As much as I loved the sight of him clobbering Torres to the ground at Stamford Bridge, my best Agger emory would undoubtedly be his goal against Chelsea at Anfield in the CL semi final 2007, for the sheer importance of it. The goal brought us back in the tie we were trailing 0-1 and we went on to win that one on penalties, on the way to another European cup final.