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Liverpool Article 18 Dec 2021
Liverpool v Newcastle United A Liverpool Perspective





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Not the best watch, but a comfortable win over a passive Newcastle side, as expected. With the loss of two key players on the eve of the game due to them testing positive for covid, it is little wonder the performance was not as fluid as it could have been. Van Dijk's diagonal balls are important to opening up the play, which is particularly important against a team utilising such negative tactics. But I feel that Fabinho is even more crucial to Liverpool's play and his loss was the one that was more keenly felt. Not only does he break up play better than almost anyone around and has an excellent range of passing and vision, but he also is always making himself available to receive the ball. That extra option was missing as Henderson tends to drift out to the right and that leaves a space in the centre that no one was in.



It particularly showed in Thiago's play, in my opinion, as he looks to move the ball quickly to where players should be and there was no one filling the slot Fabinho occupies regularly. That left him either misplacing passes that were played to where the Brazilian should have been or having to take an extra touch to look for an option. Neither are good, the first led to the Toon opening the scoring and the latter meant they had time to set up their defensive block before he could play the pass.



Of course there are always controversies that need to be discussed in a game of football and this match had one in particular surrounding Liverpool's opener. There was a coming together of a couple of Newcastle players, no clash of heads, nothing like that, but two of them went down in their box. One, Schaar, looked up and saw play was going on and jumped up and got involved. The other, Hayden, also looked up and saw play was going on, so he lay back down quick pretending to be hurt. Oddly he had been clutching at his neck until he realised the game was continuing but Eddie Howe later claimed Hayden had a head injury and was dazed, despite there seeming to be no contact with his head by anyone. In fact the contact seemed to be simply with his teammate and his back. But that just begs the question as to why the Newcastle medical staff and Howe himself let the lad play for the rest of the game. What happened to concussion protocols? If Howe is (unlikely I know) telling the truth about the lad being dazed for a while after the match, then he should be facing serious trouble over failing his duty of care for a player with possible concussion. If Howe, as is much more likely, is full of brown smelly stuff, then he should be getting censored for bringing the game into disrepute.



I am hoping that this is a sign that officials have now got wise to the constant playacting of opponents against Liverpool, feigning injury repeatedly to break up play and stop Liverpool building up a head of steam. It has been an increasing frustration to see players who are clearly cheating getting rewarded with a stoppage in play and a rest for their team, who have been under the cosh at the time. For me, if there are injuries, they should just be removed from the pitch for treatment and the game should continue. That way only genuine injuries will want to have treatment.



Other than that, the only questionable decision I can remember was the lack of a penalty for a clear and very obvious shove by Jamaal Lascelles, which the referee should have at least been asked to look at and make up his mind over. I am not sure what more he needed to do to give away a penalty personally. He leans over and shoves with both hands. It was about as blatant as it gets.







Newcastle United





Howe is blaming the referee for their defeat, when clearly his tactics and idiotic decision to bench Callum Wilson were far more of a problem for Newcastle. Added to their lack of quality and confidence, they were always in for a struggle no matter how depleted Liverpool were. The Toon are a poor side with a worse manager and it is going to take some major investment or a lot of luck for them to survive this season. There is little to say about them to be honest, they were well beaten, despite their good start thanks to a poor pass, and offered little real sign of having the nous to get anything from the game.







Liverpool





Klopp - his team are now so well drilled that losing even two key players in their positions rarely stops the juggernaut. Though I do still think he is criminally underusing Minamino, even though he has never let the side down when he has played.





Alisson - unlucky on the Newcastle goal as he was moving the wrong way to get into position and the shot went back across him. That left him with no chance to save it. Other than that, he was much more assured again, unlike last time out.





Alexander-Arnold - an all-round performance punctuated by two moments of brilliance, one at each end of the pitch. That goal was spanked with some real power and it is unlikely Dubravka could have saved it even if he had been set when the right-back smashed it. At the other end, his tackle on Ryan Fraser was excellent and clean, despite the officials needing their usual 20min on VAR to check and check again.





Matip - he still terrifies me. You just do not know what will happen when he gets on the ball. Added to that, he takes a lot of risks defensively while lacking the recovery pace to get back if it does not pay off. To be fair to him, most of the time he gets it right, but it still leaves my heart in my mouth every time!





Konate - a much better performance from the big defender. Not just defensively, he is starting to show his technical ability on the ball with some very nice threaded passes. I like that he puts pace on his pass and forces the receiver to be awake to control it. That removes any complacency from the recipient, as well as speeding up play by moving the ball forward quickly.





Robertson - that was much more like the Robertson that Liverpool fans know and love. He is coming back to form and that is a big plus as now the Reds can offer a threat down both flanks. That was key against Newcastle, who wanted to play narrow, but could not stay there because of the runs he made.





Thiago - looked lost without Fabinho alongside him to provide an easy option for a pass all the time. Though the worst thing for me was not that he gave away the ball, but that he did not sprint back to try to rectify the mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, but you like to see players bust a gut to try and fix those errors.





Henderson - offensively he is always making forward runs and pulling the defence about, usually out on the right. Unfortunately that often left a big space in the centre, as he emptied midfield. That meant Oxlade-Chamberlain was sometimes being required to drop in and fill the gap in front of the defence, when the ideal would have been the two to be the other way round.





Oxlade-Chamberlain - never really got into the game, though he did show a few flashes of his ability.





Mane - he was unlucky not to score after latching on to Shelvey's loose pass and did well to stay on his feet and try to score. Most players would have just gone down for the penalty instead. Overally he was a constant menace, linking nicely with Robertson, though his air shot was probably the funniest moment of the game.





Salah - despite his goal, he was not at his supreme best, though still far too good for Newcastle's defence. It is little surprise he was frustrated at being taken off as he shanked a few chances that you would normally expect him to do better with. 22 goals already this season showed just how well he has performed each week, so it is little wonder that he was ever so slightly below his best. That is not bad, it is still better than the rest of the Premier League.





Jota - as is often the case with Jota, he scored but was extremely poor other than that. A few games back he looked to have figured out his role in the team, but it seems to have been a blip rather than his level. Still, you cannot really complain so long as he keeps scoring.





Keita - replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 74th minute. Keita looked really rusty after coming on, most of his passes were behind the player he was passing to, forcing them to stop their run, when he was trying to play it into their run. It was not a game to judge him in though, it was just a chance for him to get some minutes in his legs and shake off some of that rust, hopefully.





Firmino - was brought on in the 74th minute to take Salah's place. Like Keita he looked rusty and off the pace.





Milner replaced Thiago in the 90th minute. Never had time to impact at all.



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18 Dec 2021 21:41:16
Random question but if gini wijnaldum was available on loan in January for rest of the season, would you take up the move? Not at all saying it's a possibility, but dealing in the ifs and maybes only.



Liverpool Article 13 Dec 2021
Liverpool v Aston Villa A Liverpool Perspective





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That was a difficult watch, with the referee having a terrible game, though Villa can probably be thankful to him for having no match management and allowing them to break up play constantly. Without his constant stoppages for nothing, they would have been under real pressure for sustained periods. Added to that, he only responded to their blatant time wasting when the crowd got on his back, showing how weak he is as a referee. Atwell also allowed a clear Salah dive to go unpunished, despite making it obvious that he thought it was one. That should have been a booking. However he should have booked Martinez for his blatant time wasting too.



I am sure Villa fans will be screaming right now about how they should have had a penalty, and they might have a point, but there was also one on Robertson that was not given, so not sure they can complain too much. The ref was just utterly abysmal, he looked completely out of his depth. It was a performance that reinforces your faith in the total incompetence of the English referee that Graham Poll did so much to establish.



The game itself was ruined by its stop start nature, though Liverpool were the better side until Villa actually had a go. There was little to pick out from a Liverpool point of view, as play was so bitty, other than it seemed like Oxlade-Chamberlain was far too deep to present a real problem to Villa. With his ability to run with the ball at pace, and his shooting power, he needed to put himself right on their centre-backs and force them to make decisions about who to track. Instead he dropped off into a congested midfield, as they were defending deep. It meant he offered little and the game changed when Jota came on and played higher up.







Aston Villa





You just have to wonder if they would have got more from the game if they had gone for it earlier, instead of waiting until they went behind. I understand the thinking, but Liverpool looked unusually fragile yesterday, I would have expected the Villa coaching staff to want to capitalise on that. Days like that are ones a strong tactical manager would have exploited. Instead you are left wondering what could have been for Villa.



I also find it bizarre that the commentators and pundits think Mings was on for man of the match before giving away a penalty making a needless challenge. That just shows that people prefer a defender to be out of position and having to make blocks and challenges that a defender positioned well would not have needed to risk. Konsa was doing that, he just seems to always be there, rather than throwing himself into the way last second like Mings. That is not an accident, he is simply better at defending.



The midfield for Villa were very good at protecting the defence, McGinn was excellent again and Nakamba, though a bit rash, is becoming one of the better players in the Premier League at breaking up play. The one weakness for me is Luiz, his highlight reel will be excellent as he does little flashes but overall he does not impose himself onto the game enough for my liking.







Liverpool





Klopp - I think he made one major mistake, starting with Oxlade-Chamberlain as the central forward player as he never got into the game at all. At least he changed it fairly early, but it turned out, with hindsight, to be a poor decision to put the Ox in there. I also feel persisting with Matip is the wrong choice. It is clear that he does not see Matip as the long term first choice and it would help the team if a clear centre-back partnership was established with his first choice pairing.





Alisson - had a mare, there is no other way to describe it. His slip early on seemed to make him nervous for the rest of the game. Yet he still goes home with a clean sheet on his record, which says a lot for how little Villa actually threatened.





Alexander-Arnold - he must be wondering how he has not gone home with another assist at least. As usual he provided some quality balls in. Defensively he was not really tested enough, which allowed him to keep pushing on.





Matip - caught a couple of times by straight balls over the top as usual, but Villa lacked the pace to make the most of that avenue of attack. It would also help if he would learn to communicate with Alisson better, my heart cannot handle more of their mix-ups! On the ball, he plays some good passes and his runs forward, while ungainly looking, seem to be unstoppable. Matip always looks on the verge of tripping over his own feet or giving it away, only to somehow emerge past a couple of players with the ball. It makes me so nervous but it is a great way to create openings against a packed defence.





van Dijk - an off day for van Dijk, defensively anyway. He was having one of his switched off, lackadaisical days. He made more errors in this one game than he usually makes in a month. On the ball, his long diagonal passes were still excellent. So, all in all, a mixed day for the big defender.





Robertson - caused havoc going forward, made some brilliant runs and linked well with Mane. He looked much more like the Robertson of old. With Villa's front 3 being so narrow he was able to charge forward at will.





Fabinho - while Villa's front three being narrow gave the full-backs more freedom, it restricted Fabinho a little more from being involved higher up the pitch. He was a little subdued due to having to be watchful and to ensure that he did not leave gaps for them to operate in.





Henderson - he is the driving force a lot of the time. I would like to see Alexander-Arnold being the one getting to the outside to cross it in more often, but it is effective at creating space for a ball in when they switch over their runs. It is just that the priority for me should be finding ways to get Alexander-Arnold in those areas as his delivery is better.





Thiago - not everyone's cup of tea, but for me Thiago makes a huge difference to Liverpool's play and control of the game. He is not always spectacular and he can skate very close to the wire in disciplinary terms, but he is brilliant at what he does. His return to fitness and Liverpool's improved form are not coincidental.





Mane - he might not have scored, but he was causing real problems down his side all game. With Robertson always providing an option, the pair of them gave Villa's right side a hard day.





Salah - early on he should have been booked for diving and the penalty on him could be considered soft, though for me Mings is a moron and just needed to shepherd him out, rather than give the referee a decision to make. If you challenge from behind in the penalty area it is always likely to be a penalty. The way Salah hit that penalty made it unsaveable and some of the skills he showed were brilliant. For once he was probably too unselfish though and should have shot more often. Which is something I did not think I would ever say about him!





Oxlade-Chamberlain - struggled badly. He has looked good recently in midfield, so not sure why Klopp wanted to play him there. I do understand the decision to drop Jota, who was awful last time out, but why not give Minamino the chance? Oxlade-Chamberlain gives his all but he was dropping too deep and failed to put any pressure on their defence, making it easier for them to deal with Mane and Salah.





Jota - replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 58th minute. His arrival changed the game, even if he was not particularly good. Just having someone occupy the centre-backs helped out massively. Sometimes a player does not need to play at their best to be a big help to a team performance and this was one of those times.





Milner - was brought on in the 83rd minute to take Thiago's place. I am not sure his arrival actually helped Liverpool to be honest. I love Milner but Thiago's ball usage and retention help keep Liverpool on top in matches. As soon as he went off that was gone and Villa were able to really take the game to the Reds. That is no fault of Milner's and he played his part in keeping a clean sheet.





Minamino replaced Mane in the 88th minute. He needed more time to have an effect. For me he deserves a run of games to see what he can do in that central slot.



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Liverpool Article 06 Dec 2021
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective





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That was a difficult watch, Liverpool were creating opportunities but they were wasting them, while Wolves played like a bottom half relegation scrapper just looking to hold out for a point or maybe get lucky on the break and snatch a win. Those kind of games are really tedious to watch. Though there is some enjoyment to be had out of watching a team defend well, that is when it is in open play for me. Sitting in deep, in packed ranks, for most of the game is not enjoyable to me.



It is down to Liverpool to take their opportunities early and force the other team to come out of their shell. Sadly they failed to do so and that meant a long 90minutes of players rolling back onto the field for treatment, when they should have just been told to get off the pitch by a referee who was too weak or clueless to do so. That kind of tedious timewasting is something that really is so easy to remove from the game. If they are healthy enough to think to get back on the pitch when they are 'injured', then they clearly are not hurt badly enough to need treatment. So play on and ignore them, they will soon jump up and get on with the game.



Other than that, there is not really a lot to pick out of the game, it was a bit of a snoozefest until the winner went in. Most of Wolves' opportunities fell at the feet of Traore, so you knew it was going to be a fail at the end of it. In fact there was little jeopardy in the game at all from a Liverpool point of view, other than whether they would score a winner or not. They did not have the feel of a team that had the capability or belief to go and grab a winner themselves.







Wolverhampton Wanderers





After being lauded as an attacking coach following his appointment, Lage was swift to revert to a Nuno-like counter-attacking system after a couple of disappointing results early doors. It is understandable playing that way against Liverpool, who came into the game on the back of three wins where they scored four goals in each. You do have to wonder how far playing this way can take them. They do not have the quality up front to rely on them to snatch goals every week, so it is always going to be a struggle to get the results they need if they are to nail down a European place.



Admittedly they are not this defensive normally, but not far off, and you have to wonder if this is truly what Lage wants or just the way the players are used to playing and so a natural tendency to drop deep. If this is Lage's choice, then progress is going to be difficult without a huge investment in the playing staff. Certainly Traore is not the answer, his lack of end product is embarrassing. You can pretty much just let him have the ball as the odds of him actually doing something worthwhile are so low.



Jiminez is a very good player and works hard, but a game like yesterday sees him working back too much and rarely being anywhere near a position that he can threaten the goal. It is surprising as the teams that have caused Liverpool problems this season, particularly Brighton & Hove Albion, have done so by being brave and leaving players up. Liverpool take a chance at the back, they will go one-on-one and back their centre-backs, so leaving three up presents them with a problem. I believe that would have been the best chance Wolves had of a win and would still have allowed them to keep seven players in defensive positions.



What did stand out was the performance of the left wing-back, Ait-Nouri, who was exceptional and it was no coincidence that he went off and Salah suddenly got space to play Origi in. But those are the chances you take when you try and defend for your life, it only takes a mistake or a moment of quality from an attacker to undo all the good work of the other 90min. To be fair, most of their defenders played well, but they were never asked to venture out of their zones due to playing so deep and packed in. That allowed them to just hold their positions and look to get in the way of runs or shots, as they often did. However, I would, if I was Lage, be worried about how easily Jota was able to get on the end of chances unmarked, despite the packed defence.







Liverpool





Klopp - I have to say I am not convinced Klopp was entirely right with his choices yesterday, mainly in his choice to take off Henderson rather than Jota. For two reasons, one Jota was having a stinking game and because he is poor at the link up required in the deep-lying position. I know he often pops up with a goal, but dropping him deeper lowers the chances of that happening, so made no sense to me. It just played to his weaknesses rather than his strengths. Personally I think Minamino should have come on to play that role.





Alisson - he was rarely called upon, but was quick to come out when needed. Not the busiest day he has ever had by a long chalk.





Alexander-Arnold - with Salah being effectively shut down, by the left wing-back, the space should have been there for him to attack and put the ball into the box. While he did use it a bit, it was not enough for my liking as his balls in often led to chances. It was not his fault those chances were spurned though!





Matip - I know he is very good with the ball at his feet, but his runs forward are liable to give me a heart attack some day! Matip never seems quite fully in control of the ball when he does it and always on the verge of losing it. In truth, rather than just my nervous perception of it, it was one of the points of danger and often pulled Wolves players out of position. It is just a shame that proper use was not made of the chaos he caused.





van Dijk - one of his lackadaisical games, he gifted the ball away due to not getting to it quickly enough to avoid being put under pressure. I was always taught that you sprint initially to make sure you give yourself time to look around and make sure no one was closing you down. Then you can slow down when you have got a head start. These days it seems defenders stroll over to the ball and only speed up when someone closes them down. Van Dijk was certainly guilty of that at one point and his weak header could easily have lost the game on another day.





Robertson - he was the main point of attack down the left, as Mane kept their right wing-back pushed back, but was unable to create anything much as he was trying to hold his position to a large degree. The threat of Traore's pace in behind him clearly kept him subdued as an attacking force.





Fabinho - not his best game. This was not a game that really required him to be breaking up play too much, which is what he particularly excels at. When he was called upon he was usually there, but there was just not enough of it to enable him to have one of his stellar matches.





Henderson - this was not really a game for his hustle-bustle style. What was needed was someone to beat a man on the dribble and disrupt Wolves' defence. Not that he had a particularly bad game, just not a particularly good one. In a game like this, his tendency to drift out wide to create the overload should have paid dividends, as that was where Liverpool had the advantage, but he needed to do it more on the left. That was where Wolves were in trouble and he could have done most.





Thiago - it is unfortunate that his match will be remembered for that double miss as his overall game was decent. What he needed was a runner from deep to pick out and that was rarely happening.





Mane - an off day for Mane. He never seemed likely to open Wolves up, despite getting a number of chances to attack them. Just one of those days for him.





Salah - it was one of the rare days when Salah met his match in Ait-Nouri, who performed brilliantly to keep him quiet. The moment the French wing-back was off, Salah made hay while the sun shined and that is why he is the best in the world. Even on an off day like that, he still keeps going and eventually got his reward with an assist.





Jota - had an absolute stinker of a game. It was not just the awful misses, it was his all-round play as well. Not so long ago he looked like he was growing into the link up role but he lost his way completely in this game and was back to looking completely out of place. He was lucky not to get hooked much earlier on. He seemed to give the ball away far more than he kept hold of it.





Origi - replaced Henderson in the 68th minute. What can you say about Origi? If there is anyone you want a chance to fall to, when the result depends on it in the dying seconds of a match, it has to be him. The lad has no fear. He is already a cult hero but he is closing in on that statue outside of Anfield with these moments!





Oxlade-Chamberlain - was brought on in the 82nd minute to take Jota's place. Struggled to get involved at all, though he had little time to really do much.





Milner replaced Salah in the 90+6th minute. It was just about getting some solidity in place and eating up time, there was no time for him to really make an impact.



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Liverpool Article 04 Dec 2021
Everton v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective





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A comprehensive win against local rivals is always a good thing to see, though this one was tinged with the regret of seeing an old Liverpool hero so badly hurt. Even the disappointment of conceding a goal to such a poor side was nothing compared to how hard it was to see Benitez at the end and knowing that the result will have contributed to his eventual downfall there. I felt so bad for Benitez that it almost affected my enjoyment of the result. Almost.



This Liverpool team is beginning to look ominously good. There will not be a single side going through to the next Champions League stage that will relish drawing Liverpool right now. The key now for them is to maintain their form for the rest of the season and there is no doubt they will be there or thereabouts when trophies are handed out.







Everton





They got their tactics all wrong, for all his preparation and all the research he does, Benitez had failed to spot the weaknesses in the Liverpool side. Instead of setting up to attack with pace from the centre using balls over the top of Matip, they put Rondon up against him. Their pace was coming from deep and needed him to get hold of the ball and play them in as a second run, which plays into Liverpool's hands. It did not help Everton's cause that they struggled to get any of the ball to give it to Rondon anyway.



As they did not have much of the ball, their lack of mobility is a huge problem. If you are a ball-dominant side, you do not have to have lots of pace, you can move the ball quickly to move the opposition about. However, if you lose the ball, without mobility you have to play the Hodgson way, defend deep and leave no space or be overrun. That only works so long as you are not losing. Once you go behind you have to come out to a degree if you are to have any chance of a result.



Everytime Everton came out, players were caught out of position as they lack the mobility to get back and it opened up gaps that Liverpool could exploit. Even if you add Calvert-Lewin to this current side, the Toffees look in real trouble and there is a genuine danger they could get dragged into a relegation battle. There is little creativity to give a striker a chance and they are lacking in quality in the defensive third. Godfrey looks their one bright light at the back right now, as Digne seems to have lost form and Coleman is clearly a fading force.



I cannot see what Benitez can do to get this team out of the mire to be honest. I have seen people calling for youth players, but their under-23s that I have seen look a thousand miles off being ready for top flight adult football. Only Gordon looked capable and he has already stepped into the team on a regular basis. With FFP restricting what they can do, I fear for Everton this season. Their recruitment before this season has been abysmal, with far too much money thrown down the drain on players who were clearly not right. That needs to change.



If Brands is not the man signing these players, then he should be sacked for being too weak and allowing Moshiri to override him in his own domain. If Brands is the man signing dross like James Rodriguez, then he should be sacked for being useless at his job. I really do not see any way in which he can be considered a success.



However, I have to say that the biggest problem at Everton right now is the fans. Walking out on 19minutes, always on the verge of turning on the team the moment things are not going right, it is not helping their situation on the pitch. I understand why Evertonians are frustrated right now, I have to hear about it at great length from those family members who are blue noses, but they cannot expect the players to give their all when they are being abused by their own 'supporters'. All this talk of a walkout on 27min, it is just making things worse. If you are not supporting the team on the pitch, then you are not blameless if results go against your team.



The only thing Everton fans are doing at the moment is helping their opponents. Every team knows they only have to get at Everton early and the fans will turn. If they are going to start walking out as well, they may as well prepare themselves for next season in the Championship, as that will be the only place they will be heading.







Liverpool





Klopp - I am not sure Klopp will have had an easier time at a derby match in his whole career. He never even needed to do anything different for this game, just send out his team to play his way. Klopp's team look light years ahead of Everton on the evidence of this season.





Alisson - he will have been disappointed to have conceded but the amount of those situations he rescues I am sure Alisson can be forgiven for this one getting through. It was not the busiest game he has ever had and difficult to really give his performance any kind of rating because of that.





Alexander-Arnold - unusually Liverpool scored 4 and there was no assist for him and he gave up the chance to score from a free kick to van Dijk (which hopefully will never happen again). Despite that, he was excellent and linked up well with Henderson and Salah to destroy Everton down the right flank over and over again.





Matip - this was a game that suits him, as Matip was mostly up against Rondon. It was a physical battle in front of him, rather than a nippy forward looking to get in behind him. As such he dealt with the threat well and had a decent game. Everton did not get enough of the ball to test him properly. However Matip should have scored, he had what can only be called a sitter of a header and his own reaction to his miss told you he knew that. I know he is not in the team to score goals, but still, you have to take chances that presentable when they come to you.





van Dijk - van Dijk looks back to the form that should have won him the Ballon d'Or a couple of seasons ago. He had looked a little ropey for a few games, but now he looks right back on his game and there is no one better when he is at it.





Robertson - two assists, though he was not quite at his best. It is clear that he is approaching his top form again, the delivery is returning to the level we grew to expect of him. Whether that is due to being able to rest and rotate with Tsimikas or because of the competition, or even a bit of both, is difficult to say, but it is clearly a big help.





Fabinho - his return to form has been essential to Liverpool playing so well of late. When Fabinho plays like this, there are few even close to his level. His contribution is immense to allowing Liverpool to dominate the ball.





Henderson - had an exceptional game, even putting aside the lovely finish for his goal. Arguably man of the match, he was right on top of his game and dominated the midfield. He showed exactly why he is captain.





Thiago - he has become a big part of the Liverpool midfield, Thiago is not always spectacular, he takes risks, but he enables Liverpool to control the game. His passing and vision are exceptional and make a huge difference to the team, though he does need a Henderson-type alongside him to provide energy.





Mane - not at his best, particularly in the first half, but he kept on going and stopped Everton from being able to get to grips with Robertson's attacking forays by pressing them back on his flank. Even though he was struggling, he was still keeping two players occupied most of the time.





Salah - what do you say about Salah now? He makes the extraordinary look ordinary. Salah is just a special player on top of his game and Everton could not come up with a way to deal with him at all. There is no shame in that as the only solution to stopping him seems to be putting 3 men on him at all times, which then leaves the rest of the pitch open for his teammates.





Jota - his game was not at its best, nothing like as good as he was last time out. However, once again he was a danger and popped up with a goal. You cannot ask for much more from a forward when he still scores when not playing well.





Milner - replaced Thiago in the 75th minute. Came on to see the game out and did his job in the way Milner always does.





Oxlade-Chamberlain - was brought on in the 83rd minute to take Henderson's place. With the game effectively over, he worked hard but was not able to really make a mark on the game.





Minamino replaced Jota in the 88th minute. Came on too late to truly get going before it was over.



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Liverpool Article 29 Nov 2021
Liverpool v Southampton A Liverpool Perspective





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Once again Liverpool were dominant and overpowering, despite a number of silly errors which threatened to ruin the clean sheet like a teenage Ed666 given a picture of Lynda Carter in her Wonder Woman outfit. Those errors were a real blot on the game from a Liverpool point of view. They were often in dangerous areas and they were far too numerous. It was about all Southampton had to offer in this game as they set up badly and paid the price with a bad beating that could have been so much worse on another day.



Liverpool really look like they are coming together as a team as partnerships are beginning to gel all over the pitch and players that have been struggling are improving. If they can keep players fit it augurs well for the season, with the likes of Elliott, Gomez and Jones all closing in on a return as well. This season has the feeling of being on the verge of something special once more, the team is certainly in place to do so.







Southampton





Hasenhuttl got it badly wrong for this game. Going with a back 3 meant his defenders would be left 1-on-1 with Mane, Jota and Salah or end up playing as a back 5 and being penned in. Saints tried to be brave, man-marking the Liverpool front trio, which left Lyanco chasing Jota all over the pitch. To be fair to him, Salisu did a very good job against Salah compared to most that have tried, but you are asking the impossible for him to keep Salah quiet when Alexander-Arnold and Henderson are both charging down that flank too. It was the usual situation of an overload being created and it led to chances.



While the Austrian did realise his mistake and change it at half-time, the game was already well over by that point and it was too little, too late. The worrying thing from their point of view is that they still were reliant on Liverpool mistakes to get any chances, rather than crafting anything much themselves, even after the Reds took their foot off the gas. They did get chances, but you can not give Southampton much credit for almost all of them, as they were not even forcing the errors that were made. They were just bad mistakes from players caught napping or making inaccurate passes.



They did try and press at the start, but it was very easily broken, over and over again. That is something they will need to look at, it probably explains their inconsistency as their press is not strong enough. Added to that, they lack quality up front, with no natural finisher in their team. Adams is good at linking up play, but you would not trust him to score 15+ goals a season, 10 would be pushing it. Broja is raw and I have no idea what they have been working on with him in training as he had no idea how to work with his teammates at all. There was absolutely no understanding between him and the rest of the team. Worst of the lot is Armstrong, lightning quick but offers nothing else. There was not one moment in that game where it felt like they would score, even when they were through on the keeper.



The more I think about their performance, the more I realise that Broja was not alone in looking like an individual in the team. For a manager that has a reputation built on a team ethic and bringing teams together as a group to play as one, his team are strangely lacking in chemistry. The back three looked like they had never played alongside each other or in a back three before. Ward-Prowse is completely out of his depth at this level anyway, but he was neither use nor ornament in this match, Romeu was trying to do his job as well. There are a lot of signs in this performance of a team on the verge of an implosion, that the manager's time is coming to an end as what he is doing in training is clearly not working.







Liverpool





Klopp - while I think most of us were second guessing his decisions to stick with Konate, who has been struggling, and to put Robertson back in, who has also been struggling, Klopp showed why he is paid the big bucks. Both decisions were proven correct and both showed major improvement in their game.





Alisson - considering how little of the game Saints had, Alisson had a remarkably good game! He pulled off some excellent saves that would have been raved about for weeks if a lesser keeper had made them. As it is him, they looked routine and hardly worthy of mention. On this kind of form there is no one better.





Alexander-Arnold - another assist and another good performance but I do wish he would stop turning his back when attempting to stop a ball hit his way. He is not the only one to do it, Henderson at one point did a synchronised turning of his back with him, but he is a defender and so needs to be braver. But if that is the only real criticism of a performance, then you have to say he did well! Yet another assist, the lad is a machine.





Konate - still not perfect, but much better in this game. Having his extra pace and power is a big help when the opposition mainly relies on balls in behind. It stops the forward even getting into a place where the ball can be played his way. He just has to maintain his improvement and we will soon see the player that everyone thought he would be when he was bought.





van Dijk - once again at his best, showing he had lost none of his pace and still reads the game really well. When he is up for a game, like he was for this, there is no one to compare. Lovely technique for his goal as well.





Robertson - he is back! That was the Robertson Liverpool fans know and love. His delivery has been awful in recent weeks but he was back to something like his best against Southampton. When he is as relentless driving forward as we know he is, it is almost impossible to cope with Liverpool's attacks when Robertson gets his deliveries right.





Fabinho - once again excellent, his protection is a huge part of the way Liverpool play. It allows so much more attacking freedom for the rest, knowing they have him as an insurance policy. It is a large part of why Liverpool have been successful even though they often leave themselves light at the back. He just always seems to come out of nowhere with his Inspector Gadget like legs, that seem to shoot out telescopically and steal the ball away. His passing range is also very important and often overlooked.





Henderson - he, Salah and Alexander-Arnold link up so well down the right, constantly interchanging and covering for each other, it makes it very difficult for the opposition. It is a shame he left his shooting boots at home though, as it was a very presentable shooting chance he got that he should have done a lot better with. Other than that, there is little to criticise in this game.





Thiago - apart from a couple of lax moments, when he allowed himself to get caught on the ball, Thiago was excellent and controlled the play. The worry is that on another day those lax moments would have cost goals. Those errors are fine in the opposition half, but you cannot get caught on the ball deep in your own half like he did.





Mane - looked like he really had a point to prove against his former club and was excellent throughout. In fact, the last couple of games Mane has looked like his old self once more and is beginning to torment opponents the way we know he can. His strength, like that of Salah's, is immense and it allows him to hold off a defender and get in a position to create something. Hopefully this is him finally back to his best for the long term.





Salah - he did what Salah does, tormented the opposition and creates opportunities, as well as works hard for the team. Though, for a change, he did not score any goals. Even so, he was excellent once again.





Jota - there were real signs of him getting to grips with this role he is playing in the centre. He was helped by the way Southampton tried to play him, Lyanco chasing him around was not ideal for them and Jota was able to take advantage by dragging him all over the place and then running into the gap left behind. What most impressed me most was his link up play, which was so much better than previously. There are signs he could actually make this position his own in the short term.





Oxlade-Chamberlain - replaced Thiago in the 59th minute. He came on and tried to make something happen, but the game was petering out at that point so was not really able to make the impact he would have liked. It was noticeable that Oxlade-Chamberlain is full of running at the moment and is providing an option to attack with the ball at his feet in the centre of the pitch and beat a man.





Milner - was brought on in the 67th minute to take Henderson's place. Like Salah, you always know what you are going to get from Milner, though it is not the same kind of thing of course. Milner may be a veteran, but he provides industry and energy, as well as always being available to fill in spaces when someone else gets forward, particularly Robertson. He has a tendency to drop into the left-back slot to draw out the opposition and then play it into the spaces left.





Minamino replaced Jota in the 81st minute. With the game over, he never really was able to do enough to shine, but he certainly gave it a try. Minamino is starting to look like he is a good option up front now.



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Liverpool Article 23 Nov 2021
Liverpool v Arsenal A Liverpool Perspective





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That was exactly the reaction needed after the debacle against West Ham United last time out. That was a team with belief in what they are asked to do and that are fully behind each other and their manager, up against a team that have been on a good run but clearly do not have the same belief in their plan of action. Arsenal folded because they are fragile, they were on a good run due to having better individuals than their opponents in recent games, without that advantage they showed how little of a team they are.



When Arteta and Klopp tangled on the sidelines, Klopp's team rose to the occasion, the crowd got behind them and they put Arteta back in his place as an poor manager with a lack of understanding of the game. That is Liverpool's key strength, they are a team, they are together as a group and they stand together. When that press gets going, it is a full-on, all-guns-blazing, powerhouse that applies pressure in a way that stifles good players and makes average players panic. Though Arsenal's way of playing plays into the press's hands making it easy to box them in and force errors, which helps Liverpool to a large degree.



The press was targeted on the weak links, Lokonga and whenever the ball went out wide, where the sideline can act as a block too, and it showed they are weak links under pressure. It was pleasing to watch because it was not a case of just hopefully chasing around, it was back to the way a press should work, waiting for the right moment to swarm the opponent. This was organised and considered, with no excess effort required to pick up a very easy win.







Arsenal





For all the praise Arteta and Ramsdale have been getting recently, it was noticeable that both failed badly when put under genuine pressure. Arteta lost his cool and only succeeded in getting the crowd going. His only tactic seemed to be to target Mane and hope to get him sent off, as he certainly had no plan for how to get back into the game once they had conceded. Sitting back and hitting on the counter is fine if you score first, but you need to change it when you go behind, but he has absolutely no idea how to do so. It is the same bumbling it around at the back that his team have done since he took over.



As for Ramsdale, he made a couple of decent saves, only to let in the easiest shot of the match. Lately he has been getting far too carried away with his new 'role' as cheerleader and it seems he believes his own hype as he was struggling with his distribution too. Or, in my belief, he was just showing the same old failings of being fine when there is little real pressure, but put under genuine pressure and he folds. It does not help that Arteta wants him to play it short, which meant he was only putting his defenders under pressure on the ball. There was also what looked like an odd decision to have a defender take a goal kick and play it to Ramsdale to kick. What was the point in that? It is just risking a miskick or bobble from a moving ball. Bizarre.



I have read and heard so much about how Arsenal are improving under Arteta in recent weeks, but what I saw in this game was the same old Gunners playing the same old Arteta way. They are still a bunch of very good individual players in a system that does not really suit them. There is a real lack of thought among the coaching staff as to what to do differently when it is not working. The same old Lacazette off, Odegaard on as Arteta has used regularly, with no real difference made to the play. It just showed how lacking in any tactical acumen he is. It was just carry on as you were, in the true tradition of the old Carry On movies.







Liverpool





Klopp - it was not much of a challenge to him and his coaching staff to be honest, but they clearly had organised when and where to press and it worked to a tee. It was yet another game this season where Liverpool strolled to an easy victory simply by playing their way so well it was almost unstoppable.





Alisson - when required he pulled out a save but, as usual with him, he made it look routine and did not need to go fist pumping to the crowd like his opposite number. Saves that other keepers would not make or would make look spectacular because they would be flat out to produce, Allison makes them look simple. Maybe to him they are?





Alexander-Arnold - he was given far too much space to get balls in and it cost Arsenal badly. With the quality of his delivery, it is asking for trouble to allow him to put balls into the box. Defensively he was not tested at all. I did not watch the England game against San Marino, but I would be surprised if that was any easier a match for Alexander-Arnold than this was.





Matip - virtually untroubled and was able to push up with Arsenal so toothless. It was not really a day to judge a centre-back's ability!





van Dijk - a stroll in the park, his kit would not have even needed a wash. When he was called upon, he showed the pace is still there to get to the ball.





Tsimikas - Saka did try to test him a bit and they looked to push onto him when he had the ball to a degree, but he dealt with it well and put in a performance reminiscent of Robertson on a good day. Except for his delivery, which is a class above Robertson's and close to being on a par with Alexander-Arnold's. He showed energy, determination, drive and linked really well with Mane.





Fabinho - the main reason why Matip and van Dijk had almost nothing to do was Fabinho, who was absolutely immense in the centre of the park. He broke up pretty much every single attack the Gunners tried to get going and also managed to get forward when the chance presented itself. It was a top class performance that set the tone for the team.





Oxlade-Chamberlain - he had a very good game against his old side. Whether it is a case of him getting back to form now he is getting some regular minutes in the team or just about raising his game against his former team I have no idea. It was good to see him play so well though and he was arguably the best player on the pitch in the first half. He looked lively on the ball, always trying to make stuff happen, but also pressed well high up the pitch. In the second half his level did drop off a touch, but he was no doubt tiring as he put so much in early on.





Thiago - he had a very good game, his control of the tempo allows Liverpool to take charge of a game and keep the pressure on. Thiago get the ball and he usually holds onto it under pressure before picking a pass. Usually not the Hollywood pass that fans want to see, but more often than not it is the correct pass instead.





Mane - Tomiyasu has been getting a lot of plaudits since his arrival, but he was given a lesson in this game and Mane ran him ragged. The Arsenal players were trying their hardest to rile Mane up and get him to react, but, while he was physical, he kept it the right side of the line to ensure it was the Arsenal team and bench that reacted rather than him. A goal and an assist is not a bad day's work for a forward either!





Salah - once again he scored and caused havoc despite being constantly double and triple teamed when he got the ball. They could not cope with him at all, though there is no shame in that as Salah is that good no one can cope with him when he is anywhere near his top form. To address the potential penalty issue, I think the ref got it right myself by giving no call. Salah was overbalanced and Gabriel did pull him back slightly making him go over the leg, but it was not because Gabriel yanked him hard or anything, it was due to him being already unbalanced. It was not a dive either, so I would agree with the referee's assessment.





Jota - once again he looked a weak link in the middle, but then he pops up and scores and after that played a lovely header through. He is such an infuriating player as he can go on a lovely dribble, beat a few players before giving the ball away fluffing the easiest five yard pass possible. I am still not convinced he ideally suits the central role, he looks much better when he drifts out wide, but it may come in time as he is showing good signs of improvement in his off the ball work. He has made huge strides in his understanding of the press, which played a big part in the team being able to pen Arsenal in and pick off errors.





Henderson - replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 76th minute. Managed to show a fair bit in the short time he was on the pitch, played a couple of very nice passes. He was a little more restrained that Oxlade-Chamberlain had been in the first half, but the game was won and it was just a stroll, so there was no need for him to take risks.





Minamino - was brought on in the 76th minute to take Jota's place. It was nice to see him score again. He is beginning to look like the player LFC thought they were getting from RB Salzburg. Minamino is beginning to look a very viable fifth option for the front three positions as well as a midfield berth. That versatility could play against him or for him in the future, only time will tell, but right now it makes him very useful.





Morton replaced Thiago in the 84th minute. While he was not exactly under pressure to perform with the game won when he came on, but still he impressed. Morton was always looking to get the ball and wanted to do something but never made the mistake of trying to force something to happen. That is a mistake a lot of youngsters make as they are so desperate to impress.



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11 Nov 2021 12:23:51
Wow, Stevie walked away from a potential second title in Scotland. I don't know how to feel about this! Can't wait to see him again though!



 


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