Atletico Madrid, PSG, Gerardo Martino and Bayern Munich are the winners but it's the losers who are interesting. Wenger and Pellegrini made their mistakes in the summer...
A week later than everybody else - simply because we're contrary - we take our latest stab at who is in Roy Hodgson's thoughts. Raheem Sterling in, Andros Townsend out...
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Pool V WBA Conclusions
Some conclusions from the Liverpool vs WBA match.
- Luis Suarez was on fire. It could just as easily have been 5 goals, and I wish it would've been, as he was captain of my fantasy team. Even after the hat-trick, he was chasing every ball and his hunger never dies. Got a rightly deserved standing ovation when he was subbed off.
- West Brom were very very poor. It was just as much about their poor defending as it was about Liverpool's brilliant cutting edge. The defending for the 1st and 3rd goals was dreadful.
- Despite the cheeky and brilliant chipped goal, Daniel Sturridge had a poor game. After watching Suarez score two in the opening 18 minutes, his only aim was to score and join the party. This didn't serve him too well and he could have easily put two more goals in - be it from an assist, or a goal for himself. That being said, the past few games have been the same. He has watched Suarez star while he has not been having his best day, but somehow still manages to net a goal. Not sure whether to be happy or disappointed.
- Nicolas Anelka has been on the decline for many years now, but he is having a very poor season. If WBA had a better striker, they could've put up a better fight.
- About that penalty - why the hell was it given? Admittedly, the player was crowded by Lucas and Cissokho but he went down at minimal contact, not sufficient enough for a penalty.
- Lucas had a brilliant game for Liverpool. Nobody managed to complete more passes than him, and he had a pass accuracy of 93%. To add to that magnificent distribution, he made some very important recovery tackles and his positioning was brilliant.
- Another person on form was Steven Gerrard. After all this time of people calling for Rodgers to drop him, he proves once again just how important he is for Liverpool. Starting numerous attacks due to his incredible passing and that free-kick for the Suarez goal was flawless. Defensively, too, he was aware of the threat Albion posed in the second-half and won back possession multiple times.
- A person not having his best game was Jordan Henderson. Yes, his defensive side of the game had no faults, but due to West Brom having a non-existent midfield, he was able to go forward. This showed just how weak this side of his game was, he was just poor while attacking. If Brendan and the coaching staff can get him to work on his confidence and technique while attacking, he could have a contribution similar to Gerrard's over the years.
- Overall, West Brom need to get a better striker - Lukaku missing has had a huge effect on them. As for Liverpool, lots of positives but lots of things to work on for the future. If these faults are paid attention to, the future is very bright. For now, we play Arsenal next week, should be a good match and whoever wins should go top of the table.
Anonymous(I respect my privacy), LFC
A Long (But Nice) Mail On Proper Supportership
First things first, I'm a United fan, but wanted to put into context just how much being a football fan has meant to me throughout the years, how much it has influenced my life and at times has actually pulled me back from the brink of self destruction.
My earliest memory of seeing United was in the semi final of the 1990/91 European Cup Winners Cup against Legia Warsaw. I remember that game because it was the very first time I was able to watch an evening game, which was due to the time difference. United battered them 3-1 and from then on I was hooked.
In the early 90s, I remember celebrating our 1991 Cup Winners Cup victory with my brothers, however it meant more to them at the time and I only later found out why - being starved of success makes you revel in it. The same situation applied with United giving away the First Division title to Leeds in 1992. Again I did not know why, but from their reaction I started to realise what it meant to be a football fan. From that point my life was a never ending series of peaks and troughs.
United won their first league title in 26 years in the early summer of 1993, but it wasn't until I saw Brian McClair score in the Wembley rain in 1994 that I started to feel the unrequited love of being a football supporter. Paul Ince gave him his Cup Final moment, but to those in attendance, and especially us at home, we were just another fan, cheering them on, however I wouldn't have it any other way. To them we were just a faceless mass, but to us we were all in it together. It was us against the world, and anybody who wasn't with us was against us, no matter where they were from.
During my formative teenage years during the late 1990s, I was fortunate enough to have a best friend who supported Newcastle. This guy is going to be the best man at my wedding so he obviously didn't take us winning all those trophies too badly. I was also fortunate that the team I supported was winning things left, right and centre, culminating in the ridiculous treble winning season.
Now we move onto the bad times, personally for me, as well as for United, however I think one was more serious than the other. I don't know if F365 will print this part but it's the crux of my mail. During my late teens and early twenties I suffered from serious depression. I had a number of problems, including but not limited to drink and drugs. However, the one constant that was always there was United. No matter what I went through, United were always there. I didn't care that my love for them was not reciprocal, to me they were my rock, they still are. Even when they were playing Quinton Fortune and Eric Djemba-Djemba. Nowadays, whenever my fiancee asks me who do I love more, I implore her never to ask me that question.
And that's the main point of all this. We all support a club. It doesn't matter how we ended up supporting them, as long as we support them through thick and thin. It makes me laugh whenever I hear "we're England til we die." Of course you are, you're f*cking English you idiots, you don't choose your nationality. However whenever I hear a club chant, my ears always prick up and listen, because whenever you support a club it's a choice that you have made, and as long as you stick to it and support them wholeheartedly, then you're alright with me.
Even if you support Liverpool.
Do Arsenal Need A Winger?
Arsenal's tremendous offence this season has been primarily focused on four players who generally play centrally - Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, and Jack Wilshere. A good move for Arsene Wenger during the January transfer window would be to buy an out-an-out winger, someone who is capable of beating men off the dribble and delivering accurate crosses.
Due to injuries to both Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott, Arsenal have more often than not opted to play five central midfielders and rely upon the side backs Gibbs and Sagna to cover for their lack of width. While Gibbs may be a viable option down the left flank- his pace and ability going forward is an asset- Sagna is less capable of getting forward and delivering effective crosses into the box. In addition, side backs pouring forward to provide an offensive outlet makes a defence susceptible to counter-attacks. Dortmund's second goal against Arsenal in particular outlined this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t39vGuKQYco
Sagna was caught way out of position and paid the price for it. But if Arsenal had a real winger who could take players one-on-one, Sagna wouldn't need to be all the way up the field like that.
In conclusion, Arsenal need another winger to make sure that they have someone when Podolski and Walcott are both hurt.
Sam (Arsenal are great) Langley Japan
Praising United's Support
Perhaps it's because the fans have realised that the team really need it or perhaps it's a knock-on effect from Wednesday's singing section, but the support at Old Trafford today was brilliant. When Stoke went ahead, their celebrations were drowned out almost instantly by United voices supporting the team and it was fantastic to hear. It's a shame it took so long for the side to respond (I love Adnan by the way, he brought us to life!) but at least it did eventually.
Sent At Half-Time
This is the same team that walked the league last season. This team; that are making Stoke look competitive at Old Trafford. The players simply look like they don't believe in themselves. That seems to be the general mood in the team, Rooney apart. That is down to their leadership. You need to have a massive ego to follow probably the greatest manager ever and they let that chap take a job in London. It's never too late though.
A Sad Fulham Fan
Fulham look like their overbearing dads forced them into the sport when they all really just wanted to be dentists.
I'm going to go watch storage hunters.
Parmesh Singh Rikhraj
Serie A 20
There may be some lack of competition from La Liga (I reckon that the Bundesliga isn't such a pushover) you have omitted what could be a most unexpected of fierce opponents, occupying a very "in" 3-4-3, Serie 20
Look at the midfield and forward line. The prem 20 are deadly but don't write off the masters of Calcio.
1 Consigli - Atalanta GK
2 Acerbi - Sassuolo DF
3 Ranocchia - Inter DF
4 Astori - Cagliari DF
5 Pirlo - Juventus MF
6 Hamsik - Napoli MF
7 Totti - Roma MF
8 Hernanes - Lazio MF
9 Balotelli - AC Milan ST
10 Gomez - Fiorentina ST
11 Di Natale - Udinese ST
12 Bardi - Livorno GK
13 Dainelli - Chievo DF
14 Pedro Obiang - Sampdoria MF
15 Cerci - Torino MF
16 Antonelli - Genoa DF
17 Gargano - Parma MF
18 Legrottaglie - Catania DF
19 Sorenson - Bologna DF
20 Toni - Verona ST
Dave (So hipster today), Dublin
Liverpool won the second half today. Can we stop worrying about the most pointless statistic ever now. Thanks in advance.
Gerry S, Dublin
...I don't know what I'm happier about...Liverpool winning today or not having to read about us not winning a second half anymore.
Alex (SAS > RAR) LFC