Liverpool's System Is Not The Problem...

...it's the wing-backs, says one Liverpool fan. In a cracking mailbox, we also have lots of mails on Tottenham, Manchester United, Tony Adams, Jurgen and more...

Last Updated: 05/11/13 at 10:39

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Of Course People Remember How You Won

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There is plenty of 'that's 90 minutes I'll never get back' sentiment about Chelsea's 'performance' in Madrid, but at least one person thinks they did what was required...

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Aly Cissokho in action for Liverpool aga

Aly Cissokho in action for Liverpool aga

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This
Jurgen: You aren't ugly. You're a beautiful man.
Chris MUFC


Townsend Hampering Spurs, Not Soldado

In response to the recent article on this fine website issuing a warning to all Spurs fans regarding the ineffectiveness of Roberto Soldado, I would like to argue that it is not the Spaniard that is hampering Tottenham's claims at the top four, but rather Andros Townsend (and to some extent, Aaron Lennon).

I would like to preface this by saying that I am firmly on the Townsend bandwagon, he is a fantastically gifted young player and I would not be upset in the slightest if he gets a seat on the plane to the World Cup. However he is not yet a fully accomplished match winner a la Gareth Bale, and his sheer reluctance to do anything with his right foot is seriously handicapping Spurs. In Roberto Soldado, Tottenham have one of the most underrated European players of the last five years, he is the very definition of a penalty box poacher.

His height and physique might cause you to think that he can play the target role like Giroud is doing so well for Arsenal, but he is more of a Spanish Mario Gomez at heart. He doesn't want to run the channels or drop deep, he wants to stay in the box and feed off wide service, because he is absolutely clinical when he is fed the ball. That's where the problem lies, in Townsend and Lennon Spurs have two wingers that 90% of the time (100% in Townsend's case) will cut inside onto their stronger foot and look to shoot from range or pass across the edge of the box. This is not the way to play when you have Soldado in your team, especially if you are playing him up front by himself.

I understand it's almost impossible for AVB to drop Andros at the moment given the hype and how well he is playing, but I honestly think that Spurs would have a much easier time scoring from open play if Townsend and Lennon were told to swap wings and cross towards Soldado.
Ben (Oh, and why on earth is Holtby ahead of Eriksen?) Gleeson, Cardiff


And Lennon

...Sadly only just been able to watch Motd2 but it seems to me that the so-called 'best chance of the match' for Soldado was destined never to hit the target. Lennon tears down the left, with one touch knocks it past the full-back and if he can swing it across the six-yard box with his left foot, Soldado is already half a yard ahead of his marker, all he has to do is stretch out a leg and poke it past Howard. However, for the one millionth time this season, the winger stops, turns back and puts in an inswinger, meaning Soldado has to stop, lose all of his momentum and try and head the ball from standing and thus gets no real power. If we start playing our wingers on their stronger sides we will see the best of Soldado and the end of the hysteria, of that I have no doubt. What happened to the Tottenham who used to like getting in behind defences? I am over the moon with what AVB has done to the club, but if inverted wingers is plan A, then swapping them back must become plan B.
Jerome Cross, THFC, Winchester


He Can Hit 'Em, Though

Dear F365, if you could kindly get the message out to cliche pundits regarding their "he can hit them" phrase every time Townsend shoots. See, we know he can hit him...but the key is to actually score, which he doesn't do, except for England, once.

See Ramsay vs Liverpool for how to 'hit them'.
Dan, Canada


Busting Spurs Myths

Spurs fans are truly driving me to distraction this year. If its not moans about 'goals in open play', then its the 'library-esque' ground or straight-up hostility to play deemed to be unworthy of the shirt. Chaps, you're letting the side down. Really. Other clubs are laughing at us (not the side surprisingly and judging by all the 'bantz' aimed in our direction they're pretty scared) but at us meaning the fans. Pull yourself together. Motivational speech over, it's time to bust some myths.

(1) Spurs are defensive. They rank first in the league for shots taken (133) and third for shots on target (59). So whenever you see a comment anywhere asking them to 'shoot' more - stop making a fool out of yourself. The issue for Spurs has been getting the right people in the right place (other sites that look at this statistically talk about, inside the area in front of the goal where statistically you are more likely to score). This means Townsend taking less shots (generally) and trying to take more of those he does have from inside the box. It also means Soldado looking to play a bit deeper rather than on the edge of the box because those lay-offs result in more shots from outside the box.

(2) Eriksen > Holtby. This may turn out to be the case, but not while Eriksen has the fitness of a League Two player. If you want to know why AVB doesn't trust him for more than 10 mins (see the Hull COC game).

(3) Inverted Wingers = boring play. AVB's tactical system is designed to create a 2 on 1 against the full-back (fullback + winger vs fullback). It's also designed to create a 3 on 2 against CBs (wingers + soldado) when a cross comes in from a fullback (in fact its a 4 on 2 if you include the late running midfielder). The problem is Townsend (again), Siggi and more recently Lennon not joining in the rush in the box (for an example of how the system works see Lamela vs Hull or Chadli vs Villa). Against Everton at least Lennon was trying to hit the back post but Townsend (again) lurks outside for another long-range shot (sigh).

(4) Soldado isn't effective. On the contrary, by staying out of the channels he leaves space for the wingers and full-backs. His role is to stretch the opposition team by making runs deep and creating small passing channels outside his opposing CB. He's been doing exactly that. Before Vertongen's performance against Everton, the wingers and full-backs weren't helping to make the system work.

On a general myth-busting note, Spurs are a statistical anomaly at the moment, being first and third in the shooting/on target stats above should mean more goals/excitement/etc. I can't help but think that AVB is not being helped by his loyalty to Townsend (I feel that after the next international break - not looking at Townsend - that will all change).
Ike 'Never thought I'd see the day Spurs would have this many clean sheets' Ndukwe


Beginning Of The End Of Cole

Is Ashley Cole nearing his twilight days? Over the last season and so far this season Ashley has been delivering good performances, but I don't see the Ashley of say 2009-10 or 10-11. His contribution in the attacking third has been meagre (could be due to the tactics of the coaches), but so many games he has been bullied and has allowed wingers/full -acks to get the better of him. Of course he does give some magnificient performances from time to time but those are now scattered over a season than a regular! This season, I personally think Ryan Bertrand has come up a notch and has been extremely good as a left-back. Ashley on the other hand has been deteriorating. Though he has his pace and tactically he is still one of the best, I am beginning to think his days as the no 1 LB at CFC are over. The best example is Ashley getting caught on the ball on numerous times. He is one big culprit in Chelsea who passes the ball back so many times. I don't know if the pundits/mailbox colleagues notice this but Ashley has been the cause of many opposition goals because he was caught on the ball or due to pressing of an opponent he made a stray pass in our half! Debate welcome.
Aravind, CFC, (while we're at it, can Jose please drop Lamps to the bench against midfields that run us over, thanks!), Chennai


Liverpool Doing Okay...

Third in the table after ten games, and I keep reading people slagging the 3-5-2 by Rodgers. So 4-4-2 and 6th and 7th is better? Just saying...
Bobby Ahn, Austin, TX


We Need Better Wing-Backs

I have seen Liverpool's midfield being mentioned as the weakest link in their play and I have to say I disagree with that. The wing-backs are worse. I am loving the 3-5-2 formation but our wing-backs need to get forward and provide width to the team. Neither Flanagan nor Cissokho were good enough against Arsenal. Cissokho had space to run into and put in some crosses but he was absolutely woeful. Arsenal's abundance of talent in centre midfield meant Gerrard, Henderson and Lucas had to stay very disciplined and the unimpressive display from the wing-backs meant Suarez and Sturridge were pretty much on their own. Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique would be really good wingbacks but their injuries has left us really weak in this position. I think the best way to deal with these injuries is to move Henderson to right wing-back for now and play Coutinho behind SAS.

Brendan Rodgers is doing the right thing by trying to ensure SAS (who I believe is the best strike pair in the league) are played in their preferred position. A loss to a rampaging Arsenal side is nothing to be ashamed of. If Liverpool keep up their form against the lesser sides, they should have a good chance of getting into the top four.
Shaun, LFC


Why Booing Lloris Was Kind Of Okay

To Alex, THFC Manchester, I'd agree booing a player with concussion is out of order. But a few things to keep in mind.

The fans don't get the benefit of the replay, they see it in real time and on first viewing I didn't see him take a knee in the face. 99% of footballers on the ground get up and play on, you can't entirely blame crowds if they've lost faith in the actions of men who fall over at the slightest touch.

Secondly, a portion of that booing is aimed at the ref, he managed to upset both sets of fans and booked Lukaku in what seemed like a result-based decision (i.e. groggy keeper = booking) rather than for the incident itself.

Thirdly, it took an age to get the decision made on him staying on or going off. At a time when Everton looked like they were on top, this is going to cause frustration in the crowd.

Finally, booing is basically the only method of getting your point across at a football match. It's not always logical, but it probably shouldn't be viewed as such (i.e. not all booing is aimed at a single victim, it is a culmination of frustration about a number of things).
Chris, EFC, London


...I'm certainly not going to totally defend the booing of Lloris but can people really not think of any mitigating factors?

First off there's the ridiculous yellow card for the 'foul' by Lukaku.

It was an unfortunate footballing accident rather than a deliberate foul - I think both sets of fans can agree that the ref had a shocker all round - and giving a card for that was always going to reflect on Lloris. And then there was the faffing about with the phantom substitution and what could easily come across as time wasting when Everton were at full flow. And all this in the final few minutes of a tense 0-0, so lots of passion and frustration in the mix too.

I'm not one for booing myself but surely this can mostly be chalked down to heat of the moment stuff so let's not go over the top and compare this to some of the other booing incidents mentioned eh?
Geoff the fully supportive Evertonian (there are idiots in every crowd though)


Oh The Uncertainty!

We can all jump up and down about the fixtures but the point is everyone plays everyone else right? So effectively all the fans (plastic or any other material) are well aware as to how unpredictable their teams are, therefore these uncertainties. Arsenal may be looking glossy but fact is their midfield and defense are going to get overrun by the likes of City and Chelsea, which is why they keep looking over their shoulders and hope like hell that the usual suspects aren't too close to them before the big games come around. Besides whether they can withstand the entire season without a major bout of bad luck and (as they're prone to considering the way they play) a weak squad is highly questionable.

Now City is in an equally head-scratching situation. They have, by far, the best squad right? Then how is it that they keep messing up against considerably easy-on-paper oppositions? That's even more baffling. In such a case would you, as a fan, make any guesses for the rest of the season? Doubtful. Brings me to Spurs who can't seem to score for love or (potloads of) money and a pretty solid Liverpool side who still do not have enough of a spark to take teams on home and away and command respect every time. Chelsea does look to have one of the more stable scenarios but who better than Jose to confuse everyone with the Mata situation? Besides, not sure if he knows who his best forwards are at all does he? Though to be honest, other than a necessary spark, this team has what it takes to grind out the league with the least amount of uncertainties.

Brings me to Manchester United. Equally confusing and sloppy state though I must admit things have turned around dramatically in the last two weeks. Does Moyes know his best team now and more importantly is United ready to take on all comers and bridge the points gap? Let's wait and watch shall we.

The problem is, the EPL does look like it's going to beat the best potboiler ten times over and make for incredible viewing thanks to so much of uncertainty. The other problem is this doesn't give any of the big four too much of a chance in Europe in that case does it? Well football's always been a bit strange, who knows.
Saby, MUFC


Slow Start? What Slow Start?

Honestly speaking this is like the third time im ever writing to F365 mail in two years (mainly because i know my input is worth s**te and it wont get printed but seriously someone has to crash this 'slow starters but winners in the end' bandwagon so I figured why not me.

Firstly a word on the Arsenal 'lack of squad depth'. When people see names like Hayden, Akpom on the bench, thats when they rant about lack of squad depth but what these people dont realize is that when these names make the bench, the likes of Wilshere, Podolski, Chamberlain, Gnabry, Flamini, Diaby couldn't.

Now that's aside, let's look at united's so-called 'slow start' to every campaign and then them eventually putting up an 'extraordinary comeback' to win the league. At this stage with ten games played, here are United's stats from the last ten seasons:

Season pos points
12/13 1 24
11/12 2 23 (didn't win)
10/11 3 20
09/10 2 22 (didn't win)
08/09 3 21
07/08 1 26
06/07 1 25
05/06 6 18 (didn't win)
04/05 5 17 (didn't win)
03/04 3 22 (didn't win)

So where exactly is the spectacular downfall that people are talking about? To me it looks like United have always been great starters to the campaign (WHEN THEY'VE GONE ON TO WIN) ten games in anyway.

This campaign is not a slow start. it's a failure of united fans all over the world to accept that their team is simply not good enough to compete. The 'slow start' that United fans talk so often about is when they are in a bad position four or five games in then yes their point may or may not be valid but 10 games in is a whole different story. it's over 25 percent of the season gone.

Quick word on Arsenal and yes we've completely bottled our tittle challenges in the past around March and April but people have to realise that this is not a team with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, RVP, Clichy, Nasri, Eboue, Toure etc... these were the players that wore the shirts of Bergkamp, Viery, Ljungburg etc and came up short. They represent an entire era of failure at Arsenal Football Club. On the other hand this new Arsenal side has something we've never seen before; consistency, ability to play ugly and win, determination and most of all consistent quality players. It's against the smaller teams that Arsenal always came up short but this season (or you could say this year) things are looking different.

Bottom line is if United fans still think they can win the league, then I swear we Arsenal fans have every right to call ourselves tittle challengers, if not favourites.
Salman (puhleeeez print this and lets put an end to this slow start myth together), AFC


Saints Could Have Been Second

I know it's in coulda shoulda department, but Southampton could have been second this week, if not for Begovic. That was a game they would be banking on winning before the kick-off, right? Can't you just see this as a negative turning point in their season, when things start going downhill? Hope I'm wrong.

Norwich are winners, cause this will probably mean the end of good guy Hughton.

Refreshing to see a brave manager like Malky rather than someone who says "the boss and I have a good relationship and I appreciate the trust he gives me and the money he invests in the club".
T-Mac


When Did Adams Become An Idiot?

Your Mediawatch piece about Tony Adams reminded me about his appearance on ESPN's Indian broadcast of the Arsenal Liverpool game.

This was straight out of the ramblings of the Dude Lebowski; only the Dude is likable in a goofy sort of way. Adams just looked creepy, leering at the camera and grinning while John Dykes spoke in his usual efficient manner.

When it was his turn to speak, he was barely audible beneath all the gasping and gurning. And when he did manage to put a point across, it was usually a lone hyperbolic statement: a 3-0 win to Arsenal (before the match started), Arsenal definitely won't win the league because they play too open (after it had ended).

To be fair, one of his prophecies did nearly come true, but that is not the point of this mail. As someone who started supporting the club in late 90's, I was lucky enough to see Adams at his relative pomp, captaining a team that included Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp, Overmars,and I always pictured him as being a strong, personable sort of fellow, our Mr. Arsenal. Even the disastrous managerial spells led me to believe that Adams was losing all those games while bellowing out instructions in a deep. gravelly cockney accented voice while stroking his 5 o clock shadow.

When did Adams turn into a blathering idiot? Was he always one, and did I somehow miss all those interviews during his playing days which betray him (something as crazy as this weekend's performance would've stuck in the memory, surely)?

I need answers!
MK

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