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Let’s sell Coutinho
Can we take the 50 million for Coutinho now and send him and his glory-seeking, outside-the-box shots to Spain? With Mane newly arrived and offering that threat to get in behind defenders and Lallana and Firmino buzzing about in purposeful triangles, we simply don’t need the Little Magician to break down the lesser teams like the Premier League Champions!
Sturridge should start
After managing to find a small Irish bar in Crete that was showing the Liverpool match on Saturday on a less than legal but definitely watchable screen I sat back and enjoyed the game. A solid team performance.
with some exceptional attacking play and the standard Liverpool defending thrown into the mix just to make the game slightly more nervewracking for the fans. A few thoughts on the match –
– Sturridge should start as our centre-forward – Sturridge ran the channels well, held the ball up and displayed some great link-up play with Mane and Firmino. When on form he is our one world-class player and offers much that Firmino does not. Firmino looks much better playing behind the striker with more freedom to roam.
– Lucas is not a centre back.
– Klopp still seems to be persisting with the Rodgers school of thought of playing players out of position. Is it any wonder that our defence is suspect when we have a central midfielder playing at left back and a defensive midfielder playing at centre back. It doesn’t work Jurgen ! Saying that Milner had a half decent game.
– Leicester are missing Kante badly.
– The fluidity of the counter-attacks of last season and the defensive solidity is gone and Kante has left a big hole in the side. Without him breaking up attacks in the middle of the park it was hard for Leicester players to get on the ball for a lot of the game and due to Liverpools pressing game they seemed hurried and made many mistakes when on the ball. As predicted by almost everyone, a big loss.
– Liverpool need Karius back quickly.
– As per last season Mignolet still flaps at crosses and spreads panic amongst his defence. He got nowhere near the throw in that Huth hit the bar from , and his decision making still seems suspect. Haven’t seen much of Karius bar pre season games but I think even David James would be an upgrade on Mignolet. Credit for the point blank save from Vardy, he is still a decent shot stopper but a very limited keeper.
Bring on Chelsea – Ben LFC – Bristol red in Greece
Sturridge > Coutinho and other thoughts
Some more (mainly Liverpool) Saturday thoughts if there is space for them.
– What a great day of football. Between Sky and BT, I had three live games to watch in Ireland: the Manchester derby, Stoke v Spurs and Liverpool v Leicester. Not one let me down!
– Manchester derby was a fantastic game – Otamendi, Fernandinho and de Bruyne were particularly good. City should be very difficult to beat this season.
– That said, City aren’t unbeatable – the defence looks shaky under pressure and I feel the right type of pressing game could have some joy there. I was surprised Mourinho didn’t try to exploit this in the second half, looked to be a real opportunity for United.
– Stoke look dreadful. I know they took a while to warm up last season too, but I don’t remember them being this bad. I don’t think relegation is on the horizon, there’s a few pretty poor sides in the PL this year, but they might have a difficult few months ahead of them if they don’t turn this around pretty sharply.
– Liverpool – that was a hell of a lot of fun. I had hoped for a 16 conclusions (the champions were playing afterall…) but I didn’t expect it after the Manchester derby. Even ye deserve some evenings off, I guess!
– Playing Chelsea will be an interesting challenge for Klopp, though. It will be hard to change the front four after how well it all went, but Conte will give us an entirely different challenge.
– Liverpool without Coutinho just seems to flow a bit better IMO. Coutinho can be wonderful on his day, but he offers little on quieter days. In comparison, Firmino, Mane and Lallana all move more, create space, etc even if their passing/shooting is off on the day. It seems that it’ll be Coutinho or Sturridge for Klopp and, atm, I’m leaning toward Sturridge. Both can create something out of nowhere, but I fancy Sturridge to put the ball in the net more often, as you’d expect when comparing a striker and a midfielder.
– Lucas wasn’t actually bad, that mistake notwithstanding. In fact, I thought him and Mignolet played well. Defensively, Liverpool never look far from an error and better sides will punish because of it. But Matip looks good – his strength and composure is excellent, and I hope that a fit Lovren can slot in next to him. I still feel that defence is the reason Pool will be in a race for 4th-8th instead of 1st-3rd this season, but I do think it is showing a slight sign of improvement. It is frustrating – it seems such an obvious thing to fix but, perhaps, it isn’t that easy. I mean, Otamendi looked brilliant yesterday but was often castigated last season. Stones too (castigated, not brilliant…), while Lovren ended last season as Pool’s best CB after a disastrous first season and a half. Definitely think actual defensive minded players around them would help, mind you, even if Milner and Henderson did look better yesterday.
– A final word for my man of the match: Adam Lallana. Bloody hell – ran 13km (a season high, I’m told), pressed, created space, passed well… And the goal was absolutely brilliant. He has bought into Klopp’s philosophy (boo! hiss!) with more enthusiasm than anyone else and it shows. Genuinely believe Klopp would drop any other member of the attack before Lallana and, on current form, I’m totally okay with that.
Kevin, LFC, Cork
Rooney ruins flow as a No. 10
Odd how United looked more fluent, and Pogba more influential, playing a genuine 4-3-3. Almost as though accommodating Rooney at 10 was significantly disrupting team cohesion and impeding better players from influencing the game more.
Drop Rooney and play Mkhitaryan, Martial or Mata, and heaven forfend United might even play well.
What’s the point of loans?
So this past weekend Jack Wilshere came off the bench for Bournemouth, while Chambers, while in the squad, didn’t feature at all for Boro.
Can someone tell me what was the point of loaning these two out if they are both going to be doing what they were doing at Arsenal?
Someone raised the point in the mailbox about Chelsea and their hordes of loanees and I have to agree – it’s time to stop the loan system.
If you want a player – buy them but don’t loan them. Limiting clubs to 25 squad players while stopping them from loaning out players will mean lower-league clubs can actually generate talent and command a fee when selling these players on.
It would mean in our case selling Wilshere and Chambers on but would that be such a bad thing? Surely it’s better for football in general and players for them to be playing for their direct employers.
English football doesn’t exist for the benefit for a elite bunch of clubs – at least it shouldn’t do.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
On bloody referees
What an exciting weekend of football that was, decent games on Saturday and Sunday, SKY must be thrilled.
After all, who amongst us would like to see top-level sporting events decided by the skill of the players when we could instead marvel at the referees managing a game to suit the ratings?
They say a fish rots from the head down , ‘Mavis’ Riley must go , he’s the worst referee in the history of association football and has made them all in his own craven image.
Marriner, awful , Madely, terrible, Moss, diabolical, Clattenburg narcissistic and Mike Dean marching to his own personal drum beat.
It’s not good enough for a professional body, they’re no longer ‘bus conductors from Digbeth’ but professional referees, it’s a bloody difficult job but it’s made a lot easier when you shirk your responsibilities.
Don’t get me started on linesmen (sorry , referees assistants) who cannot keep up with the play.
Thoughts of Swansea v Chelsea
– Andre Marriner had an absolute stinker. How Swansea did not get two players sent off at the minimum is off my head. And his decision for Swansea’s second was gross.
– That said, I dont blame Cahill much (and I’m not his biggest fan mind you), but the six-yard box is not a place to hold the ball and invite pressure, especially when you’re not a ball playing defender. I don’t think he did anything much wrong in the game tbh. Despite this mistake of inviting pressure, the ref and his assistants missed two fouls.
– This game may seem to draw parallels between our opening game fixture against Swansea that ended with the same scoreline, but I looking deeper, apart from Thibaut (who had a poor season and still is not at his best and is clearly taking his place for granted) and his mistake leading to penalty, there were too many things different.
– For instance, we were not repeatedly cut open, Swansea had one shot on goal apart from penalty which was their second goal.
– And for the large part, we were absolutely dominant in our counter attacks and transitions. We’re paying the price for not finishing games early when we assert ourselves, a very annoying pattern. I feel gutted we dropped two points (more down to us than Swansea who deserved bat sh*t) in the game as we have a tough fixture set coming soon.
– Diego Costa looked like an absolutely different player to last season again. As his b**tardly best, yet very focused to do things on his own. One of his best performances in a Chelsea shirt. Long may that continue (and please Diego stop getting silly cards)
– Hazard proved yesterday why he will not become a Ronaldo or Messi despite having similar potential. I hate to admit but the Nevillier was right. Hazard when Chelsea are comfortable in a lead is guilty of show casing and breezing around. Lacking that killer intensity. And there was too much of that show casing yesterday.
– As a final point, we looked most vulnerable when forced to play a high line during the end stages in search of the winner. I repeat it, unless we reboot our center-backs (and the back line), we wont win the title. As it is we’re the third best team in the division after City who are a notch above everyone and United who are a little above us (not a lot).
Aravind, Chelsea fan
Start. Fabregas. Now
After witnessing Chelsea virtually throw away two points against Swansea I am left with no option but to mail in so that when Conte visits this site he can consider my advice.
If you are so in love with Oscar’s running around brainlessly then play him next to Kante and bench Matic. I am all for pressing the ball high up the pitch but having two players running around brainlessly basically puts us two men down when attacking.
We need someone with a brain in this midfield even if he can’t ‘run around’ a lot. Against Swansea we were unable to get our most effective player (Hazard) on the ball for large periods of the game. His only options are either track back and have to dribble past an entire team to get a goal chance or be marooned out on the left wing.
Conte must start playing Fabregas and devise a way for him to get the ball with space around him. That task must fall to every other player on the field. We won’t win the league by running Oscar into the ground.
(Wake the fu*k up Antonio!)
Man City don’t need help from referees
In my view City had the best players last year and should have won the league. This year they are stronger, have the best players and probably the best manager and I think should be clear favourites. So can someone please tell the referees they really don’t need this level of help? Against Stoke and Utd they had some very favourable decisions and now the early competitors (Chelsea) had a performance against them that was so poor it makes one consider whether there really is bias on show rather than just mistakes.
Leave the bicycle alone
One of those well-informed lads commentating on the game earlier noted that Costa was ‘lucky to get away with that’, when referencing his high boot. Since this a) was the second time this occurred this weekend and b) is one thing that infuriates me more than most in the game, I thought I’d throw in a quick word.
I don’t think there’s a more aesthetically pleasing way to score a goal than a perfectly executed overhead kick. Surely a defender having their head generally near where ball and boot are is not a good enough reason to disallow a brilliant piece of skill.
Fair enough if the lad heads it clear then gets clonked in the noggin we’ll give him the free he deserves for being tough as nails. Otherwise let us enjoy the bicycle!
Fionn (Costa was probably more chuffed with his connection on Naughton’s head anyway)
Ed’s weekend thoughts
You’ve had two weeks off from this, stop whining.
* Stop everything. Crystal Palace actually won a game. A real game. A game against Premier League opposition. This was especially sweet in our household because my wife is from Chesterfield, and has harboured a grudge against Middlesbrough since the late 90s. I don’t mind them though, especially since I read a detective novel set on Teesside, in which none of the author, editor or proof-reader had spotted them referred to as ‘the Biro’.
* Commiserations to Boro; on another day they would have got something from the game, and were just undone by a couple of moments.
* The Eagles lined up in a 4-2-3-1, although it wasn’t a straightforward one. James McArthur lined up at #10, with Jason Puncheon in one of the defensive midfield places alongside Joe Ledley, in the absence of Yohan Cabaye. McArthur is more defensive than your typical #10, so having him that far up the field allows for a high press, if required, while offering protection to Puncheon, who Alan Pardew has been using centrally this season. The two wingers, Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha, created chances for each other and themselves, rather than simply putting in cross after cross for Christian Benteke. I expect this point wasn’t lost on Stewart Downing, after his time at Liverpool with Andy Carroll.
* Like all winning teams, this performance for Palace was a mix of skill and luck. It was far from perfect – a lot of work needs doing on the defence, both from open play and from set pieces. Given how many goals we score from set pieces, it would be nice to think we spent as much time in training working on defending them, but it doesn’t seem that way.
Out of frustration, I started looking for guides on how to defend set-pieces, and found something on the PFA website written by none other than Jimmy Armfield. I now know what I like to call the basics, but strangely enough it didn’t cover the real secret to success, which is basically subtly fouling an opponent and getting away with it, or avoiding being fouled. I’ve decided Palace need a coach to focus on set-piece defending.
* In a weekend of more dropped clangers than that time Oliver Postgate slipped on the wet floor in his studio, Steve Mandanda made some good and vital saves to keep Palace in the lead. Some places have said he was at fault on the Boro goal, because he got a hand to it and it went in, but that was outweighed by the crucial saves he made.
* Alan Shearer was a bit sniffy about Zaha on Match of the Day, which some people have found a bit harsh. All I’ll say is that Zaha, as a winger, has a goalscoring record not too far away from that of Shearer, who only ever played as a striker, at a similar age. Shearer is right that, as Zaha is 23, he’s running out of time to be a “promising youngster”; however, when you criticise someone for not playing to their potential, and then they turn in a man of the match performance, and you criticise them for not having done that well regularly, it seems a bit churlish.
* Couldn’t help thinking that some people went a bit early on the post-Manchester derby mailbox with their pleas for the return of Joe Hart. This was at least different from the previous ways Atalanta have allegedly been gifted goals, incidentally.
* Note to any players reading: if you’re on a yellow card, it’s a fairly good idea not to do anything that is likely to earn you a second one. Similarly, if you know something comes with an automatic yellow card, it’s probably best not to do it at all, let alone when you’re already in the book. That said, it’s a safe bet Hilderberto Pereira’s dismissal yesterday won’t be the most farcical moment of Nottingham Forest’s season.
* Chris MUFC in Sunday’s mailbox mentioned the plight of Mark Hughes. At the end of last season I wrote into the mailbox wondering what was happening at City, as they had some big defeats in their final few games. I was reassured by someone that it was simply that their season was drifting, albeit with their star goalkeeper injured. That form appears to have continued into this season, although they have a great chance in their next game to turn it around – they’re away at Crystal Palace.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
Weekend thoughts from Peter G
* That was a classic devil-take-the-hindmost Bournemouth win, and makes you think they might even survive the same way as last year. It certainly helps to have Andrew Surman, the South Coast Pirlo, with his 90% completion rate Saturday. For those wondering, Jack Wilshere had a reasonable but not exceptional half-hour.
* Pep> José. It really is that simple, at least for the moment. If City had had a moderately competent goalkeeper, we wouldn’t be talking about anything else. But one thing that’s really good about Mourinho: he’s one of the very few managers willing to talk tactics in press conferences.
* And speaking of JM, Antonio Conte tried a very Mourinho-like approach against Swansea, and got exactly what he deserved. I get why Nemanja Matic is in the lin-eup ahead of Cesc Fabregas, and he was very good yesterday, but he’s not an attacking player and never will be. Against the lesser sides, Chelsea should be able to go for the jugular. They’ve now had to rally very late against Watford and Swansea, and it shouldn’t come to that.
* Stoke are in big trouble. This is not a temporary blip. In their last 10 league games, all without Jack Butland in goal, they’ve averaged 2.6 goals allowed. They’ve now gone 14 games without a clean sheet.
* Tactical award to Claude Puel, who ditched the diamond for a 4-5-1, didn’t play for the draw in the second half, and was desperately unlucky to come away with nothing. Official Prediction: this will be the year Arsenal finish outside the top four.
* Is football brilliant, or what? I was just congratulating myself for having predicted a Burnley win over Hull City when Robert Snodgrass struck. Fabulous. Of course if I had placed a bet, I might feel differently.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA (How about those Terriers!)
Big-ups to City and Town…
Well what a performance! Travelling away to your local rivals so early on in the season and putting in a measured performance dictating the play. A resounding team achievement culminating with a standout performance from a key midfielder scoring resulting in cementing their place at the top. So well done Huddersfield and Wagner for a stellar season to date!
And as a Manchester City and Australian fan it was great to see Aaron Mooy score the winner. He has really come into his own in the last two years, from squad player at an A-League club (stop sniggering at the back) to first name on the teamsheet for Australia and now Huddersfield Town. The guy just has something about him, he glides around the pitch effortlessly, finds space for himself and team mates, has the vision to unlock defences, but is always prepared to get stuck in as well. If he keeps this form up then if I was Fernando or Delph I’d be worried as he could easily fill their roles in the City squad when his loan finishes. And with his time at Bolton he will count as home grown as well! One to watch.
A shout out also to my boy ‘John’ Hart as well. With his less than stellar debut (it’s almost like playing in a new team, in a new country, in a new league with new teammates can make you nervous and prone to a mistake – perish the thought), he’s really left a lot of the English press with egg on their face. Bravo is probably sending him a present as we speak. As soon as Bravo made that mistake you could set your watch to what the press’ reaction would be, almost as easily as it is to see pieces slagging off Pep/City in the run up to Derby. Schmiechel and Raiola were the task masters this time – but apparently we’re the noisy neighbours. Not in my lifetime eh Fergie – your look said it all…
And it’s always good to end on a positive note, so fair play to the Ado Den Hag fans this week. After they found out that that they were going to be sitting in a tier above some kids from the local hospital their response was a coordinated cuddly toy drop. Watch the video here:
What a gesture!
Martin Todoroski, MCFC (with Mooy and Wagner – the Terriers are my second team)
Watching a whole lot of football…
Anticipating an endless of stream of mails about Man Utd (sad face) in the mailbox on Monday and you’ve asked for alternatives so hopefully this shows there is other football happening besides the ‘best league in the world’.
So with the new season starting, moving into my own house and having access to more live football than ever before I’ve decided to set myself a challenge since the new season started and watch as many games as I can over the weekends (only games I watch for the full 90 minutes count)
I’ve managed six then seven in the previous two club football weekends and aimed for eight this weekend. Did I do it? Unfortunately not, but I came close again and will give it another go.
Schalke vs Bayern – A few people expected Schalke to put up a good fight here and they did making it uncomfortable for Bayern for the first 70 minutes or so with Naldo in particular being a very large wall to break through. Bayern brought on Vidal and Kimmich and this gave them the extra energy to break the deadlock. Lewandowksi opened the scoring and then set up Kimmich for the second (he’s going to be Lahm Mk2 this kid).
Man Utd vs Man City – This almost lived up to the billing and was an exciting game. I thought Man City could have been out of sight by half time but Man Utd made it more difficult in the second although it did seem to be the return of Van Gaal with the amount of balls pumped up to Fellaini. Pogba hasn’t lived up to the hype so far but is being played out of position in my view.
RB Leipzig vs Dortmund – My boys did it. 89th-minute winner to follow on from their 90t- minute equaliser last time out. All of Germany hates them but I discovered them on FM a few years ago and loved building them into a force. Was hoping Oliver Burke would make a contribution and he did, coming off the bench to set up the winner.
Palermo vs Napoli – The Palermo Manager Merry-Go-Round continues along with Palermo’s poor form. A comfortable win for Napoli and a good performance from Jose Callejon with two goals. Higuain who? Still, if you haven’t seen this it’s spine-tingling.
Bologna vs Cagliari – Sunday morning Serie A delivers again. Watched a lot of these 11.30 AM kick offs last season and they were generally really good games. Bologna were there usual solid and consistent selves with (aside from a brilliant 25-yard free-kick from Cagliari’s Bruno Alves) on a scorching hot morning at the Renato Dall’Ara. Seriously can’t recommend these Sunday morning Serie A games enough; lots of goals, red cards, positive attacking football and good atmosphere’s. It’s like CH4 in the 90’s all over again.
Atalanta vs Torino – Joe Hart’s debut, like a lot of people I wanted to see if he dropped another clanger and wasn’t disappointed (it was almost identical to Bravo’s in fact). A pretty even game in most respects but Atalanta got a penalty to win it late on.
Nice vs Marseille – Derby game, centre of attention, one last opportunity to show what he can do, step forward Mario Balotelli. He didn’t disappoint either grabbing two goals. Marseille created some good chances but Nice were decent value for the win and the game was played at a great tempo. Marseille seem to be continuing the struggles they had last season but it’s onwards and upwards for Nice, second in Ligue 1 and European action to come in midweek.
In addition I also managed to catch a bit of (these don’t count since it was generally 20 minutes or so here and there)
– PSG (going through a distinctive ‘lack of Zlatan’ phase) vs St Ettiene where the men in the toxic green grabbed a 92nd-minute equaliser.
– Arouca vs Benfica which was the definition of ‘just enough to get the job done’. Benfica winning 2-1.
– Barcelona vs Alaves where Alaves nicked a 2-1 win and weathered a 45-minute siege from Barcelona.
Dave, Washington (Probably too long to get published but why can’t we have quantity and quality).
Happy to help…
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It’s about a grassroots football club not being allowed to play football.