Plus, could Eden Hazard be a striker? Should Brendan be blamed for Raheem? And lots more…
If you have anything to add on any subject, you know what to do – mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Coutinho will be fine
Daniel Storey suggested yesterday in 16 conclusions that Coutinho could begin to feel stifled as a result of added defensive responsibility. I’ll disagree with that. Klopp’s system is not asking attacking midfielders not to be creative but to defend and win the ball high up the pitch and initiate attacking moves with precision and pace.
Christian Eriksen is one example of an attacking midfielder who under AVB and later Sherwood was tasked with creating chances. But when Pochettino was appointed he had to adapt his game to suit his manager’s demanding system. Sure enough it was difficult to adjust to the pressing game demanded by Pochettino and he (Tottenham) struggled for consistency at the beginning of last season but it all came together before Christmas. At the end of the season he had covered a distance of 427.8km which was the 3rd best in the league behind the Burnley duo of George Boyd and Scott Arfield. His interceptions and tackles per game increased and he scored a couple of game winners last season alongside Harry Kane and has continued that this season indicating that his increased defensive responsibility has not necessarily reduced his influence on games.
Defending starts from the front and it should be every player’s business. No player should be exempted. I understand that it will take time before Pool reach the level that Klopp desires but in the long run I believe Liverpool will be better for this.
He not being able to display ‘the intricate footwork and passing we typically associate him with’ can be attributed to the similar style both teams were playing. Ball losses as a result of pressing led to many mistakes as was pointed out using Opta data.
Coutinho will definitely flourish under this system and he will become a more rounded player than he currently is.
I believe squad rotation (and perhaps strengthening the squad especially in defence) will be key in avoiding the burn-out and fatigue that could result from playing such a style over a 38-game season including Domestic cups and European commitments.
Smith (all 3 promoted teams lost heavily during the weekend. Accounting for over half of the goals recorded. 17 of 31 goals)
And Klopp will buy again…
What a breath of fresh air Jurgen Klopp has been. Press conferences and post-match interviews don’t make me want to put earplugs in or throw my remote through the TV. Playing Emre Can in midfield. Having the tactical nuance to play Sakho, in a back 4 no less!
Pochettino had Spurs playing very well before the international break so to come in a grab a point after being with the first team for a couple of days was a great result for the German and for Liverpool. It’s worth reminding that Liverpool play all of the big boys at home in the business half of the season.
Daniel Storey wrote in his 16 conclusions (great job by the way) that the big question against Klopp is whether his brand of football will hold up during the gruelling English season. It is a fair question and I think answer lies in the reason Klopp took the job. Liverpool has the resources to provide Klopp with a larger squad than he had with Dortmund. A larger squad will allow Klopp wiggle room to keep players fresh and his team ticking through the hectic holiday period and beyond.
Brian (I think Joe Allen has snapped) LFC
After the weekend I thought it might be an opportune moment to bring up this quote from Jose Mourinho, speaking to Chelsea Football Club magazine.
“Every player has to work for the team, both with and without the ball. All of our players contribute defensively and for the attacking midfielders there is a big responsibility to press the opposition when they have possession in their own half.”
This quote is of course not taken from last weekend – this is a quote from April 2014 about why Mourinho first dropped back-to-back player of the year Juan Mata, and later sold him to Manchester United in the January transfer window.
Past performance is of course no indicator of future events, but given the similarity to his more recent comments on dropping Hazard at the weekend, I bet it’s at least got a few clubs interested. So come on mailboxers, lets hear your pitch for why Hazard should join your club in January.
Terry Hall, Switzerland (I grudgingly accept that he is fairly unlikely to sign for Exeter City)
Why not try him as a striker?
Just read Winners and Losers and see Hazard in the losers section. Rightly so. However, what prompted me to write in is that I reckon he could play as a striker. Why not have a go in a game with him up front and resting Costa? I previously thought the same about Aaron Ramsay for Arsenal as he clearly has an eye for goal too. May solve many a problem when they have these crises of confidence.
JazGooner (Sterling looks like he can play striker too. In fact, let’s put everyone there)
Just don’t say it’s ‘out of position’
Something I’ve wanted to point out for a long time, and it seems apt to do so now that Sterling has just scored a hat-trick for City:
It is strange, and unfair, that Brendan Rodgers got so much criticism for playing Sterling at wing back on a few occasions, given that he successfully coached Sterling into playing as a #10 behind a striker or at the tip of a diamond behind 2 strikers. To me it seems very petty and childish – player is willing to be played out of position when asked to do a fun creative role, but upset when asked to do a role that involves hard work.
I feel the same about trying Emre Can at right back – here is a player who can play CB, can play holding midfield, bas stamina and is comfortable on the ball. He had every attribute you would want from a full back. It didn’t work, and that’s okay, but to blame Rodgers for trying is very harsh.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Some Newcastle ramblings
1) Good article by Nicholson this morning. I do have to argue with his point that McLaren doesn’t have any distinguishing features, because I think he does in his lack thereof.
After having been fed lie after lie and excuse after excuse from the upper echelons, Pardew, Carver et al, it is quite nice just to hear someone say “We weren’t good enough”. He is a nice guy as the article alluded to and it is nice not to see bravado or self-indulgence after a win, but just pure jubilation. Although the start to the season has been tough, most Newcastle fans have stayed behind McLaren and the team which would not have happened under previous managers and I think this is down to McLaren having that air of calm and confidence about him.
2) The early stages of this season have shown potential despite our low position (mainly because of the opening fixture list in the league) and McLaren has tinkered with the formations trying to find our best starting line up, which I think we were pretty close to yesterday. Unlike Pardew who seemed set on playing people and systems regardless, McLaren seems to be a bit more flexible which is quite nice to see.
3) Jack Colback. I really like him and it’s good to have a Geordie in the centre of midfield, but he really needs someone alongside him who can break teams down. Plus the Mrs thinks he’s called Jack Blackcock, so regardless of form, I’m always happy for him to start.
4) Mitrovic and Perez. I don’t think I’ve been as excited about a striker partnership since Bellamy and Shearer. Although not as good, they seem to have the same passion and relationship. Do love a good big man little man combo.
5) I read something yesterday comparing Wijnaldum to Lampard. He ghosts through games, doesn’t control the tempo, isn’t a playmaker but seems to pop up in the right place and the right time. If he can be half the player Lampard was, I’d be more than happy!
6) The jury is not only out on our defence, they’ve packed their cases and headed off to Antigua for a few weeks. Mbemba looks good and Janmaat is a unit. I think it is time for Colo to shuffle on though, just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. It’s a shame as he’s been a great player for us, but I don’t think he is cut out for the Prem any more.
7) I don’t have a clue what will happen against Sunderland next weekend, all I know is I have set up a countdown on my desktop for the week.
Headache for Hodgson
I think Chris Smalling probably is the best centre back in the Premier League on current form, certainly the best English one!
Is it a worry or a bonus for England then that their best XI at the moment probably should not include the captain or vice-captain? The best centre halves are Stones and Smalling so no Gary Cahill, and Rooney is profiting very much from Sturridge and Welbeck being injured, and Kane being profligate. He’s probably safe in the team regardless of his captaincy whilst the best option to replace him remains Jamie Vardy I suppose. What happens if Sturridge and Welbeck are fit, or if Kane hits another purple patch, or even if Theo finds his feet as a striker? Do you keep the faith when every single game matters at the Euros? I think we know what Roy will do!
Is Cahill safe though? Jagielka is playing well, Stones and Smalling too. Even Phil Jones has been good for 90% or the calendar year. He will definitely be on the plane due to a paucity of options. Will we see a Stones-Smalling partnership in the glamour friendlies though? And if we do then is that a sign of what we will see at the Euros? I don’t know. I don’t know how your heads don’t implode when doing that bloody ladder!!
A few thoughts on the weekend:
* Well done to West Ham on their victory. It almost feels like the Hammers and Glaziers should be fierce rivals, given their placings over the past couple of years, their current overachievement, their status and their geography, and things shaped up for an interesting and even contest. That said, once Palace went down to ten men, West Ham controlled the game superbly and wore their opponents down.
* Before the game, Alan Pardew spoke fondly of his time at West Ham. I spent the 2005-06 academic year in France, and I distinctly remember reading a massive feature in L’Equipe on Chunky’s Hammers, being a team on the up with a core of young, English players, something of a novelty even back then.
* F365’s Big Weekend billed this as a battle of Gallic playmakers, Yohan Cabaye versus Dmitri Payet. Payet may have come away with the points, but the real winner any time two such players face off, is everyone watching. Payet’s finish was nothing short of bare-faced cheek, but damn, it was well taken.
A lot has been written on this site about the mid-table sides being able to outspend the top sides in other European leagues like never before, but if it means we get to see the likes of Cabaye and Payet, two players desperately trying to prove to their national team’s coach that they deserve a place in the Euro 2016 squad, then it cannot always be a bad thing.
* Dwight Gayle’s first challenge was, in isolation, worthy of a yellow card. Dwight Gayle’s second challenge was, in isolation, worthy of a yellow card. Despite this there still seems something harsh about him receiving a red card. Alan Shearer called him stupid for his pair of “striker’s tackles”, but in some ways it feels like he is a victim of his nominal position on the field. How many times a season do we see defensive midfielders, for example, given a final warning after taking out an opponent for the second time.
* Red cards early on always change games, and this was no exception. However, rather than castigate Gayle or Mark Clattenburg, the proper thing to do is to look at how West Ham went about keeping possession, making the Glaziers work hard, and through their fatigue created an opening. Regardless of the number of players on the field, any time you limit your opponents to one shot on target in front of their own fans, you give yourself every opportunity to win.
* A word of kudos to Mark Noble and James Collins, who both offered consolation to Gayle as he walked. Even in the midst of a fierce battle, there is a place for sportsmanship, and these two deserve commendation.
* Watching the highlights, it did look like there was a foul in the build-up to West Ham’s second goal. When the ball was headed back in, there was a huge shove on a defender, which meant two Palace players got in each other’s way and there was a Hammer standing empty further along the line. Contact between players is inevitable, and it was only really noticeable from the replay angle above and behind the goal, but if it had been spotted, again the game might have changed. West Ham’s third goal, for all its brilliance, came as a result of Palace chasing an equaliser and leaving themselves stretched. Had they not needed to rescue a draw, they may have been able to shut up shop and hold out. If my auntie had balls, etc and so on.
* Palace are away at Leicester next Saturday, in another game against an early overachiever. It’ll be tough, but there is nothing to suggest we can’t get something from the game.
* In the Leicester game this weekend, the commentator ascribed one Jamie Vardy miss to his contact with the ball being “too true”. It appears “he’s hit that too well” has evolved.
* Finally, I ran a survey over the weekend asking people who they thought was the ultimate PFM:
43% said Peter Reid
28% said Harry Redknapp
17% said Sam Allardyce
10% said Tim Sherwood
And 1% said Frank Lampard
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (you knew that was coming), CPFC the Glaziers, Notts
The image is burned onto my retina
From Winners and losers;
‘…Allardyce needed a strong start. He got something limper than [analogy redacted].’
My mind was awash with the different possibilities. But I think I’ve thought of the best one:
‘…Allardyce needed a strong start. He got something limper than Ricky Van Wolf’s winkel.
Don’t be surprised by Norwich
Bravo to Daniel Storey for emphasizing that Norwich City’s tactics helped Newcastle to their rout. But he shouldn’t have done a double-take on seeing the Canaries’ line-up – that’s the way Norwich have been playing all season. Alexander Tettey really is the only midfielder in the first team right now that is any good at defending. As a result, a below-average back four gets very little protection, and although the Newcastle result was a bit of a fluke, the side haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league yet.
There’s an obscure stat on this which is very telling: Norwich are the worst team at allowing their opponents to turn completed passes into their box into shots. In other words, when the passes come in, they come in to decent shooting positions, and the defenders aren’t good enough at marking to keep opponents from getting shots away.
The key to changing this will be Youssuf Mulumbu. He was their big defensive summer signing, but injury has kept him out of the line-up so far. He’s expected back in the next week or two. When he returns, watch to see when and where Alex Neil plays him and Tettey in the same line-up. It could be the difference between relegation and survival.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
Winners and losers table
I intended to do this during the international break so apologies for the lateness (even though this didn’t get much of a rousing reception last time) but here’s the latest running Winners and Losers table (Swansea vs Stoke not included)
1) Manchester City (1)
2) West Ham United (4)
3) Crystal Palace (6)
4) Manchester United (3)
5) Arsenal (2)
6) Liverpool (10)
7) Southampton (8)
8) Newcastle United (18)
9) Tottenham Hotspur (7)
10) Leicester City (5)
11) Swansea City (13)
12) West Bromwich Albion (12)
13) Aston Villa (19)
14) Stoke City (15)
15) Bournemouth (17)
16) Norwich City (16)
17) Watford (14)
18) Chelsea (11)
19) Everton (9)
20) Sunderland (20)
Louie, East London
A Villa fan ponders
Queries from a Villa fan:
What are these ‘W’, ‘D’ and ‘F’ columns in the league table for? And what’s this ‘Pts’ thing on the end?
Oh well. After five years of trying to be slightly better than Sunderland, we’ve now got David Moyes to look forward to!
All aboard the hype train
Here we are again, I can’t believe people still take this Arsenal hype train every year. How many years does it need to happen before people like James Gooner stop considering Arsenal as title hopefuls?. This mail is not based on any current event, it’s based on Arsenal arsenaling themselves like they always do around January.
Dozie Chukwugbo (it begins with a loss to Bayern Munchën)