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Some Liverpool v Burnley thoughts
* Thank God for that! That first half was akin to Bill Murray waking up repeatedly to “I got you babe” in Groundhog Day. The grimacing and grinding of teeth was worrying my missus!
* It’s understandable to a certain point. Klavan may not be a world-class defender but for the most part this season has done well. Burnley and Gray in particular destroyed his confidence so of course he was shaky. Even world-class defenders may have a confidence crisis against certain players, look at Vidic with Torres.
* Burnley were very compact (as expected) but I felt Barton and Hendrick in particular were excellent. Lallana didn’t have that half yard of space he usually has and Wijanldum was drowned out. Can was woeful in the first half with his distribution.
* I would like to praise Mignolet here. He performed well with the set-pieces that Heaton knocked in. Burnley’s centre-halves are imposing at the best of times but I thought he coped admirably throughout.
* Origi definitely features better when he is cutting in from out wide. It’s an issue that tends to go unnoticed but you never really see him running through on goal and finishing chances. Last season maybe but nothing this season. Hence his role for Wijanldum’s goal being the bright spark of a poor first half. Speaking of which, that was an excellent finish. Any striker would be happy with it.
* What a big call from Klopp with Coutinho. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve had with Klopp is his substitutions. They never seem to be done with any major method to them. But level in a tight match and you take off a top player and throw on Woodburn. Have to admire him and the trust he has in the youth set up.
* That being said Coutinho wasn’t up to much. He’s looked jaded in the past month. Worrying sign.
* Emre Can is the most frustrating player to watch. His distribution was poor, he pulled out of a 50-50 challenge in the first half which caused me to let out a string of expletives that Bill Murray in What About Bob would be happy with (Last reference I promise, but he’s a comedic genius and What About Bob is an underrated classic), but he never hides. What a great hit for the goal.
* At the end of the day it’s a big win. Thank God that shot didn’t go in at the end, the confidence lost from that would be catastrophic.
* On a separate note, that racial abuse toward Son from Milwall fans is disgraceful. They should have to play the rest of the season behind closed doors. Deplorable.
Miguel Sanchez, LFC, Eire
It’s so weird to be pretty chuffed having beaten the side with the worst away record in the league.
I’m not sure how Can got Man of the Match; I can only think it was for the goal plus the pretty cool celebration. He gave away the ball in the middle of the pitch a few too many times for my liking. I personally thought Wijnaldum and Mignolet were our two best players today. Mignolet looked like he’d be well prepared to handle the long balls into the box and his decision making was pretty solid all day. Wijnaldum is probably the closest thing we have to a midfield metronome; he rarely loses possession and generally picks out the best available pass before immediately trying to put himself in a position to get the ball back. What’s remarkable looking at his passes received (thanks to FourFourTwo Stats Zone) is that he received fewer passes than our other two central midfielders but every pass he did get was in a central area whereas Lallana and Can roamed around a lot more and got the ball a lot in the wider areas where it was less congested.
This win was desperately needed. If we can beat Man City now it would put us in a great position. Arsenal play Man City in two weeks and it’s hard to imagine them getting more than a point which could actually leave us clear in fourth, albeit by the most slender of margins. Couple this with Man Utd shifting their focus to the Europa League and we definitely have a chance of securing fourth place with good performances in the next month.
Make no mistake, we have made it very difficult for ourselves. We probably should be third at least right now but we’ve stuffed up most of 2017 yet fortunately there’s still time to put it right. The Man City game is going to be tough and we will miss Henderson massively but you have to think we will be massively up for the game and thus far we have managed to consistently look like a top side against the big teams. The City defence is as sketchy as ours so you’ve got to think we should score. The only question is whether we can out score them.
…We haven’t won that ugly since we had Peter Beardsley casting his magic spell about! Sorry Peter, no offense, one of my favourite ever Reds (thanks Souness!) but he had a face to frighten children.
Makes a mockery of my earlier punt that we’d draw that game but blimey were we awful and I cannot genuinely recall a time we played so bad and yet managed somehow to win! More of it, please KloppMeister…
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
Falling out of love
I have lost count on how many times I have written to football365 and yet I have never ever been published, as with Liverpool and football this might be my last time writing to football365.
I am at a real crossroads, I have never felt this way but my love for Liverpool and football is not the same anymore. Do I need a shrink ? What can I do to gain back love, faith and hope for my club, the beautiful game and Football365?
Last night as I watched the Burnley game, when Burnley scored I got that feeling that this would be the same old Liverpool performance where we have 80% possession yet we lose but the team came back and won the game, if this was last season or any other season before I would have been really really happy with the performance and comeback but last night I just switched off the T.V after the win and spent time with my family. Have I lost love for football and my club? Where do I go from here? This is a sad day in my life.
The Last Kopite Samurai
Weekend thoughts from Peter G
* Fantastic high-stakes match between Hull City and Swansea City, decided when Marco Silva threw on a second striker for the final half hour. The combined movement of Abel Hernández and Oumar Niasse was too much for Federico Fernández and Alfie Mawson, and two neat finishes from Niasse sealed the deal. His first touch can be anywhere from silk to lead, but his runs are in the Gabbiadini class, and four goals in all competitions are a reasonable return. His reward was Man of the Match, with his name spelled wrong on the scoreboard notice.
* Bournemouth-West Ham was as crazy as you’d imagine, and I’ve got a Norwegian flag waving for my man Josh King’s hat trick. But we need to talk about Adam Smith, Bournemouth right-back and menace to society. In his last two games he’s blatantly put his arm in the way of a ball four times, twice in the penalty area. He was quite rightly penalized by Kevin Friend against Manchester United, but Robert Madley let him get away with it in the 87th minute of a tied match against West Ham. Find the video if you can – if what he did is allowed, we might as well scrap the rule altogether. (The ball may actually have hit his chest instead of his arm, but Madley quite clearly mouths and gestures “too close,” meaning he thought the ball hit the arm and still didn’t call it.)
* Can’t agree with Jürgen Klopp as an early winner, except by default. Not only did Liverpool play poorly, they played unintelligently. They’re not particularly strong in the air, yet managed to play the second-most long balls they had all season, against a side built for aerial challenges. Over 90 minutes at Anfield they were no better than even against a bottom half of the table team. Three points, yes, but how often can they rely on goals like Can’s?
* That’s two straight undistinguished outings for West Brom, and one of the rare times this season that Tony Pulis might have got it wrong. With Matt Phillips still missing, James Morrison could have made a difference in attack. Gareth Barry started ahead of Idrissa Gana, so Everton’s central midfield was a bit soft, and Morrison would have been just the man to attack that spot. But the Toffees well deserve what now looks a likely European spot. The Koeman effect: they’re on pace to allow 14 fewer goals than last year.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
Strange old game at Dean Court on Saturday. Bit of anti-FA chanting but nothing too toxic or noticeable, I think most of the fans were more focused on how the team played after last week. To be honest the defending from both sides was mediocre at best, and the whole game felt a bit panicky. It reminded me of the end of Bournemouth’s Championship season where a lot of matches turned into back-and-forth basketball games.
A word on West Ham first. Noble got a tame booking for dissent at the first penalty, and after that was barely in the game. But Carroll was really good. Not just winning the first ball, but the second too, and bringing other players into the game. What did surprise me is that their set-pieces were so poor. With a player like him and Bournemouth’s reputation for soft goals conceded I really expected a bit of a bombardment. Maybe that’s where Payet is most missed. And full credit to their fans who were chatty in the pub before the game, then noisy and cheerful throughout it.
As for Bournemouth, this is the first time I’ve really noticed it but I think it has probably been happening for a while. Since Fraser and Afobe came back into the team, and especially without Wilshere and Surman, there has been a lot less possession-based play. We get used to a lot of lateral passes that don’t really go anywhere. As Fraser is so direct, and Afobe can play as a target man, there has been a noticeable shift in our approach. Whisper it for now, but we’ve actually played better without Wilshere in the team for the last two weeks. Gosling gets a lot of stick because of his touch, but he runs and tackles better than either Wilshere or Surman so it will be interesting to see what happens next week against Swansea when they are all available. That game has looked big for a while, this weekend’s results mean it is probably more important for Swansea now.
King took all his goals well and despite the penalty you can see how his confidence has grown. I first saw him play for Blackburn at Dean Court three years ago as a winger, he took Bournemouth apart. Despite still having that pace he now looks a more rounded player, working okay with Afobe at the moment.
This week’s grumble – the sponsors’ Man of the Match being announced on the stadium PA in the 81st minute – with the score 2-1! So that’s a minimum of 10% of the game left then. I don’t recall any other teams doing this, let alone so early. I know that corporate money is vital because of the small size of the ground but this seemed wrong.
Andy J, Bournemouth
Coquelin better than Kante? Ha ha ha
If great minds like Homer, Thales and Anaximander could have believed that the earth was flat and rode on air, then I guess it should be okay that a common nincompoop such as Yeabsra A Ali thinks Le Coq can even wipe the dirt from beneath Kante’s magnificent boots. Like Yeabsra the ancient Greeks and Egyptians scribbled supposed “evidence” of the flat earth theory on papyrus or parchment. Through the “science” of cosmology, for example, they “proved” the earth was a flat disc floating on water beneath an arced firmament separating it from the heavens. Wrong!
I know we are living in a time of alternative facts but if one more person writes into this beautiful mailbox and tries to concoct some silly statistic about tackles made or whatever to claim Herrera or whoever is a better midfielder than Kante in the Premier League then I will have lock myself in a panic room with a No. 7 Chelsea shirt to reemerge in 2022 when Trump, Farage, Le Pen and all the idiocy they have inspired will hopefully have receded.
Use your eyes people. As an economics graduate I too understand the value of numbers but the recent infection of statistics to grade players is doing my head in. The Brazilian Ronaldo never scored anywhere near the rate of Van Nistelrooy in their primes, for example, but I know whom I, and most of the Mailbox, would want in our teams. Kante impacts the game in a way that we can see. He breaks up play; he starts attacks. He reads the play. His positional play is exceptional in a way Coquelin would only dream. I do not need Opta stats to tell me this. His team, my team is also crushing the competition in the Premier League, a direct offspring of his immense impact. I know it’s cool to be a contrarian and all but no amount of laboratory concoction will change this fact. Watch Kante prove it against Herrera and Man United on this cool Monday evening.
RickyG Blues (I want the victory just to see Jose squirm)
Arsenal players should have clapped Lincoln
At the Emirates at Saturday I noticed something that really annoyed me. Now I know Sanchez and Ozil normally don’t bother to come across and applaud their own fans but Lincoln hadn’t played at the Arsenal for more than a century.
They may never have a day like Saturday again and their fans were brilliant. I know our star players generally don’t acknowledge us but the least they could have done is to go over and clap their fans.
I, like many of my fellow gooners, stayed until the very end to clap the Lincoln players off – particularly as I was seated in the East Stand nearest the Clock – why couldn’t our players have followed suit?
Where our fans didn’t cover themselves in any glory is this continuing protest against the manager. Though I have to say it feels like cracking a sledgehammer with a nut when you don’t have a nutcracker and haven’t eaten nuts for years.
We can either sit there without any nuts or we do what needs to be done. I can’t bring myself to join in with the hounding of our manager but I totally get why some fans do when the people that run our club so lack ambition.
Semi-final thrashing ahead…
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
A thayden mail day is always a good day
Is there a group of supporters more likely to refer to a hard tackle or foul as an ‘assault’? It’s a silly question, I know; of course there isn’t. But having just seen my team put six past Millwall, much to the chagrin of the grazed-knuckle brigade that follow them, the mailbox provided even more sweet joy.
Adonis, you understand the underdog narrative, right? It’s nothing personal. It’s not because the broadcaster hates you. It’s because, in such a situation, only the most soulless prick of a neutral would support Arsenal. Most viewers want to see you lose. They want the game to stay close, to keep the dream alive. Arguing about the unfairness of it, it’s a bit embarrassing, no? Poor old Arsenal, they beat a non-league team 5-0 and nobody wants to give them any credit. Next you’ll be telling me I’m not the WBO Heavyweight Champion even though I battered that fat kid who lives down the road. Jesus wept. There was a time when people understood the world of sport. Now we have endless bitching about whether or not there is any metaphorical magic in the FA Cup, as though it means any f**king thing whatsoever, Now we have people crying about a lack of respect after they squashed a team with a smaller budget than Bobby Sands’ chef. No, the commentators weren’t very even-handed; that’s the way it goes. Get over it. It is meaningless.
Lincoln’s run was a beautiful thing. The gooners were always going to be the unwanted part of the story, the team that ended the fun. Recognise that, and you might avoid another petty tantrum in future.
Meanwhile, in an alternate universe Vincent Janssen scored from open play. I don’t know what’s harder to believe; that, or the existence of Harry Kane. But I know one thing: Vincent has a kind face. Confused, but kind.
So after the big clubs have been accused of disrespecting the FA Cup by fielding weak teams, four of the top six will be in the semi finals.
Perhaps the gap between the top six and the rest of the league is so big that they don’t really need to try that hard.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
Semi-finals here we come. Genuinely don’t care who we get as we can beat anyone on our day. Equally any of the teams left could beat us. So really don’t mind.
I feel like a broken record at the moment, but Leroy Sane! What a player. Sergio is back in form at just the right time.
Don’t want to wish harm on any player, but if Harry Kane could just have a few weeks to rest his ankle, second will be ours.
Massive games this week against Monaco, then Liverpool, by which point our season could be looking really good or virtually over apart from the above mentioned semi-final.
Don’t you just love this time of the season? It’s like second Christmas. All of a sudden every game is vital.
PS Not sure if it’s been mentioned, but Lacazette scored a class goal against Roma for Lyon. I believe the technical term is thunderb*stard. Well this was one those on steroids!
DANNY B – MCR – MCFC (Leeeee-roooooy!)