One Mailboxer has given Liverpool fans four reasons not to bother getting their hopes up ahead of the final day, while there are more penalty shoot-out alternatives. Plus, lots more…
Get your views in to email@example.com…
A cricket score incoming
For all the Liverpool fans hoping for a Stevie G miracle, I wouldn’t get your hopes up for a few reasons:
1. Villa aren’t actually very good. Not great defensively, not great going forward. City will roll them like they are nothing. City will be fresher, are a winning machine, and have super motivation.
2. Gerrard has zero interest (right now at least) in helping Liverpool and a false sense of redemption. He cares only for Villa, exactly as it should be.
3. Even if Villa were any good, they play tonight and Gerrard’s only focus for his players will be to put on a performance in his club’s final game of the season at home.
4. Finally, 2 days rest before facing a fresh City at the Etihad? They’ll be lucky to get nil, and lucky to keep the score below 8.
Thoughts on Arsenal
Reflecting on this season there doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to either the achievement or under achievement of this Arsenal side and of Arteta and is difficult to say either way who is correct. If at the start of the season someone told us we would finish 5 with 20+ wins I think most fans would have taken it but as we were so close to a return to the CL it feels somewhat more of a failure now.
There are positives to take from the season, the young players have more experience and in the cases of ESR, Saka, Martinelli they can hold their heads high and be proud of their efforts this season, Ramsdale and White have both been great signings as has Tomi so the basis of a trophy winning side is there, albeit reliant on some significant incomings in the summer
There are some worrying problems to fix, we conceded first at 7 away games and lost all of them without scoring – blame has to lie with Arteta for that, he should be tactically flexible and astute to be able to find a way to at least draw away from home, I understand we don’t have great depth on the bench to call on but again responsibility falls on Arteta, turning 3 of those losses into draws or winning one against Palace, Brighton, Southampton and we would remain in control of the CL race
We are a long way from challenging for the title and how long can we keep hold of our exciting and talented youth without CL or trophies will determine how long a wait that is.
Another penalty alternative…
Reading the note from Brad this morning encouraged me to finally send in my thoughts about an alternative to a penalty shootout.
My proposal would be that, instead of penalties at the end of extra time, a number of categories (8 in my example below) are selected to determine the team most deserving of the win. Statistics are collected from the start of extra time to determine the winner of the game should it end in a draw. We now have the technology to implement such a system and it will encourage teams to go for it and therefore becomes a facts / stats way to determine the winner.
These are the kind of categories I’m thinking of:
% time spent in opponents half (highest wins)
Number of corners (highest)
Number of shots on target (highest)
Number of throw-ins in opponents half (highest)
% successful forward passes (highest)
Number of fouls (lowest)
Number of yellow cards (lowest)
Number of red cards (lowest)
At the end of the game, the winner is the one with the most category wins. What if they end up the with the same? In this case categories are given a randomised order and the team which comes out on top first in that category is the winner?
Alternatively do away with extra time completely and just score the categories after 90 mins but this would be less of a spectacle.
Neil (Aston Villa)
I like your thinking and yes, it could increase the likelihood of a goal in the extra 30 minutes, but, if you will, I think I have a better solution.
It is actually a 2-fold solution and very easy to put into practice.
So, for the final 30 minutes:-
a) the goalkeeper now becomes effectively an out-field player. Everything as normal, but no handling of the ball. Heading, chesting, kicking all ok. Handling (or indeed the ball touching any part of the GK’s arm) during this final 30 minutes leads to a booking and a penalty to the opposition.
b) ANY foul committed by ANY player anywhere on the pitch, that would, during the course of normal play ordinarily attract a yellow (or red) card, instant PENALTY.
If this doesn’t ensure a DEFINITIVE RESULT during extra time, then nothing will work.
Penalties is not a lottery.
I say keep penalties. They’re fun.
If two teams can’t be separated after playing the match, the loser can’t complain about going out through a “lottery”.
Not that it is an outright lottery – there is a degree skill in taking or saving penalties. An element of lucky as well, but that’s true in open play too (e.g. deflected goals).
If I were changing things, I’d get rid of extra time before I got rid of penalties. According to Google, 53.5% of matches that go to extra time end up going to pens anyway (up over 10% compared to the 70s) and the football is almost always dire – for every extra time that’s a thriller, there are 10 that are just the players slowly passing it about waiting for the shootout and taking it in turns to help each other stretch to alleviate cramp for 30 minutes…
Overtime rule changes
Brad from the morning box is on to something here. However, I think sort of following in the footsteps of hockey and centering your changes around the concept of a reduction of men and, thus, more operable space for your players in order to facilitate offense isn’t the best route. Not only is there an obvious player health concern but also, for some reason, I feel like having potentially a 5 a side on a full sized pitch fundamentally changes the game too much in a way that 3 on 3 on the ice in hockey doesn’t (possibly room for pushback on this take though).
There should be two main points in suggesting an OT rule change 1. how to increase scoring/volatility/unpredictability and 2. how to do the former while fundamentally altering the game as little as possible. While Brad’s idea definitely satisfies the former it’s the latter that I take issue with (personally).
This is going to sound super gimmicky (because it is probably) but what if in OT we took away the ability to form defensive walls to oppose free kicks within shooting range? It definitely alters the game – but affecting only the set pieces aspect of the game as opposed to the concept of 11 x 11 on a full sized soccer pitch is less intrusive (in my opinion).
Also, my god, can you imagine the excitement of watching a match in the 115’ and seeing De Bruyne or TAA standing over a dead ball from 25-30 yards out with no defensive wall (individual defenders, maybe even attached pairs but no more than two people can stand wherever they want) obstructing an attempted shot on target? I was thinking though that the opposing team could also have one player (so a combo of your fastest/most adept blocker) who can stand roughly where the wall would be and try to sprint and block the attempted shot. Which also doesn’t have to be a shot – still room for set plays and I think the uniqueness of this dead ball situation would add variation to set piece coaching and routines not only offensively but defensively. Anyway, super gimmicky but I think it adds a lot of intrigue while not fundamentally altering all that much.
MAW, LA Gooner
A data analyst’s response to Lee
I’m a data anlyst so Lee’s email rather got my hackles up. Lee seems to have made the cardinal sin of data analysis, he started with a belief “Trent is a great defender” and set out to prove that belief by finding bits of data to fit his argument. He also didn’t adjust for per 90 to eliminate the games played issue which he even references! Shall we have a look at the broader stats to see where Trent actually sits?
All stats are from FBref.com, only apply to the PL this season, all are per 90 minutes to eradicate the number of games, I’ve only selected pure defenders as per FBref, and only players who played 450 minutes or more in the season.
Trent makes 1.43 tackles per 90, rank 104 behind Rob Holding and Axel Tuanzebe (Jeremy Ngakia, Ricardo Pereira, Junior Firpo top 3)
Trent wins 0.78 tackles per 90, rank 103 behind Raphael Varane and Dan Burn (Ricardo Pereira, Cristian Romero, Ryan Ait Nouri top 3)
Trent is dribbled past 1.17 times per 90, rank 129 behind Matt Ritchie and Vitaliy Mykolenko (Charlie Goode, Mads Bech Sorenson, Virgil Van Dijk top 3)
Trents pressures were successful 33.5% of the time, rank 72 behind Cedric Soares and Ben Gofdfrey (Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias, Yerry Mina top 3)
Trent blocks 1.24 shots/passes per 90, rank 134 behind Ciaran Clark and Jaoa Cancelo (Ben Johnson, Dimitris Fiannoulis, Erik Pieters top 3)
Trent makes 2.41 interceptions per 90, rank 30 behind Matty Cash and Charlie Taylor (Hassane Kamara, Jan Bednarek, Sam Byram top 3)
Trent made 0.03 errors leading to an opponents shot per 90, rank 88 behind Max Kilman and Ethan Pinnock (lots of players have made 0).
So Trent is not particularly standout, in fact he’s pretty poorly ranked for tackles, tackles won, getting dribbled past, successful pressures, and blocks.
Trent is highly ranked in interceptions and errors leading to shots.
Trent is not a terrible defender, but he is not particularly great at it. That’s fine, his main job in the team is to be a creative force and he does that extremely well. But he simply has not been a brilliant defender this season on many metrics. That’s a (mostly objective) fact. To say he’s one of the best defenders in the league is provably nonsense.
Excluding the stats and using the “eye test” that a lot of PFMs prefer, my opinion is that Trent is a decent defender but is made to look significantly better being in one of the best defensive units and with the best goalkeeper in the league. When teams do well against Liverpool, they often target his side. His attacking play is exceptional, and creatively he is one of the best there’s been as a defender in the league, although that again is partially due to the system Klopp plays that allows him that freedom. I’ve always considered that he’d do a lot worse for England than Liverpool, because they play quite differently, just as he’d do a lot worse at Watford or Everton for the same reason.
Calum, MUFC, Wokingham
PS. To get a really accurate view of the stats you should probably also relate these stats to the share of possession Liverpool have in their games, but I’ve already spent enough work time on this so I wasn’t able to.
Alex (Liverpool fan in NY)
Lordy Lord, as a United fan even I winced at what he was saying, let alone what true Liverpool fans must have felt. Yes it would be great if Gerrard could help you out, but the man owes you nothing and certainly doesn’t need any kind of redemption. Stevie G (eurgh) dedicated his life to the club (despite the odd bit of temptation to move away here and there) and you wouldn’t have been in touching distance of the title (before he hilariously slipped up) if it wasn’t for his performances.
Give the poor person a rest you’ve been saying this to for months – wipe the drool from their mouth, by them a beer and proudly show them your brand new half and half scarf you’ve got for the UCL final.
Get your facts right
I completely appreciate the sentiments of Tom’s email and the critiques of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE are understandable. But, if we’re going to talk about issues such as this, it’s important to get the facts right. I lived in the UAE for 3 years, so let me provide some insight.
Firstly, the UAE does not have the death penalty for being gay. That just isn’t correct. Yes, it is illegal, which is clearly appalling, but it is not punishable by death. Secondly it is important to understand that the UAE is not a single entity. It is made up of 7 Emirates and each one has different laws, and different applications of the law. Dubai is the most tolerant, followed by Abu Dhabi, with Sharja being the strictest.
I’ve no experience of living in the other Emirates but I can comment on life in Dubai. Dubai has some very strict rules, but it is also a very private place and many of these rules are almost never enforced. For example, when I lived there it was illegal for unmarried couples to live together, even though this was extremely common.
Incidents of LGBT travellers or residents getting into trouble are extremely rare. When it does happen, it tends to be due to public displays of affection which are illegal for hetrosexual couples as well.
I had 3 LGBT friends when living in Dubai, one male and 2 female. The 2 females were a couple who met there and got engaged while living there. They were discreet, but never hid their relationship from staff at work. It was common knowledge. The guy I knew very much enjoyed the gay scene out there, which was thriving, including many locals. All 3 of them loved their time in Dubai.
Neither the US state department nor the UK foreign office advise against LGBT travel to the UAE. It is extremely common, and sharing a room with someone who is the same sex is not an issue.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending the UAE. No country should make it illegal to be gay. But you also have to understand the context. The UAE is an extremely religious country, founded just over 50 years ago. Change takes time and expecting them to instantly catch up with the modern world is unrealistic. We may be tolerant now, but it was just over 50 years ago that being gay was no longer illegal in the majority of the UK and 40 years ago for Northern Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland it only happened in 1993!
These things take time and every year in the UAE, laws change slightly and tolerance and acceptance increases. The more we engage with countries such as this, the more we help drive change. Rejection and isolation are not the answer. Some may disagree with that, and that’s OK. But if you do, please at least get your facts right.
Mike, LFC, London (Sorry for the non-football mail)