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No one more relentless than Reds
I’ve been trying to distract myself from getting too excited by the final this weekend, but highlights from the first-leg against Roma was on last night, and I couldn’t help myself.
What I noticed, upon second viewing, is the ferocity of our attack soon after Salah’s sublime first. Robertson punts a long-ball up field, which the Roma right-back heads out for a throw in 50 yards from goal – but the crowd is pumped, there’s an electric feeling in the stadium and a mighty roar goes up around Anfield. Sitting on my couch, I can’t help but jump up, clench my fists and yell Come ON!
As I slumped back down it got me thinking. Does any other team in world football have that relentless pursuit of scoring one more goal, than Liverpool? It was as if we were 2 goals down against a relegation threatened side, just scored our first, momentum on our side, last ten minutes, throwing the kitchen sink. But we weren’t. We were in the Champion’s league semi-final, with away goals and against an Italian defence.
As a Liverpool supporter, watching United games that ran into Fergie time was excruciating and thrilling at the same time. I could be wrong but chasing a game, with their fullbacks bombing down the wings, pacey wingers causing havoc and a clinical striker who you could bet your house on, was the highlight of being a United supporter.
So as I read good-natured mailbox debates about Liverpool being lucky to get to this stage, and the talk of trophies versus league positions, I’m just thankful of the entertaining football we play. And those adrenaline filled moments that get me out of my seat, fist pumped, goosebumps everywhere, watching a re-runs of a football game.
Ian (watch a GIF of Robertson chasing down City when you’re down), LFC
Reds’ road to Kiev
Sam(inho) mate, the Champions league used to be the European cup which you could not enter without winning your league so if you couldn’t enter it without winning your league you’d probably struggle to win it. Liverpool are in the final having beaten Hoffenheim 4th last year 3rd this, a group including Sevilla 4th & 7th, Spartak Moscow 1st & 3rd and Maribor 1st & 2nd currently, they have since beaten Porto 2nd & 1st, Man City 3rd & 1st and Roma 2nd & 3rd. That hardly screams “absolute cream of the crop”, City were the only top level team Liverpool have played.
Not meaning to downplay it because it’s a hell of an achievement to get to the final but winning the Champs League as a cup competition is easier than the Premier league, proof of the pudding could be seen in how many Champs league finals Liverpool have been to since they last won the domestic league!
…I’m really enjoying the number of emails coming in regarding our easy run to the final this year. Sure, it hasn’t been as difficult as Madrid’s this year, but this is just about the toughest run from group stage to the final that I’ve ever seen.
Chelsea won in 2012 coming out of a group including Gent, Leverkusen and Valencia, then encountered Napoli and Benfica, before encountering Barca and Bayern.
United won in 2008 coming out of a group including Roma (not very good apparently), Sporting Lisbon and Dynamo Kiev, and “only” had to beat Lyon, Roma (still not very good apparently) before playing Barca and Chelsea.
Is this really any tougher than a group of Sevilla, Moscow and Maribor, before Porto, Man City (arguably the best team in Europe this season), Roma and now Madrid (maybe the best Champions League specialists the revamped Champs League has ever seen?)
I don’t know if it’s jealousy or maybe just a selective memory, but Champs League runs always look pretty easy when it’s a rival team going all the way to the final!
Tom (Liverpool fan sadly expecting a Madrid win on Saturday)
… I have to echo Lawro and say that I am feeling extremely confident of a win on Saturday.
A lot of people talk about how Liverpool got a lucky draw (though those same people were quick to point out silly statistics like Roma haven’t conceded at home, Porto haven’t been beaten at home like a year, etc…) but no one has talked about the luck Real has had.
Like Borussia Dortmund deciding not to show up this year in the group stages, classic english refereeing intervention to get past Juve, and Bayern Munich suddenly unable to hit the broadside of a barn.
There are two aspects of the tournament this year which makes me think Liverpool are gonna walk it on Saturday. First, Real being absolutely demolished by Spurs both home and away in the group stages. Some say Real were just struggling for form, but it looked more like they struggled with the pace and intensity of the Spurs team. Kroos and Modric are great players, but they will not get the time on the ball afford to them by the likes of Bayern or Juve.
The second observation that fills me with hope is how tactically stubborn Zidane is. Frank Ribery absolutely owned that left side in the semi final and Zidane refused to makes changes. Whether it’s stubbornness or ignorance, if Zidane remains passive on Saturday it could be 3 in 30 min for the Liverpool.
There will be goals for sure on Saturday, and I think that both defense are suspect. Just the way Liverpool like it.
Brian (House decorated, flag hung outside the house and new kits purchased for my five year old twins. Excited to celebrate their first Liverpool cup final together. I hope it’s a good one!) LFC
…Hey Adeel, thanks for your support. I think.
I’ll have to disagree with your comment that Liverpool had an easy route to the final.
But I will tell you what is an easy route to a European final:
Feyenoord > Zorya Luhansk > Fenerbahce > Saint-Etienne > Rostov > Aderlecht > Celta Vigo
That’s what the most expensive squad ever assembled had to face on route to the final. Delighted they won in the final though. That massive sticking plaster of a trophy kept the delusional glory hunters happy and ensured Mourinho’s continued survival. Long may he reign.
Dave H (I predict a goal fest on Saturday and one of the greatest European finals ever played. Here’s to entertaining football.) Toxteth.
I had this morning off, and I was
bored intrigued by the stat that Marcelo has more International caps that TAA has senior games. It got me thinking about the International experience that this team has, in comparison to Madrid and the rest of the Top 5 (yes, I couldn’t be bothered to do Arsenal – take that information how you want to*).
Based on their projected First XI, Liverpool (Karius, TAA, Robertson, Van Dijk, Lovren, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Firmino hold 306 International caps. In contrast, Real Madrid (Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo) hold a WHOPPING 799 International caps between them. More than double. Ramos along has a massive 151, and Ronaldo has 149. 2 players have 6 less caps than our entire first XI. Crikey.
How does that match up with the rest of the Top Five? Well:
City: have 521 (Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling, Sane, Aguero – 452 if you replace Aguero with Jesus)
Chelsea: have 493. (Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger, Alonso, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Willian, Hazard, Morata)
United: have 545 (De Gea, Young, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Rashford, Sanchez, Lukaku)
Spurs: have 559 (Lloris, Trippier, Davies, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Dembele, Wanyama, Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane)
Even in the PL, based on International experience, Liverpool should be nowhere near their rivals, which I think speaks volumes of the team mentality and good work Klopp has achieved with these players. What’s also interesting is how many caps Spurs players have – how long can they hold on to this tag of plucky underdogs living above their means when their players are the most experienced Internationally of the whole top 5?
Lee (Just kidding – Arsenal – Cech, Bellerin, Monreal, Mustafi, Koscielny, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Lacazette, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, have 563. Maybe they are the real bottlers here? *Wink*), LFC
Scared of Everton
I can’t be the only one starting to get a little scared by Everton. If they get Marco Silva over the line this time he has a great chance to do something special at a club which has hideously low confidence at the moment despite finishing eighth in the Premier League this season (last season? When is the switch over?).
The owners have got tonnes of cash and the squad has potential in abundance as the guide to England under 21 players show- Tom Davies, Anthony Gordon, Beni Baningime, Morgan Feeney, Jonjoe Kenny, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mason Holgate, Harry Charsley and Ademola Lookman returning from his trip to Germany.
If Silva can prove that Gylfi Sigurdsson can play outside of Swansea and get a tune out of Davy Klaassen, Michael Keane and Theo Walcott, alongside adding to the undoubted quality of Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines, Cenk Tosun, Morgan Schneiderlin, Yannick Bolasie and Idrissa Geuye then they could be on to something.
And they have no European football to distract them. And they have no Rooney to shoehorn in. Seventh is the absolutely minimum but if they get a good start cracking the top six should certainly be the aim especially with Arsenal and Chelsea mired in the Europa.
Nothing to be scared of
With not much else going on until the CL final on Saturday, I thought I’d have a look at my beloved Everton squad after reading your transfer guide. Here’s how I think it shapes up:
Pickford – decent
Robles – not particularly convincing
Kenny – performed better than expected this year but looks unlikely to be a world-beater and is too young to be relied on as heavily as he has been
Jagielka – a fine player in his day but less consistent now that age is catching up with him so needs to be eased out
Martina – I feel for the poor bugger as he’s taken some stick this season which wasn’t fair when you consider that he was a 2nd/3rd choice right back playing as left back but in all honesty he isn’t good enough
Holgate – progressing nicely but still young
Williams – clearly we bought him 2/3 years too late as he is more or less finished
Keane – looked great at Burnley so I don’t understand why he’s been so terrible for us
Coleman – showed the rest of the squad up in his comeback game and should be given the captain’s armband next season
Baines – a fine player but at 33 he is only going in one direction
McCarthy – always injured
Schneiderlin – capable of brilliance but simply can’t be arsed (hence the booing) so should be moved on as quickly as possible
Gueye – not had his best season for us but still an excellent player
Bolasie – has moments of real quality but, arguably, not frequently enough (also has the ability to tackle himself)
Siggurdson – obviously great but needs to find a little more consistency
Walcott – started very well so let’s hope he can keep it up even without a World Cup squad to play for
Lookman – could be an important player for us if (1) he stays and (2) he can cut out the hissy fits when things don’t go his way
Vlasic – no idea why he hasn’t featured more as he looks pretty useful
Klassen – I’m struggling to accept that the captain of last year’s Europa finalists is as rubbish as he has looked for us so maybe it’s about settling in
Besic – absolute berserker
Davies – gone off the boil after a storming first season but will hopefully come back on better form after the close season
Sandro – dreadful and surely on the way out
Rooney – needs this MLS move for all concerned
Tosun – seems decent although it is still early days
Calvert-Lewin – unlikely to become a world beater but decent enough as back-up option, though he’s too young to be relied on as heavily as he has been
Niasse – I wish some of the rest of the team had his heart and that he had the ability of some of the rest of the team
So, to be brutally honest, we only have about 7 players who are definitely good enough for the first team and another handful who are adequate as back-ups. That’s incredible when you think about how much money we’ve spent in the last few years. Clearly, there is the makings of a very good side in there but whomever comes in has a lot of work to do.
For one reason or another (including Toulon Tournament age rules), we rarely pay our strongest XI in the u21. Here’s what it might look like.
GK: Freddie Woodman – Nobody has top flight experience, so Woodman wins the battle against Angus Gunn despite the latter’s senior call-up.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – About to play in a Champions League final, and possibly first choice right back in the World cup. His development means he only ever got 3 u21 caps.
CB: Joe Gomez – Struggled with injury over the past two years, his versatility has earned him 41 top flight appearances mostly at full back, but has looked assured on all three senior international outings.
CB: Reece Oxford – Yet to play for the u21s, but has shown in his appearances so far for West Ham and Gladbach he can be a dominant defender. Midfield experience and u17 captaincy edges out Jonjoe Kenny.
LB: Ben Chilwell – Gradually increased his game time since his debut nearly three years ago, and was a mainstay for a top half PL team this year.
CM: Lewis Cook – On standby for the World Cup, probably another good year away from a big money move.
CM: Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Breakthrough season for RLC, World cup place to show for it, despite his relatively modest 57 top flight appearances for one of the oldest players eligible.
RW: Leon Bailey – despite a cap for Jamaica u23 would still be eligible. Seems like the perfect platform to impress Southgate, and is already being talked up for silly money.
LW: Demarai Gray – Solid experience of the u21s with 18 caps (6 goals), could do with an improvement in his end product but has already played an astounding 178 appearances for Birmingham and Leicester, expect him to be playing the Champions League (again) soon.
CF: Marcus Rashford – 32 goals in 132 appearances for the 20 year old. He’ll want to improve his strike-rate as he matures, and should have more opportunities if he ever plays through the middle.
Bench: Angus Gunn, Jonjoe Kenny, Aaron Win Bassaka, Tom Davies, Phil Foden, Ademola Lookman, Tammy Abraham.
To look at the depth that comes from having players like Foden, Lookman and Abraham on the bench, this is a very strong team, and would be challenging for the top honours at any age-group tournament (although the team we put out usually does anyway). If Spain and Germany use everyone who’s eligible, maybe we should?
Emery and Rafa
I may be looking at this in a very simplistic manner, but the way I saw Arsenal’s early success was the melding of George Graham’s defensive steel and Wengers silky attack. I know the invincibles back line was forged by Wenger alone, but the mentality from Adams & co laid the foundation that eventually evaporated.
Therefore the ideal candidate in my eyes was Simone to have a reverse effect on what originally happened and re-splice that DNA. Diego’s defence mixed with Wengers silky attack. Arsenal have become mentally & physically weak from top to bottom and needed a strong personality to pull them back up. I think a lot of Goons just hate being so wet and miss that bit of dirt and darkness they once had.
Unai Emery is obviously a very good coach, but as someone alluded to the other day.. where was he during penalty gate? Any real manager worth their salt would have stepped in and put Neymar & Cavani in their place.
Watching Unai Emery’s first press conference reminded me of Benitez when he first arrived and spoke with a thick Spanish accent. The similarities don’t end there, their almost obsessive attention to detail also stands out. It will take time to implement his ideas, but eventually he will get through.
Saying that.. Rafa never really did master the PL with Liverpool, sometimes I think he was over tactical. Therefore expect decent results in Europe and to stutter in the league with inconsistency.
Ben (make it twice in one week – go on.. you know you want to) Howarth
How much worse could Arsenal do?
Therein lies the problem with Arteta – he could have been absolutely brilliant but he could also have been terrible – we just don’t know as he has never managed anyone.
If he was brought in as Unai’s assistant and in five years time as Premier League champions, Unai was to decide he was off to Real Madrid, leaving Arteta the job, I’m not sure anyone would have a problem with that. Liverpool were great at looking within for their next manager – think Paisley and Dalglish but that’s much easier to do when you’re battering everyone in your wake.
Arsenal are sixth and have just recorded our worst run of matches away from home in half a decade – this is no job for a novice and particularly not one, who according to reports was sarcastically nicknamed “coach” by his fellow players.
People forget the likes of Koscielny, Bellerin, Nacho, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil and Cech were all at the club at the same time as Arteta and I’m really not sure he had the respect of the players. If the players don’t respect you and down tools in this league, where only this past season all of the three promoted teams survive, you run the risk of continuing that terrible away form and jeopardising the club’s Premier League place.
It may be a case of underwhelming Unai but I’d rather that than stab in the dark Arteta.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
…Just quickly in reply to Adonis Stevenson, AFC, Guardiola did have experience before he took the managers job, he managed the Barcelona B’s for a year. I know it might not seem like much, but it’s more than jut being assistant to the best manager in the world*, and a former Arsenal player.
And saying that Arteta could be a risk, but could not be, why isn’t the same attitude displayed towards Emery? He could be bad, or could be good, only time will tell. Emery wasn’t my first choice – I wanted Conte or Allegri – but he seems to be the man they wanted from the off, he seems to be one of the young managers that actually improves players rather than signs ready made starters, which is what Arsenal are crying out for given the (dormant) strength of our squad, and the apparent lack of money.
And finally, I am excited for this season, because it is finally different. It’s a new feeling, to have a new manager, chasing new players, playing a new system. It could all go up in smoke, or we could win a few trophies – except for the Europa League of course, becasue his 3 wins count for shit because nobody tired then, so he can’t possibly win it now – and have a strong showing in the league
*At least Tito had 5 years as assistant
Adeel Abid is exactly what’s wrong with a lot of football fans. He apparently supports united but almost became a Liverpool fan because they play nice attacking football. He enjoyed seeing Liverpool almost win the league and the ONLY reason he doesn’t want to see Liverpool win the European cup is because of Ronaldo? And if it wasn’t for Ronaldo he’d have been cheering on Liverpool in the final?
Is this guy for real?
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