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A couple of deciders looming…
Man City – Leicester on Dec 21st and Leicester – Liverpool on Dec 26th are beginning to look like the season-defining fixtures. If the first ends in stalemate and the second results in three points for the Reds I will start to genuinely believe the Premier league might finally be inching its way towards Anfield.
I won’t truly believe it until there is a double digit gap to the team in second with only three games left to play. Been here too many times before but at the moment the juggernaut rolls on. As the only team to be top at Christmas not to go on and win the league (a feat we have managed three bloody times) I won’t be celebrating anything until the fat lady has put her mic down and the bunting is being packed away.
Still, it’s always nice to give the blue noses a spanking.
Ten Merseyside derby conclusions from a Red
1. Liverpool started the game without Allison, Fabinho, Firmino and Salah all who are key players. As well as Henderson and Matip who would make first 11, so it really was a test of the squad especially for Shaq starting his first game since the Barca 4-0 (where he was kinda crap).
When pundits question how Liverpool would deal with the loss of key players, you don’t need to look much further that this game.
2. This meant Liverpool started in a relative 4-2-3-1 but at times looked more like a diamond in midfield with Mane given license to stay higher up, leaving Milner to cover a huge amount of ground on numerous occasions. Something which appears is absolutely no issue to the 33 year old.
Everton started with the same 5-4-1 shape that they used vs Leicester to good effect, but this was scrapped before the end of the first half. Long passes from Lovren, VVD and Trent constantly caught out their high defensively line, and the formation change didn’t help in this regard.
3. The first Liverpool goal came from a counter attack where Mane carried the ball forward unchallenged and slid a perfect through ball to Origi who finished well. His ball for Shaqiri’s goal was also so well weighted.
Everton simply looked devoid of defensive shape and any decent ball forward looked like it could shred them apart. Case and point was the second goal where both Keane and Holgate looked scared to actually get back after Origi.
4. The fourth and final goal from the counter-attack should have killed the game off before half-time, Everton really needed a tactical foul on Mane to stop the counter. The finish was brilliant considering it had been rolled onto his left peg. His all-around performance was simply too good for any defense and he really has been on fire in 2019.
5. Liverpool’s own defensive shape looked a little suspect at times, with crosses being allowed into the box far too easily (driving Klopp mad on the sideline). Also, there was a large number of silly free kicks given away to go along with nine corners that Everton had.
One of these set pieces ultimately gave Everton their opening goal, and the defending was reminiscent of the problems Liverpool had in Klopp’s early days of defending the second ball from set pieces. Teams are also using multiple blockers on VVD meaning he can’t clear everything like he normally would.
6. Lovren had a strong game and was excellent on the ball with 89% passing accuracy including numerous long passes behind Everton’s back line. But I can’t help but think he can do better for both Everton goals, but did save a certain one in the first half when he deflected Richarlison’s cross shot out for a corner with Lewin waiting behind him.
7. For the final goal, Firmino simply turns Holgate inside out before Gini finished like he was playing for the Netherlands. I think the only time I’ve seen Bobby angry was when Holgate pushed him into the hoardings that time a few seasons ago, so maybe he’s one to hold a grudge.
Gini was excellent, regardless of the goal. He kept things ticking along in midfield (90% pass accuracy in a derby game is not easy), and seems to always come out on top in physical battles and 50/50s. Ideally I would keep him as the deepest midfield player in Fabinho’s absence but it’s likely he will rotate with Henderson.
8. How good was Shaqiri? His deft touches and close control was excellent and he always manipulates the ball to put him on the front foot. Nice finish for his goal too. He’s likely to have a big part to play in the coming weeks especially with Salah a little off the boil with his ankle knock. Lallana also had a good game showing good touches and working his socks off for the team.
9. Everton need a change of manager, they have a lot of good players and are performing way below their level. Who would have thought at the start of the season they would be in the relegation zone coming up to Xmas?
I presume Silva will be sacked some time on Thursday, and maybe Moyes will come back until the end of the season at least. I think that’s a safe bet and we shouldn’t forget that he really overachieved with Everton during his time there.
10. Finally, no the league is nowhere near done. There is an eight-point gap, with 69 left to play for. Liverpool will have a dip in form at some point where they won’t be able to grind out wins a la Aston Villa. Man City will invariably go on a ten-game winning streak, and Leicester have zero pressure and no midweek football to contend with.
But it was a great performance especially from the squad players which will delight Klopp, with so many games in the next four weeks, rotation will see everyone being given a chance.
S (actually chuffed that United beat Spurs last night, Mourinho was a virus and will be again soon)
…Someone in the mailbox asked if Liverpool had played well this season? Hopefully they saw that game.
Mané is just ridiculous. I’m left unable to decide which pass was the best of the night, which goal was the best of the night and who was the best player on the pitch. The only certainty is that Mané is in my thoughts for all three.
Origi just loves a big game. Robertson has a dreamy streak of shithousery that probably is making every other fan hate him. Shaqiri just played his first full game in 11 months and was exemplary. This team is just incredible. Liverpool fans of every age are truly spoilt to be watching these lot on a weekly basis.
Now if we could just stop conceding goals…
Loving Amazon Prime
I could pen an entire mail about how each of Liverpool’s 5 goals were so filthy, I had to switch the channel when my wife walked in and pretend I was watching something else.
But instead, I just want to say a few words about watching my first football game on Amazon Prime.
It was fantastic. Seamless. Dare I say – Perfect.
Now, had this been a BT Sports game – I would have been forced into my usual ridiculous routine which goes as follows:
– Start the match on BT Sport mobile app
– Press the Chromecast button
– Forget that the cast button doesn’t work if your BT subscription is an EE add-on
– Cast my entire phone screen to the TV
– Turn off all notifications because my stream is inevitably a minute or two behind my mates and spoiler messages like “OMG SALAH” will pop-up while our Goalkeeper still has the ball on my screen.
– Plug my phone in so the battery doesn’t run out and pray that it doesn’t simultaneously overheat and switch off
– Hope that we have a stress-free match since I’m already annoyed before it’s even begun (except we won’t because we’re Liverpool)
Fortunately, Amazon came to the rescue. I turned on my TV, selected Prime and was watching the coverage 5 seconds later. I had the stream on from 6.30 to 10.30 and it didn’t stop to buffer even once. In particular, the ability to easily flip back and forth between the goals without delay was a welcome one. I also appreciate that they dug up just about everyone who has ever kicked a football in the past 20 years for their 1000 strong punditry team to cover every game.
Bravo. Now get out there with that chequebook and buy some more matches lads.
Ryan C, LFC
Ole deserves support
For all the talk of Ole being tactically inept the results seem to state otherwise. He does well against teams where the quality of the opposition is superior or at par (the traditional and actual Big 6), and where he has been able to lift the players’ performance and to some extent countered/nullified the opposition threat.
It’s against the teams where we are superior in quality and the difference is not supposed to be tactical, as teams sit back, that we look lost. Which again points to the quality of the squad at his disposal. No amount of tactical nous can make Fred or Pereira play defence-piercing passes.
Much of what’s wrong can maybe be remedied through better coaching. But that needs to be through an addition to his support staff and not at his cost. And objectively speaking, every player seems to be a better version of themselves than when he inherited them.
He seems to have a style of football that both the players and the fans can buy into and he has not lost the dressing room despite the results. Give the man some more time and a couple of squad additions.
…* I’m not go to lie I enjoyed that after weeks ,of ludicrous emails like the one about Wolfsburg (Djemba Djemba and Kleberson played 20 games together max over three years between 2003 and 2005 the period where we won close to f**k all) were someone actually references a team which included Scholes in Midfield and Nani at the height of his powers for Utd in a dead rubber game to compare to one which has had to use Fred and Pereira every single game since Mctominay’s injury in positions they are unaccustomed to (not that they are good at their main jobs). Ole once again stuck a v sign out to everyone again.
*For the 427th time , Can you all get over yourselves with pointing at this season’s league table as justification for any of your narratives for anyone outside the top four. Before this game Utd were ninth Spurs with a managerial bounce were fifth, the gap was a handsome two points. One goal is enough to change everything. Case in point Palace are seventh after being in relegation trouble two weeks ago.
* So the number one disappointment has had a decent result against every top manager except Pep so far, F365 will probably give him 2twodays of peace until bombarding everyone with articles and mailboxes on how he is out of his depth.
* Utd are now half way to getting 40 points how about giving Ole the chance to find a magician and maybe an extra midfield enforcer instead of screaming for his sack after every bad result. We may discover that with an improved squad he will easily close out games against the teams who have been stealing points from Utd .
Make no mistake there is a direction for the first time in years if there is patience it will come to fruition. This squad needs upgrades – just replacing the manager with the popular choices may actually amount to applying lipstick on a pig.
Wasn’t expecting 16 Conclusions on the Mourinho derby last night but was pleasantly surprised by the content as well as the result.
I was hoping there’d be a line or two about the improved kleberson at least but was disappointed. Given the standard of his performances since he’s come to the club, Fred has surely and steadily been improving in that midfield this season. His best displays usually come when he’s accompanied by McTominay rather than having to babysit Pereira or mop up after the tanker that is Matic. Last night I felt he was immense – always snapping in 0.25 of a second late with a tackle, actually having the awareness that Son was going to cut in and shoot and making sure he was there to clear the ball and generally running about box to box. His passing has improved immensely to the extent that he can actually find an United player 10 yards out.
Sitting in front of what should be a solid defence but instead is leakier than Trump’s cabinet is not easy but he’s been slowly making that position his. This season promises to be one that will be built on a paucity of options in the midfield and Fred is making sure he holds his regular place down.
Imagine what a proper manager could do…
Good win from United tonight. A little concerning they only scored once from open play again when they’re facing a half decent team but some excellent individual performances and being 8 points off fourth in December isn’t reason to give up hope entirely just yet.
This match just strengthed the case for a qualified manager like Pochettino or Allegri to take over for me. There’s something there to work with. Not elite level at the minute obviously but surely enough to be confident of finishing in the champions league spots.
Crucially though, there’s something there to add to but they need a better coach to attract better players.
“Do you want to join Manchester United this January and play for Ole Solksjaer?”
“Would you like to joing Manchester United this January and play for Mauricio Pochettino/Max Allegri?”
“You know what? Maybe.”
Listen to the latest episode of The Broken Metatarsal as we remember the Rafa Revolution at Liverpool, featuring Neil Mellor and comedian Adam Rowe.