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Great email from Morgan, in relation to why Liverpool have crumbled. There is a great parallel with what happened to Arsenal’s Invincibles. It was well-known that Wenger sent his teams out, relying on massive self-confidence and belief that they are better and will win simply by virtue of playing the better football. Yet there was no specific tactical plan or fallback position when things went wrong. A lot of what Morgan says has echoes what went wrong for Arsenal.
Wenger complained about “Game 50” for so long when he should have been dusting the team down and putting them back on course. Instead, he amplified the sense of grievance. Something that he kept on doing with decisions, right up to the very end of his tenure (google “Wenger blames referee”). The team went from 49 games unbeaten to falling miles behind Mourinho’s Chelsea, just like that (as old Tommy Cooper would say). From being in control to complete defensive chaos and, of course, we all know about Arsenal’s inability to withstand injury crises.
Arsenal have NEVER recovered from “Game 50” and the challenge for Klopp now is to stop Liverpool’s slump being a long-term thing.
Liverpool have been bad. But its hard to take anyone seriously who cannot factor in Liverpool’s Premier League injuries with regards to their poor performances of late. Taken from Transfermakt, so pinch of salt and all that.
Allison- Missed 4 games through shoulder injury and illness, rushed back.
Kelleher – Missed last 2 games suspected concussion.
VVD- Played 5 games for us, out for the season.
Gomez- Played 7 games out for the season.
Matip – Played 9 games out for the season. Lots of “Not in Squad” meaning minor issues that have to be managed.
Ben Davies- brand new toy, injured.
Tsimikas – Missed 8 games, thigh & knee injuries.
Trent- Missed 2 games, calf injury.
Fab – Missed 6 games including the latest, no time frame for being back. Muscle & hamstring.
Thiago – Missed 12 games, corona & knee injuries.
Keita – Missed 15 games, corona/quarantine & ankle injuries.
Hendo – Missed 3 games, comes up as not in squad but reports are minor injuries.
Ox – Missed first 11 games, knee injury. Seems to be getting back into fitness.
James M – Missed 4 games, unknown injury. Was injured today again.
Sadio – Missed 3 games, corona & unknown minor injury.
Jota – Missed 13 games and counting ,was godlike for us when he started. I don’t think people understand how badly this has screwed us.
Mo – Just 1 thank the Lord.
Big Shaq – Missed first 11 games, had to sit out most of the early season, then had a mid season muscle injury.
All I can say is Gini, Robbo and Firmino are just ridiculously durable as they have not sat out all year because of injury. But again when do they get any rest? How is any of this sustainable? For some perspective, lets look at Cities 19/20 season where we annihilated everyone and they had a “season defining injury crisis” to Laporte. Bear in mind this is over 38 games, rather than the 24 for us currently.
Laporte- Missed 19 games through knee injury, he came back for the end of the season.
Ederson – Missed 2 games muscular.
Stones- Missed 2 games muscular.
Mendy (LB)- Missed 11 games, hamstring, foot & knee injuries. Feel bad for the guy.
Zinchenko (LB)- Missed 14 games, hamstring, foot & knee injuries. Important note is that these two seemed to cover each other. While one was out the other could play.
Rodri – Missed 2 games, muscle injuries.
KDB- Missed 1 game, ankle injury.
Sterling – Missed 2 games , hamstring.
Sane – Out the Season.
Aguero – Missed 13 games, a lot near the end.
Walker, Cancelo, Gundogan, B& D Silva, Mahrez, Jesus and Fernandinho all played the full season except for a few red card suspensions and one or two “Out of Squad” notes. Could have been minor injuries or simply the City effect of having another squad.
Effectively they had key strikers out but could rotate Silva/Jesus at the top and then had Stones and Fern at the back. That was their crisis and they were given some slack for falling off ( albeit I’m sure some of their dumbass supporters were crying Pep out etc.) They did well and still came second, but the drop off was huge.
If it’s not clear our situation is night and day worse. We have a smaller squad, we have more injuries and more serious injuries. We could not buy our way out of this in the Jan transfer window.
I hope we make top 4, but I don’t see us not challenging next year for the title with everyone back and fit. Throw in a few summer transfers. This extreme view that you are either the greatest thing since the fire or sh*t tier is tiresome.
Wes (Diaz and Gundogan are just so ridiculously good for City) London
Mix it up, Jurgen
There is a saying in magic ‘never perform the same trick twice to the same person’. This reminds me of one of the issues with the current champions.
Play fantasy football? Brilliant, wanna score tons of points? Put Salah, Mane & Firmino in, sit back & watch the points come rolling in, never need to burn a sub for an attacker all season.
However, if even i know Jurgen’s starting 11 & game plan 7 days in advance of a game (injuries permitting) even the most neanderthal of managers must do also. People say Liverpool have been ‘sussed out’ quite frankly it would be ludicrous not to have a game plan to play against a starting 11everyone knows weeks in advance of them playing your team.
Conversely, play fantasy football? Brilliant, wanna be frustrated week after week when you pick Foden & Mahrez who don’t even get on the pitch cos some false 9, inverted fullback witchcraft is being concocted in East Manchester?
Change it up Jurgen, at least make an opposition manager scratch his chin pondering your starting 11 or formation.. Just dont blooming keep showing them the same ambitious card routine week after week.
After a really depressing weekend fixture, finally got round to reading some of the reactions. Am struggling with Matt Steads 16 conclusions where he refers to the Salah ‘penalty’ and says that the referee rightly ignored it, but previously to this he says that had it been given, the VAR would not reverse it, so it was a foul then eh Matt? He also references the Welbeck incident, which was ignored by the ref but then advised by the VAR to review, which he did and awarded a penalty!! It seems Matt is as inconsistent as VAR, similarly, Bamford is given offside by his outstretched arm, but the Leicester players arm is ignored.
The free kick leading to this ‘goal’ was analysed for ages, almost as if the VAR official was looking for even the remotest possibility of giving a penalty when it was fairly clear that all three players were outside the box. I haven’t seen United’s overturned penalty but am led to believe that Maguire is clearly offside yet this is ignored and United still end up with a free kick?
I’m not claiming conspiracy, but once again referring to just how inconsistent and/or inept the VAR officiating is, but then again, I’m really really really really stupid to believe these professionally trained officials could possibly make mistakes.
Howard (it’s all a commie plot Harry) Jones
…When I saw the title of the mail this morning regarding how Liverpool’s biggest strength has now become their weakness, I was pretty sure it was referring to VAR and was therefore disappointed by the contents of the mail.
Sagar, (get vaccinated), Boston
…It’s easy to get caught in up nostalgia in these troubled times. The U.K. is a less liberal place than it has been in a decade if not longer, we are distanced from our European friends, the Tory right holds away over the political landscape and a pandemic means we are more apart from our friends and family than ever.
So reading mails from Liverpool fans such as Barry from Chippenham implying that referees are deliberately against Liverpool takes me back to happier, simpler times. So thank you, Barry, thank you.
John Collins, London
P.S. VAR treated Wolves badly last season, not least against Liverpool. We moaned, I moaned and seethed. Yet we never even considered that these were ‘bad faith’ decisions. Just tight calls that could have gone our way. VAR is bad, but it’s not Chennai TV umpire bad.
New George Graham
Ok, so just stay with on this one… and for all you millenials, before there was Arsene Wenger, there was George Graham, who despite a serious late career misjudgement was a fine football manager and once delivered the greatest moment in football league history (26th May 1989. Do you think I had to look the date up?). I sometimes wondered if Mikel Arteta is the modern day George Graham. When you think about it, the paralells are actually quite startling – they both played in the midfield for Arsenal, they both have good hair, they both… oh who am I kidding. There’s no paralells there at all. But when you look at the two teams, the one Graham inherited and the one Arteta is working with now, the transfers in and out that they both made and the problems and changes that they both have faced there are many similarities.
Of course Mikel Arteta hasn’t got the same drinking culture (we hope) that was prevalent in the 1980s – although if you have had to sit through some of Arsenal’s defending over the last few seasons you might be entitled to wonder – but I can’t help watching Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah & Joe Willock today and not be reminded of Pual Davis, David Rocastle, Paul Merson & Perry Groves back in 1988. And anyone that watched Gus Ceaser try and defend Chris Waddle will know that nothing much has changed defensivley either. Sorry Gus, wherever you are. Still, what did George do? He went out and bought Steve Bould. And Lee Dixon. And Nigel Winterburn. And he sold Viv Anderson. Three defenders in and one out. Sound familiar? Cue Pablo Mari, Cedric, Gabriel and Mustafi leaving. George had a highly paid fan favourite that didn’t suit his work ethic so he sold him, bye bye Champagne Charlie (I was gutted). History repeats itself, although this time costing the club slightly more. Although to be fair to him, Mesut Ozil won more trophies at the club than Charlie did.
So yes, we aren’t having a great season and yes – a writer not a million miles from here did sound the Allardyce alarm back in November. Thank goodness no one took any notice (or published it in the hallowed F365 pages, phew). But keep the core of this team together and there really is something there. And if the George Graham pattern is anything to go by, well we all know how that worked out.
It’s up for grabs now.
Exiled Gooner (OK, so the Allardyce alarm was published. NOT my finest hour. I do sincerely apologise. I have been in hiding ever since)
Chelsea are back
When the rumours started to swirl before the game that Kepa had kept his place in the starting XI naturally social media became quite toxic to read, very negative reaction, some quite ridiculously stupid tweets too, but it was good to see a good portion be supportive of Tuchel’s choice and Kepa himself.
90 minutes later he shows why Tuchel chose him, a clean sheet and a solid performance, some top saves and overall he looked a player who had some confidence flowing through him again, early days of course but who wouldn’t want to see him turn his career around.
Talking of players and confidence, Timo Werner with a Man Of The Match performance, he has hardly been the flop many claim this season, his work rate is second to none, he always puts in a shift and against Newcastle it was rewarded with an assist and a much deserved goal, fantastic to see the smile back on his face!
Into the Top 4 and next up we take on Saints, looking forward to it.
Cup is reward enough
Can we please put to bed this silly idea of FA Cup winners getting a Champions League place?
First of all, it’s already predominantly won by the biggest sides in the country, making it so lucrative will only reduce the chances of your Pompeys and your Wigans winning it.
Also, and this is probably the most important thing, winning the FA Cup should be the goal in and of itself. If winning a trophy needs to be augmented by allowing entry to a different competition the magic of football really is dead.
Chris in Cardiff.