Who can challenge Liverpool next season? And more Mails…

Date published: Wednesday 5th February 2020 2:34

Jordan Henderson Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool

If you have anything to add, you know what to do – mail theeditor@football365.com

 

Now we can look forward to next season…
Now that the impossible argument over where the current Liverpool side rank against previous great sides is dying, my thoughts have moved onto next season and who I think might challenge, because one undeniable fact is that with the demise of City, Liverpool have not had a consistent side to fight them this year.

City – depends entirely on Guardiola’s appetite (and ability) to make the necessary changes, either personnel or psychological. It is likely he will be backed in bringing in any new players, so you would have to say that they are most likely to put up a fight. There are a few aging players in key positions as well, will be interesting to see what they do in the summer.

Leicester – slightly more tricky, they are where they are on merit for this year but you’d have to think that one or more of the old guard will improve and bring in players in the summer. Top four should be achievable but they are over reliant on Vardy and should strengthen if they want to stay in the ECL places.

Chelsea – Depends on the ability of Lampard and his team to identify the right players and to integrate them into the team. The decision not to buy in January is baffling but, looking at the players who did move, the quality may not have been there to buy. Next year we should start to see how good Lampard is at building and motivating a team, assuming he is backed in the summer.

Sheffield Utd – Unlikely to be able to spend too big in the summer, I see them being the victims of Chelsea/United/Spurs/Arsenal undoubtedly buying big(ger) in the summer, top six should still be the target though.

Man Utd – Much as Chelsea, how good a job can Solskjaer do in bringing in talent and building a proper team. If they sell Pogba and use the money wisely, they could make strides towards the top spots, if they keep Pogba and Martial for ‘marketing/owner reasons’, the slide may well continue.

Spurs – Depends entirely on the ‘Special One’ and Levy, given their opposing ethea on spending money. Mourinho is going to want big bucks in the summer, if Levy backs him you could well see a much better side next year, unless Man Utd was the real Mourinho, in which case expect the complaints to the press after asking for players in January.

Arsenal – As per Chelsea and United, of the three you would say that Arteta and Solskjaer seem to have a game plan, be it right or wrong to be successful. So I would expect Ozil to go in the summer and a fairly large spend take place, assuming Arteta wants to buy lots of players of course.

I hope one or more teams can improve enough to properly challenge Liverpool next year, they’ve had it far too easy this year, although they have been excellent of course. One thing for sure, the summer should be *very* interesting!

Cheers,
Paul, Man Utd

 

Real vs fake
The basic difference between Liverpool and City is perhaps most easily illustrated by the way the 4th round of the FA Cup panned out.

City at home against an attractive Fulham side, on the weekend with a full team expected to play (as they are not going to win the league) were able to get around 39,000 fans to turn, who promptly proceeded to produce a really limp atmosphere despite a solid performance and a comfortable victory. Liverpool with all the senior players away, on a cold Tuesday night, playing a hugely motivated, but functional League One side, having been panned for their approach to the tie, managed to get a sold-out, full house of 53,000 with countless more who would have snapped up any free tickets. The noise and passion produced at Anfield was staggering.
Dale (#chalkandcheese) Marlow

 

What coaching issue?
Can I just add following the Liverpool game yesterday, that the main issue people are getting worked up about is that the under 23 team was coached in the game by the under 23 coach. i.e. the person who knows their individual strengths and weaknesses the best, and would be best placed to react in game with changes as needed
Stephen Baines

 

Millie my love
I would just like to publicly site my love of / for James Milner

He asked permission from Neil Critchley to go and watch the game last night  (He could have been on holiday)

He asked permission to be in the dressing room ( He should have been on holiday!?)

He spoke to the kids – He could have just watched

He supported them from the bench like a fan!

James Milner – you legend.

The kids were fantastic, the crowd was utterly brilliant behind them too.

Whats all this talk of bans for this game worldwide…it was on Bein sports!..??
Al – LFC – Maybe its James and not Stevie for the apres Klopp Job….

 

So Luke asked the question this morning if James Milner could be considered one of the best midfielders in the Premier League era, alongside the likes of Scholes, Gerrard and Lampard, now not to cause a stir here I would easily say no, no he is not one of the best midfielders of the era, however he is one of the best professionals and consistent performers of the Premier League era, which is not a bad thing at all.

With James Milner you know you will get a consistent 7/10 performance, he might not wow you with a piece of skill, or even get you off your seat but he will put in a professional showing and do the job you have asked him to do, be it in defence, midfield and maybe one day in goal, what an image that could be and I am 100% certain he would save that 90th minute penalty to win his club the game.

The question did make me think of other players who may not be considered the best players of all time but are the best at being consistent over a long period of time, now for me this is my list and I would love to hear other Mailboxers lists too;

Ben Foster, Dirk Kuyt, Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Tomas Rosicky, Leon Britton, Cesar Azpilicueta, Michael Carrick,Gabi, Kevin Großkreutz, Antonio Di Natale.
Mikey, CFC

 

Leaping to Klopp’s defence?
Liverpool fans are leaping to Klopp’s defence because they won, as if the result has anything to do with why people were upset.

Klopp’s well within his rights to field whatever team he wants. Whether that team wins or loses doesn’t make it any less of a shitty move for him to not show up himself.

“Everyone just hates us ‘ cause we the best!!!”

No. People just said Klopp should’ve been at the game. Plus, nobody outside of British football pundits really care. Hell, Klopp could’ve sent the U15 side out and asked his neighbour to manage them and still the only people who would really care are British football pundits.

You’re winning the league. Who cares what else you do? But congrats on proving all the bitter rival fans wrong with your FA Cup 4th round replay victory over Shrewsbury. A much bigger statement than your UCL trophy or 22 point lead on top of the table.

Carry on.
Gaaavie, Kaapstad

 

LiVARpool
Just wanted to add an additional element to this weird “how lucky are LiVARpool that they had another VAR decision go their way”.

In the original match, there was a blatant handball in the Shrewsbury box. Every pundit said it should have pen a penalty, it was missed. VAR almost certainly would have given it. In the second half at 0-2 with LiVARpool cruising, a Shrewsbury player was taken down outside the box. A penalty was given and VAR, again, would have overturned it. Maybe a player would have been sent off, but it wasn’t a clear goalscoring chance, so it’s unlikely.

Unfortunately, there was no VAR in the first match. So, not only were those two decisions massive in the course of the tie, to then bemoan correct decisions being given in the replay is just weird.

I know people hate VAR, but quite frankly I quite like the non-marginal calls (none of the three incidents, including last night’s offside, were marginal) being correctly called.
Rob, Brighton.

 

Chelsea seem to be doing well…
I thought I’d break the habit of a lifetime and weigh in on a different team.

For me (Clive), Chelsea seem to be doing well and as expected.  They’re a talented team with a lot of players having their first run as full time starters.  They started out hot, full of youthful enthusiasm and with little opposition scouting available.  As the season progressed, other teams have figured out their tricks and tendencies and they’ve worn down under the larger workload than they’re used to.

I expect the winter break to be huge for them in terms of letting them physically and mentally recharge and also think about their backup plans for when their go-to stuff gets stopped.

Overall, I think they’ll be fine and get over the line for top 4, which would be a big success for them. As a bonus they’ve done it the “right” way too, in as much as any such way exists.
Dan, Plastic LFC

 

Oxford United v Newcastle United
What a cracking little game that was last night, the mighty Black and White wizards beating a very entertaining Oxford.  As is the F365 way, I’ve compiled a list of things below:

1) Bentaleb looked shattered after 55 minutes
2) Elder Longstaff is the Haris Vuckic of this current team
3) Young Longstaff ought to get his contract resolved
4) Yedlin is really good at running, but not much else
5) Joelinton purposely hit his finish into the ground (in the same way Bergkamp “meant” that touch against Dabizas)
6) Bruce gave Mike Ashley his come to bed eyes
7) Saint-Maximin is probably going to Barcelona in the Summer
8) Liam Kelly takes a delightful set piece (2 freekicks and a corner is enough of a sample size)
9) Darlow was always better than Rob Elliot
10) Don’t helicopter your penis live on the BBC until the licence fee is optional, and viewer numbers are 0
Ratt Mitchie – NUFC (The magic of the FA Cup is alive and well… until we reach the Hawthorns)

 

Liverpool taking another draw?
Graham Simons asks if Liverpool fans would prefer to draw another game rather than win them all and have Man U as the only team to have taken points from them all season, because he sees a good chance that Liverpool win every game that’s remaining.

If Liverpool end the season with 112 points, having also won the Super Cup, World Club Cup, FA Cup and Champions League, then (to paraphrase one Anfield Wrap contributor) I’ll be too busy dancing in fountains with my underpants on my head to care about 2 dropped points back in October.
Dave Lillis, Dublin

 

Graham Simmons,

Firstly LFC won’t win every (league) game from now until the end of the season.

With Everton , City and Arsenal all to play away who will all be super motivated to stop the run before we even discuss  the other ten opponents ,a champions league defense to consider and unusually for LFC in the last few years an FA Cup run to negotiate.

However if it did materialize and they did win all their games to end up on 112 points I would gladly take that and let UTD be the footnote to the quiz question.

Footnote : Websters’ dictionary definition , someone or something that is remembered and regarded as a minor or unimportant part of an event
DL ( They can’t can they ? ) LFC , Geneva

 

The answer to your question is an unequivocal yes. Perfectly happy to draw another game to almost anyone ( not Everton ) as long as Man U aren’t the only team to take points off us.

All a bit hypothetical of course, we will drop points eventually. We’ve certainly had our fair share of luck and VAR has definitely been our chum – can’t last forever.

That treble looks mighty tempting though….
James, Liverpool 

 

In response to Graham Simons, I’d love it if the only game Liverpool didn’t win all season was the draw at Old Trafford. Mainly because it means we’ll have set a new Premier League record of 37 wins and a draw which is, realistically, unlikely to ever be beaten, and partly because it’ll really stick in the craw of United fans. Because every time they trot out the desperate line that only they took points off us will be a painful reminder of how unbelievably good we were. If we only drew once against, Aston Villa for example, it’s be much easier for them to forget.
Jonny Dance

 

I’d want us to win every game for just that.

Imagine being so small time that your positive from the season is “only team to take points off Liverpool”.

Microscopic
Tyla (we won’t do it mind, City are still excellent if flawed) Roxburgh LFC

 

Two princes…
Just picking up on Preetish’s email about sports washing – now that “Saudi Arabia owns Sheffield United” and how nobody is calling them out the way they do City…

Well, not all Princes are created equal. The House of Saud is estimated to have between 5,000 and 15,000 members, and not all of them got consulted before the war in Yemen!

The Prince Abdullah who owns Sheffield is the grandson of king Saud, his father Prince Musa’ed was one of King Saud’s 45 sons and, unlike several of his brothers, he never became king – in turn, a lot of those sons went on to have a lot of sons (the current king has 16, for example). His British analogue would be Zara Phillips (if Zara had approximately 750 other cousins to dilute her influence) – and nobody accused Great Britain of cynically using show jumping to make people forget about it’s transgressions! The Saudi Royal family is massive, and a person being part of it does not automatically carry suggestions of improper behaviour.

Sheikh Mansour is the brother of the Emir and deputy prime minister of Abu Dhabi – a senior member of the entity that actively governs the Emirate (for balance, Prince Abdullah is apparently general president of youth welfare, so not entirely uninvolved, but hardly comparable).

The accusations about who actually controls city, and how legitimate their sponsorship is are well rehearsed. From all I have seen so far, Sheffield United just appear to have been bought by a businessman who happens to be a Middle Eastern minor royal. Perhaps people haven’t kicked off about how the club is funded is because the “massive spending” you refer to hasn’t happened yet – and it’s not cool to start making assumptions because of where he’s from and the family he happened to be born into.

For contrast, Newcastle are apparently on the verge of being taken over by a Saudi State owned investment fund (rather than a guy who happens to be a rich Saudi) – that’d be your sportswashing project, if it goes ahead.
Andy (MUFC)

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