The Liver Bird  

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Five Things To Note From The Arsenal Win

1) Mo Salah is here to stay

A header from Joel Matip opened up the scoring for Liverpool on Saturday evening in their 3-1 win over Arsenal but it was Mo Salah who would go on to grab the headlines. A blatant shirt pull by David Luiz meant the Egyptian was awarded a penalty (which he converted with ease) but it was his second goal of the game that was really special.

Image via The Guardian

David Luiz had an absolute mare and Salah not only gained the penalty off him but left him for dead on his route towards goal meaning the ex-Chelsea man could only look on in desperation as the forward scored with a low finish.

Some like to question whether Mo can keep at the level he has been playing in previous seasons but I have no doubt he'll be up there fighting for top goalscorer again in 2019/2020.

2) Virgil van Dijk is going to be under a microscope this season

I don't know if anybody else has noticed this but from about five minutes into the Norwich game it appears that all commentators are now on van Dijk's case. They've had enough of the world class, Champions League winning defender and now want to try and pick faults at any moment.

Gary Neville today wasted no time having a dig at van Dijk simply because on a couple of occasions the Dutchman decided to give Pepe a bit more freedom, but he still had things under control. It's already winding me up this and there's a whole season to go yet.

3) Adrian unlucky

It was frustrating to see Adrian's reaction upon conceding late on in the game, an early mistake when he should have left Virgil to deal with the situation nearly ended in a goal for Arsenal but on the whole, I thought Adrian did quite well. He was unlucky to concede after a bit of a mis-hit by Torreira eventually turned into a goal.

It must be extremely tough for the sub keeper as he's barely had anytime really to settle in with the squad and get used to how his defence will play things in certain situations. For me, as much as I'm 100% behind Adrian we definitely need Alisson back sooner rather than later.

4) VAR nonsense

It's no secret that I'm very much in the sack VAR off camp, I know opinions on this are as split as who likes Marmite but that red card decision early on was absolute nonsense. Nobody in the ground had a clue what it was for or even if it was related to an Arsenal or a Liverpool player. There's no screen at Anfield but even on the screens at home, we're sat watching a cut out of the referee next to a replay of a situation on a purple VAR background with zero information as to what is being checked. Martin Tyler didn't have a pissin clue what was going on. I still don't even actually know what happened... absolute joke.

5) This team is solid

It was always going to be hard for Liverpool to hit the ground running, especially after a dodgy pre-season and with the pressure of entering this year as Champions League winners but the Reds have looked very strong so far.

Norwich and Southampton you could argue weren't a full test for Klopp's side but they made Arsenal look pretty average today. It's evident how happy the team is together and the link-up play between the front three is just awesome. I am so excited for the rest of this season, this team is solid.

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Sunday, 4 August 2019

Five Things We Learned From The Community Shield

Don't tell me that was a "friendly", both teams desperately wanted to win the Community Shield on Sunday afternoon and while I'll definitely get over the fact that Liverpool lost on penalties I can't be doing with people pretending to not be arsed.

Image via mirror.co.uk

I was massively invested in that game and so too was Pep Guardiola apparently after he got a yellow card for literally kicking off at the fourth official. Add to that an acrobatic goal-line clearance from Kyle Walker and it is clear Man City were desperate to prevent us getting the first silverware of the season and vice versa.

So what did we learn from the loss?

1) There's still nothing really separating these teams

The first half was a bit of a slow burner for Liverpool and City looked a lot stronger, opening with a goal from Raheem Sterling after our defence for once looked completely out of sync. The Reds though quickly settled into the game and in the second half, it was Klopp's side piling on the pressure.

It may well be a "friendly" in some people's eyes but both managers fielded very strong teams on Sunday and once again there was all but nothing splitting the class of the two sides. A Gini Wijnaldum penalty saved by keeper Bravo was the only difference.

2) Reds missed Mane

Mane is still to return to the Liverpool side after reaching the AFCON final with Senegal and it was clear on Sunday the Reds missed his influence in the front three, particular in the first half I felt where Mane's directness would have been much appreciated.

Mane has been my favourite Liverpool player for a long time now and it's such a comfort knowing that the Reds played extremely well in this Community Shield fixture yet still have Mane to call upon. As joint top scorer last season I can once again see him having a massive influence this year.

3) Defensive goal

Image via telegraph.co.uk

Who needs Mo Salah and Bobby Firmino when you can have a nice tasty link up from your centre backs? Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip teamed up to score Liverpool's equaliser and Matip looked elated to get Liverpool off the mark this season.

Virgil, as we all know, was phenomenal last year but Matip is often overlooked. He really made an impact when injuries gave him an opportunity last season and although Joe Gomez is a quality defender I don't personally think he should automatically have the right to re-enter the team. Joel played very well on Sunday and for me, he'd be in my back four against Norwich.

4) Bobby and Mo look sharp

There's always a worry, especially after a slow pre-season and players having to take extended breaks that the quality may not immediately return in time for the season start. Match fitness and sharpness can take a long time to rebuild but on Sunday despite a couple of missed chances, it was clear that Firmino and Salah are ready to pick up where they left off.

The forwards both look raring to go for the Reds and as mentioned earlier, throw Mane into that mix and once again Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with up front.

5) The bench is looking strong

It's quite clear that Liverpool will not be spending this transfer window but I think sometimes we forget that our bench is actually pretty strong. The return of Oxlade-Chamberlain offers a great option for Jurgen Klopp and Shaqiri for me is a brilliant player to have at your disposal.

Naby Keita made an impact when entering play today and while I can't say he's my favourite of the bunch, so too did Adam Lallana. I take the point that if we get a couple of injuries we could be in a bit of a tricky situation but away from that Liverpool have a strong squad going into this 2019/2020 season.

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Monday, 23 October 2017

Defensive Frailties

Liverpool lost 4-1 to Spurs at Wembley on Sunday afternoon thanks to a frankly pathetic defensive display. A single goal from Mo Salah fooled us all into thinking there may be a glimmer of hope but the Spurs attack was far too strong and the Liverpool defence far too weak. 

Liverpool defence
Image via football365.com
Seriously, it's reached a point where I have actually given up on the back four for a variety of reasons:

Firstly I think Clyne walks straight back into that defence and to be honest adds a whole lot of security. Secondly, some may have changed their minds once again about Moreno but I certainly have not, he's no defender and why buy Robertson if you aren't gonna play him?

Granted Moreno has some sting on the attack but I challenge anybody to suggest that Robertson's crosses are any worse?

Then we have the centre-backs and the goalkeeper. Well, where's the soddin leadership that's what I say? Where's the Carra role screaming yer head off for 90 minutes and making sure everyone isn't straying from position? It doesn't exist. I honestly don't think Matip and Lovren are on the same wavelength and clearly, communication is an issue including the keeper because Matip should not have headed that shot yesterday, leave it for the keeper ffs!

Lovren is an ok defender and that's it, he's never going to be a world beater but he could at least be consistent? Relying on the offside trap to save him for the first goal, pausing his run to glance at the linesman was bad enough but then following that by being halfway up the pitch and missing a key challenge whilst one on one with Harry Kane? Unforgivable. 

It's Kane for god's sake even Klopp noted prior to kick off that he's one of the best strikers going right now, you'd of thought that message would have filtered through to the lads but apparently not. 

It seriously does my head in and I think there's a long way to go before we solve this problem. Chucking somebody like Virgil van Dijk in there would obviously help but don't think for a second it's the answer to all our prayers!

Fair enough Spurs were always going to be especially strong on the attack but Liverpool have experienced the same issues against far weaker teams and it's just not good enough. Something needs to be done to address this in the January window because if no efforts are made the fan base is going to start losing its patience. 

I don't know who made the final decision when it was clear van Dijk was a non-starter but it was suicidal to not find an alternative in that window. On top of that you still find yourself questioning what life may be like with Mamadou Sakho to call upon, I can't say I was his biggest fan but I think I would prefer him alongside Matip at the moment.

Finishing in the top four looks so far off and even if we did purchase well in the window these defensive frailties are so deeply cut into the side at the moment that I don't think the gremlins will go away until we have organised a more rigorous training regime and really drummed home the communication and positioning. It's just shocking.

I'm usually one of those fans trying to cling on to a positive but that result on Sunday put too many of our faults on display. Klopp certainly has a challenge on his hands in the run-up to Christmas.

Next up for the Reds is Huddersfield at Anfield. 

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What are your thoughts on the defensive situation at the moment? What's the answer? - Tweet me.

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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Mourinho Bags A Draw At Anfield

Jose Mourinho put on his now standard display of 19th-century football at Anfield on Saturday to shut up shop and take a draw from Liverpool. 

It's infuriating because he's played his tactics perfectly and if he was your manager you'd be praising the way he had decided to manage the game, even if that does mean parking the bus. He's not our manager though and he's also not the manager of soddin Crystal Palace or Bournemouth so, in my book, the fact he brings his United side to Anfield and plays for a 0-0 draw is embarrassing.

Image via theguardian.com
The Reds were all over United on Saturday and bar a shot from Lukaku (who touched the ball about three times), Mourinho's side literally did sack all. It was a pathetic performance from an apparent might of the league but we all know that it's these kinds of frustrating performances that make Mourinho a league winner.

Klopp was extremely unlucky not to see his side find the back of the net, especially when David De Gea somehow managed to get a foot to Joel Matip's effort. On another day that would have been in the back of the net and Liverpool would have been on the ascendancy. 

Liverpool did all that they could in terms of possession and attack, Salah perhaps being one of the highlights on that front but they just could not find the back of the net. This has been happening for several weeks now too so it's not a new issue for the Reds but on Saturday it felt like we would overcome the barrier but it wasn't to be.

Let's not forget that this is the first clean sheet in eight matches for Liverpool and prior to kick off, most would have probably taken the draw. We played far better than I expected and overall I don't think the Reds have anything to be ashamed about on the back of that performance. 

It's onwards and upwards to Maribor next week in the Champions League where the Reds definitely do need to get their hands on all three points. 

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Transfer Round Up

The transfer window certainly hasn't slammed shut just yet but Liverpool have already secured a bit of business with the main transaction being the extension of Jurgen Klopp's stay at Anfield. No complaints here.

The Reds first real signing I suppose was Joel Matip who had already agreed pre-conditions with the Reds and had to wait until the summer in order for all the i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed. I must confess I don't know a hell of a lot about Matip but from what I have seen/read he seems like a great fit for the back line. At 24 he's certainly one for the future and I'm always a sucker for a goalscoring defender!

"I am certain that this is the right moment for me to take the next step in my career." - Joel Matip

Image via liverpoolecho.co.uk
Next up is Loris Karius the German goalkeeper, according to several fans and pundits Loris could even feature ahead of Simon Mignolet come season start. Purchased as competition, he may be favoured by Jurgen Klopp who has admired the ex Mainz player's talent for some time.

Karius made 34 appearances in the Bundesliga last season and kept a clean sheet in nine matches.

"It's a very good feeling and it's an honour to play for a club like this." - Loris Karius

Maro Grujic has also officially joined the club after going back on loan to Red Star Belgrade. I am almost certain I keep pronouncing his name wrong! Again I can't say I know a lot about Grujic but it's clear several football boffins on Twitter are excited by the signing. At just 20 years of age he's another blossoming star that Jurgen will surely be aiming to mould into his team. Grujic bagged six goals and seven assists last season from his central midfield position.

"I want to play in front of one of the loudest set of fans in Europe." - Marko Grujic

Image via liverpoolfc.com
Last but certainly not least, Sadio Mane. The price tag was far too high, there's no denying that but these days if you really want a player you're gonna pay through the nose. I really like Mane I just feel as though he needs to hit the ground running in order to be accepted entirely by a Liverpool fan base who are perhaps split on the decision to spend so much money on the player.

The left winger gives Liverpool a great option as it's been a very long time since an actual, like real winger played at L4. 

Mane featured in 37 matches in the league for Southampton last season and scored 11 goals while assisting on seven occasions. It's a wonderful addition to the Liverpool side I just hope it all works out. It is believed Klopp had been tracking the Senegalese player since the 2012 Olympics. Who says nobody watches the football at the games eh?!

"Today is a big day and I am very happy to sign for one of the biggest clubs in Europe." - Sadio Mane

The Reds have also welcomed Luis Alberto, Samid Yesil, Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli back from their loan spells. It is unclear how many of those players will remain in a Red shirt next season and big names like Martin Skrtel, Christian Benteke and Joe Allen could also be on the way out. This week has also seen Liverpool strike a deal with Bournemouth after Jordon Ibe was sold on with the inclusion of buy back and sell on clauses.

Stay tuned to The Liver Bird for further transfer round ups and fresh looking previews and reports for the start of the 2016/2017 Premier League season!

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