Friday, April 26, 2013

Liverpool vs. Newcastle United 27/04/2013

This weekend we face Newcastle, a team whose last five games have seen them win 1, draw 1, and lose 3. The last time we met we drew 1-1 at Anfield, with a sublime goal from our leading scorer and now banned Luis Suarez. We had 65% possession throughout the game, allowing only 3 shots on goal, with Jones letting one in in the 43rd minute. Enough of the refresher facts though, lets get back to this weekend.

My lineup for our match would be

Subs: Jones, Suso, Assaidi, Coates, Skrtel, Shelvey and Borini.

File:Daniel Sturridge v Swansea.jpgI would put Coutinho in the middle because, lets face it without Suarez on the pitch we will undoubtedly need some added creativity going through the middle. Henderson on the left should be helpful against the pacey right flank of Newcastle, and with any luck Cisse will still be out with a rib injury. I am really hoping that we are less stagnant in front of goal than we have been in our past few matches, and while we had some good play in the box against chelsea, for the most part we were poor in attack. If we can keep 60+% of the ball and we can really put some pressure on the goal I can easily see us walking out of St. James's Park with a 4 or 5-0 win. Sturridge is going to need to bring his best shooting boots if we are to walk away with a huge win though, as well as the rest of the team chipping in. Hopefully Collocini being out will be a big help to us because in our last meeting he was by far Newcastles best defender and kept Suarez from getting more than one.

As for tactics I would focus on high pressing, short passing and getting plenty of shots on goal. Elliot will be the likely starter for this match due to a Krul shoulder injury. This could be either good for us or bad, Elliot has only has 6 games this season, so he could be a little rusty, but I haven't seen any of his games so I cannot comment on whether he is any good or not. If we get good shots on frame though we will score, there is no doubt about that. If we keep to the passing style that BR has been implementing we will be fine, because the Newcastle defense is an easy nut to crack when a well passing team is their opponent (see losses to Wigan, Tottenham, Swansea and Arsenal).

Substitution wise I would like to see some improvement on the wash that was last weekend (Sturridge=good/Shelvey=BAD). I personally would like to see Assaidi come on for Coutinho around the 65th minute, and Suso on for Henderson at about the same time. With those two subs, we could change into an all out attack formation and really take it to Newcastle. I would also bring on Skrtel at some point because he is a good defender and I think he needs some playing time, even if it is just to get a better price for him in the summer.

In other important Liverpool news:
As I am sure everyone knows (unless you live under a rock) Luis Suarez was given a 10 match ban by the FA. While I think that the punishment does not match the crime (no blood was drawn and there were no injuries) I think that him taking the punishment like a man was the best option. Without an appeal the FA cannot justify making the ban larger which I think would have happened had an appeal been lodged.
Coutinho got a haircut! I'm not sure why this is exciting to those on reddit, but hey, it's something to talk about other than Suarez.
Transfer season is coming up soon and I'm looking forward to seeing who we can bring in, with us being linked to a host of talent from all across Europe I'm hoping for a good summer.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

21/04/2013 Liverpool FC vs. Chelsea FC

This is a crazy week to start up an LFC blog but here goes......
Big talking points this week
    • Draw with Chelsea
    • Suarez' conduct during the Chelsea match
    • BR's use of subs
Today April 21,2013 saw us draw with CFC for the second time this term, with Suarez being on the scoresheet in both matches. Back in November it was a 1-1 draw with Suarez scoring in the 73rd minute to draw us level after a 20th minute goal by John Terry off of a corner kick which to anyone who watched todays game will sound familiar. Today it was Oscar who was left unmarked on a corner that headed home CFC's first advantage of the game in the 26th minute. The rest of the half was rather lackluster from both teams with only a few decent chances popping up for Suarez to draw Liverpool back level. The second half started out with the substitution of Sturridge coming on for Coutinho. Sturridge made an instant impact and we were playing like the high caliber squad we all know we can be. Seven minutes into the half Suarez struck a beautiful arching cross onto the left boot of Sturridge who with his first touch rocketed the ball into the lower corner of Petr Cech's goal. Not three minutes later Chelsea wins themselves another corner, which is struck long and to the far post, Suarez has his hand in the air and the ball hits it. To me it looked intentional and apparently it appeared the same way to Kevin Friend the ref for the game and he subsequently cautions Suarez and awards a spot kick for Chelsea. Eden Hazard steps up and slots it home easily, rather surprising because Pepe has a knack for guessing the direction of a spot kick correctly. It is obvious the impact that going down to Chelsea has had on the squad who seems rather deflated for about 20 minutes, but eventually starts to regain its composure and becomes a threat again. In the 79th minute BR sends on Shelvey for Downing, who consequently wastes two chances to score. Fast forward 10 minutes and we find out that Liverpool has an added 6 minutes to clinch a point. After a couple attacks lacking any real promise, Gerrard late in the 95th minute passes a ball to Johnson and completely mishits it. At this point i'm thinking we just lost to Chelsea, assuming that as soon as the ball enters play the ref will blow the final whistle. However the ball is put back into play and we win the ball back and Sturridge puts in a beauty of a cross and who is there? Suarez, who promptly heads it home past/ off of Cech. As soon as play resumes after the game Kevin Friend blows the final whistle.

In the 55th minute Suarez earns a yellow card for (IMO) deliberately handling the ball. While this is not a particularly grievous infraction, it did lead to a spot kick that gave Chelsea the lead again. This may have had some bearing on his later infraction in the 74th minute where he (after further review and better views of the incident) bites Branislav Ivanovic on the upper arm near the elbow. Suarez gets off scott free for this despite Ivanovic and other Chelsea players lodging complaints with the ref, with Ivanovic showing Mr. Friend where Suarez bit him. Personally I viewed it as another way that Suarez was trying to get the better of Ivanovic (in this case by drawing him into reacting and us getting awarded a penalty). While it was unprovoked and completely and utterly mental for him to do this seeing as there are other ways to get spot kicks awarded (like oh, I don't know actually being fouled in the box?). I'm thinking even if somehow Suarez evades any ban by the FA, he should be suspended for the rest of the season by the club. I know a lot of you out there that will read this are calling for his head on a platter but I don't think that is the answer. While no man, player or manager, is bigger than the club; Suarez should not be sacked. He should take his punishment like a man, deal with his suspension and take some personal time with a psychologist. He will be playing for Uruguay over the summer and I for one hope he comes back for preseason at Melwood (he is supposedly out of the squad for the preseason tour of Asia and the Australia). Shipping him away is not the answer here people just remember YNWA, as fans it is our job to support him no matter the infraction.

Brendan Rodgers showed both sides of the substitution equation today, he changed the squad in a positive manner with the inclusion of Sturridge at the half and impacted us negatively with the Shelvey/Downing swap. Sometimes the substitutions that he makes have a large and instant impact on the game (a perfect example being the Sturridge substitution today) and sometimes they are just flops. Subbing Shelvey on for Downing to me sounded mental, but i'm not the guy being paid to make these decisions. With Assaidi on the bench, I am quite baffled by the decision to put on Shelvey. Firstly because by the time he came on WE HAD THE MIDFIELD! Chelsea had not had a decent foray forward for nearly 10 minutes when Shelvey stepped onto the pitch. I get the he is a better shooter (by power only from what we saw today) than Assaidi but when we took off Coutinho, we lost some of the flair of our attack. Why not bring on some flair late in the game to ambush the tired legs of Azpilicueta or Bertrand? We have all seen what Assaidi is capable of against teams late in the game, so why not use him to unlock the defense?

This match against Chelsea has been a harrowing one and one hell of an emotional roller coaster, but all in all I am happy to be a fan of the greatest team in the world. YNWA