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Why 60 and 35 are key numbers for Liverpool in 2014-15

2 часа 1 минута назад

Marco Lopes explains why Liverpool must take 60+ points against the bottom 13 teams and concede no more than 35 goals in 38 games.

 Liverpool's owner John W. Henry during the Premiership match against Chelsea at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lies, damned lies and statistics. No place for numbers in football, especially in the modern era, right?

Except that you can’t escape the numbers.  I can’t recall football anymore in its ostensibly pure form, where for most of us Liverpool fans, the numbers that mattered were easily counted. 18 league titles, 5 European Cups, the desire to be number 1. Nothing else mattered.

Now, numbers have invaded the turf like a flood.  The prevalence is inescapable, from the multitude of pennies envied by some of us underneath the blue balance sheets of Russian oligarchs, to those contemptuous stats underlying player recruitment by the Comolli cult.

But – in this sanguine writer’s mind at least – for Liverpool this season, only 2 numbers matter. 60 and 35.

These numbers represent 2 critical components of the most important objective of Liverpool’s season.  And funnily enough, they have scale.  Their achievement could mean several things for the club’s progress, all more positive than the next.

60 points. More specifically – at least 60 points achieved against the bottom 13 clubs in the Premier League.

35 goals. More specifically – no more than 35 goals conceded after 38 league battles contested come May.

Why? Read on…

A brief history of close title challenges

Cast the back room of your eyes to the closing memories of 2008-09. It felt worse than 2013-14, in some ways. The best midfield in the Premier League. The best frontman in the league. A team that didn’t know to lose easily. And yet bested by Manchester United. Again.

 Liverpool's magnificent captain Steven Gerrard MBE celebrates scoring his side's second goal, from the penalty spot, to put his side 2-1 up against Manchester United with team-mate Fernando Torres during the Premiership match at Old Trafford. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s a cruel joke that after that season, the Liverpool we hoped would rebirth instead collapsed under an incompetent incarnation of Laurel and Hardy (read Hicks and Gillett), without the wit and good cheer, and instead seasoned with mediocrity’s offspring (Purslow, Hodgson, anyone?).  5 years it’s taken the club just to recover to a season anything remotely like that one.

But since then, some interesting lessons can be taken from the wilderness that Liverpool survive in. Inclusive of last season’s tragedy and 2008-09’s bitter pill, the league has seen 2 other suffocating title races; Chelsea’s 1 point margin over Manchester United in 2009-10, and Manchester City’s Aguero inspired goal difference winner over the same rival in 2011-12, with the teams finishing level on points.

The other 2 seasons (2010-11, 2012-13) were considerably less congested at the finish line, so for that reason they’re excluded from a small analysis I’ve conducted based on a key observation made since last season when Brendan’s underestimated Reds nearly snatched the title from under Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal’s nostrils.

Flat track bullies tend to win stuff when the race is tight

For those unfamiliar with the expression of a flat track bully – it’s a cricketing term which, generally interpreted, refers to a superior opponent who only performs well when the odds are typically in their favour. A batsman who always scores runs on pitches where the bowlers get little help to create difficulty in scoring runs. A top seed in tennis who blasts his/her way past low seeds – just because they’re low seeds. And a football team with top talent that tends to beat the weaker opponents that they’re typically expected to beat.

Last season Liverpool finished 2nd. And the key propulsion was the 62 points Liverpool achieved against the bottom 13 clubs, higher than their tally of 60 in 2008-09. Achieved with arguably a worse team.

This season has Liverpool fans ultimately divided in some respects in objectives. Some expect the club to elevate themselves from a 2nd place finish to their maiden title in the Premier League era. Others (like the bourgeois soul writing this) can’t trust such optimism and hence prefers to focus on the key objective being the sustaining of Champions League football in the safe womb of 4th place.

The statistically cynical would say that achieving that is very simple – get more points than 16 other teams, which is obviously true. But in planning a season, there’s a clear art and science that comes from how teams need to decide where the points ideally should come from.  Particularly when the final hurdle has little margin between the runners.

Here’s the good news.  If you want to finish 4th or even win the title, 60 points is a key number.  The common thread amongst ALL the title winners / challengers is that they all amassed 60+ points on the way to the final weekend of the 4 seasons in question:

top4 vs bot13

There’s two anomalies that stick out like sore thumbs, and they’re both largely ironic.  In 2008-09, Manchester United were a very poor team against their title rivals.  In contrast to Liverpool’s 14 points from 18 against the other Top 4 sides, the Mancs earned just 5 points.  The big games were largely irrelevant that year, when they managed to achieve an astounding 74 from 84 points against the bottom clubs.  That more than anything is what won them that league campaign.

In contrast, the small games are what largely cost Chelsea the title last season. 16 of 18 points in the big games means very little when Liverpool was beating Sunderland and Norwich in the title run in, 2 opponents that Chelsea failed to beat.  Not being a flat track bully (there’s a witty irony somewhere here for the hubristic, narcissistic Mourinho) ultimately cost them the title. 55 points against the bottom 13 just wasn’t enough.

Chelsea (in 2009-10) and Man City (in 2011-12) ultimately won the title on their big game performances, keeping pace (more or less) with Man United’s return of points against the bottom 13 teams.  The consistency of the number is there.

Goals win games, defence wins championships

Another intriguing (but predictable) trend of these asphyxiated title races is that teams with great defences tend to win the race. Liverpool to their credit did nearly disprove this sentiment, but there are reasons champions lose by exception rather than their own design.  Teams that are dismantled systemically 5-1 and 6-0 (Arsenal) don’t win trophies. Neither do teams that gift an own goal to an impotent opponent like Hull City in a 3-1 defeat (Liverpool).

Teams that finish 1st or 2nd tend not to concede very much. Based on the sample of these 4 seasons, the average defence performs at 35 goals conceded or less:

averages top4

top4 ga

Last season’s 50 goals conceded by Liverpool is the highest by a Top 4 finisher since Newcastle conceded 52 while finishing 4th in 2001-02.  And that was in an era when Chelsea had no oil money, Everton didn’t have a decent manager, Spurs didn’t have Gareth Bale money, and Man City weren’t even in the Premier League.

This transfer window has attempted to address nearly all the deficiencies in the team’s defence in some manner.  The acquisitions of Moreno and Manquillo at either fullback offer much promise to the vulnerabilities often exposed by simple crosses into the Liverpool box. While I don’t share the optimism about Lovren (more because of my prejudiced loyalty to Sakho), he does nonetheless represent an investment in the defence’s improvement, particularly in the way of leadership in the back 4. While he may not replace Gerrard immediately, the signing of Can is also a positive move in that it offers Liverpool the option of a mobile, defensively superior deeper lying midfielder or even a powerful double pivot with Henderson in tow.

But 35 is the key number. 35 doesn’t just sound good statistically – it means that it’s unlikely you need to score 100+ goals to stay relevant to the title (or top 4 conversation). And for Liverpool, in this league, that is both very possible and very achievable.

Prioritise the games you should win – and win them properly

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during a preseason training session at the Harvard Stadium in Boston on day five of the club's USA Tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This effectively means that for Liverpool, 60+ points against the bottom 13 teams and 35 goals conceded become the bare minimum yardsticks by which they need to plan their campaign and gauge their performance in the league table.

There’s a few good reasons for this. Firstly, Liverpool’s squad, for all it’s improvement in depth and quality of bench in this transfer window, will always be weaker as a first choice XI for the loss of Suarez. That isn’t a criticism of the spending – but rather to highlight the anchor that will hang over the neck of the team until they learn to replace the goals with a changed plan, an amended approach and adapted strategy.

3 other sides look considerably stronger on paper – but they were stronger last season too. It’s hard to see Chelsea self-destructing at key points again though, and Man City’s deep pockets have ensured they retain much of their strength to retain their title. Arsenal appear vulnerable but they have a stable and improving team running out of time to give their aging manager another title lest he becomes the next relic in the Emirates trophy cabinet.

The common sense of it (even though it’s hard to execute in practice) is that Liverpool are still considerably stronger than the bottom 13, and certainly the best poised against Everton, Spurs and the Mancs to finish in 4th. Fundamentally, even though the team may not have a first choice XI that could break through the stubborn Chelsea defence, or best the class of Man City, the point is not to focus on the big games. 

There are only 6 games against the other top 4 finishers. There are 26 games against weaker opposition which have to be maximised for their full return, because that’s where the easy points are.  60 points against the bottom 13 may even be too small a target for Rodgers – his team could well be capable of achieving near 70 points against those teams, and that could be just as potent a strategy to secure top 4 and even – unlikely as it may seem for some to believe – an outside title sniff.

This is why – as an example – a slow start against Southampton was so critical to avoid. Teams that finish in the top 4 seldom have the excuse that they can have an off-day, or they’re still working to full fitness on opening day. It’s a home game against a team you should beat. 3 points. No excuses.

The other component – the defence – needs to target that 15 goal improvement to decrease goals conceded to 35. Conceding less doesn’t just mean you compensate for the loss of a goal scoring genius like Luis Suarez; it means you become far less reckless and build up a solid foundation upon which to sustainably compete in the long term. Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool in 2008-09 didn’t lack for defence ironically; it lacked goals to an extent past Gerrard and Torres. But the defence is what brought them to the title table; the final hand played unfortunately didn’t have favourable cards.

Rodgers faces the reverse situation, and I’m hopeful that he doesn’t just focus on the poor goals the team conceded in “expected” defeats to Man City, Chelsea or Arsenal. Last season, most of the goals conceded against the bottom 13 were the most revealing in the team’s defensive frailties.  Frailties which sadly still look pervasive based on this season’s opening game, whether it’s down to poor team selection, or poor individual execution. If bad teams can expose your weaknesses, good teams will do that doubly so. 

That’s why the improvement in goals conceded will likely need to come from the matches against this season’s version of last season’s Swansea, Newcastle, Hull, West Brom, Villa, Palace, and so forth.  Because those are the goals that cost Liverpool the title in 2013/14. And without Suarez to assist (pun partly intended) in compensating for that, the points against the bottom 13 have to be won equally by a mean defence with the team’s liquid cool attacking prowess.

If Liverpool get that right, they give themselves a powerful springboard from which to explode this season. Add the team spirit, the team’s (still) underestimated quality (especially in players like Coutinho, Sterling and Sturridge), and the team’s general testicular fortitude in tough matches, and the potential for another exciting progressive season remains.

Marco began writing for This Is Anfield in 2012. "I'm one of those people who supports in spite of results, not because of them. And I adore this team - a lot. Follow me on Twitter for all my Liverpool FC ranting and anecdotes:

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Loan Watch: Ibe to Bolton, Teixeira scores on full debut

3 часа 15 минут назад

18-year-old winger Jordon Ibe is linked with a loan move to Championship side Bolton, while Joao Carlos Teixeira impressed on his full debut in English football for Brighton.

 Liverpool's Jordan Ibe in action against Preston North End during a preseason friendly match at Deepdale Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ibe, who impressed during pre-season and spent the end of last season at Birmingham City, is linked in The Mirror with a move to Bolton. They don’t state how long the loan will be though, but do claim it could be completed as early as Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Joao Carlos Teixeira made his full debut in English football on Tuesday night, starting for Brighton at Leeds after being used as sub for Sami Hyypia’s side on Saturday.

It took the Portuguese midfielder just five minutes to score his first goal for the Seagulls, an excellent finish from a tight angle. He also claimed the man of the match award from WhoScored.

Joao Teixeira was @whoscored's man of the match tonight in his first start for Brighton #LFC pic.twitter.com/dJ1o0xspvR

— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) August 19, 2014

Brighton won the match 2-0 and Hyypia praised Teixiera post-match:

“Of course I am grateful to Liverpool for letting Joao come to us and get the games he needs, but it works both ways.

“They can benefit too because his time with us can hopefully be a stepping stone towards Liverpool’s first team.

“He is a young player and Liverpool have a very big squad. A player of his age needs to play games to improve. We have a quality player and I am very happy to have him with us.”

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Brad Smith played the full 90 minutes for Swindon Town in their 2-2 draw at Gillingham.

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Liverpool U21s 1-0 Sunderland U21s: McLaughlin hits late winner

12 часов 13 минут назад

Liverpool under 21s beat Sunderland 1-0 away at Eppleton (the birthplace of Bob Paisley) in the first game of the new season. Michael Beale took charge of the young Reds for the first time.

 Liverpool's Ryan McLaughlin in action against Tottenham Hotspur's Ryan Fredericks during the Under 21 FA Premier League match at Langtree Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Report by Salil (@anfield_stuff)

The Teams

Kevin Stewart, a versatile defender signed from Spurs was given his debut starting at left-back and Lawrence Vigoroux, the Chilean goalkeeper who was signed from Spurs following a trial last season was on the bench.

Liverpool U21 started with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Kris Peterson up top, following his impressive performances with the first team in pre-season, where he notched two goals and also travelled with the squad to the United States on tour.

Ryan McLaughlin and Sheyi Ojo were on the right and left wings respectively, with Cameron Brannagan as the ’10′ playing in front of Jordan Rossiter and Jordan Lussey.

Kevin Stewart and Connor Randall were the fullbacks for the night, with Lloyd Jones, the skipper and Jordon Williams being preferred for the centre-back spots. Wales U21 international Danny Ward was in goal.

Sunderland U21s Lineup: Stryjek, Cartwright, Ferguson, Cabral, McNamee, Harrison, Watmore, Agnew, Mandron, Smith, Lawson.

The Match

The first half was rather dull and both sides could only create half-chances. Liverpool pressed well down the right with McLaughlin impressing in particular. The centre-back duo of Williams and Jones looked assured as well, and Rossiter and Stewart showed composure beyond their years.

Both sides struggled to string five passes together and the game was all too stop-start. For Sunderland, Cabral was a real force in midfield.

New under 21 coach Michael Beale, who replaces Alex Inglethorpe this season, made a tactical change at half-time with Ryan McLaughlin and Sheyi Ojo swapping wings. Kris Peterson also moved a bit towards the left creating more space for Brannagan to run into. The second half was much more intense and both sides showed real effort and determination to win the game.

Peterson, Ojo and McLaughlin ran at defenders and consistently beat them with consummate ease; while Ward responded brilliantly each time he was tested, as well as showing some great distribution.

Harry Wilson was introduced around the hour mark and it was a welcome return for Samed Yesil, who had injured his ACL twice within a span of 18 months. There were some teasing efforts from Peterson and McLaughlin, which were brilliantly dealt with by Sunderland’s young Polish goalkeeper Stryjek.

It was only in the 91st minute that the star of the show, McLaughlin, hit a powerful shot into the bottom right corner of the goal to win the game for the young Reds.

My Man Of The Match was Ryan McLaughlin without a doubt. He was immense going forward all game. #LFCu21s.

— Scott (@RedsOrDead) August 19, 2014

All in all, the match was a terrific run-out for the players, who demonstrated very good skill, determination, pressure, aggression and contributed enormously defensively to win the game and probably deserved more than just a 1-0 scoreline.

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A Loan Move for Alex Song Would be Ideal for Liverpool

12 часов 16 минут назад

Barcelona midfielder Alex Song has been made available on a “free loan”, reports claim. Jack Lusby believes this is an ideal opportunity for Liverpool.

 Arsenal's Alex Song in action against Wigan Athletic during the Premiership match at the DW Stadium. (Pic by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

With new Barcelona manager Luis Enrique keen to shake things up in order to stamp his authority on the side, several high-profile names are being made available for transfer.

Perhaps the most surprising move of the summer so far was Cesc Fabregas’ transfer to Premier League title contenders Chelsea, having been spurned by former club Arsenal.

Another former Gunner looks set to follow Fabregas out of La Liga, with The Telegraph reporting that Cameroon midfielder Alex Song has been
made available on a “free loan” move.

Barcelona will allow Alex Song to leave on a free loan, which could tempt a number of Premier League clubs http://t.co/5HxM9OCTzS

— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) August 18, 2014

Matt Law, writing for the publication, claims “Song ideally wants to return to the Premier League after being told to find a new club by Barca.”

“The Spaniards have put a knockdown £8 million valuation on Song’s head for a permanent transfer, but their willingness to send him on a season-long loan without receiving any fee is particularly appealing.”

Spurs, Everton and Manchester United have been touted as potential destinations for the midfielder.

Furthermore, Liverpool have been linked with a move in the past.

 Liverpool's Lucas Leiva scores a penalty against Manchester City during the International Champions Cup Group B match at the Yankee Stadium on day ten of the club's USA Tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The dismal performance of Lucas Leiva in the 2-1 opening weekend victory over Southampton clearly underlines the need for another defensive-minded midfielder at the club.

Joe Allen and Emre Can both have these qualities but are arguably more effective further up the pitch.

At this juncture, and with an attractive, low-cost deal apparently available, signing Alex Song this summer would be an ideal move for Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool.

Pros

First and foremost, as a defensive midfielder, Song would be tasked with breaking up play intelligently for Liverpool.

This, luckily, is a major factor of the Barcelona man’s game.

In the past five seasons, Song has made 2.9 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per game on average—an impressive return for a defensive midfielder.

Alex Song: Only 3 players with 10+ La Liga apps this season have a better pass accuracy than Song (91.7%)

— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 1, 2014

Another factor that would see Song slot astutely into Rodgers’ Liverpool side is a cultured, composed passing style.

This is particularly relevant given the Cameroon international’s assimilation into a similarly patient system at Barcelona, a system punctuated by the swift attacking bursts that have become synonymous with the Ulsterman’s Anfield reign.

Song has boasted passing accuracies of 92.7 per cent and 91.7 per cent in successive seasons with the Catalan
club; this would top all but Mamadou Sakho in the Liverpool squad of last season.

Furthermore, given more of a license to probe under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, Song became an exceptional deep-lying creative player, recording 11 Premier League assists in his last season in North London.

Alex Song: Got more assists from open play in league games last season (11) than any other central midfielder in Europe's top 5 leagues

— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 15, 2012

Song played off the movement of Robin van Persie, and would excel working with Daniel Sturridge.

At Barcelona, the midfielder was also utilised at centre-back, showcasing a versatility that will lend the player well to Rodgers’ squad.

With Liverpool’s centre-back options dwindling following the loan move of Tiago Ilori and the reported plea from Daniel Agger to leave Merseyside in search of first-team football, Song could provide cover when required.

Rodgers has spoken of his admiration for versatile players in the past, and Song would be another option of this ilk.

Furthermore, with Liverpool embarking on their first Champions League campaign since the Northern Irishman assumed the manager’s role, Rodgers could utilise the experience of Song to his advantage.

The midfielder has featured in challenges for silverware in both domestic and European competitions and this would be invaluable for the Reds this season.

What’s more, unlike the acquisition of Kolo Toure last season as an old-hand, Song is at a prime age, as a 26-year-old.

This would allow the Cameroonian to feature prominently for the Reds if needed, and potentially develop into a better player under Rodgers.

This quality, versatility, experience and scope for endurance and development are paired with the economic implications—or lack thereof—of a potential “free loan” deal should make Song the ideal man for Liverpool this summer.

Cons

The main downside to signing Song would be the player’s questionable discipline.

Last season, Lucas was the Reds’ most undisciplined player, committing 1.7 fouls on average per game, as well as collecting six yellow cards—only Steven Gerrard was cautioned more often, having made seven more appearances.

At Barcelona last season, Song made 1.3 fouls on average per game, although the midfielder was only cautioned twice in 19 appearances.

Beyond Lucas, Song would be the least defensively disciplined player in the Reds’ squad if he were sign.

Furthermore, as the World Cup proved, Song is susceptible to serious lapses in judgement in terms of player relations—the midfielder was sent off for a deplorable rake down the back of Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic.

Alex Song Red Card vs Croatia. Crazy this….. https://t.co/6ckTkP3xnf

— MostarLFC (@MostarLFC) June 18, 2014

This is an area that Rodgers would need to work carefully on.

Where Song Would Fit in at Liverpool

Overall, whilst Song’s discipline would need to be nurtured at Liverpool, the qualities that the midfielder would offer Rodgers outweigh any misgivings.

A capable defensive midfielder also adept in the creative areas of the pitch, Song would be a great option in terms of a system based on a quick transition from defence to attack—a trademark of the Reds’ play last season.

Potentially replacing Lucas, Song is a more mobile and gifted option who is able to play in a variety of roles and positions.

The same cannot be said of the Brazilian who has struggled as an advanced midfielder of late.

Song’s ability to provide from deep could also see the Cameroonian deputise for Gerrard on occasions, and Sturridge and Raheem Sterling would surely thrive on the midfielder’s lofted through-balls.

Alex Song on a free loan would be a very good signing for Tottenham, Everton or Manchester United. Had a v good final season at Arsenal.

— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) August 18, 2014

Most importantly, this is reportedly a “free loan” and would ensure little risk on Liverpool’s part.

Such an option at such a price cannot be ignored.

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All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com.

Would Alex Song be a good signing for Liverpool? Let us know in the comments below.

Aspiring sports journalist and ardent Liverpool supporter. This Is Anfield's feature writer.

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Dubious: Barcelona claim Suarez transfer fee was £65m

Втр, 19/08/2014 - 23:01

Barcelona have claimed that the transfer fee they paid for Luis Suarez was £65 million, contradicting reports that they actually paid £75 million for the Uruguayan.

 Liverpool's Luis Suarez in action against West Bromwich Albion during the Premiership match at the Hawthorns. (Pic by Chris Brunskill/Propaganda)

Reports from all British media following the move last month claimed the deal was the higher figure, around €92 million.

Barca confirm Suarez's release clause was £75m but claim they paid £65m. Liverpool insist it was £75m. Anyone seen the receipt?!

— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) August 19, 2014

Given Barcelona’s track record with their reporting of transfer fees to the press, their latest claim over Suarez should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Last summer their star signing Neymar was eventually reported to have cost €82 million – with the Spanish club having claimed it was €57 million earlier, as explained by Reuters. This resulted in Barca being accused of tax fraud.

In the modern game, rarely are actual transfer fees reported accurately, with clubs choosing not to disclose the details and instead being reported via media. Thus, often the selling club will claiming a higher fee, and the buying club a lower fee.

Oftentimes the difference in fees represents the initial fee, and the potential fee. For example, see Jordan Henderson’s move from Sunderland – often reported as £20 million but was initially closer to £16 million.

Similarly, the £14 million bid from Sunderland for Fabio Borini recently is the potential fee, not the initial fee up front.

There have also been claims that Adam Lallan’s move from Southampton this summer had an initial fee far below the £25 million widely reported in the press.

This nonsense is why it would be much better for everyone if there was transparency over transfer fees.

— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) August 19, 2014

What’s more dubious is the claim that Barcelona actually paid below the release clause for Suarez:

Barca VP Mestre sticking firm on fee “Clause was 75 million pounds, after talks & as Suarez wanted to come here, we agreed 65 million"

— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014

It seems extremely unlikely that Liverpool would have accepted a fee below the release clause, especially given their excellent dealing of the situation 12 months earlier, refuting Arsenal’s infamous 40-million-plus-a-pound. When Suarez signed a new deal at the club that new clause would have been watertight.

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Scouting Report: Would Ezequiel Lavezzi Help Take Liverpool To The Next Level?

Втр, 19/08/2014 - 18:30

Ezequiel Lavezzi has been heavily linked with a move to Anfield before the end of the transfer window, but how good an addition would he be? Henry Jackson assesses the 29-year-old’s strengths and weaknesses.

 SSC Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi in action against Liverpool during the UEFA Europa League Group K Matchday 4 match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On Monday, the Daily Star reported that Paris Saint- Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi was on the verge of leaving the club, after contract talks had stalled.

There were also stories from the French media claiming that a deal had been agreed between PSG and Liverpool for the signing of the Argentina international.

At this stage of the season it’s always virtually possible to know what to believe, but if Lavezzi were to make the switch to Anfield, how good a signing would he prove to be?

Strengths

On his day, Lavezzi is a world-class attacking talent, and one who has the ability to turn a game in an instant. The 29-year-old has electrifying pace at his disposal, can beat a man and is physically very strong.

The way he tore Chelsea to shreds during his time at Napoli, in the 2011/12 Champions League, perfectly highlighted what he is capable of, and it was consistent displays like that which earned him a reported €30m move to PSG in the summer of 2012.

The 37-time capped Argentina international is happy operating anywhere across a front three, but is probably at his most effective in a wide left role, cutting inside and linking up with the midfield and centre forward.

The void left by Luis Suarez is clearly the number one priority that Brendan Rodgers needs to address at the club now- the Uruguayan’s absence was alarmingly evident during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Southampton at Anfield- and although not necessarily a natural striker, Lavezzi would be a top class signing.

His experience of playing high-pressured Champions League football would also prove valuable when you consider how inexperienced the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge are in that respect, among others.

[embedded content]

Weaknesses

The first thing that springs to mind when you read rumours of Lavezzi joining the Reds is the fact that he turns 30 next May.

While he may still be as quick and effective as ever, there would be question marks over whether he would be able to justify what is likely to be a hefty fee over a long period of time. It also goes against FSG’s transfer policy to date.

 Liverpool's Glen Johnson and SSC Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi during the UEFA Europa League Group K Matchday 4 match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another criticism that has been aimed at the former Napoli man, particularly during his time in France, is his goalscoring.

23 goals in 90 games for the French giants is not a bad tally, but when you consider he’s playing in comfortably the best team in Ligue 1, where goals often flow, you would perhaps expect him to be a little more lethal in front of goal.

According to Squawka, Lavezzi won 52 per cent of his duels, while his shot accuracy was 61 per cent. These rather highlight the fact that the Argentine can be a little unpredictable at times.

Comparisons

The table below takes a look at how Lavezzi’s displays last season compared to that of Reds starlet Raheem Sterling in their respective leagues:

2013/14

Sterling

Lavezzi

Appearances 33 32 Goals 9 9 Assists 6 4 Chances Created 51 36 Average Pass Accuracy (%) 82 79 Average Duels Won 53 52 Shot Accuracy 67 61

In fairness to Lavezzi, his statistics are far from poor, but what it does go to show is just how fantastic Sterling was last season. He was superior in almost every aspect of his game, and at 10 years Lavezzi’s junior his potential is huge.

It’s worth stressing, however, that Lavezzi didn’t always start for PSG, often coming on as an impact substitute instead. That can make the statistics a little misleading.

Conclusion

Although Lavezzi might not always be the most consistent player around, his superb natural talent and ability to be a match-winner would make him a terrific signing by Liverpool.

Acquiring his signature would be a big statement of intent by the club, as they look to mount a genuine assault on both the Premier League and Champions League in 2014/15.

On the down side, he would not be the ideal replacement for Suarez- someone like Radamel Falcao or Lavezzi’s PSG teammate Edinson Cavani would fit the bill more in that respect- because of the fact he is not a natural goalscorer and is happier playing out wide.

He has the potential to take Liverpool up another notch, but even if he did join the Reds, there would still be that nagging feeling that Rodgers’ side are lacking something centrally.

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Freelance football writer with an enormous passion and knowledge for the game. More importantly, LFC fanatic.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

“Heartbroken” Daniel Sturridge opens up over Liverpool disappointment

Втр, 19/08/2014 - 15:58

Daniel Sturridge says it “took a while” to get over Liverpool’s disappointment of narrowing missing out on last season’s Premier League title, but insists the Reds are raring to go once again.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge in action against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sturridge’s 21 league goals helped Liverpool to an exciting season, finishing just two points behind Manchester City.

But it was a defeat to Chelsea late in the season that proved the killer blow to Brendan Rodgers‘ side’s title dreams, ending an 11-game winning streak.

Opening up about being within touching distance of the club’s first league title since 1990, Sturridge is quoted in Tuesday’s Independent as saying, “We were heartbroken at the end of last season but we are refreshed this season and mentally ready for a long season, especially with the Champions League.

“That is something I can’t wait to play in and the players can’t wait to play in.

“It took a while (to get over the disappointment). It is not easy to get over things like that but everyone is over that now and we look forward to the future and hopefully bringing success the club.”

The 24-year-old was on hand to score Liverpool’s winner in their opening game of the 2014/15 season — the Reds defeating Southampton 2-1 at Anfield on Sunday.

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Rodgers has demanded more goals from his players this season and Sturridge says the team has the confidence to reproduce the attacking flair they showed in the last campaign.

He added, “We have confidence within ourselves, we have a belief within the squad we can win every game – no matter what the opposition – with the philosophies the manager has and the individuals we have and how they work collectively.”

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Brendan Rodgers reinforces Liverpool goalscoring objective

Втр, 19/08/2014 - 14:56

Brendan Rodgers has reiterated his desire for Liverpool to improve on their goalscoring this season after two goals in the opening game win over Southampton on Sunday.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Southampton's manager Ronald Koeman during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge scored either side of a Nathanial Clyne goal to sink the Saints in a 2-1 victory at Anfield, but Rodgers wants more from his players.

The Reds scored 101 goals in the Premier League last season — their relentless attacks playing a key role in their charge to a second place finish behind Manchester City.

Having sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona this summer, Rodgers is keen his team make up the 31 goals the Uruguayan scored last season.

136.2 – Daniel Sturridge has a better Premier League mins-per-goal rate than Luis Suarez (138.8). Crucial.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 17, 2014

“More goals from everyone, that’s the objective,” Rodgers told the club’s official website. “Everyone will want to improve.

“Raheem had 10 goals last year. It was a great pass by Jordan, he picked him out really well with a wonderful ball and he gets himself in the box with a wonderful finish.

“It was a really good finish and that started to open up the game up a bit, with a bit more space to work in. But they were dangerous opponents.”

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Rodgers has brought in attackers Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic and Rickie Lambert this summer to reinforce the options in attack.

He added, “A lot of the games here at Anfield we were winning reasonably comfortably last season, so we knew that the expectancy for us was going to be to win the game.

“We won’t always win by playing beautiful football. Sometimes we’re going to have to dig in and grind a result out, and that’s what we did.”

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Carragher and Neville debate wing-backs vs. full-backs

Втр, 19/08/2014 - 10:36

Monday Night Football made a return to TV screens on Sky Sports, meaning the return of Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville going head-to-head on the tactical aspects of the weekend’s games.

Former Liverpool defender Carragher questions Neville on whether the wing-back system which Louis van Gaal is implementing at Man United really sees the wing-backs operating in a vastly different style to the modern full-back in a back four.

Well worth a watch:

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Who do you think is right? Discuss below in the comments.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Analysing Dejan Lovren’s Performance for Liverpool v Southampton

Втр, 19/08/2014 - 10:20

Following Sunday’s 2-1 win at home to Southampton, Jack Lusby provides an in-depth analysis of the performance of new-boy Dejan Lovren at Anfield.

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren in action against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On Sunday, Liverpool opened their Premier League campaign with a tough 2-1 victory over Southampton at Anfield.

Making his debut in this fixture was £20 million signing Dejan Lovren, a summer acquisition from the Saints.

Playing against his old club, after having refused to train in order to force a transfer to Anfield, perhaps understandably the Croatian did not receive the most welcome of receptions from the Saints faithful.

Saints fans chanting Rickie Lambert's name. Not so complimentary about Dejan Lovren…..

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) August 17, 2014

This planted unwelcome pressure on Lovren on his debut.

Happily, however, the centre-back responded confidently; a dominant aerial challenge on nine minutes, towering over centre-forward Graziano Pelle, earning a resounding cheer from the Anfield crowd.

1 Lovren headed duel

Every Southampton boo was matched by a Liverpool cheer, and Lovren noticeably grew in confidence after this.

This was evident in the defender’s composure on the ball, and it was from this that Liverpool were able to gain a foothold on proceedings; in the opening stages, Lovren couldn’t put a foot wrong.

PASS MAP: Dejan Lovren has completed 100% of his passes in the opening 10 minutes. Comfortable. #LFC pic.twitter.com/caMH8pavC2

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 17, 2014

An impressive passing style kept things ticking from the back, as well as offering the Reds midfield options in terms of opening up play.

In the first 25 minutes, the majority of the Southampton attacks were focussed down the flanks—perhaps understandably, given the meagre form of Glen Johnson—and as such Lovren had a quiet start defensively.

In that first-half, Lovren looked exactly the kind of defender Manchester United are going to need.

— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) August 17, 2014

However, the defender exerted his dominance defensively as the half went on—in particular, matched with a powerful aerial presence, Lovren’s ability to read the game and act on this was hugely commendable.

2 Lovren Stepping out to Challenge

Stepping out bravely to challenge James Ward-Prowse on 28 minutes, Lovren successfully stymied a dangerous passage of build-up play by Southampton.

This could be seen throughout the game, with WhoScored showing the centre-back as having made four successful interceptions—joint highest in the Reds’ side, along with fellow debutante Javier Manquillo.

This is the bold defensive play that Liverpool should look to foster as Brendan Rodgers develops his system further this season.

Not content with dominated the defensive sector, however, Lovren also looked to open up the opposition defensive with a selection of exceptional long balls.

3 Lovren Raking Long Ball

This inch-perfect, raking pass on 37 minutes landed comfortably in the stride of Manquillo, creating a clear opening for the Spaniard to launch a cross.

PING! Dejan Lovren has completed 100% of his long balls so far. #LFC pic.twitter.com/5L3YRX29hG

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 17, 2014

Lovren’s range of passing was typically accurate throughout—these long balls are akin to those that Jamie Carragher adopted in the latter stages of his career and, dare I say it, those of the Reds’ captain, Steven Gerrard.

On the half-time whistle, Lovren exited play following a calm, composed debut.

PASS MAP: Dejan Lovren completed 43/43 (100%) passes in the first half. Looks a great buy. #LFC pic.twitter.com/wk4scsflhM

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 17, 2014

Exerting his dominance at centre-back both in leading his teammates and in contributing defensively, the Croatian also aided Rodgers’ swift-moving system with incisive passing and some inspired long-balls.

The second half saw Lovren continue this dominant performance; however, this was punctuated by moments of uncertainty by the 25-year-old.

The centre-back kicked things off impressively with a biting pass through the Saints midfield on 52 minutes, reaching Philippe Coutinho and allowing the Brazilian time and space to create.

4 Lovren Pass to Coutinho

This was a rare occurrence given Victor Wanyama’s demolition job on the Reds No. 10, so Lovren’s contribution was greatly welcomed.

After a fairly quiet first half in terms of genuine attacking menace from the Ronald Koeman’s Southampton side, the Croatian was forced into last-ditch action more often in the final half-hour.

This is where Lovren was seemingly less convincing, to some extent at least.

For Southampton defender Nathaniel Clyne’s equaliser, it is hard to fault Lovren—the centre-back was quick to stand up to Serbian playmaker on the edge of the box.

The blame here was on Lucas Leiva, who failed to track the intelligent run of Clyne.

6 Lovren Goal 1

However, the No. 6 was ultimately culpable for Saints midfielder Steven Davis’ chance on 63 minutes.

Failing to track the consistently majestic Ward-Prowse, Lovren left the Englishman open to deliver a ball to the centre of the box; the Liverpool new boy has a tame shot from Davis and a composed stop from Simon Mignolet to thank in appeasing this lapse.

7 Lovren Davis Chance

Naturally, however, question marks could be raised too over the positional work of Glen Johnson.

Finally, the most dangerous of Southampton attacks saw French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin force an immense reaction save from Mignolet, who tipped the ball onto the bar.

Lovren was positionally astute in this instance, however the Croatian could do little to quell the attack following great passing play by the Saints.

What a save by Mignolet! http://t.co/CvOMQughiW

— Liverpool FC Vines (@LFC_Vines) August 17, 2014

Overall Analysis

The Reds were ultimately fortunate to come from this tie with three points—Koeman’s Southampton were well-drilled and surprisingly cohesive given the club’s disruptive summer.

Central to this disruption was Lovren, but the centre-back’s performance showed no sign of any problems for the Croatian on a debut against his former club.

The 25-year-old displayed a canny ability to read the game, dominant in the air and in the tackle, as well as an ability to keep possession moving and open up play with incisive passes on the ground and intelligent lofted through-balls.

An impressive debut, the centre-back can take a lot from this showing and look to build in the coming fixtures—next up is a visit to Manchester City.

Lovren Statistics

Minutes Played – 90
Tackles – 1
Interceptions – 4
Clearances – 11
Passes – 69
Long Balls – 5
Passing Accuracy – 95.7%

Overall performance rating: 7 out of 10

Do you agree with Jack’s analysis? Let us know in the comments below.

Aspiring sports journalist and ardent Liverpool supporter. This Is Anfield's feature writer.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Why Joe Allen must replace Lucas for Liverpool against Man City

Втр, 19/08/2014 - 01:00

Joe Allen’s second-half appearance against Southampton on Sunday helped turn the game in Liverpool’s favour, and should see him start against Manchester City and beyond, writes Henry Jackson.

 Liverpool's Joe Allen in action against West Ham United during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joe Allen is a player who has yet to convince every Liverpool fan of his ability, since signing for £15m from Swansea in the summer of 2012.

Even his most ardent fan would have to accept that his 64 appearances for the Reds to date have been typically neat and tidy but far from memorable.

Southampton

In Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Southampton at Anfield, however, the 24-year-old’s 62nd-minute introduction helped reignite Brendan Rodgers‘ side, at a time when the score was 1-1 and the visitor’s were looking the more likely winners.

He replaced Lucas, and the difference the Welshman made in comparison to his teammate highlighted both how far the Brazilian has fallen, and how effective Allen can be.

Whereas the Reds had previously been extremely one-paced in midfield, with Lucas and Steven Gerrard both lacking the legs to get forward, Allen made attacking thrusts, produced incisive passes and offered movement Lucas seemed utterly incapable of.

Proof of why Allen coming on for Lucas made the difference. He played so mu.. http://t.co/SjzTJaTRbo @Squawka pic.twitter.com/lTqSlwCoMM

— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) August 18, 2014

Liverpool enjoyed improved amounts of possession when he come on, after Southampton had enjoyed easily the better of things in the second-half up until that point, and they looked far more fluent and dangerous in the process.

Squawka shows that Allen also played much higher up than Lucas, which gave the Reds far more attacking threat and highlights further why there was no need for two defensive midfielders in the team.

Joe Allen, once again very good and showing exactly what he offers with and without the ball.

— Jim Fishlock (@JimFish286) August 17, 2014

Man City

When Liverpool face champions Man City at the Etihad next Monday, Rodgers simply has to select Allen ahead of Lucas if he wants to get anything from the game.

City’s midfield is extremely dynamic and powerful- a potential trio of Yaya Toure, Fernando and Fernandinho in the middle of the park is pretty fearsome- and if both Gerrard and Lucas are selected again they will be completely outrun.

Allen’s energy and creativity alongside Henderson, with Gerrard sat in his customary deep-lying role, gives the side a far better balance in comparison to the Southampton game.

Although the Wales international may not look the most physically imposing player around, particularly compared to the likes of Toure and Fernando, he will get stuck in and is stronger than some give him credit for. In that respect he is not dissimilar to Raheem Sterling.

Joe Allen has made a difference for Liverpool, darting forward with the ball and passing more constructively than Lucas.

— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) August 17, 2014

Allen’s Future

There are some Liverpool fans who it appears will never be totally convinced by Allen, no matter how well he plays. He is a player who divides opinion, which is perhaps because his strengths as a player aren’t quite as noticeable and eye-catching as someone like Gerrard.

Bring on Can for Allen, seriously, he's already in contention for the golden rubbish bin. #frenchfrylegs

— Anfield Banter (@anfield_banter) August 17, 2014

He is a very intelligent footballer, making space for others and producing passes that don’t earn the praise of a 60 yard ball but can be just as effective.

Admittedly he does need to start making a bigger impact on games on a consistent basis, and just three goals for the club is not good enough for someone of his ability. It’s easy to forget that he’s still only 24 though, and he will come good.

With Gerrard clearly not getting any younger, Lucas surely on his last legs, Adam Lallana injured and Emre Can needing time to adjust to life in the Premier League, this could be the season where Allen becomes far more of a key player at Anfield.

Many of us were foolish enough to write off Henderson a few years ago, whether we like to admit it or not, and there is every chance Allen could silence the doubters in the same way his teammate has.

Starting him for the City game in place of Lucas is paramount, and if he is given a decent run in the side, he can grow in a Liverpool shirt and repay the huge amount of faith Rodgers has shown in him.

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Freelance football writer with an enormous passion and knowledge for the game. More importantly, LFC fanatic.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

LFC 2-1 SFC: Expectation, Lovren & Johnson — Fans’ view from the Paddock

Пнд, 18/08/2014 - 22:00

Dan Holland looks back at the eagerly anticipated first game of the season from Anfield.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Southampton's manager Ronald Koeman during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As I walked towards and into Anfield today there were a few changes some more subtle than others, there were a row of houses missing behind the main stand, the advertising boards were all in red, Peter McDowall was still on his jollies but for me the biggest difference was the air of expectation.

Last season’s superb second place finish was largely unexpected as was the runners-up finish under Rafa, but due to the quality of our football last season and the undoubted strengthening of the squad even minus a certain Luis Suarez has resulted in a large majority of Liverpool fans demanding another top four finish at the very least.

The strength of the squad also gives us another talking point in the pub or in the car on the way to the game as it isn’t easy to know who will be in the starting XI.

Even without Alberto Moreno, Jon Flanagan, Jose Enrique, Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana available for selection there were plenty of selection topics. Who would partner Lovren at the back?

What would the midfield three be? How would the forward line shape up? Would Lambert start against his old club?

Well as we know Martin Skrtel started alongside Lovren. I personally would have opted for Mamdou Sakho, but after witnessing the Slovakian’s performance on Sunday I am glad to say I got that very wrong.

They already look a perfect partnership; both coming from the Eastern Bloc will no doubt help on an understanding basis both linguistically and in footballing terms.

Skrtel had one rush of blood in the first half when attacking a ball and missing it left Lovren in a one on one situation one which the Croat dealt with admirably.

The Skrtel we saw today reminded me of the one that won Player of the Year for us in 2011-12, that season he played a large part of the season alongside Carra who like Lovren is an organiser and a leader; it appears Martin needs this alongside him.

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren in action against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Dejan didn’t stop talking to his partner all game even when running to the corner flag to celebrate Raheem Sterling’s opener.

The selection in the middle of the park was the biggest surprise for me today. At home surely Lucas and Gerrard is too negative. With Lucas holding, Gerrard was expected to be the ‘legs’ and as much as it saddens me to say it, he hasn’t got that in his locker anymore.

This left us too deep and Philippe Coutinho and Sterling had too bigger gap to fill thus leaving Daniel Sturridge isolated on several occasions. For me it was no surprise to see a more fluid and pacey Liverpool when Joe Allen replaced Lucas.

Not only did Allen give us the same energy which Henderson did on the right hand side of the central three, it allowed Gerrard to sit and orchestrate things.

Having said that it was still a long way from the skippers best performance on far too many occasions Ward-Prowse was given too much and ran things in their for Southampton.

The forward line was as expected with Sterling being nearest to Sturridge and it was the 19-year-old that gave us the lead.

Not only did we see the raw pace and the improving end product from Raheem we saw what is making Jordan Henderson one of the first names on the team sheet.

His tenacity and energy won the ball on the halfway line, he has always had this, but the Hendo we have now got his head and played a sublime ball into Sterling’s path.

Brendan Rodgers has given Jordan this belief and after the goal ‘The Boss’ got Henderson’s attention a thumbs up and a little nod was acknowledgement of a superb piece of football from Jordan.

After the goal the game went flat for a period, this allowed Southampton to grow into the game, and a couple of good saves from Mignolet were needed to keep our slender advantage.

The problems were mainly coming from the midfield as the defence with one notable exception looked secure. Liverpool were the team that was pleased to hear the half time whistle despite Sterling warming Forsters palms just before the referee blew for half time.

After the break the game continued in the same vein with Southampton being marginally the better side and it was no surprise that they drew level and it came from another lapse in concentration from ‘The Curious Case of Glen Johnson’.

I remember when Johnno was a top drawer full back, always a slight question mark defensively but on the whole he was steady but over the last 18 months he has got progressively worse. He is slow, got a poor touch, stands off his man, weak in the tackle and a general lack of interest.

Today he switched off as Nathanial Clyne burst into the area and left Skrtel trying to cover an area he shouldn’t have needed to worry about and a shot which gave Mignolet no chance.

I just hope and pray that the near 45,000 crowd today have seen the last of Glen Johnson. One year left on his contract and hefty wage packet if we get offered anything over £3.50 and a packet of crisps for the England full-back! Take it!

The equaliser spurred Rodgers into action as he readied Joe Allen, before the Welshmen entered the field we could easily have been two down, luckily a weak finish from Davis left us in the game.

Anfield was becoming increasingly nervous and especially the manic depressive sat next to me. Everytime Southampton got the ball he thought they would score and when Shane Long came on he said “this is it now, he’ll score, he always does! I must admit I didn’t realise he is a 30 goal a season man!

It wasn’t Southampton though that got the winner is was to be Liverpool who grew back into the game courtesy of Allen who I have already mentioned and another substitute, Rickie Lambert, he gave us an outlet and held the ball up really well not to mention a presence in the box.

Lambert nearly scored with his first touch and probably would have done had it not been for some great defending by Clyne.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the second goal against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It wasn’t the former Southampton man that got the winner though — Sturridge was in the right place to apply a deft flick on a Sterling header.

In the closing minutes Southampton had a chance to equalise but were first denied by a combination of a great save by Simon Mignolet and the crossbar. The ball then broke to the normally clinical Long who headed wide from six yards out.

The first game of the season is never easy especially when you have a number of new players in the team, and a team that has the weight of expectancy on its shoulders for the first time, but we are off to a winning start and you can’t ask for any more than that.

My man of the match today and on debut was Lovren, noteable performances also from Sterling, Henderson and Skrtel.

Bring on Citeh!

LFC Season Ticket holder (Paddock). Regular at Anfield for 18 years during which I've travelled abroad to follow the Redmen, been to Cup Finals and even presented a player of the year award to Jamie Carragher. I've also arranged several Charity Dinner events which has enabled me to meet many Liverpool legends including Joey Jones, Ian Callaghan, Tommy Smith, Jimmy Case and Neil Ruddock.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Official: Tiago Ilori Joins Bordeaux on Loan

Пнд, 18/08/2014 - 20:37

Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori makes his second loan move away from Anfield, this season joining Ligue 1 side FC Girondins Bordeaux.

 Liverpool's Tiago Ilori in action against Sunderland during the Under 21 FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The defensive shake-up at Liverpool this summer continued today with the confirmation that promising Portuguese centre-back Tiago Ilori has joined French Ligue 1 side FC Girondins Bordeaux on a season-long loan.

The deal sees the 21-year-old venture for further top-level experience, following a spell with Granada in La Liga in 2013/14.

#LFC can confirm Tiago Ilori has joined Bordeaux on a season-long loan deal http://t.co/wiP8V9clTu pic.twitter.com/LcC34tMQkW

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 18, 2014

Ilori is a highly-rated defender, with both pace and tactical intelligence which will serve the player well both this season and in the future under Rodgers at Liverpool.

The youngster joined from Primeira Liga side Sporting CP in a deal reportedly worth around £8 million in 2013.

Yet to make a competitive appearance for the Reds, Ilori made nine La Liga appearances last season for Granada, making one assist and keeping three clean sheets.

Particularly impressive was the struggling side’s 1-0 victory over Barcelona, wherein which Ilori successfully stifled Lionel Messi.

Decent move for Ilori. He needs games, full ssn will develop him a lot, & needs to be tested physically which the French league should do.

— MrBoywunder (@MrBoywunder) August 18, 2014

Shame Ilori won't get a chance at #LFC this year. Hope he gets games out at Bordeaux

— Jay (@Jay82_LFC) August 18, 2014

Thought we should of kept Ilori tbh, would of got a few games in the cups. Or at least loan him to a prem side, better experience.

— J. (@JimGreen_81) August 18, 2014

Tiago Ilori, on loan from Liverpool, got this assist for Granada yesterday https://t.co/8mVqF0RqJp

— LFC Vine (@LFCVine) February 16, 2014

A full season in Ligue 1 will give the centre-back another chance to test his mettle.

Is another loan spell the right move for Tiago Ilori this season? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool FC Loan Watch: Origi, Aspas, Teixiera & Wisdom

Пнд, 18/08/2014 - 19:30

Ben Twelves takes a look at how Liverpool’s loaned players performed for their new clubs in the weekend fixtures.

Divock Origi

Liverpool’s new Belgian striker scored his first goal of the new campaign as he guided French side Lille to a 1-0 away victory over Caen on Friday night in Ligue 1. The 19-year-old won, took and scored a second half penalty in the 69th minute of the match to hand Rene Girard’s side their first three points of the new season and fire them to the top of the league.

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Origi played in a front two alongside former Chelsea man and previously rumoured Liverpool transfer target, Saloman Kalou, ahead of a diamond shape midfield four. The match winner was taken off in the 89th minute after he took a knock which didn’t look too serious, being replaced by midfielder Jonathan Delaplace as Lille looked to hang on to claim maximum points.

#Origi's off. Had a better match today with some decent runs down the middle and down the flank. Needs better players around him I feel.

— LFCZA (@LFCZA) August 15, 2014

Our promising Belgian will be hoping to recover from a slight injury in time to take part for Lille in their Champions League qualifier first leg against Porto on Wednesday night in France.

Bad news for #Lille, who see scorer #Origi limp off with 60 seconds left. With Porto in midweek & attacking options thin, they need him.

— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) August 15, 2014

Iago Aspas

Iago Aspas’ Sevilla slumped to a disappointing 2-0 friendly defeat with ten men from early on in the second half, against Italian side Sampdoria – who also had manager Sinisa Mihajlovic sent off during an eventful ‘friendly’ match on Friday night.

Iago Aspas pretty useless here in Sevilla friendly v Sampdoria. Small, weak, slow and soft in display. Liverpool, my condolences

— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) August 15, 2014

The 27-year-old striker started for the Europa League champions but was unable to make an impact on the score-line for Unai Emery’s side. Aspas was later replaced in the 75th minute of the game after producing a disappointing performance by Colombian forward Carlos Bacca in what was Sevilla’s last friendly fixture before facing a tough season opener at home to Valencia next Saturday.

Joao Carlos Teixeira

After signing for Sami Hyppia’s Brighton & Hove Albion side last Friday afternoon, Teixeira had to make do with a place on the bench in his first outing with the Championship club, as they slumped to a second consecutive league defeat against Birmingham City, who recorded their first home league win since October 2013.

VIEW: The match gallery from Birmingham City. #BHAFC http://t.co/FoF5PmK4Wb pic.twitter.com/vGsIn7myGp

— BHAFC (@OfficialBHAFC) August 16, 2014

Trailing 1-0 and with time running out, the former Reds captain turned to the creative Portuguese midfielder to drag the Seagulls back into the game – putting him on as a 64th minute substitute for wide-man Kazenga Lua-Lua – but the 21-year-old couldn’t prevent his new side from falling to defeat.

Lualua = winger. So why bring on the new kid out wide for KLL? Joke.

— We Are Brighton (@wearebrighton) August 16, 2014

Despite the loss however, Teixeira impressed sections of the Brighton support with his second half cameo – even though he featured in a wide role rather than his preferred central position – and he was praised for his obvious technical ability and desire in contrast to his teammates.

Joao Teixeira showed more intent and desire to win in his 25 minutes on the pitch than any other Albion did all game. #BHAFC

— Brighton Fanbase (@BrightonFanbase) August 16, 2014

Very impressed with Teixeira. He is quick, has a good touch, and is very gifted technically. We lacked his urgency in the midfield all game.

— Brighton Fanbase (@BrightonFanbase) August 16, 2014

Hyppia’s men are back in action on Tuesday night and Teixeira will be hoping he showed enough in his second half appearance on Saturday to warrant a starting place against Leeds United at Elland Road.

Andre Wisdom

REPORT: Albion open season with a point after 2-2 draw with @SunderlandAFC. Read about it here http://t.co/vr6aHKDZqB pic.twitter.com/j3hLKrvR4f

— West Bromwich Albion (@WBAFCofficial) August 16, 2014

Alan Irvine’s West Brom side drew 2-2 with Sunderland in their opening game of the Premier League season on Saturday – a fixture that saw Wisdom make his Baggies debut as he started at right back and completed the 90 minutes. The 21-year-old’s performance received mixed reviews but certain sections of the Albion support saw positives from his display on the whole.

Highlight for me was the performance of Andre Wisdom. Looked solid and composed on his debut #wba

— The Baggies' Way (@TheBaggiesWay) August 16, 2014

Some Albion fans felt that the Liverpool loanee was at fault for Sunderland’s equaliser, but others were quick to recognise that he was left exposed due to receiving little protection from goal scorer Saido Berahino in front of him. However, his composure and calmness in possession was praised with a feeling that there was a real cause for optimism with Wisdom for the season ahead.

Again second viewing, harsh to blame Wisdom for that goal. Yes Widsom was slightly inside, but an excellent finish #WBASUN

— The Baggies' Way (@TheBaggiesWay) August 16, 2014

It will be interesting to see how Wisdom’s role develops while at the Hawthorns, as the West Brom boss has swooped to add two new defensive reinforcements to his squad – one of which is Costa Rican right back Cristian Gamboa – who has joined from Rosenborg for a fee of £2million.

The Baggies have a number of experienced and long-standing centre backs, meaning Wisdom is likely to see his appearances come in the right back position, which could be shared with Gamboa following his arrival.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Raheem Sterling orders Liverpool courage at Man City

Пнд, 18/08/2014 - 13:44

Raheem Sterling wants more of the same from his teammates when they go to Manchester City next week after Liverpool beat Southampton in their opening Premier League game on Sunday.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling scores the first goal against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sterling got Liverpool’s season off to a flyer with a neat finish from Jordan Henderson’s through-ball on 23 minutes.

But Brendan Rodgers‘ side’s resolve was tested when Nathanial Clyne equalised shortly into the second-half.

Sterling praised the spirit and courage of Liverpool as they got themselves back in front — Daniel Sturridge scoring the winner with 11 minutes to go.

“If we play our normal game, we’ll be fine in those two games,” he told the club’s official website. “Today we showed courage and that’s what we need to show at City next week.

“It was a tough game towards the end and they pushed us all the way. But the most important thing is to get three points.

“Sometimes it’s not about pretty football, it’s about grinding out the result and that’s what we did today. And we showed some great football at times.”

With the victory, the Liverpool odds for winning the Premier League narrowed from 12/1 to 10/1.

The Reds must wait until Monday 25th August for their next Premier League encounter at City — looking to improve on the 2-1 defeat they suffered there last season.

City opened their Premier League campaign with a 2-0 win at St James’ Park, but looked susceptible to waves of Newcastle pressure.

“We’ll go out and play our usual game, and hopefully we can get the three points,” Sterling added. “Last season we had a tough start as well but we got the wins.

“That’s what we’re looking to do, taking it game by game. We’ll go out there next week and try to do our best and get the three points again.”

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Категории: LFC NEWS

LFC 2-1 Southampton Paper Reaction: “Who needs Luis?”

Пнд, 18/08/2014 - 13:14

Liverpool got their Premier League campaign off to a winning start against Southampton, and we round up how the morning papers and social media reacted to the game.

Monday's Daily Express back page – "Who need Luis" #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers #lfc pic.twitter.com/hNoysMQsHs

— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) August 17, 2014

Liverpool defeated an impressive Southampton side at Anfield on Saturday, as Brendan Rodgers‘ men gained maximum points on the opening day of the season.

Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge got the goals for the Reds, but in truth it was probably a game they were lucky to win. The Saints enjoyed plenty of possession, and only a sensational late save from Simon Mignolet ensured all three points.

There were promising debuts from both Javier Manquillo and Dejan Lovren, but also worrying displays by the likes of Glen Johnson and Lucas Leiva.

Here’s what the back pages and twitter made of Liverpool’s hard-fought victory at Anfield on Sunday.

JOURNALISTS

The Daily Telegraph‘s Paul Hayward believes that, although the loss Luis Suarez was evident, Sturridge is more than ready to fill the void:

“Anfield, on a cold August Sunday, was a theatre missing its great thespian. The eye went looking for last year’s footballer of the year but the ear told the story. Liverpool’s home was subdued for long stretches. The pace was slower than on the best days last season.

“There was no sharp-fanged No 7 to pull Southampton’s defence around and dart through the gaps to inflict havoc. There was not the same automatic menace that comes with having a forward of Suárez’s class hunting around the penalty box.”

The Liverpool Echo‘s James Pearce emphasised how important grinding out the win could prove to be in Liverpool’s season:

“The hope is that this result will have the same kind of galvanising effect on Rodgers’ squad as the scruffy victory over Stoke 12 months earlier.

“That win gave Liverpool the platform to launch their most impressive top-fight campaign for more than two decades as they exceeded all expectations and came within a whisker of landing the title.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the first goal against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Carl Markham of the Independent was encouraged by the performance of Dejan Lovren, who impressed hugely on his Premier League debut for the Reds:

“While a suitable replacement up front still remains a target for Brendan Rodgers, arguably his most important summer signing was that of Dejan Lovren – who made his debut against the club he left acrimoniously, albeit for £20million.

“Liverpool are still looking for a leader in defence to fill the void left by Jamie Carragher’s retirement the year before last and the manager’s hope is the Croatian fits the bill as it was an area of weakness which cost them valuable points in their surprise title challenge last season.

Ed Malyon of the Mirror praised the competitive debut of Javier Manquillo, in particular the ease at which he settled into the hustle and bustle of the Premier League:

“Javi Manquillo was given a fairly big vote of confidence when he was picked in the starting XI for the Premier League’s opening game.

“The young Spaniard appeared to have plenty of drive going forward and no problems embracing the crunching tackles of English football. Indeed, his leveller of Dusan Tadic for which he was booked in the first half was the sort of “welcome to the Premier League” challenge usually doled out by old-school defenders.”


 

TWITTER

Ex-Players

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen:

Liverpool not at their best but a big 3 points. Mignolet great save late on. The new SAS both on target.

— michael owen (@themichaelowen) August 17, 2014

Reds legend Jamie Carragher:

Brendan Rodgers doing his Brian Kidd impression after the second goal!! He’ll be hoping he’s doing it on the last day as well.

— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) August 17, 2014

Former Liverpool star John Aldridge:

2-1 ugly win!but I’ll take it all day long.

— John Aldridge (@Realaldo474) August 17, 2014

Ex-Liverpool defender Jason McAteer:

Does anyone agree with me that having Adam Lallana back in a month will be like having a brand new signing for liverpool ?Can we say that ?

— Jason MCATEER (@MCATEER4) August 18, 2014

LFC Fans

Phenomenal from Hendo in the midfield, sexy pass, sublime finish. #LFC

— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) August 17, 2014

Tough win in the end, invaluable 3 points. Manquillo, Lovren, Gerrard & Sterling the outstanding #LFC players, Allen MUCH better than Lucas.

Jack Lusby (@LusbyLatest) August 17, 2014

Last season’s opener was a close one too, we didn’t even come close of dreaming that we would finish 2nd after that one.

— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) August 17, 2014

My head has gone already with 37 to go. I’d take another 37 of them though. Dunno if my heart would like. pic.twitter.com/MGycRpSYga

— Kop 305 (@Kop305) August 17, 2014

Just seen Sturridge’s winner again. Great poacher finish with a deft touch. Get in there. Its boss getting 3pts on the first weekend. #LFC

— Jay Riley (@Jay_78_) August 17, 2014

Whilst at times a poor performance, remember for years, opening day wins were a rare thing indeed!

— Ritchie (@JohnRitchie84) August 17, 2014

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Категории: LFC NEWS

LFC Transfer Rumours Latest: Lavezzi, Falcao, Borini, Ilori

Пнд, 18/08/2014 - 13:00

After a good opening weekend for Liverpool, Jack Lusby brings you latest Liverpool transfer rumours, with a big-name striker once more on the agenda.

 Who would benefit Liverpool more next season?

According to reports in the Sunderland Echo, Black Cats boss Gus Poyet has set a Monday deadline for the protracted deal to sign Fabio Borini to be moved along, one way or the other.

It has been over two weeks since Liverpool accepted a £14 million bid from Sunderland for the Italian striker’s services.

However, there has been little movement since, with suggestions that the 23-year-old is not committed to a move to Wearside refuted.

Once more faced with questions on Borini’s will-he-won’t-he arrival, Poyet told reporters “I should know something today or tomorrow, I hope. We’ll see.”

Any hold-up could see Poyet turn his attentions elsewhere, with the Daily Mail reporting on Friday that the Uruguayan claimed “we are ready to move on and have another option.”

The Wearside publication continues that “the Echo understands that there is more to the hold-up than simply Liverpool waiting to sign another striker before they rubber-stamp Borini’s departure.”

More on that later.

 Liverpool's Tiago Ilori warm-up before the Premiership match against Crystal Palace at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Next up is another potential departure, with highly-rated Portuguese centre-back Tiago Ilori linked with a second loan move away from Anfield—this time with Ligue 1 side Bordeaux.

Alan Nixon, writing for the Daily Mirror, reports that Ilori “will head back to Europe again for a year to increase his football education.”

Another season on loan suits the development of the 21-year-old, who remains behind Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho at least in the defensive pecking order.

To add to this, Ivorian centre-back Kolo Toure was included on the bench for Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Southampton after having turned down a move to Turkish side Trabzonspor.

Tiago Ilori will join French club Bordeaux on a season long loan. He was present during their match vs Monaco.#lfc pic.twitter.com/5EWt46GNsU

— Total LFC (@TheTotalLFC) August 18, 2014

The young defender was spotted in attendance at Bordeaux’s comfortable 4-1 win at home to oil-rich Monaco.

Nixon continues “[Ilori] will have a chance to play at the top level with Les Girondins in the hope of returning as an Anfield first-teamer.

“Kop boss Brendan Rodgers rates Ilori highly and he also attracted interest from Borussia Dortmund – but a move to Germany fell through as they could not promise him [game time].”

Any further loan move for Ilori would hopefully be the Portuguese’s last, with many holding high hopes for the defender—next season, at 22, could be the perfect opportunity to burst through as a right-sided centre-back in lieu of Skrtel.

Prior to Liverpool’s weekend victory, former star striker Luis Suarez sent Rodgers a good-luck text message.

Journalist: What did the Suarez text message say? Rodgers: https://t.co/zazAbVll7o

— LFC Clips (@LiverpoolClips) August 18, 2014

Initially laughing off the questions in typical fashion, the Ulsterman spoke of his continued admiration for the Barcelona man, with The Guardian quoting: “It was a real love-in. He’s a great boy but he is gone now.”

Before, during and after the Anfield win, much attention was—naturally—drawn to the loss of Suarez this summer, and Rodgers told reporters he is still looking for another striker this window.

“I do still think we need another striker. It is something that we will look at but that will depend on the availability of one.

“Sunday was about winning and we got there. So we will search for that through to the end of the window but you see the players, the quality that we have.”

This may well be what is holding up the Borini deal, with Rodgers clearly desperate to add to his attacking options which, sans the Italian, would consist of Daniel Sturridge and Rickie Lambert alone.

Liverpool make £18m offer for Lavezzi & QPR to offer Remy new contract. Gossip: http://t.co/nIfLiAfQ3n #LFC #QPR pic.twitter.com/NL518BGcyq

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 5, 2014

One man who could aid an ailing strike force is PSG man Ezequiel Lavezzi, with the Daily Star speculating on the Reds’ interest.

Although hugely tentative given the credibility of the publication, the Argentine has been whispered by many in relation to a move to Merseyside this transfer window.

Bruce Archer, writing for the Star, claims “PSG were dealt a blow earlier in the summer when they were deemed to have breached Financial Fair Play rules, and…they now feel the need to move on some of their fringe players.”

“Although Lavezzi was considered a key player last season…negotiations over a new deal are reported to have broken down.”

The publication quotes Lavezzi’s price-tag as around £20 million.

Reports in England saying Chelsea, Arsenal & Liverpool in for PSG's Ezequiel Lavezzi. Unlikely if Ibrahimovic injury as bad as feared.

— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) August 18, 2014

However, any move for the forward could be hampered by a potentially serious injury to Swedish star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovich.

A regular inclusion for Argentina at the World Cup, the forward is a versatile option able to play on either wing or as an auxiliary striker.

Lavezzi, 29, scored nine goals in 32 games last season for the Ligue 1 giants.

04.02.2011, Vicente Calderon Stadion, Madrid, ESP, Primera Division, Atletico Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano, 15. Spieltag, im Bild Falcao // during the football match of spanish 'primera divison' league, 15th round, between Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano at Vicente Calderon stadium, Madrid, Spain on 2011/12/04. EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ Alterphotos/ Alex Cid-Fuentes..***** ATTENTION - OUT OF ESP and SUI *****

Finally, Liverpool have once more been linked with another Ligue 1 star, Radamel Falcao, as the chase for a striker ostensibly hots up.

Italian football pundit Mina Rzouki seemingly boosted the Reds’ chances by rejecting reports linking the Colombian goalscorer with a loan move to Serie A side Juventus.

Juventus director confirmed story on Falcao joining Juve on loan is not true.

— Mina Rzouki (@Minarzouki) August 17, 2014

The 28-year-old is reportedly keen to move on however, although The Independent report that Liverpool would have major competition for the signing of the forward.

The publication claims that La Liga behemoths Real Madrid remain interested in a move for Falcao.

This is despite the club edging closer to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play restrictions having signed James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Keylor Navas in big-money deals already this summer.

Simon Rice writes “Madrid want to take Falcao on loan and make the deal permanent next summer, however Monaco believe that the Spanish club should pay up front for the striker.”

Seemingly implicating an act of spite by the Ligue 1 side, Rice continues “[With Monaco] sympathetic to Falcao’s desire to move on, a loan to an alternative club would be considered.”

This is where Rodgers’ Liverpool could come into play.

Did you see the @FALCAO show ? Go => http://t.co/vMc7UheWn0 pic.twitter.com/3AqJ5YyER3

— AS MONACO (@AS_Monaco) August 14, 2014

Ben Jefferson, writing for the Daily Express, claims the Reds are interested in signing Falcao on loan.

However, the Colombian’s reported wages whilst on Merseyside would be a ridiculous £200,000-a-week.

“Monaco still fully expect Falcao to make a permanent move to Real next summer they would reportedly consider loaning him out to another club – including Liverpool – for the time being.

“It is thought that Falcao wants £200,000-a-week to consider a move and that could force Liverpool to look elsewhere.”

It is safe to assume holding one’s breath is not advised with this deal.

Should Liverpool pay over the odds to sign Falcao on loan this summer? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Raheem Sterling Unfazed by Pressure as Liverpool’s Key Man

Пнд, 18/08/2014 - 10:30

Brendan Rodgers recently compared Raheem Sterling’s goal against Man City in pre-season to that of a finish akin to Lionel Messi. Jack Lusby believes the 19-year-old is unfazed by any such pressure.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the first goal against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Coming off the back of a storming performance during Sunday’s 2-1 home victory over Southampton, Raheem Sterling looks every bit likely to fulfil the considerable expectations weighed onto his young shoulders.

The biggest yet may have come from the Reds’ manager, Brendan Rodgers, last week.

Following a successful spell in pre-season, the Ulsterman compared his young charge to one Lionel Messi.

According to the Liverpool Echo, the manager claimed:

“[Sterling] has to score goals and create goals. That’s what the job is. He scored 10 goals last year and this kid is only going to get better.

“When you look at the finish against Manchester City in New York, how many times have we seen Messi produce a touch like that?”

The manager then clarified in his pre-Southampton press conference:

“I didn’t say Raheem Sterling was like Lionel Messi, I was a bit shocked to read I’d ‘said’ that. He’s a great young talent though.”

Regardless, given Sterling’s impact for the Reds in 2014, the youngster has immense potential—but is the Messi comparison a step too far?

The Liverpool manager has made a similar mistake before, referring to the then-new signing Joe Allen with a tongue-in-cheek “Welsh Xavi” comparison during the Being: Liverpool documentary.

The midfielder recently refuted such claims, but sees them as an inspiration.

Clearly in the same vein, Rodgers believes that Sterling can become one of the most important players in his squad for now and for the foreseeable future—big pressure for a 19-year-old.

This is seemingly apparent beyond the Northern Irishman too, with a large measure of Liverpool’s hopes for the season being placed at the feet of the former QPR youngster.

Expecting a lot this season from Raheem Sterling, Liverpool's scorer. Coutinho's the No 10, but Sterling will fight him for that role.

— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) August 17, 2014

Sterling needs to take more of his goal chances this season, he'll be deadly if he does. Good start.

— Jim Boardman (@JimBoardman) August 17, 2014

This may seem like overzealous man-management on behalf of Rodgers — overhyping a player can often be the beginning of his downfall — but Sterling’s performance against Southampton on Sunday shows the forward is truly unfazed by any pressure.

Liverpool 2 – 1 Southampton

Brendan Rodgers challenged Raheem Sterling to get 10+ goals in the Premier League this season. Not a bad start. pic.twitter.com/FUBF3ZJAra

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 17, 2014

The opening weekend victory over Southampton at Anfield will not go down as one of the Premier League’s most eye-catching of fixtures—or a classic in the Liverpool annals—but the Reds left with a vital three points all the same.

This was in a large part due to the contributions of Sterling, who scored one and assisted Daniel Sturridge’s late winner.

Sterling was deployed, initially, on the left of a three-strong attacking midfield, with Philippe Coutinho as the No. 10 and Jordan Henderson on the opposite flank.

Coutinho was consistently marked out of the game by an imperious Victor Wanyama, and it is no surprise that the Brazilian was substituted late on.

PHOTO: @sterling31 celebrates scoring #LFC's first goal of 2014-15 pic.twitter.com/zJzcfzsxQB

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 17, 2014

Sterling capitalised somewhat on his teammate’s marginalisation.

Any pressure heaped on Coutinho by Southampton’s midfield allowed Sterling to drift intelligently into space and run behind defenders—a trait most common within the teenager’s game already.

This allowed Sterling to collect a sensational lofted-through ball courtesy of Henderson and fired past Fraser Forster into the Saints’ net.

Henderson’s brilliant pass, Sterling’s cool finish. Liverpool 1-0 Southampton. Live updates: http://t.co/qdDECflyOd https://t.co/axpRwzw3NR

— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) August 17, 2014

Following Coutinho’s withdrawal, and Rickie Lambert’s introduction, Sterling moved into the central attacking role behind the forward two; here, Liverpool’s system adapted to great effect.

With more of an emphasis on wide-play—with the swashbuckling Javier Manquillo particularly effective here—Sterling was able to latch on to a partially-cleared cross to nod the ball across for Sturridge to convert.

79 mins: A spell of pressure for #LFC pays off as @D_Sturridge nudges home @sterling31's header from close range. It's now 2-1!

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 17, 2014

Sterling was duly awarded Sky Sports’ man-of-the-match award, underlining the forward’s ability to perform exceptionally despite such weighty pressure.

Looking Onwards

Just a hunch, but I think we may see this guy celebrating quite a few times this season! pic.twitter.com/Ip5i0XGJLo

— LFC USA (@LFCUSA) August 17, 2014

Overall, whilst this opening weekend victory was a much tougher task than perhaps was expected, this was an encouraging performance for the Reds.

A title-challenge will require results ground from the clutches of disappointment, and players such as Sterling—unfazed by this pressure—will be paramount.

The reluctant performance of Coutinho could well see the youngster move into a central role at times, and Rodgers’s targets for Sterling will require the forward to contribute frequently in front of goal.

A return of 10 goals and 10 assists should be considered a success for a player already so ahead of his development—this should be pressure enough.

PHOTO: @sterling31 celebrates opening #LFC's account for the season. What a start! pic.twitter.com/wFEjXxlvKW

— LFC USA (@LFCUSA) August 17, 2014

Collecting his man-of-the-match award during a post-match interview, Sterling was typically phlegmatic in his evaluation, telling Sky Sports:

“It’s great to get off to a good start…they made us work really hard, but the boys grind through and luckily at the end we got the goal.”

The 19-year-old will do well to preserve this modesty.

Comparing Raheem Sterling to Lionel Messi is perhaps as helpful as comparing Joe Allen to Xavi, in this witless populace, but continue this progress and the forward can become as important to the Reds as the Argentine is to Barcelona.

How important will Raheem Sterling be for Liverpool this season? Let us know in the comments below.

Aspiring sports journalist and ardent Liverpool supporter. This Is Anfield's feature writer.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool fans react to opening game victory over Southampton

Пнд, 18/08/2014 - 01:03

A sigh of relief met the full-time whistle at Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool held on for a 2-1 victory over Southampton in their opening game of the new Premier League season.

 Liverpool's scoreboard records the 2-1 victory over Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Raheem Sterling’s first half goal was cancelled out when Nathaniel Clyne crashed the ball past Simon Mignolet shortly into the second-half.

Great team win today..happy to get season off with 3 points!! pic.twitter.com/JdYlo41sqt

— Raheem Sterling (@sterling31) August 17, 2014

The visitors had chances to take the lead, before substitute Rickie Lambert’s introduction caused problems in the Saints defence as Daniel Sturridge scrambled home the winner from close range with 11 minutes left.

Teamwork always makes the dream work. Great 3 points. Dug in deep and got the result in the end. I'm a happy fella!! pic.twitter.com/f9Su1idn1K

— Daniel Sturridge (@D_Sturridge) August 17, 2014

With feelings of déjà vu from the opening game of last season — a 1-0 victory over Stoke in which Mignolet made a late penalty save from Jonathan Walters — it was important Liverpool started the season with a confidence-boosting three points.

There were plenty of positives to take from the game, but also work to be done with next Monday’s visit to Manchester City on the horizon.

We’ve rounded up a selection of reaction from Liverpool fans on our forums and Twitter.

What were your thoughts on Liverpool’s victory over Southampton? Who stood out and who didn’t? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, or in our forums.

Genius wrote:

Migs saved us, just like stoke last season

Hope in your heart wrote:

Phewww, I’ve certainly one or two more grey hairs today…

Fact is, we got away with the three points against a very strong and motivated team (possibly the Koeman effect), and that’s the most important thing. But BR has a load of work on his hands to make this team work as a unit. We aren’t there at all for the time being.

MoM: Mignolet for two outstanding saves in the first half, and one world-class save towards the end.

Thought Lovren and Skrtel looked boss today. And Henderson just runs and runs and runs and runs and runs

— Rebecca Parry (@beccaparry10) August 17, 2014

basil1492 wrote:

A wins a win and the 3 points were the main thing today, few different players will be playing next week anyway with possibly Moreno, Can and Markovic being available. Manquillo impressed me the most though, did a great job and i loved how many important clearances SG made. Migs saved the day with a few great saves, the last one being absolutely top class.

Henderson my MOTM. Lovren looked class too. Still 3 big players to come back and we got the win. Great to be back! pic.twitter.com/4fR8Pcjcgs

— Joseph Musker (@Musker_LFC) August 17, 2014

liverpool_singh wrote:

Happy with the 3 points but absolutely livid at the performance and tactics! Rodgers needs to have a word with himself. There is no Suarez around this season to rescue us time and time again so he shouldn’t be expecting to cruise through the season with questionable tactics.

Sterling MOTM.

LFC-Orlando wrote:

They fought so hard, S’mpton, and we earned an amazing victory. Our manager made the right adjustments when needed.

And to those who say his set up was wrong with the 4-2-3-1, I say, we could have been down 1 in the first half, not 1 up.

Thing is we've won today while allegedly playing badly & with three players (Johnson, Lucas, Skrtel) who will likely be phased out soon.

— Michael Sweeting (@M_Sweeting) August 17, 2014

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool 2-1 Southampton: Player Ratings

Вс, 17/08/2014 - 21:00

Liverpool edged a tense clash with Southampton, as Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge fired the Reds to victory. Henry Jackson assesses each Reds star on the day. Where do you agree and disagree?

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the second goal against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool 2-1 Southampton
Premier League, Sunday 17th August 2014

SIMON MIGNOLET- 7 (out of 10)

The 26-year-old looked a little shaky in the first-half- admittedly the wind was tough to deal with- but he improved greatly after the break, and made a fantastic save to deny Morgan Schneiderlin late on.

JAVIER MANQUILLO- 6

The young debutant enjoyed a solid first competitive game for the club, and is sure to grow in stature by the week.

The 20-year-old was reliable defensively, but could have offered more going forward rather than turning back every time.

MARTIN SKRTEL- 7

The Slovakian was dependable all afternoon, and although his centre-back partner Dejan Lovren was slightly better, his reading of the game and leadership were good throughout.

DEJAN LOVREN- 8

Lovren enjoyed a superb Premier League debut for the Reds, oozing class on the ball and bringing an air of calm to the defence that was lacking last season.

The 25-year-old looks a terrific acquisition.

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren in action against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

GLEN JOHNSON- 4

It might be a new season, but it was very much a case of same old Johnson.

The 29-year-old was slow on the ball, poor defensively and generally looked a weak link. The appearance of Alberto Moreno in a Reds shirt can’t come soon enough.

Glen Johnson and Lucas Leiva didn't win a single tackle between them for Liverpool against Southampton today. #LFC

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 17, 2014

LUCAS LEIVA- 4

Lucas was extremely poor, on a day when he had the chance to impress Rodgers.

The Brazilian offered nothing in terms of creativity, lost the ball in key areas and was partly at fault for Southampton’s goal. Not good enough.

STEVEN GERRARD- 6

It was far from the skipper’s most influential performance, but he showed constant endeavour and made a number of good defensive interceptions.

His passing range was a little off, and he looked a little leggy, but the 34-year-old will only improve in the coming weeks.

JORDAN HENDERSON- 7

The 24-year-old grew in stature as the game went on, and while others around him began to tire his energy was key.

His passing was neat and tidy, and although he’s played better over the last year or two, he was still one of Liverpool’s standout players. Superb pass to set up Sterling for the opener too.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO- 5

The diminutive Brazilian has been wonderful in pre-season, but he was well below his brilliant best against the Saints.

The 22-year-old was starved of space throughout, and he appeared to be trying too hard to produce the killer ball at times.

RAHEEM STERLING- 8

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the first goal against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sterling was Liverpool’s best player on the day- Lovren pushed him close- offering a constant threat that others around him didn’t.

The 19-year-old took his goal expertly, before setting up Daniel Sturridge for the winner. He has become a vital player at the club.

DANIEL STURRIDGE- 7

Sturridge wasn’t at his best all afternoon, but like Stoke on the opening weekend last season, he proved to be the match-winner in a tight contest.

The 24-year-old lost the ball too easily at times, but his well-taken winner from close-range proved to be the difference between the two sides.

Substitutes

JOE ALLEN (on for Lucas 62)- 6

Although the Welshman was far from spectacular when he came on, he offered much more movement and creativity than the disappointing Lucas.

RICKIE LAMBERT (on for Coutinho 76)- 6

The 32-year-old’s physical presence offered Liverpool something they’ve lacked for a while, and his arrival on the pitch gave Southampton’s defenders something different to think about.

Let us know who your Man of the Match was in the comments section below.

Freelance football writer with an enormous passion and knowledge for the game. More importantly, LFC fanatic.

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Категории: LFC NEWS