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Form of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho another concern for Liverpool

Пнд, 24/11/2014 - 21:08

Much has been made of Liverpool’s fragile defence this season, but their two young attacking starlets are also not delivering, writes Henry Jackson.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correias his shot hit the Aston Villa post during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Luis Suarez‘s exit in July was an obvious blow, but if there was one huge positive from this summer, it was the pre-season performances of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho.

The two young stars, 19 and 22 respectively, were impressive alongside one another on the tour of America, playing with pace, skill and an almost telepathic understanding.

Big things were expected of both in 2014/15, especially as Coutinho had enjoyed the summer off, having not been picked by Brazil for the World Cup, and Sterling was on the plane home before the knockout stages. Both seemed well rested.

Coutinho was talked up by Brendan Rodgers as the “brains of the team” hinting at a more central role in midfield. It hasn’t materialised.

While both players have shown the odd bit of brilliance here and there, their displays have disappointed on the whole. Liverpool currently lie 12th in the Premier League, and while their lack of form is far from the major reason, it’s another contributing one.

The Reds’ defence is taking the brunt of the blame, but if you look further forward you’d have to say Sterling and Coutinho, in the absence of Daniel Sturridge, have simply not stepped up to the plate.

Too often they have found themselves on the periphery of matches and pressure on them to be the attacking spark of the side has been detrimental.

Last season, Liverpool’s front four was sensational. They had the third best player in the world in their ranks, England’s most in-form striker and two of the Premier League’s best young players at the top of their game.

This time around, their one truly world-class player has left, their brilliant goalscorer has only played three times because of injury and the aforementioned youngsters have been a shadow of their 2013/14 selves. It’s no surprise that Rodgers’ men have looked limp in front of goal.

2013/14 vs 2014/15

The tables below show the comparison between Sterling and Coutinho’s Premier League form in the last 12 and 10 games of last season, respectively, compared to in 2014/15 so far – Coutinho has only played 10 times this season (all stats via Squawka and WhoScored).

Sterling Last 12 games of 2013/14 2014/15 so far Appearances 12 12 Goals 4 3 Assists 3 3 Chances Created 21 28 Passing Accuracy 82% 79% Shot Accuracy 78% 65% Average Duels Won 52% 55% Coutinho Last 10 games of 2013/14 2014/15 so far Appearances 10 10 Goals 2 1 Assists 2 0 Chances Created 24 5 Passing Accuracy 85% 84% Shot Accuracy 35% 57% Average Duels Won 56% 47%

Coutinho’s statistics are comfortably the more concerning of the two, with less goals, assists and, most significantly, chances created.

Although it makes for fairly grim reading for the Brazilian, it’s worth stressing that he has found himself in and out of the side somewhat this season, and has completed 90 minutes just twice. He’s also been used in a variety of roles, with the team’s attacking shape changing not only by the match but also in match (as evidenced at Crystal Palace where the midfield diamond was scrapped at half-time for 4-2-3-1).

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia is substituted by manager Brendan Rodgers during the Premier League match against Chelsea at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Coutinho has lacked the incisiveness of last season though, both in his passing and dribbling, and too often attacks are breaking down around him. He can often look the Reds’ most dangerous attacking option, but there is actually very little substance coming from him.

Sterling’s figures are pretty similar during both campaigns, which is a shock, and it seems particularly surprising that he has actually created more chances for teammates this season compared to the back-end of 2013/14.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling in action against Real Madrid CF's Alvaro Arbeloa during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

His form was very good in the opening four or games of 2014/15, when used in a more central role, but since then he has been the less effective of the two. His performances have declined dramatically, seemingly since being moved into a wider role more often.

He is clearly nowhere near full sharpness, and you have to wonder whether the tiredness he complained of on England duty is still affecting him. That and the outrageous treatment he received from some quarters for being honest.

The 19-year-old is lacking belief at the moment- something he had in abundance last season – and even things like failing to track Joe Ledley in Sunday’s defeat to Palace would not have happened six months ago.

Both the Brazilian and the Englishman were coming up with key goals and assists in big matches last season – they both scored in the 3-2 win over Man City, for example – but so far in this campaign those moments have been few and far between.

An argument in their defence of course is that there is nowhere the same movement ahead of them with Suarez gone and Sturridge injured.

Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert have both been far too static, which has hindered the effectiveness of the diminutive duos’ game significantly. They thrive when others around them are moving – unsurprisingly.

Rodgers started Sterling up front alongside Lambert at Palace, the first time he’s used Sterling there in the Premier League and it would be interesting to see that more often, with Coutinho in the No. 10 role benefiting from Sterling’s movement and pace ahead of him.

Conclusion

Both Sterling and Coutinho are fabulous young talents with enormous futures in the game, and assuming they stay at Anfield, they have the ability to become legends at the club.

Both are struggling at the moment though, with a combination of low self-esteem, rusty form and a lack of quality around them working against them.

Their performances need to improve noticeably, however, and they must prove that their brilliance last season wasn’t just because Suarez and Sturridge were around.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

5 Quotes That Have Come Back To Haunt Brendan Rodgers

Пнд, 24/11/2014 - 19:23

Brendan Rodgers is going through his toughest spell as Liverpool manager and a number of quotes from him are coming back to haunt the Northern Irishman.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the Premier League match against Everton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having been lauded to the skies by many last season, after leading Liverpool to an unlikely second-place finish, he is now being lambasted in equal measure for his side’s inept start to the 2014/15 campaign – Liverpool’s second worst in Premier League history.

The 41-year-old has gained something of a reputation for producing rather cringe-worthy quotes over the years, with many likening him to Ricky Gervais’ comic creation David Brent.

It’s fair to say Rodgers has shot himself in the foot on a number of occasions over the last couple of years. We look at five quotes that have come back to haunt him recently.

“Look at Tottenham … [when] you spend over £100m you’d expect to be challenging for the league.”

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Tottenham Hotspur's manager Andre Villas-Boas during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was aimed at Tottenham last season, following their heavy spending after Gareth Bale’s exit, and it was probably Rodgers’ most regrettable quote since taking over at Anfield in 2012.

This summer, the Reds’ boss splashed £117 million on new players, using the £75m received from Barcelona for Luis Suarez, and more.

So far it’s looking like very poor business, and Liverpool, much as it pains me to admit, couldn’t look less likely to win the Premier League title this season.

“Southampton don’t have to sell, they have a choice. Maybe their objectives have changed. They were looking to be a Champions League club, I believe.”

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

This was a needless dig at Southampton prior to Liverpool’s clash with them on the opening weekend of the season back in August. It looks extremely foolish now, however.

The Reds had bought Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert from the Saints, and many felt Ronald Koeman’s side would struggle greatly having sold several key players.

As it happens, they have enjoyed a sensational start to the season, currently lying second behind Chelsea in the table, conceding just five goals in the process.

They’re 11 points ahead of Liverpool and currently looking far more likely to qualify for the Champions League this season.

“It’s not difficult to coach to just get 10 players right on your 18-yard box.”

 Liverpool take on Chelsea, with all 11 players inside their own penalty area, during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This sounded like sour grapes at the time, following Liverpool’s gutting 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Anfield in April.

You can’t help but look at this quote and think, ‘if it’s so easy Brendan, how about you start getting your team to defend then.’

The Reds’ consistently woeful displays at the back are inexcusable, and Rodgers’ seemingly lackadaisical views on defending are a big reason for that.

“The best players want to play in the best competition. Any club will suffer the same when they’re not in there. It will hurt you, and United will know that.”

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Manchester United's David Moyes during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was said prior to Liverpool’s 3-0 demolition of Manchester United at Old Trafford in March, at which point it was clear that David Moyes’ side were not going to finish in the top four.

As it turns out, despite United not being in the Champions League, they’ve still managed to attract bigger names this summer than Liverpool.

Radamel Falcao and Andel Di Maria are truly world-class players, and even Luke Shaw, despite a relatively slow start to life at Old Trafford, is seen as one of the world’s best left-backs of the future.

Rodgers tried to bring in numerous marquee signings, including Falcao and Alexis Sanchez, but he failed with every attempt. How many of his summer signings were, realistically, swayed by a move to Anfield because of Champions League qualification?

“I’m not one who goes down the desperation route, if I’m being honest. In my career, I’ve won a number of games, especially against big teams, by continuing to play and waiting for those moments at the end of the game.”

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Mario Balotelli against Hull City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This may have seemed like quite a pleasing, refreshing quote at the time, back in 2012, but what it actually highlighted was Rodgers’ inability to change his tactics when things aren’t going to plan.

This season, he has continued to pick the same, under-performing players week in, week out, and the team is making identical errors in every game too.

Arsene Wenger is being criticised, quite rightly, for his stubbornness and failure to change his ways, and Rodgers is showing worryingly similar characteristics right now.

Have we missed any quotes? Let us know of any others in the comments section below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

LFC Loan Watch: Ibe stunner, Coates returns, Ilori back in training

Пнд, 24/11/2014 - 19:09

Ben Twelves takes a look at how Liverpool’s loaned players performed for their temporary clubs in the weekend fixtures, with a disappointing lack of match action for the loanees.

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

Jordon Ibe

MATCH ACTION: @IbeJordon superbly curls his effort over Bond to give #DCFC a half time lead at Vicarage Road pic.twitter.com/ffhxnGPlYl

— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) November 22, 2014

Liverpool’s explosive 18-year-old built on the international break spent with England under 20s as he started, played 74 minutes and scored an outstanding goal for loan club Derby in their impressive 2-1 away win against fellow promotion hopefuls, Watford.

The talented youngster produced an excellent performance as he caused a whole host of problems for Watford’s Ecuadorian World Cup right back – skinning him a number of times down the left side – and he opened the scoring with a fantastic goal.

[embedded content]

Ibe cut in from the left onto his right foot to the angle of the box – dancing around a rash challenge – where he then unleashed an unstoppable curling effort into the far corner of the net.

It was an top class goal from the Liverpool loanee who also produced a disciplined defensive performance when the home side chased the game last on, and Ibe continues to impress for Steve McClaren’s Championship table-topping side.

Over the moon to get another goal and also helping the team grind out 3points. Onwards & upwards..… http://t.co/0daD6HP3U0

— Jordon Ibe (@IbeJordon) November 22, 2014

Andre Wisdom

Liverpool’s loaned defender continues to be a first choice pick for Alan Irvine’s West Brom at right back, as he again played 90 minutes for the Baggies in their 2-0 defeat away at Chelsea on Saturday afternoon.

Albion v @chelseafc: Foster, Wisdom, Dawson, Lescott, Yacob, Baird, Gardner, Brunt, Dorrans, Sessegnon, Berahino. #COYB #CHEWBA

— West Bromwich Albion (@WBAFCofficial) November 22, 2014

The game was made an even tougher task than first feared as Albion went down to 10 men after just half an hour, but despite the man disadvantage, Wisdom and the rest of the Baggies’ back line battled hard to prevent the floodgates from opening.

REPORT: @chelseafc 2 Albion 0 – Get the full lowdown on today's encounter at Stamford Bridge http://t.co/IH1xXrOvqb pic.twitter.com/iwChjcfmVE

— West Bromwich Albion (@WBAFCofficial) November 22, 2014

The 21-year-old won two of two tackles, made three interceptions and posted the third highest match rating of his side – all according to whoscored.com.

Iago Aspas

 Liverpool's Iago Aspas in action against Olympiakos CFP during a preseason friendly match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

27-year-old loaned striker Aspas played the final 15 minutes of Sevilla’s crushing 5-1 defeat to record breaking Lionel Messi’s Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Saturday night.

Iago Aspas on for Sevilla. Five mins to play, 5-1 down at Barcelona. He's here to steal Messi's headlines.

— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) November 22, 2014

With his side already 4-1 behind, Aspas came on – taking the place of Colombia striker Carlos Bacca – and played as the central figure in a three man attack, but with the match already lost, he had little chance to make an impact on the game.

Luis Alberto

 Liverpool's Luis Alberto in action against Oldham Athletic during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having been left out of the match-day squad, Spanish midfielder Alberto made a comeback to the match involvement last time out, and he featured briefly again for loan club Malaga on Saturday night in their 3-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid.

With his side trailing 2-2 and down to 10 men, Liverpool’s loaned man entered proceedings with just five minutes left to play, and as a result had little time to make an impact on the match for Javi Gracia’s side.

Elsewhere

Sebastian Coates

Gus Poyet confirms more good news on the injury front – @ricky11alvarez and @SebastianCoates are back in training. pic.twitter.com/hJqMr9I5Pp

— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) November 19, 2014

After a long absence through injury, Uruguayan centre back Coates returned training at Sunderland this week, and there was more good news for Liverpool loanee as he was then also part of the squad for Gus Poyet’s side in their 0-0 draw at Leicester, where he was an unused substitute.

Sunderland Subs: Mannone, Bridcutt, Rodwell, Altidore, Coates, Buckley, Robson.

— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) November 22, 2014

Joao Carlos Teixeira

Having spent the international fixtures with Portugal under 21s after receiving a long awaited recall to the squad, Teixeira returned to Brighton but was frustratingly an unused substitute Sami Hyppia’s side’s 3-3 draw against Norwich on Saturday afternoon.

#BHAFC subs v Norwich: Walton, Calderon, Halford, Holla, Teixeira, McCourt, Mackail-Smith.

— BHAFC (@OfficialBHAFC) November 22, 2014

Oussama Assaidi

 Stoke City's Oussama Assaidi during the FA Cup 4th Round match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Moroccan winger Assaidi was once more an unused substitute for Mark Hughes’ Stoke, as they slumped to a miserable 2-1 home defeat to Burnley on Saturday afternoon.

Divock Origi

 Lille OSC's Divock Origi in action against Everton during the UEFA Europa League Group H match at Stade Pierre-Mauroy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s Belgian striker enjoyed a productive international break as he scored for Belgium against Iceland – his third goal for his country – but his club don’t return to match action until Thursday night when Lille face Russian side Krasnodar in a Europa League tie.

Tiago Ilori

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

The Reds Portuguese central defender made a welcome return to training after a number of weeks  out during the international break, but he wasn’t fit enough to make an appearance in the squad for Bordeaux’s trip to Marseille on Sunday evening – a game which his side lost 3-1.

Rafa Paez

Spanish defender Paez was an unused substitute for Bologna in their 1-1 stalemate away against Spezia in Serie B on Saturday afternoon.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Adam Lallana calls for player responsibility of Liverpool’s problems

Пнд, 24/11/2014 - 15:56

Adam Lallana believes sticking together is the key to Liverpool turning around their season.

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana in action against Everton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sunday's 3-1 loss at Crystal Palace was the Reds' fourth in a row in all competitions and left them sitting 12th in the Premier League table, only four points above the relegation zone.

Rickie Lambert gave the visitors an early lead with his first Liverpool goal but the lack of confidence in Brendan Rodgers' team was all too evident as Palace battled back to win.

Liverpool have another big game on Wednesday when they meet Ludogorets, with victory imperative to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League alive.

Midfielder Lallana told liverpoolfc.com: "It was disappointing, especially after going in front so early. It was a great platform for us to push on and control the game.

"But we didn't do that – we take full responsibility for that. We need to stick together. It's as simple as that. When you're having a tough time as a team, you all need to stay together – you can't start becoming individuals.

"We win and lose as a team; we need to stay together, keep fighting and keep working for each other. We have got a tough game on Wednesday so we all need to be together for that one.

"We need to win to stay in the competition, so the lads will be fighting for their lives to do that. It's important, not just for ourselves, but for the fans, the manager and everyone involved with Liverpool Football Club."

Who, or what, is to blame for Liverpool’s poor start to the season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

PA

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Liverpool FC Rumour Roundup: Klopp, Cech, Icardi & More

Пнд, 24/11/2014 - 14:36

After another miserable weekend for the Reds, Henry Jackson tries to improve the general mood with a look at which players the club might be signing in January and beyond.

Newspapers

These Monday mornings are starting to have a depressingly similar feel to them, aren’t they?

Another woeful performance, this time against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday, saw Liverpool lose their sixth Premier League game of the season already. The pressure is now really beginning to mount on Brendan Rodgers, who is showing some serious managerial flaws at present.

The Express claims that Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp is already being lined up as a replacement.

As well as the managerial rumours surrounding the club, there has also been plenty of transfer news regarding the Reds over the weekend. Here are five players who have been linked with moves to Anfield, as the January window edges ever closer.

PETR CECH

The Daily Star claims that Liverpool could rival Arsenal with a bid for Cech in January, as he looks for guaranteed first-team.

The superb form of Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea has seen Cech warm the substitutes’ bench for all but one of the Blues’ Premier League games so far this season, but he remains a world-class goalkeeper who would get into most sides in Europe.

With Simon Mignolet still flattering to deceive- that free-kick he took against Palace was another low point- acquiring the 32-year-old’s signature would be a great piece of business. He has great experience, consistency and is a born winner.

MAURO ICARDI

Icardi is rated very highly by many, being dubbed the ‘new Ronaldo’ by former coach Jesus Hernandez. The Express believes he could be set for a £28m move to Merseyside next summer.

The 21-year-old Inter Milan star, who has won one cap for Argentina to date, will reportedly be allowed to leave by returning Nerazzurri boss Roberto Mancini, who clearly doesn’t rate him as highly as many.

Icardi is a striker with enormous potential, combining terrific finishing with clever movement and pace. He has scored 20 goals in 39 appearances from Inter since joining from Sampdoria in 2013.

JACKSON MARTINEZ

Martinez is a player who has been continually linked with the Reds over the last few years, and according to the Daily Star, a £30m bid in January is imminent.

The 28-year-old has reportedly been identified as Rodgers’ number one target in attack, and with Daniel Sturridge injury-prone and Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert both flattering to deceive, reinforcements are needed.

The Colombia international is a ruthless goalscorer, and would be a superb signing by the club. He has scored 72 times in just 107 appearances for current club Porto. Don’t be surprised to see Liverpool miss out on him to a rival, however, as has depressingly been the case with so many top players over the last couple of years.

NATHAN REDMOND

The Daily Star is far from the most believable source when it comes to transfer news, and this time they’ve linked Liverpool with a January move for Norwich starlet Redmond.

The 20-year-old is seen as one of the brightest attacking prospects in English football, with terrific pace and skill at his disposal in wide areas.

There are definite question marks about just how good he is, however, and you would have to question whether the Reds really need him.

For all his undoubted potential, Redmond has scored just once in 48 appearance for the Canaries. He is a poor man’s Raheem Sterling, and quite frankly, is no more exciting than Liverpool’s on-loan star Jordan Ibe.

SAIDO BERAHINO

The Mirror reports that Rodgers sees Berahino as another attacking option to bring in in January, with a £15m bid mooted.

The 21-year-old West Brom star, who recently received his first call-up to England’s senior squad, has impressed greatly so far this season, scoring eight times in 15 appearances for the Baggies.

Rodgers likes to bring in new players and improve them, and you could easily see Berahino making the move to Anfield. It would potentially be something of a knee-jerk signing, however, and there is a definite feeling that a few more experienced faces are needed, rather than just youngsters.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Crystal Palace 3-1 Liverpool: The Good, the Bad and the Abysmal

Пнд, 24/11/2014 - 12:00

With Liverpool crushed to a 3-1 defeat away to Crystal Palace on Sunday, Jack Lusby believes Brendan Rodgers has a lot to answer for.

What a surprise.

After the relief of a timely international break, Liverpool were supposed to return with a renewed vigour, and with Brendan Rodgers having been allowed the time to collect his thoughts, and consider his poor tactical decisions, and start afresh.

The news that Daniel Sturridge was to face another disappointing injury layoff was an immense setback, and will be a prolonged narrative this season it seems.

However, a goal from his replacement on Sunday afternoon, Rickie Lambert, after just two minutes gave the travelling Reds fans hope, but beyond that there is little else in this Reds defeat.

An equalising goal from Dwight Gayle — the scourge of Merseyside after that 3-3 comeback last season — was joined by strikes from burly midfield duo Joe Ledley and Mile Jedinak to consign Rodgers’ side to a fourth successive defeat.

Liverpool have now lost their fourth game in a row. pic.twitter.com/C4YU0hObHk

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 23, 2014

Liverpool now sit 12th in the Premier League, with a miserable 14 points.

In appraisal of the team performance, it may be pertinent to focus on some positives first, and there were, surprisingly, a few.

Javier Manquillo, Joe Allen and Adam Lallana

Joe Allen's head gear is the best. pic.twitter.com/jufIigPLuG

— Back Page Football (@bpfootball) November 23, 2014

These were, namely, the performances of Javier Manquillo, Joe Allen and Adam Lallana.

Firstly, deployed in his natural right-back position, Manquillo was tasked with dealing with the threat of Yannick Bolasie—a player who seemingly relishes playing against Liverpool.

The Congolese international is one of a dying breed of raw, direct wingers and is devastatingly effective when utilised in a counter-attacking system such as the one Neil Warnock inherited from Tony Pulis.

Yannick Bolasie's game by numbers: 5 crosses 4 shots 4 take-ons 3 chances created 100% tackles won 1 assist pic.twitter.com/4rwIsmRss5

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 23, 2014

While Bolasie did get some joy on the left flank, Manquillo did a fine job of hampering his surges forward.

According to WhoScored, the Spaniard won two tackles, made two interceptions and six clearances.

Ahead of Manquillo in midfield, Lallana enjoyed a large measure of space, which saw the former Southampton man set-up Rickie Lambert for his first goal in the Premier League for the Reds.

The 26-year-old was vibrant and incisive, with his attacking forays the most likely to put the Palace defence under any pressure.

Rare for an attacking midfield player, Lallana recorded a passing accuracy of 97.1 per cent at Selhurst Park, and it was holding on to the ball that a majority of Rodgers’ side struggled with, unfortunately.

The only player to better Lallana’s accuracy was Allen, and the Welshman—with phenomenal rate of 98 per cent—was Liverpool’s best performer on Sunday, and his assist for Lambert’s goal was exquisite.

Joe Allen completed 98% of his passes for Liverpool today. The Welsh Xavi, so they say. pic.twitter.com/5F98XMTxS9

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 23, 2014

Contributing astutely in both defence and attack, Allen joined Lallana as Liverpool’s most effective players.

However, for all the good Allen and Lallana were doing in linking the midfield to Lambert as the lone striker, Rodgers clearly saw their contributions as disposable, as the manager promptly replaced the pair.

Therein lies Rodgers’ enduring problem.

‘Key’ Players

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Crystal Palace score the third goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As everyone who has invested countless days into the Football Manager series will know, in that rigid, computer-generated realm your squad consists of key players, first-team regulars, rotational fixtures and back-up charges.

However, in football as a tangible game, this should be entirely malleable, and this is seemingly a notion that Rodgers struggles to perceive at the moment.

With this in mind, the substitutions of Lallana and Allen should be mentioned after the manager’s initial team selection.

Confirmed: #LFC’s starting XI and substitutes v Crystal Palace pic.twitter.com/nlm1BGpMbT

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 23, 2014

The same names again: Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Steven Gerrard.

Each of those players have performed abysmally over the past several months, but each remains seemingly untouchable in Rodgers first-choice starting line-up.

He spoke after his shock tactical switch in the Champions League away to Real Madrid and was unabashed in his claims that “I picked a team that I thought could get a result. The players that came in were excellent and we were unfortunate not to get a result.”

Rodgers continued “I didn’t see this as a big showcase game where I had to play the so-called names,” suggesting those fringe players in his starting line-up had earned their place.

Sakho, Toure, Can, Lallana, Markovic, Moreno… There's players that are consistently overlooked that will improve us. The squad is there

— James (@LickyRambert) November 23, 2014

This is a notion that suggests a meritocracy on Merseyside but, when Rodgers dropped the dominant Kolo Toure just four days after he stymied the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu, this proved a fallacy.

Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren and Gerrard rewarded Liverpool with a clutch of dreadful performances at Selhurst Park, and each would have warranted replacing at half-time.

Liverpool remained unchanged after the break, but Rodgers substitutions of Allen and Lallana—two of his best performers—were bizarre to say the least.

Allen was playing well. Grow some balls and take the skipper off who isn't playing well.

— Gareth Roberts (@robbohuyton) November 23, 2014

Allen and Lallana were playing well. They were our best players in fact.

— Michael Sweeting (@M_Sweeting) November 23, 2014

Fabio Borini replaced Lallana on 72 minutes, whilst Emre Can emerged in place of Allen two minutes later.

This isn’t to say that Can and Borini don’t warrant a place in the side; the German in particular has stood out recently as one of Liverpool’s most in-form stars.

“Rodgers Out?”

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the UEFA Champions League Group B match against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, the salient point underpinning these substitutions is a stubbornness in Rodgers that is becoming infuriating to further stretches of the Liverpool fan-base to the point that the Ulsterman’s position is becoming under severe pressure.

Favouring players such as Johnson and Gerrard over in-form young players like Can and Alberto Moreno, sticking rigidly with a 4-2-3-1 formation that is doing none of players any favours, and an inability to adapt to circumstances all underline this.

These unpalatable defeats serve as evidence.

Brendan Rodgers tactically outwitted by Paul Lambert, Sam Allardyce & now Neil Warnock this season! #Shocking #LFC

— Jay Riley (@Jay_78_) November 23, 2014

This consistent disregard for individual form, and a glaring oversight in terms of the deficiencies of his set-up are beginning to grind down even the hardiest of Rodgers ultras.

After last season’s heroics it is difficult to judge the manager’s current performance without a measure of sentiment, but there is a need to be realistic.

BR: "I'm not arrogant enough to think that I will be in a job through anything… There's no doubt as a manager you have to get results"

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) November 23, 2014

It would be remiss to suggest that there is no going back for Rodgers at Anfield, and a good run of form would surely see the manager’s popularity rise once more, but these important areas need to be addressed immediately.

Nevertheless, another Selhurst Park drubbing, names such as Jurgen Klopp, Diego Simeone and Frank de Boer do begin to look attractive.

Where does Brendan Rodgers stand after this latest Liverpool defeat? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Impossible task? What Liverpool need to qualify for Champions League again this season

Пнд, 24/11/2014 - 11:00

Liverpool’s defeat to Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon, their sixth of the season already, dropped them down to twelfth in the Premier League – putting them 18 points off the top spot, but incredibly still only five points off fourth place.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during a press conference at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against Real Madrid CF. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That Brendan Rodgers‘ side are actually only four points off the relegation zone is perhaps more telling though.

With a run of Premier League fixtures that read; Cyrstal Palace, Stoke City, Leicester City, Sunderland, before a trip to the current fourth place side, Manchester United, on December 14th, this was an ideal opportunity for Rodgers’ side to get the season back on track.

It hasn’t began well and they now need a huge upturn in form and points gained to qualify for Europe’s elite competition next season.

Here’s the points needed for fourth place in last five seasons:

2013/14: Arsenal (79)
2012/13: Arsenal (73)
2011/12: Spurs (69)
2010/11: Arsenal (68)
2009/10: Spurs (70)

Average: 71.8 points

Liverpool currently have 14 points with 26 games remaining.

That means, in order to get even 70 points, which could be enough this season, Liverpool need another 56 points – 2.15 points per game (ppg).

They’re currently averaging just 1.16 ppg.

Last season they averaged 2.21 ppg over the course of the season.

Admittedly, the quality of the Premier League this season means that fourth place is still available, and it could be on the lower side (68 points) that is enough to sneak fourth, but even then, it looks like an almost impossible task.

TV Revenue

Without adding to your misery, the most depressing thing is that those who qualify for next season’s Champions League are set to bank double the income from being in the competition due to BT Sport’s new £900m deal.

The gap between those in the competition and those not in the competition is set to get financially wider.

After five years without the Champions League, we might need to savour these last two games against Ludogorets and Basel because it could be a while before we’re back again.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Week in Review: Liverpool in Need of Specialist Advice… Now!

Пнд, 24/11/2014 - 10:00

We Are Liverpool editor, Neil Poole, reviews the last seven days for Liverpool FC.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Crystal Palace score the third goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In thinking exactly how to approach my review of the last week I have inadvertently come up with the definitive conclusion to one of Science’s great hypotheses. I’ve squeezed every last drop out of the bottles of Mr Sheen and Pledge; the empty containers are strewn on the floor around me. There remains an awful mess.

My dear Red friends. It is true. You can’t polish a turd.

There’s simply no way of putting a positive sheen on LFC at the moment.

Sturridge Injury

The turgid week kicked off in real style last Tuesday night when news of Daniel Sturridge’s latest injury reared its ugly head and in doing so strained its neck quite badly. That added another six weeks lay off.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and manager Brendan Rodgers as he is substituted against Sunderland during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hey a joke! See it’s not all bad. [Sigh]

The following summary was given by Brendan Rodgers:

“Whether Daniel needs to see a specialist is something that the medical team are looking into. I think that’s his ninth injury on that thigh from previous clubs and here so there is an issue there somewhere. The scan shows a slight tear just below where he had a previous injury.”

I won’t play the role of the smart-arse little upstart pointing out that the Emperor is in fact wearing no clothes here. However, I will gladly play the role of the smart-arse little upstart pointing out that waiting for an injury to occur for the nonth time before considering seeing a specialist is a little late in the day.

It all smacks of the 35 stone fella on reality TV saying that the penny has dropped and he needs to do something about his weight. You didn’t think anything was wrong when you were 30 stone?

Similarly, did our medical team not think Sturridge’s spontaneously combustible thigh warranted seeing a specialist when his hamstring tore for the eighth, seventh or even only the sixth time?

Who is the en-vogue specialist these days anyway? Back in the late 90s and early noughties there would be no problem. We’d have Sturridge packed off on a plane with Michael Owen to go and see Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt. Remember him?

Whether you were Ronaldo (version 1), Steven Gerrard or Jonathan Woodgate he was the go-to man. Battered hamstrings, blocked sinks, noisy boiler – you name it, he’d fix it with a madcap, miracle remedy. Years before Serbian doctor, Marijana Kovacevic, started slapping Frank Lampard and Diego Costa with horse placenta, Hans was injecting people with goat’s blood and juice from the crest of a cockerel. Sturridge may now be playing with a terrified frog and a scared looking squirrel taped to his thigh but at least he’d be playing.

Crystal Palace 3 Liverpool 1

On Sunday, watching the now annual three goal capitulation to Crystal Palace on the back of a home defeat to Chelsea, it was clear to me we need to call up doctor Hans now. Someone needs to force feed everyone concerned baskets and baskets of bulls’ gonads. The lack of mental strength, fight and character is what worries me most.

 Crystal Palace's captain Mile Jedinak scores the third goal against Liverpool during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last year, much praise was given to the impact of Doctor Stephen Peters and his contribution to our title challenge. No animal bodily fluids needed for Dr Peters, no. It was all abstract animal metaphors. The exploitation of Chimp Paradoxes were the back bone of our confident free flowing play. Does the witchcraft only work for one season?

Our players are currently playing like men who lock themselves into the bathroom and sit rocking, naked in the corner, while their kids ask mummy what’s wrong with daddy. “Daddy’s not himself at the moment love. His chimp has just escaped and battered him with a print-out of the league table.”

We’re twelfth by the way. Just in case you didn’t know.

You’ll unlikely see the quote in the papers because it hardly headline grabbing, but in a few short words describing the players on the pitch, Jamie Carragher summed up the current endemic problem at Liverpool FC.

“They’re just letting things go on!”

Whether on or off the pitch, Liverpool are sleep walking at the moment. They continue to do all the things they’ve been doing wrong for that last few years.

We continue to fail to organise the back four, protect the back four or teach the back four how to defend. We continue to seemingly be unable to buy the right players for the back four or even if we do, are unable to find the right blend . We stand off and and let the opposition shoot at will. Off the pitch we continue to follow a season in which we come second by not only failing to capitalise but by falling off a cliff.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Dejan Lovren during a press conference at Anfield ahead of their opening UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Take your own Pick ‘n’ Mix of the above for which contributed to the goals conceded against Palace. Add your own. My list is worryingly far from exhaustive. But whatever the combination, just like buying sweets at your local cinema, it still ends up being costly and difficult to stomach.

Currently, we are informed no specialist defensive coach is needed. We’ve lost six games. That’s half of as many as we’ve played. Lose one more and it actually becomes statistically impossible to look at the glass as half full – no matter how pissed you are.

Like Sturridge’s thigh injuries, do we have to wait until we’ve lost nine before we act? Are we going to let these things just go on?

As unlikely as it currently appears, Liverpool can still turn this season around. Teams do it all of the time. Specialist advice is needed from somewhere. It may be Brendan can find this somewhere within himself. It may be that he has to seek help from somewhere else. That’s for him and his staff to work out. Not me, not you.

But if I was to give a modicum of non-specialist, clear-as-day advice it’s this: It needs to happen now. Not once things get even worse.

Let’s start by finding those baskets of balls before we face Ludogorets.

Tasty.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

“No leadership on the pitch” – Carragher hits out at “mentally and physically weak” Liverpool

Пнд, 24/11/2014 - 03:43

Jamie Carragher couldn’t hide his frustrations after Liverpool’s fourth straight defeat, losing 3-1 at Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon.

The former Liverpool defender said, speaking as a supporter, he was worried for his side, who are being “bullied out of games” and are “mentally and physically weak”, with “no leadership on the pitch”.

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The telling statistic that Liverpool won just one tackle between the 60th and 80th minute in the game, during which they conceded twice, is evidence of Carragher’s words. That and the fact that between them Martin Skrtel and Steven Gerrard didn’t win a single tackle in the match.

Last month, we discussed Liverpool’s need for a midfield enforcer, a player prepared to put in a tackle and showing some tenacity.

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Liverpool fans react to miserable Crystal Palace defeat

Вс, 23/11/2014 - 22:46

Liverpool succumbed to their sixth defeat of the season, dropping to twelfth in the Premier League and meaning they’ve now had their worst 12-game start since 1992.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Crystal Palace score the third goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers‘ side have a goal difference of negative three, have lost four games in a row in all competitions and are without a win in the Premier League since mid-October at QPR.

Here’s a roundup of media and fan reactions.

The (depressing) stats:

This is now Liverpool's worst start to a season since first Premier League season of 1992-93, when they had one point fewer after 12 games.

— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) November 23, 2014

Liverpool won just one tackle between the 60th-80th minute vs Crystal Palace. They conceded twice during that period. pic.twitter.com/cpYm3wObnv

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 23, 2014

Liverpool won just one tackle between the 60th-80th minute vs Crystal Palace. They conceded twice during that period. pic.twitter.com/cpYm3wObnv

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 23, 2014

#LFC have only managed eight shots on target in their last three league matches.

— Billy Liddell (@Liddellpool) November 23, 2014

The media reaction:

Never seen Brendan Rodgers as downhearted as he was post-match. 'I'm not so arrogant to believe I will be in a job through anything'

— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceIndy) November 23, 2014

I know Liverpool are struggling but still find it absurdly premature for some to be suggesting Rodgers should be fired.

— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) November 23, 2014

The most worrying thing for Liverpool is that there doesn't seem to be any obvious solutions to issues. Well, that, and six defeats in 12.

— Kristian Walsh (@Kristian_Walsh) November 23, 2014

Fan reactions:

#LFC need 58 points from 78 to get the magical 72 points for 4th. Now ask yourself the question is Rodgers the man?

— Brodinho (@Brodinho) November 23, 2014

The way it's all going, I reckon Rafa's gonna win us the Europa Lge in May. There, I've said it! #LFC

— Simon Collings (@simoncollings82) November 23, 2014

I'd love to know which bit of the180 page dossier says: Build a Defence around Skrtel & GlenJo Add Lovren Play a 34 year old Gerrard at DM

— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) November 23, 2014

Rodgers has had 2.5 years to sort out the defence and it is getting worse. Kenny got sacked after winning a cup and nearly winning another.

— Matthew Sproston (@spros1) November 23, 2014

I genuinely fear for Brendan now. Fully expect us to exit the Champions League and League Cup with a tough Xmas schedule around the corner

— Aaron Cutler (@aaron_cutler) November 23, 2014

We NEVER look like scoring. Our passing is slow and predictable, with no movement to speak of. Throw a comedy defence into the mix and ..

— Aaron Cutler (@aaron_cutler) November 23, 2014

On current form we are probably the worst team in the league.

— Michael Sweeting (@M_Sweeting) November 23, 2014

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Heard FSG are still right behind Rodgers & fully supportive of him. But to be perfectly honest he couldnt complain now if he got sacked #LFC

— Jay Riley (@Jay_78_) November 23, 2014

Worst of all Gerrard gone from my hero to a player I don't want playing. That's Rodgers' fault for playing him at DM & not managing him.

— Jay (@Jay82_LFC) November 23, 2014

Awful display again today , Rodgers has got a lot to do now to win back the fans , Poor excuses don`t wash #LFC

— Peter Phillips (@PeterPhillips_) November 23, 2014

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Brendan Rodgers admits his Liverpool job is not safe without results

Вс, 23/11/2014 - 21:04

Brendan Rodgers says his Liverpool side are lacking in confidence after he saw them lose 3-1 at Crystal Palace on Sunday and admitted his job is not safe without results.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers shakes hands with Crystal Palace's manager Neil Warnock after his side's 3-1 defeat during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool looked like halting a run of three straight defeats when Rickie Lambert broke his duck for the Reds by tucking home a perfect Adam Lallana pass inside the opening two minutes.

With Mario Balotelli sidelined with a groin injury, fellow summer signing Lambert was handed just his second Premier League start and did not take long to take advantage of his chance.

But that was as good as it got for Rodgers' side as Dwight Gayle – who scored twice in the memorable 3-3 draw here last season – levelled after man of the match Yannick Bolasie saw a driven effort come back off the post.

The second half started slowly but two goals in a three-minute period were enough to seal a well-deserved and much-needed win for the Eagles and Yannick supplied Joe Ledley to put the hosts ahead before skipper Mile Jedinak bent home a 30-yard free-kick to seal a 3-1 win.

The defeat leaves Liverpool 18 points adrift of pace-setters Chelsea and just two ahead of Palace, and Rodgers conceded heads have dropped in his squad following a poor spell.

"It was bitterly disappointing," he said of the performance.

"You've seen a team low on confidence today. Not quite together as a team. We need to find a solution very quickly because it was very disappointing.

"I put the team out there, the best team to win us the game. We made a good start. You could see our passing was a wee bit tentative and then we make mistakes. Mistakes you wouldn't expect to see at a team that's supposed to be challenging.

"Overall, that intensity and togetherness in our game isn't there. When you don't get the results, that affects you. That leads to (damaged) confidence. We have to work harder but we go away bitterly disappointed with the result. At this moment, we're just not good enough."

The draw here last season was ultimately damaging to Liverpool's title tilt as Palace struck three times in 11 minutes to snatch an unlikely result.

Luis Suarez was left in tears on the pitch following that game and since his departure the Reds have struggled for the type of form which turned them into challengers.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Crystal Palace's manager Neil Warnock before the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers invested the money received for Suarez into his squad and now wants to see more from them, insisting he knows results must improve if he is to avoid facing questions about his future.

"I'm not arrogant enough to think that I will be in a job through anything," he added.

"Any manager will tell you that you have to win games and you have to get results, especially after how we've been developing as a football club.

"But I have a great communication line with the owners. We've been honest enough with each other, but ultimately you have to get results. You have to perform.

"There's no doubt as a manager you have to get results. That will support the confidence to the owners and you take it from there.

"I will only ever do my best. The best has seen us develop well. Now I need to fight even harder and take the responsibility, because as manager full responsibility comes down to me. Any pressure comes on to me.

"We've brought in very good players. Some of them are very young and are not going to be ready for a few years, but they're in now. We have to do better in our performance level."

What is Rodgers doing wrong and how can he fix it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Brendan Rodgers takes responsibility for Liverpool’s defeat at Crystal Palace

Вс, 23/11/2014 - 20:44

An abject Brendan Rodgers says he will take full responsibility for Liverpool’s dismal 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

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Liverpool travelled to Selhurst Park in the midst of a three-match losing streak in all competitions. Rodgers' side last won in the league with a 3-2 triumph at QPR on October 19 and have collected just one point since.

Goals have been in short supply this season for the Merseysiders since the departure of striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona.

Rodgers said: "We're low on confidence at the moment in terms of the results and I think that sort of tempo and intensity of our game has just dropped right off and obviously we concede pure goals but we have no one to blame but ourselves.

"As the manager I take full responsibility for that.

"We aim to be tighter and more resolute defensively. Obviously we get the goal – and a number of the games this season – we've led a goal in front, and that should be enough.

"We work on defending, we work very hard on being compact, but we never managed the game.

"We've got a lot of young players and players who are new to the club but we have to be better than that."

What should Rodgers have done differently at Selhurst Park on Sunday? Let us know your post-match thoughts in the comments section below.

PA

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Crystal Palace 3-1 Liverpool: Player Ratings

Вс, 23/11/2014 - 20:31

Liverpool were deservedly beaten 3-1 by Crystal Palace on Sunday, on yet another dismal afternoon for Brendan Rodgers and his side.

 Crystal Palace's captain Mile Jedinak scores the third goal against Liverpool during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SIMON MIGNOLET (out of 10)- 6

The Belgian could do little about any of Palace’s goals, and his handling was solid all afternoon. His kicking remains shambolic, however.

Vote Mignolet as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

JAVIER MANQUILLO- 6

The young Spaniard made a couple of crucial interceptions in the first-half, but he was given a torrid time by Yannick Bolasie all afternoon. One of Liverpool’s better players, but that’s not saying much.

Vote Manquillo as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

MARTIN SKRTEL- 4.5

The Slovakian was extremely poor from start to finish, showing poor positional sense and typically erratic defending. Gave away a needless foul for Palace’s third goal. The back-line will be always be shaky with the 29-year-old in it.

Vote Skrtel as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

DEJAN LOVREN- 5.5

The £20 million man was actually slightly better than of late, but he is still way short of the player we expected to see when he joined in the summer. His partnership with Skrtel looks, quite frankly, calamitous.

Vote Lovren as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

GLEN JOHNSON- 5

The 30-year-old was at his infuriating worst, showing a lackadaisical attitude all afternoon, and simply not offering enough quality defensively or going forward. He looks like a player who knows he’s leaving and the sooner Rodgers stops playing him, the better for all concerned.

Vote Johnson as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

STEVEN GERRARD- 5

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Crystal Palace score the third goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The skipper was not at the races all day, whether it be his shooting, defensive work or general influence on the game. His below-par form continues, and question marks remain over his regular place in the side. Still played the full 90 minutes though. Again.

Vote Gerrard as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

JOE ALLEN- 7

Allen divides opinion, but there can surely no doubting that he was the Reds’ standout player on the day. The Wales international used the ball intelligently, worked extremely hard and defended well throughout. Palace equalised because the 24-year-old was off the pitch receiving treatment. Unfairly subbed for Can when Gerrard was far more off form.

Vote Allen as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

ADAM LALLANA- 6

The 26-year-old was neat and tidy, but he seemed to be on the periphery of things from start to finish. Terrific ball for Lambert’s goal though.

Vote Lallana as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

PHILIPPE COUTINHO- 5.5

The Brazilian often looked the most likely to open up the Palace defence, but too often he lost the ball or tried the impossible. You couldn’t question his effort, but he was very frustrating.

Vote Coutinho as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

RAHEEM STERLING- 5

The 19-year-old is way below his best at the moment, and he was poor again against the Eagles. He continually ran down blind alleys, and he inexcusably lost Joe Ledley for Palace’s second goal.

Vote Sterling as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

RICKIE LAMBERT- 5.5

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert scores the first goal against Crystal Palace during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lambert’s afternoon got off to the perfect start, taking his first goal for Liverpool expertly, but he was pretty ineffective from that point on. If it had been Mario Balotelli producing that performance, he would have been slaughtered by some.

Vote Lambert as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

Substitutes

FABIO BORINI (on for Lallana 71)- 5.5

Barring one awful cross, the Italian was unnoticed.

Vote Borini as your Man of the Match on Twitter:

EMRE CAN (on for Allen 74)- n/a

Did nothing of note.

MAKE YOUR RATINGS

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Confirmed Liverpool lineup against Crystal Palace – No Moreno or Henderson

Вс, 23/11/2014 - 16:29

Liverpool return to Premier League action with a trip to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park – and Rickie Lambert leads the attack.

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert in action against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s only the second Premier League start for Lambert, and his fourth in all competitions for the club – The Reds have won all of their three previous games Lambert has started.

There’s no Mario Balotelli in the squad, seemingly having not recovered from a hamstring injury suffered while on international duty – he was watching the boxing in Liverpool on Saturday night instead.

Jordan Henderson also isn’t in the squad, Liverpool reporting due to illness.

While Glen Johnson starts at left back instead of Alberto Moreno.

Martin Kelly starts for Palace.

Kick off at Selhurst Park is 1.30pm (UK). Liverpool haven’t beat Palace at Selhurst Park since 1997.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Johnson, Gerrard, Allen, Lallana, Coutinho, Sterling, Lambert.

Subs: Jones, Toure, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Borini, Markovic.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Delaney, Dann, Ward, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie, Puncheon, Chamakh, Gayle.

Subs: Hennessey, Hangeland, Bannan, McArthur, Zaha, Campbell, Johnson.

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Joe Allen still confident of Liverpool’s Champions League campaign

Сб, 22/11/2014 - 17:52

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen insists his side have the belief to end a run of three successive defeats and secure progress into the Champions League knockout stage.

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

Having lost to Basel, their main rivals for a runners-up spot in Group B, in Switzerland the Reds then suffered back-to-back defeats against Real Madrid.

In reality those matches against the defending champions were never likely to decide Liverpool's destiny so it now comes down to their final two games – which is what was expected when the draw was made.

They head to Bulgaria to face Ludogorets – whom they scraped past at Anfield thanks to a Steven Gerrard penalty in stoppage time – next week knowing they require at least a point, while a victory would put them back in the driving seat if Madrid beat Basle in the Bernabeu on the same night.

"Before the group was under way that would have been our aim any way," said Allen.

"We understand there are no easy games in the Champions League but we have to have the belief we can get those points and I think we have the ability to do that.

"There were a lot of young players out there (in the 1-0 defeat to Real in Madrid) and they gained massive experience from a game like that.

"Taking it into the next two games in the group we will take a lot of self-belief and we are confident we can get six points from them."

If they are to have any chance of success Liverpool have to end their barren run in front of goal, which has not been helped by Daniel Sturridge's new thigh injury which has ruled him out until the new year.

The Reds have not scored in the competition since they beat Ludogorets 2-1 at Anfield on September 16.

They last failed to score in four consecutive European matches in the 2005-06 Champions League campaign, which ended at the first knockout round after defeat to Benfica.

Brendan Rodgers' side have just three points from four matches and there are just six teams in the history of the competition who have still managed to progress from a similar or worse position.

In 2001-02 Liverpool found themselves in an identical situation in the second group stage with three points after four matches but managed to qualify as group runners-up with seven points.

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Rickie Lambert Deserves the Chance to Impress for Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Сб, 22/11/2014 - 15:33

Brendan Rodgers has dropped a big hint that Rickie Lambert would start for Liverpool against Crystal Palace on Sunday, and rightly so, writes Jack Lusby.

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert in action against Manchester United during the International Champions Cup Final match at the SunLife Stadium on day fifteen of the club's USA Tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace for Sunday lunchtime’s Premier League encounter licking the wounds left by a disappointing month.

Losses to Newcastle United and Chelsea in the Premier League bookended another loss, in the Champions League, away to Real Madrid.

Furthermore, the bastion of all Merseyside hopes, Daniel Sturridge, suffered another injury blow this week, which could leave him on the sidelines for another six weeks.

The return of the England striker was billed as the saviour of the Reds’ season.

Rodgers told reporters in his pre-Palace press conference that Sturridge is “as down as I have seen anyone in terms of not being able to help the team.”

To make matters worse, summer signing Mario Balotelli suffered an injury of his own when with Italy on international duty, and Rodgers claimed he “will be assessed before the match,” perhaps opening the opportunity for another Liverpool striker to start against Palace.

Rodgers says Rickie Lambert will "feature heavily" in games coming up. Balotelli fitness to be assessed before Palace game.

— Neil Jones (@neiljonesecho) November 21, 2014

With Liverpool so struggling in front of goal without Sturridge this season, perhaps Rodgers would be wise to freshen up his attacking options with a peripheral figure.

Lambert can be that man.

Back to Basics

 Liverpool's Joe Allen scores the first goal against AC Milan with team-mate Rickie Lambert during the International Champions Cup Group B match at the Bank of America Stadium on day thirteen of the club's USA Tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is fair to say that this season Liverpool have so far struggled to get started.

Earlier this month, Si Steers wrote for This is Anfield that “if we can get back to the basics of what we did so well last season, the top four isn’t beyond us.”

Naturally, this was with Sturridge’s timely return in mind.

But now that notion has been blown out the water, the situation that must be addressed is that the basics of last season—arguably that attack is the best form of defence—are unattainable at present.

Last season Rodgers’ side, aided by a thriving Sturridge and his strike partner, Luis Suarez, would swarm over their opposition from kick-off. Goals would come thick and fast.

Some faces from that frontier remain the same, with Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho still shining at times, but much has changed with the loss of the Uruguayan.

With Palace, and then PFC Ludogorets Razgrad and Stoke City in mind as Liverpool’s immediate set of challenges, perhaps the Reds should turn to another basic level.

This is far from suggesting that Rodgers should opt for a rudimentary target man system akin to Sam Allardyce from the moment Jay-Jay Okocha left Bolton Wanderers to the day Teddy Sheringham was ushered in to the Boleyn Ground.

But Rodgers should aim to use so-called target man Lambert as he looks to build after some shocking form.

Lambert’s Qualities

"Soon, we're going to be firing on all cylinders" – @LFC striker Rickie Lambert. Read more: http://t.co/ADmI8JIIkG pic.twitter.com/OWKZx8Jy90

— Premier League (@premierleague) October 30, 2014

Utilising Lambert would offer Liverpool a target with which to base their attacks, and the England international possesses the intelligence and technical ability to allow this to work without Rodgers sacrificing his ideals.

The No. 9 is more than capable of playing with the ball on the ground, holding up play and using his impeccable passing range to bring his pacier colleagues into the fore.

Lambert’s qualities don’t stop there however, as his time with Southampton under Mauricio Pochettino outlined, as the striker is more than capable of operating in a high-tempo, pressing system.

Compared to Balotelli, Lambert is far more comfortable in serving as a target for the opposition too, and his strength and nous should see him thrive here.

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At Southampton, Lambert would perform in this lone striker role that Balotelli is suffering in, also dropping deep to collect the ball and recycle possession, but where the former Milan man is struggling due to a lack of a partner, Lambert should be right at home.

When it comes to hitting the net, too, where Balotelli has been frustratingly profligate, Lambert has displayed in his time in the Premier League that he is a clinical finisher.

Liverpool have won every match Rickie Lambert has started in the league this season #NotAnImpactSub

— Dinesh Hardayal (@DHardayal) November 18, 2014

These all come from a starting role, however—Lambert is not effective as the impact player he has so far been utilised as, and that is why the England international must start.

A Change in Tactics

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the UEFA Champions League Group B match against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Deploying Lambert offers Rodgers an array of tactical possibilities.

The return of Sturridge was, ostensibly, also going to see the return of a forward two, and the successful midfield diamond formation.

Rodgers: "I'm not dogmatic. We've played various systems in my time here. We will always explore different options. That's my job as mgr."

— Neil Jones (@neiljonesecho) November 21, 2014

If the manager persists despite the No. 15’s failure to return, Rodgers has various options to consider when partnering Lambert.

If fit, Balotelli would be an awkward fit on paper, with the pair both looking to fill the deep-lying role, but it may be surprisingly successful, whereas Fabio Borini makes a more traditional foil.

Ideally, Lambert would be paired with Sterling in a forward two, as the 19-year-old outlined how he can perform in a striker’s role in the first Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling in action against Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sterling’s pace and movement gave centre-backs Pepe and Rafael Varane a lot to think about in the opening stages, and the forward would complement Lambert’s qualities perfectly.

However, if a stubborn Rodgers continues with his bizarrely-favoured 4-2-3-1 formation in light of Sturridge’s prolonged absence, Lambert would also be a more effective lone striker than Balotelli, who has undoubtedly and openly struggled in this role.

The manager would need to use his myriad attacking midfield options—three of Sterling, Coutinho, Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic or even Jordan Henderson in more advanced role—to dovetail with Lambert and offer the Englishman options to further the attack.

Liverpool are desperately in need of a win at Palace, and in desperate need of a refreshed attack.

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert in action against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As a local boy, Lambert should feel this as much as the Reds’ vitriolic fans are at this moment—on joining the club in the summer, he said “I have always dreamt of playing for Liverpool, but I did kind of think the chance of playing for them had gone. I didn’t think the chance would come.”

The striker continued that “it means everything to me,” and “I know what is important, I know it’s what I do on the pitch and the minutes I play.”

Rodgers hasn’t gifted Lambert the minutes he needs to get into gear at Liverpool so far, though.

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Sunday’s visit to Crystal Palace is the perfect opportunity for Rickie Lambert to prove himself, as Liverpool’s strike options continue to frustrate.

Should Rickie Lambert start against Crystal Palace? Let us know in the comments below.

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Six weeks to define Liverpool’s season

Сб, 22/11/2014 - 15:04

The final six weeks of 2014 could prove a huge period Liverpool’s season, starting with Sunday’s trip to Crystal Palace — and an optimistic Craig Rimmer explains how the Reds could come out of the other side for the better.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers gives instructions to captain Steven Gerrard against Hull City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At Selhurst Park on Sunday Liverpool face the first of 11 fixtures in the next six weeks which will ultimately determine what their 2014/15 season looks like. It’s a schedule as vital as it is chaotic, and one which will define the limits of Liverpool’s ambitions in the second half of the season.

A potentially tame run of fixtures against Crystal Palace, Stoke City, Leicester City and Sunderland is complicated by two must-win Champions League games away to Ludogorets and at home to Basel.

That precedes league games against Manchester United and Arsenal, either side of a Capital One Cup quarter-final, and then the hectic Christmas and New Year period.

It’s a period of the season which demands negotiation and management. Damage must be limited and points put on the board.

News of Daniel Sturridge’s latest spell on the sidelines just made that task a harder one. Goals are a big concern, but after the last summer transfer window Liverpool should be in a better position and in possession of a squad to cope with such demands.

There are enough good players in the squad now; perhaps it’s time for some of those said players to stand up and prove it.

Everything is still to play for. Despite a turgid start to the season, the realistic objectives set back in August remain within reach — due in part to the failings and inconsistencies of others.

Liverpool could conceivably head into 2015 in a much happier place — how does 15-20 additional points and Champions League progress sound?

For a change, the recent international break came at a nice time for Liverpool. Following three successive defeats, it was an obvious point at which to stop, regroup and start afresh.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia is substituted by manager Brendan Rodgers during the Premier League match against Chelsea at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There were small shoots of progress against both Real Madrid and Chelsea — little consolation when both games ended in defeat. Although, for that to be anything more than consequential, Liverpool need to put together a run of good form and, more significantly, a run of winning form.

To date the season has lacked direction; any signs of progress, both individually and collectively, have been swiftly undermined. The weight of the fixture list hasn’t helped a labouring team; the increasing regularity of games acting to magnify deficiencies.

What Liverpool’s season needs is a purpose and a source of momentum. In such a busy period momentum is actually not too hard to find. Win a couple of games and the prognosis suddenly looks far rosier.

Equally, a couple more defeats and the kind of pessimism and scepticism which has threatened to confine last season to a distant memory would be cranked up a notch or two, and Liverpool’s season could just as easily get away from them.

It’s a situation which demands pragmatism; the kind of pragmatism which Rodgers was such a great exponent of during the previous season. In fact Liverpool would be well-guided to get back to doing much more of what they did well last season.

But winning football matches breeds momentum and momentum can in turn breed form. It was that kind of perfect storm which spurred Liverpool on to an epic title challenge last season and, although it is obviously short-sighted to expect anything like as memorable this time around, success over the next six weeks can still prove the catalyst for Liverpool to achieve their basic goals of Champions League qualification, Champions League progression, and perhaps even a cup semi-final to boot.

This season remains uncertain and difficult to define. It’s fair to surmise that we will likely be left in little doubt as to it’s direction come the new year. If Liverpool are to take ownership of their season and give it the kind of definition we all want, then they must start winning games. What better time of place to start than here and now.


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Raheem Sterling eyes long Liverpool stay

Сб, 22/11/2014 - 14:26

Raheem Sterling is ready to commit his long-term future to Liverpool.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling in action against Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 19-year-old, whose existing Anfield contract runs to 2017, has reportedly attracted the interest of European champions Real Madrid, but believes he can realise all his dreams on Merseyside.

Quoted in several national newspapers, he said: "I am happy to be here for as long as possible. Hopefully I can achieve the goals I want to achieve here at Liverpool in years to come.

"I am just happy to play football at this club for many years to come. The club has spoken to my representatives and hopefully something can be done soon."

Reports last year suggested Sterling was on the verge of signing a new five-year deal at Anfield, thought to be worth upwards of £100,000 per week.

The England attacker says his rapid progression has been down to hard work and maturing.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the third winning goal against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Reflecting on the last two years, Sterling is quoted on the club’s official website this week, “If I could see myself two years ago I would just say listen to the advice the people around you – particularly the manager – are giving you. Stay focused on playing football only and lead a professional lifestyle from the word go.

“Try to get better every day, not just in playing, but in everything. That was probably my slight weakness in that I was not leading the lifestyle I should have been off the pitch – not resting when I should have been, stuff like that.

“That is something I have brought in with maturity, having that rest period I should have.

“I wasn’t in the team at the start of last season but I knew I could develop and really turn things around. That was my big moment – being on the bench. That time out really helped me.”

Sterling has scored 15 goals in 93 appearances for the Reds, winning 13 England caps along the way.

What are your thoughts on Sterling’s season at Liverpool so far? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

PA

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Raheem Sterling opens up about pressure of England “tiredgate”

Сб, 22/11/2014 - 14:25

Liverpool attacker Raheem Sterling has opened up about the pressure he was under when he asked to sit out of an England international due to tiredness earlier this season.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling in action against Newcastle United's captain Fabricio Coloccini during the Premier League match at St. James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sterling found himself in the spotlight off the pitch recently after England boss Roy Hodgson revealed the player had told him he was tired ahead of the final training session in the build-up to last month's Euro 2016 qualifier against Estonia in Tallinn.

That led to accusations the teenager had said he did not want to play, but Sterling insists nothing could be further from the truth – and says he has learned from the experience.

"It was pretty difficult," he said. "I tried to not really watch TV much or listen to things.

"If I saw a conversation about me on TV, I would just turn over. It was the first time I'd had to deal with anything like that. It was different but I felt I dealt with it really well. I didn't read too much into it.

 England's new head coach Roy Hodgson with coach Gary Neville against Belgium during the International Friendly match at Wembley. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

"The main thing I've learned is to just shut off. I was always on my phone and Instagram – things would pop up and you could not go past it without having a look. But now I've learned to block it all out and not read what is said.

"I just love playing football for club or country. If anything I said got taken the wrong way, I'm sorry about that, but I am always happy to play football."

Who came out of “tiredgate” the best and worst? Let us know your conclusions to the saga in the comments below.

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How Liverpool should lineup against Crystal Palace on Sunday

Сб, 22/11/2014 - 00:00

After a 15 day break, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they head south to take on Neil Warnock’s struggling Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers gives instructions to Raheem Sterling during the Premier League match against Southampton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The respite since the defeat to Chelsea will have given the Reds time to regroup, but all positive feeling ahead of a big effort to turn the season around over the upcoming fixtures has been lost, following the news that Daniel Sturridge is now out for a further six weeks after frustratingly breaking down once again in training, at a time where his return looked imminent.

The news comes a huge blow to Rodgers who would have been hoping that the England striker’s return could inspire a turnaround of results, but his side will now have to do it the hard way and without their most prized asset available for an absolutely crucial part of the season.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Southampton FC

Liverpool are on a miserable run of three straight losses in all competitions and having shown an incredible amount of faith in certain players for the visit of Chelsea but once again losing at Anfield – overlooking those impressive performers in Madrid – Rodgers will be under big pressure to change something within his team’s set up on Sunday to grab a desperately needed three points.

The Team

Little has changed on the injury front for Rodgers, with Sturridge, Jon Flanagan, Mamadou Sakho and Suso all still unavailable and all eyes will be on his team selection for the third match in a row after those players he showed such faith in slumped to another defeat at Anfield last time out.

With pressure mounting on the Liverpool boss, changes to the team are now something that can no longer be ignored and must be implemented with immediate effect.

 Liverpool's Kolo Toure in action against Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With that in mind, Kolo Toure will certainly be hoping for a recall having unfairly made way for Chelsea’s visit as will Javier Manquillo, and Lucas Leiva too will be hopeful that Rodgers drops his blind faith in underperforming players and hands him a chance.

Rodgers has plenty of midfield options available now Jordan Henderson has been declared fit to play, but there is a battle for spaces with Emre Can, Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Philippe Coutinho all hopeful of being trusted with a starting place.

Adam Lallana and Lazark Markovic haven’t featured much recently, but both will be looking to be trusted in the attacking midfield areas though they face a battle to start, as they continue to struggle to make an impact since arriving in the summer.

Rodgers says Rickie Lambert will "feature heavily" in games coming up. Balotelli fitness to be assessed before Palace game.

— Neil Jones (@neiljonesecho) November 21, 2014

In attack, it’s a different story for the Liverpool boss with Mario Balotelli set to be assessed ahead of the clash. Therefore Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert will be hopeful of being handed an opportunity to perform – with Rodgers saying Lambert could feature – but with both as well as Liverpool’s £16million Italian struggling for form, playing Raheem Sterling as a striker could be a better option.

Rodgers on strikers: "I have great trust in the players. I would be more concerned if they were moping around or didn't care."

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) November 21, 2014

The Line Up

The time has come for Rodgers to finally end his persistence with under performers, and for that reason there should be two changes to the dysfunctional back four – those being that Javier Manquillo and Kolo Toure should come into the defence ahead of Glen Johnson and Dejan Lovren.

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

The current situation means that the Liverpool manager has to revisit what works best, and that, as everyone knows, is the diamond shaped midfield. Gerrard should sit at the bottom, with the energetic pairing of Henderson and Can ahead of him to compete in the physical midfield battle.

Philippe Coutinho should occupy the position at the tip of the midfield shape in behind a strike pairing of Balotelli, if fit, and Raheem Sterling in the Liverpool attack.

Those changes to the side should see Liverpool’s first choice line up look like this on Sunday afternoon:

palace first choice

However, Rodgers has hinted pre-match that  Lambert could be set for more minutes, despite  Borini playing himself above the 32-year-old in the pecking order – and if so, he should into the line up alongside the mobile Sterling rather than cutting an isolated and lonely figure like Balotelli.

That slight alteration would mean this would be the team:

palace lambert

Rodgers continues to favour the unsuited 4-2-3-1 formation for reasons unknown though, and with that, this is how I’d expect Liverpool to line up on Sunday afternoon – providing Balotelli is fit or if Lambert comes in to replace the Italian:

4-2-3-1 palace lambert

The bold and brave changes can no longer be ignored, and Rodgers must make them to his underperforming team in order to spark a transformation in fortunes on the pitch, as Liverpool enter an absolutely crucial part of the season.

Rodgers: "It is my responsibility as manager to get results. Players are giving me absolutely everything."

— Neil Jones (@neiljonesecho) November 21, 2014

Performances and results have to change quickly before those ahead pull away and out of sight, and despite the fixture being a tough one as always for the Reds at the atmospheric Selhurst Park, Sunday presents the perfect chance for the revival to begin.

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