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Liverpool Article 08 May 2024
Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur

What an insane game. Liverpool found it so easy to create chances going forward that it could have been (maybe even should have been) a cricket score, but their defending was utterly abysmal. It certainly did Liverpool a favour that, by the time Postecoglou sorted things out with a triple substitution, they were 4-0 up. It was very nice to watch Liverpool go forward with width and attacking verve. There was good movement, good delivery into the box and Spurs could not cope with it at all. Spurs are very narrow with their inverted full-backs, which Liverpool took full advantage of going forward and really should have added more goals to their tally. The constant rotation of Diaz and Gakpo down the left unsettled the Londoners' defence and Salah was able to get Emerson isolated time and time again. It was finally a sign of some good tactics at work, rather than trying to force an unsuited system on the Reds players and wondering why they struggle.

The only thing that ruined this performance was the ineptitude of the defending. It was truly dreadful and masked early on by just how bad Spurs were. Once they managed to get some passes strung together, they simply strolled through a non-existent defence. Partly helped by Liverpool taking their foot off the gas a little after the 4th goal, but there is no excuse for such poor quality defending. It is basic stuff that is not being done. No one gets close enough. Everyone in that defensive unit just sits off and lets the opposition do their thing. The reading of the game is poor as well, allowing Richarlison to run in behind at will. If the midfield and attack are not able to smother the opposition with a press, then there is a huge problem. It is basic coaching of the kind that can be done in days. When a coach like Hodgson or Allardyce arrives at a new club, they will drill that into their team first before they do anything else. While I do not want to see Liverpool play the kind of football either of them do, what they show is that it is simple and quick to drill those basics into players. I just wonder why it has evaporated at Liverpool in the last few years. If Lijnders is the world class coach he claims to be, why can he not organise a defensive unit to defend?

He can certainly coach, that I am not disagreeing with, but Lijnders needs to get his feet back on the ground, stop thinking he is a tactical genius and work on some basics before moving on to trying to innovate. The basics were there in the team before he became the main coach, similar to when Moyes left Everton and Marco Silva came in. Adding that bit more attacking flair in Silva's case, tactical changes in Lijnders' case, to a solid foundation was good. But both have failed to return to working on the basics at regular intervals, until the basics failed them both. That is where Liverpool are at right now, they need a reminder of the basics of defending as a unit to build a base for the attacking football to prosper. Having seen footage of the way Manchester City prepare in their pre-match warm up, drilling the back four in just basic back four work, I think Liverpool need to incorporate that too. In fact there are very few clubs who could not do with a warm up in a similar vein, reminding defenders to drop as a unit when a player is on the ball in time and space and when one should close down while the rest drop off to cover.

For those wondering what I am talking about, this is a link to the clip on instagram:

Actually one more thing I nearly forgot, that is to say well done to the Anfield crowd. It would have been so easy to struggle to create an atmosphere with nothing really left to play for and the team being so poor in recent weeks but it was good from start to finish. It is just sad that the Jurgen Klopp song will have to be retired soon.

I really enjoy watching Ange Postecoglou's football, but it really is asking for trouble against the better teams as they can expose it so easily. If the Australian had a better quality of player, then it would work a lot better, but playing such a high line with inverted full-backs meaning there are wide open spaces on the flanks is just asking for trouble. Especially when you are relying on a defender like van de Ven. The guy is obscenely quick, but as a defender he is simply not very good other than being quick. He is a weak point to attack and it creates so many gaps as Romero is constantly in on the cover, leaving a simple ball across for any attacker on the ball once he has drawn Romero over to cover. All that is needed is a pass to the side and there is an attacker running in on goal.

The defending of Spurs has to be up there with the worst in the Premier League, it is little wonder they are starting to struggle. The selection choices are very strange as well, putting Emerson at left-back against Salah was clearly going to be an issue as he is an awful defender. To then take him off and put Skipp there beggars belief. The only reason Skipp was not responsible for allowing Salah to run in to space behind him multiple times was due to clear fouls, which it is amazing the referee missed. There is a lot of work there to turn them into anything but an also-ran team. The squad is in need of an overhaul, bringing in players to suit the new way of playing if they are to progress. I do wonder if he will have to abandon his inverted full-back system and wake up to the fact that it is better to have an attacking player in and around the box, with the full-backs out wide providing the width. Yes, a full-back might ocassionally smash one in from 25 yards, but attacking players will create many more chances in the same positions.

Quick notes on the players:

Alisson - he must have done more sweeping up of bad balls from the opposition in the first half alone than he had done in the entire rest of the season put together. The second half he did actually get tested and did what he could to keep Tottenham from scoring more. The thing that has to be of concern was just how much screaming he did at the defenders in the last half hour or so, I don't remember him being that angry with a defence in front of him before. He had every right to be furious with them as they were so bad.

Alexander-Arnold - the difference when he stays wide and provides attacking thrust down the flanks is night and day. Not only do Liverpool look better, but he looks better playing that way.

Quansah - while he did some good things at times, overall his defending was poor. He was caught out repeatedly by a simple ball in behind him and never learnt to drop when the man on the ball had time and space. Once more it is basics of defending that are missing, because one on one he did well, but when working as a unit, his defensive positioning was poor.

van Dijk - there are times when you just have to wonder if Virgil has an identical twin brother who plays some of the games. This was one of those times. His performances in the last few weeks have been poor, but this was up there with the worst. He was all over the place, except for anywhere near where he should have been. There was so much space for the Spurs' attackers to exploit and van Dijk was the main culprit. He has had such a good season, but it has tailed off badly. He needs to actually engage attackers, rather than just backing off and allowing them to play. It is fine to back off when you are in a one-on-one situation and are trying to make time for cover to arrive, but van Dijk is now just backing off no matter the situation. If there is cover, then you need to engage and put the player under pressure, not back away and hope they make a mistake.

Robertson - had a really good game and scored. He was back to his best marauding down the flank but not just mindlessly, he was choosing the right time. He also dealt well with Johnson, shutting him out of the game while he was up against him.

Endo - if only the defence showed his attitude and desire to get in the face of every opposition player, Liverpool would have kept a clean sheet. Had a good game.

Mac Allister - played well, amazing how that happens when there is options for him to pass to. In the recent run of his poor performances, the team has been so narrow that passing options have been extremely limited and the margin for error on a pass has been tiny with everyone crowded into narrow corridors. Suddenly Liverpool play with width, stretching the play and creating space, which gives him options to pick out and bigger gaps to play balls through. It is no coincidence that his performance improved.

Elliott - absolutely brilliant game for Elliott, topped off with a lovely goal. He must have enjoyed every moment of that game as he was having the time of his life out there. Elliott has been really impressive this season coming off the bench, but this was even better than any of those performances. And he is still only 21.

Diaz - did rotate well with Gakpo and works so hard for the team but still needs better end product. He is so close to being a truly special player, but that end product is the key. Until he figures out that bit, he will never quite be right.

Gakpo - while Elliott was man of the match, Gakpo was the one with a case to argue that it could have been him. Playing a freer role than normal, rotating between left side and centre and it really suited him. Not only was he creating but he also added a goal for himself with a very good header from Elliott's cross. His performance did drop off a bit once Nunez came on, as the pair of them did not have quite the same understanding, which was added to by Gravenberch (who also came on then) making the same runs as Gakpo and getting in his way. His last few games have definitely made a case for Gakpo to be given an extended run on the left side of the attack. The only blight on his performance was the moment he dived. No more of that please Cody!

Salah - had a good game, caused so many problems and got a goal and assist. It feels churlish to criticise him, but he really should have scored more.

Bajcetic - brought on in the place of Endo in the 64th minute. Took a long time to get up to the pace of the game, his touch was very loose, but he did show signs of getting going towards the end. After such a long time out injured, this was probably the best chance he will get for a safe run out to get back up to speed.

Gomez - also came on in the 64th min, to take over from Robertson at left-back. He was very lucky not to give away a penalty but apart from that he was too nice and joined in the general malaise at the back of standing too far off the opposition.

Nunez - replaced Diaz in the 75th minute. Did not have the same understanding with Gakpo that Diaz has and was caught out clearly unsure what to do on a few occasions. He was not comfortable and it showed in what was not the best of performances, though nothing like as bad as the media are making out. Yes he could have scored, but Vicario did an Alisson-like block, rushing out to close the space down before Nunez had time to really do much other than hit and hope.

Gravenberch - took the place of Mac Allister also in the 75th minute. Stood watching as Bajcetic got dragged out to a position right behind him and never made any attempt to get back and fill in or take over so Bajcetic could return to the centre. As a result Spurs strolled through the huge space in the centre. And his performance never improved afterwards, he made absolutely no attempt to work back and continually made the same runs Gakpo was making. Back to the Gravenberch at the start of the season. Awful. The only thing he really needs to do is make an effort when he comes on as a sub, but he failed miserably to do so. Contrast that with Elliott's attitude when he comes off the bench and you can see why Elliott has moved past him in the pecking order.

Szoboszlai - Elliott picked up a knock and was replaced by the Hungarian in the 83rd minute. He was heavily involved, pretty much taking up where Elliott left off with lots of energy and getting up and down the pitch, but showed a bit less quality than Elliott had. He has not been the same since he got injured.


Liverpool Article 29 Apr 2024
West Ham United v Liverpool

Yet another lacklustre performance as Liverpool limp towards the end of the season, it is reminscent of when Alex Ferguson first announced he was leaving Manchester United and they lost their way so badly he changed his mind. If I remember correctly, it also happened to Rangers when they were going for 10 in a row Scottish titles under Walter Smith. It ended up costing them the title I am sure, though I could be wrong on that one. It was something everyone was worried about when Klopp's statement came out. The season is just meandering to a finish now, with a bunch of players that seem to have given up and are just marking time for the season to end. The problem is that there is not a lot Klopp can really do now, other than drop them all and play the under 21s! Salah showed that being dropped can still provoke a reaction from some players, even if being fired up did not really produce any results on the pitch from him. Having said that, it was not like he was given much time to affect the game. In fact I do wonder if Klopp provoked Salah just before he was set to go on to get him fired up. Mo is a very placid sort of person but when he went on the pitch he was clearly fired up and looking to win that match.

To be fair, the performance did pick up at the start of the second half, with Liverpool one down they came out and attacked. They got the two goals, though it must be said there was a lot of luck in both, and looked to have the Hammers on the ropes. Just as I am thinking how good it is to see a bit of fight in the team, Liverpool allowed West Ham back in by reverting to slow passing around the defence and midfield. I know they want to control the game by keeping the ball and not allowing the opposition to get on it, but they can do that just as well by going and getting a third while West Ham were there for the taking. You can press high, win it back and then play a safe ball, rather than a quick counter to maintain control. I know the thinking is to have more control by keeping possession, but if you want to do that, then you need to build a team to do so. Liverpool have not really done that, the signings have been confused between players for the high intensity style and ones for the slow, laboured, controlling play.

If you are going to play it, then you need centre-backs who are ball players, yet Konate is the one that was signed. He is a more intense type of player and not really a ball-player. In fact you can go through the transfers since the Premier League win and the same confusion clearly applies. Jota and Tsimikas came in as well as Thiago back then. Thiago is perfect for a controlling tactic, but Tsimikas and Jota are all hustle and bustle, high-intensity workers who are unsuited to it. The following season it was Diaz, Konate and Elliott, none really suited to playing a slower game. Then there is Nunez, who is certainly not a player for controlled play. But that same season saw Gakpo, Carvalho and Ramsay too, all of whom look better suited to a bit more control. Even the choice of Melo on loan seemed to be to provide another Thiago-type in midfield. Then we come to this summer and it was back to players who want to play with intensity. It makes little sense as a recruitment policy and it is no wonder the style of play is not working so well when the recruitment is so confused.

That does not excuse what is currently happening on the pitch, with no one picking up players, closing down opponents or attempting to win headers. Once again Liverpool conceded simple goals by not challenging in the air. Antonio had so much space it is astonishing. That is simply not good enough and there is no excuse for that.

What I do find most strange is that more is not being made of the moment when Areola, after pretending to be hurt to waste time, rolled the ball in front of him and started pulling up his socks. It was a ludicrous mistake by a keeper who is prone to dodgy moments and Gakpo had spotted it and raced forward to get the loose ball, only to be stopped by the referee. Anthony Taylor's decision was outright corruption because he covered up his blatant mistake by ordering the Areola to go down and calling on the physios, even though Areola made no attempt to claim he was injured. He was too busy looking embarrassed and confused. It is one thing for a referee to make a mistake, but a responsible person owns up to their error rather than attempts to cover it up. I could have respected Taylor for holding his hands up, but now I am just even more sure that he should be immediately sacked from the Premier League referee's pool. Forget that Taylor has altered a result by his actions, it is the lack of responsibility he showed and lack of respect for fans watching the game. The reason why Pierluigi Collina commanded respect on the pitch is not because he was perfect. He made mistakes too, but he owned them and held up his hands to them.

If ever there was a team that set up to give Liverpool a chance to win, without playing well, it was West Ham once again. Moyes' attitude of 'knife to a gun fight' pervades the whole Hammers team and they sit back and invite pressure, despite their defence being very much a weak link right now. It was strange to see two teams coming in off the back of bad results and yet neither were fired up to go out there and take the game to the other. Neither side were closing down the opposition, making it so easy for the other to just play right through them, but they also seemed to lack the ambition to do so most of the time. What they really lacked was ambition. They were always happy to settle for a point and were so placid and deep they almost threw that away. Each time they did attack, they cut through the Liverpool defence so easily, you would have thought they would be tempted to attack more, but they just wanted to get straight back into their defensive positions and sit in front of their own goal.

Quick notes on the players:

Alisson - he needs some protection from the defence, as opposing teams are able to just stroll through it at will right now. He did make a mistake, dropping an easy catch, but quickly made up for it with a save afterwards. He was not really under any kind of sustained pressure though, West Ham were too content to sit back for long periods of the game.

Alexander-Arnold - when he is out wide, it creates so many problems for the opposition as it drags them out to deal with him, but every chance he gets Alexander-Arnold moves into the centre leaving an absence of width on the right and reducing his own options to play passes. West Ham were so narrow and compact, that they were always open to a switch of play or to put it wide into space from the centre, with so much space to play the ball into but there was never the option open to switch it right. That made it so much easier for the Hammers to defend as they only had to worry about the left side.

Quansah - while he did not have a bad game per se, the fact that he and the rest of the defence stand off and allow opponents to just stroll through them and make no real attempt to shut them down on the ball, it is difficult to say that he played well. Also, allowing so many free headers for opposing players from set pieces and crosses is poor defending.

van Dijk - completely out of sorts in these final weeks. He is constantly stood off watching while opponents play through or attack headers. He did manage to get to a couple, but is still far too passive when the ball is played into the box.

Robertson - was a little subdued in the first half, as he sat back providing cover on the left most of the time. Second half he was much more the marauding full-back of old and caused havoc. His goal had a lot of luck about it (the keeper should have done a lot better) but he was there and took the shot when the chance came. It was worrying that he pulled up lame in the final few minutes.

Endo - not really the game for him as West Ham sat off Liverpool and never really made it into a battle. Soucek was so deep most of the game he was playing as an auxiliary centre-back, so there was little reason to have a specific defensive midfielder there.

Mac Allister - got forward well but his passing was not at its best. West Ham did close off forward passing lanes well as they were sat so deep and narrow, but he was trying to force forward passes at times.

Gravenberch - flattered to deceive. Had some good moments but his end product was poor. Needed to do a bit more.

Diaz - once again plays well, causes havoc but still needs to provide more end product.

Elliott - another one who came too narrow. The lack of width down the right was a real problem and he was not helping by moving all over the pitch. Yes, he was trying really hard, but he needed to use his head more and hold the width.

Gakpo - he ended up too deep, trying to play in the centre like Firmino used to. It really does not suit him and he would be better on the left, but he does offer good workrate and it was his shot that, though going badly wide, ended up in the back of the net via a couple of ricochets. It was also his bright thinking that should have led to a late chance to win it, if the referee had not shit the bed the way he did.

Gomez - replaced Alexander-Arnold in the 78th minute. Came on too late to really do anything.

Nunez - took Endo's place in the 78th minute. His biggest part in the match was probably holding back Salah before they came on.

Salah - also brought on in the 78th minute, to replace Diaz. Looked fired up, and not just because of his disagreement with Klopp and lack of hug. He was positive and got forward well, though his passing and end product was still not there.

Szoboszlai - came on in the 90th + 1 minute in place of Quansah. A strange substitution and he had no chance to do anything of note.

Tsimikas - never came on to take the place of the injured Robertson because he took so long to get ready.


Liverpool Article 27 Apr 2024
Everton v Liverpool

A truly awful performance from Liverpool, almost every player failed to turn up. Trying to write this review is very difficult to do without swearing, my notes on the game were nearing 50% curse words! How do you express just how bad Liverpool played without emphasising it with a sprinkle of swear words. Truly awful does not really tell you the truth of it, while truly fucking awful at least comes close. The thing is that losing happens, we as fans can cope with that, it is when our team lets us down that bothers us. Playing badly is fine, it is not trying that really hurts because they represent us out there on that pitch and it is like they are saying we fans do not matter enough to bother trying. In reality there is lots more to it, but that is the feeling it leaves behind, which is why fans get so upset and some can act irrationally. It is because it genuinely hurts. Even more so when it is a rival and you know that there will be a hundred gloating messages on your phone afterwards.

That is not really relevant to this review, it is just me prevaricating rather than ripping into the team. The thing is that this has been coming. There are so many things over the last couple of years that have been holding Liverpool back that now, with hindsight, it feels like maybe Klopp should have left two years ago, much as I love him. I was clinging onto a hope that he would somehow come back to being Klopp, the Klopp that was a breath of fresh air (and not fresh of breath air as I initially typed for some unknown reason!) and brought that heavy metal football that was so enjoyable to watch and brought so much success. Instead he has been moving further and further away from it. Now when I look back and remember how he tried to step back before the start of last season to let Lijnders have more control to develop him as a successor, that should have been the moment he left.

Since then Klopp has not invested all of himself in the job, which is sickening when you consider the huge amount of money he is paid to do so. I get there is stress and pressure, but it is first world problem stress and pressure of the privileged rich. And this is why I had so much trouble with this review and it took me longer to even get started than normal. Criticising Jurgen Norbert Klopp as a Liverpool fan feels so wrong. He has brought so much joy that it is not that I begrudge him the money or wanting a break, I am annoyed that he stayed too long. Instead of dreading him going, I am now actually just looking forward to it all being over. It is a shame because it should not be that way after all he has achieved. It should be like when he left Dortmund and the BVB fans were just broken-hearted. Instead it is almost going to be a relief.

And, looking back at it now, it should have been foreseen two years ago as it was so obvious. It is not just when he started to step back, it was allowing Lijnders to write that book, just before completely abandoning the intensity it was named after. Taking Lijnders tactical advice, despite his tactics being so abysmal he could not even last a season as a manager, allowing him to write a book, letting Lijnders take the credit for just about everything that ever happened and appear on podcasts and do interviews like he was the prime mover behind everything. The book was a huge red flag from an assistant, who is just one assistant in a team of them. But it is mostly the abandonment of Klopp's ideology on football, the high-octane 'heavy metal' football, in order to move over to playing slow, turgid, possession football, with no width, that really is the biggest issue. I can understand that evolution is necessary and that there were ways to make it better, but there was no need to throw it all out of the window the way Klopp has.

Last season was abysmal, but people blamed it all on the midfield being past it, rather than the tactics being poor making the midfield look done. People were claiming it was the players' ages that stopped them pressing with intensity like before, but it is clear that it was Klopp's choice to play with less intensity. It was Klopp who decided that style was done and moved on to something different that simply did not work. Instead of abandoning it after the way it failed him, Klopp has doubled down on it by buying a whole new midfield instead. The problem is that he bought midfielders who suit the old way of playing, rather than the new way. And what it has resulted in is the team conceding the first goal in a match 22 times this season. Earlier in the season the team would be changed back to the old way and rescue it most of the time, but it was always going to catch up eventually.

Then Klopp made it even more messy by announcing his departure at the end of the season, while there were still months to go. That was always going to provide a short-term boost as the players wanted to go out with a bang for him, but also that was always going to fade and lead to the players struggling to motivate themselves. Add that to Klopp losing his ability to motivate with everyone knowing he was going. It is little wonder the performances have become so lacklustre as Klopp looks lost on the sidelines now, almost resigned to the defeats as the time ticks down, when he used to just get more and more agitated right up until the final whistle blew. What it has led to is a team sleepwalking through the end of the final season, which is ending with a whimper amid turgid football. The amazing thing is that this season has been characterised by turgid football, by giving away the first goal constantly, yet still somehow ending up competing at the top of the league. If someone had told me that before the season started Liverpool would be in this position at this point, I would have been delighted by the thought. Even after the first few weeks, I would still have thought it was a ridiculous idea.

The most frustrating thing of all is that being top of the table was clearly a false position because it was achieved in spite of the tactics, rather than because of them. Or maybe the most frustrating thing is that I am having to criticise Klopp? I really want to just enjoy the end of an era, to see the players give their all for him to end it on a high and to leave me nothing to say but to eulogise about a man who turned us, most of us anyway, into believers.

Everton played well, they had a simple plan - win free kicks in Liverpool's half and then put the ball into the box. To that end, they did go down very easily shall we say, helped by the referee giving them every decision even though there was, at best, minimal contact. However that was not why they beat Liverpool, it just made it a little easier for them. Why they won is because they attacked every ball in the air and chased everything. They outworked Liverpool completely and it was a fairly comfortable win. The question that needs to be asked is why they have not been able to play like this more regularly. However, this week they have earnt their moment to gloat as they were by far the better side and fully deserved their win.

Quick notes on the players:

Alisson - one of the very few who actually bothered to turn up, but was given absolutely no protection.

Alexander-Arnold - terrible performance. I do not understand why a player with his vision cannot spot the need for someone to get down the right and put the ball in. There were acres of space out there but still he constantly inverted to where there was no space, right up until Klopp made his first set of changes. Clearly at that point he was given instruction to stay wide. It is so frustrating watching a player of such quality failing to use his brain and do what fits the way the match is going, rather than just mindlessly following instructions that are clearly idiotic. I get he wants to play midfield, but he needs to do what is best for the team first and foremost.

Konate - he was bullied by Calvert-Lewin, but at least he tried. The biggest problem is that having Alexander-Arnold constantly inverted left him almost playing right-back when the team had the ball, and he is not good enough on the ball to push forward out there. Nor should he have been asked to, as it just left a huge space.

van Dijk - the worst performance I have ever seen him give. All the worst characteristics of van Dijk came to the fore in this game and he was far too busy moaning to the referee or throwing his arms up and blaming everyone else for his failings to actually do his job. He failed to win a single first header from an Everton setpiece, most of the time not even getting near them despite almost all of them being played into his area. The second goal he never even challenged for, when it was his ball to win. This was all about attitude, it was so poor in this game, like he had already given up. After such a stellar season, it is a shame to see this happen.

Robertson - another completely off his game. He has not come back from his injury spell well, like many players he is looking like a different player on his return. It often happens when a player has missed a significant spell with an injury. They often just need time to get back to their best. However, he really needs to do better defensively, especially stopping crosses against a team like Everton.

Mac Allister - another who was terrible. He is not at his best at the base of the midfield anyway, but he was particularly poor in this match, which seems an odd choice to play him there anyway. Everton, and Dyche teams in general, are known for being physical and direct. This was a game for a fighter like Endo to start, but it is just another one in a number of very strange team selections by Klopp recently. Mac Allister is very good at keeping possession, but he tends to do it by passing back and sideways when deep, rather than looking to thread passes through the opposition defence like he will when higher up. That just put Liverpool in trouble, added to by the fact that the ball was moved so slowly, just rolled around, allowing Everton plenty of time to organise and making it easy for them.

Szoboszlai - he has been struggling for a while, since he has had time to learn the tactical set up of the team, rather than just playing the way he feels is right. It is clear he needs the high press, high-intensity football to be effective. This slow, methodical build-up play is not helping him, until that changes, he is going to struggle, as are the rest of the team.

Jones - another who had a poor game, though he tried to get on the ball and move it forward, what he did was completely ineffective. He just ended up being overrun.

Diaz - the one outfield player who had at least a half decent game, though once again he was let down by a complete lack of end product. He did work hard, winning the ball back a number of times, but he just needs to work on actually producing something at the end of it.

Nunez - his touch was poor and it cost him the chance to score a number of times. That is something he really needs to improve on, with a better touch more chances will come and he will get more goals. It does look like he was lacking confidence, which can easily be a part of the problem.

Salah - his performances have been poor for a long time now, after a good start to the season. It is becoming a real worry now, but he was dreadful once more and missed a number of chances. He really should not be in the team right now, he does not deserve his place.

Elliott - came on in the 63rd minute to replace Szoboszlai. Worked hard, at least tried to make something happen, but his attempts to put the ball into dangerous areas was poor.

Endo - brought on for Jones in the 63rd minute. At least brought a bit of bite to the midfield. He did get caught out on the ball initially but quickly got adjusted to the pace of the game.

Quansah - bizarrely came on for Konate also in the 63rd minute. No idea why he was brought on, I am not sure what it did or what it was meant to do.

Gomez - replaced Alexander-Arnold in the 84th minute. A pointless late double substitution which showed Klopp had given up on chasing the result and was just looking to save legs.

Tsimikas - took Robertson's place in the 84th minute. See Gomez above.


27 Apr 2024 17:35:41
I think it's good for Slot that Klopp is not going to finish on a high at Liverpool as Klopp has said when asked about the appointment of Slot. Fans' expectations won't be too high and hopefully, it won't take Slot too long to get the team performing at the highest level again.


25 Apr 2024 20:58:04
Zidane was bald everyone what's the big fuss?


Liverpool Article 23 Apr 2024
Fulham v Liverpool

After the way things have gone in recent weeks, the performance in this match was much less important than the result. It really was a case of just making sure Liverpool got back on track. Which is good because the performance, though much improved, was still very ropey defensively. The problem with the inverted full-back returned in full as players get confused by the defensive demands placed on them. With its requirement for other players to provide the width when the full-back inverts, the midfield is often emptied. That leaves a huge gaping hole at right-back and a midfield that is empty so opposing players can easily get at the Liverpool defence. The full-back is there, which can help cover the midfield gap, but then it leaves the full-back areas empty, usually requiring a centre-back to move out there to cover, leaving a gap at centre-back. The midfielders are busy chasing back into midfield, rather than getting out to the full-back area, so it leaves the open door at the back that we constantly see this season in particular. It is an overcomplication and utterly unnecessary.

It is also not helped by a lack of real closing down when deep in the Liverpool half. The press is something that happens high up the pitch, but when the team drops into defensive positions, there is no one getting tight to opponents, unless a forward chases back, with the notable exception of Endo. The rest want to just stand off and look to pick off loose passes, but are not putting the pressure on to force mistakes. That is why it was so easy for Fulham to score their equaliser, everyone stood off them and allowed them to play through far too easily. I know it is van Dijk's style to sit off when a player is running at him, and it works for him almost all of the time in that situation, but once the team is set in defensive positions then they need to get right in the opposition's face and make it difficult. Instead, they stand off and make it easy.

Thankfully the team looked much better going forward in periods of the game. The press was not as intense as in the past, but it was still able to get a few mistakes from Fulham. The key to the win was fast ball movement. Not all the time, but just in periods there were times when the team passed the ball with pace, rather than the slow, lethargic stuff that has been eviedent in recent weeks. It makes a huge difference as it gave the defence no time to organise. With Fulham already being a team that struggles to organise defensively and is very reliant on individual defenders' pace and power, it left them there for the taking. For once, Liverpool were actually able to put the ball into the back of the net when needed to take advantage.

Like all Marco Silva sides, Fulham play pretty football which is effective going forward but disorganised defensively. Their big mistake against Liverpool was the lack of width in their team. Liverpool really struggle against teams which use attacking width but Fulham had little width in forward areas and they failed to get their full-backs forward enough to threaten. That was a mistake that cost them badly, as they failed to really put Liverpool under any real sustained pressure at the back. That turned it into a much easier day for the Reds than it should have been. They were very passive in general, another issue with a Silva team, a lack of fire in the belly. It is all on Palhinha to put some grit into the side and, despite getting away with a few early fouls which would normally lead to a booking, once he was booked that is mostly gone as he has to be careful. They need more players willing to put a foot in, rather than just waiting on the opposition to make a mistake and gift them the ball back.

Quick notes on the players:

Alisson - once again he is there when needed for the team, though he did not have a lot to do. What makes a real difference is his ability to launch quick counters with a throw or kick. Alisson makes a huge difference to the play, no matter how good Kelleher is, he is a clear downgrade on the Brazilian. That ability to spot and execute a quick launch forward after catching the ball is key to the team's ability to put opponents under pressure and force them to keep players back when they are on the attack.

Alexander-Arnold - his return also makes a huge difference, brilliant as Bradley has been, that ability to split the defence with one pass has been sorely missed. There is only De Bruyne in the Premier League that can be compared to his range of passing and vision. It did not always come off but it causes so many problems for the opposition when he gets the ball at his feet. I would just like to see him play properly in midfield, as the inverted full-back role still unbalances the defence too much for my liking. Then Bradley can play as well, as an added bonus. Beautiful free kick too!

Quansah - much more comfortable against Fulham, who are not a physical team in the main. They are a team that is very technical, which made them well suited to Quansah's strengths. He did seem to be playing within himself, no doubt being more cautious due to his errors in the past. It will have done him good to get through that match without any real errors.

van Dijk - in the main he had a good game, but there are times when he needs to close down in the box and he is stood off, such as for the goal. Liverpool make it too easy for opponents to make chances by doing this. He does deal with crosses, being positionally sound, but just needs to be more aggressive at times.

Robertson - very poor game, he kept making misjudgments and gambling to cut out balls that he failed to reach. Going forward he is always a threat, but the Liverpool defence is already stretched by the way it is set up, taking himself out of the game with silly errors like that just makes it much harder for the team as a whole. I would think it is just a lack of match sharpness after his injury, but it does need to be watched in case it is a sign that he is losing his pace.

Endo - at times he gets overrun in midfield due to it being emptied to provide width, plus his desire to pick out a progressive pass can be a weakness when he gets caught on the ball. He just needs a bit of help sometimes.

Elliott - worked so hard, really ran himself into the ground trying to shove the Fulham crowd's boos back down their throats, but nothing really came off for him. The passes, the shots, the crosses, whatever he tried as a final ball, particularly the free kick he attempted, just failed to work out. He was often the one providing the width on the right, which meant there was a space in the middle and he struggled to get back to protect the defence. He just does not have the mobility of Szoboszlai and Gravenberch.

Gravenberch - putting aside his excellent goal, the Dutchman had a good game. He worked hard, chased back when needed and supported the attack when he could. His big weakness has always been a lack of effort, that seems to have vanished now.

Diaz - worked hard, gave Robinson a torrid time but again the end product is just lacking. That is a big worry with him. His skill is exceptional, he is quick and works extremely hard but he does not create enough chances nor score enough goals.

Jota - struggled to get into the game but, as usual, he come up with a goal. If he can just stay fit for the run in, there is always a chance of him being the goalscorer that has been missing in recent weeks.

Gakpo = playing in his favoured position on the left he was excellent, probably man of the match. He worked hard, was extremely direct, attacking Fulham at every chance. He could have done with a goal to crown his performance though.

Salah - came on in the 74th minute to replace Diaz on the right. With the game pretty much over, he did not really get into the game enough to make an impression.

Nunez - also on in the 74th minute, replacing Jota. Without early balls in behind and crosses into the box, it is difficult to get the best out of Nunez.

Mac Allister - the third player in the triple substitution in the 74th minute, taking Gravenberch's place. Worked hard.

Gomez - brought on to replace Alexander-Arnold in the 79th minute. Added a bit more solidity at the back as he held deeper and wider than Alexander-Arnold had been doing.

Szoboszlai - arrived in the 86th minute to take over Gakpo's slot on the left of the attack. Very loose in possession, giving the ball away a few times with careless sideways passes.


Liverpool Article 16 Apr 2024
Liverpool v Crystal Palace

Liverpool have reverted back to the slow, measured play of the early part of the season after the return of the injured players. The kids brought energy and enthusiasm, plus the bonus of a return to the high intensity 'heavy metal' football, that made watching Liverpool under Klopp such a pleasure, as that is the way they have been brought through playing. Unfortunately, as soon as the first teamers were fit, the kids were dropped straight back down to the U21s and replaced with the first teamers and the return of Pep Lijnders patented 'I can out-Pep Pep' methodology. It failed miserably last season when tried, but this season Klopp has doubled down on it and gone all in on the passing for passing's sake, no width and slow, boring football that Lijnders advocates. That this team is in contention at this stage of the season is a minor miracle, one which Klopp has contrived to almost throw away completely in the last few weeks. It amazes me that someone with Klopp's knowledge and experience in the game has listened to Lijnders, who showed in a spell as a head coach that he has absolutely no tactical clue whatsoever. Excellent coach that he is, Lijnders is not a tactical expert, he has no original ideas, even when taking the credit for all sorts of 'new' things introduced at Liverpool since his return, he admitted that all of them were simply copied from other clubs. You do not beat the richest club in the world by simply copying them, but that seems to be the current plan. It makes no sense when they can simply buy better players for that system.

The problem is that all the momentum has gone out of the season now too, which is going to make it extra difficult for the coaching staff to turn around with them all leaving in the summer. This is where the problem comes with Klopp announcing he was leaving so early in the season. Initially it creates a determination to win for him, but once that has gone there is little Klopp can really have to work with when it comes to pushing the players to do more in training and in matches. Now he is reliant completely on the good feeling that has undoubtedly built up between him and the playing staff - but that can only do so much. It can make the players run all day for him, but it can't make them suddenly turn poor tactics into brilliance. It is not going to magically move all the defenders out of the way so that all those shots in a crowded penalty area can be calmly aimed into the corners away from the keeper. It is such a shame to see the Klopp-era ending with a damp squib, after all the years of brilliance he brought, it is now on the players to change that for him and give him the send off he deserves. It might be too late to turn it around and win either trophy, but they can go out like a Klopp team, with heavy metal, exciting, attacking football using width and quick ball movement.

I have seen a lot of talk about how Palace played well and they have been given a huge amount of credit for the win, but I personally was not very impressed with them. Their two wide men, Eze and Olise, are lazy tracking back and are reminscent of Diaz - lots of flair and showy touches but little actual real effect. Their defence was all over the place and relied on getting bodies in the way of shots to keep Liverpool out, something which is not effective in the long term, but can pay off at times. They are a team that, based on that performance, Liverpool could, and should, have beaten. That is the most frustrating thing from a Liverpool point of view, this was not being well beaten by a good performance, but being well beaten by a poor team that did not even play to their own capabilities. Well, to be fair, Hughes played to his capability, but that capability is lower league journeyman level. It is players like Wharton who did not play at anything like the level they are capable of. Not even close. If Liverpool lose to teams like this, playing so poorly, then they do not deserve to win the league. As for Palace, they are where they are for a reason. Glasner has got his hands full turning them into anything other than a team that avoids the drop each season, but they do have a gem in Wharton to build around.

Quick notes on the players:

Alisson - almost the only player to come out of the game with any credit, making a save when it was needed, but did not really have a lot to do and so ended up getting further and further forward as the game wore on.

Bradley - was having a decent game before his injury, though he was not getting forward with his usual drive and energy. The ball was getting out to him too slowly (or inaccurately a lot of the time) to allow him to really maraud down the flank.

Konate - like all the rest of the team, he was too far off the opposition and got caught out at times not knowing whether to be out on the right or in the centre. The understanding at the back was just not there for this game, making it very easy for Palace to get at Liverpool if they wanted to.

van Dijk - needs to do more talking than he did in this game. His performances this season have mostly been back to his best, but he was poor in this one. Not just defensively, where he was standing off rather than making the challenge, but even his passing was off. Added to that, when the team was looking to him for leadership, there was little sign of it.

Robertson - he once again gave his all and was marauding down the left, as much as possible. However, just charging down the flank mindlessly was not enough, the link up and his delivery was not quite there. Defensively he was poor and caught out of position far too easily.

Endo - the wrong game for him, there was no need for a player who could mix it up as Palace were just sat in. He was the only player trying to close down though for long periods, but almost every pass into him was just playing him into trouble and putting him under pressure. For a less creative midfielder like Endo, that is just a recipe for disaster and he struggled to have a positive impact.

Mac Allister - for a while after Liverpool's form dipped, he was the one shining light in the team, but for some reason the last couple of games has seen his form desert him completely. This was a worse performance than the ones he was putting in during the early weeks of the season. He rarely played the ball forward, when he did he gave it away, but the most annoying thing was watching him stroll around for 90 minutes taking extra touches and passing it back and sideways casually like Liverpool were 5-0 up in a meaningless testimonial game. If anyone could be said to embody the Red's lacklustre, listless, limp performance, with its complete lack of urgency, it was Mac Allister.

Jones - struggled to get into the game, though he did show urgency at least, he was not able to impose himself at all. Missed the best chance Liverpool had, but even that was rushed as he lacked the pace to get away from the defenders when he broke through.

Diaz - he is great to watch but, for all his running around he accomplishes very little. He does not make runs in behind, nor does he attack the box. But, to be fair to him, the build up is so slow at the moment that there is little opportunity to do either.

Nunez - he is working hard and giving his all but it is just not happening for him. The team is not playing to his strengths and has failed to do so since buying him for most of the games. He needs the high press, the quick ball movement to get the best from him. He is getting caught offside because the ball is too slow in being released. Nunez is a player that is running around trying to apply the press but on his own, as everyone else is just dropping off and watching attacks develop. If the team returns to a high press, high intensity, fast-flowing attacking style, then he will be ideal. If it sticks to this slow, ponderous sideways ball movement, then he is wasted and will never prosper.

Salah - it was astonishing that he was not taken off. His performance was astonishingly bad, the worst I have seen from him. He was almost like an extra player for Palace, he was that poor. It is like he has forgotten how to play, his first touch has gone missing, his passing was wasteful and his finishing was utterly abysmal. Everyone is entitled to an off day, but Salah's season has gone from bad to worse as it has gone on. Age seems to have caught up with him.

Szoboszlai - brought on at half-time for Endo. Brought some drive and energy but nothing else. Even when he got the chance to take a shot, the entire defence was able to be in place to make it more difficult.

Alexander-Arnold - replaced the injured Bradley in the 48th minute. Immediately he came on he took up station in central midfield, removing all width on the right and making it easier for Palace to stay compact defensively. It showed as his passing became more and more desperate as the half went on, with him trying to force passes and make something happen.

Gakpo - took the place of Diaz on the left wing in the 66th minute. A bright spot in the game, he showed pace and ability, driving at their defence and causing them to actually adjust, bringing out players to double up on him.

Jota - came on for Nunez also in the 66th minute. Never got into the game at all. Flitted round the edges of the game but the team was not getting the ball into him enough.

Elliott - Jones went off so Elliott could come on in the 82nd minute. I do not understand why he is not getting a chance to start, his performances have deserved that, while few others in the Liverpool side can say the same. Maybe the problem is that he constantly plays with high intensity, the old Klopp-style, and seems to struggle to slow down and play the new, boring, measured approach.



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