Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mid-week report: The London Disaster, The "Recovery" at Brighton, and a Look Ahead

Oh, dear. What a travesty. I tend to joke at times in pre-match predictions with friends that our boys will win 4-0 or 5-0; when I woke up Sunday morning, I would have never thought it would actually happen that way against us. To be quite frank, it simply looked like our players had already written this game off as an easy win before the match started, and when it started to go wrong, they reacted as though they had no idea what was going wrong, and didn't really believe it was happening. Bad passes, bad tackles/challenges, and a lack of a sense of urgency (even after conceding the early first goal) doomed us from the start; and when the bad challenges got Adam and Skrtel sent off, it only made the job that much easier for Spurs. I really hope this served as a wake-up call for the rest of the season for our boys in not taking any matches for granted, as a team that finished 7th last year (however improved they may be now being set aside) should never think any one game will be an easy three points. That is the last I will speak of that game for now, and I hope to never have to reference it again (unless in a positive post).

To be honest, the Brighton match had me perplexed: how can a team that has dominated all but one of their games this year concede more than 50% posession to a lower-level club? Granted, players such as Spearing, Robinson, and even Flanagan who got starts in the Brighton match haven't really played a part in the aforementioned performances, but one would still hope to see a little more control of that game from the Liverpool side. With that said, I really liked the fact that we were able to capitalize when it counted most: getting ahead early and effectively finishing it late; a clean sheet would have been nice, but a win is a win, and that's what matters. I also really liked what Craig Bellamy brought in his first opportunity to play a full 90 minutes in a Red shirt. The free kick he took that almost shattered the crossbar was probably the most exciting free kick we've seen yet from the club, and the fact that he was able to get on the score sheet made it that much better. I also liked seeing Steven Gerrard on the pitch: although it was only for about  15 minutes, and he didn't really do much in that time, seeing him actually playing again for the first time in 6 months was a sight for sore eyes. I also was excited to see Coates make his first start, and although he seemed a little nervous and unused to the speed of play at times, I saw some signs from him at both ends of the pitch that had me excited for his future here at the club. Overall, I liked what I saw, and hope we can carry that momentum into this weekend's game vs. Wolves. Pre-match analysis will come in my next post!

Going forward, I like what we have ahead: our first derby match of the season at Everton (helping them on to relegation perhaps? One can dream...), and the match right after that at home vs. scum. Let's hope history repeats itself after last year's 3-1 victory at Anfield.

On a side note, I am very excited to see FIFA 12 come out September 27th! Having to get rid of Torres at the beginning of every new started club campaign in FIFA 11 was getting annoying, and hopefully they have Suarez rated more justly this time around. Also, a parting shot from Orlando: on one of my last days there, I saw a small English child with his mother at Universal Studios, who apparenty was experiencing American flies for the first time:

Child: "Mummy! You have flies in your hair!"
Mother: "Oh really? Do you see them?"
Child: "Yes! We have flies in Englund! Are we in America?"
Mother: "Yes, we are."
Child: "Really? They have flies in America? Let's eat them for breakfast!"

I wish I had a camera, because I would have made countless theoretical internet dollars with that bit of youtube gold.

Looking forward to my next post!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Matchday Preview: Spurs vs. LFC

Finally, it's matchday! And "Super Sunday" no less. It has been said by some in the press that today's match may be a "must-win" for Liverpool, but I would hesitate to say any fourth match of the season would be so; however, considering Tottenham will be one of the teams we will do battle with for a top-4 spot, I would more tend to call this a "must-not-lose" game, because conceding 3 points to Spurs would certainly make things much harder in terms of catching them and surpassing them for the aforementioned top-4 spot. With all that said, let's take a look at the ins-and-outs of today's match.

My starting XI (4-4-1-1):

Skrtel    Carra    Agger    Enrique

Kuyt     Lucas     Adam    Downing


Subs: Henderson, Bellamy, Gerrard, Flanagan, Coates

For the defense, I have heard speculaton that Sebastian Coates maybe should get the start. Frankly, I believe this to be total rubbish. He still needs training time and a cup game to warm up to the speed and competition of English football, and would be overwhelmed at least at first if he were to start against Spurs. That said, it will be interesting to see what Dalglish will do should LFC go up by 2 or 3 goals late; maybe we will see a short cameo from him at that point. Now, with a duo of strikers to deal with in Tottenham's probable 4-4-2 scheme (with Defoe and Adebayor up front), we will need experience in back to deal with them; hence, I believe Carra and Agger should start at the CB positions. As for the right- and left-backs, Enrique will undoubtedly start at LB, and according to KK's mid-week press conference, Martin Skrtel will make the start at RB (in the press conference, Kenny praised Skrtel of his ability to play "out of position [at RB]" and suggested he may keep him there until Kelly is fit). Do not be surprised, however, if Flanagan makes an appearance later on in the second half.

Now to midfield. As we all probably have, I have been eagerly awaiting the return of Steven Gerrard; but, mid-week it has been suggested that he will see very limited action (if at all) to make sure he is totally fit for play. Therefore, I don't think he will make the start today, and that Lucas will take his RCM spot until at least the 60-minute-mark. Along with Lucas will be Downing on the left side, Adam on at LCM, and Kuyt on the right.

With a weakened defense now without Michael Dawson, it would be the best course of action to start Suarez and Carroll up front (Suarez behind Carroll), in an approach that would be similar to that of the Arsenal game: wear down the defense with the physicality of Carroll and then take advantage when their lack of depth has been exploited. Following those lines of thinking, look for a possible Bellamy-for-Carroll sub later on in the match (in the same way Suarez was subbed in for Carroll in the Arsenal game) to add some pace and pressure to really expose the tired and worn-down defense.

This game is said to be a matchup of two equally-matched teams, and so I don't believe there will be any scoring in the first half. In the second, however, there will be goals scored, and I see a late Bellamy or Suarez goal (or possibly Downing's first of the season?) being the difference, and Liverpool winning 2-1. On a side note, I also hope Chelsea and scum draw 0-0, with play having to be stopped at the 70th minute because both sides had all their players sent off, and all the fans going home bored and frustrated.

On that note, I'll be looking forward to the match and offering my post-match thoughts! Go Reds!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

For Starters

First Post! I hate it when you look at a Youtube video's comments and there is always that "First Post!" or whatever comment right at the beginning. I always root for that guy to time it wrong so he's the second so his post makes him look like a complete idiot (which apparently he already is)... Anyways, on to the matter at hand (and the main purpose of this blog): the goings-on on Merseyside.

I'll start with the summer transfer window: I felt it was definitely a plus to reduce the wage bill by about 30 million pounds (so about 48 million dollars, for all you dumb Americans like me), and considering we were able to exchange the vast majority of our "deadwood" (like Phil Degan -- I forgot he was still on the club!) for players with real futures with the club, I feel we really did well. As for Raul leaving at the last minute with all the controversy, I hate to say it but I think it really was his decision to leave. Especially with Bellamy coming in, it was apparent that he was going to have a hard time cracking the starting XI, and I really don't think he would have been content coming in as a sub most matches, and so he did what any person who considers themselves a starter would do. I just hope he stays classy and doesn't pull a Nando in pissing off the fans through the media.

As for the signings, initially I was ecstatic for our new boys. The excitement King Kenny presented each one of them with really had me bought in, and to a certain extent that is still the case, although I have come to realize that they were almost more so for the future than the immediate present, which I am still alright with (despite the impatient American in me wanting ridiculous, Messi-like players right now)... Jordan Henderson is a prime example. At first I was excited to see him start the Sunderland game, hoping to see some magic from the England U-21 international; instead, I saw a work in progress: a player who struggled with passes ahead (it seemed like every one of his passes were toward our own end) and could not seem to win any ground battles. This will get better as the long season progresses, so hopefully by the end of the season we can begin to see some of the potential that KK felt was worth 20 million pounds. Sebastian Coates (another 20-year-old we signed) is another one of those for-the-future signings, and I am really excited to see him debut in our next cup game against Brighton.

Oh, the Stoke game. If it weren't for the fact I feel obligated to post about the most recent match, I wouldn't; I simply hate talking about losses. With that said, even though we lost, we dominated that game, with over 60% posession and an 11-to-2 shots on goal margin. How none of those 11 shots went in is still beyond me. A big topic of controversy was the penalty given to Stoke that produced their lone goal in the first half, and quite frankly, I don't see what all the fuss is about: on the replays, it clearly showed Carra's arm wrapped around the Stoke player with his momentum going the wrong way, which meant it was a penalty that had to be given. Even Jamie seemed to think so, hardly giving any protest to the referee, which is why I'm surprised to hear KK protesting so openly about it as he did to the media this week.

With all that behind us, I am definitely looking forward to a much better showing at Spurs this weekend. It's on at 5:30 AM Pacific Time, so it looks like I won't be getting much sleep Saturday night. More pre-match analysis (including what I think should be the starting XI) will come in my next post!

As none of you already know, I am currently on a family vacation to Orlando, FL to visit family, as well as Disney world. Since I am from Seattle, this means I am now closer to the UK than I am to home, and apparently this is quite a vacation spot for those from the UK... I've probably met more English people here than Americans. I have also met a few people donning LFC gear, whis has been great (I even met a man today who had the Liver Bird tattooed on his leg!). And, surprisingly, I've hardly seen any scum (for the Americans, it's manchester united, which I refuse to capitalize) gear, which has been refreshing, considering all the wanna-be's I've seen roaming Seattle with their "chicharito" shirts on. Frankly, that stuff makes me sick.
On a side note, while at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon today I was able to correctly detect a Scouser's accent from a guy I was talking to. He seemed shocked that an American could pick out the accent, and I was quite happy about it!

Looking forward to my next post and pre-match analysis, which will come later in the week. Until then, cheers!