Liverpool… Top?

If you had have told me when Liverpool were 1-0 down to Burnley on Wednesday night, that they would be top come Saturday evening, I can’t say I would have believed you.

Somehow they’ve managed to find themselves at the summit of the Premier League despite the relentless pace of Man City. On the inside I’m dancing but my head is telling me, haven’t we been here before?

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They’ve kept up with Man City with several grinded results so far and avoiding defeat against the 3 next best teams in the league. Their brand of football this season has not always been befitting of a league winning team but their defence certainly has. The addition of Alisson has been a huge success already. He has come up with some vital saves at crucial times in matches and his distribution has been excellent, leading to several breakaway goals for Liverpool this season. The central defensive partnership of van Dijk and Gomez has been an absolute rock at the back. Something Liverpool have been missing for quite some time.

The midfield however is not as strong as it has been in recent years. Ironically I think that the amount of options they have in midfield has weaked it slightly. With Henderson as captain Klopp probably feels obliged to play him when injury free despite his lack of form so far this season. With Milner’s age Klopp possibly feels he needs rested more than others, but not something I would agree with due to his great form when he plays. Keita and Lallana have been somewhat injured and unable to get a consistent run in the team. Fabinho and Shaqiri have recently been given their chance and have given Klopp a headache with some good performances. The one almost ever-present and consistently well performing player is Wijnaldum. Due to his role, which mainly involves adapting to whichever 2 players he lines up along side, he has flown under the radar but has this season become an absolutely vital part of Liverpool’s midfield 3.

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Of course I’m playing Liverpool’s chances of winning the league down. It is afterall only December and there’s a lot of football to go but it’s certainly exciting times for Liverpool fans. The next month however will severely test Liverpool’s resolve in both the Champions League and Premier League. With vital home games to Napoli, Man Utd and Arsenal coming up in December and starting the new year with an away trip to Man City we will know more about Liverpool’s title and Champions League credentials. Let’s hope for the sake of the Premier League, they can keep up the pace.

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Parting gift for Scudamore, parting slap for fans

The Premier League have today confirmed that departing executive chairman Richard Scudamore will receive a £5m bonus with a £250,000 wip round from all 20 Premier League clubs.

Maybe it’s just me but this seems ubsurd. Fans are left bemused as ticket prices continually rise, club merchandise is very expensive and Premier league TV subscriptions increase annually, but clubs can just come up with £250,000 at the drop of a hat.

Of course £250,000 is really just pocket money for most Premier league clubs but it’s the principle of the matter. OK, the guy did a good job over the many years he worked there, but that’s why he was getting paid £2.5m per year. He’s also staying on with the Premier League on an advisory capacity, which probably brings it’s own ‘modest’ salary.

The Premier League has grown exponentially over the past 20 years and Scudamore has surely played his part in all that but let’s be honest on the reasons we watch. These billionaire owners have came along and brought some of the best players in the world with them. We watch it because of the Aguero’s, Salah’s and Hazard’s, but also because the league still has that typical tough English core that we all love. None of this really has anything to do with Scudamore and the growth of the Premier league was inevitable.

If Scudamore has any shred of decency he should take that money and give it to charity or pump it into a worthy project in need of investment. With the rise of the Premier league, grass roots football has taken a hit over the years. More people are going to the pubs to watch football on Saturday afternoons on some dodgy foreign channel instead of playing for their local clubs. This seems like a worthy project for Scudamore to invest his £5m in. Give back a little from the area you slowly chipped away from all those years.

Liverpool firing again

With 8 goals in the past 2 games Liverpool appear to be firing again but the truth is they won both games at a canter barely breaking sweat.

Of course the class of opposition (Red Star Belgrade and Cardiff City) at home didn’t put up much of a fight but having watched both matches I’m still expecting more. As a fan of the Reds maybe I’m expecting too much after the highs of last season.

After Coutinho left Liverpool in January there was a massive hole left in the Liverpool midfield. Although Coutinho is irreplaceable Oxlade-Chamberlain got his chance and really showed what he is capable of. A completely different option than Coutinho but very effective with his fast powerful runs from midfield creating space for others.

Since the start of this season Liverpool have been playing the midfield 3 with a combination of Milner/Henderson/Wijnaldum/Keita. All great players of course but similar styles, passers, ball protecters and play breakers. None of them with the exception of maybe Keita play with the same dynamism as Oxlade-Chamberlain but in the case of Keita it’s too early to tell. The bottom line is in offensive terms Liverpool have dearly missed Oxlade-Chamberlain and I think that has contributed to the lack of goals.

With recent injuries to Keita and Henderson a spot has opened up in the midfield and now Shaqiri has got his chance. A slightly different type of player again, clever with an eye for a pass and he has certainly shook up the offensive style of Liverpool. With several assists and a goal to his name already, coinciding with Liverpool’s increasing form it’s going to be difficult to drop him from the team.

The point I’m trying to make is that Liverpool need a Shaqiri or Oxlade-Chamberlain type player in the midfield, someone who can link the midfield better with the front 3. With their improved defence, they certainly don’t need 3 sitting midfielders and with Fabinho being slowly introduced into the first team that could leave a huge competition of 5 midfield players for just 2 positions and that’s not even including Lallana and where he fits into the picture.

This is all theoretical of course and the likelyhood is Klopp will continue to chop and change his midfield based on form and fitness and the the fixture schedule but if everyone is fit and uninjured this gives Liverpool an absolute wealth of options in the middle of the park and a potential headache for Klopp keeping them all happy. If Klopp succeeds there can surely be no excuses if Liverpool fail to win some silverware this season.

The Mourinho Show is Back

No matter what the circumstances, Mourinho always manages to become the centre of attention but this time it was to the detriment of his Man Utd side as they were the better team in the 2nd half and perhaps marginally deserved the win.

Of course this time Mourinho was prevoked into his reaction by the childish actions of the Chelsea coach, something you’d expect more from players on the pitch than a middle aged man. The players didn’t disappoint though as they had their own hand bag throwing session on the pitch in the immediate aftermath of the Mourinho melee.

I’m not the biggest Mourinho fan, I don’t like his style of play nor his personality. He’s a bad winner and a bad loser and that’s why he doesn’t get the respect that he thinks he deserves. All of this putting 3 fingers in the air to remind everyone how many Premier Leagues he won and why he deserves respect is hypocritical as Arsene Wenger also won 3 Premier League titles and what respect did Mourinho show him?

Man City stroll to another win?

It seems like Man City strolled to another win but if you break it down into separate incidences it may not have been so easy. Vincent Kompany could have easily received a straight red card for this nasty thigh-high tackle on Aaron Lennon inside the 1st minute of the match but the referee opted for the ‘it’ s too early in the match for a red card’ solution.

Man City’s 2nd goal should also not have stood since the ball was out behind the by-line before being crossed in for the resulting goal. These are 2 major decisions that went against Burnley and massively aided to the apparent ease with which Man City breezed past. Burnley themselves offered next to nothing going forward though so even with 10 men you would still fancy Man City to win this one.

Impotent Liverpool relying on defence

As a Liverpool fan it’s strange to see them with a decent defence, they haven’t had one since the days of Carragher and Hyypia but in van Dijk and Gomez they seem to have found a good partnership. However Klopp still breaks that up occasionally by putting Lovern in the team which is disappointing as he can be so rash in the tackle where as Gomez, dispite his youth seems much more controlled and calm when defending.

At the other end of the field Liverpool are unrecognizably out of sorts. Salah, despite his goal continually gave the ball away when an easy pass was available and the rest of the team, possibly due to the many changes, couldn’t put any other clear cut chances together. All of the forward players were guilty of giving the ball away on multiple occasions and resulted in a very frustrating performance for all Liverpool fans.

On current form it’s hard to see Liverpool and Chelsea keeping up with Many City’s relentless charge and with Spurs and Arsenal sneeking up behind them while the attention is off, Liverpool and Chelsea could be looking over their shoulder instead of looking above them.

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