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Leicester City News 23 Nov 2020
Liverpool v Leicester City A Liverpool Perspective







Once again Liverpool faced Leicester at a time that really was not good for Liverpool with all their injuries and missing Mo Salah. Once again Liverpool made the Foxes look second rate, which they clearly are not. It must be pointed out that Leicester were fairly badly hit by injury, though they did still have most of their first choice players to choose from, only Ndidi, Soyuncu and one of Pereira or Castagne would most likely fit into the team. What it showed is that Leicester are still missing a lot of pieces from a championship-winning side, in a normal year, as they have not replaced Chilwell effectively.



It was an exceptional performance that showed that Klopp's talk of 'mentality monsters' is true. The more things go against them, the more they step up and the better they play. Lose 3-0 to Barcelona and no Salah for the second leg? No problem, even when Robertson goes off injured. This was a similar level of performance. It was dominant and demoralising for Leicester, just like last Christmas (how many of you are now hearing the Wham! song go round in their head now?!?) when a jetlagged Liverpool team destroyed the then second-placed Foxes.



It was the kind of performance that champions need to produce on a regular basis, if they are to hold onto the title. However, there is still a long way to go this season and, with yet another injury to contend with, there is only so much that can be done to patch the team. Wins like this will go a long way towards covering up for any injury problems as this was the kind of result that puts fear into future opponents. Just when there is a sight of a chink in the armour, the team goes and does this.



This is the way to go about building the kind of feeling of invulnerability that Liverpool had in the 80s, which saw them pick up their last league title until Klopp, even when the team was not really good enough to deserve it. It creates an aura that sees a number of opponents expect to lose and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when their heads drop at the slightest setback. It is just one game though and that must be remembered.









Leicester City





They just had no answer to Liverpool's pressing and their attempts to drop off and draw the defence out did create a few moments for Vardy to counter, but the pressure on the ball made most of the balls inaccurate. They were not given time and space at all, mistakes were forced out of them and that increased the pressure as they were once again trying to chase shadows.



Tactically Rodgers made a huge mistake, he left Firmino free to go where he wanted. No doubt he had been looking at the stats, which suggest Firmino is not performing and never looked any deeper to see why it was so. Every game has seen opponents try and shut him down, to work on keeping the ball away from him as much as possible and ensuring Firmino never got any time and space when he did actually get on the ball. Every game until now, that is. As usual, when given time and space Firmino's link up play lifts Liverpool and allows them to play the way they want to.



It is the same as ever with Rodgers, he just has not quite got the tactical nous when it matters. The Foxes could really do with looking at getting someone in to analyse opponents and how to neutralise them and get at them. I am not sure who is doing that for them at the moment, but it is clear that they are getting it wrong far too often. It led to them falling away last season and it could well do the same again this season if they are not careful. I am not meaning just prior to matches, but someone to be there during the game to give Rodgers help when changes are needed mid-game. Someone within his close staff that he will listen to.



There were a couple of good signs for Leicester to get comfort from, Schmeichel played well but his distribution under pressure was poor. Fofana was excellent on the ball but his defending was rash, a real show of inexperience as he constantly sold himself trying to win a ball he was never going to get to. They also did get chances to launch a counter, but made a mess of the passes under pressure.







Liverpool





Klopp - what can you say? Once again Klopp has dragged a performance out of a Liverpool team that made it look like it was a first-choice team firing on all cylinders. The squad is so well coached and drilled that they can just be shuffled around to suit need on the day and it all works like a well-oiled machine. 64 unbeaten at home in the league in a row tells its own story. The one thing that does need working on is corners, the delivery was poor except for two or three good balls. Considering two of the goals came from those few good corners, it would be worth trying to ensure the frequency of good deliveries increases.





Alisson - when called upon, he was there. His quick feet and excellent starting position made a big difference to the game. It made it that much more difficult for Leicester to put a ball in behind the defence as he condensed the space available. Made an excellent double stop at one point, though Vardy should really have been flagged offside.





Milner - was brilliant at right-back, playing some excellent, incisive passes and winning the battle there with Barnes. Just when you think you are getting a handle on where his best position is, Milner puts in a performance like that and you wonder if just maybe this is where he would have been best all along. When he moved into midfield, he was just as good. He must be a dream for Klopp to work with.





Matip - started the game looking a bit rusty and allowed himself to be dragged into midfield leaving a gap in behind a few times. In the second half, whether by instruction or he was finally waking up, he dropped off with a runner, rather than chasing into their half trying to win the ball, and saw out the danger. Though, just as I was noting it down he then went and gave away a needless corner with a mistake! I do think it is rustiness though, his passing is not quite there and nor is his touch, two parts of the game he normally excels in, I expect them to come back as he shakes off the rust with a run of games.





Fabinho - an excellent game, Vardy barely got in the game and that was in large part due to him. The few times Matip got drawn out of position, he was always there to cover. He has slotted in as a centre-back like he was born to play there. At times he had that imperious quality of van Dijk at his best.





Robertson - absolutely outstanding again. Poor Tsimikas is really going to struggle to get a run of games with Robertson in this form. His link up and partnership with Mane works so well and his delivery for Firmino's goal was a great cross. It was noticeable that in the warm up he and Milner were the two doing all the talking, they were clearly talking through what everyone needed to go and getting them fired up. He is having the season of his life.





Keita - started off with a weak challenge, but then grew into the game and was much better on the ball than usual, closer to the Keita we hoped for. He did play one particular nice ball down the side to Mane which completely took Fofana out of the game. Still not doing his job well off the ball though, a lazy foul after being caught out of position is not something to be lauded, though it is an improvement. In the past he would have not even bothered to commit the foul, so it is a step forward, but there is a lot of potential to get better. The big problem is that, as usual, he is unable to stay fit. In a season like this one that is a problem as there are just too many players with similar problems in the squad. Unless he starts to do more when he is fit, to earn his place, there is little point having such a financial drain at the club.





Wijnaldum - played the deeper role, which is not really his ideal role, but it was a case of needs must. Despite playing out of position, he stepped up and put in a very good performance. Together with Jones, in particular, he shut down the Foxes midfield and forced Leicester to look longer than they wanted. When Leicester shifted to a back four, he was forced to do a bit more defensive work, but he did it very well and gradually took back control of the midfield.





Jones - involved from start to finish at both ends of the pitch. Showed good movement, worked back well to help break up attacks and was generally very good on the ball. A very impressive game from him.





Jota - tied Fuchs up in knots and had the Austrian looking leggy by the end of the first five minutes. Some of his movement was exceptional and he linked up really well. I have never been convinced by him playing from the right in the past, but he showed he can play there and play it to a very high level. I can think of no higher compliment than that he made sure we did not miss Salah. Evans was almost constantly being dragged across to cover and Jota fully deserved his goal. Arguably the best player on the pitch and yet another goal to make it 8 in 12 games (4 in 7 in the Premier League) is making it impossible to leave him out.





Firmino - played really well, his press was back and he was everywhere linking up the play. It did seem like he was cursed not to score until it finally went in for him. You have to give him plaudits for his persistence, it would have been easy to just give up trying and look for the pass. Leicester will be rueing giving him so much time and space.





Mane - absolutely destroyed Fofana time and time again. The Leicester defender ended up making desperate lunges to try and cut off the ball, rather than just trying to deal with Mane after he got it. It was clear that Fofana knew Mane had the beating of him and was just avoiding a head-to-head with him at all costs. His link up with Robertson is particularly good.





N. Williams - replaced the injured (again) Keita in the 54th minute. Fine going forward but worried me when in the defensive third as he dithered on the ball and allowed Leicester to close off the options. It was clear they realised he was a weak link and targeted him for a full press. He got away with it, but he needs to be more decisive and move it forward more quickly when deep in his own half. Better to just put it in behind them and allow the team to push up, rather than dally and allow them to apply a press when back there.





Minamino - came on late in place of Jota. The game was petering out and, while he worked hard he was unable to make an impression in the short time he had.





Origi - was brought on to replace Mane in the 89th minute as half of a double-substitution along with Minamino. Barely got into the game.


 

 

Leicester City News 10 Nov 2020
Manchester City v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective







Unusually in this period of football with no fans in grounds, this was a high-intensity match in the first half, but it was clear that the players had nothing left for the second half. What was an exciting game of two sluggers throwing everything at each other looking for a knockout blow petered out into two worn out leg weary fighters at the end of a fight who have punched themselves out. By the end it was looking like both teams had settled for the point.



The two penalties were always going to be given, a handball is always subjective and Gomez did pull his hand away but, though it was smashed at him, there was a bit of distance which meant the referee was always going to give a penalty. Harsh? Definitely, but there are a lot of those given, so it is no surprise. The other one was a foul, though it must be said I have seen a few of those missed by the officials in recent months. Even with the arrival of VAR, they are still incompetent and clueless about the game.



Overall it was a fairly even game, though I feel that Liverpool shaded it, that could just be my personal bias at play, so I would not put much store in that feeling. The surprising thing was the lack of clear cut chances, there was nothing like as many as you would expect in a game between two teams with such potent goalscoring threats.







Manchester City





I have to say City disappointed me, they look a shadow of the team they were, for me that is mainly down to the loss of David Silva. With him in the side they kept good possession, moving the ball around quickly but without turning it over. Without him they struggle to keep hold of the ball for extended periods and that is no doubt contributing to the rise in goals against them. One of the main ways a Guardiola side defends is by keeping the ball for lengthy periods, moving the opponents around. When the opposition does get the ball, they are often needing a breather after chasing after it for 10 minutes and so unable to mount a meaningful attack.



They finally have a defence worthy of the name, something that has taken Pep a lot longer to sort out than it should have, but their midfield and attack now look weaker than they have been in a long, long time. It feels like a team in transition, something which is incredible when you consider how much money has been spent in the last few years. Maybe even more incredible is that this is a squad that is still fully capable of winning the league and arguably the strongest in the Premier League!



The other big question, I suppose, is whether Jesus meant the touch for the goal? His reply when asked after the match was that of a player that did not mean to do it and I do feel that there was no way he meant the ball to end up where it did. However, in my opinion, that just shows good instincts and reactions to reach the ball first and put it away. In other words, whether he meant it or not, it was a great striker's goal.







Liverpool





Klopp - it is probably harsh to criticise him, I fully understood why he chose the team he did, but I think he needs to start looking at rotation of the front 3, rather than just removing a midfielder. It did work, particularly in the first half, to a large degree, but it requires so much more work and meant players were playing out of position. It might well be that he just did not want to take the risk of one holding when Fabinho is out, as none of the rest of the team can cover defensively to his level.





Alisson - a good performance from the Brazilian, he exudes calm, even when rushing 40 yards out of the box to head a ball clear. His decisiveness is very important to a team with aspirations of retaining the title.





Alexander-Arnold - once again not at his scintillating best, but clearly it was fatigue as he pulled up in the second half with an injury. Losing him for a lengthy time would be a huge blow, not just is he a great player, but even when not playing well he draws the focus of the opponent's defence too him.





Matip - he just looked like a player coming back off a long injury, extremely rusty, slow to react and in need of games. So, despite his passing being absolutely abysmal, I am not too worried as we know he can do so much better once he gets going. The only real worry is keeping him fit.





Gomez - a decent performance from Gomez, but only decent, still a way off his best, but that could be down to playing alongside a different partner again, one who was way off the pace. One thing that has impressed me is his willingness to look for those diagonal balls van Dijk specialised in. Like van Dijk, they do not always come off, but it shows he is looking to change the point of attack and about how to create, rather than just making the easy pass sideways or backwards. If there was one major criticism of him when he was playing well, is that tendency to take the easy pass too often. Both Matip and van Dijk have the vision to look for the more incisive pass, Fabinho was often dropped back when chasing a game as he can too. It is a big bonus if Gomez adds it to his armoury as well.





Robertson - just about the only player that looks to be unaffected by the lack of a pre-season, he has been on it since the season started and is still playing really well. His link up with Mane is exceptional. But, he does tend to stand off a bit much and allow crosses.





Henderson - not his most effective game, struggled to establish control of the midfield as City outnumbered Liverpool massively in that area. Had a quiet second half.





Wijnaldum - struggled after a really good start, looking really leggy and was unable to make any of his bursts forward from midfield. Looks in need of a rest by the way he faded as the game went on.





Jota - he is allowed a poor game after his recent performances, but this was particularly poor. I do have one major worry with him, his game seems to consist of him creating chances for himself, when at his best. I really cannot remember him playing anyone else in or doing anything to help build an attack. That might be due to still learning how to work with the others, but it is a real worry as he becomes little more than a hindrance when not playing well. It is something I would like to see him work on as, for all the criticism of Salah being greedy, Salah and Mane contribute heavily when not playing well. I really do not think playing on the right suits him and he very rarely offers width out there, usually coming in far too early and so giving time for the defence to adjust and leave no gap for the Liverpool right-back to attack.





Salah - his touch was off and he looked out on his feet at the end, but he never stops going at the opposition, or gives them a moment's peace. He also keeps running at teams in the box which caused the penalty award, plus he is clinical with putting them in the back of the net.





Firmino - started well but also faded out of the game. It was telling that after he went off Liverpool created almost nothing and struggled badly to keep any control of the ball. Even an out of form Firmino is key to the way Liverpool play and Klopp needs to find someone else who can provide something similar in the middle. Really needs to make more of his chances, especially when breaking through against just the keeper, though Ederson did do very well.





Mane - looked much more like his old self but he did allow Walker far too much space to get forward. If the system is going to play with the four forwards in it, the wider ones have to be more diligent about keeping the opposing full-backs pressed back.





Shaqiri - came on for Firmino in the 59th minute. After a number of good performances in midfield, Klopp decided to stick with his system and bring him on to play on the left. A mistake in my eyes as we needed his vision and range of passing in the centre without Firmino there. He struggled to get into the game.





Milner - replaced the injured Alexander-Arnold in the 63rd minute. As usual he came in and gave a no-nonsense all-action performance. Milner really is the man that can, no matter where he is asked to play, he just can do it.


 

 

Leicester City News 02 Nov 2020
Liverpool v West Ham United A Liverpool Perspective







It was not a great watch, but once again Liverpool ground out a win when it mattered. Despite all the talk of how they are not playing as well as last season, they spent most of last season doing exactly this and the media and pundits saying they were not playing as well as the previous season. It is reminiscent of the 1980s, when Liverpool would just grind their opponents down, tiring them out by moving the ball around until gaps appeared late in the game. It was only when there was an early breakthrough that Liverpool would be able to rip teams apart, as opponents would otherwise sit in and leave no gaps for Liverpool to use.



At the moment there is a definite blueprint for the opposition to use against Liverpool, which does stifle the team, but has not actually managed to stop them. It is based around a deep-lying midfielder man-marking Firmino and leaving the central defenders free to stay in position. No longer is Firmino's movement able to pull the centre-backs out of place and leave gaps for Salah and Mane to exploit. It does mean the opposition tend to be less able to build any attacks of their own or controlled possession, but it also makes it more difficult for Liverpool to create meaningful attacks.



In fact, that was a big worry, that Liverpool had such difficulty creating anything, the ball movement was too slow in the first half and a lot of the players looked jaded at times, from both sides. Liverpool did improve in the second half, moving the ball with more purpose and reaped the benefits. There is a real issue with crosses though, they are never shut down. West Ham were able to put crosses in any time they got forward, without anyone doing a thing to stop them. That does need to be looked at when facing teams such as the Hammers.







West Ham United





Moyes once again showed why he has never won at Anfield, his attitude is too negative going into the game. Yes they were missing their main man up front in Antonio, but they were in good form and full of confidence coming into the match, but he still set up to try and avoid defeat. They did defend well and made Liverpool work for the win, but it was never really in doubt, in my opinion. Moyes is like Hodgson, extremely limited, it is difficult to see the promised Champions League football coming with him in charge as too many points will get dropped playing for a draw.



They are well organised and will get crosses into the box every chance they get, but the Hammers look toothless without Antonio and that is a real worry. Especially when you consider that he tends to miss chunks of every season through injury. They really need to find an alternative for those games he is unavailable for, which is clearly not Haller as a loan forward. It is not his game. The few times I saw him play before he moved to West Ham, he was actually playing more of a numer 10 role, behind a poacher (I think it was Jovic if I remember correctly but I am probably wrong on that one as my memory is very vague on this). Maybe it is time for Haller to be used once more in a deeper role, while someone else covers the Antonio role?







Liverpool





Klopp - Once more Klopp found a way to win with his substitutions once more proving to be crucial. It is a far cry from his early days with Liverpool when most of the criticism surrounded his use (or lack of) substitutions. Now he has the players to come on and change the game he is doing so regularly.





Alisson - A fairly quiet game for Alisson. Had little chance with the goal, was not really tested other than that, other than maybe could have been a bit more forceful when crosses came in. Maybe.





Alexander-Arnold - Played well though I do wish he would have done more to stop the crosses from coming in. There were far too many balls coming in to the box and that is always dangerous. It only takes a slip or mistake and it is a good chance for the opposition, as we saw. He needs to close down the wide men properly and give them less space. The rest of his defensive game has come on in leaps and bounds, that is the one outstanding weak spot left in his game. Though it must be said on the goal he dropped far too early and deep, while the rest held the line, the key issue with that was that he then never dealt with the runner and allowed a cross to come in far too easily. Alexander-Arnold has to shut that player out if he is going to choose to abandon the defensive line.





Phillips - The debutant was clearly being targeted by Haller, who tried to use his strength and height to bully the new boy but, apart from one or two headers, Phillips got the better of their battle. He was also very good at attacking the set-pieces and crosses coming into the box. A very impressive first game.





Gomez - Unfortunately for him, his day will be remembered for one poorly directed header that Fornals scored from. It is a shame because overall he was very good, apart from a few over-hit passes out from the back.





Robertson - Like Trent, he was not dealing with crosses. His game overall was once again really good, but you have to deal better with widemen when playing against a team managed by the likes of Moyes. His tactical plan always heavily favours getting the ball into the box and it is never a good idea to make it easy for his players to do so!





Henderson - While he is not getting to play in his best role at the moment, his importance to the team cannot be overstated. When Klopp talked about 'mentality monsters', he was describing Henderson, whose leadership makes so much difference. An excellent player, but it his leadership and the way he inspires the rest that makes him particularly key to results like this.





Wijnaldum - Had a really good game, covered so much ground and was one of the few on the pitch that did not look to be slowing down after an hour. He has impressed in the last couple, as others are fading due to the amount of football they are playing, he has come in and looked fresh and fired up. Well as fired up as Gini Wijnaldum can look.





Jones - Jones struggled to get into the game and is far too slow to close down to allow a press to work properly with him in the team. While he does lack a little in the physical department, it is mentally that he is struggling. He is still learning the role and that shows as he is reacting late to the triggers.





Salah - Had an excellent game overall, chasing back, constantly moving the defenders around and trying to make something happen, though his game will be remembered for one moment, just like Gomez. It was soft, he did go down far too easily, but it was a foul. I am not sure what the answer is to all the players doing this, I hate to see them make the most of contact but it is just as frustrating to see them fouled and the ref ignore it because the player did not go to ground.





Firmino - Had Soucek closely monitoring him throughout the game and so found it difficult to get involved and had a quiet game. A couple of nice moments but not much else. However, what he is doing is tying down one of the Hammers best players for most of the game, so it was not a wasted afternoon.





Mane - At times was shockingly bad, repeatedly gave the ball away early on. He did pick up his game as the match went on thankfully and got better and better as the game went on.





Jota - replaced Firmino in the 70th minute. The arrival of him and Shaqiri changed the game and lifted the momentum of the game. His first goal was sadly ruled out by VAR for a foul by Mane that was difficult to see. So much for clear and obvious! Jota certainly never let it phase him and he just put it in the back of the net again for the winner. His contribution has been growing each time he plays.





Shaqiri - came on for Jones at the same time as Jota. It really seems like Shaqiri has figured out exactly how to be a Klopp player now. Gone is the sometimes lazy player that turned out for the likes of Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Stoke City at times, instead there is the Switzerland international that gives his all and works hard for the team. What has never been in doubt is his ability and he once again proved it with a delicious ball for Jota's winner. He just needs to stay fit and continue to work hard and he will be in line for a lot more game time this season.





Milner - took the place of Salah in the 90th minute as Klopp looked to see out the game. Only came on to close things out, but managed to put himself about and get involved in the few minutes he was on the pitch.


 

 

Leicester City News 26 Oct 2020
Liverpool v Sheffield United A Liverpool Perspective







Not the best watch and again marred by a VAR controversy, this season is really sapping my love for the game right out of me. Personally I do not believe it was even a foul, though Fabinho took a big risk by attempting the tackle, it looked an excellent tackle to me. I am not sure that I want to watch a contact sport where any contact is deemed to be a foul! Putting that aside, there is no way that VAR could reliably judge whether the contact was in or outside of the box, so why did they rule on it? They constantly miss clear and obvious mistakes (just watch Harry Maguire bearhug Cesar Azpilicueta in the Man Utd box earlier in the day for one such blatant error), yet now they feel they should rule on marginal decisions. I just have no words that can be printed!



At least it was just one moment in this match, which is an improvement on some of the others I have seen recently. There were other moments it could have stepped in and made rulings, but decided they were not clear and obvious errors. It just showed how inconsistent the use of VAR is. I do not understand why the referee is no longer using the monitor to have a look, rather than just trusting the judgement of the idiot 300 miles away in Stockley Park. These judgement calls should be made by the referee on the pitch, VAR's job should just be to spot incidents he might have missed and bring them to his attention or to bring up footage on close calls so that he can look at it and make the decision.







Sheffield United





They looked like the Blades from last season from the kick off. They ran themselves into the ground in the first half, pressing hard and leaving no space for Liverpool to play. Of all the teams in the Prem, it is difficult to begrudge Sheff Utd a bit of luck with decisions, as they have been one of the clubs that have most suffered at the hands of the ineptitude of officials. Though I doubt I would be saying that had they held on to win! They do still have issues up front, Brewster has not settled in properly and is struggling to link up, he was also playing far too deep, so that most of the time it was McBurnie who was chasing the loose balls, rather than the much quicker Brewster.



They did tire in the second half and could not maintain their press, which led to the game getting away from them. Their big worry has not yet been solved, nor did there look to be any signs that Brewster could be the answer to their goalscoring problems just yet, so this could be a long, hard season for them. One player who did stand out for them was Ampadu, he was regularly in position to break up play in the defensive midfield role and did really well.



What I like most about them is that they never stop trying to attack. When they get the ball, they go forward and look to score. If they can get Brewster firing, they should get themselves out of danger quite easily.







Liverpool





Klopp - I am not convinced he picked the right system to begin the game, it is more suited to playing against a team that utilises the low block and is happy to sit deep and defend. Despite being in poor form, Sheff Utd were certainly not happy to just sit back and look to snatch a goal on the break. In the second half Klopp's half-time tactical changes and the Blades' tiring legs combined to give Liverpool a bit more control over the game. I would like to know the thinking behind the in-swinging corners, as it was clearly a planned tactic, with every corner seeing the opposite full-back go over to swing it in. Possibly because their goalkeeper is seen a weak link, but the deliveries failed to really put him under any pressure.





Alisson - looked very rusty but still pulled off a decent save or two. He did nearly get caught napping, taking too long to clear the ball but that just woke him up and Alisson made sure to kick the ball long before he could be closed down again.





Alexander-Arnold - a superb free kick right at the start seemed to set the tone for him and he was much more like his old self. Defended well and provided a good bit of attacking threat too.





Fabinho - looked like a makeshift centre-back here. Apart from the bad clearance which led to him rashly challenging and giving the opportunity to Sheffield United to take the lead, his overall game was not as good as it has been. Positionally he struggled, he never gave himself enough space when faced up with Burke, which saw the Scottish forward just run round him easily. It just shows you can only get away with playing a player out of position for so long before someone figures out how to take advantage. It did lead to our defending seeming a bit panicked at times but Gomez did ensure to be on the cover as much as possible.





Gomez - played well, covering for Fabinho as much as he could, though it was not that easy as Sheff Utd play two up top, so he mostly had to worry about his own man. Never really got many chances to get on the ball and play out from the back, but did play one magnificent van Dijk-esque diagonal ball to the right flank.





Robertson - he has started the season like a house on fire and is still playing well. My worry is that he will run out of steam with the games coming so thick and fast.





Henderson - had a decent first half, but struggled to cope with the numbers running at him from the Sheff Utd side. In the second half he took charge of the midfield and played a lot like the Henderson we saw last season.





Wijnaldum - like Henderson he struggled a little in the first half but as the game went on he got better and better. Some of his forward runs in the second half were lungbusting, right up until the final seconds. His stamina and workrate was exceptional.





Jota - he works hard, keeps going and is always a pest for the opposition, his goal was well taken too. However his runs are still too often tripping over teammates. It is going to take some time for them all to understand each other, especially if they are playing in an unfamiliar set up as they were in this match. There is enough to suggest he will be a good fit in the team when he does develop an understanding, though he does need to take less touches at times.





Salah - if he could have added a goal, or final pass when the chance came, his performance would have been excellent. As it was Sheffield United did very well against him, constantly ensuring there were always extra men there to cover any breakthrough he did make. Such a shame that his beautiful goal was disallowed.





Firmino - could not get into the game in the first half, mostly due to Ampadu being right on him, though he did finally get his Anfield goal. In the second half he got on the ball and made things happen, which resulted in a much improved half for Liverpool as well. It is worrying how reliant Liverpool are on him for creativity.





Mane - while he never got a goal himself, he was a constant source of menace and movement. The Blades really could not get to grips with him at all.





Minamino - replaced Firmino in the 83rd minute. Worked hard but never really got into the match as the Blades lifted their game to try and snatch an equaliser. He was more involved in helping the defence than he was in getting on the ball and making stuff happen.





Milner - took the place of Jota in a double substitution with Minamino. Despite coming on late, he was immediately heavily involved and, as usual, was here, there and everywhere breaking up play and creating too.


 

 

Leicester City News 23 Oct 2020
Everton v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective







Disappointingly this is a game that will not be remembered for the match itself, the brilliance of Thiago or Everton's drive and desire to fight back twice after going behind. Instead it will be remembered for a number of terrible refereeing and VAR errors, which resulted in the wrong decisions on far too many occasions for a game with the amount of technology available to the officials. There are no excuses that can be given for the mistakes as they were blatantly incorrect and if they are unable to see these things then we have to question their fitness to be match officials.



Aside from that, it was a good match, marred by a long term injury suffered by Virgil van Dijk, between two teams that are more closely matched than they have been in recent years. In fact, in my opinion, there are only three things that are stopping Everton from having an 11 that are capable of challenging right at the top (though their lack of squad depth is a problem). One is central midfield, Andre Gomes is lacking the quality and mobility of a top class player, which was starkly shown up in comparison to Thiago Alcantara opposing him.



Their second issue is the pure laziness of James Rodriguez, which left them wide open all game to attacks down their right, particularly once Coleman went off injured. If he continues to saunter around doing nothing to help the team defensively, the opposition will figure them out and they will be in trouble. The final one is the obvious one, the goalkeeper, whose only saves were at the perfect height for a goalkeeper, rather than being truly great saves, because he is not capable of greatness.







Everton





Well organised and competitive, overly so at times but it was a derby and they have always had a tendency to devolve that way as the moment affects players, Everton are a totally different proposition from recent years. They have two-thirds of an excellent midfield, a goalscorer up top who is exceptional in the air and the creativity to find that goalscorer in dangerous areas. Unfortunately their defence is simply not up to scratch, only Digne looks good enough for the long term if they are going to become a regular Champions League team fixture.



In that arena they will find James will be well suited, with his ridiculous antics which nearly cost his team a goal at one point when he was writhing around on the floor in 'agony' despite barely being touched. His constant play-acting is simply embarrassing and his laziness is shocking. A couple of good passes over 90 minutes do not make up for his complete lack of effort. Teams will learn how to play him in the Prem and he will be a hindrance, as you cannot afford to carry someone in a normal league season.



They did have a lot of luck in terms of decisions going their way, a very dubious offside followed by a terrible bit of officiating to not send off Pickford for a clear red card offence changed the game just as they were under the cosh. It does seem odd that an assault is ignored and they profit from that but it is the way it is with the terrible state of refereeing in the English leagues. They took advantage of the psychological hit Liverpool took losing van Dijk and got themselves back into the game, showing a good mentality.



Then there was the last gasp goal being chalked off, for what was clearly a wrongly awarded offside that saved them from a defeat. Those are the kinds of things that have to go for you if you are to have a season better than you could have hoped for. Luck like that can lead to title challenges if they continue throughout the season. They do not quite yet have all the quality needed to sustain a title challenge without a fair chunk of luck, but you can see the building blocks are in place for a future one.







Liverpool





Klopp - a difficult game for Klopp. His team were beginning to establish control when hit by the van Dijk injury and that not only knocked Liverpool back mentally, it also lifted Everton and gave them belief. It was only bad decisions that stopped it being another win for the Reds, so it is difficult to fault his tactics or gameplan.





Adrian - struggling for confidence and it shows in his decision-making, which is all over the shop at the moment. He just needs to settle down and relax, while Liverpool fans need to stop expecting him to be a top class goalkeeper and remember he is just a back-up.





Alexander-Arnold - playing much more within himself than usual, but I think in this game it was a tactical choice to hold him back as there was so much space to attack Everton down the opposite flank. With him still coming back to full sharpness after an injury and no pre-season, the lack of time between matches to train properly is showing. He looks way off full sharpness and it is going to take longer than usual to get him up to speed as there is so much recovery after matches to be done. The team is barely getting to train together at the moment, unlike a normal season. It is going to be about patience each time a player picks up an injury this season, as they are all going to struggle to get back up to speed, without picking up more injuries.





Matip - surprisingly for him, as he is normally excellent in this aspect of the game, his passing was off and he was giving the ball away very cheaply. I think it was probably just rustiness, as he is (as always it seems) just coming back from an injury. Which will not be helped by him picking up another injury in this match. In the main he did not look too far off his best though, it was just his passing which let him down really.





van Dijk - according to a few Everton fans, he had been trying to end other players' careers from the kick off and so reaped what he sowed when he was injured. However, I have watched it over and over, right up until his injury, and I saw nothing. There were 3 moments, which they seem to be referring to. The first he went into the back of James, nothing serious, nothing particularly different from anything any centre-back does, certainly nothing dangerous about it, though James' reaction did suggest van Dijk had run him through with a pitch fork. The second was a collision, again with James, where van Dijk did turn his shoulder into it, as any intelligent player would do, to protect themselves. James was unable to do so, through no fault of his own, and the pair ran into each other. Something that happens all over the pitch many times a match. Again nothing serious, but James reacted as if Virgil had shanked him, then shot him and possibly stamped on him afterwards, judging by the screams, the rolling around etc. The final one was on Calvert-Lewin, which has been described as cutting him in half by one poster on the Everton site. Except all that happened is that van Dijk got tight to the Everton forward and then reached his leg around him and toed the ball away. The ref gave them all as free kicks, though Calvert-Lewin seemed as surprised as anyone to get the decision in his favour. I can only think those couple of Everton fans are so desperate to justify Pickford's actions that they are deluding themselves in order to do so.



As for his performance, he was not on the pitch long enough to really judge him, though it did look like he was fired up. It is a big shame about the injury, but I think people are getting too carried away with it, there is no way Pickford has the intelligence to be sly enough to deliberately set out to injury Virgil. It was reckless and dangerous and a red, but no more than that. People need to move on and stop wasting their time on bitterness.





Robertson - once again he was excellent, absolutely marauding down the left flank using the space James cannot be bothered to track back into. I have to say that I think that Robertson has been Liverpool's best player overall at the start of the season. Which makes it all the more galling that he should have been red carded for a kick out. That was silly and could have seen us in real trouble in that match.





Henderson - I do worry for what would have happened in this match if Henderson was not on the pitch when van Dijk went off. It clearly gave Everton such a lift, while knocking Liverpool for six, and they needed his leadership. Luckily he was there and he was able to help the team through it, then get them going again to retake the lead after Everton equalised. Then did it again when the Blues equalised a second time, driving the team on and even managed to score right at the end. Sadly it was disallowed for a non-existent offside but that is no fault of the player's. Liverpool are a better side with Henderson in the middle.





Fabinho - a good game, though one aspect of his game, that creativity and pinpoint passing was a little subdued, probably due to Thiago being there to take over the mantle.





Thiago - if there was one game that I would have expected him to struggle in, it would have been this one, as the Derby is the match that gives players like him no time to breath, let alone create anything. Obviously no one told Thiago that, as he was on a completely different level from everyone else on the pitch. It was not just his brilliance on the ball either, it was his workrate, his tracking back and winning the ball back, his pressing and the way he could hold on to it under pressure. Sometimes you just have to applaud a performance and not even try to pick holes in it. This was definitely one of those times. Such a shame he got injured by a nasty tackle, which saw Richarlison quite rightly sent off. Thiago has almost done enough to pay off his transfer fee already and he has only played one and a half games!





Salah - a really good performance by Salah, put in some really hard yards working back covering, as well as causing so many problems up front. Took his goal really well too. His movement causes so many problems for defenders. Probably should have scored more though and did try to force a pass at times, when it was not on.





Firmino - desperately needs to score in a Liverpool shirt to get himself up and running. His link up play is there, the little flicks, the beautiful pieces of control, the twists and turns are all working, but he is trying far too hard when in the box. The header, in particular, showed a player that was being too careful, attempting to place the ball right in the corner, rather than just getting it on target.





Mane - did some really good things in this game, as well as opening the scoring. I do worry about his tendency to go down softly at time, it is something I do not like, though he is nowhere near as bad as some, it is still not needed. It must be so frustrating for him, I do get that, he gets kicked all over the pitch and does not get a foul because he stays on his feet. The answer to that problem is not to then go down under little challenge because you have lost the ball though. In fact that is more likely to make referees think twice about giving you genuine free-kicks!





Gomez - replaced the injured van Dijk in the 11th minute. Took a while to get up to speed on his weaker side, but did not do too bad overall. Perhaps could have done more on Calvert-Lewin's headed goal, but as Calvert-Lewin is one of the few attackers that can consistently beat van Dijk in an aerial battle, I think it is probably harsh to blame him for that goal. Calvert-Lewin is probably the best around right now at getting on the end of crosses.





Jota - came on in the 78th minute in place of Firmino. His running causes the opposition lots of problems, but he does have a tendency to run into teammates too. Jota really needs to build up an understanding with the rest of the frontline, as it is happening every time that he is either tripping over one of the other forwards or they are tripping over him. He is exciting to watch though, has the look of the type of player who can become a fan favourite.





Wijnaldum - in the 90th+1 minute he came off the bench to replace Fabinho. Just did not have time to really make a mark on the game.


 

 

 

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19 Nov 2015 14:18:00
OK, it looks like Vardy might well be able to play, so the question becomes, will he score and end up breaking the record?