What is the point of pre-season?

Pre-season, huh, what is it good for? Well not preparation judging by the opening two rounds of Premier League football from 2016/17. All those tours, all those ‘tournaments’, the transfers and money spent and yet, the teams that have a settled starting line up at this point of the season are few and far between.

 

This had led to an underwhelming start, with competitors lumbering, slowly emerging from the cocoon of July, rather than exploding into life. Yes, there have been exciting new signings scoring (Zlatan!), new managers emoting (Conte) we’ve had villains (Costa) and late winners (Costa again), so why the sense that something is missing? Continue reading “What is the point of pre-season?”

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The Premier League Contenders from the North

As we move north, the three biggies from the North West really start to put the cat amongst the pigeons on trying to predict this season’s Premier League.

 

It’s been a summer of change and transitions from Liverpool to Manchester. As Pep and José decide to kick start their rivalry from Spain in the same city and Jürgen Klopp finally gets his pre-season, it could be more than feasible to see all three of Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United vying for title honours come April and May next year. Continue reading “The Premier League Contenders from the North”

JG’s Transfer Update Pt.2

Here we are with pt.2 of JG’s transfer round up and its full of the big hitters. It’s L to W, taking in the likes of Liverpool, United, City and Spurs and the newcomer who loves being linked with the big names – Middlesbrough. Continue reading “JG’s Transfer Update Pt.2”

Let’s Talk about Daniel Sturridge’s Goal in the Europa League Final

On a forgettable night for Liverpool fans, Daniel Sturridge’s sublime goal will be an awkward footnote, consigned to history as nothing more than a token goal as Liverpool come runner’s up to the might of Sevilla.

That’s not cool. Daniel Sturridge’s goal was far too good to be condemned as a ‘token effort’, it was an absolute worldy that proved once more that Sturridge, in terms of technical ability, is right up there with the very best the Premier League has to offer.

As Sturridge picks up the ball about 20 yards out, over near the left hand edge of the box, he is faced with three Sevilla defenders in front of him. As Alberto Moreno makes a truly lung bursting run on the overlap, Mariano moves his weight from his left foot to his right, offering up that glimmer of space for Sturridge to exploit so ruthlessly. Continue reading “Let’s Talk about Daniel Sturridge’s Goal in the Europa League Final”

A Brief Look at the Europa League Final

Time has been of the essence this week once more, trying to keep abreast of the end of season shenanigans across Europe, whilst planning for my own trip to France this summer, the time has come for a whistle stop look at the Europa League Final and what a final this could be.. Continue reading “A Brief Look at the Europa League Final”

Klopp looks once more to Anfield Magic

After the miracles produced against Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-final, Jurgen Klopp and his band of merry men will once more be trying to harness some of the magic that surrounds Anfield on a European night as they attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Villarreal.

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool seem to becoming a match made in heaven, as the German embodies crucial elements of what Liverpool fans want to see. Passion, forthrightness and openness with the fans that any Liverpool seeks in a manager.

As seen during his time with Borussia Dortmund, Klopp is more than aware of the importance of the link between fans and players both on and off the field. Dortmund was very much a wounded giant when Klopp took to the helm, and whilst his last season was difficult, he emerged untarnished – a hero of Westphalia. Continue reading “Klopp looks once more to Anfield Magic”

Is Joel Matip the answer for Klopp’s defensive woes?

Liverpool’s defence has been an area of weakness now for up to six years. Long gone are the days under Benetiz where Liverpool fans could see Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Reina, Mascherano and Xabi Alonso line up at Anfield. All six players featured heavily in the 2008-09 season, where Liverpool came 2nd to Manchester United. The year before, Liverpool had been beaten in their second Champions League final in three years. Compared to the Liverpool side under Klopp’s stewardship today, its chalk and cheese.

To apportion any blame on Klopp for Liverpool defensive fragility would be ludicrous. He could have used the January window to strengthen (Steven Caulker seems to offer up little else than defensive cover in an injury crisis), but everything points to a summer squad overhaul for Klopp to start formulating a team that carries his name and his footballing philosophy. Joel Matip may well just be the first of many a name to arrive at Anfield before the start of the 2016-17 season. Continue reading “Is Joel Matip the answer for Klopp’s defensive woes?”

An Occasion Built for Jurgen and the Kop

Predicted XI’s

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Touré, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Lucas, Can, Milner, Firmino, Lallana

Manchester United: de Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Young, Schneiderlin, Herrera, Martial, Mata, Lingard, Rooney

It is a strange and wonderful world in the Premier League this year. With both teams drawing 3-3 in the week, Liverpool undoubtedly will see their late comeback goal (curtesy of Joe Allen) as one point gained compared to Manchester United’s two points dropped thanks to Newcastle United’s Paul Dummett.

For two of the most successful teams in English football, this is one fixture where league position falls by the way side for more personal matters. With Liverpool 13 points and Manchester United 10 points off the top of the league, both team’s will be focussing more on Champions League football but has Steven Gerrard’s red card cameo reinforced last season, this is a game where sometimes the 90 minutes can be more important than the season’s objectives. Continue reading “An Occasion Built for Jurgen and the Kop”

Injuries to Dictate Anfield Clash

Liverpool vs. Arsenal, 13-01-16

Predicted XI’s

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Sakho, Caulker, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Milner, Lallana, Benteke, Firmino

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerín, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlin, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Campbell, Giroud

For a game that sees two of the big hitters play against each other in the League, the pre-match words from the managers have been nothing short of gushing. Praise, mutual respect and tactical insight. It seems a far cry away from say Big Sam and Tony Pulis pre-match press conference.

Whilst the honeymoon bubble for Klopp has well and truly burst, the amount of games and the amount of injuries he has seemingly stumbled into certainly represents a baptism of fire into English football. Whilst he was surprised that there was a second leg to be had in the Capital One Cup, someone really must let him know that a draw with Exeter was going to bring about a reply. Littered with bodies, Mellwood could be mistaken for outside location for Casualty, but in spite of his injury issues, it is welcome to what Klopp brings to the Premier League in how he spoke about football before this game against Arsenal this evening. Continue reading “Injuries to Dictate Anfield Clash”

‘The Pozzo Package Surprises’ – Watford vs. Liverpool, 20/12/15

Predicted XI’s

Watford: Gomes, Nyom, Britos, Cathcart, Aké, Jurado, Watson, Capoue, Jurado, Deeney, Ighalo

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Can, Coutinho, Lallanna, Origi, Ibe

5 days before Christmas and Watford sit 2 places better off than Liverpool, with an extra victory and a better goal difference. Admittedly they have only won one more, and have a better goal difference by one, it nonetheless emphases the impressive start Watford and especially Quique Sanchez Flores has made to the Premier League season.

Continue reading “‘The Pozzo Package Surprises’ – Watford vs. Liverpool, 20/12/15”