Can the Basket Handle the Eggs

My posting schedule’s been pretty inconsistent lately, but I definitely felt that I needed to talk about some things post-Besiktas.

The return/expected return of a certain Daniel Sturridge has prompted a reversal in Liverpool’s results, with the Reds now sitting happily in 6th place, with an oppourtunity to overtake Arsenal & Southampton tomorrow. Its easy to write off that Besiktas game, but now it really is all our eggs in one basket for Liverpool FC.

Liverpool have been, of recent years, a team relying on that one player to rescue them out of any situation. The two years which have been exceptions in my recent memory would  be Fernando Torres + Steven Gerrard, and the very brief times that Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge linked up together – and even that is very difficult to consider, given the nature of Suarez’s suspensions and Sturridge’s fragile legs.

Liverpool’s offence pre-Sturridge’s return lacked confidence and the ability to slot the ball in the back of the net. Quite frankly, Raheem Sterling, in my opinion is really not ready to be put in that center forward role. I’m not even talking about his conversion rate. Its the positions which he gets into. He drifts out pretty wide, and then you end up with noone in the box to aim at and then Liverpool really have no bite up front.

Daniel Sturridge’s performance against Besiktas is by no means a measure of how he’s gonna perform for the rest of the season, but I simply think that he was not ready for that game. His fitness was very unconvincing, and did Brendan Rodgers value this game highly enough to take that risk? Lambert’s looked really sharp in all his games, hasn’t he? The reasoning is because I really think that Balotelli (yes, Balotelli) is a player who is very hot and cold. He’s gonna have his really good patches of form when he finally finds the back of the net after he wears his bib (banter) during the warm-up. He’s been scoring a few lately, and I think that the unconvincing link up play with Daniel Sturridge, coupled with that penalty controversy would have done nothing to improve relations between the two.

But after a very quiet January transfer window, it means that all our eggs are in the Daniel Sturridge basket, and as long as his l(egg)s remain injury free, we should be able to snatch that coveted 4th spot from the Gunners.

Another thing that I consider very questionable is definitely the penalty taking order. I’m not talking about the first 4 takers, because I think that its fine. (and its not even because Dejan Lovren was the only player who missed) I’m asking why you would ask a defender who was until just recently very low on confidence, with the fans calling for his departure, to take the fifth penalty. Arguably the most important penalty there is (and he’s meant to be the last out of the first ten regulation penalties before heading to sudden death). I find it questionable, as does his penalty taking ability really warrant taking that last penalty kick? I’m sure we had better penalty takers out there.

But all things considered, we saw some pretty good performances. Emre Can put in another top notch performance, whilst Joe Allen did really well in the center of the ball park as well. I’m sure Liverpool will show us something better against Manchester City, and I’ll definitely be tuning in, hoping for a good victory!

4 Reasons Why Not To Dwell On The Europa League Exit

With expectations on the Reds to triumph in the Europa League ever so high, Brendan Rodgers’ men slumped to a bitter defeat to Besiktas in penalty shootouts on Thursday.

Nevertheless, Two Liverpool Fans provide you with 4 reasons not to dwell on that early Europa League exit (despite understanding how bitter of a pill it was for the Kop End to take in).

Liverpool

1. The end of a hectic schedule

As mentioned on our previous post, manager Brendan Rodgers deeply expressed his concerns over his team’s hectic schedule.  And thanks to that string hectic fixtures we’ve got to see a very exhausted Emre Can in action against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup last week whilst Raheem Sterling has looked leggy for the past couple of weeks.

However, what needs to be done still needs to be done. The fans want to see their team succeed in Europe, not just in the league. After losing several regular starters to injury, the Reds are admittedly lacking in depth now. A good transfer window come next season would allow Brendan Rodgers to rotate the squad further, not to mention the emergence of academy talents like Jordan Ibe.

Mignolet

2. Simon Mignolet can be our own Manuel Neuer

A bit optimistic, yes. But his performance so far in 2015 has surprised many critics. The Belgian international once again produced a string of saves to keep Liverpool in the game well beyond 90 minutes. The lad is getting more and more confident in collecting high balls from corners and crosses too!

We’ve called him garbage, we’ve called him trash. And now he’s out to prove us wrong…

Skrtel

3. Martin Skrtel is regaining form

In my opinion, Skrtel’s desperate resurrection started after he netted Liverpool’s late equaliser against Arsenal back in mid December. If you remember calling him the scapegoat for so many defensive errors earlier at the start of the season, you should also remember seeing him own Christian Benteke throughout the match when the Reds beat Aston Villa 2-0 last month, you should also remember seeing him own Pelle against Southampton last week.

He has been one that held the defensive rearguard together so far this year.

Balotelli

4. Balotelli…

Not exactly a big fan of Balotelli, oh wait I actually am. Let’s not avoid the fact that his last few performances alone for the team was worth every penny of that £16 million fee, and he was yet again a plus point for the Reds on Thursday.

The Italian international was the best forward of the night without dispute, not to mention that both Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling were pure rubbish. Studge just wouldn’t pass Balotelli the ball for f*** sake. If Sturridge still ain’t forgetting about the penalty incident during the first leg, he’d better let bygones be bygones. That selfish display was just plainly unacceptable, f***!

My apologies as I couldn’t hold my anger in from ranting at Sturridge. He’s a quality player and I am very aware of that.

Anyway, do not hesitate to leaves us a comment below if you have something to say!

 

Besiktas vs Liverpool Preview

Having edged out the Turkish giants in the first leg at home thanks to Mario Balotelli’s controversial spot-kick, Liverpool will arrive at the stadium of Istanbul tomorrow hoping to hold/enhance that slender one-goal advantage. 

With that historic win that saw Liverpool beat AC Milan in 2005 to lift the prestigious UEFA Champions League trophy, the Kop will return to the Ataturk stadium for the very first time in almost 10 years with the stakes very much different this time round.

The side’s little magician in Coutinho will miss the trip to Turkey, having started 19 consecutive games for Liverpool in all competitions. Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva, Mamadou Sakho, Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard and a suspended Lazar Markovic complete the rest of the list of notable absentees.

Meanwhile, manager Brendan Rodgers has expressed his concerns over his team’s hectic schedule as Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City eagerly await the opportunity to pounce on a jaded Liverpool side at Anfield on Sunday.

That extra 48 hours Manchester City have to prepare could be crucial, especially as we don’t get back until three in the morning and we will have very little preparation time. The key is rest. At this stage of the season, the physical condition of the players is there but what is vital is sleep and rest. They will not rest much going back on the plane with the adrenalin flowing after a game. Friday will be about rest, then we prepare Saturday and the game is Sunday – and we haven’t been given much help, because we are playing relatively early on the Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers

Nevertheless, as a Liverpool fan I’m never short of excitement when the manager names a bunch of hot prospects in the team before the match. From the interesting cameos from the likes of Dani Pacheco, Nathan Eccleston and Conor Coady to the meteoric rises of Jordon Ibe, Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling, there could be more to come as Brendan Rodgers has included Cameron Brannagan, Jordan Williams, Jerome Sinclair, Jordan Lussey and Scottish youngster Ryan Fulton in his squad.

Veteran defender Kolo Toure has also been recalled to the squad by the manager. The 33-year-old could be brought straight back into action after aiding his national team, Ivory Coast into glory in the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.

Probable lineups:

The question remains. Will the unpredictable Mario Balotelli start for Liverpool? The Italian international’s inclusion in the starting lineup would allow the regular Raheem Sterling a much-needed rest come Sunday’s crucial fixture against Premier League heavyweights Manchester City.

LFC

If Rodgers opts to rest target-man Daniel Sturridge (or utilise him as a super-sub) and once again drop Mario Balotelli from his starting-eleven after lambasting the Italian’s poor work-rate despite his 85th-minute winner against Besiktas in the earlier tie, that would draft Raheem Sterling back into the lineup and leave Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert fighting for the remaining place as the lone striker.

LFC

Would you place Mario Balotelli in your starting lineup?

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