Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’

Football

Is Daniel Sturridge the answer to Liverpool’s striking problems?

By Stefano on January 4th, 2013

Our new Liverpool FC correspondent David Owens thinks Sturridge has a role to play, but there is still a lot more work to be done.

There was a time “back in the day” when 15 players was all you needed in a season to win a First Division Championship – kids, ask your dads or check the internet, and you will find that in season 1978/79 the then European Champions Liverpool FC only used 15 players all campaign to win the Championship, and 2 of those players only played 2 and 4 games. This was indeed also a record breaking season of 68 points won (when it was 2 points per win – this would now equate to 98 points), and 16 goals only conceded in 42 games no less. Ah the good old days…

The world has indeed changed in the 34 years since then, mainly that the Championship is now the Premiership. Significantly though, the intricacies of the modern game in terms of club ownership, management structures, agents, player contracts, transfer deadlines all make the game a lot more difficult to run than it should be – a necessary evil sadly. It was this complication that meant that one of the most celebrated and mass supported football clubs in the world were left at the end of the 2012 summer transfer window with an embarrassingly inadequate number of proven quality forwards to cope with the demands of a Premiership season in the modern era.

The specific reasons for this, and where any fault lies is only known by those involved, and could be speculated on until the cows come home – in short a lack of true club leadership, sound advice and very poor planning all contributed – and to be honest, Liverpool FC find themselves lucky to be handily placed in 8th and still with an outside chance of gaining a 4th place Champions League qualifying spot, so coveted by Arsene Wenger each year. Liverpool are fortunate that this is a poor Premiership, that the emergence of Raheem Sterling has been premature, but mainly indebted to the outstanding form of the usual suspects Messrs Gerrard and Suarez.

However, Brendan Rodgers has got his act together, work was done in December and on 2nd January, Liverpool fans received a new year’s gift that was much expected in the form of Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea for the highly common transfer fee of £ undisclosed….. Problem solved?

Let’s look at this question in 3 ways – Player, Team, Squad….

Is Daniel Sturridge the right player? A difficult question to answer because at 23 you can hardly say he has been a regular anywhere – as a kid at Man City he showed many glimpses of his clear talent; at Chelsea initially he hardly seemed to get a kick, yet surprisingly scored 5 in 20 games while winning Premiership and FA Cup winners medals; he spent a successful 6 month loan at Bolton when in most Bolton fans eyes he kept them in the Premier League for one more year – and his goal record of 8 goals in 12 games is indeed impressive – as was his pace and power and clear ability shown in a struggling poor side. He finished last season with 13 goals in total, again impressive given he was third or 4th in line behind Anelka, Drogba and Torres and played many of his games in a wider role under AVB and Di Matteo. His performances for Team GB last summer again reminded fans of his abilities… so based on all that, at 23, Liverpool have spent their cash on an English striker with the best years ahead of him, with experience, with a knack of goals and hopefully a point to prove.

Will Sturridge fit into the current first XI? – Good question, Luis Suarez – the Premier League’s top scorer has been playing fantastic all season as a central striker, Sturridge is a central striker – despite his over-use out wide by Chelsea. Given Brendan Rodgers’s desire to develop a 4-3-3 type system at Anfield it would appear a conundrum – or does it? Teams rarely play the same XI week in week out, so there will be weeks they play together and some they don’t. The key to this question is Suarez. Love him or loathe him you cannot deny him – Suarez is a player, he never gives up, must be a nightmare to defend against, but in truth is a very frustrating central striker. Suarez loves to roam, he goes where the ball is, tries to cause mayhem and make something happen for the team – but there have been far too many times this season when Liverpool have needed a striker to finish off the results of Suarez creative efforts, so there is every chance a place for Sturridge in the first XI will improve the team’s output and results, with him as the central figure of the attack, and Suarez in tandem roaming, creating and scoring.

Where does the Sturridge signing leave Liverpool’s squad… in a word or 2 – still short. Look at Man U – 4 high quality strikers, Man City 3 or 4, Liverpool now have 2. Even with summer 12 purchase, the Italian Fabio Borini nearing fitness after injury, reality is it is still only 2, because even Brendan Rodgers admitted Borini was one for the future. Another “for the future”, Adam Morgan, is being loaned out to Rotherham for experience, and the once “for the future” Danny Pacheco now seems in that bracket of “surplus to requirements”, so the expectation and hope of Liverpool fans is for another signing or loan deal in the forward department – indeed I believe a majority of Liverpool fans would not be unhappy to see Andy Carroll back, although he may carry too much media focus to return just yet. Of course the assumption is that the rest of Liverpool’s squad is up to scratch, which in reality it is not. There is a lack of regular goals from midfield; more creativity is needed in the squad; better defensive cover and despite recent returns to form and promise shown, Messrs Henderson, Downing and Enrique need to show a higher standard more consistently, in more games with more assists and more goals to finally cement a place as first team options who you trust to deliver.

So is Daniel Sturridge the answer for Liverpool FC, not really…. But take yourself back to your school days and those exam questions you’d get which started “this is a 3 part question”… Brendan Rodgers has just answered part “a” pretty well, however answers to parts “b and c” will be tougher, are worth more marks, and so may take more time to solve, and in truth he may need the input of the owners to fully solve them in terms of cold hard cash…. And the ownership situation is one for another day.

However, another run of 8 goals in 12 games from Sturridge, coupled with a better consistent team performance could yet deliver Liverpool some form of European Football next season, and if it is the Champions League, then the Sturridge signing could well be the catalyst to something significant.

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Is Micah Richards going to be Brendan Rodgers’ next big signing for Liverpool?

By Stefano on January 4th, 2013

Liverpool have already made one of the key signings of the window in snapping up Daniel Sturridge, but it seems that Brendan Rodgers’ spree isn’t going to end there.

A few papers are reporting that the Liverpool manager is back on the case renegotiating the return of Thomas Ince from Blackpool with a fee of around £5 million.

But Italian source TuttoMercato (reported here by Goal) also says that the Reds are keeping close tabs on Man City defender Micah Richards.

The England defender has only had a few opportunities at Man City this season, after injuring his knee in October, and seems to have fallen off manager Roberto Mancini’s radar. Even when he was fit, like at the end of last season, his chances were limited. Mancini has an embarrassment of riches at the back and some papers are even linking Joleon Lescott with a move away from the club possibly to Aston Villa.

Liverpool already have an England player at right back in Glenn Johnson, but Richards would be a very useful centre back for Rodgers.



Football

Transfer update – Liverpool sign Sturridge which means Ba move to Chelsea back on

By Stefano on January 2nd, 2013

Big news in the last hour. Liverpool FC have confirmed that they have signed Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge. There is no news yet on the terms of the deal but Sturridge has said

“I am humbled and happy to be here. Brendan Rodgers said he sees me here for a long time – and I also see myself here for a long time. I’ve not signed here to play for a couple of years and then move on.

“I’ve signed to be here for as long as possible. It’s a humongous club – for me, one of the biggest in the world – and to have the fans and world-class players we have here is amazing.”

Sturridge scored 13 times for Chelsea last season, including 11 in the Premier League, but an injury has limited his role this year.

Sturridge’s transfer means that the Demba Ba move to Chelsea is apparently back on. Newcastle United issues this on their website an hour or so ago.

The club have given the player permission to speak to Chelsea FC and therefore he will not be included in the squad for tonight’s (Wednesday) game against Everton.

Chelsea are thought to have made an offer in excess of £7 million which triggers Ba’s release clause. Infostrada recently tweeted “Demba Ba (36) has scored 2x as many PL goals since arriving in PL in Jan 2011 than Fernando Torres (18) since his move to #CFC in Jan 2011.”

So Chelsea fans – is this the striker you have been waiting for?

 



Football

Villa, Sneijder, Zaha and the 10 most wanted players in the transfer window

By Stefano on December 31st, 2012

So, there is just a few hours to go before paper talk can become reality and the winter transfer window opens. This winter expect some serious cash to be flying with Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool desperate to strengthen their squads to keep them in the frame for Champions League qualification, and Man City and Chelsea mulling over big money strikers.

Apparently ‘Arrry has £20 million to spend too.

So here then are the ten most coveted players in the window. I’d be very surprised if at least half of them weren’t wearing new colours come February.

9 Adrian Lopez

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Picture 2 of 10

Arsenal have apparently already bid for Atletico de Madrid's Adrian Lopez. The striker is third choice at Atletico now and a move to the Premiership could re-ignite his career. Arsenal have tabled a £10 million bid which is less than Lopez's £14.7m release clause.



Football

Who should start on the wings for Liverpool against QPR? Sterling, Suso or Downing?

By Stefano on December 28th, 2012
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Raheem Sterling’s impact for Liverpool this season has been highly impressive, but the young winger desperately needed a break from first-team duties. Signs of fatigue were creeping into Sterling’s game in recent weeks, while the psychological impact of being thrust into the media limelight can’t be underestimated, especially for a youngster that has shown signs of indiscipline. Constant speculation about his new contract didn’t help matters.

But now, Sterling is fresh having been only a substitute in the matches against Fulham and Aston Villa, and his new contract was signed last week. Brendan Rodgers will want to rotate his side after the disappointment against Stoke on Boxing Day, and Sterling is the obvious player to come into the side, providing a burst of pace and energy on the flank.

But if Sterling plays, which winger should Rodgers drop? Stewart Downing was quiet against Stoke, but was genuinely excellent against Fulham, and deserves a run in the side. Suso, meanwhile, was relatively quiet in both matches, and like Sterling, shouldn’t be overplayed at this early stage of his career. Rodgers has been determined to protect the young Spaniard: he’s started eight matches but hasn’t completed the 90 minutes in any, and will probably be rested against QPR.

Sterling and Downing can both play on either flank, but the former should get plenty of joy against QPR left-back Armand Traore, who is talented technically but woeful in a position sense, leaving too much space between himself and the centre-backs. Sterling’s decision-marking isn’t yet up to the required standard, but if he skips past Traore, he’ll have plenty of time to decide what to do next.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.



Football

Atletico Madrid’s tricky winger Arda Turan tracked by Arsenal and Liverpool

By Stefano on December 28th, 2012

The latest news from Arsenal is that the club are apparently interested in signing Atletico Madrid’s Turkish winger Arda Turan.

Turkish paper Millyet says that the player’s agent Ahmet Bulut has received offers from both Arsenal and Liverpool, and the Turkish midfielder wants to continue his career in the Premier League.

Wenger (and Rodgers) was clearly reminded about what a talent the player is when he starred during the Madrid club’s recent thrashing of Chelsea in the Super Cup.

He is 25, plays on the left wing – an area where Arsenal have struggled this season with Lukas Podolski – and owing to the perilous financial nature of Spanish football he could end up costing less than £10 million.

He would also be a good player to link up with Santi Cazorla and certainly works harder tracking back than Podolski. He also has plenty of pace, something that is sorely lacking in the current Arsenal team.

From a marketing perspective it would be a very wise move to sign a Turkish player too. The area to the east of the ground is home to many Arsenal supporting Turks and Turkish Cypriots who would be hugely excited about one of their own starring at The Emirates.

Images PA



Football

Lewis Holtby interesting Liverpool and Arsenal

By Stefano on December 27th, 2012

Well Schalke might have tied down one of major stars to a new deal in the guise of Klaas Jan Hunteklaar, but now they need to work hard to keep another of their key players at Gelsenkirchen.

According to Goal 22year old midfielder Lewis Holtby has decided against renewing his contract with the Bundesliga club and is eyeing up a move to the Premiership.

Holtby is high on the list of targets of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Arsene Wenger is known to be an admirer (Holtby showed good form against Arsenal in the Champions League) and was linked with the player in November.

The German star, who has an English father, would be free to leave Schalke in the summer under the Bosman ruling and so a move in the January window seems a very real possibility.

Holtby, who is apparently an Everton fan, was reported to have demanded almost £5 million a year to commit to Schalke. The player’s agent Markus Noack rubbished those rumours, telling Goal.com that such a figure had been “plucked from the air”.

Pic PA



Football

Question marks over Liverpool targets – Ince, Huntelaar and Sturridge

By Stefano on December 20th, 2012

It does seem as if things are never straightforward for Brendan Rodgers in his bid to strengthen the Liverpool squad, for three players who he has been targeting all now appear to have other options than joining the Reds.

One of the Red’s top striking targets Klass Jan Huntelaar, who was yesterday apparently in talks with Arsenal, now might be staying at Schalke after all. Two German papers DerWesten and kicker said the the striker, who has an incredible track record in the Bundesliga, would be staying with the club and that a new deal would be announced this week.

Meanwhile the journey to sign Liverpol’s other main striking target Daniel Sturridge appears to have hit a bit of a hurdle. The Daily Mail reports that there is a sticking point in the amount of money that the club would have to pay to the player’s agent. Liverpool spent £31.3million on agents fees since 2008 – only Chelsea (£31.8m) and Manchester City (£39.02m) have paid more in the same period

Finally Goal are suggesting that the done deal to sign Thomas Ince might not be so concrete after all and that Manchester United might try and scupper the deal with a bid of their own. The club needs a box to box midfielder to reppace the well, irreplaceable Paul Scholes.



Accessories, Football

Arsenal planning double raid on Liverpool – goalkeeper and winger on Wenger’s radar

By Stefano on December 15th, 2012

There has been a lot of Arsenal-related transfer news in the last few hours. Though today it isn’t all about where Theo Walcott will spend the next part of his career, but about the list of players that Arsene Wenger is after in a bid to add steel to his rather brittle squad.

The Mirror has a run down of those targets and the likelihood of them arriving at The Emirates. It lists the usual suspects;  Huntelaar, Zaha and Southampton’s Luke Shaw, but suggests that Montpellier’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is likely to end up in Italy.

The Mirror’s big story is that keeper Pepe Reina’s move to Arsenal is gaining momentum. It does point out though that there may be sticking points.

It says

Wenger tried to sign Reina two summers ago and Arsenal believe there’s a chance Liverpool will be willing to cash in and go for Birmingham’s England prospect Jack Butland as a replacement.

Spain international Reina, who has had an indifferent season, is on £110,000-a-week wages, which is likely to be a major issue for Arsenal.

Arsenal are also been strongly linked with another Liverpool player who apparently has an exit on his mind.

The Sun says that the Gunners are reported to be lining up a bid for want-away winger Raheem Sterling. The youngster has 18 months left on his contract but is allegedly not keen on signing a new deal. The article suggests that Arsenal will offer Theo Walcott in a swap deal for the talented winger. Manchester United are also keen on Sterling, but then they have also be linked with Walcott and Arsenal’s other key target Wilfried Zaha.

Meanwhile The Mail suggests that the Gunners are still very keen on West Ham’s midfielder Momo Diame, and that Arsenal are trying to use a loan move deal for out of sorts striker Marouane Chamakh as bait. The Morrocan striker was superb in his last season at Bordeaux and showed flashes of genius in his first couple of months at The Emirates. However his form for Arsenal since then has been woeful. The Mail also reports  that Arsenal are chasing Toulouse right back Serge Aurier as a potential long term replacement for Bacary Sagna.

Finally The Metro suggests that Arsenal are about to announce new long contracts with its quartet of young British stars. Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey are all about to pen to paper and Carl Jenkinson apparently signed a new contract a few weeks back.

 

 



Football

Why Liverpool can still qualify for The Champions League

By Stefano on December 14th, 2012

After the recent win against West Ham, Steven Gerard emphasised that he is certain that Liverpool can qualify for The Champions League this season. He told The Liverpool Echo…

“We’re building slowly towards where we want to be. We’ve got two home games now against Aston Villa and Fulham. If we can capitalise and make it 12 points out of 12 then we will find ourselves a lot closer to fourth.”

“It’s a platform to build on. We just have to focus on Villa now. Come the end of December we’re really looking to be close to that fourth position.”

I don’t think this is blind optimism on his part, there are quite a few reasons why Liverpool will finish top four and maybe even press Chelsea for third place.

1 They are now on the cusp of a putting a run together. Remember the Reds’ start to the season and games against Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs? Things are going to get a bit easier for them now with the next five opponents being Villa, Fulham, Stoke, QPR and Sunderland all of which are very winnable games. Three or four wins on the spin should get confidence levels up. Rodgers told The Indie

“If we can arrive in January in and around that top four then we can really put our foot to the floor, when the confidence will be improved even more and players will be aligned with what we’re trying to achieve. I believe we can have a good second half of the season.”

2 Their rivals are still not consistent enough – Arsenal are all over the place at the moment, Everton and Spurs keep tripping up and none one, apart from maybe Steve Clarke, believes that West Brom will be in the mix come the end of the season. Fourth place is Liverpool’s for the taking.

3 The team seems more comfortable playing Brendan Rodgers way. It has taken some time for the team to adapt but the Reds are starting to suit the manager’s preference for a quick, pressing game. Key players like Johnson, Shelvey and Allen are hitting form and Gerard finding the net again is great news for the Reds.

4 They will strengthen in the Winter break. Not replacing Andy Carroll was borderline calamitous. Liverpool need at least two forward players, one to play along side Luis Suarez and another for cover. Daniel Sturridge looks like a great buy and Tom Ince could be a very useful squad player.

Pic PA



Football

Arsene says no January sale for Theo Walcott – but is he at odds with the Arsenal board?

By Stefano on December 8th, 2012

The Daily Mail has what it is billing as an exclusive today. According to the paper…

1 In spite of the public perception that talks between Theo Walcott and the club are ongoing,  no formal discussions between the two parties have taken place since August 28. The last offer on the table was a five-year £75,000-per-week deal.

2 That Wenger is desperate to cling on  to his in-form winger for the rest of the season knowing that Walcott could leave on a free transfer in the summer. However Wenger also wanted to keep Van Persie and Nasri but he was over ruled by the board and both were sold with less than 12 months on their contracts. So if the board gets its way Walcott will be sold in January with Chelsea  Liverpool and Manchester City the front runners.

All this in spite of strong rumours that Walcott wants to stay at the club.

He might have been dogged by injuries, but Walcott has been very impressive this season and is clearly forming a useful partnership with new striker Olivier Giroud. His crosses from the right have been a source of seven Arsenal goals and he also netted ten himself.

What the fans can’t understand is why the club won’t make an improved offer to arguably the club’s most in-form player. The financial gap between the two parties is apparently only a few thousand a week. The other sticking point is that Walcott is adamant that he wants to play as a striker.

Given the club’s shortage of front men many fans feel Wenger has missed a trick this season not to experiment with Walcott through the middle. What is even more galling for Arsenal faithful is that Wenger was prepared to give Gervinho a striking berth which, apart from brief  flashes of genius, has been wholly unsuccessful.

It appears that Walcott has the respect and support of a large section of Arsenal fans and were he to leave, unlike Nasri, Van Persie, Toure and other Arsenal emigres, the fans would blame the club and the manager and not the player.

Of course the side could pull a huge rabbit out of the hat by signing the highly rated Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace. Whether that would be enough for the fans to forget their speedy winger remains to be seen.




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