It’s incredible to realize that Liverpool’s last loss in the Premier League came at the hands of Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton, way back in March of last year. Remarkably, that 3-1 defeat at St. Mary’s served as a catalyst for both sides as Southampton went on to comfortably avoid the drop and the Reds closed out the season with pride, if not European play.
The summer was an interesting contrast in transfer strategies by the two clubs. Liverpool’s work is well-known around these parts – lots of volume, limited big money transfers (Mamadou Sakho’s late pickup the sole qualifier to). Southampton, on the other hand, went for quality over quantity. Midfielder Victor Wanyama and forward Pablo Osvaldo both joined for figures in the low teens, while Lyon center back Dejan Lovren crossed the Channel for a figure just short of double digits.
Southampton’s strategy of plucking choice players to supplement its impressive home-grown stock is a sound one for my eyes, and Pochettino has his squad playing in a pleasing manner. Last year, Liverpool was the first club to really face a congealed Southampton and we shouldn’t be surprised by the Saints’ style this time around. High-energy pressing and sequences of very attractive interplay can be a heady brew, but, as Liverpool fans can commiserate, totally infuriating when accomplished infrequently.
Indeed, Pochettino’s main task as of now, besides learning English I suppose, is to get his side performing with more consistency. An opening day win over stuttering West Bromwich Albion has been tempered by the unpleasant sandwich of two draws (Sunderland and West Ham) around a narrow loss to Norwich City. Then again, the Saints did manage to hammer Barnsely 5-1 in the What-Do-We-Call-It-Now? Cup, which is more than Liverpool can say.
For the good guys, Brendan Rodgers is dealing with a rather unfortunate slate of injuries. Glen Johnson and Phil Coutinho (Ashley Williams you rat bastard) are out long term, and Aly Cissokho is nearing fitness but not there just yet. Word on the wire is Daniel Agger may return and Martin Kelly is on the precipice, but I’m now having sleepless nights about Daniel Sturridge’s ongoing battle for full fitness. Considering Iago Aspas’s ongoing concussion woes (you heard it here first), many will rejoice when realizing this is the end of The Gremlin’s suspension. Considering these roaming variables, a guess at a starting lineup is difficult but I’ll take a stab:
Alberto scored a second-half hat-trick for the U-21s in Tuesday evening’s 5-2 victory over their Sunderland counterparts at Anfield.
By all accounts he took a while to get in to the game but when he did, the Spanish forward showed his deadly attacking instinct.
While at Barcelona B Alberto could play in a variety of positions. On the left or right wing and even up top as a false number 9.
It was his displays as a number 10 in behind the striker however which really caught the eye.
The former Sevilla academy prospect was at his most effective here, providing a number of key assists and more crucially, increasing his goal tally.
It would be easy to suggest in hindsight that replacing Coutinho with the 20-year-old against Swansea would have been a better option than the hitherto ineffectual Aspas.
But it is one that needs to be made regardless. Both Coutinho and Alberto are at their optimum level in the centre-attacking midfield role and it is why against Sunderland, should the former miss out, Liverpool will be well covered.
Right now there appears only one drawback to Alberto’s game and that is quite obviously his lack of pace. When he has featured this season, against Notts County and Manchester United, the Reds’ attacks would often break down as retreating defenders could easily catch up with him.
Some fans have gone so far as to suggest that this may already mean a role for the player as a centre or even defensive midfielder. That is to play in one of the two positions from a 2-1 in the middle of the park within a 4-2-1-3 system, or variants of it, which has been deployed by Brendan Rodgers.
Yet that only complicates matters as it would mean ousting one of Lucas and Gerrard who currently occupy those places. Lucas is Liverpool’s only recognised ‘defensive midfielder’ and Gerrard’s status at the club makes it very difficult for him to be dropped, irrespective of his fluctuating form.
So what is left is the most sensible option to return to. Alberto must be given the opportunity to play in behind Sturridge on Saturday and prove his worth.
The player will know that if he performs he can put pressure on Coutinho who has had a mixed start to the season truth be told.
That way he can cement his place in the team and realise his undoubted potential.
A superb 1-0 win over a disjointed Manchester United saw Liverpool continue their stellar start to the season, with yet another goal from the red-hot Daniel Sturridge securing their place asPremier League leaders.
Sturridge’s flying start to the season has been bolstered by his coolness in front of goal, an obvious requirement for any striker. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Sturridge ranks joint second for on-target attempts with 5, and has scored, on average, from just over every 1 in 3 (37.5%) strikes he has had on goal this season.
Lucas Leiva’s evolution into one of the most solid central midfielders in the Premier League is showcased well by his superb defensive stats so far this season. He has attempted the second most tackles in the league (21), yet has done so with an excellent success rate of 85.7%.
As if further evidence was needed of how important Lucas will be to Brendan Rogers moving forward, the Brazilian is also the first Liverpool player to move into double-figures for both clearances (10) and interceptions (11). It is the defensive tenacity of Lucas and the Liverpool back four which might explain why the Reds are the only team in the Premier League who have yet to concede a goal.
Although much has been made of the impact made by Phillippe Coutinho following his move to the Premier League from Inter Milan, his midfield partner Steven Gerrard is still doing the business alongside him. The Liverpool skipper not only has a typically excellent tackle success rate of 91.7% from 12 attempted challenges, he’s also completed more passes in the opponent’s half than any other Liverpool player (107) so far this season. Gerrard is an industry best 15/4 to score at any time against Swansea with 888sport.com.
Goals from Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez secured Swansea’s first league win of the season and Michael Laudrup must have been pleased with his side’s dominant display against a solid West Brom outfit. His side now face former manager Brendan Rogers who has taken a similar passing, technique-focused style of play with him to Merseyside.
Ashley Williams has started the season in typically committed fashion, making the joint third most blocks (4) in the league so far this season.
Jonjo Shelvey has wasted no time in settling into the setup at his new club, establishing his passing game with immediate effect. He tops the pile in the Swan’s squad for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 86 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
The Daily Mail has reported that Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgershas revealed how the club have kept captain Steven Gerrard fit, and how they intent to keep him that way for the foreseeable future.
Ahead of club legend Gerrard playing his 400th game as captain of the Reds, Liverpool manager Rodgers has revealed the fitness plan that has kept Gerrard fit and performing well for the Reds since Rodgers took over last July.
His tally of 46 appearances last season almost doubled the previous two campaign tallies of 24 (2010-11) and 28 (2011-12) and he has confided on several occasions that he has never felt better.
Now, Rodgers has gone on record about the intricate routine that the club has put in place:
“You need to analyse the person, what age he is at and the body type he is,” said Rodgers.
“One of the biggest things in our method of work is the recovery method.
“Stevie for example plays on the Saturday, recovers on the Sunday doing pulls, stretch and massage, on the Tuesday recovers further with maybe a light jog. It’s a long load of low intensity recovery.
“You saw that before the international break when Stevie was fit enough to play Saturday, Tuesday (in the League Cup) and Sunday. We have individual plans for every player.’”
With Gerrard and Daniel Agger amongst those who have benefited from the new plans, fans will hope that Rodgers and his medical team can continue the good work now and in the future.
The Liverpool defender was expected to be out for up to 10 weeks with an ankle injury sustained in the Premier League win over Manchester United at Anfield.
He left the game on crutches and it was thought he had sustained a nasty ligament injury.
But after the swelling finally subsided enough for the Reds’ medical team to be able to scan the ankle, the prognosis is now much better.
The England international wrote on Twitter: “Injury doesn’t seem as bad as first thought, hopefully be back sooner than originally expected!”