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tlw content

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  1. Only eight more weekends and then this is over. Who knows, we might yet salvage something from this complete catastrophe of a season. A couple of weeks ago it had an 8th or 9th place vibe about it but as shite as we are, others are in the same boat. And that boat may as well be named the Titanic as everyone seems to be sinking fast. Everyone below third is shite. I still think Chelsea are probably the least shite, but losing 5-2 at home to West Brom probably flies in the face of that. Are they as untrustworthy as us? They might be. They hadn’t conceded for 12 hours but then shipped five to one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. That result was one nobody could have seen coming. Nobody except for Sam Allardyce that is. It went exactly how he drew it up on his tactics board apparently. At least that’s what he told Talksport on Monday morning. No-one blows their own trumpet quite like Allardyce. He actually said that they targeted Mendy because they’d studied him and he is prone to doing mad things. How much of a cunt do you have to be to publicly shame an opposition player like that? It’s not as if Mendy played any part in this defeat for Chelsea either. It defo wasn’t on him. Chelsea actually scored first when Pulisic reacted quickest after Alonso’s free-kick came back off the post, but Thiago Silva saw red soon after. Tuchel went mad at the time but honestly, how can they possibly have any complaints there? He lunged in and caught the lad after he’d got his shot away, and David Coote really had no choice but to give him a second booking. Chelsea were complaining but if he hadn’t produced a second yellow for that, West Brom would have been complaining and they’d have had a much bigger grievance than Chelsea had. The game then turned on its head. Partly because of the sending off, partly because of a freak injury situation. Ivanovic came on to replace an injured Baggie, and 12 minutes later he too had to go off injured. His replacement was Callum Robinson and he was the most influential player in the second half. Not really sure how a manager can say that was all part of his plan, but if anyone can, Fat Sam can. Before the Callum Robinson show began though we had big drama in first half stoppage time when Pereira scored twice in a couple of minutes. First he equalised with a cool finish from a long ball over the top. Mendy had started to come but knew he wasn’t getting there, and he ended up in no man’s land. Allardyce was pretty smug about that but that goal was on the centre backs, not the keeper. Still, anything to suit the ‘tactical genius’ narrative eh? Then, with Chelsea all over the place, he fired in a low shot to give West Brom a half time lead. He’s a good player that Pereira. I just don’t think he’s consistent. If he was he’d be playing for a better team than West Brom, but when he’s on he’s quality. Had Chelsea still had eleven men I’d have fancied them to turn it around, but losing Thiago Silva and then two goals in such a short space of time gave them a mountain to climb. And they couldn’t climb it. In fairness West Brom were sensational at times in the second half. The goals they scored were ridiculously good for what is basically an alehouse team. Robinson made it 3-1 with a gorgeous volley after a sweeping move. Most players would have lashed at it but he just guided it with his sidefoot right into the top corner. Fucking brilliant goal. All the FIFA virgins who were creaming themselves over that shitty rabona from Lamela the other week won’t have a clue how good this goal was, but it was glorious. Diagne then finished off another length of the field move full of dummies and back heels, and although Chelsea pulled one back through Mount and briefly threatened a comeback, Robinson wrapped it up with another lovely finish to cap off an amazing day. The funny thing is, every goal he’s ever scored in the top flight is against Chelsea. Five goals, all against Chelsea. Usually it’s us on the end of weird anomalies like that. Kevin Lisbie anyone? Dwight Gayle? Lots of talk afterwards about West Brom playing like Brazil. It’s the stock comment we all make whenever a team plays exciting football but I think that’s a comparison that needs retiring now as there’s absolutely nothing magical about Brazil anymore. They used to be the benchmark for flair, skill and dazzling football, but nowadays they’re no different to anyone else. There’s fuck all magical about a team that’s picking players from Everton. This is just a teaser, click to view the full article Please note that PL Round Ups are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  2. Monday Apr 5: You can tell West Brom won at the weekend as Allardyce was on Talksport breakfast this morning telling everyone how he masterminded it. You can set your watch by him. Any time the Baggies have a good result he’ll be on, Monday morning, talking about how ‘he’ did it. I was in the car so I caught most of it and he’s amazing. He’s a total parody of himself these days. He says that they identified the Chelsea keeper as a weak point because he always does mad things. The lack of respect for an opposition player was staggering. I’m sure these kind of things are pointed out in team meetings but how many managers would actually come out and say it just to make themselves look clever, especially when the keeper didn't even do anything wrong? Honestly, I think he’s the only one. Not even Mourinho would single out an opposing player like that. The best thing about Fat Sam though is how he can take credit for wins and pass on the blame for losses. They’ve lost loads of games since he went there but he put that down to “players not putting away their chances”. Because obviously his gameplan was flawless. He’s one of a kind. Thankfully. Meanwhile, we’ve got Real Madrid tomorrow! How cool is that? It’s shit that fans aren’t going to be at either game, but springtime, big European nights against the top sides, this is what we live for. It’s not the same because we can’t go, I know that, but it’s still the most excited I’ve been about footy since…. actually since Atletico a year ago I think. Defo the most excited I've been for a game this season anyway. I’m genuinely looking forward to tomorrow night. Tuesday Apr 6: Real 3 L 1 Well fucking hell. Wasn’t that a massive damp squib? Remind me never to look forward to any game without fans there ever again. It just isn’t the same. It's awful, especially when we lose. I’m not saying no fans is the sole cause for what’s happening to us but it definitely makes it less enjoyable to watch these games. I’m at the end of my tether with it now and just don’t know how many more of these games I can sit through, especially when we're playing like such fucking losers. This was fucking abysmal. I can’t believe we performed like that in such a massively important game. Every single player was shite. Every one. No exceptions. That’s what has really shaken me here. Even players that we can always hang our hats on, the likes of Fabinho, Gini and Robbo, they were shite too. Everyone was shite. Klopp was shite too. He got the team wrong by picking Keita then he took him off three minutes before half time, creating a story and putting an unfair spotlight on Naby (he was shite, but no worse than anyone else), and our tactical approach to the game just seemed wrong from the start. Why were we playing so slow? Why defend with the high line when we weren’t pressing them? Whose idea was it to let Toni Kroos have as long as he wanted to pick out balls over the top? I just feel really deflated after this because we’re a shambles right now and we can’t keep blaming injuries. Other than the centre backs and Hendo we basically had everyone available tonight. Klopp said post match that the goals didn’t concern him as they were mistakes and mistakes can happen. It was how we played that was the worry for him. I agree 100% with that. We’re going out there with our 6th and 7th choice central defenders so being vulnerable in that area is almost to be expected. The first goal I can live with completely because Nat Phillips is playing against Real Madrid in a Champions League quarter final. He isn’t supposed to be here. I have nothing but love for Nat Phillips. This isn’t his fault. The second goal is a brain fart from Trent, who was also partly responsible for the first and third goals too. Alisson was shite on the third. But like Klopp said, I can live with all of that as long as we’re playing well and creating chances. Remember when we used to score three or four to compensate for those mad games when we gave away a load of stupid goals? We just don’t have that in our locker anymore. Fuck Real Madrid though, the arrogant, entitled cunts. This was supposed to be the night when we shoved it right up their arses for what happened in Kiev. If we’d played them last season or the season before it would have been carnage and we’d have utterly humiliated them. Instead, we get to play them when we’re in this fucking sorry state, and we humiliated ourselves. The ref can go fuck himself too, falling for so much of their shit but not giving our lads (especially Sadio) anything when they were fouled. The booking for Trent when he didn't even touch that Vinicius bellend was outrageous (although that was more the fault of the linesman than ref). Usually I’d be the first one banging the drum about how it isn’t over and we can turn it around in the second leg. Not. A. Fucking. Chance. Anfield with no fans isn’t Anfield. It's a field. The only thing left to hope for now is that someone can stop City from winning it. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that the Week that Was is only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  3. Report by Dave Usher We waited three years for a chance for payback and THIS is what we got? Absolute fucking shite. What a massive letdown. We probably shouldn’t be surprised as revenge is not something that this team does well. You only have to go back to the insipid surrender against the Blueshite the other week to see that. With this being the Champions League though I really expected better. I had high hopes about this game because other than Porto, Real Madrid might be the weakest team we could have been drawn against. The problem is they can say the same about us, and they’d be right based on this. They won EASILY. We were fucking awful in every single area of the pitch. Not one of the players come out of it with any credit. Not a single one. Everyone was shite and it’s hard to take or understand given the importance of the game. I’d allowed myself to get excited about this one. I was really looking forward to it and believed we’d see a big performance. More fool me, I won’t be making that mistake again. We started badly and got worse. There was a decent spell just after half time but it didn’t last and we were just well beaten. It’s easy to blame it on the team selection, specifically the surprise inclusion of Keita, but that’s just scapegoating. Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending Keita and if he never played for us again I wouldn't lose a minute's sleep over it, but there was far more to this than just Naby being Naby. He did nothing whatsoever but he isn’t to blame for the rest of them making the most basic of errors time and time again. If you want to say we’re a worse team when Keita plays and that we always look more open then I’ll agree with you. This shocking performance had very little to do with Keita though. Whether it was Fabinho and Wijnaldum simply passing the ball straight to Madrid players when under no pressure, Phillips not being aware of players running in behind, Trent ‘assisting’ at the wrong end or the forward players taking four touches to try and get the ball under control only to still fail, this was just one huge collective shitshow. Everyone was crap. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full report Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  4. Report by Dave Usher Kind of feels like maybe the tide has turned a bit now doesn’t it? That horrific run we had looks like it’s in the rear view mirror and we’re looking more like ourselves again. We aren’t out of the woods yet but things do look a bit more…. dare I say, normal? This was actually a pretty big test for us. Not because it was Arsenal (they truly are pathetic), but because Chelsea’s shock loss to West Brom earlier had opened up the door to the top four. We started the day five points behind them and with them facing the Baggies and us away at the Emirates. To end the day only two points back is unexpected and feels significant. I’d given up on the top four but now it’s definitely within reach again, especially with Spurs also dropping points . This win feels like a statement of intent that we’re fighting back and ready to end the season strongly. Time will tell, but it does seem like we have a bit of momentum going at last. Even disregarding the potential impact this win could have, it feels good regardless because this is what is SUPPOSED to happen when we play Arsenal. When we lost away to them last season I was seething way more than I had a right to. We were having an incredible season, the title was all but wrapped up (we may have already clinched it, I can’t remember) and the defeat didn’t mean anything other than it ended the chance to get to 100 points, which in itself irritated me but nowhere near as much as losing to them fucking bums. Why was I so angry? Because Arsenal are shit. It offends me that we could ever drop points to them because they’re weak, spineless, and an absolute fucking embarrassment. This is the worst Arsenal team I’ve ever seen. I despise how pathetic they are. They were even shit in that game last season but somehow we let them win and it took some getting over just because I saw it as a personal affront. I’ll be honest, I was having some flashbacks of that night at half time in this one. We’d played well, completely dominated, looked in no trouble whatsoever but we hadn’t created enough chances. It was all set up for Arsenal to score with the one chance they would inevitably get while we continued to waste promising situations. And then I’d be in foul form for weeks at the embarrassment of it all. Losing to Everton was bad enough, but if we let these fucking deadbeats turn us over again I’d probably be wanting half the squad sold on the spot. That was my fear at half time but thankfully it proved to be completely unfounded. For one thing, Arsenal didn’t actually even get one chance. They offered nothing at all. We completely shut them down all over the park and as Arteta said afterwards they “couldn’t put three passes together”. This was men against boys. But we’ve seen that before and often it has counted for nothing because we didn’t convert dominance into chances and chances into goals. This time we did, although it needed the arrival of Jota to change everything. On the one hand it’s great that we have him, on the other it does disturb me a little how toothless we look with the front three that was once the envy of Europe. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  5. Tuesday Feb 9: I wasn’t going to do the diary this week. After the weekend I just wanted to forget all about footy until the next game, which thankfully is a week away. The window is shut so there’s not really much going on anyway, so I figured it was best to skip it this week rather than dwell on the misery. But I accidentally stumbled across something on youtube today and I can’t let it pass without comment. I watch a lot of golf stuff on youtube so my plan was to just dive into that this week and forget all about the footy. The problem is, I also watch stuff on the Reds quite a bit and as I’ve mentioned before I also watch a LOT of Roy Keane. So I’m watching a golf video but I leave the room. The video finishes and youtube’s algorithm understandably thinks “oh here’s a clip of Keano talking about the Reds. I’ll play this for him as he loves this shit”. I come back in the room and Keane is talking about what “bad champions” we’ve been. I should have turned it off but it piqued my interest. He’s right, we have been bad champions if you remove all context from the season. Conceding seven at Villa, dropping points to pretty much all of the bottom six clubs, shitting the bed against City… none of it befitting of the defending Champions. But fuck me, you can’t disregard all of the factors that have contributed to this. Other teams have made a worse fist of defending the title than we have, and you don't have to go back far to find them. City last season. They lost nine games and were a million points behind us by this stage of the season. But they lost Laporte so they had no chance, right? Funny how the likes of Keane don't seem to be arsed about all the things we've had to contend with. Firstly, we’re in a fucking global pandemic. Secondly there are no fans in stadiums which has dramatically reduced the adrenaline of the players which leads to less intense games. Thirdly, there was no pre-season so players (right across the whole league) are not performing to their normal level of fitness. Fourthly we’ve got half a team either missing or playing out of position. We’ve been playing with no centre halves and a back up midfield. I could go on but you all know this. Everyone knows it. Keane knows it too, but for whatever reason he decided to “go into character” and played the angry, disgusted old pro who would never have let this happen “in my day”. Some of the shite he was coming out with was just embarrassing and insulting. “I never heard any of these players talking about wanting to win the title again” he says. Apparently they were happy with what they’d won and started “believing their own hype”. What hype would that be Roy? Maybe the hype from you, when only a couple of months ago you were eulogising about the drive and hunger those very same players were showing when they went top of the league despite the loss of Van Dijk. All the talk about how it’s harder to retain the title than win it carries some weight, but it’s a lot fucking harder to retain it when you’re dealing with everything that we’ve had to deal with this season. I’m not happy about what’s happened and some degree of criticism is warranted. But “believing their own hype” is not the reason for what we’ve seen. It isn’t even a contributing factor. Not now, maybe it was when we went to Villa and had our pants pulled down, but every team has that kind of an off day occasionally. Even Keane’s Manchester United, who he seems to view with this glossy eyed nostalgia that causes him to ignore the facts. Facts that he himself admitted to in his own autobiography. What facts am I talking about? How about the way they went from top spot in January to finishing miles behind Arsenal just because they lost Rio Ferdinand to a drug ban. Keane himself cited that as the reason their season fell apart, yet he’s not prepared to cut the Reds some slack for losing not only Van Dijk, but also Matip and Gomez. They lost Ferdinand, they still had the rest of their defenders. But they couldn’t cope. Gary Neville also said the same thing. Losing Ferdinand had a massive impact on them both on the field and in terms of the morale of the players. Keane said it too. In his fucking book!! Yet this tit is ripping on our lads, questioning their attitude and telling them they need to just get on with it despite losing Van Dijk. I like watching Keane, he’s entertaining and a lot of what he says is actually spot on, but it’s when you see him sounding off like this with nothing to back it up and leaving himself wide open to calls of hypocrisy that you know why he can never be any good as a manager. Also today, the u18s had a game live on LFCTV. They won 2-1 at Stoke. I thought about watching it but when I saw the team and there was no Layton Stewart and none of the new signings were playing (we’ve signed four in this window, believe it or not) I swerved it. One of the goals was scored by Oakley Cannonier, the ball boy from the Barca game. He’s a good little player him. I’d love him to make it as it’d be a great story. This is just a teaser, click to view the full article Please note that the Week that Was is only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  6. Every avid sports fan knows that no team can keep up a winning streak without a well-structured defence. What is more, great defenders are nowadays appreciated more than ever and often get credit for their team’s overall success. You can even come across various lists of the world’s best athletes based on their defensive skills. If you’re still not convinced of how important defence is, click here to see how much credit an NBA player can get for preventing the opponent from scoring. Speaking of defence in the football world, one can’t help but think of Liverpool and their poor fortune in this aspect this season. Namely, the team trying to defend their Premier League title have had severe issues with injuries this season, particularly in their defensive line. Virgil van Dijk Unlikely to Be Back Before May The latest news regarding van Dijk’s recovery reveals significant progress. After he suffered a serious knee injury in October last year and underwent surgery soon after, the Dutchman went to Dubai to start rehabilitation at a state-of-the-art sports complex. Last month, van Dijk came back to England, where he continued the recovery process in the gym and the pitch. He seemed like he took a turn for the better as his training session also included some simple ball drills. However, no doctor has given him a chance to get back on the field before May, and Jurgen Klopp, who’s still in charge of the Reds, believes only a miracle would help van Dijk join the team for an official match this season. Joe Gomez to Miss the European Championship After van Dijk, another Liverpool defender, Joe Gomez, suffered a similar fate. He’s also on the road to recovery, but he’s taking his time based on the video he shared on his Instagram account. He’s also been out for several months after he was injured in November during a training session. Although he’s also seen jogging and playing with the ball, Gomez seems to be further away from his best than van Dijk. While there’s still a chance for the Dutchman to come back and help Liverpool get something out of this season, Gomez probably won’t have a chance of doing so anytime soon. Joel Matip Out for the Remainder of the Season Joel Matip’s departure from the field in the match against Tottenham Hotspur due to an ankle injury left Liverpool’s defence significantly damaged. Moreover, medical professionals are confident that Matip will spend the rest of the season recuperating and won’t be able to help Liverpool in any upcoming matches. Given the current situation regarding defence, Klopp has no other option but to believe in miracles and hope that the rest of his squad will do their best and help Liverpool stay on top of their game. Still, Liverpool fans have wondered whether there’s anything that could take the pressure off the team until the key defenders get back on their feet. Klopp seems to have found at least a temporary solution in the likes of Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak. Only time will tell how good a move he has made with bringing these two players into the picture.
  7. Smokers love what they love and for them, it matters more than anything else. In other words, nothing can match the amusement they get out of smoking. Are you one of those smokers? If so, are you doing everything to take your experience to the next level? Well, some of us in the smokers club do not know how they can enhance their smoking pleasure. Therefore, you do not have any choice but to find out how you are going to achieve it. Here’s What A Smoker Should Get In recent years, a number of interesting gadgets have been rolled out that totally nail it when it comes to an ideal smoking session. Some of these smoking gadgets are tech-savvy while others are just cool no matter how many times you bring them out. Since we are on the same page now, it is worth every bit of it to take a look through some of the best gadgets you can buy in the market today to heighten your smoking experience: Wooden Or Metallic Stash Box Every smoker knows the pain of trying to keep all the smoking accessories together in one place. Sometimes, it is your rolling paper that goes missing, and other times you can’t find the main stuff no matter where you look. A stash box is definitely for you if you have several smoking accessories and materials. The stash box comes with compartments of different sizes - small and large to fit your glowing lighters and pipe. You can find a stash box in the style you like and undoubtedly it will be a great thing to flaunt in front of your smoking buddies. Rolling Tray Is A Must A rolling tray is a true deal for bongers and vapers. Since you do not want a mess-session, rolling papers allow you to roll up your herbs cleanly and also assure easy clean-up after the long session. You can find rolling trays in tons of designs, colours, and styles. Rolling papers are available in the market and range from having extremely cheap to extremely expensive labels. All in all, you have the option to choose what you want and what will define your style. Portable Vaporizer Can Do It For You A vaporizer, colloquially and popularly known as a vape is the best friend of every smoker. Those who know the difference between rolling and vaping will definitely appreciate what a vaporizer can do. A vaporizer allows you to smoke your herbs in the form of oil or wax which makes it cleaner than other smoking options. The best part is that the effect lasts longer with a vaporizer. With the Enail, you can also set the temperature as per your preference. A passionate smoker can carry it around everywhere they go and take delicious dabs whenever possible. You know what we are talking about! You should look for the one that fits your smoking devices. The portable vaporizer can adjust to fit almost any size of bong and recycler models. Automatic Grinder Do you also think grinding and rolling delay your smoking sessions sometimes? Well, most do feel that. Though almost everybody loves grinding their herbs, it takes a lot of time and energy, it cannot be denied. There you have it, get a grinder which is nothing but a miniature milling machine that grinds it and fills cones automatically. These little devices are battery-powered and once fully charged they can easily manage to go through multiple strong sessions. The grinding machine causes no spills or mess and gives you the perfect results as a vet smoker would do it. Do Consider A Shredder Smoking clean means smoking nice and you do not want to compromise with that. A shredder is a grinding tool that is not automatic. Pour in your herb, close the lid, grind, and you are all set. It is as simple as that. This is the right tool for every smoker out there who does not have a lot of time to grind and wants to smoke the right clutter-less material. Smoking is a pleasure - an outlet of feelings and emotions. But this is also an activity where there is no place for compromises with quality, so make sure you have the right tools and devices with you so that every time you smoke you make memorable moments for a lifetime. Pack up all your smoking kit and take a stroll to your favourite smoking spot, smoke, and enjoy.
  8. A good weekend as the Reds weren’t able to ruin it by losing and I was able to just completely avoid all footy until now, as I catch up on it by watching MOTD. I’d prefer to play on Monday nights all the time now until we’re allowed back in. I know I say this a lot, but until now I didn’t have a clue how most of these games finished. I knew Everton lost to Burnley because it was mentioned in one of the group chats. This did not surprise me in the least because Everton are fucking shit. I keep saying it and they keep proving it. They’re fucking pathetic. The horrific run we’ve been on and the countless opportunities we’ve given them to pull away from us, and they keep shitting the bed. It offends me so much that we’ve let them get this close to us and I feel like slapping our players and saying to them “you should be fucking ashamed. Look how shit they are. Now look at the fucking table!!” Their home form is almost as bad as ours. Burnley went in front very early when Tom Davies lost the ball and seconds later Wood was smashing it into the net. Burley then wanted a penalty for handball. That would be given maybe 75% of the time as the defender’s arm is up above his head as the ball hits it. I don’t want to see that given as a penalty as his arm is up because he’s jumping, but more often than not that would be given. Burnley don’t get pens though. Only when they play us. McNeill made it 2-0 with an absolutely brilliant goal. Nice drop of the shoulder to leave his marker for dead, then a perfectly placed curler from 25 yards right into the postage stamp. Goal of the month probably that. It will be enough to keep people talking about what an exciting young player he is when the truth is he’s a poor man’s Stewart Downing. I’ve said it before, but he gets overhyped because of two things. One, Burnley don’t ever give any young players a chance so the assumption is that he must be special. He isn’t. Two, Burnley don’t have any players with pace or skill, so because McNeill has both it stands out way more than it would if he played for someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s alright and I’m not saying he’s shit, but two goals a season from an attacking player is Downing-esque. That was a great goal though. It almost got even worse for Everton as Gudmundsen hit the post with a low shot from 20 yards. That would have been game over but the Blues took advantage of that reprieve and pulled one back through Calvert-Lewin. The absolute state of Nick Pope again though. Making himself small, Adrian style. He did make a good stop to deny Gomes soon after though. Mee hit the bar and Vydra was denied by some jabroni keeper they brought on to replace the injured Prickford and Burnley were good value for the points. Technically they’re still in the relegation discussion but there’s no fucking way they’re going to be caught by any of those below them. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that Round Ups are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  9. Report by Dave Usher It wasn’t pretty but at this point who cares? Getting back to anything like what we have come to expect is going to be a process. It’s not going to be like flicking a switch and suddenly being boss again. The players have been through the ringer and confidence is fragile, but this was a step in the right direction. They battled hard and defended as a team. I thought we just about deserved to win even though it was a pretty even contest. Our football could have been better but we did well in flashes. The most encouraging thing was the clean sheet. We had a few minor scares but in general we defended superbly and once again great credit needs to be given to the two young lads at the back. Solid as fuck. In our situation it’s become more important than ever though that we score first. When we concede you can almost see the lack of belief coursing through the team. It’s like they know they won’t get back into it. When we score first and have something to hold onto it’s completely different, not least because it opens up chances to play on the break. In fact, if Salah had been half a yard deeper when Ox played him in late on this would have been a perfect second half. Defended well, kept them at arm’s length then killed them on the break. Exactly how you’d draw it up on the tactics board. Unfortunately Mo went a little too early and was offside. We’ve struggled to score goals recently but so have Wolves so this was always going to be a low scoring affair and therefore the first goal was going to be key. If Wolves had scored first I think we’d have lost, but we’ll never know that obviously. Both teams had chances in the first half but the finishing wasn’t good. Mané had the best opportunity of the half when some nice play by Thiago and Gini sliced through Wolves and sent him clear. He did the right thing by going around Patricio but he didn’t execute it properly and couldn’t get a shot away. My take on it was he just took a bad touch on his left foot and then couldn’t get it out of his feet, meaning he needed to take another touch and that threw off his stride pattern and prevented him getting a shot away. Thierry Henry’s take was similar but a little different. He said Mané should have used his right foot to go around Patricio and his left foot to shoot. Presumably that’s what Thierry himself would have done as he says when running at top speed you always use your stronger foot. I’m judging it by my own standards though, and with me being naturally two footed I didn’t think there was anything wrong with Sadio going with his left, I just think it was a poor touch. This is only a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  10. For those of you still reading these I salute you. Another grim weekend from our perspective and it’s now reached a stage where I no longer have any idea who we are in competition with and who we need to lose games. I guess it doesn’t matter when we lose every week anyway. The top four looks like it’s well gone now so we’re almost at the point where we need those above us to keep winning so we can avoid the Europa League spots. Playing on Thursday nights (or even worse, afternoons!) again? Nah, you’re alright. We’ll pass. So barring an immediate upturn in results that keep us in contention for the top four, we’re close to being in the situation where we need those around us to win rather than lose. It’s been that kind of season though. Absolutely fucking insane. Ok, let's get cracking then. Brighton played quite well again but were beaten by Leicester. Their problems are obvious. They just can’t score the goals to match their nice approach play. A mate said to me this week that they should sign Origi because he’s a good finisher. They could do worse and so could he. If they stay they should be looking at jibbing Welbeck and bringing in Div. They did take the lead in this game when Lallana ran onto a Maupay pass and finished well. He then hit the bar with a header that would have made it 2-0 and probably seen them pick up maximum points. He also set up a goal for Maupay that was ruled out for offside and generally he ran the show for an hour. His season with them has been pretty much what everyone would have expected. He’s played some decent stuff and been in and out with injuries. Such a shame how his body kept letting him down because an injury free, prime Lallana would get in any midfield in the country. Except one picked by my mum, obviously. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that PL Round Ups are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  11. by Frank Dacey Many younger Reds are more likely to associate Kevin Keegan with Newcastle these days, but the Yorkshireman first burst onto the scene with Liverpool and indeed was, arguably, the club’s first superstar. Keegan had first come to Bill Shankly’s attention in a long-running Scunthorpe v Tranmere FA cup tie which culminated in a second replay at Goodison Park. Shankly was impressed with Keegan’s effort and enthusiasm and at the end of that season signed Keegan up for the Reds. His arrival was underwhelming, all eyes were on the upcoming FA Cup final against Arsenal and the Reds had made a habit of raiding the lower leagues, putting the signings in the reserves and promoting them if and when they were ready. Most Reds thought Keegan would be no different and didn’t expect to hear much more about the young man for a couple of years. Pre-season seemed to confirm this pattern; I remember seeing Keegan playing for the reserves at Southport and being impressed by him but he was not in the squad for the final pre-season game at Leicester, where the Reds' attack fired a blank in a disappointing defeat. This was an on-going problem. The previous season had seen only 42 goals scored in the league (42 games a season in those days) and Shankly had been trying to spice up the attack for some time. Many had been called (Hateley, Evans, Toshack and Whitham) but few had been chosen. Shanks did select Keegan for the first league game, at home to Nottingham Forest. He scored after 12 minutes and made a fantastic impression. His energy, drive and effort lit up the side and the goals started going in regularly. Over the next 6 years Keegan was Liverpool’s main man. He was the driving force behind 3 league titles, 2 UEFA cups, an FA Cup and the club’s first European Cup victory in his last game for the reds and in which he gave one of his best performances. Signed for £33,000, he was sold to Hamburg in 1977 for £500,000. A £467,000 profit and 7 major trophies; no wonder Keegan is held in such high esteem by those fortunate enough to see him grace Anfield. Kevin KEEGAN 1971-77 Date of Birth: 14/02/51 Nationality: English Postition: Striker Games: 321 Goals: 100 Club Hons (Lpool): European Cup 1976/77, UEFA Cup 1972/73, 75/76, League Championship 1972/73, 75/76, 76/77, FA Cup 1973/74 Int Hons: 63 England Caps Other Clubs: Scunthorpe, Hamburg, Southampton, Newcastle Click here to view the article
  12. Report by Dave Usher It’s like watching a different sport isn’t it? These games are like night and day compared to Premier League games. The way we play. The way the opposition plays. The way the game is officiated. Just completely different. We’ve been mostly shite for months but we have looked like ourselves in both games against Leipzig. This performance was better than the first leg but we played well in both games. It seems bizarre that we can completely outplay the second best team in Germany but continually lose to the worst teams in England, but styles make fights as they say. Leipzig’s approach suits us. What we’ve seen this season is that we really don’t have the creativity to break down teams defending the edge of their own box. I don’t even just mean the Burnleys and West Broms of this world either. Even teams like Chelsea who weren’t ‘defensive’ against us still defended in a specific way that we find hard to overcome. Leipzig were the opposite of that. They play from the back, they commit players forward, they leave gaps fucking everywhere! Our forwards just don't get to play like this of a weekend. We could have had a hatful. In the first half Jota had three good chances and Salah had two. Some of the football played to create the chances was lovely, some of it was route one. We had very little trouble getting in great positions though. Thiago also had a good opportunity but he opted to play a difficult pass instead of taking an easier shot. That was probably the only thing he did wrong all night though, he oozed quality. His best performance so far. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  13. Report by Dave Usher Groundhog Day. It feels like we’ve lost every home game 1-0 for months. I actually said that to someone yesterday and they corrected me that the Derby actually ended 2-0. Not to me it didn’t. I’d blocked that second goal out because the penalty they got was so egregious. So the point remains. Every fucking home game seems to be the same now. We never score in the first half anymore and we barely score any in the second. As soon as we concede you know it’s over. We have plenty of the ball but give up more chances than we create. We usually have a bright ten minutes to start the second half but when that doesn’t produce a goal it all just fizzles out. Every. Fucking. Game. The worst part about this loss was that I absolutely expected it. We’re the Champions, we’re facing a bottom three team and I’m going into it absolutely convinced that we’ll lose. It wasn’t irrational either as there was absolutely nothing to suggest we would win the game other than wishful thinking. We’re playing so badly right now at Anfield that I don’t think we’re capable of beating anybody. I’m made up that Champions League tie has been moved because there’s definitely some kind of mental block with the players at Anfield now. Not that we’re much better away from home, but we aren’t quite as shit. I think the sight of the empty seats might just be depressing them and reminding them what they’re missing. They’re clearly feeling sorry for themselves, it’s blatantly obvious every time they go behind. It’s not that the lads aren’t trying, but they aren’t going out there with that mentality where they just refuse to lose either. Every team we come up against wants it more. Fulham wanted it more. Just like Brighton did. And Everton. And Burnley. And loads of other teams that have beaten us. I can’t even keep track now as we’re losing all the fucking time. It doesn’t matter who plays either, the performance is exactly the same regardless of personnel. You can bring in Shaq or Origi up top, Neco at full back or Keita or Ox in midfield, what does it matter? None of them are doing any better than the first choice players they’re replacing, who themselves aren’t delivering. It’s all fucked now and I don’t know how we get out of this. The hole seems too deep. Klopp doesn’t know how to get us out of it. I said that the other night but it’s just becoming more and more obvious. He just stands there, watching in stunned silence. Occasionally there’s a rueful smile when we miss a rare chance or a decision goes against us, but he was actually angrier when we were good. There are no bollockings, no calling players out publicly, he’s just backing them 100% and taking all the blame himself. Not that I’m holding that against him. Who knows what his mental state is right now after what he’s had to deal with. I’d like to see him take the fucking stick to the players instead of feeding them carrots all the time, but he must have his reasons. Some of this mess is on him but most of it is on the players. They were top at Christmas but now look at them? There’s just no way that can be pinned on Klopp. He might be unable to fix it but I’m not going to say he’s the one that broke it because he isn’t. The players’ toothless performances and general lack of fight in the face of adversity did that. And you know, I’m getting sick of hearing about how the lack of centre halves is the cause of this. Nah, it just fucking isn’t. We’re letting in one goal a game but somehow that’s enough for us to always lose. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Remember the days pre-Virgil when if we conceded three we’d go and score four? Now it takes three months to score four goals. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full report Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  14. Report by Dave Usher Probably the most disheartening thing about this was that I’m sure none of us were surprised. I actually said in a group chat before the game “I’ll be shocked if we win tonight”. Beating Sheffield United was important to stop the bleeding (albeit temporarily as it turns out) but it was never really going to have any bearing on this. It wasn’t that I envisioned us to be outplayed and lose by a few goals. That was never likely as we rarely get dominated by anyone. I expected exactly what we got because it’s the same performance we’ve seen over and over again since December. This is who we are now. A team that has a lot of the ball but who can’t score. When you actually look at the starting eleven we fielded it wasn’t THAT depleted. Of course we are missing some key players but it doesn’t look like a bad line up on paper. We’re just shit though aren’t we? And it isn’t the patched up defence that’s the problem. In fact, all of the lads who have filled in at the back this season come out of it with varying degrees of credit. They aren’t the ones that have let us down. Our problems are at the other end. Opposing keepers often don’t need to even make a save when they come up against us. Chelsea didn’t do anything special and I thought a lot of the praise they were getting was greatly exaggerated. What they did do though was what most teams are doing against us now. They nullified the front three and exposed the space we leave at the back. The truth is that it’s no longer difficult to do either. I mean shit, even Aston Villa’s fucking youth team did both for 45 minutes. Chelsea can do that easily because they have quality all over the pitch. That’s why I didn’t think we could beat them in our current state. They’re better than us. That’s just a fact. Half the league are better than us right now. More than half probably, the form guide since we smashed Palace will back that up. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  15. It would have been a good week if we hadn’t lost to Chelsea. But we did lose to Chelsea so now it’s another shitty week in an ever increasing list of them. The one straw to clutch is that other than City everyone else is shit too, but it’s not really much comfort given how bad we are. City beat West Ham 2-1 which was a good result for us. Two months ago I couldn’t imagine thinking that way but so much has changed since then and none of it for the better. City led through Dias but Antonio’s close range strike tied things up. Stones won it late on but Diop was within a whisker of an equaliser right at the death. West Ham gave a good account of themselves and could easily have snatched a draw with a bit of luck and some better finishing, but City’s winning streak goes on. And on. And on. They’re close to beating their all time winning run now but does anyone actually care? None of these records mean shit in empty stadiums. Call it sour grapes if you like, but this is a hill I’m prepared to die on. This isn’t proper footy and when it comes to records there should be a big asterisk next to all of it. That’s not even a dig at City. They’ve been the best team by a mile and will be deserving Champions. It isn’t their fault that it should have a huge asterisk as they can’t control these circumstances. It’s just a fact that winning all these games in empty stadiums is not as credible as doing it in front of fans. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish we were in their position because I do. So anyway, moving on. That absolute fucking clown show at West Brom then. Everyone was going mad about that and my Dad even rang me as it was happening to ask if I was watching as he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Maybe I’m just becoming hardened to it now but I wasn’t surprised and didn’t actually think it was THAT big a deal, probably because the outcome was right even if the situation itself was ludicrous. The mistake Mason made was blowing the first whistle to allow Dunk to take the free-kick while the keeper was still lining up the wall. There’s nothing in the rules to say he can’t do that but it’s really poor form and it shouldn’t happen. He realised his error and blew the whistle again just as the ball was about to cross the line. Whatever happens after that is going to leave one team majorly pissed off. VAR got involved but that was only to determine whether the ball had already crossed the line before the second whistle. I don’t really see what difference it makes as all Mason has to do is say he made a mistake, he shouldn’t have blown the whistle while the keeper was lining up the wall, and order the free-kick to be retaken. Instead he awarded the goal which pissed off West Brom and then he disallowed it which pissed off Brighton. It was kind of impressive in its own way. It’s not easy being that utterly hopeless. The simple thing to do would have been to say “I didn’t realise the keeper wasn’t ready, take it again”. Brighton wouldn’t have been happy but tough shit. They’d have been livid if it had been their keeper lining up his wall and they would have expected the goal to be disallowed. I can understand why Dunk would be annoyed because he claims he asked Mason if he could take it and he said “yes” and then blew the whistle. Dunk did nothing wrong, it’s entirely the fault of Mason, but the goal shouldn’t have stood. Kyle Bartley had a different take on it. He said Mason told him he blew the whistle not to signal that the kick could be taken, but because there was some jostling in the wall and he wanted to sort that out. I don’t doubt Bartley’s word but that’s a blatant lie by Mason. If that was why he blew the whistle why did he initially give the goal? He signalled that it was a goal and it was only when presumably VAR had a word (or he saw the look of thunder on Fat Sam’s face) that he corrected himself. So for me this was embarrassing for Mason but at least the right decision was made in the end and there was no miscarriage of justice. The exact same thing happened to us last season against Brighton. Alisson had been sent off, Adrian came on to defend the free-kick and the ref (Atkinson I think) let Dunk take it while Adrian was still lining up the wall. And you know what? Fucking nobody had any problem with it. No-one said shit except us. All the media and pundits showed no sympathy about it and the goal stood. Thankfully we won the game but frankly it was scandalous that the goal counted and that no-one seemed to care. Refs ALWAYS allow the keeper to get his wall set. It’s just how it’s always been done. Should it be the case? Maybe not. I don’t mind if they change that but it has to be right across the board. You can’t have keepers thinking they will be allowed to line up a wall only for some fucking random weirdo ref to suddenly blow his whistle and catch them out. So regardless of what the rulebook says, morally that should never have been a goal and the right outcome was reached eventually. This is just a teaser click here to view the full article Please note that PL Round Ups are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  16. tlw content

    Opposition View: Chelsea

    After ending their four game losing streak in the league against Sheffield United on Sunday evening, Liverpool will look to break another drought this time at home to Chelsea. The Reds have gone six league games since picking up the three points at Anfield. You have to go all the way back to the 16th of December against Tottenham since their last home win. During this bleak period, Liverpool have scored just two goals (Mane vs West Brom, Salah Penalty vs City). Their opponents this evening have been rejuvenated under the stewardship of former Borussia Dortmund and PSG manager Thomas Tuchel. Currently Chelsea have gone nine games without defeat in all competitions conceding just two goals in the process. With teams such as Man United and Leicester going through a form dip, this clash increases in its importance for both these teams and their top four prospects. Blues correspondent @writekaranwrite from @chelseaseason delivered terrific insight yet again regarding the West London outfit. Firstly what are your views on the sacking of Frank Lampard. Do you think it was the right decision or premature? It’s a difficult one to answer. I guess it all really does depend on what your goals are as a club and are you willing to be patient enough for a couple of seasons to achieve them. At the start of the season when we had this talk you asked me if Lampard was the right man for Chelsea and would the club be willing to give him more leeway when the results dry out. I definitely thought that was the case and I guess, at one point, so did the Chelsea board. Of course, the lack of results on the pitch played a part, but I think where Lampard crucially lost the plot was his lack of man-management skills. Senior players like Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger were completely shunted out of the squad, while the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Olivier Giroud, Jorginho, Andreas Christensen, to name a few, were used sparingly. Mind you, most of these guys are veterans or have been at the club for years and, while I don’t think anyone of them actively campaigned with a "Lampard Out" sign outside Abramovich’s office, none of them would have fought for his survival either. The first thing Thomas Tuchel did upon his arrival at Chelsea is to call upon these experienced heads and the results have definitely backed up his decision. So, maybe, Lampard has the potential to carve out a great career in the near future, but these are the things one only learns from experience. I’m pretty sure he will learn from the experience and get better with age. Sackings are always a major dent in professional pride for a manager but do you think Frank will be better for the experience of managing such a big club early in his career? Oh, I definitely do! When Lampard was appointed as the Chelsea manager in 2019 after spending just one year at Derby, there was this feeling that maybe this job came too early in his career. However, the transfer ban meant that Frank could sit back, soak up the time and go about his job without the monumental pressure of being a Chelsea manager because no one expected us to compete for the titles, not even our own board. Top 4 was the bare minimum and with you guys running away with the title and blowing teams away in the process, we could just sit back and compete for the Champions Leagues spot without the usual added pressure. But spending 200 Million in a couple of months really changes the perspective of the board and the fans. Lack of pre-season, new signings failing to gel in the squad, untimely injuries, bad man-management skills, amongst other things resulted in an enormous build-up of pressure which was always leading towards the eventual sacking, as it often does at our club. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and Frank Lampard and Jody Morris would now sit back and reflect on how things could have been/should have been done and handled differently. There were plenty of positives too such as the rise of Mason Mount, Reece James, Tammy Abraham. It wasn’t all bad and Frank and co should be better off with this experience under their belt even if it arrived a touch too early. Looking at the new man on charge, what are your early impressions of Thomas Tuchel and have you noticed any changes in formation/playing style etc? My early impressions of Thomas Tuchel are very positive. He looks like a guy who wants to play on the front foot with a major share of possession and isn’t afraid to take tough decisions when need be. Everyone in the team seems to know their roles which has been highlighted time and time again during the player interviews and the Gaffer also seems to have brought back a bit of squad harmony by reinstating the senior, shunted out members back into the team and that has only helped us in a positive way. I also quite like his press conferences. Instead of sounding like a trained robot with vague replies and clichéd nonsense in front of the journalists, his answers and viewpoints are quite honest and insightful, something that I definitely admire. In terms of tactics, yeah, there have been a lot of noticeable changes. While you guys have seen us in a 4-3-3 for quite a few years (under Sarri, Lampard), we would be starting in a 3-4-3 at the Anfield on Thursday. In fact, this is how we might just line up against you guys: Mendy; Azpi, Christensen/Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Alonso, Reece James, Kante, Kovacic; Werner, Havertz, Mount. Fitness permitting, having Thiago Silva would be a major boost for Tuchel and I have a sneaky suspicion that we might just start with Havertz as the false 9 and use Kai and Werner’s runs to disrupt the back line of Liverpool, although we haven’t done it before, so we’ll see. Having Giroud go up against Kabak could be another possibility. Watching the last few games, Kabak seems to have a problem dealing with the long balls and crosses and with so many forced changes at the back, communication gaps/problems do arise, something that Giroud can exploit. Apart from that, we play with a lot more possession than we did before. However, the biggest tactical change we’ve had under Tuchel is we don’t attack with as many players as we did under Lampard (both of our no.6 stay outside the opposition box to manage the counter-attacking threat), hence we don’t score many goals (or concede as many either). There are also a lot more tactical fouls in us now, which, no doubt, won’t go down well with you guys. And what else? Keep an eye on our Right Wing. Most of our attack will feature Reece James or Callum Hudson-Odoi (whoever starts) taking on the guys and delivering crosses and cut-backs into the box. The lack of fans in stadiums is certainly a negative aspect of the game at present. But in terms of a new manager in a new league, do you feel this can help Tuchel get his message across without the usual pressure from supporters? 100%. I think most of our fan base was unhappy with the sacking of Frank and they would have definitely let it be known in a stadium full of supporters. While it is no way Tuchel’s fault, I think he would have found it pretty hard to cope with that kind of mutiny. It could have impacted, not only him, but also the performance of the players who have found it easier to focus and regroup under a new manager and start from scratch instead of having that extra pressure of facing 40,000 fans up to twice a week after Lampard’s sacking. It’s been more than a month now. The squad seems to have settled in under the new manager, we haven’t lost yet, the win against Spurs and Atletico Madrid have been massive and we are sitting on the thereabouts of top 4. I think all of these factors have really helped Tuchel get his message across to the squad and things should be much rosier once the fans are allowed back into the stadium. Kai Havertz and Timo Werner came to the Premier League with much fanfare. It is never easy to come to a new league and perform instantly so how have you seen their first season to this point? Certainly not what the fans expected, but for different reasons really. Kai Havertz has been rather unfortunate since his arrival to Stamford Bridge. The 21-year-old arrived at Chelsea with no pre-season under his belt and struggled to hit the ground running. He did score a hat-trick in the EFL Cup and seemed to be getting back on track before he was hit by Covid-19 which set him back for another month. He returned in December under Frank, but since then has been hampered by minor injuries and niggles and is yet to play a major part under Thomas Tuchel. The good news, however, is that he has been fit and training for the last few days and is in contention to start on Thursday. My assessment: Definitely not a season Kai or the Chelsea fans expected after investing 70 odd millions, but I've seen enough of him to say that he's a supremely talented player with great footballing intelligence and has got everything to succeed at the highest level. I have high hopes for him and he should be given a run of games before the pundits and fans crucify him and label him a failure. Timo Werner has been a completely different story, though. The German actually hit the ground running and scored a bunch of goals, which coincided with Chelsea's great run at the start of the season. Then something happened, Timo forgot his shooting boots and started missing everything, easy goals, sitters, you name it. There have been no fitness issues, language problems or anything else that points to this sudden run of barren form, but it has been as simple and mind-boggling as that, easy misses, loss of confidence, rinse and repeat. Frank Lampard looked for solutions to get him back to his best and got sacked trying. The arrival of Thomas Tuchel did give him new energy, a new starting point, though, and the German is starting to look like he's getting his confidence back, although the goals still have been few and far in between. My assessment of Timo: He looks like a confidence player who scores goals in bunches until he doesn't. Although, to his credit, there have been no sulking or hiding on the pitch. He runs, sprints, tries harder than most would, but it's obvious that there are some major flaws in his game when the opposition sits back deep and there are no spaces for him to exploit and run into. These things need to be addressed for him to become a consistent threat for Chelsea. Like many players, Christian Pulisic has had a stop-start campaign due to injury. Do you think working with his old boss from his Dortmund days will be able to bring the best out of the youngster on a consistent basis? This was supposed to be the breakthrough season for Christian Pulisic after ending the previous season on a high. The 5-3 loss against Liverpool last season where he came off the bench and completely changed the game comes to mind, but here we are, yet again, with Pulisic and his constant injury problems. There's no doubt that the American has got the talent and skill to succeed. We've already seen that in flashes. The arrival of Thomas Tuchel should only help him, but it has never been his talent that has been in doubt. It's the question of him keeping himself fit to get a run of games, get his rhythm back and start producing week in week out. I don't know how Tuchel will be able to get the best out of him until Pulisic and the medical team sort out his injury woes. From some future stars of the game to someone who is like a fine French wine and just getting better with age in Olivier Giroud. Has he suddenly turned into one of your most important players? Olivier Giroud is one of those players from whom you know what you are going to get and then he delivers exactly that which is a rare feat in a team with a lot of inconsistent performers. If I'm being honest, Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic were the reasons we managed to finish in the top 4 after the project restart under Lampard. A lot of the Chelsea fans, including me, assumed that the Frenchman would have a major role to play under Frank this season and it surprised a lot of us when that wasn't the case. Tammy Abraham, for all his qualities, still hasn't got what it takes to start week in and week out for us. Timo Werner delivered, then struggled, and then continued to struggle badly. Maybe, that was the hint Frank should have taken and given more opportunities to the experienced head and dressing room leaders, Giroud definitely being one of them! But Lampard demanded a specific style of play, which demanded the Striker to continuously make runs behind the opposition defence. Giroud hasn't got the pace to do that and was overlooked yet again. Thomas Tuchel has definitely identified his qualities and seems to tweak his tactics to accommodate his skillsets with the wingbacks providing crosses and cut backs for the Frenchman time and time again, while Giroud also using his strength and hold up play to bring Mason Mount and Timo Werner into the game, which suits us perfectly for the time being. Is Giroud one of our most important players? Definitely. He seems to be getting better with age because he focuses on what works for him and doesn't try to change his game anymore. He's 34. That time is gone. You know what you are going to get from him and, more often than not, he delivers. The last time these two teams met at Anfield, it was an occasion that no one associated with Liverpool will ever forget with the presentation of the Premier League trophy. Around seven months later and things look a little different. Are you still wary of playing the Reds at Anfield despite their current winless streak at home? We would be fools not to. I’ve got a massive respect for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp and Michael Edwards and for what (and the way) they have achieved in such a short time. Liverpool are still the defending Champions. The injury problems have impacted you guys badly and I think a lot of the criticisms, especially from Gary Neville and Roy Keane, have been baseless and plain stupid. In fact, I struggle to think of any things Roy Keane says that actually make any sense. The 5-3 game last time was a special occasion for Liverpool and you guys fully deserved to lift the Premier League trophy, but things have taken a wrong turn for both of us since then, really. There's still the Champions League to aim for, so there's that! Yes, I'm still wary of playing Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool at Anfield, though there is more hope this time that we can aim for the three points. We have seen plenty of games between the top six become extremely dour affairs during this lockdown season. These two teams have plenty of attacking talent on display so hopefully we will get plenty of goalmouth action. What is your overall prediction? Both of the teams have plenty of attacking talent and, no doubt, we will get some entertaining action on Thursday night, but I doubt we would get a goalfest like we did the last time at Anfield. The arrival of Thomas Tuchel has turned us into a much more organised team at the back and we have conceded just 2 goals under the German's tenure, one of those being an own goal. I still think it will be an entertaining game with both teams having spells of dominance and looking threatening on the transition. It's a tough one to call. With a Champions League berth on the line, both teams will go for a win. Let's see, I've seen enough mistakes at the back from the Reds in the last few games to give us a slight edge. It might be the first time in a few years, but I'm calling it a 0-1 win for the visitors. View full article
  17. tlw content

    Opposition View: Chelsea

    After ending their four game losing streak in the league against Sheffield United on Sunday evening, Liverpool will look to break another drought this time at home to Chelsea. The Reds have gone six league games since picking up the three points at Anfield. You have to go all the way back to the 16th of December against Tottenham since their last home win. During this bleak period, Liverpool have scored just two goals (Mane vs West Brom, Salah Penalty vs City). Their opponents this evening have been rejuvenated under the stewardship of former Borussia Dortmund and PSG manager Thomas Tuchel. Currently Chelsea have gone nine games without defeat in all competitions conceding just two goals in the process. With teams such as Man United and Leicester going through a form dip, this clash increases in its importance for both these teams and their top four prospects. Blues correspondent @writekaranwrite from @chelseaseason delivered terrific insight yet again regarding the West London outfit. Firstly what are your views on the sacking of Frank Lampard. Do you think it was the right decision or premature? It’s a difficult one to answer. I guess it all really does depend on what your goals are as a club and are you willing to be patient enough for a couple of seasons to achieve them. At the start of the season when we had this talk you asked me if Lampard was the right man for Chelsea and would the club be willing to give him more leeway when the results dry out. I definitely thought that was the case and I guess, at one point, so did the Chelsea board. Of course, the lack of results on the pitch played a part, but I think where Lampard crucially lost the plot was his lack of man-management skills. Senior players like Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger were completely shunted out of the squad, while the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Olivier Giroud, Jorginho, Andreas Christensen, to name a few, were used sparingly. Mind you, most of these guys are veterans or have been at the club for years and, while I don’t think anyone of them actively campaigned with a "Lampard Out" sign outside Abramovich’s office, none of them would have fought for his survival either. The first thing Thomas Tuchel did upon his arrival at Chelsea is to call upon these experienced heads and the results have definitely backed up his decision. So, maybe, Lampard has the potential to carve out a great career in the near future, but these are the things one only learns from experience. I’m pretty sure he will learn from the experience and get better with age. Sackings are always a major dent in professional pride for a manager but do you think Frank will be better for the experience of managing such a big club early in his career? Oh, I definitely do! When Lampard was appointed as the Chelsea manager in 2019 after spending just one year at Derby, there was this feeling that maybe this job came too early in his career. However, the transfer ban meant that Frank could sit back, soak up the time and go about his job without the monumental pressure of being a Chelsea manager because no one expected us to compete for the titles, not even our own board. Top 4 was the bare minimum and with you guys running away with the title and blowing teams away in the process, we could just sit back and compete for the Champions Leagues spot without the usual added pressure. But spending 200 Million in a couple of months really changes the perspective of the board and the fans. Lack of pre-season, new signings failing to gel in the squad, untimely injuries, bad man-management skills, amongst other things resulted in an enormous build-up of pressure which was always leading towards the eventual sacking, as it often does at our club. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and Frank Lampard and Jody Morris would now sit back and reflect on how things could have been/should have been done and handled differently. There were plenty of positives too such as the rise of Mason Mount, Reece James, Tammy Abraham. It wasn’t all bad and Frank and co should be better off with this experience under their belt even if it arrived a touch too early. Looking at the new man on charge, what are your early impressions of Thomas Tuchel and have you noticed any changes in formation/playing style etc? My early impressions of Thomas Tuchel are very positive. He looks like a guy who wants to play on the front foot with a major share of possession and isn’t afraid to take tough decisions when need be. Everyone in the team seems to know their roles which has been highlighted time and time again during the player interviews and the Gaffer also seems to have brought back a bit of squad harmony by reinstating the senior, shunted out members back into the team and that has only helped us in a positive way. I also quite like his press conferences. Instead of sounding like a trained robot with vague replies and clichéd nonsense in front of the journalists, his answers and viewpoints are quite honest and insightful, something that I definitely admire. In terms of tactics, yeah, there have been a lot of noticeable changes. While you guys have seen us in a 4-3-3 for quite a few years (under Sarri, Lampard), we would be starting in a 3-4-3 at the Anfield on Thursday. In fact, this is how we might just line up against you guys: Mendy; Azpi, Christensen/Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Alonso, Reece James, Kante, Kovacic; Werner, Havertz, Mount. Fitness permitting, having Thiago Silva would be a major boost for Tuchel and I have a sneaky suspicion that we might just start with Havertz as the false 9 and use Kai and Werner’s runs to disrupt the back line of Liverpool, although we haven’t done it before, so we’ll see. Having Giroud go up against Kabak could be another possibility. Watching the last few games, Kabak seems to have a problem dealing with the long balls and crosses and with so many forced changes at the back, communication gaps/problems do arise, something that Giroud can exploit. Apart from that, we play with a lot more possession than we did before. However, the biggest tactical change we’ve had under Tuchel is we don’t attack with as many players as we did under Lampard (both of our no.6 stay outside the opposition box to manage the counter-attacking threat), hence we don’t score many goals (or concede as many either). There are also a lot more tactical fouls in us now, which, no doubt, won’t go down well with you guys. And what else? Keep an eye on our Right Wing. Most of our attack will feature Reece James or Callum Hudson-Odoi (whoever starts) taking on the guys and delivering crosses and cut-backs into the box. The lack of fans in stadiums is certainly a negative aspect of the game at present. But in terms of a new manager in a new league, do you feel this can help Tuchel get his message across without the usual pressure from supporters? 100%. I think most of our fan base was unhappy with the sacking of Frank and they would have definitely let it be known in a stadium full of supporters. While it is no way Tuchel’s fault, I think he would have found it pretty hard to cope with that kind of mutiny. It could have impacted, not only him, but also the performance of the players who have found it easier to focus and regroup under a new manager and start from scratch instead of having that extra pressure of facing 40,000 fans up to twice a week after Lampard’s sacking. It’s been more than a month now. The squad seems to have settled in under the new manager, we haven’t lost yet, the win against Spurs and Atletico Madrid have been massive and we are sitting on the thereabouts of top 4. I think all of these factors have really helped Tuchel get his message across to the squad and things should be much rosier once the fans are allowed back into the stadium. Kai Havertz and Timo Werner came to the Premier League with much fanfare. It is never easy to come to a new league and perform instantly so how have you seen their first season to this point? Certainly not what the fans expected, but for different reasons really. Kai Havertz has been rather unfortunate since his arrival to Stamford Bridge. The 21-year-old arrived at Chelsea with no pre-season under his belt and struggled to hit the ground running. He did score a hat-trick in the EFL Cup and seemed to be getting back on track before he was hit by Covid-19 which set him back for another month. He returned in December under Frank, but since then has been hampered by minor injuries and niggles and is yet to play a major part under Thomas Tuchel. The good news, however, is that he has been fit and training for the last few days and is in contention to start on Thursday. My assessment: Definitely not a season Kai or the Chelsea fans expected after investing 70 odd millions, but I've seen enough of him to say that he's a supremely talented player with great footballing intelligence and has got everything to succeed at the highest level. I have high hopes for him and he should be given a run of games before the pundits and fans crucify him and label him a failure. Timo Werner has been a completely different story, though. The German actually hit the ground running and scored a bunch of goals, which coincided with Chelsea's great run at the start of the season. Then something happened, Timo forgot his shooting boots and started missing everything, easy goals, sitters, you name it. There have been no fitness issues, language problems or anything else that points to this sudden run of barren form, but it has been as simple and mind-boggling as that, easy misses, loss of confidence, rinse and repeat. Frank Lampard looked for solutions to get him back to his best and got sacked trying. The arrival of Thomas Tuchel did give him new energy, a new starting point, though, and the German is starting to look like he's getting his confidence back, although the goals still have been few and far in between. My assessment of Timo: He looks like a confidence player who scores goals in bunches until he doesn't. Although, to his credit, there have been no sulking or hiding on the pitch. He runs, sprints, tries harder than most would, but it's obvious that there are some major flaws in his game when the opposition sits back deep and there are no spaces for him to exploit and run into. These things need to be addressed for him to become a consistent threat for Chelsea. Like many players, Christian Pulisic has had a stop-start campaign due to injury. Do you think working with his old boss from his Dortmund days will be able to bring the best out of the youngster on a consistent basis? This was supposed to be the breakthrough season for Christian Pulisic after ending the previous season on a high. The 5-3 loss against Liverpool last season where he came off the bench and completely changed the game comes to mind, but here we are, yet again, with Pulisic and his constant injury problems. There's no doubt that the American has got the talent and skill to succeed. We've already seen that in flashes. The arrival of Thomas Tuchel should only help him, but it has never been his talent that has been in doubt. It's the question of him keeping himself fit to get a run of games, get his rhythm back and start producing week in week out. I don't know how Tuchel will be able to get the best out of him until Pulisic and the medical team sort out his injury woes. From some future stars of the game to someone who is like a fine French wine and just getting better with age in Olivier Giroud. Has he suddenly turned into one of your most important players? Olivier Giroud is one of those players from whom you know what you are going to get and then he delivers exactly that which is a rare feat in a team with a lot of inconsistent performers. If I'm being honest, Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic were the reasons we managed to finish in the top 4 after the project restart under Lampard. A lot of the Chelsea fans, including me, assumed that the Frenchman would have a major role to play under Frank this season and it surprised a lot of us when that wasn't the case. Tammy Abraham, for all his qualities, still hasn't got what it takes to start week in and week out for us. Timo Werner delivered, then struggled, and then continued to struggle badly. Maybe, that was the hint Frank should have taken and given more opportunities to the experienced head and dressing room leaders, Giroud definitely being one of them! But Lampard demanded a specific style of play, which demanded the Striker to continuously make runs behind the opposition defence. Giroud hasn't got the pace to do that and was overlooked yet again. Thomas Tuchel has definitely identified his qualities and seems to tweak his tactics to accommodate his skillsets with the wingbacks providing crosses and cut backs for the Frenchman time and time again, while Giroud also using his strength and hold up play to bring Mason Mount and Timo Werner into the game, which suits us perfectly for the time being. Is Giroud one of our most important players? Definitely. He seems to be getting better with age because he focuses on what works for him and doesn't try to change his game anymore. He's 34. That time is gone. You know what you are going to get from him and, more often than not, he delivers. The last time these two teams met at Anfield, it was an occasion that no one associated with Liverpool will ever forget with the presentation of the Premier League trophy. Around seven months later and things look a little different. Are you still wary of playing the Reds at Anfield despite their current winless streak at home? We would be fools not to. I’ve got a massive respect for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp and Michael Edwards and for what (and the way) they have achieved in such a short time. Liverpool are still the defending Champions. The injury problems have impacted you guys badly and I think a lot of the criticisms, especially from Gary Neville and Roy Keane, have been baseless and plain stupid. In fact, I struggle to think of any things Roy Keane says that actually make any sense. The 5-3 game last time was a special occasion for Liverpool and you guys fully deserved to lift the Premier League trophy, but things have taken a wrong turn for both of us since then, really. There's still the Champions League to aim for, so there's that! Yes, I'm still wary of playing Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool at Anfield, though there is more hope this time that we can aim for the three points. We have seen plenty of games between the top six become extremely dour affairs during this lockdown season. These two teams have plenty of attacking talent on display so hopefully we will get plenty of goalmouth action. What is your overall prediction? Both of the teams have plenty of attacking talent and, no doubt, we will get some entertaining action on Thursday night, but I doubt we would get a goalfest like we did the last time at Anfield. The arrival of Thomas Tuchel has turned us into a much more organised team at the back and we have conceded just 2 goals under the German's tenure, one of those being an own goal. I still think it will be an entertaining game with both teams having spells of dominance and looking threatening on the transition. It's a tough one to call. With a Champions League berth on the line, both teams will go for a win. Let's see, I've seen enough mistakes at the back from the Reds in the last few games to give us a slight edge. It might be the first time in a few years, but I'm calling it a 0-1 win for the visitors.
  18. Report by Dave Usher Yeah I’ll take that all day. When I saw our line up before kick off I’d have snatched your hand off for any kind of win. The performance didn’t matter too much, we just needed the points. As it turned out we got both. It’s funny because prior to the game I was getting wound right up by Souness and especially Keane. It felt like Keane was setting it up to go off on one if we lost. He was talking like there is absolutely no way we should be losing the game and there was no context applied to anything he was saying. Lack of confidence due to four defeats on the spin, half a team out injured, ill or in bereavement. We had a makeshift centre back pairing, we had our third choice keeper in goal and even our midfield was missing two of the three first choice players. Yet Keane is giving it the “stop making excuses about injuries, you’re Liverpool Football Club. Sheffield United have lost twenty games this season. Just go out and dominate them”. It pissed me right off, especially as he seemed to have forgotten that the Blades recently beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. As it turns out though it panned out exactly the way Keane said it should do and by the end of the game I was thinking “yeah losing to them really shouldn’t have been a concern at all”. We dominated. We created far more chances than they did and in the end the win was comfortable. It was a good performance blighted only by some erratic finishing. You’re not going to convert every chance you create but we should be converting more than we did here, and more than we do in general. It turned out fine though because we converted one and we got a rare stroke of good fortune on the other. This is just a teaser, click to view the full article Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  19. Seven players who were then on the books at Liverpool were selected for the last World Cup, but (injuries permitting) there are set to be even more Kop idols appearing at the Euro 2020 finals this summer. From defensive dynamos to midfield maestro's, which Anfield favourites can you look forward to seeing on international duty at this upcoming tournament held throughout Europe? Let's take a look. Jordan Henderson Reds skipper Henderson is also England vice-captain behind Harry Kane. Although competition for places in the Three Lions midfield is strong, "Hendo" is very much a senior player for Gareth Southgate around which there's a youthful feel to the national team who are hoping to go all the way with the semi's and final held at Wembley. Virgil van Dijk The Netherlands have been in the international football doldrums for a few years, but will return to the big stage at Euro 2020. National captain Van Dijk is obviously a key player for club and country in central defence but he faces a race against time to recover from ACL surgery and currently he must be rated as a big doubt. FAB Virgil! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Back to England and midfielders; Southgate and Jurgen Klopp alike have shown real faith in Oxlade-Chamberlain despite his injury record. If he can stay fit, then a Euros squad berth beckons for "the Ox". After all his problems, who could begrudge him that? Georginio Wijnaldum Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum is another key part of their setup under former Everton boss Ronald Koeman. The Netherlands could be a force again thanks to the presence of both "Gini" and Van Dijk in the spine of their side. Trent Alexander-Arnold Anfield academy product Alexander-Arnold is in with a real shout of being England's first-choice right back at the Euros. After helping them qualify for the finals so impressively, he can play a big part in fulfilling the promise that England hold as they head into this summer’s tournament. Xherdan Shaqiri Although he's largely been on the fringes at Anfield since a cut-price move from relegated Stoke City, Swiss star Shaqiri is surely too classy to miss out on a fifth senior international tournament with his country. Joe Gomez The England players from Liverpool just keeping on coming. Defender Gomez has certainly been part of Southgate's plans. It's to be hoped that the defender has put a spat with former Reds winger Raheem Sterling while on international duty, behind him come the Euros. Like Van Dijk, he also faces a race against time to overcome a serious knee injury. Divock Origi Like Shaqiri, Belgium forward Origi hasn't always found first-team opportunities easy to come by at Anfield. He has still managed to make an impact off the bench, however. Origi does have the prolific Romelu Lukaku ahead of him in the international pecking order, but hopes to be on their Euros roster. Harry Wilson Wales winger Wilson is on loan from Liverpool at Cardiff for this season, but that still counts! After helping the Dragons qualify for a second consecutive European Championship, this ex-Derby County loanee is in line for a first taste of international tournament football under Ryan Giggs. Betting on Euro 2020 Like any major tournament in the game of football, the interest around the betting for Euro 2020 is extremely popular, especially with England heading into the summer with high hopes of going far. According to the latest freebets.com's Euro 2020 Betting Odds, England are actually favourites with some bookies at 5/1, with other firms having them heading the market with Belgium. However, World Cup holders France are in there at 6/1, which may come as some surprise considering their excellent performance on home soil in 2018. Further down the betting, prolific tournament specialists Germany are 8/1 alongside Spain, while holders Portugal are as big as 12/1 with some bookmakers.
  20. After a rare week off from competitive action, Sunday night sees Liverpool look to end a stretch of four consecutive defeats in the league as they visit Sheffield United. Liverpool and the Blades were undeniably the two standout storylines from the 2019/20 season. Liverpool by ending a three-decade wait for league glory while Sheffield United surprised everyone by showing remarkable poise to deservedly finish in the top 10 in their first season back in the Premier League for over a decade. While last season was a dream, undoubtedly this has been a nightmare for both teams. They will each fall well short of their pre-season goals for various reasons, which have been well documented. Whenever approached to take part in this series, the crew from @Blades_Mad have been extremely accommodating and honest about their team, which in turn gives a great insight to our readers. While it looks likes they will be heading back to the Championship after this season, hopefully it wont be too long before we cross paths once again in the top flight. In your view, what are the specific areas that have dropped off for Sheffield United this season? Great question. One that is difficult to answer in some respects. But I’ll give it a go! A big one, and I’m sure Liverpool fans can vouch for this, but we miss the crowds so much. Bramall Lane has been a cauldron of noise during Chris Wilder’s tenure, none more so than during our time in the Premier League. We miss the home faithful so much. so that’s that one out of the way. Again, one that I’m sure you can relate to, we’ve had injuries to major players in our squad. Jack O’Connell out for basically the season, then we’ve had the likes of Berge, Egan, Fleck and Stevens missing for large periods - arguably the heartbeat of our team right there. We lost Dean Henderson back to his parent club Manchester United. That’s taken a lot of adapting to and Aaron Ramsdale has found it difficult this season, but equally so have the majority of our other new signings. Rhian Brewster, who you’ll know really well of course, is yet to get off the mark for the Blades, although he has only started sporadically under Chris Wilder. Our summer recruitment has proved to be bit of a stinker to be honest, and it’s left us fielding sides which are pretty much like for like from last season when players are fit. How that can happen after another summer of spending raises serious questions and is probably a major factor into where we lie in the league table. Chris Wilder received strong support from the owners recently and in a Football sense that is fantastic to see. Do you get the feeling that despite the challenging season he has the supporters still onside and do they accept that relegation is highly likely? Firstly, yes we have accepted the relegation IS going to happen, not likely. You’ll be hard pushed to find many, if any, who believe we can pull off the miracle of all miracles and survive. Even Chris Wilder himself last week admitted as much after our defeat at Fulham. And yes, Wilder has the vast majority of the Blades faithful on his side. Whilst he cannot be immune from constructive scrutiny and criticism this season (which is fair although some would even dispute that), he is still definitely the right man for Sheffield United. He has some huge credit in the bank, and rightly so he should be here next season. He’s the best man for the job. Most Blades are still behind the man that gave us our football club back, despite this torrid season. With where you are currently placed, do you have a sense of frustration that you are so adrift at the bottom that you can’t drag teams down into the relegation scrap? Of course. We had a slight spurt of results last month, beating Manchester United on their own patch, and also wins against Newcastle and West Brom, but we continue to set records for the wrong reasons. We thought we might have a slight sniff a few weeks ago, but results from those above us (such as Burnley and Brighton winning at Anfield - thanks guys haha!), and then coupled with our back to back losses at West Ham and Fulham respectively, has put the final nail in the coffin I’m afraid. With that said, the bounce back is usually more important than the fall. What will be biggest lesson to take out of this season that will see you return to that extremely confident team from the 2019/20 season? Another great question. Probably the recruitment side of the football club. We have unearthed many gems in Chris Wilder’s time as manager, such as John Fleck and David McGoldrick on frees, Jack O’Connell for a few hundred grand and John Egan for four million, but as previously alluded to, our summer signings have proved to be extremely questionable, and we feel like we’ve had to settle for second choice on many of the signings for one reason or another (such as Villa offering better packages to players such as Cash and Watkins). Hopefully the lads who signed in the summer and haven’t hit it off yet can fire on all cylinders in the Championship next season. You’d have hoped we would have a strong side for that division should we keep the bulk of the squad together (which we should). But yeah, better recruitment, perhaps a more vast and varied strategy where we explore different markets instead of paying over the odds for home-grown talent. How enjoyable has the FA Cup been as a respite from the league? I wouldn’t call it enjoyable to be frank. We got our first win of the season against Bristol Rovers in January (narrowly, mind you), and another tight win at home to Plymouth. And then, yes you guessed it, another close game with Bristol City, which we won by a single goal also. But in terms of getting to consecutive FA Cup Quarter-Finals, yeah that’s something the club can be proud of. We have Chelsea in the next round away from home. If we manage to progress through that tie I will be starting to think our name might just be on the trophy after all haha! Which Blades player(s) have you developed a new level of respect for due to their performance in this tough season? Probably the usual suspects such as John Egan and Chris Basham. But I’m going to go for David McGoldrick. He seems to be the only one scoring, although still quite infrequently, but he’s begun to add goals to his game. Just what was missing from his outstanding campaign last season. Jayden Bogle had also been a great attacking threat down that right hand side, and looks a breath of fresh air, so a special mention to him. Liverpool and Sheffield United more than a lot of PL clubs feed off their fans to go that extra mile. How hard has it been feeling helpless watching them struggle and on a positive note what will the emotions be like walking into Bramall Lane on match day again? As I mentioned earlier in this piece, I’d go as far to say that Sheffield United and Liverpool miss their fans more than any other club in the Premier League. What I would say in respect to ourselves, the importance of 30,000 Blades fans behind the team gives them that extra lift, but even more so when we’re up against sides who pound for pound just have better players. No skirting around it, the majority of teams we come up against in this league are far better than us, so to try and level that out a bit when teams visit Bramall Lane, the crowd really can be that twelfth man. Cannot wait to get inside Bramall Lane, hopefully sooner rather than later. The start of next season I’m pinning my hopes on. Yes, we may have been fighting for a European spot the last time we were inside the Lane, but starting the season afresh in the Championship is something that we have to embrace and do the best we can and try and make a swift return - with a packed Bramall Lane! The Reds have certainly had their difficulties so far in 2021. Even though you are in a similar boat in terms of confidence levels, do you feel you have the ability to make it an uncomfortable evening for the reigning champions? Do we have the ability? Hmmm. Probably. But do I think we will? Not really. We’ve been losing with barely a whimper recently, despite some of the tight scorelines. I will be shocked if Liverpool don’t get back to winning ways here on Sunday night, given our form, and lack of first choice players available. It’s a battle between the most patched up defences in Premier League history, you’d have to say! The difference is, you have Mane, Firmino and Salah up top! Chris and Jurgen have not seen eye to eye on a few matters this season. But they are cut from the same cloth when it comes to the staunch support of their players and the game as a whole. Do you envisage a nice glass of wine (or two) after the game to settle any differences? For sure, I can see that. Chris Wilder spoke on Friday about his admiration for Jurgen, and the Liverpool boss has done the same for Wilder in the past. I do think it became a little personal earlier in the season and a tad childish from Klopp, throwing a few cheap digs in here and there, but Chris Wilder gives it as good as he’s got also! As you say, they’re cut from the same cloth. Nothing wrong with a bit of honesty and war of words between managers sometimes, but I’m sure they will have pre and post match pleasantries at Bramall Lane on Sunday night! Have you have a prediction for this clash? 0-2 Liverpool. We won’t keep a clean sheet, and we most probably won’t score either. A comfortable night for the Reds. Hope I’m wrong of course! Be nice to say we’ve beaten Manchester United and Liverpool in what has otherwise been a forgettable season. View full article
  21. So after the derby I switched off from footy completely until today. Ignorance is bliss and I’ve had four days of it. I barely knew any scores before writing this and I certainly haven’t looked at the table. I genuinely don’t know where are and I don’t want to know. I’m back to it now though, watching MOTD and getting pissed off at teams around us picking up points. Or at least that’s what I expected. In reality, I’m feeling surprisingly calm about it all. West Ham are above us and I no longer care. I’ve accepted our fate and I’m almost detaching the Reds from any of this now. Usually I see everything from the perspective of ‘how does this affect us?’ but I’m not feeling that now. Our season is done. We might have the Champions League to keep things interesting for a little while (I’m not even looking beyond Leipzig even with a 2-0 lead) but other than that, there’s no point to any of this now. I'm not going to let what West Ham or Chelsea or Everton or United or anyone else do get me down. Our season is a car crash, if we somehow managed to rally and salvage something then great, but I'm not pinning any hopes on it. Not with players dropping like flies every other week and all manner of other shit continually being heaped on them I’m holding out no hope for that. We defied the football gods last season by winning the league and now they’re just throwing everything at us. This week alone we’ve lost to Everton at Anfield, lost Hendo for months and now Alisson’s Dad died tragically in a freak accident. It’s just fucking relentless. So I’m not living it day to now as it’s too depressing. There’s no diary his week because of that but I’ll do this round up because it’s almost as though I no longer have a horse in this particular race. I just want our season over so we can reset, regroup and start afresh. I’m hoping that next season will be different because we’ll have fans back and hopefully a fully fit squad, but we’re still going to have the same cunt refs so that’s a concern. I’ve said a hell of a lot about the officiating this season and it’s mostly been about how we’ve been screwed by it. I’m leaving that aspect out of it out completely in this and just talking about it from a general viewpoint and not looking at it through red tinted glasses. So I’ll start with Fulham’s win at home to Sheffield United. Lookman broke the deadlock on the hour mark but Sheffield United were denied a stonewall penalty late on when the Fulham keeper booted a Blades player. He did (unintentionally) block the ball with his standing leg, but the other leg (the one he was trying to tackle with) was high and reckless and just smashed into the opponent’s shin. I don’t give a shit about Fulham or Sheffield United so I have no preference as to who won or lost and I can look at this from an entirely neutral perspective. And that failure to award a penalty to Sheffield United is just inexplicable. You just can’t explain that. It’s incidents like this which have really brought home just how much VAR has fucked the game and warped our perspective on it. I don’t necessarily blame the ref on the pitch for that one as he might not have seen it clearly. It was a packed penalty area and I don’t know what his view was like. It used to be that an incident like this would happen and we’d complain a bit and say “I can’t believe he missed that” but we’d also know that a referee only had one look at it, at normal speed, sometimes not from a great position or with players obscuring his view. So you’d feel aggrieved but you could also understand how it could happen. Now that’s just not the case. These things can’t be excused. They have someone else reviewing it with the best technology available and the ref has the chance to look at it again himself in case he’s missed it the first time. So really, appalling decisions like this should have been removed from the game. Instead, it’s gotten worse. And the absolute worst part of it is when we have to listen to Peter fucking Walton or that bald headed little fucking weasel Dermot Gallagher telling us how the decisions were in actual fact correct and that we don't have a clue what we're talking about. You can argue it’s because they’re just shit and that’s certainly not something I would dispute. They are shit, relatively speaking. But that doesn’t explain it fully. We can all say that these fellas are fucking useless but these are the best referees we have. They’ve worked their way up through the system to the top level. Here’s the thing. All of these refs are fucking miles better than me or you would be if we were in the middle. Whoever was on VAR for this game is a much better referee than I am, yet he still saw that challenge and said 'no penalty'. How come they keep making these inexplicable decisions even when they have the benefit of replay? It makes no sense, and "they're just shit" doesn't cover it. Seriously, someone please explain to me how come they can make decisions that are so bad that 99% of everyone else who watches it can see it’s wrong? I’ll use this incident as exhibit A but I could just as easily use the Man City offside goal against Villa the other week. Literally everyone who saw that said it was wrong and they’ve since said that they’re changing how offside is going to be interpreted so that can’t happen again. It didn’t need changing as THERE WAS NO EXCUSE FOR IT HAPPENING TO BEGIN WITH!! There are countless other examples I could list if I could be arsed. I don’t need to because you’ve all seen them. It’s not like I’m making this up. VAR was supposed to reduce these mistakes but instead they seem to be doubling down on shit decisions. Chris Wilder was rightly furious but he’s wide of the mark when he said that the small clubs just don’t get the decisions. It’s not a big club v small club issue. Shit, so many small clubs have benefited from scandalous decisions against us this season and we’re the fucking champions. There is no bigger club than us and we’re suffering more than anyone. Wilder is right to call out the officiating but he’s undermined his argument by playing the ‘downtrodden little club’ card. Just call them out for being egotistical cunts who are making it up as they go along and that they are virtually untouchable. That’s the point he and every other manager should be making. They should be campaigning weekly about getting rid of VAR because it’s managers and players who can force that issue. There’s fuck all the fans can do other than refuse to go back into stadiums, but that’s just not going to happen. Anyway, moving on. Taki scored again as Southampton drew with Chelsea. Lovely finish it was too. Not sure about him patting the badge though. What’s that all about? Bit weird I thought. He’s been playing in midfield for them and he looks really dangerous. Bit annoying that we hardly ever played there for us and was often stuck out wide. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that PL Round Ups are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  22. tlw content

    Opposition View: Sheffield United

    After a rare week off from competitive action, Sunday night sees Liverpool look to end a stretch of four consecutive defeats in the league as they visit Sheffield United. Liverpool and the Blades were undeniably the two standout storylines from the 2019/20 season. Liverpool by ending a three-decade wait for league glory while Sheffield United surprised everyone by showing remarkable poise to deservedly finish in the top 10 in their first season back in the Premier League for over a decade. While last season was a dream, undoubtedly this has been a nightmare for both teams. They will each fall well short of their pre-season goals for various reasons, which have been well documented. Whenever approached to take part in this series, the crew from @Blades_Mad have been extremely accommodating and honest about their team, which in turn gives a great insight to our readers. While it looks likes they will be heading back to the Championship after this season, hopefully it wont be too long before we cross paths once again in the top flight. In your view, what are the specific areas that have dropped off for Sheffield United this season? Great question. One that is difficult to answer in some respects. But I’ll give it a go! A big one, and I’m sure Liverpool fans can vouch for this, but we miss the crowds so much. Bramall Lane has been a cauldron of noise during Chris Wilder’s tenure, none more so than during our time in the Premier League. We miss the home faithful so much. so that’s that one out of the way. Again, one that I’m sure you can relate to, we’ve had injuries to major players in our squad. Jack O’Connell out for basically the season, then we’ve had the likes of Berge, Egan, Fleck and Stevens missing for large periods - arguably the heartbeat of our team right there. We lost Dean Henderson back to his parent club Manchester United. That’s taken a lot of adapting to and Aaron Ramsdale has found it difficult this season, but equally so have the majority of our other new signings. Rhian Brewster, who you’ll know really well of course, is yet to get off the mark for the Blades, although he has only started sporadically under Chris Wilder. Our summer recruitment has proved to be bit of a stinker to be honest, and it’s left us fielding sides which are pretty much like for like from last season when players are fit. How that can happen after another summer of spending raises serious questions and is probably a major factor into where we lie in the league table. Chris Wilder received strong support from the owners recently and in a Football sense that is fantastic to see. Do you get the feeling that despite the challenging season he has the supporters still onside and do they accept that relegation is highly likely? Firstly, yes we have accepted the relegation IS going to happen, not likely. You’ll be hard pushed to find many, if any, who believe we can pull off the miracle of all miracles and survive. Even Chris Wilder himself last week admitted as much after our defeat at Fulham. And yes, Wilder has the vast majority of the Blades faithful on his side. Whilst he cannot be immune from constructive scrutiny and criticism this season (which is fair although some would even dispute that), he is still definitely the right man for Sheffield United. He has some huge credit in the bank, and rightly so he should be here next season. He’s the best man for the job. Most Blades are still behind the man that gave us our football club back, despite this torrid season. With where you are currently placed, do you have a sense of frustration that you are so adrift at the bottom that you can’t drag teams down into the relegation scrap? Of course. We had a slight spurt of results last month, beating Manchester United on their own patch, and also wins against Newcastle and West Brom, but we continue to set records for the wrong reasons. We thought we might have a slight sniff a few weeks ago, but results from those above us (such as Burnley and Brighton winning at Anfield - thanks guys haha!), and then coupled with our back to back losses at West Ham and Fulham respectively, has put the final nail in the coffin I’m afraid. With that said, the bounce back is usually more important than the fall. What will be biggest lesson to take out of this season that will see you return to that extremely confident team from the 2019/20 season? Another great question. Probably the recruitment side of the football club. We have unearthed many gems in Chris Wilder’s time as manager, such as John Fleck and David McGoldrick on frees, Jack O’Connell for a few hundred grand and John Egan for four million, but as previously alluded to, our summer signings have proved to be extremely questionable, and we feel like we’ve had to settle for second choice on many of the signings for one reason or another (such as Villa offering better packages to players such as Cash and Watkins). Hopefully the lads who signed in the summer and haven’t hit it off yet can fire on all cylinders in the Championship next season. You’d have hoped we would have a strong side for that division should we keep the bulk of the squad together (which we should). But yeah, better recruitment, perhaps a more vast and varied strategy where we explore different markets instead of paying over the odds for home-grown talent. How enjoyable has the FA Cup been as a respite from the league? I wouldn’t call it enjoyable to be frank. We got our first win of the season against Bristol Rovers in January (narrowly, mind you), and another tight win at home to Plymouth. And then, yes you guessed it, another close game with Bristol City, which we won by a single goal also. But in terms of getting to consecutive FA Cup Quarter-Finals, yeah that’s something the club can be proud of. We have Chelsea in the next round away from home. If we manage to progress through that tie I will be starting to think our name might just be on the trophy after all haha! Which Blades player(s) have you developed a new level of respect for due to their performance in this tough season? Probably the usual suspects such as John Egan and Chris Basham. But I’m going to go for David McGoldrick. He seems to be the only one scoring, although still quite infrequently, but he’s begun to add goals to his game. Just what was missing from his outstanding campaign last season. Jayden Bogle had also been a great attacking threat down that right hand side, and looks a breath of fresh air, so a special mention to him. Liverpool and Sheffield United more than a lot of PL clubs feed off their fans to go that extra mile. How hard has it been feeling helpless watching them struggle and on a positive note what will the emotions be like walking into Bramall Lane on match day again? As I mentioned earlier in this piece, I’d go as far to say that Sheffield United and Liverpool miss their fans more than any other club in the Premier League. What I would say in respect to ourselves, the importance of 30,000 Blades fans behind the team gives them that extra lift, but even more so when we’re up against sides who pound for pound just have better players. No skirting around it, the majority of teams we come up against in this league are far better than us, so to try and level that out a bit when teams visit Bramall Lane, the crowd really can be that twelfth man. Cannot wait to get inside Bramall Lane, hopefully sooner rather than later. The start of next season I’m pinning my hopes on. Yes, we may have been fighting for a European spot the last time we were inside the Lane, but starting the season afresh in the Championship is something that we have to embrace and do the best we can and try and make a swift return - with a packed Bramall Lane! The Reds have certainly had their difficulties so far in 2021. Even though you are in a similar boat in terms of confidence levels, do you feel you have the ability to make it an uncomfortable evening for the reigning champions? Do we have the ability? Hmmm. Probably. But do I think we will? Not really. We’ve been losing with barely a whimper recently, despite some of the tight scorelines. I will be shocked if Liverpool don’t get back to winning ways here on Sunday night, given our form, and lack of first choice players available. It’s a battle between the most patched up defences in Premier League history, you’d have to say! The difference is, you have Mane, Firmino and Salah up top! Chris and Jurgen have not seen eye to eye on a few matters this season. But they are cut from the same cloth when it comes to the staunch support of their players and the game as a whole. Do you envisage a nice glass of wine (or two) after the game to settle any differences? For sure, I can see that. Chris Wilder spoke on Friday about his admiration for Jurgen, and the Liverpool boss has done the same for Wilder in the past. I do think it became a little personal earlier in the season and a tad childish from Klopp, throwing a few cheap digs in here and there, but Chris Wilder gives it as good as he’s got also! As you say, they’re cut from the same cloth. Nothing wrong with a bit of honesty and war of words between managers sometimes, but I’m sure they will have pre and post match pleasantries at Bramall Lane on Sunday night! Have you have a prediction for this clash? 0-2 Liverpool. We won’t keep a clean sheet, and we most probably won’t score either. A comfortable night for the Reds. Hope I’m wrong of course! Be nice to say we’ve beaten Manchester United and Liverpool in what has otherwise been a forgettable season.
  23. Report by Dave Usher Ok so this one will be REALLY brief. I’m not in the least bit surprised by what happened because records have been falling all over the fucking place lately. Unbeaten home record gone. Three losses at home for the first time in fuck knows how long. Now it’s four losses in a row for the first time in almost a hundred years. So yeah, if Everton were ever going to win ‘at Anfield’ it was now. This isn’t Anfield though. We all know it. This isn’t even football. It’s fucking shit and it’s fucking bent. That penalty decision was so bad I didn’t even get angry, I just shrugged. It did look as though finally we’d see VAR do its job properly but no. Andre Marriner knew it wasn’t a penalty and told Kavanagh to go and look. When that happens, I can only recall one other time when the ref stuck to his original decision (ironically it was Marriner refusing to give a pen against Fabinho at Fulham). Yet this Manc cunt looked at it for two seconds and stood by his clearly wrong decision. He didn’t even look at it from a different angle or take a second viewing just to be sure. Why? Because he WANTED to give a pen. Simple as that. Same as that other bellend on VAR last week wanted the Leicester player to be onside. Any time there's a decision to be made these fuckers are allowing their own bias to decide what they want to give. Half the fucking refs in the league are from Manchester but they all support Altrincham or fucking Bury apparently. If any of you were remotely surprised by this then I don’t know what to tell you. If by this point you still think this is legit and simply down to incompetence then there really is no decision that will ever change your mind. I mean seriously, what is it going to take for you to accept what’s going on? When there's a chance to fuck us they take it. But we didn’t lose just because of that penalty. That merely saved Everton from having to see out the final fifteen minutes, which they may or may not have done. We looked as though we’d ran out of steam by that point anyway and I never felt as though we’d equalise. But we were robbed of the opportunity by that ludicrous penalty. We’ve got a history of scoring really late goals against them and that might have caused some nerves at their end, but the pen saved them from that. I've never seen a penalty given for that before and I doubt I ever will again. Not unless it happens to us again anyway. Kavanagh should be made to explain himself but there's no accountability. They can just give whatever decisions they like without any kind of comeback. This is just a teaser, click here to view full article Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  24. It's no secret that Liverpool's domestic form has plummeted to its lowest ebb since Jürgen Klopp arrived at Anfield back in October 2015. The Reds recently endured their sixth Premier League defeat of the year to cross town rivals Everton at the weekend. It has left the title race well out of reach, with Liverpool more realistically looking to challenge for a top four spot in the Premier League and ensuring Champions League football continues to be a feature of the Anfield fixture list next season. Despite enduring difficult times at home, many bookmakers around the world are currently slashing the odds on a Liverpool final finish in the Champions League. Australian betting sites among others currently have the highest odds on Liverpool as one of the top favourites to make a third final appearance in four years. The Reds reversed their current fortune by romping to a standout victory against RB Leipzig in the first round of 16 tie last week in what was a standout performance reminiscent of better times. It has led many betting sites to slash their odds on favouring Liverpool to make a mark in this season's competition. Currently Liverpool are both among the four favourites to make it to the Champions League final at around 4/1, and slightly elevated price of 7/1 to go all the way and win the tournament for a seventh time in their history. In fact Jürgen Klopp need not cast his eyes too far back into the club's history and should take the famous 2005 season as distinctive encouragement for his team to boost his European campaign. Few Liverpool fans will need reminding of what took place on that balmy night in Istanbul back in May 2005, as Liverpool overcame the odds to register a fifth European Cup to their name in 21 years of waiting. Benitez's soon-to-be champions of Europe didn't fare well in their domestic campaign that season either. It went awry fairly quickly for the Reds in the Premier League, succumbing to defeats to Bolton Wanderers, Manchester United and Chelsea in the opening weeks. Patchy form throughout the campaign ensured Liverpool never managed to raise themselves above fifth position all season. On top of troubled times in the league, Liverpool went out of the FA Cup at the first instance, succumbing to defeat against Burnley in the third round of the competition. Ring any bells? Liverpool's domestic campaign may not have won many plaudits, but it led to a firm focus on European affairs that saw Benitez and his boys etching their name on club football's highest honour by the end of the season. This current incarnation of Liverpool has experienced a different trajectory it's true. Injuries have ravaged the side leading to them slipping down the table dramatical. The defensive line has been hit particularly hard and has seen Klopp's side spiral from a seemingly successful Premier League title defence to rank outsiders. Like Benitez, Klopp has already admitted defeat in the Premier League. However, his side is still packed with talent, and more importantly, talent that has distinctive European experience. Many members of the current squad are veterans of two European finals and have the nouse to know what it takes to go all the way. The latest effort away to Leipzig will certainly spur the side with encouragement. Cup competitions are notoriously unpredictable, but if Klopp and his side can sharpen their gaze on European affairs it could well and truly turn the season around.
  25. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is confident his side has what it takes to last the distance in the title race while competing strongly on the European stage.While title rivals Man City were in action in the fifth round of the FA Cup on the weekend, the Reds were taking part in a training camp in Marbella which came at the perfect time with so many big games just around the corner.In the past, Liverpool sides have routinely struggled when they have had more than one competition on their agenda.As recently as 12 months ago, the team were taking all before them in the Champions League, but in terms of the league it was another story where they dropped 10 points immediately following a Champions League fixture from the round of 16 onwards.The drop off in league form saw Liverpool make extremely hard work of top four qualification, which was only sealed with victory on the last day of the season against Brighton.The Mirror reports Henderson saying that a repeat is not on the cards:“I feel as though we have got a good enough squad to cope with the games when they are coming thick and fast."It is down to us to keep performing, no matter what competition it is. We will give everything and just be mentally ready for the next few months."It is why Marbella was such an important week for us to get ready." Naturally there is a lot of outside noise at this time of the season, both with fans growing in expectation, and the football pundits analysing every facet of the title race.Henderson says they cannot focus about what has been said and it is all about striking the right balance between light hearted banter and keeping their mind firmly on the job.“Whatever is being said outside, you can’t get into all that. For us, it is about focussing on the next game. We are in a good place at the minute, so hopefully we can put on a good show."We have just been the way we always are and we have just enjoyed going to work every day with a smile on our face."We have been having a joke but as soon as we go on to the training field, it is down to business and we are focused on what we need to do and it is very serious. "That is the way it should be.”The captain has had a stop-start campaign due to some niggling injuries and extra competition in the midfield has meant that he is not a automatic selection when fit. But being a leader means that you sometimes have to sacrifice your own game for what is good for the team. In more recent times, Henderson has been deployed at right-back covering for Trent Alexander-Arnold. The 28 year-old is more than willing to play at centre-back in the absence of Virgil Van Dijk for the first leg of the last 16 clash against Bayern Munich but it is believed that Jurgen Klopp will use Fabinho in the position.Whatever the position he plays between now and the rest of the season, Klopp will be relying on the experience of Henderson to keep the ship steady and steer it over the line in first place. View full article
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