This Week In Review For Liverpool FC

This week was a very busy week for Liverpool FC, as they prepare to begin the new campaign of 2019. It included two preseason games, leaving many fans with questions, one very exciting signing, and one of our players participating in a World Cup Final.

To start things off, our two preseason games this week were sort of underwhelming at times. The first one was against Tranmere, who we trampled 3 to 0 in the first 45 minutes with goals from Camacho, Ojo, and Lallana. It was truly a dominating first half and it was nice to see two of our promising young players bag goals while Adam Lallana also broke a long duck, as we all hope he can regain he magical form that he has when he is on. However, the second half was not as promising. Liverpool managed to allow two goals in the final twenty minutes and one was especially glaring. Off of a set piece, Tranmere managed to hit a paced shot at Loris Karius who bobbled the ball which allowed one of Tranmere players to grab the rebound and finish. I know it is preseason, and everybody makes mistakes. I also know that You’ll Never Walk Alone is our biggest tagline and I am a huge believer in that, and was one of the ones that supported Karius after the Champions League final. But nonetheless, when is enough, enough? We are truly a massive football team, one with the resources to buy a class goalkeeper. We ignored the market when buying Virgil van Dijk, so why are we worried about the price of a goalkeeper if that is what is going to make our squad a title contender? I do not believe we can win the Premier League without a solid, grade A goalkeeper, and right now we do not have that. I am all about giving Danny Ward a shot as well, but is really going to be our long term option? We need to go out, buy Allisson or Butland, spend our money, and be real contenders. We have no problem spending money on other players so this should be a no brainer.

Our second preseason game saw us at Bury, a game that finished level, 0-0. It was one that we were just not clinical enough in front of goal. We impressed at points, and definitely had our chances, but we did not take the big ones. With that being said, nobody is really worried because none of our starting three were playing, which probably would have made a huge difference. Someone that impressed everybody was Curtis Jones. The youngster was all over the pitch, creating, and using dazzling touches to get by defenders. He is one to watch out for in the future.

Also, this week, we signed Stoke City midfielder, Xherdan Shaqiri. This is a great signing that I have predicted for quite a while. He is a really tricky and tough to guard winger, who likes to dribble and take over a game. I think he is someone who can make spot-starts for us, and really solidify our bench as a super-sub. Shaqiri has an absolute cannon for a leg and is a real threat from anywhere outside the 18-yard box, and is also a big set-piece specialist, which we are missing right about now. And at $13 million, he is a bargain. Even if things do not work out, we will make a profit and it will be considered a good piece of business, so well done on that one Liverpool.

e75ad10d833321b70327bc28e9e7b09b30d9c8d3

Lastly, our center-back Dejan Lovren started in a World Cup Final today, something that is rare to see at our club. Even though he was on the losing side, it is still such an accomplishment for someone who has been criticized his entire career. It is time we support him after losing two important finals in one summer. YNWA Dejan.

In other news, Bobby Firmino went silver fox today, keep dazzling us Bobby.

JR

Photos from Liverpool FC and JOE.co.uk

firmino.png

Advertisements

Liverpool vs Chester: Today’s Biggest Winners and Losers

On Saturday, Liverpool took on their first preseason match of the 2018/2019 campaign against Chester at Swansway Park. It took place at the same time as the England Sweden World Cup match, but many Liverpool fans tuned into the match for the debuts of Naby Keita and Fabinho. The preseason is a great time to watch our new players before the season even starts, our young players, and even the current senior players to see the work they have put in over the summer holiday. Of course due to the World Cup, many of our first team selections are not available as they have been given breaks after the long and grueling competition. Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum will make their training debuts tomorrow with the squad while Sadio Mane and Mo Salah will return in time for the tour to the United States. Our other players still in the World Cup like Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Dejan Lovren will get slightly longer breaks into the preseason. The game today saw Liverpool through 7-0 against a very young Chester side that really gave it their all, Liverpool was just that good in spurts on the day. Goals came from James Milner, Ryan Kent, and Danny Ings while Harry Wilson and Daniel Sturridge each bagged a brace.

With that being said let us get into the biggest winners and losers of today’s match.

Winners:

Harry Wilson (Man of the Match): What a slick lad this is, and he played great today. With Klopp’s platoon rotation today he saw himself in with the first group and made his two goal impact within ten minutes at the end of the half. But the entire first period saw himself running into spaces and waiting for the right opportunity to strike. Wilson has not yet made it up to the Liverpool first team, but after a good spell at Hull City he is now getting a fair shot to make his name in the preseason. His first goal was a nice cheeky finish off a failed Alberto Moreno shot, while the second one came off a beautiful Curtis Jones lofted ball in where he took a touch and lightly passed it into the net. Wilson has a good chance to make his way into the first team this year if he keeps putting in games like he did today but he will have tough competition alongside Daniel Sturridge, and Rhian Brewster.

P180707-010-Chester_v_Liverpool-600x400

Daniel Sturridge: He is back, once again. After an injury slated loan at West Brom, Daniel Sturridge is back here at Liverpool for another preseason competing for a spot up top. He got the second half nod and matched Harry Wilson’s brace. His first goal was a nice finish in on the keeper from the right, easy stuff really, but the second one was a real hit. He brought it onto his left from a rebound and just curled the ball into the bottom left of the net leaving the Chester players watching. A couple of really good passes as well made Daniel’s performance stand out tonight, and hopefully he can stay on and make a positive influence here again this year.

Naby Keita: Naby made it known today why Jurgen Klopp wanted him so badly for the past year. He is constantly moving across the pitch, pressing and tackling all over. What I really enjoy about him is his quick, short passes and that he also likes to play the way he is facing at all times, simple but effective. His dribbling was also superb as he brought the ball into the box against 2 or 3 Chester players and just whiffed the finish at the end. However, the first Sturridge goal was set up by Keita’s pressing, with our true front three, he will be a deadly match for opponents. While he did say he was afraid of small dogs in his introduction video with LFCTV, he is like a small dog in the way he smothers opponents and will not leave them alone.

Losers:

Alberto Moreno: Aside from two slick nutmegs, the Spaniard did not do too much to stand out from Andy Robertson today. At times he looked quite selfish running up the pitch with the ball, shooting it from extremely tight angles. Not the performance I was looking for, and with the way Robertson played last year and today even, it will be hard for Moreno to win his spot back in the first team lineup.

Dom Solanke: On his day, Dom is a very lethal finisher as he has proved that on his England U-20 side. He just cannot seem to do it for Liverpool. Today he was not really decisive in front of goal, and just needed to be more clinical with the ball in front of him. Again, with the performance of Harry Wilson and Daniel Sturridge, Solanke could see himself out of the backup striker role is he does not step his game up.

Divock Origi: Seems like I am telling the same story over and over today with our forwards. We have slim positions available to be a backup up top for our team and players are going to have to fight for those spots. You would think Origi would be chomping at the bit to fight for his role in the team back after a good loan at Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, but he did not perform well today. His finishing was off and he was caught offside on multiple occasions, which has always been a weakness of his. He will need to be better in the coming games if he wants to stay in a red shirt.

JR

Photo from This Is Anfield

Time For Dejan Lovren To Get Some Credit

One player that has forever been criticized by Liverpool fans and pundits of the game is our Croatian center-back Dejan Lovren. He might be the most attacked and questioned player on our entire team aside from Alberto Moreno, and albeit a few mistakes he really does not deserve that hate he receives. If you take a look at his glaring games, they seem to be isolated events, and not frequent occurrences. For example, this year obviously the Tottenham game stands out, where Jurgen Klopp actually had to withdraw Lovren in the 30th minute because his form was so poor. Typically, his mistakes are clumsy fouls in the box or being out of position. I do not think this is a lack of skills but rather a lack of focus at that moment in time.

Premier-League-Liverpool-vs-Brighton-Hove-Albion.jpg

Yes, this is concering, but it is something that can easily be resolved. If you look at the second half of the season, Liverpool had a significantly less amount of defensive breakdowns and goals conceded especially after the arrival of the big Dutchman, Virgil van Dijk. This stems, from not only Big Virg’s giant-like stature but also his leadership on the pitch, which has affected Lovren in a very positive way. Before this, Liverpool were not sure who our dominant center-back was, Lovren or Matip. As a result, both were shaky, and our team suffered greatly because of it. Now that van Dijk has taken over, we are decisive out of the back and his direction has helped Lovren also be more decisive and strong in the middle. Sure, he will still make mistakes here and there, but most defenders will, and this is not reason anymore for Liverpool fans to ask for his departure and sent hate in his direction.

Throughout the second half of the domestic season, and Champions League, he proved that he will be our choice center-back for years to come. And it seems that Jurgen thinks the same, as Dejan was quoted talking about what Klopp said to him after the Tottenham match, “He said ‘If you just think about yourself like I think about you, you will be one of the best players in the world’. You know maybe, it’s sometimes just… just my self-confidence disappears in some moments. And he believes in me, you know? And I believe in him” (Liverpool Echo). This shows how much Jurgen believes in Lovren and also what he expects from him, which clearly gives Lovren more confidence that he already has, and also shows the unity the whole team has with the gaffer.

More recently, Lovren has been enjoying big success in the World Cup as his home country, Croatia just defeated Denmark in the round of 16 after a thrilling round of penalty kicks. Dejan has enjoyed some good form as Croatia’s primary center back and has gotten praise from around the world for how well he has played. Clearly his self-confidence issue has been cleared up as he was caught before the game saying that he wants to be recognized as one of the best center backs in the world, and that all of the insults fuel him. This is great to see him overcome and puts his resilience and strong personality on display.

Almost as important, Lovren is a great teammate as well which is something I do not think he gets enough credit for. Him and Mo Salah sprouted a friendship that most of us have enjoyed on social media, as well most of the Liverpool youngsters including Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn. His leadership and willingness to be a positive influence off the field is a huge asset, one that we should appreciate greatly. Lastly, and most importantly, Dejan loves this club. You can see it in the passion he plays each and every game with and how serious he takes wearing a Liverpool shirt. He loves the songs, the energy, the fans, and the city and is enjoying every experience he has with the club. His dad was even spotted at the Champions League Final with his shirt off signing our songs, a sight to see really.

However, the bottom line is that Dejan Lovren has so many qualities we can appreciate and even though he does mess up sometimes we have to remember every player, even the world class ones slip up once in a while, and with the love he shows us and the club, it is time we show him that same love back.

 

JR

 

Photo From Mirror UK

Why Trent Alexander-Arnold Will Be Our Next Steven Gerrard

I know. It’s a bold tagline. But it shows how much TAA has already won over many Liverpool fans including myself. He proved himself this season in a squad lined with superstars while he was only 19 years’ old trying to break into the team. Well he sure did a good job. Joe Gomez seemed to have the role of right back locked down for Liverpool at the beginning of the season with a few spot starts from TAA throughout the early parts. However, after a couple bad games from Joe Gomez where his poor tracking allowed opposing teams to score combined with an injury gave a chance for young Trent to prove himself in the lineup. And did he shine. Trent faced a lot of tough tests throughout the last half of the year and most of them he bodied fully. The only game I can remember that was shaky was Man United away against English teammate Marcus Rashford. But if you look at who he has pocketed and shut down, the list is incredible. We are talking about world class players like Sane, Martial, Sanchez and even Madrid’s front line to an extent. The kid is younger than myself and he has already started in a Champions League Final and been selected for a World Cup. It is truly unreal. And to think that right back is not even his natural position, how good could he be in the right position with the right players around him? TAA only moved to right back as a quick route to the first team but he had always been a central midfielder.

Liverpool v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - First Leg - Anfield

This is where my Stevie G argument comes in. Some may think this is so exaggerated and overstepped, but I am dead serious. If you remember in the season, Trent made some long balls across the field to Mane and Salah that were unbelievable. They were so impressive that many people thought they were accidents and were not even supposed to happen. Not to mention his cannon of a leg, which he is starting to use to shoot more and more when he gets up the pitch. When you look at the Hoffenheim free kick (his debut goal) and his first home goal against Swansea, they were both worldies in opposite corners that nobody could have saved. I think that maybe not this year, but next, Arnold will start to make the move to being a midfielder, and this is not saying I do not think he is a good enough right back, I think he is great there as well. However, I think there is so much more untapped potential if we play him at midfield with our so many attacking options going forward. Much alike to Stevie G, who also was a great passer, had a rocket for a leg and also made his start in defense. I think the two have so much in common and the best part of it all is that Trent is a hometown kid and he literally loves the club and city so we never have to worry about losing him or keeping other clubs away from him which is a constant threat in today’s market. Going back to Gerrard, I think they actually have more in common than their playing styles. I think they both have exceptional leadership qualities which is impressive for Trent to already have at such a young age. But you can see he is talking often on the field and has prior captain experience at the youth and academy levels. Personally, I think he is our future captain later down the road aside from maybe Virgil van Dijk and I think he can lead us to whatever sights he sets for himself. He plays with such a fire and passion that is admirable for a teenager, and this is also comparable to Gerrard. Gerrard could light a fire under the team and just gave his all 100% of the time, which is something you can already see in Trent. I still love the picture of Trent shaking his fists at the end of the Man City game, you can tell how bad he wants to win every single match he plays in. And the fact he saw those wonderful years under Gerrard and Alonso and all those guys and witnessed first-hand what it is like for a Liverpool team to win trophies, makes him want to win it even more for the city he calls home. We have not had a homegrown lad in a few years come up through the ranks, but right now TAA is positioned to do so and I think he has solidified his spot for many years to come. Everybody loves him and I think everyone is cheering for him to get on the field at the World Cup as well, what an accomplishment that would be on its own. With all this being said, I do expect more out of Trent in the next couple years. I would like to see more bombing runs forward, more consistent crossing and a few more goals. I know it is a lot to ask from a teenager but if anyone can accomplish the feat it is him because he has conquered every other task so far. So watch out for this one everybody, he is coming to bring Liverpool back to the top of European football and he is our next Stevie G.

JR

Photo from metro.co.uk

How and Why Liverpool Should Increase Their Presence in the United States

Because the World Cup is just getting underway and there is no new transfer news to talk about I would like to talk about Liverpool and their presence in the United States. I think it is a topic many of my followers and myself will find to be interesting to hear about. Coming from the United States I am obviously bias as to why Liverpool should be more featured here across the pond, however I think it really could enhance Liverpool’s brand and fan experience in a part of the world where soccer is frankly, still looked down upon by many, but starting to gain its popularity.

Now many may say that we are already popular because a lot of people are big fans and watch their games every weekend, so on, so on. But I am talking bigger than that. Mountains bigger. I think Liverpool is fully capable of creating a unique fan experience where fans can cheer for multiple teams under the Liverpool brand. For example, the City Football Group is a primary display of this business model, owning or having part ownership in 12 teams under the City name like Manchester City, New York City FC and Melbourne City FC. Red Bull, interestingly enough, also has 6 different teams featured in the United States and Germany under this same sort of ownership style. Different teams, under the same branding, really unique stuff. The issue I have with more the City group compared to Red Bull is the reasoning behind doing it. City Football group is notorious for just having their pockets full and ready to spend, reasons why Man City have been able to elevate their squad to world class levels in such as short amount of time. They have created this model in order to just get more money. However, I see Liverpool doing this not as a money coup, but as an honest attempt to try and reach more fans under the Liverpool brand and culture particularly in the United States for this argument. Obviously the ownership matters here, and Fenway Sports Group would have to raise or throw in a substantial amount of capital for this to ever work, but it is more or less a brainstorm of different directions I would like to see Liverpool go in, keep in mind. But, with that being said FSG could really work some wonders here especially with Boston as the focal point. Think about the two main teams that FSG represent, the Red Sox and Liverpool. What is the first thing you think about with those two teams? Besides from being a lovely shade of red, they stand for more than sport, they are tradition, an actual culture, both have amazing fans, and play in a chapel of their sports. So why not market them together in the same town??? Luckily enough, New Balance which is Liverpool’s kit and gear endorser is also based in Boston, Massachusetts. Does this seem like a match made in heaven yet? There are plenty of opportunities for a team to come into Boston or at least rebrand into a Liverpool themed club. The New England Revolution are set for a new stadium in a few years, along with the new stadium, build a new brand with it. Help the Kraft Group with marketing and the logistics and it will help both brands significantly, mixing old Revolution fans with new Liverpool fans connecting to the same team. Even if it did not involve the Revs, there are plenty of leagues such as the USL that could feature a new, fresh team in Beantown. You could kick everything off with a summer friendly at the new stadium featuring Liverpool vs the new respective team playing to show fans what the future games should be like and how to make the culture like a Liverpool game. If Liverpool has yet to realize, they literally have tens of thousands of fans here in the states especially in the northeast and for them not to capitalize and help some fans here experience it on a more frequent basis, they are simply not thinking straight. Not enough fans from the US can get over to Anfield every single year for the select dates that FSG picks out for the American travel trips, and for the support they get from their US fans, not enough is done for them. We are begging to sing the songs, to wear the bird on our chests and walk on together here in the states and in my opinion, branding a team together with them is the perfect way to do so.

gyi0062087482.0.jpg

Nevertheless, it is an outlandish idea at the moment and there are some simpler options. For me, it is really about bringing the soccer culture here to the states. Liverpool is the best team to do that because they are more than just soccer, they are a real football club, and are so unique when compared to other sports. Football has its tailgating, baseball has its tradition, but Liverpool is literally almost its own religion. Like many say, the songs are our gospel, and Anfield is our chapel. You do not really understand what I am talking about until you see a true European night at Anfield like the one we had against Man City in the Champions League this year. The passion from the fans, the constant signing, and hearing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” bellow out into the crowd gives anybody goosebumps. My father was never a soccer fan but I started to get him to watch Liverpool games and he loves it because of how unique and special it is compared to the NBA or NFL. There is no reason this cannot translate completely into the US, if given the correct platform to serve it on. Kids run around in Curry and Beckham Jr. jerseys, but why not a Mo Salah one? It is because it is not domestic enough for everyday people to watch it yet, it just is not household. But if more is done domestically, even a Liverpool shop/bar to watch games at opens up, or if Liverpool comes to Fenway every summer to play instead of every four like they have been, it will promote a better soccer culture and allow fans to experience it more. This will make fans even more involved, and only build Liverpool’s brand in the long run, so what do you say Reds, come on over?

JR

Photo from The Liverpool Offside

My World Cup Preview and Predictions

Unlike previous weeks, this week features two new posts because of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. There was a lot of transfer news to go over this week with the likes of Fekir, but I also want to cover the World Cup because it starts on the 14th of this month and I am doing bits waiting for it. I feel like a kid again playing the new World Cup mode on FIFA 18, it reminds me of buying the 2010 edition for the Wii and stacking my team with Beckham, Drogba, and Robben. That was the first World Cup I really paid much attention to and I have to say that it had so many memories I can recall upon. Obviously the brightest memory is Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria where he ran through and just smashed the ball and the US into the group stage. That was and still is the peak of US soccer that I have gotten to watch. It will be different this year without them in the competition as all the Americans will have to find teams to cheer for and most, like me, will cheer for teams with their clubs’ players on them. I also vividly remember actually listening to the World Cup final in the den of my house when Iniesta scored the decisive goal for Spain in extra time. I was so livid because at the time my favorite player was Wesley Sneijder for some odd reason, and I also loved Robin van Persie so I was pulling for the men in orange hard that night.

In 2014, I was in high school and was playing summer soccer at the time so I was really tuned into that one. Van Persie’s looping diving header is still imprinted in my mind today and well as Gotze’s winner against Argentina to lift the trophy. For me, the World Cup is such a special event and does such a good job promoting soccer and unity around the world. The thing I most love about it is the disparity of the event which has 4 years in between each other. That means every normal player probably has two World Cups in their prime, making it a massive event for them to compete in and strive to succeed in. That is why it is a shame when you see someone miss one such as Oxlade-Chamberlain or almost Mo Salah, because you never know how many more times they will get to play in the event. Also, so much can change within four years. Gabriel Jesus was painting murals of Brazil players four years ago. Now he is Brazil’s starting striker (should be behind Bobby Firmino) which is truly a brilliant transformation. Teams can go from one of the brightest squads to not even qualifying and having to wait four more long years to get back into the competition, which is what makes it so great and challenging to win.

34881891_2217944301565332_7871588899288514560_n

Now we will get into my picks for this year’s World Cup and why I think Brazil will be crowned champion. Skipping to the quarterfinal round I have France vs Portugal, Brazil vs Belgium, Spain vs Argentina, and Germany vs England. This round is where my choices were extremely difficult because they teams are so even, and any player on these squads can come in and change the game in a way which we were not expecting. For the first game I have France moving forward, although Ronaldo is a superstar and will carry Portugal a long way, they do not have the overall talent France has with the likes of Pogba, Griezmann, Fekir, and Mbappe. Next was Brazil and Belgium which is my game of the tournament to watch. Extremely difficult to pick a winner here with squads lined with stars, and I think this one turns into a goal fest. With that said I think Brazil is more clinical in front of goal and will make more out of their chances and they will move on in this one. Spain vs Argentina is the next quarterfinal matchup and this was my easiest choice of them all. Spain is a talented team this year and like always are extremely technical, but lack pace. I think this will hurt them and Messi, Aguero, and Dybala will race by them into the semis. The last quarterfinal is Germany vs England which is also a more lopsided game. Germany is one of the favorites and is the defending champion going against a very young English side that has not hit their full potential yet. This one goes big to the Germans.

Into the semifinals, the two matchups I picked are France vs Brazil, and Argentina vs Germany. France and Brazil in my mind are the two best teams in this year’s tournament and is the final I wanted to see. Both teams are flooded with talent but only one can move on. France just tied in a friendly to the United States while Brazil has been cruising past every competition they see. One thing I do not like about France is that they do not turn up for the big ones and even though they are great on paper, rarely do they play to that level. Brazil sure does play to their world class standard and they have something to prove after losing embarrassingly to Germany in the last edition of the tournament, they move onto the final. The other semifinal matches Germany up with Argentina in a rematch of the final four years ago. This one could go either way but I think Messi pushes his side through in a close one in a game where they will dominate the Germans in possession and chances. Now we are on to the final, where we have Argentina and Brazil where there are so many storylines at play. The battle for South America, Messi vs Neymar, and Messi’s chase for the title that has always eluded him. For me, it looks like it will elude him once more. This Brazilian side is one of the best squads ever put together in my opinion. To have a Bobby Firmino on the bench who had a world class season for the Reds is mind-blowing, but it goes to show how deep this team is. And with the midfield play of Casemiro, Coutinho and Paulinho, they will just outclass their opponents most of the time, and they will do it in the final 3-1, with Messi netting for Argentina, while Neymar grabs a brace, and our Firmino nets one in the final in Russia. And for all of my Liverpool fans, there is a list of Liverpool players in the World Cup with the countries they are playing for. Up the Reds (in the World Cup)!!!

download

Roberto Firmino (Brazil)

Mo Salah (Egypt)

Trent Alexander-Arnold (England)

Jordan Henderson (England)

Dejan Lovren (Croatia)

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Simon Mignolet (Belgium)

Marko Grujic (Serbia)

JR

Photo from Premium Times Nigeria

Fekir: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Plus Other Transfer News

What a week in the transfer window for Liverpool Football Club, and not in a particularly good way. As I reported last week, the Fekir deal was 99% done, just waiting on the medical from the player and he would finally be ours to keep. This weekend we went through with it, agreed on a fee with Lyon, agreed on a contract with the player to pick his kit number and even let him be interviewed by LFCTV as an introduction to the fans. And then, out of nowhere the deal fell through the table. How??? I think most of us fans are still wondering the same thing. According to rumors and reports, Fekir actually has a serious knee issue that could hinder him in the future if it decides to flare up and cause problems. The club asked for a second opinion which was okayed, and this is where we ran into issues. There are contradicting rumors but either Liverpool immediately dropped out at the sight of the injury or we asked for a lower fee which caused Lyon to halt negotiations. Either way it is pretty gutting to know a real world class talent who wanted to play in a Liverpool shirt will not get to. Unless a deal is made after the World Cup or in the winter transfer period. Everyone knew that Lyon’s president would make a tough deal and always wanted the move to happen after the World Cup so Fekir’s fee could be increased after seeing his talent portrayed on such a big stage. However, I think if Liverpool really want this move, they will make it happen. Much like Coutinho and Barcelona, if a player also wants to leave the club cannot hold them against their will for that long. Furthermore, we will get into the good, the bad and the ugly of this broken down deal. The good part is that we are being careful with our money. We are not putting tens of millions into players that could break down after the summer (much like Daniel Sturridge or Adam Lallana). I do not mind this because a healthy squad always makes for a good squad. Also, I am not completely against waiting for Fekir until January. This is because we already have two new midfielders in Keita and Fabinho. These two really have a chance to be world class and I think Klopp will give them a lot of time to settle in the lineup before playing them week in and week out. I personally feel it will be easier to work two guys in with a Jordan Henderson or a healthy Oxlade-Chamberlain than try to work in three new guys with zero chemistry. But, there is a bad side to this as well. We are missing out on a truly world class talent who could replace the hole Coutinho left gaping in our team. We are in need of a true set-piece specialist as well which Fekir could easily take control of and do wonders at. The ugly blends in with the bad here because the whole transaction was quite “bad” however, it just made our club look stupid and not organized. Not that we are because we are brilliant but for hours last night we were humiliated by the opposing fans for pulling a Liverpool and not making it happen. Our staff will probably have a lot of questions to answer about it this week and hopefully we can still secure Fekir either after the World Cup or during the January window.

Fekir-Liverpool

In other transfer news, Liverpool were linked heavily with a move for Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri. Apparently, we are willing to pay his $12 million release clause from Stoke City, which I think is a deal at its best. Shaqiri has always been sort of a nifty player on the wing with tremendous footwork and an absolute cannon from deep. His presence would not only give us depth up front and in the midfield but also could push our better players like Mane for a spot in the starting XI, and competition in the squad will always create better results. But once again it seems as though we have not made another offer for a goalkeeper. Please Liverpool!!! The one position we are dying for, we have not even made a bid at yet. I know it is early June and we have plenty of time but my nervous self is dying for a worldie keeper. I know that will put our team over the top, it will allow us to win the Premier League, it is the last thing we really need. Sure, another midfielder would be great, especially with the talent of Fekir, but a goalie should be our #1 target. Even before another midfielder, we need another center half as well. Not a shot at Dejan Lovren either, I thought he actually had a good campaign and he plays with a true passion and does love this club which is admirable. But, we are in a spot in Europe’s best where we cannot have shaky defenders against teams like Man City, Juventus, and Real Madrid.

Nevertheless, enough transfer news for a month, it’s onto the World Cup!!! Let’s cheer on Liverpool’s brightest stars shining for their countries in the biggest tournament of them all. Club or country, remember, it’s always Up The Reds!

JR

 

Photos from Pundit Arena

Transfer Market Update: Fabinho In, Fekir 99% Done

Eight days out of losing a Champions League Final to Real Madrid. Usually that is cue for the agonizing pain that comes with losing a cup final. But Reds’ fans around the world are simply buzzing, for good reason too! Liverpool have signed the likes of Monaco star midfielder Fabinho for the next five years. In my opinion this is the kind of move that takes us from an exciting team that scores a lot of fantastic and scintillating goals to an actual title contender. I have not got to see Fabinho play that many times besides in the Champions League but I have watch extensive highlights of him since, and I truly think he can be an influential player in this squad. His tackling ability is out of this world, and for those who did not know he averaged 9.1 tackles in Ligue One this season per game, brilliant. To put that into perspective that is 3 more per game than former PFA player of the year N’Golo Kante. He led the league in overall tackles, as well as passes and aerial duels. This is so influential for our team because with the loss of Emre Can, the squad will be missing that midfield defensive presence. This also might be a way of Klopp starting to lean further away from skipper Jordan Henderson. I do not think any Liverpool fan wants to see that happen, but as our squad becomes stronger we need world class guys in every position. Another reason I think Fabinho will be sensational at Liverpool is that he can serve the ball on a platter from anywhere. He loves the lofted through ball and if that doesn’t absolutely scream Klopp, heavy metal football, and goals for Liverpool next year I am not sure what does. We have seen it somewhat with through balls from Virgil and TAA this past year, but with balls coming from over the top in the midfield it will be so easy to pick out Mo Salah and Sadio Mane and absolutely punish opposing defenses. Not to mention Fabinho turned down a move to Manchester United who fans screamed was his “boyhood club”, but I guess they will have to stick to Fellani and Fred (wink, wink). Another transfer target looking close to being done is for another French sensation, Nabil Fekir. Fekir is going to be the perfect player for this Liverpool scheme. This is what I love about Jurgen Norbert Klopp. He was given a very complex puzzle when he came to Liverpool. Instead of going out and just buying a simpler, easier to put together puzzle, he did it his own way and built the missing pieces. He knew the pieces he had, and what he needed to make his puzzle fit and really be beautiful. This midfield and potential goalkeeper is what I believe to be Klopp’s masterpiece at Liverpool. Fekir is a sensational player to watch, he can dribble, shoot and pass all at world class levels. He also gives us another great set piece specialist, something we have been missing since Phil Coutinho left the club. And to boot, he has the swagger and confidence to fit right in with this squad. I cannot wait for the first time he scores away at Old Trafford and takes his jersey off and shows it to the crowd! Oh! Let’s not forget we also already have Naby Keita who is set to arrive in a month’s time. We made a complete turnover of our midfield and we are barely a week out of losing a Champion’s League Final, it is unbelievable, and I am already buzzing for next year. The even more crazy part is that we might not be done. Supposedly, Klopp has a meeting with Dembele’s mother trying to convince her and her son to make a move from Barcelona to Liverpool, where he would most likely be a super-sub, or fill-in for our front three. I like the thought of this move, but I still think we need another center-half and goalkeeper before we worry more about the offense. Surprisingly, there has been little talk of a new defender for Liverpool, and we all hope that Klopp can pull off another steal like he did last summer with Andy Robertson. Along with the midfield rumors, our goalkeeper rumor mill has been fluctuating all week long with stories from all over Europe. We have been connected with Jan Oblak, Alisson, Donnarumma, and even Courtious from Chelsea. Peronally, I think Alisson has the highest ceiling out of the four and I think he is the best independent keeper which is what we need. I want a keeper who will come in and take the league by storm and really bolster our chances in the league and abroad, not a project. I do like Oblak, but the price tag is quite high. Not that I wouldn’t be absolutely rocked by the move, but I think Alisson is the more cost effective player.

fekir

Now I want to start to digress and talk about how grateful we all should be to be fans and supporters of this club. Other clubs have had deflating seasons, such as Arsenal, United and Chelsea. All are having manager issues and have not made any moves among many criticized players in their squads. We went almost all the way in Europe, and it didn’t take us but 1 week to buy two sensations in our midfield, and hopefully a world class guy between the sticks in the coming weeks. We are showing that we are going to go for it in the coming years, we are back and we are ready to rock under Klopp. He is the guy for the job, and we are the supporters to push the lads on. Watching this come together from being 7th in the league a few years back to now has been such a ride and it is what made me fall in love with this football club over time. Until next time, UP THE MIGHTY REDS.

ALLEZ, ALLEZ, ALLEZ

JR

 

Images from idependant.ie.com

Champions League Final Review, No Number 6 For Liverpool

Champions League Final Review: Gutted. That is the only words I really have for the match. And it is for so many reasons. I am gutted for the fans, the organization, and mostly the players. This squad has utterly poured their hearts on the pitch for us this season. Every single one of them. Don’t look at just this match but at the season as a whole. All of our players have improved and left it all out on that field in Kiev. The part that makes me feel gutted is that we really played quite well throughout the match. We exposed Madrid’s porous defense in the first fifteen minutes of the game with some terrific through passes and runs down the wings. After that, Madrid definitely started to control the midfield with the skill of Kroos and Modric, however, Liverpool remained calm and maintained a consistent amount of chances throughout the fixture. Obviously, the saddest part of the match was Mo Salah coming off. Seeing the tears in his eyes as he knew he would have to leave for the game was absolutely heartbreaking for me and all Liverpool supporters really. Mo was simply an artist at work this season, Anfield was his canvas, and we were his critics. I can ramble on and on about his brilliance or memorable moments from his thrilling Messi-like goal against Spurs or his head shaking celebration to go up 4 to 1 on Man City in the league, he has been superb. This was the biggest match of his life, in front of millions watching and he could not complete it, and he was devastated. Mo Salah loves this football team, and he loves just football. Mo was the last person that deserved to be taken off that pitch in this game, on this stage. Now people are saying he might be questionable for the World Cup as well, and for someone who does this much for football, race and religion on and off the pitch, it really just makes you cringe and want to cry with him.

After Mo was off, the game could have gone very badly for us. Mo most of the time is our spirit and heart, so for him to come off that early in a game that significant was never good. But we are Liverpool Football Club, we are European Royalty. I knew with the talent and players we have that we would not give up, and we didn’t. We stood up to the challenge and sure enough we laid it out there.

Of course, people will point fingers at Loris Karius, he is the obvious man to blame here. But this is where we are a different football club. We do not point fingers, threaten, or talk about selling someone because they had a poor performance, instead, we lift them up and carry them on our shoulders. Why do you think our song is “You’ll Never Walk Alone”? It is a motto often forgotten, but that’s what it means to be a Liverpool player, it means that no matter what we are all family and we will always support each other win or lose, success or failure, and he does not deserve all the blame here whatsoever. We will always win and lose together, and alike players such as Salah, Firmino, and Mane, Karius was there the entire journey and really helped us get to this stage.

The Benzema goal was so flukey it felt so underwhelming that was a goal that helped Real Madrid go past us. Of course, Karius should not have thrown the ball, but it just makes all of us sigh in frustration that that was the breakthrough. Luckily, our Senegalese sensation, pulled through on what seemed to be a brilliant set piece on a corner where Lovren hopped over Ramos for the header into Mane’s foot for the goal. Brilliant tactics here from Klopp on the set piece design. The goal was gritty and showed our determination around goal, also Mane deserved that credit for the season he had in red. However, this celebration was short lived after a wonder goal from Gareth Bale. What a hit. I am not sure if I have ever witnessed a better goal in my entire life. Simply brilliant, nothing our defense could do to stop that from happening whatsoever.

In between we were still getting some decent chances and were really trying to push up the field, it was just so hard against this Madrid side and their tight midfield play. Shortly after, when Mane hit the post I thought to myself that we were back in it, game on, but it was really our last big chance of the night. Madrid kept on pushing down the field and we could not stop it, Karius made a couple of decent saves until he was beaten once again by Bale on a deep shot he simply dropped. Once again, remember he is human. This does not change the fact we need a keeper, because we are world class and deserve one of that talent, but he walks with us and deserves that respect.

That is why this game hurts so much. It felt like we as a group really did not do that much totally wrong. We defended well, remained organized, attacked and took our chances when need be. Between Salah, Karius, and Bale, tonight just was not ours to take. This is hard to swallow because you never know when you will get back onto that stage. It could be next year. Or it could be a decade. But this should not be a peak for Liverpool, this should be a valley. A bump in the road. We are climbing back to the top of European football. We are adding Naby Keita, hopefully a world class goalie, and more midfield players, and our current players are only growing stronger. Mo Salah, Firmino, and Mane are only going to get better. Our offense is only going to get more dominant. We are Liverpool Football Club. We are on the rise to regain our crown, and although tonight did not go in our favor, do not try and step in our way in the coming years, because we are a family not just a football club. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

 

Player Ratings

Loris Karius: 3 out of 10, Simply a poor performance put in by our young German. Sadly, it will haunt his entire career and this season. I did not want to rate him that low, but his mistakes in net were too glaring and important to not take major points off.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 8.5 out of 10, Once again TAA put in a great shift against some of the best attacking players in world football. Furthermore, on offense he pushed up and was getting some good crosses and attempts in himself, and had one chance that really jumped Navas.

Dejan Lovren: 8 out of 10, very solid in the back from Lovren here, won most of the balls in the air and even set up Mane’s goal to level it. Not sure if Lovren wil be in the starting XI next year so hats off to him for his season, and how much criticism he has gone through.

Virgil van Dijk: 8 out of 10, Much like Lovren, had a very solid game, not much went wrong for the Dutchman.

Andy Robertson: 9 out of 10, Great game for Andy Robertson. What a tackle on Ronaldo at the end of the game. Constantly pushing and fighting the opposition all over the field. He is very close to being my man of the match yesterday, a player we must keep going forward.

Gini Wijnaldum: 7.5 out of 10, Really good build up play from Gini in the final, even got some good shots off in the first half.

Jordan Henderson: 6 out of 10, Not a great performance from our captain. He did try and whip the ball around the midfield, he just did not have the killer passing and movement today that he has on most.

James Milner: 8.5 out of 10. The work rate from “boring” James Milner was sublime yesterday. Did not get many chances but gave it his all, and that is all he ever does.

Sadio Mane: 10 out of 10 (MOTM): What a game of class from Sadio, and it was one to be proud of, only if he could look back on it in a better light. He hit the post as well which could have changed the game.

Roberto Firmino: 9 out of 10. Brilliant off the ball movement and passing from the Brazilian once again. His build up play in the beginning of the game was furious and made it look like Liverpool had the edge in the early stages.

Mohammed Salah: 8 out of 10 (30 minutes): Played well in the time he was in, so sad for his injury on that stage.

Subs:

Adam Lallana: 5 out of 10. No impact.

Emre Can: No grade.

JR

Up The Mighty Reds

Welcome! We are six days away from Kiev, so why not start a blog now? This blog represents the best football club in the entire freaking world, whether you are in scouse country, the United States, or Egypt, all are welcome here. To get to know me a little, my name is Josh Ricker. I am from a small town in the United States in the state of Maine. I recently relocated to Portland, Maine to go to school at the University of Southern Maine where I have been studying sports management and marketing. I have been a Liverpool supporter for as long as I can remember watching footy. I was only 7 years old when we lifted #5 in Istanbul, but re-watching it now I felt the passion, emotion and spirit that went into that title run. I really started watching every game when the Reds were took over by Brendan Rodgers. We played some mighty football in those few years but still could not reach the heights that Rafa reached in his terrific tenure as the gaffer. Not entirely sure whether it was the mix of players or the manager, but it just did not click all the way.

That is not the case now however. Under Jurgen Klopp we have been utterly sensational. A different brand of football all around. And we also have continued to prove we do not need a $300 million transfer budget to get it done. Our staff and manager pick the right players and get them for the right price. Liverpool players. Look at Andy Robertson, he has stole the hearts of Scousers everywhere from his hard working runs around the pitch. I still remember when he chased what seemed like all 11 City players around the pitch to force the ball back into their defensive third. Brilliant. Only 8 million pounds and now is the most favored left back in the entire Premier League. Another one is Roberto Firmino, who we bought from Hoffenheim for 29 million pounds. We have never had a #9 player that presses with the determination and will of Bobby, and who also controls much of our offensive play. Aside from his assist count this year, Firmino is sensational at drawing defenders away from the play to open slots for Mane and Salah to run into which sets up many of our goals. It might seem like a stretch to say this with the terrific campaign Mo Salah has enjoyed, but Firmino could be our most influential player. Not to mention he takes the piss out of everyone! Obviously when we are talking about value, you have to bring up the purchases of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane as well. Both were purchased for around 30 million pounds and have had tremendous impacts as Liverpool players. Of course Mo Salah was awarded the PFA Player of the Year award for scoring 40 plus goals this season in all competitions, but Sadio too has improved his statistics from last year netting 19 goals and giving up 8 assists. Together our front three have 90 goals combined and cost us less than $100 million. To show just how brilliant and efficient these three are look at that of Man United. Offensive players such as Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba, and Romelu Lukaku have scored 49 goals combined and have cost their club nearly $200 million.

But it is not just the players. We have a world class coach too. Jurgen has won Liverpool over with his heavy metal style of attacking football that can hit you with three goals in the blink of an eye. He has been criticized for his attacking mindset and not focusing enough on defense, but since Virgil van Dijk’s arrival in the squad Liverpool are tied for 1st in the Premier League in goals allowed. This is improvement and will only get better as following transfer windows near. The gegenpress has also worked magic for Liverpool. Our front three and even our midfield players have fully bought into the pressing system under Jurgen which has made other teams sputter and panic when we close in on them. Not to mention we have players that work hard enough to do so. This system could not work with the likes of Sturridge or Benteke which is why Klopp showed them the door and put his belief in Firmino from the start. He sensed a movement of sorts, and a style this team could play. He was not going into the transfer market looking for world class players. He was looking for potential world class players who would shine in our system. That’s why many of his moves have been criticized and laughed at, but who is laughing now?

We are six days away from Henderson possibly lifting the European Cup in front of thousands of Reds in Kiev. This year we have saw everything. Comebacks, red cards, celebrations, blowouts, but now it is time that we see a trophy. It is what Anfield deserves. And these players want it just as much as the city, I can see that, and I can feel it. Sadio running out to the fans in Rome made me feel it. Trent and Ben Woodburn celebrating with the fans as they screamed “ALLEZ, ALLEZ, ALLEZ” made me feel it. Mo Salah soaking in the Liverpool love as he scored his record breaking goal made me feel it. Jurgen’s passion has made me feel it. I know this team has what it takes to beat Real Madrid, we can beat anyone in the world on our day. If any Liverpool team over the past decade was going to do it, it would be this team under this manager doing what they do best, scoring goals. Personally, I think it will be a high scoring affair that could be decided early in the game as well. I think Liverpool will use the power of the crowd in Kiev to smack Madrid in the face in the beginning of the game and show them they are there to play and not to be pushed around by the kings of Europe. But it is the fans’ responsibility to make sure they carry the team through the game and get them through. Whether we are down 3-0 or up 3-0, we all need to be behind them, around the world. I think if we do our job, the players will do their job on the pitch and make sure Liverpool brings home #6 and the likes of Firmino, Salah, Henderson, and Klopp will be etched into the Kop history books for years on end.

I hope you all enjoyed my first real post. I have wanted to start this for some time, but just never got the time to do so. I want to keep this blog edgy, funny, and light and also talk about topics that the people want to hear about regarding Liverpool and football in general. Next, week I will review the Champion’s League Final, its impact, possible transfer moves for the Reds, and looking forward into next year. So lets keep our fingers crossed because lets be honest guys, we are all sh*ting bricks thinking about these last 90 minutes of the season. Until then ALLEZ, ALLEZ, ALLEZ, and Up the Mighty Reds!!!

JR