Sunday, 2 November 2014

Newcastle 1 Liverpool 0 - Same Problems Hurt The Reds Yet Again

Yesterday, Liverpool visited St.James' Park to play perennial foes Newcastle United in what turned out to be a very disappointing loss and not the first of a very uninspiring season. A single Ayoze Perez goal was enough to settle the difference between two sides but in reality, it could have been much worse for the Reds. The deficiencies in the team were there for all to see except for the man who matters it seems in Brendan Rodgers. While the easy excuse would be to say that Liverpool are missing Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, the problems are way worse than that. What Liverpool are going through now is not a result of losing two individuals. Brendan Rodgers and the team in general seem to be hiding behind this excuse to mask their poor play. So what can these problems be?

A wise man once said that insanity is doing the same things over an over again and expecting different results and by that definition Brendan Rodgers is indeed insane. But we all know that Rodgers cannot be insane because he is the same man who brought Liverpool to the closest it has ever been to the elusive title. So what is going on? Well, first, Brendan Rodgers has to realise that Liverpool cannot revolve with only one lone man up top. Mario Balotelli is too static in his style to create chances on his own like Suarez did but for some obscure reason, Rodgers is still persisting with it. There have been no signs of positivity or improvement when Liverpool have been playing that system so why persist with it? Every time Liverpool have played with two strikers, they have looked their old selves. Be it Sturridge and Balotelli at Tottenham, Lambert and Balotelli at Hull or Borini and Balotelli at Swansea. Whoever the individuals are, the simple fact is that Liverpool play better when having two up front to lead the line.

The next problem lies with Rodgers' teams selection in general. Liverpool have only played their strongest team on form in only one of the Premier League matches( Tottenham away). In the other games, there have simply been glaring weaknesses in the team lineup. There has been no game where the fans have felt that the lineup is the one that will pickup the points in contrast to last season where fans knew that the team had the game won from the lineup itself. This poor team selection and negligence of better and more pertinent players is simply unacceptable. In crucial games, these kinds of liberties can simply not be taken . There is not way Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique get into that team. But, time and time again they get into the team and there is no justification for this. Joe Allen has his qualities but mainly they are defensive ones and he should be used in games where the team will be on the back foot and composure is needed. In games like the one against Newcastle where Liverpool is expected to lead the attack, Joe Allen should not play as he lowers the team's speed which has been at slower than a snail's at points in the season.

Then comes the much debated and in reality ridiculed defence. Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren are never on the same page and look clueless when on the ball. They just keep on passing to each other and back to Simon Mignolet and spoil any chance of counter attacks. They are so weak as well. Whenever faced with a physical presence, the defenders always seem to fold. The prime case is that of Moussa Sissoko who easily tore past the defence like it was not even there. Another thing is that they cannot even clear a ball 10 yards properly. Needless to say that it is unacceptable and has to be changed. Mamadou Sakho has his critics but him and Lovren seem to have much better communication and the quicker they are back to playing together, the better. The defending of set pieces should not even be asked. Liverpool look so vulnerable to set pieces that a single ball floated into the box is like a bomb like against QPR where it seemed like the bottom team could score at will.

In my opinion, these are the three underlying problems in the Liverpool team right now. But, I think that the main origin of these problems have something to do with backstage politics. As said before, Brendan Rodgers is not a bad manager so the fact that the team is suffering from such basic problems is all the more baffling. The simple solution would be to just fix these problems but there is no guarantee given how low the team is on confidence. But even though there is no guarantee, fixing the problems will at least mitigate the damage and could at least improve the level of performance even though the results might not come. 

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