Match Preview GW 34
Liverpool got tangled in another thriller over the weekend in a game where the scoreline fails to tell the story. If not for a rather comfortable 2-0 victory against Porto in the Champions League, nerves might be higher for the next challenge. It was a welcome palate cleanser from the tension but it’ll be back to business come Sunday.
Meanwhile, opposing fans have littered the internet with recalls of the Gerrard sl** against Chelsea in our last title run in. It is a cheap ploy to disrupt our challenge by placing an extra grain of anxiety in the Anfield crowd.
It pains me to say, but it’s effective. Researching for this piece I couldn’t help but get the butterfly in the pit of my stomach. A feeling that only working so hard to be so close just to have it ripped apart in the cruelest way can create.
I debated even speaking about it out of fear of bringing negativity on ourselves. However, we must prepare for the harsh chants come Sunday. The shit show of a season Chelsea has provided their fans will undoubtedly leave them wanting to destroy someone else’s season as well. Supporters in the stands must be louder and more confident, like we deservedly have been all season. Keep these in mind when you feel the pressure:
- Liverpool no longer has a defense inches away from a diabolical pass.
- We no longer field a goalie completely incapable of stopping a breakaway situation.
- The offense has shown the tools to break down packed defenses.
- Klopp’s midfield have the confidence to stroke the ball around until they find gaps.
- We are more patient and more mature in our approach and don’t panic like we used to.
Same Team Different Form
The last point of relief is this is a completely different Chelsea we played in September. If supporters can remember that far back, Chelsea was on blistering pace in Game Week 7. They had won 5 of their opening 6, and tied the other. They remained one of only three sides still unbeaten at that point (Liverpool and City being the others). Still, we must not underestimate the Blues as they are quite capable of dismantling teams on their day. Win the game for Gerrard as it will put a big nail in our past failures. I imagine he’ll be the happiest Koppite in the World if we collect all three. FOR GERRARD!!!!
For a complete pre-match report see Hooch’s article Liverpool VS Chelsea
Word on the Street
Naby Keita, Hot or Not?
With two goals inside a week, Naby finally looks the offensive threat we spent the money and the time waiting for. His tenacious performance earned him man of the match at Anfield and not a single message board disagreed. Naby showed the skilled link up play and creative ability the midfield has been dying for this season. This leaves Liverpudlian faithful hungry for more of the same during our run in.
The midfield choices Klopp has fielded this season have varied widely due to availability. Ironically, with the squad at full health, it appears the go-to three is nailed down. With Fabinho coming into his own over winter, and Henderson thriving in his freedom role, Keita’s recent performance might be the lynch pin that propels the team to unfathomable heights. His ability to sniff out counter attacks high up the field caught a lot of supporter’s attentions Tuesday night. One mentioned on Twitter that he “confirmed that Liverpool’s number eight is in-fact, the guy he watched in hype videos”. The most mouth-watering aspect though was his ability to link up the midfield with the front three as well as make his own dangerous runs into space. Time and time again this overloaded the opposition’s defense and wrecked havoc. More of this please Keita!
Captain and Coach
Henderson may be a player that forever brings verbal blows to the factions of supporters but his relationship with Klopp is exactly what is required for success. It was revealed that Hendo sat down with Klopp and discussed putting him back into his natural role. He told the media he felt confident to approach the Gaffer after Fabinho slotted into the system. It was a mature move, and one that supporter’s respected across social media. The captain may be faulted for playing too conservative at times, but no one can argue his dedication to the “Team First” mentality. During the previous matches it is obvious that Henderson offers us more in an attacking role, but he was determined to play whatever role Klopp, and the team, needed him in.
Message boards and comment sections lit up with praise and confidence in our number 14. Especially prevalent, were comments regarding the relationship between our captain and our manager. This should not be taken lightly as the link between the manager’s ideas and the players response is directly related to the captain. He is the voice that has to communicate the player’s feelings and sell the manager’s tactics. The fluidity of Liverpool’s internal system, breeds confidence in the fan base, and re-enforces the belief that we’re building something special.
In addition, Klopp’s sincerity in his post-match press conference on the previous matter speaks volumes for his character. The Gaffer avoided sugar-coating the issue and bravely apologized for playing his skipper out of his comfort zone for so long. Immediately, Koppites demonstrated their support and admiration for him across platforms. It is another feather in his cap (which is slowly turning into a war chief headdress) as the messiah for Liverpool Football Club. With two politically incorrect references in one sentence, we will move on.
All Hands to Defense!
Liverpool still has so much to play for in the next few weeks, but it hasn’t stopped the media. With the end of the season nearing, they can’t help themselves with transfer buzz. Over the last week several names have emerged as potential targets for the club to pursue. Supporters, looking for some relief from the anxiety of the EPL race, are debating the needs and wants of the current team. Three players recently mentioned are Ajax’s Neres, Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi, and Fulham’s Sessegnon. Judging from Twitter feeds most Reds are confident in the current squad and appear to be interested in strengthening our depth this off season. The targets desired are cheap, young, adaptable players we can mold into playing an auxiliary role. Many are using age, injury proneness, and individual demands to determine the best fit. It’s the one time a year everyone becomes a transfer expert.
An early issue giving supporters a moan, is the lack of defensive players we’re being linked with. These camps argue that if the club is facing multiple injuries on the defensive side, we do not have the personnel to fill the gaps. Our recent troubles in this department should be evidence that support is definitely required if we plan on challenging in four competitions next season. An injury to two key defenders and Milner is having to fill in. While Milner is the ultra-professional, this option should be a last resort and not a first move as it is now. His advancing age and make-shift skill in a deeper role are weaknesses that will eventually be exposed. This leads me to my next point.
Letting Clyne Go
Despite having only dropped 5 points in the 16 games he’s been away, we missed him. Even though we only allowed 13 goals in that time, some supporters considered the Clyne loan to be a big mistake. The debate resurfaced this week after an article about his certain move away from the club in the summer. Immediately, Liverpudlians went back and forth about the controversial decision in January to loan out our only natural replacement at Right-Back.
It appears we’ve weathered the majority of the second half without him, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. The move almost immediately back-fired as Trent Alexander-Arnold was injured at Brighton. Unbelievably, Clyne had only just left eight days earlier. Panic ensued and fans erupted on social media over the lunacy of the issue. The situation nearly escalated to civil war after a nervy Palace game followed by dropping vital points to Leicester and West Ham back-to-back.
Thankfully, after both our form and TAA returned, the dust settled on the issue. Reds accepted that the move was forced by the player rather than the club and we returned to peace. Remember though, Klopp does not stand poor attitude; it’s a cancer he stamps out immediately. He did it with Sakho in his first year and didn’t hesitate to ship Coutinho off last year despite his world-class skill. A second choice right-back never stood a chance, goodbye! Regardless, the article resurrected some of these ill feelings, and many supporters are labeling this as a reason we can list if we fail to lift silverware this season.
What do you think? Let me know. Have your say below.