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Nov 282012

article 2239492 14486349000005DC 655 468x420 Roger Espinoza Leaving Sporting Kansas CityThe relationship is over and the Honduran international is going to be headed overseas unless the work permit doesn’t go through.

So looking back what has Espinoza brought to Sporting Kansas City?

Well, since he was drafted in the 2008 MLS Super Draft his progress changed quite a bit.

Until Peter Vermes put him in the middle of the field Espinoza was playing everything from the wing to fullback and nothing seemed to be the right fit.

Now he is a dominating presence in the midfield and has excelled at not just the club level but the international level as well.

With his performance at this summer’s Olympics he made a reputation for himself and he rather excelled after returning and now is looking to be joining Wigan Athletic of the English Premier League on a free transfer in January.

Adios Roger. And Best of luck.

Nov 272012

Manchester United 3-1 Queens Park Rangers
64360774 darren fletcher getty TRa Sparky!More nail-biting thrills and white knuckle theatrics are beginning to turn this year’s Manchester United defensive soap opera into possibly the club’s greatest drama ever. Since the beginning of the Premier League United fans have thrilled to the Cantona karate kick. The treble. The celebrity era of David Beckham avec entourage and his sale to Real Madrid. The sticky end of Roy Keane. The shocking sale of Jaap Staam. The training ground war between Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo, which led to, first, the exit of RVP; but, inevitably, the sale of Ronnie to Real Madrid. There is more. Too much more to go over in the here and now. Yet the one we have now, even though the problem is sort of abstract and involves far more than one or two players could turn out to be more circuitous, scandalous and full of oo-ah than a DVD boxed-set of Coronation Street shenanigans.

Before the game, the press did some phony hand-wringing about the sad fate of United’s ex-striker, Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes, fired after collecting only four points since the beginning of the season by Q.P.R. Shed no crocodile tars for this perfidious prevaricator. Having repeatedly failed to undermine the Gaffer as boss of our Abu Dhabian crosstown rent boy rivals, Manchester City before getting fired, Sparky quit on Fulham–a club he was certain ‘had no real future,’ at the behest of his Persian hustler agent Kia Joorabchian. Having wasted  Q.P.R.’s billionaire owner Tony Fernandes’ money, the sack was inevitable foe Sparky. Spending the rest of his lfe coaching the Welsh natonal team now seems apt; well, short of a spot managing in Dubai!

Anyway, to be sure, United’s defense has been as porous as a rice paper colander all season. In match after match the pattern has been set. United begin the game abysmally, fall behind 1-0 or 2-0, pull their socks up, usually late into the second half, and begin a comeback. Our brilliant front line of Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck or Javíer ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez usually arrives like the cavalry and saves us. Well, there were a couple of occasions, against Spurs and Norwich City, when the blueprint didn’t work, but the fact that we’re at the top of the league by two points must count for something! This time, having been more or less dreadful for app. 62 minutes, United exploded into passionate action for ten marvelous minutes before returning to a state of vegetation. Indeed, had Rangers’ caretaker manager Mark Bowen not chosen to bring on Anton Ferdinand for Armand Traoré this comeback might not have flourished for the ten minutes it did.

For Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps still basking in the joy of having a statue dedicated in his honor on the day before the match, it was a day for a Stoic With Paul Scholes usually dexterous sense of synchronicity way off, he was an angry firecracker, missing with too many passes and seemingly bound and determined to cull a yellow card from an empathetic referee after at least half a dozen dangerously mistimed tackles. Time is clearly catching up with both Scholes and his longtime colleague Ryan Giggs. Had Jamie Mackie not scored in the 52nd minute and then Scholes not committed a foul born of frustration following it, Ferguson might not have brought on Anderson which altered the match completely. Conjecture is weird, isn’t it?

“We have to be concerned at the number of times we are giving teams leads,” Ferguson said. “Though you have to say we fought back with great determination. For 15 minutes we were terrific, but that was all. For the rest of the game we were lethargic, a bit careless with our passing, and the game was slow. We’re better than that, as we were finally able to show. Once we started to play there was no question who was going to win.”

The first half was a plain dreadful. The soul glimmer of light early on was Jamie Mackie run onto a sweet Djibril Cisse cross that he was very unlucky to be judged offside upon. after heading past a stranded Anders Lindegaard. Lethargic throughout, United looked like a jaded team who wanted to go behind, just for the sheer kick of it. Woeful, United have never looked as flat as they were at Old Trafford on Saturday  since the dull dull days of the late, but little lamented, Dave Sexton.

Neither a bored Ashley Young nor Danny Welbeck could make it out from behind Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Scholes, Young, Welbeck and Rooney made attempts at a slovenly Julio Cesar (another aging master whose reflexes appear to have slipped). It was simply more of the same in the second half. Five minutes in, Rangers won a rare corner and a Kieron Dyer shot was only softly finger tipped away by a slow Anders Lindegaard, and an unmarked Mackie was a waiting by the goal line to push the loose ball in

Wasting no more time, Ferguson brought on Anderson and Javíer Hernández in place of Scholes and Young. The game wastransformed immediately, with Welbeck heading down a high twisting Rooney corner which Evans calmly nodded home. Five minutes later, it was bang! bang! Ronnie’s next corner was an exquisitely hit bit of business for Darren Fletcher to hammer home with his head from the six-yard line. Then, three minutes after that, the stadium went into Theater of Dreams-mode as Fergie’s two subs combined. Substitute Javíer Hernández then ensured a United victory, racing at a high canter on to a through ball from Anderson and completely fooling a clumsy Julio Cesar before firing home.

“We only played for 10 minutes and those 10 minutes were brilliant. The crowd got up and I thought Anderson changed the game for us,” Fergie said after the match. “We expected an improved performance from Q.P.R., it always happens when a side loses their manager. They fought very hard and had some good counterattack play.

Congratulations are in order for Darren Fletcher for his full return to the Premier League. Yet despite some fine tackling and linkup play, the Scotland captain still shows the same gut-wrenching tendency that led to Sir Alex Ferguson’s fatal in-house fight with Captain Roy Keane seven seasons ago. His repeated habit, that of recovering the ball with fine footwork followed by a panic attack as he takes a single touch and then repeatedly passes to the opposition, must stop. And although the back four tend to make an equal number of mistakes, Fletcher’s job as defensive fulcrum does not allow for the same number of mistakes to take place. Will a consistent Darren Fletcher please step forward?

Nov 082012

On a chilly night at Livestrong Sporting Park Sporting Kansas City found themselves winners in the night’s match yet not progress to the MLS Eastern Conference Finals as they were eliminated from the MLS Playoffs for the second consecutive season by the Houston Dynamo.

A disappointed team was venerated by the words of their coach Peter Vermes,”We did everything we could out there” and by those of the fans on the call-in radio show “The Final Whistle” on the local sport radio station voice of Sporting KC Sports Radio 810 WHB.

As the game fades into a look of what the team has done all season it comes down to the fact that Sporting Kansas City has the need of a proven goal scorer up top.

Stats back up the fact that while out shooting the opposition usually means that you would outscore the opposition the rate of conversion is too poor to overlook this point.

In the final match of the MLS season for Sporting KC only one goal was scored from  20 shots.  To say the least there is room for improvement over the off-season.

With injuries forcing out Paulo Nagamura and Julio Cesar a midfield of Roger Espinoza, Peterson Joseph, and Oriol Rosell graced the pitch at Livestrong which provided interesting results.

Espinoza had a real tough day at Houston on Sunday as he came back from a month out of action via injury. Thursday night he had a much better night as he tirelessly worked to earn back the ball for Sporting. Regardless of the positives he provided it was observed that his time out injured had disrupted his rhythm and with no word on a contract extension it can be expected that Espinoza has donned the Sporting shirt for the final time.

The brightest element for Sporting on a tough night was the impressive play by Spanish midfielder Rosell. Regardless with what he was asked to do he performed exceedingly well for a player who has seen limited playing time since arriving to Kansas City at the very end of the transfer window.

Going forward Sporting will look to add depth via the draft and  the transfer market knowing that they will need a few more players so as to be able to take on the CONCACAF Champions League in addition to defending the US Open Cup crown and regular MLS play.

It is time to go to the drawing board and figure out who needs to go.

Oct 302012

C h e l s e a 2 -3 M a n c h e s t e r U n i t e d
Manchester Uniteds Javier 008 A Crazy One At Stamford Bridge!This was one crazy classic of a game at Stamford Bridge. To say it was controversial would be a massive understatement. And although Chelsea had their clerks and solicitors up all night, ready to file a sackful of grievances when the F.A. opened for business on Monday morning, there was a kind of innate Chelsea fatigue growing among fans of the English game throughout the world on the blogs. Along with love for the beautiful game often played here at its very highest performance level fans are disgusted vis-à-vis Chelsea being a collective group of drama queens who take being bad losers to the penultimate point of perceived no return. The match was, nevertheless, a marvelous entertainment that will be long remembered. Its referee Mark Clattenburg, who has been a magnet for criticism often in the past, may have been instrumental in the wanton self-destruction of his own career after this great, eccentric match is replayed again and again by the fans, a gloating media and at least one angry club. Yet, it was, all of it, a shame because, above all, it was a brilliant match played at the highest level by two great teams with a sense of abandon and beauty that often took our collective breath away. Not to mention Manchester United’s first league win at Stamford Bridge for a decade.

The pre-match hype had been enormous. With Chelsea unbeaten and Manchester United simultaneously playing its worst defense since the days of Tommy Docherty and relegation while also playing some of its best attacking football since the treble year of 1998-99, the bookies and the pundits were in the pink taking bets for and against Fergie’s bipolar United. So who would have expected United to take a 0-2 lead within the first twelve minutes and then Chelsea to fight back to a 2-2 tie before Clattenburg handed out red cards to both a deserving Bronislav Ivanovic in the 63rd minute and, shortly after, a perhaps less deserving Fernando Torres for simulation six minutes later? The upshot of a second yellow card for Torres, who is, admittedly, one of the poorer divers in the Premier League, was perhaps the culmination of many seasons of frustration Clattenburg and his refereeing colleagues have often felt about Torres. Clattenburg’s timing and judgment, however, in the midst of a brilliant, thrilling match, seem to point to his owning massive ego on a par with the players.

Down to nine men, Chelsea’s boss, Roberto Di Matteo had every right to be aggrieved about the previous series of events which lead to United’s decisive and of course controversial winning goal. in the 75th minute Javíer Hernández was definitely in an offside position when Rafael da Silva took an awkward shot. Back and forth and in and out of an offside position, the Mexican striker was onside at the moment Rafael’s shot fooled Chelsea’s goalkeeper Petr Cech as he reached out to  stab the loose ball home.  Having watched the goal a half dozen times, it’s certain that Hernandez was onside  when he actually scored, but twice offside in the moments leading up to it. And so United nicked one away and Chelsea’s unbeaten start was kaput.

At any rate, it was a pulsating brilliant match which United began brilliantly with Valencia’s line hugging runs down the right flank impossible for Chelsea’s veteran left back Ashley Cole to cope with. Ashley Young, starting his first game since August, was prominently involved on the other flank and far more contained than he’s previously been with United previously. Ably assisted by Wayne Rooney, who left no blade of grass untrammeled, the two wingers repeatedly helped set up a brilliant unmarkable Robin Van Persie. Thus, after only three frantic minutes, Rooney broke on the right, fed Van Persie and the brilliant Dutchman’s right-foot shot rattled the post before bouncing off the manic David Luiz into the net.

Vulnerable down the left, Sir Alex Ferguson altered what has been a diamond formation to a more traditional 4-4-2 because Chelsea’s left-wide Eden Hazard kept moving into a more central positioning leaving Ashley Cole all alone and exposed to Rafael and Valencia. Thus, eight minutes later, Rafael steamed past Hazard, flicking to Valencia who had oodles of time time to cross for an exquisite Robin van Persie finish. Two up, United played their best football for the next ten minutes since the 2007-08 season.

For the opening half an hour it was difficult to think United had been more impressive at any other point this season. Yet it all started to come undone just two minutes before half-time as Rooney hacked at Eden Hazard’s ankles just outside the box. Juan Mata, Chelsea’s free-kick specialist then fired off a brilliant left-foot shot into the top corner that United’s goalie David De Gea missed by a fraction of an inch.

At 1-2, at home, Chelsea came out for the second half completely revitalized. Retaining the ball more consistently, Mata took over with the high octane assistance of Hazard and Oscar. David de Gea, United’s goalkeeper, made five fine saves, doing particularly well to keep out a Torres header while. a clumsy but brave Evans turned a cross off his own post and Rooney booted away a Gary Cahill header. Wave after wave of Chelsea attacks kept United on the brink of a tie and then, 53 minutes in, the hummingbird-like Oscar stole the ball away from a sloppy Cleverley before passing high across the penalty area for Ramires to head past De Gea.

Yet the incidents which followed the match being tied score seem inevitable in retrospect. There ought to be no dispute about the validity of the first dismissal as Bronislav Ivanovic clipped Ashley Young’s heels as the forward ran clear on goal. This is especially valid considering the patient early warnings the garrulous Clattenburg had given the Serb after over-the-top fouls on Rooney and Cleverley. The first booking for Torres should have been for his two-footed De Jongesque karate kick on Tom Cleverley early on. Instead it came a minute after Juan Mata’s superb free-kick had put Chelsea back into the game, Yet it seemed harsh that Clattenburg decided Torres had been trying to deceive him when the Spaniard ‘flew’ past Jonny Evans. The replays showed there had been a slight touch , so when Clattenburg reached for his pocket, every one thought a yellow card would have gone to Evans. Instead it was a second yellow card for Torres and, after that, it was not particularly surprising the away side took advantage of their extra numbers.

A great win for United, as well as what was their best first-half in years. Only a point back behind Chelsea now and tied with Manchester City, United are surely feeling good. Hopefully, despite Chelsea’s rage at Clattenburg, the fact that it was a fantastic game of football should not escape us. Unfortunately, Mr. Clattenburg, like his refereeing colleague, Howard Webb, owns the kind of personality that demands attention. However the explosive charges of racism leveled by Chelsea’s Obi Mikal Jon play out–this is not the first incident of this type he has been involved in –the quality of the game itself must not be forgotten!
Sir Alex Ferguson 002 A Crazy One At Stamford Bridge!

Oct 202012
Sporting kc v opposition

Sporting kc v opposition Sporting Can Secure Eastern ConferenceFact is that against the Eastern Conference teams are more needing every point possible for the best possible spot for the playoffs, and that is where Sporting KC stand currently.

At the top of the Eastern Conference with only three points and a good goal difference is where Sporting Kansas City currently reside with the rival Chicago Fire with an outside chance of gaining the top of the East. Only one point needed and the East is theirs.

Once again Sporting face the New York Red Bulls who are on paper one of the most talented squads but one side that Sporting KC have had very good success against over the last few years.

While the pressure that Sporting is under is mostly self-implaced, the pressure on the opposition is what is really telling and will have a certain impact on this match.

With the glamor of the club playing in New York City and the heightened media presence surrounding the team and the fact that they have constantly failed to live up to expectations.

That will be a telling bit on how this act plays out as both teams look to cement their position in the Eastern Conference playoff scene.

Prediction: this could go either way, I predict a draw here

Oct 092012

SportingkcGFTPod 300x224 Tuesday TheoriesTwo points lost in a gap of three feet

Entering Crew Stadium in Columbus on Sunday Sporting has the unique opportunity to follow the NFL Kansas City Chiefs but unlike the woeful Chumps a victory seemed like a real possible outcome.

CJ Sapong scored within the first ten minutes and the team continued to push forward taunting the home side to push all forward knowing that they had the players to score on the counter attack.

Seemed that Sporting was a lock to win as the game entered stoppage time of the second half when a blunder by keeper Jimmy Nielsen had on a Eddie Gaven header to the bottom corner of the goal that Nielsen was a mere three feet from and yet the ball slipped through to equalize for Columbus.

International Call-Ups

With the injury to Roger Espinoza he will not be joining Honduras who are currently in danger of not progressing to the next stage of World Cup Qualifying.

Kei Kamara will be jet-setting to Tunisia and meet up with his fellow countrymen as Sierra Leone has their decisive 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifier on October 13. Win and they progress to their first international tournament.

Stateside Graham Zusi has been called up for the USMNT as they look to progress to the next round of World Cup qualifying with a road fixture in Antigua and Barbuda on October 12 and the final home fixture against Guatemala at Livestrong Sporting Park on October 16.

Espinoza Out of Action

The Honduran international midfielder, who has received interest from foreign teams, is going to be out of commission for two to four weeks with a right ankle sprain sustained Sunday in action against Columbus.

There will no longer be an international call up from Honduras and when the MLS Playoffs get underway is when Espinoza can be expected to return.

If he makes a quicker return from injury I counsel keeping him off the field until the playoffs regardless if he would be ready for either of Sporting Kansas City’s two remaining fixtures at New York and home against Philadelphia.

Oct 072012

 Sporting have Chance to Win East

Sporting may not have a legitimate chance to win the Supporters Shield but that is okay as they have the chance, with dispatching the Columbus Crew, to seal up the Eastern Conference today in the Ohio capital.

Throughout the 2012 season Sporting Kansas City has been hell bent on topping their achievement of finishing top of the East and reaching the Conference Final last season and have given it a brilliant go.

So far the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has been won, in a brilliant atmosphere at Livestrong Sporting Park against the reigning champions, and Kansas City has been at the top or very close of the East all season and still have a vanishing hope of gaining the Supporters Shield.

Most fans will be so far satisfied due to the fact that Sporting has been the one bright spot of professional sports in the Kansas City landscape that contains a bad MLB Royals team devoid of a playoff appearance since 1985 and a woeful NFL Chiefs team that plays in the WORST division in the league and still look like cannon fodder.

That aside Sporting have a good recent history against the Crew and that will be all that is needed as they enter Crew Stadium and with the experience of coming in and coming away with the win means it can happen again.

And it will.

Enough said.

Prediction: 2-0 Sporting in dominating fashion

Sep 282012

Sporting kc v opposition1 300x183 Sporting have a Chance To Secure Playoffs against rival ChicagoIn the long run for the MLS Supporters Shield, the only guarantee of hosting the MLS Cup Final under the new rules, the chances of making it are fading fast there can be a small redeeming factor in the beating of Kansas City’s rival Chicago.

Since 2007 Sporting has yet to defeat the Fire at home and that is a stain on a team’s reputation that says they to dominate the Eastern Conference. They seem to be a bogey team and they are looking to made the playoffs as well.

Out of the game are Teal Bunbury and Jacob Peterson due to injury and suspension respectively though a crucial member of the Fire’s line-up has cross the Atlantic since the last fixture, Guatemalan international Marco Pappa, who has joined Heerenveen of the Eredivisie.

Chicago has recently signed Guillermo Franco on a free transfer from Pachuca. While 35 he still has quality, though not of the always welcomed goal scoring kind. If he plays then Sporting will need their top Frenchman defender Aurelien Collin to take him head on.

Aside from players getting engaged, congrats Aurelien on that, Sporting entered their two game road trip with great anxiety but came away with four well deserved points against two teams in New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact who are deeply involved in pushing for the playoffs.

The points gained will be crucial in this all important home fixture.  Currently Chicago sits a mere two points behind Sporting KC with a game in hand.  Talk about danger zone at Livestrong.

Not a good situation for Peter Vermes to be in.

Tonight is a must win so as to seal playoff spot and putting more distance between Sporting and the chasing teams.

Prediction: 1-0 Sporting off a Graham Zusi free-kick

Sep 252012

images2 Somebody Please Bring Me My Vomit BagSentimentality is the emotional promiscuity of those who have no sentiment.
———Norman Mailer
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United
In all earnestness and sincerity, in spite of all those who insist that these are the halcyon days of football. I am sick all the way up to my gag reflex of the tie-in between football and media. All the über-clichéd rhetoric about the wickedness of racism and the penchant of FIFA, EUFA, the EPL, et al,  for allowing the likes of Lazio’s fans and owners along with players like Luîs Suarez and J.T. to take their slap on the wrist, shed some crocodile tears and carry on with the same ol’ same ol’. This weekend United fans had to swim in a barrel of treacle syrup and sentimental tears. bearing mute witness as  millions did their duty and wept for the 96 dead of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Watched by banks of closed circuit cameras and an army of plainclothes and uniform policemen and obnoxious ushers, even the Yobbo dregs bit their tongues and held themselves in check on pain of lifetime bans from Anfield and Old Trafford. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, per sé, but the glib, garrulous rubbish about the love of the game, civilization, the marrow-deep decency of your average Briton on the street and the almost comedic presentation of Our beloved Sir Alex Ferguson, as a sort of cuddly, ruddy uncle riding an equally munificent Brendan Rodgers on his knee had me reaching for a receptacle to vomit in.

Watching that bucktoothed devious Uruguayan git, Luís Suarez, look everywhere but in to the eyes of his nemesis Patrice Evra while they shook hands was sort of interesting, I suppose. Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton then presented flowers to Liverpool’s record goal scorer Ian Rush as opposing captains Gerrard and Ryan Giggs released 96 red balloons in memory of those who lost their lives. What all this teaches our kids–that insincerity is always rewarded and that pluralistic public behavior must be censored at all costs–gave my youngest son and I lots of passionate ammunition to discuss in passionate depth that evening.

At any rate, a late, great Robin van Persie penalty gave Manchester United a sweet, telling victory over a bad Liverpool side that turned out to be even more poor than our own. On a pathetic afternoon at Anfield, one that aimed for poignancy, der realpolitik won out, thank God, and, yes, the good guys in the white shirts won!

After an hour of prayer and singing for the real Hillsborough victims, the Red Scouser masses of the Kop wept their crocodile tears and endlessly repeated ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as if it was a kind of romantic gotterdammerung. Victimhood? Liverpudlians? How wonderful it would have been had they all collectively committed suicide by drinking poisoned Vimto or a ceremony of collective seppuku, on their knees, disemboweling themselves while United fans stood by with samurai sword in hand, ready to decapitate them and finally send them to their self-pitying valhalla. Yes Scousers: We’ll all be equal once we’re dead!

As usual, it was a mostly boring, mediocre match. Nerves always get to the players on both sides and when Liverpool were reduced to ten men just before half time when the donkey-brained Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for a hard, double studs-up foul on United defender Jonny Evans, it became clear that a poor, disjointed United team might steal one. Yet, when the second half began, Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard had other ideas, volleying them into the lead.

Absolutely dreadful in the first half, with Giggs and Kagawa clearly clueless against a superior Liverpool midfield, United were still barely in the game for the second half until the metronomic, commanding Paul Scholes stepped into the fray and waved his magic ginger wand. And five minutes after falling behind, Rafael Da Silva, one of the few United players who did not seem overawed by the occasion, scored a brilliant equalizer after jinking his way into a packed Liverpool box before firing home.

I sort of felt sorry for Brendan Rodgers. Still without a league win after five games and now mired in the P.L. bottom three, his side lack ruthlessness in the box. Despite dominating  possession, United, minus central defensive kingpin Nemanja Vidic, were still too much to deal with for Luís Suarez and Fabio Borini. Why Suarez, a brilliant flair player with exquisite technical skills would rather repeatedly swan dive than try honest scoring is beyond even many Liverpool fans. Suffice to say, both Suarez and his ultra-emotional teammate Jonjo Shelvey were each repeatedly warned by the referee, Mark Halsey, for bad behavior; so that when Shelvey lunged carelessly at Evans, and Evans required  treatment, Halsey had no compunction about sending him off.

Rodgers brought on Suso for Borini at the start of the second half and he and Johnson played a nice give-and-go on the wing to set up Gerrard’s awesome left-footed volley past Anders Lindegaard in front of an ecstatic Kop. But just six minutes later, Shinji Kagawa chested down a sweet Valencia cross into the path of Rafael. who. after a pretty run, curved a superb finish beyond a diving Pepe Reina.

Then, Lindegaard, who is locked in competition for the number one goal keeping position at United with David De Gea, made two fine saves from Suarez and Suso. Then, while a segment of the Kop let loose a quick hit-and-run chanted burst concerning us ‘Munichs,’ completely against the run of play, United caught yet another jammy break. As Luís Antonio Valencia stole a loose ball away from in between a tired Agger and Johnson, the pair collided. The Ecuadorian winger then set off down the right flank as if he had Usain Bolt whispering sweet-nothings in his ear. His sprint only ceasing when the embarrassed Johnson caught up and gave the winger a light push while attempting to recover. With Agger stretchered off after the collision, United’s veteran striker, Robin Van Persie, waited patiently for six minutes, before finally converting his spot kick.

After Martin Kelly left the field injured also, Liverpool were rudderless. Having won at Anfield for the first time in five years, United will surely count themselves as being fortunate. Brendan Rodgers surely felt hard done by, but, in the long run, with so many United players like Nani, Kagawa, Van Persie, Evra and Carrick putting in indifferent performances yet again, the future bodes better in the short run now that Liverpool’s more difficult early fixtures are out of the way. The Gaffer can look no further than next week and the power of Andrés Villas-Boas’ Tottenham Hotspur and hanging in there well enough to reach the January transfer window.

Suarez Stays, Carroll Stays

 Posted by on August 8, 2012 at 5:23 am  EPL, From the GFT Blogs, Liverpool
Aug 082012

Luis Suarez has signed a new contract, thus ending speculation (for now) about a move away from Anfield for the often polarizing forward.

So what does this mean?
I found myself asking that question constantly throughout the day. On the one hand, I despise Suarez for his actions in South Africa as well as the Patrice Evra racial saga. There’s a reason this guy is always in the spotlight.
But he also proved to be the only reliable goal scorer on this team last season. He’s going to have to pick up where he left off, because the immediate future does not look very bright in terms of offensive firepower. For all my issues with Suarez off the field, he’s quite good on it. He has a nose for goal and when he’s not hitting the post, he’s usually on point with his shooting. He’s exactly what Liverpool need right now, especially if Daniel Agger is about to depart.
So where will he fit in with Brendan Rodgers’ 4-3-3? Suarez has some experience playing on the wing in a 4-3-3 system and he’s not physically imposing enough to spearhead the “trident”. It seems that duty will fall to Andy Carroll now that he has reiterated his desire to play for Liverpool after turning down an offer from West Ham United. Suarez is probably a pretty natural fit on the wing and Rodgers is quite adamant about the 4-3-3 so it seems the current lineup will look something like this…
Johnson – Skrtel – Carragher – Enrique
Lucas – Gerrard – Adam/Henderson
Suarez – Carroll – Downing/Cole
Not a terrible lineup, especially if Carroll continues to improve on his form from the latter half of the 2011-12 season. But here’s the thing: I REALLY liked it when Suarez was a second forward with the freedom to roam around. He has a poacher’s mentality and exceptional finishing skills which means he needs to be in front of goal as much as possible. I would rather see something like this…
Johnson – Skrtel – Carragher – Enrique
Cole – Lucas – Gerrard – Downing
The 4-4-1-1 allows Suarez the freedom to roam and get in front of goal as much as possible while Carroll can hold up play and try to pounce on any aerial opportunities Suarez might be able to create. Of course, this means an increase in defensive responsibility for Joe Cole and nobody wants that.
But alas, Brendan Rodgers will be implementing a 4-3-3 no matter what. And it’s not the worse thing in the world. It’s just not the best for Suarez if you ask me. The important thing is Liverpool have two quality starting forwards heading into this season and that’s more than you could say a few days ago.
“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”