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What’s New In Liverpool

 Posted by on July 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL
Jul 212013


It’s been a while since I wrote anything related to Liverpool Football Club on here. If I remember correctly, my last post involved giving mythical, wizard school grades to Liverpool’s players for their performances in 2012-13.

Now we’ve seen the 2013-14 fixtures (which I am unable to post thanks to the FA) and the team is currently getting up speed in the Land Down Under. Although Luis Suarez remains the biggest question mark at this point, Brendan Rodgers has still been busy throughout the silly season.

Let’s take stock of what the roster looks like…


Notable Departures: Pepe Reina (Loan), Danny Wilson

Notable Arrivals: Kolo Toure, Simon Mignolet

It seems we finally have an end to the Pepe Reina “saga” as he is set to join Napoli on loan for the entire 2013-14 season. The move was prompted by Liverpool signing Sunderland/Belgium standout Simon Mignolet who appears set to takeover the No.1 spot between the stick for the next few years. It’s always nice to have your goalkeeper situation settled long term and while Reina will be missed, Mignolet is an excellent replacement.

It is the back line that appears most in need of an upgrade at this time. Kolo Toure is a seasoned veteran, but he can’t be expected to start every single match week in and week out alongside Daniel Agger this season. If Martin Skrtel is on his way out, that leaves only Sebastian Coates as a true center back left on the roster to pair with Agger.

Liverpool have been dangling some offers out there to guys like Jeffrey Bruma (now with PSV Eindhoven) but Toure appears to be the only guy they really felt compelled to sign right away. I’d like to think Brendan Rodgers is waiting to complete a deal to sell Luis Suarez before pursuing another central defender, but it’s tough to tell at this point.

On the outside, Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique are still the top guys but the depth has shrunk a bit with the departure of Jack Robinson on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers. I’ve read a lot of talk about Johnson and Enrique being a bit too stale to be the starters, but I think they’re good enough. It would be nice to have some quality guys behind them but for now we’ll have to settle for the recovering duo of Jon Flanagan/Martin Kelly and Andre Wisdom.


Notable Departures: Jonjo Shelvey, Conor Coady (Loan)

Notable Arrivals: None (Unless you want to call Luis Alberto a midfielder, which I don’t)

This is the part of the formation that needed the least amount of help from the transfer window. Philippe Coutinho has been an absolute revelation and Steven Gerrard has put pen to paper on a new two year deal. The departure of Jonjo Shelvey hurts a little bit, but I ran through the midfield several months ago during the season and made the case for the U-21 captain to be the odd man out. His move to Swansea is a rare deal that greatly benefits all parties involved. Jay Spearing may also be on the way out, but Jordan Henderson is on the cusp of making a gigantic leap this season and Joe Allen should be better if he can remain healthy.

Since BR loves to deploy a 4-3-3, there’s plenty of depth here for the time being.


Notable Departures: Andy Carroll, Suso (Loan)

Notable: Arrivals: Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas

Here’s where we’ve seen the most movement so far during the silly season. Andy Carroll was never going to fit in with what BR is trying to do and while Suso got a lot of playing time prior to Daniel Sturridge’s arrival, he’s still a year or so away.

The two newcomers are, if nothing else, intriguing. Both are capable of playing anywhere along the three forward line BR wants to use. Luis Alberto had double digit assists playing as a striker last season while Iago Aspas notched 12 goals. Their roles will depend heavily upon what happens with Luis Suarez. If he’s gone, I could see the two of them playing on either side of center forward Sturridge. If he stays, Alberto could wind up on the left wing with Aspas being relegated to the bench.

The Luis Suarez drama has been anything but productive. I’ve already said he needs to be sold while he still has value, but it appears no one out there is willing to pay the high price Liverpool have placed on his services. Even if he can’t be sold for full value, his transfer fee should command enough to buy quality center back, which is the team’s greatest need right now.

Bottom Line

Suarez needs to be sold in order to procure the funds to buy a partner for Daniel Agger in central defense. Other than that, any smaller/younger buys for depth at fullback would be nice, but it appears most of the team’s transfer business has already been completed.

If this is what the roster will look like come August then this is what I’d like to see BR trot out…


Johnson – Agger – Toure – Enrique

Gerrard – Lucas – Henderson

Sturridge – Suarez – L.Alberto

On paper this does not look like a team capable of claiming a Top 4 spot, which is disappointing considering the current landscape of the entire league. Manchester United will almost certainly take a step back, even if it’s just at the beginning of the season, with the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Chelsea and Manchester City have made a couple big buys and look to be the top two contenders for the title next season. Arsenal haven’t made any upgrades and neither have their North London rivals Tottenham. The two most dangerous teams next season look like Everton and Swansea, who have made several brilliant acquisitions so far this summer. Both appear primed for a run at the Top 4.

The bottom line is Liverpool haven’t done enough to shore up their defense yet and if they want to get back to playing Champions League football, they would do well to buy a quality center back as soon as possible.

End Of Term Grades: Midfielders

 Posted by on May 14, 2013 at 8:05 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
May 142013

If you missed the first part of this whimsical series, I’m grading individual Liverpool players based on the Ordinary Wizarding Level (O.W.L.) rating scale from Harry Potter.

First it was the defenders (and Pepe Reina), so today we move on to the midfielders.

Steven Gerrard: A (Acceptable)

Yes, “acceptable” is the lowest passing grade on the scale (below E-Exceeds Expectations and O-Outstanding), but “acceptable” for Captain Fantastic is still well ahead of the curve. Before the arrival of Daniel Sturridge in January, Stevie G was the man picking up the scoring slack from Luis Suarez. He may be slowing down in old age, but he still hasn’t lost his workmanlike effort to get from box-to-box. Aside from Lucas, he’s shown that he might be the only midfielder capable of tracking back in defense properly.

Lucas Leiva: E (Exceeds Expectations)

Speaking of the Brazilian holding midfielder…

He has fought through enormous injury-driven setbacks and still he remains a solid holding midfielder. If anything, his defensive responsibilities increased dramatically this year under Brendan Rodgers’ preferred 4-3-3 formation. He’s had to go it alone in defense sometimes and any shortcomings from the Liverpool defense as a whole are hardly his fault. His job is thankless and not very sexy, but he does it admirably despite constant fitness issues.

Joe Allen: P (Poor)

To recap: the failing scale is Poor (P), Dreadful (D), and Troll (T).

After a spectacular 2011-12 season under Rodgers at Swansea, Allen got off to a great start in 2012-13 before inconsistency and fitness issues crept in. There’s no denying that the Welshman is a fine passer of the ball. Unfortunately, that’s really his one and only elite skill. Before his shoulder surgery he was exposed as a bit of a one dimensional player. He can’t track back well enough to be a central midfielder in a 4-3-3 and he’s not the greatest dribbler under pressure either.

He’ll need to bounce back quickly from his fitness issues if he’s going to reclaim a starting spot from Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson.

Jordan Henderson: E (Exceeds Expectations)

Expectations may not have been that high after the 2011-12 season he had under Kenny Dalglish, but Jordan Henderson is finally starting to look like a starting midfielder in the English Premier League.

While he only tallied five goals and four assists, he showed a lot of quality in areas that aren’t measured well statistically. He has developed a dangerous boot on set pieces and while he may not always execute properly, he has shown flashes of the intelligence and speed of though required to play the kind of game Brendan Rodgers prefers. He can see the play develop in front of him and is always thinking one or two steps ahead.

Be prepared to see more of him in 2013-14.

Philippe Coutinho: O (Outstanding)

I would’ve said “exceeds expectations” but quite frankly, none of us had any expectations for him coming into the second half of the season. He’s only 20, but he arrived at Inter Milan with great expectations that he couldn’t meet.

Now he looks like he could be a true No.10 for the next 10 years. His passing skills appear to rival those of Xabi Alonso. He’s a great fit for the “tiki taka” 4-3-3. If you saw him on the street you’d never think he could stand up to the physicality of the English top flight, but he showed no such issues after arriving from Inter. If he still has room to grow another inch or two and works on his strength in the offseason, he could wind up being better than Juan Mata in the next year or two.

He might end up being the best purchase Liverpool makes in the 2013 calendar year.

Jonjo Shelvey: P (Poor)

This doesn’t have as much to do with the youngster’s ability as it does with his inability to cooperate with Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers has neglected to use him despite having a less than 100% healthy midfield throughout the season.

He has shown a propensity towards the spectacular, but he made need another year or two before he’s capable of playing regular first team minutes. I recently questioned what Liverpool should do if it comes down to Shelvey or Jordan Henderson and I’ve come to the conclusion that someone out there will still be a solid fee for the former’s services.

He just doesn’t seem to fit what Brendan Rodgers wants and Liverpool would do well to cash in while they still can.

Stewart Downing: P (Poor)

He played more often with the front three, but he’s still a midfielder at heart. Unfortunately he struggled to consistently perform well throughout the season. He’s a good tactical fit, but his first touch and his passing aren’t up to the standard necessary for Brendan Rodgers’s style. Downing is probably better suited as a wide midfielder in a very direct 4-4-2 type of system and so we’re left to wonder if he’ll ever fit in properly.


Stay tuned for the forwards at the end of the week!

“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!!!”

May 082013


So that was pretty cool, no?

It’s not the first brilliant goal we’ve seen from Jonjo Shelvey and it probably won’t be the last. But could it be his last in a Liverpool uniform?

After watching that goal I stopped and looked at the midfield situation going into this summer. After all, there’s nothing left for Liverpool to play for this season so we find ourselves thinking about these sorts of things. The important thing to keep in mind is that Brendan Rodgers is pretty set in his ways with a 4-3-3 formation. Therefore, we can only play three midfielders at a time and all of them much be centrally located.

So with that in mind, here’s the list of Liverpool’s current central midfielders capable of playing for the first team…


-Steven Gerrard: Old and ailing, Captain Fantastic is calling it quits with a few games to go in order to have some work done on his shoulder

-Lucas Leiva: The only true “holding” midfielder currently on the roster

-Philippe Coutinho: Suddenly looks like a natural No.10 and he’s only 20 years old

-Joe Allen: Had a very inconsistent first season at Anfield and currently out nursing a injury

-Jordan Henderson: Greatly improved in his second season at Anfield and appears capable of starting for the next few years

-Jonjo Shelvey: Capable of the spectacular, but hasn’t seen much first team action under Brendan Rodgers

-Jay Spearing: Currently on loan and didn’t exactly light the world on fire under Kenny Dalglish


This doesn’t include any potential signings this summer and Rodgers has been talking like there will be a decent number of purchases; although there are far greater needs at the moment. As old and frail as Captain Fantastic might appear, we have to assume he’s going to start if healthy. I feel like Lucas HAS to play because he’s the only one on that list who can defend properly. Coutinho suddenly looks like he could be Kaka in 2-3 years and he was just purchased in February.

Barring the purchase of a Christian Eriksen-caliber player this summer, I had to think that those three guys are starting from Week 1 next season. So that leaves Allen, Henderson, Shelvey, and Spearing battling for the chance to be the first option off the bench. Joe Allen was very inconsistent before finally being shelved, but it’s his first year and Rodgers has shown a certain propensity towards former players of his. Jordan Henderson has improved tremendously since this time last season. I think he’s better than Allen at this point and should be the first option off the bench if he’s not starting.

So what does BR do with Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing? I have to think there are some teams out there willing to take a chance on Shelvey going forward. They’d probably be willing to pay too. Jay Spearing may be tougher to get rid of and could find up rotting on the reserve squad. I’m more concerned about Shelvey than Spearing. I feel like he is close to breaking out the way Henderson did this season, but on this roster (without any talented additions) he’s surplus and probably needs to go.

It may come back to haunt Liverpool, but Shelvey and Spearing probably need to be offloaded this summer while there are still takers. They’re going to need the money if BR is going to spend the way he’s suggesting this summer.


“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

(Almost) Mid-Week Musings

 Posted by on March 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Mar 272013

Liverpool had the weekend off thanks to World Cup qualifying, so let’s go through some rapid fire questions to reset.

Will Luis Suarez leave Anfield this summer?

Yes. Yes he will.

Juventus are playing coy and it’s no secret Suarez is Pep Guardiola’s number one target for Bayern Munich. About a month ago I wrote about all the reasons why Suarez would want to leave. It basically boils down to his desire to play in the Champions League next season. Steven Gerrard himself has said the volatile Uruguayan forward deserves as much.

Should Suarez depart, he will bring in quite the payday but it will also deal a serious blow to Liverpool’s hopes at being competitive next year. The Reds have no backup plan for Suarez and they’re also going to need some upgrades to the center back and goalkeeper positions. But if you believe the rumors, Brendan Rodgers won’t have much to spend.

And speaking of goalkeepers…

Is Guillermo Ochoa the next Liverpool keeper?

Ochoa has been wallowing in Ligue 1 with Ajaccio lately. He also managed to earn a start in goal for his native Mexico against the United States on Tuesday. His start was controversial as Jesus Corona seems to be the next big thing in goal for Mexico.

So why did Ochoa get the nod? Reports are surfacing that Ochoa got the start in an effort to help earn himself a work permit in England. Why England? So he can join Liverpool of course!

Personally I’m not wild about the idea of Ochoa replacing Pepe Reina as the starter, but he would definitely serve as a suitable backup; though I’m not sure why that’s necessary since Brad Jones has done well this season.

What’s the deal with Joe Allen?

One week Brendan Rodgers is saying the Welsh central midfielder needs surgery, the next he’s starting him. Now it turns out Allen is in fact having surgery and will miss the rest of the year.

I would say this is a huge blow, but Liverpool blew their last chance at a Top 4 run when they lost 3-1 to Sunderland. Not only that, but Jordan Henderson has proven himself more than capable of performing well.

Is Jordan Henderson Liverpool’s Most Improved Player This Season?


He’s still not living up to his hefty 2011 transfer fee from Sunderland, but he has come a long way from being the punching bad he once was. He’s notched three assists in league play despite inconsistent playing time and he has developed a fine shot from long range. Look for him to continue turning heads now that Joe Allen is done for the season.

Will Liverpool bounce back against Aston Villa this weekend?


There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how poor Villa have been this season. Granted, they defeated Liverpool in the first meeting this season but the Reds have had time to rest and collect themselves and the loss to Sunderland is still fresh in their minds.

Look for Suarez to do what he does best and torture the Villa backline single-handedly.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa

Dare To Dream!

 Posted by on March 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Mar 112013

“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger Darling…”

If you’ve seen the movie Inception, hopefully you’re chuckling a little bit. But Liverpool doubters should not laugh at those of us dreaming of a return to the UEFA Champions League.

Brendan Rodgers’ men passed their second toughest remaining test as they erased an early blown lead and defeated Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 on Sunday at Anfield. Luis Suarez got the Reds on the board early, but they fell behind thanks to Jan Vertonghen. Eventually, Steven Gerrard did what he does best and stepped up to score a clutch penalty kick that gave Liverpool the victory.

It was display of both the best and worst the Reds have to offer. Philippe Coutinho linked up brilliantly with Suarez for the first goal. The defense showed they are not as strong as we once thought by letting Spurs back into the match. Then Captain Fantastic stepped up in the clutch to save the day.

Your 2012-13 Liverpool squad summed up perfectly in 90 minutes.

Now all you have to do is glance at the league table and see why Reds fans are so optimistic.  Although they have a game in hand, Liverpool currently sit just seven points behind Chelsea for the fourth and final Champions League spot. Of their nine remaining league matches, only three come against squads in the top half of the table: Chelsea, Everton, and Fulham (who currently sit 10th). Four of those nine come against four of the five worst teams in the league: Southampton, Reading, Aston Villa, and QPR. A clear path to fourth place lies before this squad.

And I believe they can make it.

It was a bit odd to hear in the middle of Sunday’s match that Joe Allen will require shoulders, only to see the Welsh midfielder take the field as a sub moments later. But there are bright spots like the newcomer Coutinho and the ever improving Jordan Henderson who can step up in his absence. Stewart Downing’s goal suggests he has a horseshoe tucked away in his back pocket. Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard continue to do their thing and lead the way by example. Yes, the backline is still shaky but if Liverpool can continue to score at their current rate they need not worry so much.

So get excited Liverpool fans. Our dream is not as far fetched as some would have us believe.


“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)

 Posted by on August 16, 2012 at 1:24 am  England, EPL, Liverpool
Aug 162012

Looks around…

OK, good. I haven’t been sued for copyright infringement yet. On to the midfield! This is probably the most important group in terms of executing Brendan Rodgers’ new style of play properly. Passing is the key and there are plenty of pass-masters on this team, especially with the addition of Joe Allen. And speaking of the newbie…

Joe Allen = Will Arnett

Joe Allen 2807441 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)  TVGuide FOX 39115 090811will arnett1 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)

They’re both at different stages in their careers, but they’re both quite consistent. The big stat right now is Allen’s roughly 90% pass completion percentage from last season. Doesn’t get much more consistent than that. And I’ve yet to watch Will Arnett on screen in any role and not wind up on the floor laughing. Allen will be called upon to play a leading role for a long time. Let’s hope he stays as consistent as his passing last season.

Lucas = Dirk Nowitzki

lucasleiva 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)  dirk nowitzki 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)

They’ve both got the long, blonde locks and they’re both very unconventional. Dirk is 7 feet tall and takes lots of long jump shots while Lucas might be the least creative Brazilian ever. And it’s their unique styles that make them both gamechangers. Before missing 2011-12 due to a torn ACL, Lucas was voted Player of the Year by Liverpool fans. Whenever he goes out on the pitch it is his job to retrieve the ball and re-start possession; a job that will be key with Rodgers’ new pass-obsessed system.

Jordan Henderson = Legolas (as played by Orlando Bloom)

 Legolas 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)

A pair of blonde pretty boys if ever there was one, they’re both quite young (Legolas is considered “young” compared to your average elf) and they both have a tendency to shoot from distance quite a bit. But while the archer from the Woodland Realm knows his role, we still have yet to figure one out for Jordan Henderson. I’m really hoping Brendan Rodgers can help the youngster fit in before the weight of his price tag from last summer starts to effect his play/development.

Stewart Downing = A young Eric Idle

stewart downing january82012 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)   2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)

Idle was part of the comedic genius that was Monty Python and everyone loves to crack jokes at the expense of Stewart Downing. People celebrated his goal in the first leg of Liverpool’s Europa League playoff with FC Gomel like it was a national holiday or something. But for all the flack he takes, Downing will probably have a fairly significant role in Rodgers’ new 4-3-3 system. I imagine he’ll be on the wing rather than in the midfield and he’ll be expected to provide quality service to whomever Rodgers decides to place at the point of the attack. Like Henderson, Downing does need to step his game up or risk crumbling under the weight of expectations (and his 2011 price tag as well).

Joe Cole = Chris Pine

TN170637 Joe Cole 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)  Chris Pine 1%5B1%5D 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)

The American actor tends to play cocky characters who have a tendency to boast and show off. Joe Cole certainly isn’t shy about trying to take defenders on 1-on-1. His game has always been about flash, although he’s failed to impress (or play) much since he arrived at Anfield from Chelsea. I imagine he’ll be a winger in the 4-3-3 formation opposite Downing, but there’s also the possibility of Rodgers using him in the midfield as well this season.

Jay Spearing = Moby

121120 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)  287618 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)

Gollum would’ve been a good choice here or even Simon Pegg, but we already have a Lord of the Rings reference and I actually like Simon Pegg. Much like Moby, Jay Spearing is capable of the occasional brilliant moment, but for the most part he’s just average and tends to get in the way. With a shortened midfield in the new the 4-3-3 and the return of Lucas, we may not see as much of Spearing this year as we did last year. It’s great to see a youngster get his chance, but Spearing  just doesn’t appear to have what it takes to play with the best right now.

Jonjo Shelvey = Lord Voldemort!!!

Jonjo shelvey twitter picture 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)  voldemort1 2012/13 Liverpool Season Preview (Midfielders)

Because they’re both so evil! Actually this one is purely physical. I don’t see Jonjo Shelvey plotting to take over the world. In fact, he’ll have a tough time simply taking a spot on the bench every week. Again, the new 4-3-3 leaves little room for central midfielders and Shelvey will have to battle with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Lucas, Charlie Adam, and Joe Allen for minutes. I do think he has a brighter future with this squad (as currently constructed) than Jay Spearing though.

Charlie Adam = a rat

He just does. And he ruins everything. And nobody seems to like him.

Steven Gerrard = Tim Tebow

My girlfriend asked me to do this one and while I love her and value her opinion, I don’t see the physical resemblance. There is, however, a  competitive comparison to be made. Both work their tails off and keep their mouths shut (usually) and want nothing more than to win every single time they take the field. That attitude tends to rub off on their teammates and make them better as well. Gerrard and Tebow are pretty much consummate leaders.


Friday we’ll wrap up with the forwards and my outlook on the entire season!


“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”



Welcome Jordan Henderson!

 Posted by on June 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm  Uncategorized
Jun 102011

At last! An actual transaction to report! It has been confirmed that Liverpool have signed Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson on a $26 million transfer fee (16 million Pounds for our friends across the pond). According to Liverpool’s official website the deal is one of the “long term” variety. No exact number of years is listed. There were rumors that the deal involved David N’Gog going to Sunderland for $11 million (7 million Pounds), but this detail has yet to be confirmed by either side.

The 20 year old midfielder scored 5 goals in 79 caps (appearances) with the Black Cats. Henderson believes that ratio to be a “weakness in my game.” He also has 2 goals in 7 caps with the England U-21 national team. He will join the U-21s this summer for the European U-21 Championship. In November of 2010 he made his first appearance for the senior England national team as well. In 2010-11 Henderson finished with the same number of assists as Steven Gerrard: 5

I’ve looked at a couple different highlight videos (I’ll post one below) and I definitely like what I see from the youngster. He’s quick, has a good touch, and is capable of the spectacular finish at any moment. My love for Eljero Elia has been well documented already, but Jordan Henderson has the makings of a future superstar and I certainly won’t complain if he is the only winger that Liverpool sign this summer. I love his quote about his lack of goals being a “weakness”. Some people might view this as selfish. I see it as a motivational tool for a player who is just 20 years old and is only going to get better over the course of his tenure at Liverpool. Luis Suarez will get better with a full year under his belt and the goals will start to flow. That being said, you can never have too many goal scoring threats; especially at Liverpool. Need I remind everyone that Dirk Kuyt, playing in a withdrawn forward/midfield role throughout the season, led the team in scoring with 13 this past season. That simply won’t win us an EPL title.

And so I welcome Jordan Henderson with open arms. May he improve upon his “weakness” and enjoy a long, prosperous career at Anfield. Enjoy his highlight video below featuring a terrific song I first discovered on one of our mix CDs at work!

“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”