Sorry I’m a bit late with this blog, but I’m as busy as an Egyptian road sweeper at the moment. Anyway I don’t know anybody else but I’m as happy as a dog with three testicles. I don’t remember the last time we got a win on the opening day of the season but it’s brilliant to get off to a winning start and particularly sweet after the Suarez media sideshow we’ve had to endure in recent weeks. A good performance, three points and a clean sheet, life is good!
It was a good performance overall but as ever with Liverpool they just don’t do things the easy way and almost managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory. We played some really good football at times, had enough shots to start a war but only managed to score one goal and had to endure a nervy end to game that really should have been put to bed long before the final whistle.
Strange the way football works sometimes. Simon Mignolet spend most of the game flapping about like an epileptic pigeon but his brilliant double save from Stokes last minute penalty secured us the points and now he is a hero. Let’s hope it is the shot in the arm his confidence needed for him to kick on from here because there is no doubt in my mind that he is an excellent keeper, he just needs to settle down and do his stuff.
I was also impressed with the other new boys Toure and Aspas. Both did very well, Toure looks very solid at the back and he is not afraid to come forward when the opportunity presents itself, which is good to see, and he was so unlucky not to score when his header came back off the crossbar. I’m really impressed by Aspas so far. He really covers the grass and was maybe a little unlucky himself not to score but I’m pretty confident the goals will come for this guy. He is almost Kuyt-like in terms of work rate but I fancy he will get more goals, double figures this season for sure, trust me!
Sturridge was also particularly impressive considering he is not yet 100% fit. You always feel this guy has a goal in him but the key is going to be him avoiding injury. If he can stay injury free this campaign he will be at or near the top of the goal-scoring charts at the end of the season for sure. The rest of the team also did well with no obvious deadwood on show, we just let ourselves down a little with our finishing and almost paid the price for that but in a strange way a hard fought 1-0 win might prove more beneficial to the team right now than an easy 3 or 4 nil stroll. Not what I would regard as a great performance overall, as I thought we were quite sloppy at times particularly in the latter stages when nerves started to show, but good enough to merit the points and plenty to build on in the games ahead.
Now for the negative stuff and my big concern at the moment is the depth of the squad. While I accept that not being involved in Europe this season means we can get by with a smaller squad, I still think we are short on numbers. Look at this team: Goalkeeper – Reina, Defence – Carra, possibly one or both of Skrtel and Coates, Robinson, Midfield – Downing, Shelvey, Spearing, Suso and an attack of Carroll and Pacheco. If you add in a right back to that lot you would have a pretty decent lower to mid table Premiership team but that is depth we have lost from our squad through sales, loans and retirements over the summer.
I don’t really have a problem with these players moving on, in fact in most cases I welcome it, but it bothers me that not enough replacements have come in so far. I was happy with our four early signings but nothing followed until today’s news of the welcome addition of Ally Cissokho as extra cover at left back. I was also really very disappointed to hear today that we seem to have missed out on yet another of our top targets with Willian seemingly on his way to Spurs despite the fact that Liverpool seemed to have this signing within their grasp over the weekend.
So yet another marquee signing gets away from us. The first guy, Micky Tarhead or whatever the bloody hell his name was, the club lamented the fact that they never even had a chance to talk to him, then came Diego Costa who elected to sign a new contract at Atletico Madrid. However, there was no such difficulties with Willian who was available and seemed quite keen to come to Anfield but as our guys were pissing about on terms, Spurs have apparently come straight in and taken him away from us, as they’ve done before. I don’t think Spurs even have a scouting team, they just seem to follow ours around and pinch the players we are looking at!
We need to bring in another 2 or 3 players who are ready now to play in the first team but according to the latest reports I’ve been reading we are being linked with a 20yr old, an 18yr old and a bloody 16yr old FFS! They just keep getting younger, I swear one day we are going to hear the club has put a £1 million bid in for a sperm! It’s getting ridiculous, we have champagne ambitions but a lemonade transfer budget!
I say transfer budget but of course the club hasn’t actually spent any money yet given that the money brought in from transfer has exceeded the little that was spent, not to mention the reduction in the clubs wage bill. In fairness I think the money is there but it needs to be used on players who are ready now for the first team not more bloody kids, Jaysus it’s as well we’re not in the Champions League as we’d only have half a bleedin team, the other half wouldn’t be allowed to stay up past 8 o’clock!
More new faces are not a luxury for us they are an absolute necessity. Consider our midfield three from Saturday’s team, Gerrard, Lucas and Henderson, and the cover on the bench was Joe Allen. They are the four main men we have to cover perhaps the most important area of the team, just four men to cover three positions. Three of those four have just recently returned from long term injuries and if one or two of them get side-lined again we will be down to the bare bones. Young Luis Alberto was brought in during the summer and he looks a very promising lad but he’s not ready yet and he didn’t get too many minutes in our pre-season games which would seem to indicate that Rodgers doesn’t think he’s ready for the first team yet either. Beyond him the cupboard looks pretty bare in terms of central midfield.
I’d also like to see another wide midfielder and a striker. In my opinion, we have enough options in defence now that Cissokho has come in as another left back option. We’ve got plenty of options at right back and I also don’t see another centre back as a priority. We’ve got Dagger and Toure in the team at the moment. Beyond them we’ve still got Skrtel who I think has been a bit harshly treated by the manager.
I know he had a dodgy spell last season but I still think it’s wrong that he has been totally frozen out since then, I mean the season before he was our Player of the Season. He is still a very good player and I’d much rather go with him as cover then spend £10 million+ on an unknown quantity when that money can be used to better effect in other areas of the team. Beyond Skrtel we’ve got Coates who I believe has just been side-lined with a nasty knee injury while on international duty but he’ll be back in a couple of months and we’ve also got Wisdom and Kelly who can play centre back. So I’d say fine if we can bring in another centre back without compromising the spending on other areas of the team but if not I’d say go with what we have for now.
My predictions for the season? Well last season we finished 7th in the Premier League but all things considered, new manager, difficult start, bad luck etc, I rated us as about the sixth best team in the league. Now after our pre-season and our transfer activity so far, I would still rate us as sixth and without further first team quality reinforcements I believe that is where we will finish the season.
Quite honestly I think anyone who believes we will finish above that with the current squad, is away with the fairies. The manc sides and the chavs are miles ahead of us at the moment. Gollum, the Special Needs One and Peter the Pelican have teams full of World Class players and even more World Class players sitting on the bench who they can call upon to change games in their favour when things are going against them, not to mention the fact that they have pots of cash to go and buy more. Spurs are also disappearing over the hill. They have shown ambition, invested a lot of cash in their squad and seem to have the ability to move quickly in the transfer market while our guys seem to take longer than a rich man’s funeral! Arsenal are in a bit of a mess at the moment and might be catchable if that continues.
So I can’t see us finishing higher than sixth at the moment but I dearly hope the team can prove me wrong and I will be delighted to eat a truck load of humble pie should that be the case. Sorry for being a miserable shit but on the plus side, when it comes to predictions I’m about as much use as a rubber crutch so don’t let my opinions burst your bubble!
Anyway, we’re away at Aston Villa at the weekend hoping to continue our good start to the season. It will be a tough but should be a good game. Villa are in good form at the moment after their great win at Arsenal and a narrow defeat early this evening at Chelsea so they will be well up for it in their first home game of the season.
They obviously play a more open game then we faced against Stoke which should suit us but we will need to work hard and certainly be more clinical in front of goal when the chances come our way. Our defence will definitely be tested and it will be interesting to see how Dagger and Toure cope with Benteke who is a real handful. Overall though I think we can nick the points and my money’s on us coming away with a 2 – 1 win.
Keep the Faith