TIA Half Term Report

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So who’s been behaving themselves this season? Here we have an look at every Liverpool player who has made at least a few appearances for The Reds since the beginning of the season, reflecting on how their season has gone so far and what to expect in 2008.

Starting at the back with the keepers and working our way forwards to the, well, forwards. Let’s kick off then with our number one shot stopper’¦’¦

ImageJose Manuel ‘˜Pepe’ Reina
Apps: 24 Conceded: 14 Assists: 1

Reina began the year aiming for a hat-trick of Golden Glove awards, having won the award the past two seasons. So far so good for Pepe, he has conceded a few but few if not none have been down to mistakes made by him, commands the area and the back four well. Has the quality and mentality to be a future captain. 8

ImageCharles Itandje
App: 3 Conceded: 5 Assits: 0

Having made only 3 appearances for The Reds now all in the Carling Cup, Charles has impressed, especially with some great saves against a strong Chelsea side. Used as back-up for Reina, it will be unlikely that he will ever progress from there, and will be continue to be used in domestic cup competitions bar a major injury to Reina. However he is more than capable of filling the void for an extended period of time. 6

ImageSteve Finnan
App: 17 Conceded: 6 Goals: 0 Assists: 1

Steve ‘˜Mr Consistent’ Finnan hasn’t been as consistent on Rafa’s team-sheet as in recent seasons with the emergence of Arbeloa at the right back position. When he does play he is his usual solid self, with little to question about his performance and ability. 7

ImageSami Hyypia
App: 21 Conceded: 5 Goals: 1 Assists: 1
Sami has been involved a lot more than he probably expected this year as a result of a metatarsal injury to Daniel Agger. Sami as came in and not disappointed, although a bit shaky at first he found his rhythm and has become a rock at the back again with Jamie Carragher. Still gets stick for his lack of pace but what he lacks in pace he makes up for in excellent positioning. Still, a fit again Agger will more than likely take is place in the starting line up again. 8

ImageDaniel Agger
App: 6 Conceded: 2 Goals: 0 Assists: 0

Injured early in the campaign and still recovering, nothing much to say as he hasn’t played that much. When he did play he was his usual solid self nothing spectacular like the goal he produced against West Ham early last season. Expect the usual committed performances form Daniel in the New Year. 7

ImageJamie Carragher
App: 25 Conceded: 10 Goals: 0 Assists: 0

Carragher has been a solid performer since the start of the year with only a few hic-ups here and there. Out for a few weeks with a broken rib and punctured lung has probably affected his game a little as has the change of defensive partnership. Jamie has been lucky on a number of occasions however with some rash tackles and his done well to avoid picking up a few cards. Some say he is 100% on is game but even a 90% Carragher is better than most centre-backs out there. Reina has tried to kill Carragher twice this season without avail. 7

ImageAlvaro Arbeloa
App: 23 Conceded: 9 Goals: 0 Assists: 1

Possibly the new Mr Consistent, Arbeloa has featured in the majority of Liverpool’s games this season and just gets better and better. Proving himself capable right across the back line, Arbeloa has become an integral part of Benitez’s team, not bad for a relatively unknown player before his arrival. This season he has shown he has the ability to get forward when allowed but has also shown his discipline to stay back and defend. 8

ImageJack Hobbs
App: 5 Conceded: 3 Goals:0 Assists: 0

Promising youngster Jack Hobbs has come into the squad a number of times and has impressed even though he has made a few mistakes all down to his in-experience not his in-ability. He’s promising but not first team material yet, with cover at CB looking worryingly thin Hobbs would struggle to replace any established defenders on a regular basis, hence Bentiez’s desire to bring in a new centre-back in January. Hobbs is one for the future he should get blooded into the first team through cup matches and sub appearances. 6

ImageFabio Aurellio
App: 10 Conceded: 0 Goals: 0 Assists: 0

Another player returning from injury, Fabio has been little by little returning to first team football. In recent appearances he seems to be getting back to the form we seen him when he got injured against PSV last season, his passing and defending are getting better each week, hopefully it wont be too long before we see the real, injury-free Fabio Aurellio. 5

ImageJohn Arne Riise
App: 21 Conceded: 10 Goals: 0 Assists: 1

Riise has recently become a shadow of his former self. He has replicated at great form we have seen him in previous seasons. Although recently against Manchester United he looked to be in good shape, possibly his form is returning, it’s a long season ahead and Liverpool demands the best out of their players as do the fans. Riise is on thin ice with a certain section of fans and will have to improve to win them over. 6

ImageHarry Kewell
App: 9 Goals: 0 Assists: 0

Most people probably forgot he played for Liverpool, but Harry Kewell has finally recovered from injury and looks to be lasting (fingers crossed). His return was like gaining a new player even though he doesn’t have the pace of old, his creativity and tricky can un-lock a tight defence. Liverpool has gained a revitalised player in Harry Kewell who would probably be best utilized as a substitute against tired defences. Harry is still a bit hit and miss and hasn’t fully recovered yet, hopefully he can stay fit long enough and show Liverpool fans what he is really made of and what they know he can do. 6

ImageSteven Gerrard
App: 23 Goals: 11 Assists: 6

Captain Fantastic would not be a name used for Gerrard at the start of the season, yes he scored a prefect free-kick on the opening day of the season against Aston Villa but then the brilliance disappear with a broken toe. Upon return, (perhaps slightly rushed) Gerrard failed to find his form and after a few below par performances the fans were on his back and the perfect way to hit back was to go on a scoring streak. Gerrard hit a deep vein of form and has been scoring for fun in recent games he’s looking back to his old self, pinpoint defence-spitting passes intact. His partnership with Fernando Torres is proving fruitful evening drawing comparisons with Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush. Gerrard’s fantastic run of form will surely run into and beyond the New Year. 9

ImageXabi Alonso
App: 7 Goals: 2 Assists: 0

Another player hampered by injury, again with a broken metatarsal. The Pass Master returned against Arsenal only to be forced out against with a re-occurrence of the injury allowing Cesc Fabregas into the game against who inevitably scored. Alonso’s creativity and passing as been sorely missed in games against physical opposition such as Birmingham, Portsmouth and Man Utd, his intelligence can provide that spark to win a match.
Now back to first team action against Chelsea, Alonso will be looking to provide his match winning services as Liverpool continue their assault on Europe’s elite. And with a return FA Cup match to Luton Town Xabi might try scoring from his own half again. 6

ImageYossi Benayoun
App: 20 Goals: 5 Assists: 0

Brought in as replacement for Luis Garcia, Benayoun has not failed to disappoint, he bagged the winner away to Wigan and got a hat-trick against Beskitas in Livepool’s record 8-0 win.
Benayoun is really a ‘˜horses for courses’ player, which was so obvious against Man Utd. Yossi thrives with fast free flowing football but trips when it comes down to a very physical game, much like Garcia he seems to do well in Europe too a la Garica.
Rafa has signed a good player in Benayoun but not a great one, still he can play an important role in Liverpool’s season and has got off to a great start. 8

ImageJermaine Pennant
App: 11 Goals: 0 Assists: 1

Pennant is currently recovering from an operation which was postponed from the beginning of the season. Jermaine was nursing an injury and finally decided to have an operation rather than continue with pain-killing injections. His appearances this season were average at best probably as a result of his injury.
On return form injury we should hopefully see a new and improved Jermaine Pennant, so far he hasn’t delivered what we know he is capable of. 5

ImageRyan Babel
App: 23 Goals: 6 Assists: 0

Babel has become something of a super-sub scoring form the bench on four occasions. Ryan could turn out to Benitez’s best buy ever, from a shaky start he is looking more comfortable each week and has become more of a team player rather than an individual but still knows his abilities.
Benitez is being very careful with Babel giving him only a taste of English football here and there and it seems to be working that said, fans still argue over where Bentiez should play him, having been deployed as a central striker at Ajax and with the Holland national team why does Rafa play him down the left?
Still he’s scored six goals form that position so Rafa must be going something right. Ryan aims to be in double figures by the end of the season and going by his current form he should achieve that with ease. 8 ½

ImageSebastian Leto
App: 4 Goals: 0 Assists: 0

Leto has only made a handful of appearances this season and despite an number of good moments, he is not ready for Liverpool’s first team just yet another one for the future probably. He seems to be an intelligent player capable of picking out a few nice passes and can beat a defender, still needs lots of work though. 4

ImageJavier Mascherano
App: 18 Goals: 0 Assists: 1

Missed the first few games of the season due to and extended rest period following the Copa America. Mascherano as continued his great form from last year and can only improve, his tackling and breaking-up of the play is second to none and is passing is coming on great too.
Mascherano just needs to keep on doing what he is doing the only thing he could do better is to chip in with the odd goal like he did for the Argies during the summer. 8

ImageLucas Levia
App: 11 Goals: 0 Assists: 2

Brazil’s under-21’s captain has done well following his transfer from Gremio. Lucas should have had his first goal for Liverpool in the Merseyside derby if it wasn’t for Phil Neville’s right hand. Lucas is another player being blooded into the first team and is showing signs of being a quality signing, one thing he would need to improve would be his strength, he is occasionally pushed off the ball a little too easily this should however come in good time.
Lucas will continue to get better and could be a fixture in the Liverpool squad for years to come, as for the rest of the season expect him to make more bit-part appearances and maybe score the odd goal, he’s getting close. 6

ImageMomo Sissoko
App: 14 Goals: 1 Assists: 0

Sissoko has sadly not been producing the form he has done in pervious seasons and he is increasingly frustrating the fans with his poor passing, no-one questions his heart but sometimes heart just isn’t enough. Sissoko is a strong candidate for the transfer list and a transfer wouldn’t be the worst of options for everyone involved.
However, Momo did look slightly better against Chelsea in the Carling Cup he could forward a few times and kept is passing simple but he still experienced moments of frustrations with the fans. His future is definitely a doubt, especially if Mascherano gets a permanent contact. 4

ImagePeter Crouch
App: 19 Goals: 4 Assists: 2

After such an impressive season last year Peter Crouch as been somewhat cruelly relegated to the bench but has performed on almost every occasion he has featured. He and Torres would probably be the most potent of strike combinations but Rafa continues to tinker making it next to impossible to form a partnership. Crouch’s future is almost constantly in doubt but Rafa has insisted that he will not sell despite interest from a number of clubs. Crouch will not feature until next year after picking up a straight red card against Chelsea. 6

ImageFernando Torres
App: 20 Goals: 12 Assists: 2

El Nino has settled tremendously well into the Premier League scoring 12 goals in 20 appearances. His pace and movement is something that Liverpool have been severely lacking in recent years and he can only get better, at 23 still not at his peak and only five months into a new league and a new country. Fernando has all the qualities to be one of the best strikers in the world and in Liverpool’s history along with the likes of Ian St John, Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler.
Fernando will almost certainly go into the New Year looking to continue his fantastic form and hit his target of 20 plus goals, something he is more than capable of. 9.

ImageDirk Kuyt
App: 18 Goals: 7 Assists: 3

Dirk is another player currently being chastised by the fans, he seems to have lost his goal scoring touch but 7 goals and 3 assists in 18 games isn’t a bad statistic at all. The problem comes with the many chances he doesn’t convert where as a better finisher would have put it away.
Again like Sissoko, he shows incredible heart and determination but as said before that can only get you so far before too long this won’t be enough for Rafa and he will be looking a replacement.
Time will only tell how long Kuyt has left at Liverpool but Rafa likes him so God knows what will happen. 7.

ImageAndriy Voronin
App: 18 Goals: 4 Assists: 1

Voronin was brought in on a free and scored and important goal against Toulouse to quality for the Champions League group stage. He has done little else of real importance, but seen as a better alternative to Kuyt but that stats say different.
Voronin was always going to be just a squad player and he will continue to fill that role for the rest of the season, chances are that Rafa was just using him a lot to see what he was like so as he can make the decisions on when and where to use him during the season. 7.

ImageRafa Benitez
App: 27 Beards Grew: 1

Rafa has got it right the majority of the season and the squad has done will with the prolonged absences of key players at different stages. His minor miracle at saving Liverpool’s Champions League hopes was a great feat of managerial nonce, but tactical gaffs at Reading, Birmingham and Portsmouth has left Liverpool trailing the league leaders by 10 points with a game at hand. 8.

Winning the game at hand would leave Liverpool 7 points behind Arsenal leaving the not impossible but incredibly difficult task of clawing back to the top and winning the league. Rafa would need to get on his bike during the January transfer window and get the players he needs to sustain a challenge; otherwise the championship will slip out of reach for another year. I suppose an FA Cup and Champions League double wouldn’t be that much of a disaster though.

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