Posted in England, Football, premier league

Trent Alexander-Arnold: Can The Youngster Become Liverpool’s First Choice Right Back?

After an impressive breakthrough season, could Trent Alexander Arnold challenge Nathaniel Clyne for the right back position next campaign?

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Trent, who has come through Liverpool’s academy and has been at the club since 2004, was born in West Derby, Liverpool, home of the Reds’ training ground, Melwood. He has impressed in the cameo appearances made this year.

At such a tender age of 18, he has excess potential. His age is somewhat surprising, given the maturity of his performances for the Reds.

His first team debut came in the EFL Cup fourth round clash against Spurs in October.

Following this, Trent played in the next EFL Cup match, which was a quarter final tie against Leeds.

The youngster grabbed his first assist for the club, setting up Divock Origi for the opening goal of the evening, as well as earning himself the man of the match award for a faultless game.

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His Premier League debut shortly followed this, as things just kept progressing for the local lad. This came in a 3-0 over Middlesbrough in December, and saw Trent come on towards the latter stages of the game.

This wouldn’t compare to his first full league start though.

Up until this point, it had been fairly routine for the academy player, but this was monumentally transformed as he was presented a first full league start, away to bitter rivals, Manchester United.

With injuries eating away at his side, Klopp had to take a leap of faith and trust the 18 year old to deliver.

Deliver; he did.

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A 1-1 draw the end outcome did not reflect the true result. Liverpool were almightily unlucky not to come away with all three points. It ended honours even, with a sense of disappointment lingering. This feeling of ‘we maybe could have done more’ was not applicable to Trent, however.

He was thrown into the deep end, but he did not drown amidst the pressure, instead; rising to the challenge set upon him. He tamed the Manchester United attack for the most part of the game, only for the home side to score late on and put a damper on things. Nonetheless, it was still a terrific full debut.

Despite playing for the first team- making seven league appearances, Trent mainly featured for the Under 23’s side, where he played brilliantly.

In the final game of the season, he scored a splendid outside of the foot goal in what was a finish any striker would be proud of. This came against rivals, Everton, a team he also faced up against for the first team, he entered the fray late on in Liverpool’s comfortable 3-1 win back in April.

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Whenever he has played for the first team, whether it be starting or coming on from off the bench, he has shown how talented he is. His standard of crossing is impressive for such a youthful player. Any opportunity presented by Jürgen Klopp, he has grabbed with both hands.

It’s clear he also possesses hunger and desire. In a recent exclusive interview, Trent described how he wouldn’t be satisfied with himself until he captains the Reds. This is a real statement of intent,  bold and ambitious words for a player who looks destined for the big time.

But can he push Clyne out of the side? 

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Clyne himself, has even realised the talent of Trent and is evidently wary of his position. He said :

“He’s such a young lad and he’s full of confidence, you can see on the pitch that nothing fazes him. You can see he’s definitely talented and he’s got a real bright future ahead of him”

Clyne has been one of the Reds’ most consistent performers since his arrival at the start of the 2015/16 season.

His pace up and down the flanks, critical, and defensive duties; equally as imperative to the side.

The former Southampton man’s biggest danger for opposition teams is his ability to get forward and join the attack. His downfall however, can be his level of defending at times- finding himself astray from the blistering attacks of opponents due to his advanced positioning, which sees him surge forward habitually.

Although Clyne has more experience to go by,  Klopp may test out Trent on a more regular basis next season. This may just be what the former Southampton player needs; competition.

Having had no one to challenge him for the role, he may step up his game in order to secure his name in the staring eleven.

Trent has also shown that full back is not the only area he can occupy. He has played in the centre of midfield for the Under 23’s, on a number of occasions- could this be a potential avenue to explore?

The Reds look set for a prosperous future with the talent rising through the ranks, Trent is undoubtedly one of those who could go on to achieve great things at the club.

Only time will tell.

Tom Cavilla.

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Posted in England, Football, premier league

Why Klopp Must Bring Back The Glory Days

Carling Cup 2012, the last piece of silverware the Reds have managed to get their hands on.

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Five years without a trophy, for a team who has five Champions League’s alone, is not the required level the club should be at, especially considering the dizzy heights achieved in the past.

Two clubs who have endured rather torrid seasons are Arsenal and Manchester United, yet; they both ended the season with silverware- something Liverpool failed to do.

Having missed out on the Champions league, both clubs made it imperative that the least they could achieve was winning at least one trophy.

The Gunners added another FA Cup to their collection, to make them the most successful team in the competition’s history.

Whereas, Man United managed to prize two trophies. The first being the Capital One Cup, which was followed up by success in Stockholm,  as they won the Europa League.

Despite playing the superior football over the two clubs this season and finishing in the top four, is a trophy-less season with Champions League more of a success than a Europe-free but trophy winning campaign?

Success of clubs is almost always defined by silverware. So what does that say about the Reds after a dry spell filled with disappointment, disbelief, and discomfort?

Liverpool have been close on many occasions in recent times in finding success, but no one remembers second place.

Three months on from defeating Cardiff City on penalties in the Capital One Cup final 2012, the Reds had the chance to add an eighth FA Cup to the club’s history.  The final ended in pain however, as Chelsea defeated King Kenny’s Reds 2-1, a game in which Andy Carroll had a late effort scrambled off the line, which would have seen the match head into extra time.

2012/13 saw two fourth round exits in both cups. League One Oldham shocked the country as they won 3-2, in what was a day to forget.  Similarly, Swansea were 3-1 winners at Anfield in the Carling Cup. There was further cup disappointment to follow this too as the Reds crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Zenit St Petersburg.

Two Luis Suarez free kick goals at Anfield were not enough to see Liverpool advance to the round of 16, as the tie ended 3-3, with Zenit progressing on away goals.

The 2013/14 season will forever be remembered as the ‘nearly, but not quite season’ more than any other.  This was the year where the mid table side from the previous campaign turned Premier League title chasers.

I am sure no Liverpool fan needs reminding of the heartbreak endured, the Premier League trophy so nearly etched in the Reds’ history. This wasn’t the way things turned out however.

With a five point lead installed with three games to go, few could see room for the celebrations to be put on hold.  But, the inability to see out games and lack of concentration cost Brendan Rodgers’ side dearly.

The infamous ‘slip’, paired with ‘Crystanbul’, two things with the capacity to make supporters of the club feel uneasy, as they relive the unforgiving nature of the league.

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The SAS were firing on all cylinders, penetrating defence’s week in, week out.  Perhaps, one of the most enjoyable times to ever watch Liverpool play.

Without a shadow of a doubt, this was the best chance the club has had to bring the Premier League to Anfield, but a season filled with highs, ended with harrowing lows as Manchester City swooped from behind to claim the title.

The following season, (2014/15) Luis Suarez left for bigger things as Barcelona came calling, which meant there was to be no such title challenge this time around.  But, there were two semi-final appearances for the club, in the FA and Capital One Cup.

In what was Steven Gerrard’s last season at the club, the Reds were hoping to go out in style, leaving the skipper with a parting gift, the only thing the team could present Gerrard with were two cup departures.

Goals from Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph for Aston Villa cancelled out an early Philippe Coutinho goal and sent the Reds packing in the FA cup.

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Similarly, in the Capital One cup, Liverpool fell at the crucial moment at the hands of Chelsea.  A Branislav Ivanovic extra time winner the difference between the two sides over the two legs, following a 1-1 draw at Anfield.

Last season, (15/16) the campaign in which Jürgen Klopp was brought to the club, following Rodgers’ departure, was so nearly the perfect beginning for the German.

In his first season, he guided the Reds to two finals. The first of which was the Capital One Cup final.

The desired outcome was not achieved, as Manchester City defeated the Reds on penalties in what was a nail-biting affair.

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Klopp was dealing with a never-ending fixture list thanks to being in the Europa League, a gruelling competition which demands dedication and determination to succeed. In order to achieve this prerequisite, Klopp abandoned the league as the Reds progressed further and further in Europe.

They found themselves into the Europa League final, facing Spanish side, Sevilla. It was no easy ride getting to this point; games along the way included a round of 16 clash against bitter rivals, Manchester United, a breath-taking quarter final against Dortmund, as well as a dramatic semi-final triumph against Villarreal.

As the Reds ended the season in an underwhelming eight position, winning the Europa League was the only way of gaining Champions League qualification. Meaning that the season was hanging in the balance, a win in the final the only option to make the season as a success.

The final started superbly, Daniel Sturridge’s curling effort put Klopp’s side one goal to the good ten minutes before half time. But, a second half collapse saw the game end 3-1.

So, it was another season of wishful thinking for future seasons to come, as fans were left to wallow in self-pity as they saw their beloved club stoop to new lows.

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This year, was Klopp’s first full season in charge, and there were many noticeable improvements this time around.

The acquisition of Sadio Mane proved to be instrumental in the success of the team, as his blistering pace frightened opposition defenders. Reds’ fans were given a glance of just how good he can be on the first day of the season when Liverpool beat Arsenal 4-3 at the Emirates.

The attacking trident of Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Coutinho was proving to be pivotal in the way the season panned out. The clinical nature of the trio often bailed out the less reliable backline.

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There was talk of another title challenge, similar to that of the 2013/14 season when the Merseyside club found themselves top at the start of November, following a 6-1 drubbing of Watford.

This faded after a horrific January, which saw the Reds collect just one win out of nine games.

They did manage to go on to secure top four this season, after a final day win against Middlesbrough.  Only the second time Liverpool have secured Champions League in the last nine seasons.

A real transformation was observed by supporters of the club this campaign, conversely, it was the same old story in regards to finding silverware.

An embarrassing fourth round defeat at home to Championship side, Wolves, ended FA Cup dreams. In the other domestic cup, it was Southampton who ended the EFL Cup journey.  A dismal two legged affair, where Liverpool had little to offer allowing the Saints to go marching on.

Klopp must find a way to balance the league and cups effectively, in order to obtain a solid finish in the table, but also achieve great things domestically.

It has been far too long without a trophy, for a club that prides itself on its rich heritage.

To fit back into the tag of ‘Europe’s elite’ the Reds must start adding silverware to their name. Winning just one trophy could spark the beginning of another era of dominance.

Liverpool suffered a period of decline from 2010 until 2016, but things are on the up. Klopp is most certainly the right man for the job and is building the start of something special, but what the club needs right now is a taste of the success of old, to remind the fans just how it feels.

The glory days could well be on their way back at Anfield.

Only time will tell.

Tom Cavilla

Posted in England, Football, premier league

FA Cup Final: Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea- Gunners Claim Record 13th FA Cup

Arsenal were worthy victors as they defeated their London rivals, Chelsea, to claim a record thirteenth FA cup, more than any other club.  This trophy also makes Wenger the most successful manager in FA cup history , with this being his seventh triumph as manager of the Gunners.

Arsenal started the game brightly and took the lead within five minutes. However, the decision for the goal to stand was highly contested. The chance was originally flagged for offside, but then following discussions amongst the referee and linesman, was given.

Alexis Sanchez, who was lingering on the edge of the penalty area,  took down the ball in an unorthodox manner, which looked to be a hand ball, this was not given though, and Sanchez ran through on goal, skipping by the offside  Aaron Ramsey; and slotted past Thibaut Courtois who could not keep the effort out.

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Eyebrows were raised in regards to the way in which Sanchez controlled the ball, as well as passing his offside teammate, Ramsey, who many argued was interfering with play despite not touching the ball. The goal remained, however.

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After this, Chelsea found it difficult to get back into the game and Antonio Conte’s side appeared disorganised and depleted.

A Mesut Ozil chance was cleared off the line by Gary Cahill in the 16th minute of the tie.

Shortly after this, Wenger’s side almost doubled their lead again, when Danny Welbeck’s header from a corner crashed onto the post, and the follow up from Ramsey, who was stood just inches from the goal, went wide and brushed the post on its way.

Chelsea failed to muster any notable chances, and Arsenal were looking by far the better side approaching halftime.

In the second half, the dominance Arsenal showed, resumed.

A glorious chance presented itself when Hector Bellerin broke down the right hand flank at speed; with players arriving in the penalty area.

The Spaniard failed to pick out one of his teammates, in what looked like a certain goal with Chelsea’s defence nowhere to be seen.  But, Cesar Azpilicueta managed to track back brilliantly to block the cross and defuse the situation.

The Blues finally salvaged a chance minutes after this, a cross was sent into the box by Azpilicueta for one of his team-mates to attack, this was headed clear by Rob Holding however, and the resulting corner came to nothing.

In the 59th minute, Danny Welbeck made a surging run down the left hand wing, only to be wiped out by Nigerian international, Victor Moses, which resulted in a yellow card being brandished.  This would go on to cost Chelsea later in the match.

Pedro, unleashed a shot which drifted just wide of the left post , the effort at goal was agonisingly close, but Chelsea still could not breach the makeshift Arsenal defence, which was missing the likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscienly, and Gabriel.

As Conte’s side continued their search of an equaliser, their quest was monumentally halted as Victor Moses saw red.

Making his way into the box, he flopped to the ground dramatically and decided his own fate by this senseless action. A second yellow card for Moses spelled the end of the afternoon for the full back.

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However, this did not stop the rest of the Chelsea team pressing onwards.

Diego Costa found the back of the net in the 76th minute to make it honours even.

Willian’s ball into the box was chested down brilliantly by the Spanish international, whose shot found its way home through a deflection off Per Mertesacker.

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Just two minutes later though, Arsenal re-captured the lead.

A threaded through ball by Sanchez made its way to substitute, Olivier Giroud, on the left hand flank , who sumptuously picked out the incoming run of Ramsey.

Kante was uncharacteristically unbeknownst to the run of the Welshman, similarly, David Luiz was also oblivious. The former Cardiff City man headed the ball into the roof of the net.

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This marked Ramsey’s second FA cup final goal, after netting previously against Hull in the 2014 final.

A match saving moment followed with four minutes to play.

David Ospina denied Costa , who fired straight at the Colombian from close range.

Following this, Arsenal fought back with an attack of their own, with only a couple of minutes to play in the match.

Ozil led a three on three attack, but decided to go solo, and after cleverly selling Azpilicueta with a fake shot, he set his sights on goal.

His effort smacked onto the right hand post, with teammates Giroud and Sanchez left frustrated in the box.

In the end, triumphant Arsenal were the real deal in all departments. They bossed the midfield all game, with Granit Xhaka playing particularly well.  Youngster, Holding, played superbly in what was a big moment for the former Bolton defender, and Sanchez and Ozil displayed just how damaging they can be.

The oozing class of Chelsea was nowhere to be seen as Conte’s eleven looked a shadow of the destructible, untouchable force they have been for the duration of the Premier League season.

If this is to be Arsene Wenger’s final match in charge of the Gunners, it’s safe to say, it is a fitting way for him to say goodbye.

Walking out of the game- a winner

Tom Cavilla.

Posted in England, Football, premier league

Liverpool Looking To Extend 13 Game Unbeaten Streak Against The Toffees

The last time Everton beat the Reds was all the way back in 2010, when goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta saw the then David Moyes’ side , claim all three points at Goodison Park.

Liverpool have undeniably been the most prominent Merseyside team in recent years and will be keen to keep that trend running.

This weekend’s match is at Anfield. The last meeting here saw the Reds breeze past their local rivals in supreme fashion, inflicting a 4-0 defeat upon Roberto Martinez’s side, with Klopp’s men producing a ridiculous 41 goal attempts to Everton’s three.

Two of the last three games between the sides at the home of the Reds have seen  Liverpool walk away 4-0 victors; something which Everton fans I’m sure will not want to be reminded of. But, could it be time that the Blues capture their first away win at Anfield since 1999?

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Everton are without trusted right back, Seamus Coleman, who suffered a horrific injury which saw him sustain a double leg break, during Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales. Neil Taylor’s challenge is likely to leave Coleman side-lined until 2018, if not longer.

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Not only this, but summer signing, Morgan Schneiderlin,  is doubtful following a calf strain picked up during Everton’s 4-0 win over Hull ten days ago.

Liverpool have injury woes of their own, they’re still unsure whether or not captain, Jordan Henderson, is fit and able to play. Also,  Adam Lallana has today been ruled out for at least four weeks after injuring his thigh during England’s 2-0 win against Lithuania on Sunday.

Lallana will be a monumental loss for Klopp’s side, who will be looking to push on for their Champions League quest.

Romelu Lukaku and Philippe Coutinho are two players who have both been featuring heavily in the rumour mill as of late, with the pair being linked with summer moves away from Merseyside. It will be intriguing to see if they can put aside distractions from the luring of Europe’s elite and create an effective performance.

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Lukaku bounced back well from rumours about his contract breakdown with a brace against Hull , but Coutinho has struggled since his return to injury and is yet to pick up from his electric form from earlier in the season.

Although this poor spell could just be down to the effects of the injury, you can’t help but ponder if the beckoning calls of Neymar and Luis Suarez at Barcelona are starting to play on the samba star’s mind.

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Can they both push aside the rumours for the game that really matters?

The latest instalment of this fixture resulted in a last gasp winner from star man for the Reds, Sadio Mané, back in December, which filled the red half of Merseyside with Christmas cheer.

But which side will be championing the bragging rights this Saturday?

By Tom Cavilla, 18 years old

Posted in England, Football, premier league

Liverpool U23’S vs Arsenal U23’S: Wilson Brace Sees Reds Claim 3 Points

Liverpool 3-2 Arsenal:

Liverpool moved to one point off first place behind Manchester City and local rivals Everton with a 3-2 victory over Arsenal.

The reds started superbly, Harry Wilson opened the scoring for the reds just two minutes in, after an ambitious ball by Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori landed at the feet of the Liverpool captain, where he then audaciously lobbed Matt Macey in goal.

However, just moments later, the Gunners were level. Stephy Mavididi, the 18 year old was on hand to punish the home side, who gave the ball away cheaply in midfield which sparked the attack.

The reds were back looking for vengeance, Joe Maguire fizzed a long ball forwards for striker, Brooks Lennon to chase, good defending by Ben Sheaf saw this eradicated though.

Sheyi Ojo was a livewire during the beginning of the match, causing havoc for the Arsenal backline.  On a rampage, he was stopped in his tracks by Reiss Nelson who brought the former Wolves loanee down in a promising central position for the Reds.

Nelson himself, was a driving force, skipping past opponents, he was acting as the main provider for Mavididi and Chris Willock upfront.

Maguire sent another long ball into the box 11 minutes in, on this occasion it proved monumental.

Cameron Brannagan was brought down by Matt Macey in goal, and resulted in referee; Steven Rushton pointing to the spot. Wilson stepped up, and tucked the ball home smartly into the bottom right hand corner.

Not long after this, Reiss Nelson had two consecutive attempts blocked, first by Sakho, who threw himself in front of the ball, and second time round prompted a good save by Shamal George.

Arsenal then won themselves a corner, taken by Ismael Bennacer, who played it short to Willock. He then fizzed the ball back into the danger zone, but it was well cleared and almost saw Brooks Lennon getting in at the other end for Liverpool.

On the 26 minute mark, Liverpool regained their lead.

Pedro Chirivella threaded through a perfectly weighted pass to Ojo, who found himself in acres of space on the left wing, he fired past Macey at his near post to make it 3-1.

Five minutes later, Maguire passed to Brannagan on the edge of the box, his shot glided just past the left hand post.

Steve Gatting’s men fought back,  Willock made space on left hand flank, cut inside and shot, it was well saved again by George in goal however.

One of the biggest chances of the half fell to the visitors on the stroke of half time. Jeff Reine- Adelaide caught Ilori off guard at the back and snatched the ball off him to present him a one on one opportunity. Reinforcements arrived though, and diffused the situation.

As the second half began, Corey Whelan, who has been at Liverpool since U10 level, came on in place of Joe Gomez in defence.

The Reds started brightly, Brookes Lennon played a ball across goal hunting for Ojo, although, he couldn’t quite sort his feet out and missed the opportunity.

Both sides were struggling to get a foothold after this moment, after a thrilling first half, the second half turned into more a tactical affair, which prompted changes from both managers. On the hour mark Kevin Stewart departed for Jordan Williams. Whereas, for Arsenal, Ismael Bennacer was replaced by Eddie Nketiah.

Ten minutes later, a great chance for the home side to wrap things up : Great build up play between Wilson, Chirivella  and Ojo almost saw the Reds make it 4-1, however it was one pass too many in the end.

This missed opportunity came back to haunt Mick Garrity’s men as Arsenal made it 3-2 in the 72nd minute. Nelson made a driving run forward, then fed the ball into Mavidivi who slotted the ball into bottom right corner for his second of the game. There were claims for a foul on Ojo moments before, these were ignored however.

Two minutes on from the goal, the away side were back again. This time, Willock was inches away, his effort drifting past right hand post. He wasn’t finished there either, another surge forwards saw him dance past three players in box, but he didn’t have the end product on this occasion.

Liverpool made a final substitution on 82 minutes, with Chirivella the assister for Ojo’s goal, making way for young player, Matthew Virtue.

As the game drew to its final stages, there was a hefty collision in the middle of the pitch, Maguire and Chiori Johnson running straight into one another. Johnson was the player to come off worse, and was down for around three minutes.

Arsenal were still searching for the equaliser in the dying embers of the match, Willock again came agonisingly close. His finesse effort swirled past the right of George. Finally, substitute, Virtue received a yellow card for a rash challenge on Marc Bola, on the edge of the area.  It was the final chance of the game, and was sent flying over the bar by Ben Sheaf.

Liverpool held on for the three points, which sees them complete the double over the Gunners in the league this season.  Arsenal who prior to this match had won their last three league games slipped to defeat, whereas, Mike Garrity’s men picked up a much needed win after a winless run of four games in all competitions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool U23s: George; Ilori, Gomez (Whelan 46′), Sakho, Maguire; Stewart (Williams 60′), Chirivella (Virtue 83′), Brannagan; Wilson, Lennon, Ojo

Subs not used: Firth, Gomes

Arsenal U23s: Macey; Johnson, Sheaf, Bielik (c), Bola; Maitland-Niles, Bennacer (Nketiah 63′), Reine-Adelaide; Nelson, Mavididi, Willock

Subs not used: Zelalem, Keto, Nketiah, Dragomir, Da Silva 

Posted in England, Football, premier league

A Case of Déjà vu?  2013/14 vs 2016/17

The question on many Liverpool fans’ minds after the extraordinary 4-3 defeat to Bournemouth last weekend, which saw old memories of the 2013/14 season come flooding back.

As the SAS (Suarez and Sturridge) struck opponents down and blew them out of the water back in 2013/14, the defence behind them straggled onwards, down but not out, being carried by the attack.

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This was the case throughout the season where Brendan Rodgers so nearly guided the reds to Premier League glory, but is it going to be a case of Déjà vu, this time around?

High scoring games, poor defensive record, and attacking football; the ingredients for the interlinked seasons.

Up until the Bournemouth match, Liverpool had been very impressive, only one defeat in the league at the hands of Sean Dyche’s Burnley, unbeaten in 15 games in all competitions , 14 goals conceded in 13 games; two less goals conceded than at this stage in that infamous season, as well as seven more goals scored in this campaign.

They have looked the real deal this season- title contenders for sure.

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Many people have praised Jürgen Klopp’s men this season, not only for their attacking prowess, but also for their rejuvenated defensive look.

A major part of this colossal improvement has been the capture of Joel Matip from Schalke back in July on a free transfer- pretty shrewd business from Klopp.

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At 6ft 3” he reigns supreme at the back and is also very good at playing the ball precisely, but more importantly, in a calm fashion, perhaps something Mamadou Sakho lacked.

His partner has been the highly improved Dejan Lovren, who has won over the hearts of many, after a fairly torrid couple of seasons with the club.

The full backs of the 2013/14 season included a young and promising local player: Jon Flanagan, filled with commitment and passion, and also experienced right back, Glen Johnson.

This time around, James Milner; Mr Reliable, is filling in at left back in place of the not so Mr Reliable, Alberto Moreno.

Jon Flanagan is out on loan at Burnley, whilst Nathaniel Clyne is now the player for right back after Johnson’s inevitable departure.

Clyne has been one of Liverpool’s most consistent players in recent times. The new full backs look a lot more compact and secure this season.

Last weekend, Matip was injured for the game on the South Coast, so the experienced midfielder Lucas Leiva filled in as a makeshift centre back to go alongside Dejan Lovren. This was a decision which many fans questioned, with summer signing Ragnar Klavan on the bench and Mamadou Sakho stuck in the reserves.

Matip has only missed one game out of 14 for the reds prior to this match, the game he missed (Burnley), they lost. The Bournemouth match marked his second absence, which they went on to lose also.

This statistic showing how monumental he has already become to the backline of Klopp’s side because as soon as he is taken out, the ‘Old Liverpool’ seems to re-appear and signs of uncertainty creep in at the back.

As Matip went missing, so did Liverpool’s defence. 3-1 up with 15 minutes to play against Bournemouth, they caved in.

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A 4-3 defeat the end result. Plenty of criticism came the way of German keeper Loris Karius also, Simon Mignolet’s predecessor, who so far; has not lived up to expectations.

The problem with the 2013/14 season was  Liverpool’s inability to see out games, the classic example of course being the Crystal Palace game towards the end of the season, where Rodgers’ side were 3-0 up with ten minutes to play, only to go and squander this and draw 3-3.

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Something that strikes a correlation with the way Liverpool ended the game against Eddie Howe’s side.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge were firing on all cylinders, whereas paradoxically, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho were clinging on for dear life. Defensive error after defensive error over time cost them in the long run, in a season where Liverpool were tipped to win the league by almost everyone under the sun with around five games to go, they blew it.

It has always been a feature of a Liverpool side, a weaker defence and a stronger attack, but no one envisaged that they would let the title fall into Manchester City’s hands with three games to go and being five points clear at the top- It seemed impossible.

After the brilliant start this season, which has mirrored a lot of similar habits of that side, many have again backed the reds to go all the way.

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Fast, deadly, attacking football, scoring goals for fun, a balanced midfield, and a positive atmosphere in and around the ground, all things that were prominent in the season they came so close. However, they will need to eradicate the one problem holding them back: The defence.

A famous quote by someone not so close to Liverpool hearts encapsulates the truth behind a frail defence: Sir Alex Ferguson: “A good attack wins you games, a good defence wins you titles” A statement which has a lot of honesty to it and it a catchphrase Jürgen Klopp is most likely aware of.

With star man Philippe Coutinho ruled out until New Year, Sadio Mane departing temporarily in January for the African Cup of Nations, and Joel Matip also being a possibility to join him, question marks are being raised.

Was this defeat to Bournemouth a wake-up call perhaps? A reminder that there are still many issues that need solving.

Will Liverpool surge all the way to the finish line, only to fall down at the final hurdle again? Or will it be the year where Jürgen Klopp creates history.  Since his arrival he has certainly made his mark on the club; a terrific manager, which is a match made in heaven for Liverpool.

Can Liverpool go all the way this time? Or will it be a case of same old, same old?

 

By Tom Cavilla, 18 years old.

Posted in England, Euro 2016, Football

England 2-1 Wales

England 2-1 Wales.

A game which had the build up for weeks, and looked certain to be a mouth-watering affair , boy did it not disappoint!

The encounter started in a rather tame fashion, although the same can’t be said for the roaring England and Wales supporters who were in great voice. England started this match the same way they did against Russia in the opening match, firing out from the off. Adam Lallana proving to be one of the Three Lions’ key assets in the pressing style as he ran non stop charging down the likes of Chris Gunter and Ashley Williams at the Wales backline- perhaps something Lallana has developed under Jurgen Klopp, who of course loves this style of play.

After the first 10 minutes or so the game slowly began to lose its pace and energy, something was not right. England had lost their early momentum and now it appeared Wales were gaining the upper hand. The Welsh Premier League midfield duo of Joe Allen of Liverpool , and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey were starting to create chances of course for the main man on the Welsh side- Gareth Bale.

As the first half drew to a close, a resounding feeling of disappointment echoed around the bouncing crowd. Neither side looking clinical or fresh; a scrappy game. The two players which had come under heavy criticism during England’s first game, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, were not performing brilliantly yet again and were in the spotlight. Sterling’s blistering pace got him down the line fast enough to beat any player, however he has lacked any final product which has let him down massively- something which has only worsened since his big money switch to Manchester City last year. Harry Kane had a juxtaposing issue. His pace was his biggest weakness, the Spurs man who has been on form and has bagged top scorer this season was not looking sharp at all- it was crying out for a change! Both were just not putting in a shift of a winning performance. Masses of fans around England were crying out for the player who has captured the attention of all this season- Jamie Vardy, not only him, Daniel Sturridge was sat perched on the sideline, surely one of them, if not both had to come on?

Before England could consider any of these changes, disaster struck. A free kick around 34 yards out from goal for Wales. Who could possibly be in contention for this? Oh yes… the world’s most expensive player at £85 million- Gareth Bale. He had already shown his free kick masterclass during Wales’ 2-1 opening win against Slovakia where goalkeeper- Matús Kozácik was left wrong footed in goal which allowed Bale to sneak the goal in. A carbon copy this time around also. Joe Hart stood extremely far over to the left hand post , leaving an inviting gap in the bottom right hand corner. Bale didn’t need an invitation; he sent the ball cannoning into the bottom right hand corner, only for Joe Hart to be left picking up his pride from out of the net.

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Half Time : England 0-1 Wales

Roy Hodgson had some thinking to do at the break. Would he stick with the team, or twist? Twist he did. The fans got what they were crying out for, Vardy and Sturridge both on, for Kane and Sterling. It didn’t take long for the side to gel and get back into things; the team now looked much more threatening going forward. On the 56th minute, Jamie Vardy scored to make it 1-1, England were back in the game!  The two subs combined nicely, Sturridge sent in a lofted ball which fell kindly to Vardy who appeared to be in an offside position, however replays showed Ashley Williams headed the ball backwards so the goal stood.

 

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The game really started to heat up now, with both sides starting to realise what a difference the outcome of this result could make. Whilst England chose the attacking option, Wales reversed the spectrum and soaked up the pressure- it was clear they wanted to hang on for a draw and were looking to hold on. Hold on they did, England were throwing everything at their rivals but there was just no way through. One last roll of the dice from Hodgson saw him send on 18 year old Manchester United starlet , Marcus Rashford. England now had 3 strikers on the pitch with a quarter of an hour remaining. The Three Lions appeared to be heading for a disappointing draw entering the final minute of the game, which would raise eyebrows over the future of the England manager, however his half time swap worked a delight as Daniel Sturridge the Liverpool man linked up nicely with young player of the year Dele Alli , a nice one-two saw Sturridge find a way through the torrid Wales defence. The ball nestled in the left hand post, leaving Wayne Hennessey stranded, 92nd minute winner!

England v Wales - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016

Full Time : England 2-1 Wales.

A crucial 3 points for Roy Hodgson’s men which sees them go top of the group and in a comfortable position to qualify. England deserved the win with over 70% possession in their favour and over 20 shots to Wales’ 8, the real winners came out on top. The biggest question from this match was of course about Hodgson’s selections. Many fans have been left infuriated with Sterling and Kane and have been pleading for Vardy and Sturridge- who appeared to be a much more dynamic duo, will the England manager play them both in the next game?

By Tom Cavilla – 17 years old.