Κυριακή, 27 Μαρτίου 2016

International break

While most of Liverpool players are scattered in order to represent their countries, Jurgen Klopp has taken those who are left to Tenerife for training. As always international breaks are boring with nothing to report (apart from frustrating injuries). My way to deal with boredom is to draw. Here is my drawing of our beloved German, Jurgen Klopp. Hope you like it!

Τρίτη, 22 Μαρτίου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Southampton - Liverpool 3-2/Premier League/20-3-2016

When the referee blew the whistle for the start of the second half nobody could think that Liverpool would let their lead slip not only because they were two nil up, but also because they had chances to score more goals. In this analysis my focus is on the defensive side of the second half, with Skrtel on the pitch, where from the first minutes it was clear to everybody who watched the game that Liverpool wouldn’t have a stroll in the park in the end.

Skrtel concedes a penalty just 3 minutes in the second half

In this picture we can see where Flanagan and Sakho have set the defensive line. However, Skrtel is behind
this line along with Pele. In addition, he has already started pulling the Southampton man’s shirt, which led to the penalty. Worth mentioning is the fact that Skrtel is on the back of Pele standing while the Italian is running into the area to catch the ball from a beautiful pass by Steven Taylor.

Flanagan loses concentration as well
This is another example of the same miscommunication at the back for Liverpool. This time not only Skrtel but also Flanagan is way behind the defensive line which is set by the rest of the team. The Slovakian misses the header once again and Sadio Mane, who isn’t offside due to all this lack of communication by the Liverpool defense, could have scored.

Liverpool gets finally punished

Since Liverpool didn’t get the message by these two big Southampton chances, they got punished. Can makes a poor pass to Flanagan who loses the ball at a risky area. Although Southampton is pressing high, there is a huge gap between the defense and the midfield. The only player to be in that space is Sadio Mane. Martin Skrtel is concentrated on his player and once more standing instead of closing the channel where Mane is running towards to.

Liverpool show no desire at all
Skrtel loses one more header and leaves just Sakho and Flanagan at the back. But those two make the same mistake that Liverpool did in the second half. They don’t keep a defensive line. That eases Shane Long to make the pass to his Italian partner without any pressure whatsoever. Another thing to notice is that Emre Can is just jogging instead of getting behind the defense.

The same mistakes happen again
It's possible to actually copy the same things that I’ve said about the previous image and paste them in here. Skrtel loses the header and gets in a no man’s land; Flanagan is too deep and marks noone; Sakho, not being as rapid as Mane, should close him down better, maybe giving away a foul for the team. And the icing on the cake is Emre Can who shows no desire to defend, standing for another time and making Joe Allen run to mark where he himself should have been in the first place. 
Sometimes the statistics may lie but in this case they tell the truth about one player. Dejan Lovren in 45 minutes won 66,7% of his duels and 100% of his aerial duels. On the other side, Martin Skrtel won 37,5% of his overall duels and 40% of his aerial duels… 

Κυριακή, 20 Μαρτίου 2016

Opinion: Southampton - Liverpool 3-2 /Premier League /20-3-2016

At st Mary’s stadium Liverpool gave away a two nil lead, suffering three goals after the break. 
The introduction of Martin Skrtel coming on for, already booked, Dejan Lovren played a major role for the defeat, as the Slovakian was horrendous for his first 45 minutes back in the senior team after injury. Minutes into the second half he gave away a typical of him -shirt pulling- penalty, which thankfully for the defender, Simon Mignolet was able to catch. However he lost all of his aerial duels; he didn’t make a single tackle and overall he was abysmal. However, although nobody can defend Skrtel, we should remember that it was his first game after a long spell out due to injury. Hence, we shouldn’t bash on him and blame him for the loss.
Another player who received a lot of stick was Christian Benteke. Coming on for Sturridge, the Belgian wasn’t able to produce anything attacking wise, while he tossed away a glorious chance to put Liverpool back in front by two goals. It was yet another horrendous miss for the striker who cost Liverpool 32 million pounds.
However the blame doesn’t fall just for those two players. In fact the whole Liverpool team didn’t show up in that second half. Jon Flanagan, as a skipper, made a lot of mistakes and couldn’t carry the team on his back after Sadio Manè put Southampton back in the game. The whole team didn’t show any desire and took the game for granted. Jurgen Klopp is another man to blame for this performance in the second half. His substitutions didn’t make any impact, whatsoever, and moreover cost Liverpool the game.
Now the Reds have once more to pick their pieces up as important games are ahead. Firstly Liverpool host Tottenham at Anfield next Saturday and after this comes the first leg with Borrusia Dortmund for the Europa League quarter finals.

Stay tuned for the tactical analysis for all the details about this shambolic Liverpool performance in the second half. 

Σάββατο, 19 Μαρτίου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Manchester United - Liverpool FC 1-1/ Europa League/ 17-3-2016

After winning the first leg by 2-0, Liverpool had a strong advantage going into the second leg at Old Trafford. The Reds didn’t have to take as many chances as in the game at Anfield, thus they approached the game more defensively in order to progress without any late slip ups into the next round. Defensive partners Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho were immense (Sakho won 8 duels and made 6 tackles). James Milner was deployed as a left back due to Alberto Moreno’s last moment injury, and, despite playing out of position, the vice captain put a solid performance. However, Nathaniel Clyne had his worst performance in a Liverpool shirt with plenty of mistakes throughout the game.

Manchester United take the lead

In this image, we can see that Lovren steps out of the box to mark Juan Mata, leaving a huge gap in the defense. Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne don’t communicate with each other, hence they mark the same space. That leaves Anthony Martial all alone asking for the ball. When the ball goes to the Frenchman it’s too late for Clyne to mark him effectively. The right back stamps him and gives away a penalty which put Manchester United back in the game.

Martial is alone once again

After Coutinho’s goal Manchester United had a lot to do in order to spoil Liverpool’s party. But Liverpool’s defending wasn’t up to scratch for the full 90 minutes. In this case Mata has the ball in the edge of the area. Sakho and Lovren have a huge gap in between them as Milner is slow to recover. That leaves again Clyne marking Fellaini instead of Martial. Because of his height Fellaini could easily win a header in a clash with Clyne. Although the ball didn’t end up either to Fellaini either to Martial, nonetheless it proves why Clyne had such a rough night coping with the Frenchman.

Defense improves significantly

This was the last big chance for Manchester United. Liverpool’s defending has improved by miles throughout the game, Sakho and Lovren are now close enough to each other and Clyne is in front of Martial meaning that a potential ball by Valencia has no chance. The only problem was Emre Can not noticing quickly enough Fellaini’s run inside the box leading to a shot which could put Manchester United back into the game. After that Manchester United couldn’t break through Liverpool’s defense.

Liverpool attack in numbers

Attacking wise Liverpool was once more, under Klopp, exceptional. In the 30th minute Firmino has the ball with five players in front of him. Can and Lallana are making runs into the box; Sturridge is all alone waiting for the ball, while on the other side Henderson asks for the ball seeing that Varela is marking Can’s run. However, despite having so many options Roberto Firmino blows the chance deciding to shoot straight at De Gea.

Manchester United’s defending woes

This time 4 Liverpool players are in front of Coutinho giving him options. Lallana and Sturridge stretch the Manchester United defense as shown in this image. The back four has a huge distance between each other. Henderson gets into the space between the centre backs. Coutinho passess the ball perfectly but the skipper misses the target by a mile, failing to level things up. 

Sturridge has a bad day at the office

Daniel Sturridge didn’t enjoy the best of nights but he has only himself to blame. In this image he has the ball inside the area and support is given by Firmino and Coutinho. The Englishman could possibly cut inside and shoot with his left foot. However, he shoots with his weak foot in a tight angle leading to ironic cheers by the home crowd. 

Τρίτη, 15 Μαρτίου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Liverpool FC - Manchester United 2-0/ 10-3-2016

Liverpool were victorious in the Europa League round of 16 first leg over neighbouring rivals Manchester United with two goals by Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino. Although Manchester United started well, defending with a man to man system, they managed to keep Liverpool away for just 20 minutes. After the first goal they fell apart with Spanish keeper David de Gea making unbelievable saves to deny Liverpool a couple of goals. But let’s go into all the details.

Liverpool – Manchester United

Possession 56% - 44%

Shots (on target) 13 (8) - 5 (1)

Corners 7 - 0

Strong start from United

Just 18 seconds in play Manchester United attack but Rasfhord fails to control the ball in order to have a free shot. Anthony Martial makes a great move, leaving three Liverpool players behind and making space. The problem for Liverpool’s defense is that Lovren and Sakho are too close to each other. That leaves Alberto Moreno, who isn’t the tallest of players, in the far post, misjudging the header.

Liverpool deals with a well organized defense

Clyne makes the run into the box immediately after he leaves the ball to Henderson. At the same time, Sturridge and Coutinho are stretching Manchester United’s defense which has a huge gap between Schneiderlin and Blind, leaving a lot of space for Clyne’s run. While we can see that Manchester United defend with a man to man system, Depay fails to react quickly getting in the back of Clyne and forcing the defender down. 

De Gea makes a great save

While Manchester United started with a man to man defending system, after the goal, they fell apart. Sturridge has the ball inside the penalty box and there are 4 United players marking no one, letting Coutinho making the run behind everyone. At the same time, Lallana is in the edge of the box alone as well, giving options to Sturridge who decides to shoot. Coutinho nods the ball into the goal forcing De Gea into an unbelievable save.

Liverpool making runs

Roberto Firmino, after turning away from Schneiderlin, has options as Sturridge, Can and Lallana all make runs while Coutinho gets into place, maybe for a long shot as Fellaini’s attention is Firmino. However, Varela is out of position leaving Smalling with the duty of following Sturridge or marking Can’s run. This mistake by Varela could cost for Manchester United had it not been for De Gea in goal saving Sturridge’s shot following a miscalculation from Smalling.

Liverpool counter attacking

Liverpool is counter attacking with five players. Firmino, Henderson and Allen make runs giving options to Lallana who could also go all by himself. The interesting thing is that nobody is watching Allen, everybody’s attention is on Firmino. In this case Lallana decided to pass the ball to Henderson whose poor pass was followed by an equally poor clearance, leading to Firmino’s goal.