I am ecstatic after our 4-0 win over Stoke last night. Going into the game, I knew that we had to put in a better performance than we did against Spurs but I still had memories about Stoke’s visit to Anfield last season when they frustrated us into a 0-0 draw. But all that changed last night when Torres gave us the lead after 4 minutes. It may not have been a spectacular goal but a player like Torres just needs to keep scoring goals to build the confidence up.
We looked in fine profile last night as we attacked well. I was a bit concerned by the number of free kicks we were giving away in dangerous areas. A better team would have punished us with all those chances. I think I was just as nervous for Ayala last night as he was for himself. You could see the guy was not comfortable at times but Carra talked him through the game and he came out well. It could have been a different story if Stoke had opted to play with two men upfront, that really would have tested Ayala. But credit to the bloke for stepping up and I hope he can build from this.
Now the main crux of this post has to centre around Glen Johnson. He was head and shoulders my Man of the Match yesterday and I don’t think many of you would disagree with me. We have been missing a genuine attacking threat down our right and Johnson has just filled that gap for us. He seems to be doubling up as a right back and a right winger. We know Kuyt does not have the greatest pace and skill to be a wing wizard down the right but now he has the perfect compliment in the form of Glen. The two of them (Kuyt and Johnson) seem to have already struck a great understanding with each other and if teams thought that our only attacking threat was through Gerrrard and Torres, they better think again as Johnson and Kuyt are going to unlock many defences this season.
Johnson capped off his home debut with a stunning goal to make it 2-0 just before the break. The technique he showed with his scissors kick was of the top draw. You would expect a finish like that from Torres but Glen showed that he can also do it. For 90 minutes Glen was an attacking threat and his defence was also rock solid. A 10 / 10 performance by him and long may it continue. It is refreshing to see us being able to attack from the right back position again. I think the last time we had a right back attacking threat was back in the day of Rob Jones and Jason McAteer, now that was a long time ago!
There has to be special mention about our third goal…sheer class by Steven Gerrard. I have not seen a turn like that in a very long time. Usually you see players make turns like that and a goal does not come from it but this time Gerrard laid it on for Kuyt to make it three. Gerrard’s turn last night reminds me of the ‘turn’ Redondo did on Henning Burg in the Champions League a couple of seasons back.
N’gog came on to make it 4-0 and it was virtually a tap in but all goals count and maybe that goal will spur the young mans confidence. Yet again, the creator of that goal….my man Glen Johnson.
I have just been reading reactions from the game this morning and Rafa has made special mention to Lucas’ performance past night. Yes, he played better than he did at Spurs but still he needs to up his game in my opinion. What is concerning me though is that it seems that Mascherano is having the ball at his feet more now than he did when Alonso was there. I am not saying Mascherano is a bad ball player but I would be expecting Lucas to be the one running to the middle of the park and picking up the ball from Mascherano and then Lucas would make the call and decide which way to go. But I guess Lucas is not ready to take up this responsibilty and thus Javier is the one ‘dictating’ play from midfield. I guess that is why we signed Aquilani because that is exactly what he will be doing (dictating play from midfield). One thing Lucas has improved on though is his ball retention. He is not giving the ball away like he used to last season which is a bonus.
All in all, great performance by the Reds and we now just need to build from it. I can not help but laugh at Manure after they lost to Burnley last night!!! We already ahead of them on the table!
On the Mascherano ball varrying issue.
I think last night we saw the prototype to Liverpool’s intended structure this season. Masch will be the one collecting from the defence with Lucus and hopefully soon Aquilani taking a position higher up the pitch in order to create the space for Masch to receive.
Few teams press that deep so it is ideal to have you deepest mid pick up the ball. That was where Alonso operated. Difference being Alonso could get the ball upfield quickly through his passing range. Now build ups will rely on player movement ahead of Masch.
It will work well provided the movement ahead is good and the passing is accurate. Masch sprayed a few around last night into the channels for the full backs. It’s a save ball provided the wingers drag the opposing full backs infield and our full backs press up. The pass is into space and not to feet so it’s got good probabilities.
I’m very excited about our system with Aquilani. There is a real possibility we will be commiting up to 6 player in attack movements – Man U style almost! we could score more than last year.
I can see your line off thinking MoKo and I agree with you. We have changed how we play in the center of the park compared to last season. It will be exciting to see Aquilani in this setup.
May concern may be that if Mascherano gets injured or is tired then who is going to fill in his shoes? If Aquilani is fit then I’m sure Lucas will take over from Mascherano.
We are certainly going to attack more this season as opposed to last with this new setup we have which can only bode well for us. I just hope we get our center backs back soon coz I’m relishing seeing Agger in this new setup as Agger is also an attacking threat when he steps out of defence with the ball at his feet.
Definitely on the Agger impact. In this setup he will have space and REASON to step out of defence with the ball. I think we might be onto something here!!!
This system will depend on movement and creating out passes for who ever has the ball. Shaw suggested that Aquilani is a Pirlo. I see it differently. I have read that a big part of his game is movement. He is always on the move. That will help teh deep mids and defence to get a pass.
If Masch is injured or off form Lucs will drop into that spot. Rafa as much as said that when he discussed Aqilani fitting in between Gerrard and eithe of Masch and Lucas. Further alternatives will be Spearing, who’s preseason form was impressive and has high energy levels and Damien Plessis (the forgtten youngster). He has slipped under the radar but lets not forget the impact he made when hee first got in the squad!!!
I think Rafa is really onto something. Hope the players are on to it too!
The one problem with the system, and I can see you have thought about it MoKo, is that if Liver are pressed in their own half it means Masch is being rushed into a pass which is not a good thing at all as he is likely to give the ball away, and knowing Masch, in an attempt to recover the ball he will give away fouls and get himself carded.
Until Aquilani steps in we may prove to be quite vulnerable in that sense, as I think Liver need someone comfortable on the ball to be the first outlet option from defence. You will notice that against Spurs Rafa kept the team very compact and I suspect it was because he was afraid that Spurs may have tried to press us high up the field and rush our passing from the back. Keeping several options open for Masch was therefore needed and it meant we didn’t look too threatening going forward. When Gerrard started picking the ball up from deep and controlling the play we looked a whole lot better.
But reading into this one cannot but conclude that Lucas is still not the player that Liverpool needs. Masch is a defensive midfielder being tasked with the job of spreading the passes. To me thats ridiculous because thats Lucas’ primary role as a midfielder.
That is a serious vulnerability we have. but in a way we had that last year too. Good teams would just press Alonso high up the pitch and in the end Masch still had to receive the ball. Not sure how we can work around that. Maybe the tactic from the Spurs game of Gerrad coming into mid so that opposition cannot track all outlets. It’s a tricky!!!
As Rafa has said many time this is where Agger will really help by getting into mid and creating options. then you suck the oppositions tracking mid deep by allowing Masch to drop into defence line and Agger moves into teh vancant space. You totally take that man out of the game!
MOVEMENT IS KEY!!!
Lets not judge this simple single game, lets see the next game when we gonna face Villa & see how we will do against kinda tough teams, & please dont dont forget that we need another striking options, I cant imagine how we gonna do if torres & gerrard are out for some reason, any way we trusted in rafa always & we have to do more & we will see.
regards to all Liverpoolians
Oh Sorry, just forgot to mention that Johnson’s performance was terrific, outstanding, stunning & its exactly what we need in our squad.