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BIRD’S EYE VIEW: Stalemate at the Swans

19 Sep

There is nothing worse for a fan than a loss on match day, or so I always thought. I was wrong. I realize now that it is less painful than a loss engineered by an ex- player of the team you support (and who recently left). That was to be the case on Monday evening when a former Red tormented us to no end at the Liberty Stadium. Yes, we were away from home but the sting by a bee that was part of our swarm last season was more painful especially because it happened so early on in the night’s confrontation.

If the fulltime scores were to hold after that early Jonjo Shelvey strike, a lot of doubts would have been raised by naysayers. In previous seasons, the Swans would have gone on to hit a couple more.  After all, our form away from home was not much to write home about. What the team previously lacked is a spirit of grinding results out of such fixtures. The urgency of goals was there but not the technical ability born from players well steeped in a winner’s mindset.

PRINCIPAL ACTORS: Daniel Sturridge (L) scored his fourth goal in as many matches. He is chased by ex-Red Jonjo Shelvey, at the heart of all four goals in the 2-2 draw at Swansea's Liberty Stadium. (http://i.telegraph.co.uk/)

PRINCIPAL ACTORS: Daniel Sturridge (L) scored his fourth goal in as many league matches. Ex-Red Jonjo Shelvey (R), was involved in all four goals in Monday’s 2-2 draw at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium. (Source: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/)

 

However, in response, the first half brace was as good as any fan could have dreamt of faced with such a situation. Nobody though could have guessed the extent of drama that followed the early goal. Sturridge’s rich vein of form continued into the season with a goal in every game played. Dan wrote his name in the history books by becoming the first player to score in each of Liverpool’s first four games of a Premier League season. That was notwithstanding the fact that he isn’t fully fit to even play. It was also great to see two deadline day signings having a debut game to be proud of. Sakho was immense at the back despite losing his footing a few times, but it was Moses who capped a fine first half performance with a nice strike.

At half time, fans could almost feel the positivity in the Liverpool dressing room. It was a comeback befitting our status as league leaders. All that was left was a return to the field and a repeat of that first half. No pressure.

Injury is not something any coach desires, but it is a scenario that is anticipated nevertheless. However, in a game operating on fine margins like this, a playmaker is somebody you hope will go on and give ninety minutes of pure elegance. Coutinho’s withdrawal ten minutes into the second half was a big blow to the team. That injury coupled with the Michu goal (assisted by Shelvey’s flick) would test the Reds ability to withstand their opponents onslaught.

We now had to hold the wall and prevent it toppling on us. We have struggled in the second half since the first game of the league at Stoke but this game was different. Our keeper, who was unbeaten in the league, had twice seen his goal breached, adding to injury to our playmaker, vice captain and right back. The last twenty minutes was a pure ‘heart-in-the-mouth’ experience that no fan would love to go through again.

At the final whistle, we had protected our fort. A resurgent team, aided by the cruel hands of injury had conspired to deny us victory. Unlike last season, when we were happy snatching a draw against Swansea, we were now disappointed at our failure to gain all three points. That is testament to our improvement. We are developing the mindset of champions and the team is gelling into an unstoppable force.

It is still early days in the Premier League, but Liverpool is showing all signs of a team worth looking out for. The Swansea challenge gave us lesson areas that need to be rectified. It also gave us a display of blessings we’ve acquired so cheaply.

I take this earliest opportunity to thank the Chelsea management for agreeing to do business with us. Here’s is a toast to doing more in the near future. Finally, The Saints beckon and Kenya’s finest Wanyama is part of the opposition. I hope we’ll give him a reason to join us next season.

I have practiced ‘The Sturridge’ dance in advance, have you?

Author: John ‘JT’ Thuku ©JayTee254 (2013)

 

 

 

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OPINION: The Summer Transfer Window 2013 that was

11 Sep
Source: www1.skysports.com

Source: www1.skysports.com

When the final whistle blew on the final day of the 2012-2013 season, Liverpool players left the field elated and disappointed almost on equal measure. They had won the final game, albeit with a first half solitary goal (a habit that has continued to the first three games of the new season), but were bidding farewell to a long serving loyal servant. Since 1997, it was surely a big loss for the team and the manager who was having a new season of mixed reactions.

It was not easy to get a replacement going into the summer transfer window. The gaffer, in paying tribute to Carra, admitted to this. Fans all over the world looked forward, with reserved criticism, to the preferred world class replacement. Reserved because of the turmoil that threatened to boil over in recent past windows and which failed to spur run of wins to secure the coveted champions league position. The pressure fell singularity to the shoulders of Brendan Rodgers.

It was not only Carra’s departure that had fans worried; but the form of Reina in between the posts and his decline of appearances for Skrtel and Coates. Competition for position was needed for Enrique at left back and a backup for the injury prone Agger. In the bigger picture we had a defence for the best days and none for the torrid ones. This was best displayed by our inability to grind results out of teams where despite leading, defensive mistakes came to haunt us. The Man City game at home last season is a good example.

At the close of business on deadline day, many fans agreed that the manager had a good summer transfer sheet. Advances from Real Madrid and Arsenal to Suarez had been warded off successfully despite the drama that had the player seeking a move. However, the story of the incoming Red soldiers began with the arrival of a little known young midfielder Luis Alberto. The similarity in names to Suarez had fans talking whether lightning strikes twice at the same place. Iago Aspas followed suit and the Celta Vigo hit man’s move had its fair share of drama as it was halted by Spanish officials. Finally, the 25 year old had his way and hopes to spark the Premier League as he did last season at the Primera League club with 12 goals.

The impending defense problem was dealt with by the recruit of Kolo Toure and Mignolet. Kolo, considered a ‘spent force’ by Man City who released him for free, has gone on to light up in the first games. Mignolet, on the other hand was thought to have been cover for Reina, but Rodgers probably used a Swahili saying ‘Two bulls do not stay in the same shed’ to offload Reina to Napoli. Fans will probably debate for eons on why Simon was worth parting ways with Pepe for Liverpool.

At the deadline day, history definitely did not repeat itself, as reinforcements came in. Tiago Ilori who is as young as Coates signed on the dotted line to join from Sporting Lisbon. A loan entry for explosive Nigerian winger Victor Moses was finalized to join an earlier loan deal of left back Aly Cissokho. This was to increase depth in attack after the departure of Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll and Jonjo Shelvey. The gaffer now had a variety of combinations to try out when the Coutinho-Gerrard-Suarez trio had a bad letter day.

However, what got tongues wagging was the arrival of the ‘beast’: Mamadou Sakho from PSG. Fans who were not contented by the signature of Kolo earlier now had a bold answer in this acquisition. The 2011/2012 France Young Player of the Year has 14 caps for the Les Bleus at only 23 years of age. Many soccer pundits claimed this was a ‘steal’ at 15M Euros because of his versatility to play in Left back, Center back or at the Defensive Midfield position. If he lives up to his reputation then Anfield will be treated to a spectacle.

At the backdrop of a successful transfer window, an international break beckons. Analysis of the signings will be on major soccer sites and shows. That is of little interest to a member of the Red army. We have a good squad that we hope will maintain our current status as the league leaders. That is the faith that we carry in what would be Bill Shankly’s 100th birthday year. The team can surely get that 19th trophy, if not for the robust fans worldwide, for the man who ‘made people happy’

Author: John ‘JT’ Thuku  ©JayTee254(2013)

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Crosslink: http://thekop.liverpoolfc.com/_OPINION-The-Summer-Transfer-Window-2013-that-was-By-John-39JT39-Thuku/blog/6548940/173471.html

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