Front Three Form

Front Three Form

There’s few that deny that Liverpool’s front three were amongst the strongest in Europe last season. I’d say the world, but the majority of us only watch the Premier League, Bundesliga and occasional La Liga match up.

Scoring over 90 goals between them, Salah, Mane and Firmino were a force to be reckoned with. All three scored, assisted and celebrated together. They were enjoying their football, the club and each other.

Liverpool have made a strong start to this campaign. With summer additions such as Shaqiri, Fabinho and Alisson, the Reds added both depth and quality in what was arguably the club’s best ever transfer window.

It’s obvious that the issues which hindered our performances at various points last season have been addressed. The defense, which was once the subject of ridicule, is now the tightest in the league thus far; aided not only by the arrival of Alison, but that of Van Dijk last January too.

Character and work rate carried us through the second half of the game yesterday with another defensive master class from the big Dutchman and the rest of the back line. I say the second half of the game yesterday, but this has been the case for the majority of this seasons games really.

I recall a comment I gave to an opposition fan before a game last year when he asked me for my prediction for the upcoming match. I said: “You will score and we will concede, but we will score more goals than you.”

That was our attitude. We were lethal going forward but soft at the back; a prolific front three that bet makers wouldn’t dream of placing odds against and a back line that leaked goals.

This season, it’s a lot different. For me, it’s not a cause of concern but more of a cause of confusion.

We have added depth, strengthened defensively to the point that we no longer worry about conceding ridiculous goals and we have kept the same dangerous front three. We have added in areas we have lacked and brought in more support to complement. What could be possibly missing?

It’s safe to say that, so far, Salah, Mane and Firmino haven’t clicked in the same manner they did last term.

Recently, I described their performances as “underwhelming” but I don’t think this word does the players justice.

I admit that the spark has been amiss at times. The last, decisive pass to unlock a defense has often ran astray, sometimes they’ve looked sloppy in possession, unable to keep up with each other, counter attacks are not as clinical, and the finishing looks off too.

Is this something to worry about? No, not at all. This should all be expected after a long year they’ve had.

After finishing a long campaign that stretched all the way to Kiev in May (Allez Allez Allez), the lads have had little down time. They jumped straight into a World Cup, followed by a United States tour to see us.

They then returned back home to begin the Premier League season, with little or no break, which has already been plagued by the mundanity of international fixtures. This is both physically and mentally tough for them.

Mohammed Salah ended a four-game goal drought yesterday against Huddersfield, with a daisy cutter of a finish that was too precise for the Huddersfield goalkeeper.

This goal marked Salah’s 50th in English football. A tremendous milestone and one I’m sure he’ll be proud of. I do agree this is one that we might have hoped would have came lot sooner this season for the Egyptian, but none the less it was an important goal that further demonstrated the little Egyptian’s quality.

It was enough for us to get back on the bus from Yorkshire with three points, preserving our slot at the top end of the league table. It wasn’t as spectacular as some of the displays we put on last year but it was professional. I’d take another 29 1-0s right now if it meant we lifted that much-coveted Premier League trophy in May.

Isn’t it reassuring to know that we are joint top with Manchester city, and we have come nowhere close to performing at the best of our ability? Instead of worrying and complaining, appreciate what the lads have done.

We know they could be doing better and I’m sure the players know that too but for us right now, they are doing what we need them to. Getting the goals and the points that come with them, and moving on. There is still much to come from this Liverpool squad that it’s frightening. City are operating at their best or very close to it. We aren’t. You still can’t separate us points wise and we’ve had the tougher fixtures.

We must also keep in mind that opponents adjust their game when they play us.

Managers set up their sides to stifle us, not to get the best out of their players.

When I think about this, I imagine a secret meeting of all the Premier League coaches, minus Klopp of course, sitting upon a long oak table with lights dimmed and cigars lit. Pep at one end, Mourinho at the other, showing game tape and discussing the best ways to stop our front three.

We can’t be ignorant to the fact that these men blew teams away last season; it was laughable what they did to defenders at times. I’m sure with each riot ran, Premier League teams have worked through the night to break it down piece by piece, play by play, to analyze what made our trio click and how to suppress the power.

Give it time. The lads will be back. Salah’s got 50, Mane’s got no thumb and Firmino has no eye. I’d say we are doing ok considering.

SO FAR, SO GOOD FOR THE REDS

So far, so good for the Reds.

The best start for Liverpool in 28 years. The Reds entered the international break last weekend top of the league with four wins from four, nine goals scored, and just the one conceded. There is no denying that Liverpool have been far from top form so far this season, but there are a lot of positives to take.

Following our last two games in the Premier League, and games won I must add, the team attracted a lot of criticism regarding quality and strength. I think this criticism is largely due to the ignorance towards the competition that we have faced. Yes, as mentioned, we did not play our best, but there are a lot of positives to take from beating two strong teams in the form of Brighton Hove Albion and Leicester City. Recent history has shown; we quite often drop points to these so called ‘lesser’ teams in the Premier League. Dare I say Crystal Palace in 13/14 when we were 3-0 up and drew 3-3. Did this cost us the league that season? Well, if not, it certainly carried a burden towards the end of the campaign.

So, if anything, I think to overcome the first four games with an unblemished record is enormously positive for us. We can see a lot of new and exciting traits that the lads have carried with them through the full 90 minutes of games. Aside from that one goal conceded, the less said the better, I think the Reds have kept their concentration, showed admirable determination (I have the urge to call out Robertson and Van Dijk here) and got dirty together to navigate through a tricky, sometimes scrappy, opening to their Premier League journey. We have conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League, and scored a few at the other end. It may not be pretty, but were getting the job done.

Far from an easy return, Klopp and his men have a tasty September ahead. With Tottenham away up first, the Reds will then continue their domestic and European football with games against PSG, Southampton, two games against Chelsea, Napoli and Manchester City. Along with the new found traits I have mentioned, I think the importance of squad depth will show during this period. Klopp will have to balance our Premier League progress with European and League Cup fixtures. He’s boss though, I’m sure he’ll manage.

It is still very early in the season but, If Liverpool are serious about 18/19 success, then this next month will be pivotal. As I don’t want to prematurely throw a title race statement out there, I will say that I am extremely excited to see where we will stand after this month. We have displayed newfound skills that in past we have lacked, but there is still a lot more to come of this Liverpool squad. We will face three potential Premier League title contenders and two European powerhouses all in the space of five weeks. Seat belts on, here we go.

 

 

BY THE NUMBERS: Liverpool vs Leicester (A)

Jurgen and his boys will look to make it four out of four this weekend as they travel to King Power Stadium to face Leicester City.

Who:Leicester City vs Liverpool

Where: King Power Stadium (Leicester)

When:Saturday 1stSeptember, 7:30am ET

Where Can I Watch? http://NBCSports.com, NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (Stream)

NBCSN (TV/Cable/Satellite)

LFCTV GO, SiriusXM FC, TalkSport Radio World (Radio/Audio Stream)

Be prepared for the game by the numbers:

 2: If Liverpool win tomorrow, this will be the first time that they have managed to win two games back-to-back against Leicester since 1996-97.

3: The Foxes also enter the game in good form, winning their last three games. Two of these games came in the Premier League and one a 4-0 win over Fleetwood Town in the Carabao Cup.

9: Leicester City’s #9 Jamie Vardy will miss the game due to suspension.

50:Daniel Sturridge is one goal short of his 50thfor the Reds.

100: James Milner will look to play his 100thPremier League match for Liverpool if picked to play by Klopp.

1990-91: Liverpool have not taken 12 points from four games since their 1990-91 campaign.

2005: Should Alisson keep a clean sheet and shutout Leicester, he will become only the second Liverpool goalkeeper in history to not concede a goal in the opening four games of his Liverpool career. The last goalkeeper to do so was Pepe Reina.

Players unavailable: Lovren (Injured), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Injured)

Predicted Lineup: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

 

BY THE NUMBERS: Liverpool vs Brighton Hove Albion (H)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – MAY 13: Andy Roberton of Liverpool scores the forth goal and celebrates during the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham at Anfield on May 13, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Who: Liverpool vs Brighton Hove Albion
Where: Anfield
When: Saturday 25th August, 12:30pm ET

Where Can I Watch? http://NBCSports.com, NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (Stream), NBCSN (TV/Cable/Satellite)
LFCTV GO, SiriusXM FC, TalkSport Radio World (Radio/Audio Stream)

Liverpool return to Anfield this weekend to take on the Seagulls for a 12:00pm ET kick off on Saturday. The Reds carry 6 points into the game with two strong displays, whilst Chris Hughton’s Brighton are also in good spirits from a great home win over Manchester United.

Be prepared for the game by the numbers:

0 – Liverpool are the only team in the Premier League this season to have 0 goals against heading into game week 3.

3 – The last time Liverpool won their first 3 games of a Premier League season was in the 2013/14 season.

5 – Liverpool have won their last five matches against Brighton, scoring 20 goals and conceding just 5.

9 – Liverpool scored 9 goals against Brighton in the premier league last season. (5-1 away, 4-0 home)

14 – The Seagulls have failed to win any of their last 14 Premier League games on the road.

22 – Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 22 competitive matches at Anfield

Players unavailable: Lovren (Injured), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Injured)
Predicted Lineup: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Contributions to the numbers:
Anfield Road
Sulav Kafley
Andrew Wentland
Mark Murphy

BY THE NUMBERS: Liverpool vs Crystal Palace (A)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 12: Sadio Mane of Liverpool celebrates the second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United at Anfield on August 12, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Who:Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

Where: Selhurst Park (Crystal Palace)

When:Monday 20th August, 12:00 PT

Where Can I Watch? http://NBCSports.com, NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (Stream)

NBCSN (TV/Cable/Satellite)

LFCTV GO, Palace PlayerHD Live, SiriusXM FC, TalkSport Radio World (Radio/Audio Stream)

Liverpool will look to maintain their form and perfect record as they travel down to Selhurst Park on Monday to play Crystal Palace for a 12:00 PT Kick off.

Be prepared for the game by the numbers:

1:Sadio Mane is the first Liverpool player to score in three consecutive opening top-flight fixtures since the legendary John Barnes between 1989-90 and 1991-92

4:Liverpool opened their 2018/19 Premier League campaign scoring four goals past West Ham. With three points and a +4 goal difference, Liverpool head into game week 2 top of the table. Early days, but great start.

6:In their last six encounters with Crystal Palace, Liverpool hold a record 5-0-1. Overall in all-time meetings, Liverpool’s record is 27-14-11.

10:A supereb performance from Sadio Mane seen the Senegalese forward notch a brace on opening day in his new number No. 10 shirt. Mane received No. 19 when he was signed by the club from Southampton in Summer 2016, and opted for a change this year grabbing the No. 10 jersey.

17:Crystal Palace’s No. 17, and Former Liverpool player Christian Benteke will likely start against the reds on Monday evening.

1938: The first ever game between Liverpool and Crystal Palace took place on 8th January 1938, in the FA Cup 3rd round. The game finished 0-0, with Liverpool winning the second leg 3-1. Goals came from John Shafto and Willie Fagan.

Players unavailable: Lovren (Injured), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Injured)

Predicted Lineup:Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Welcome James Doig to the team!

 

The 1980s: the rise of the City, and fall of the unions, economic recession led to high unemployment, and Liverpool FC was thepowerhouse in European football. Dominating every competition – winning two European cups, six league titles, two FA cups and four League cups – the city of Liverpool stamped its’ clubs name across silverware and record books for over a decade. The one man who never fails to remind me of this is my dad, Norman. Telling tales of his adventures across the terraces, he was there to see the goals from Rush and Aldridge and the sublime plays from King Kenny Dalglish. Those were his mid-20s, when he followed the Reds game-to-game, city-to-city, and country-to-country.

In 1994, I was born just down the road from the Anfield in the Liverpool Women’s Hospital. At six years old, I was sat beside big Norman in the KOP for my first game. It didn’t take long after that before we had our own season tickets. November 30, 2003 was the first game I vaguely remember. The seasoned Sami and Didi with the young Steven Gerrard brushing aside Birmingham 3-1. Since that day, I have been watching and following the Reds week-in week-out.

Lads like Robbie Fowler and Steven Gerrard inspired my own football career, beginning with kicking a footie off the garage of our house in Speke. At 12, my football started to become more serious and demanding. My dad and I would jump in his work van and drive across Liverpool and the county to play for teams such as Liverpool Schoolboys and Tranmere Rovers. While this new schedule didn’t lessen our dedication to the reds, as we would still follow them on the television and radio, it became increasingly harder to get to games, and the season tickets were passed on. Poor Norman got stuck watching me instead of Gerrard, but I always said, you’re better off watching me than paying to watch Igor Biscan!

Once I had been loaned out across the Evo-Stick football league, I knew it was time to reconsider football and life in general. The Evo-Stick is the where the grass is past your knees and tackles are ruthless. At risk of sounding cliché, I was a teenager with a fading dream ofplaying, wanting to know what else there was out there for me. After a random call from an old friend, the opportunity to come to the United States to play soccer and study at university presented itself – but I’ll be honest, the football is the real reason I came. After receiving several scholarship offers from schools across many different states, I knocked it down to three schools that displayed a history of football success. It was during this research that I was sitting beside my dad and came across Quinnipiac’s football motto: You’ll Never Walk Alone. It didn’t take much more than that, and soon after I was on the plane the Hamden, Connecticut to play football… and read some books on the side!

*Here is where I will begin referring to football as soccer*

When I joined the team in May 2013, I was pleased to discover I wasn’t the only Liverpool fan on the roster. There were 2 or 3 lads who were Reds too, Borja Angoita from Spain, Simon Hinde from Australia, and Ryan Scheiderman from New Jersey. The reason I say 2 or 3 is because I’m not certain Ryan was actually a fan or if he just panicked when I put him on the spot. By the time I graduated Quinnipiac University in 2018, half of the team from all corners of the globe were following the Reds avidly  – a feat that would make any scouser proud, especially big Norm.

During Christmas periods at university, I would return home to Liverpool to see family, friends and go watch the games at Anfield. With a few close friends and family working for the club, I usually got to sit in the players’ lounge over the holidays, and while this was a lovely spectacle, nothing beats the KOP.  (Having said that, the 3-course-meal does beat the 20 quid pie and coke from the stands!) Just before my return to Hamden, I would pack shirts, scarves and and other sorts of memorabilia to share with friends at University, a quick and foolproof method to continue growing the fan base! As Dirk Kuyt once said, adopted scousers.

Since coming to the States, the way I follow the Liverpool has changed. I no longer get to watch the reds at Anfield with dad, but I still watch every game… in class, in the library, at 7:00am Sunday morning, it is guaranteed that I’m watching. After traveling across town, across England, and now across the Atlantic Ocean to play the sport I love, the one thing that has stuck with me and motivated me no matter what roster I was on is Liverpool’s motto. This whole piece is a long introduction for these short four words, but I have noticed that through several hardships, recently more than ever, You’ll Never Walk Alone has been a steadfast mainstay in my life.

Having recruited many an American to become a Kopite, I knew the motto, explained the motto and referred to the motto in several situations, but only recently discovered the full effect it has had on me. After graduating university with my undergrad in Communications and Masters in Interactive Media, I began the job hunt. Moving from one visa to another, searching from company to company for a good fit for my skillset, and realizing, after living here in the US for over five years now, how  many lasting relationships I have made, I felt the pressure of my next move.

But, in typical Doig fashion, in the midst of interviews and stressing about deportation, I cleared my schedule for the final Liverpool Champions League game. I got the bus down to New Haven to join the New Haven Liverpool Supporters Club at Chrsity’s bar. The game came and went, and while the outcome still hurts, it was one Scouser and one Red Geordie comforting that sparked an opportunity for my future. After explaining my situation, I was put in touch with two other members of the New Haven Club, asking how they could help – and ending their email signature with YNWA. The guys at Liverpool New Haven Group knew my situation, and, as any Kopite would understand and ensure, I was not left to walk alone. They quickly circulated my resume and before I knew it I was in contact with every stateside Red. At least, it felt like it. From having spent years telling people about the motto and the meaning behind it, I now I have experienced it first hand for myself, and it means more to me now than it ever has before.

I look forward to working with The Anfiled Shop, and this piece is a testament to the strength of our Red family.

You’ll Never Walk Alone.

-James

 

Want to hang out? Join us in Charlotte & NYC!

We’re hitting the road and bringing new merch and exclusives for 3 events.  Two are going to be supporting the club’s Legends events in NYC and Charlotte.

The other is a pretty fun insider event with none other than Charlotte’s Wilson’s World who will be hosting a Block Party on the Sunday before the ICC match in Charlotte.

We’d love to meet you and say hello and get your feedback on all things Liverpool, the shop and more.  We are excited to see some familiar faces as well.

And to those in Michigan – we won’t see you this time around but we promise to see you soon!

Allez Allez Allez! April HQ + Shop Report

Hello all!  I’m writing this just after midnight after today’s 5-2 win in the Champions League at Anfield.  A blistering start but somewhat of a mixed victory as conceding late is never ideal.  Our thoughts are with Alex and hope to hear some good news on his injury.

We were so excited to see so many customers of the shop make the trip over to Anfield and share their photos of the scenes outside the stadium.

 

Shop News:

  • Home short-sleeve jerseys are sold out.  We are hoping to get more of the L/S in but New Balance has told us that they are out and do not have any production runs presently scheduled to make more.
  • New 2018/19 Home Jersey and Training range are being added to the shop as the new pieces are released for pre-order.
  • We’re going to cut off the Anfield Box 8 ordering on May 1st.  This is a good one.
  • The tour: We are looking to host an event this summer at one or more tour stops.  We are working with the club on the best way to do this and to make sure it fits and fans won’t have to choose between us and player events (choose the players.  Always choose the players).  More details coming soon.

Up the Reds,

Alisha