History is part of the reason why we waste our time watching sports. The previous, matters. The past often becomes a burden, especially when your history is wealthy and storied such as the case of Liverpool FC.
The Reds have lengthy prided themselves on their accomplishments: 18 First Division titles, seven FA Cups and 5 European Cups/Champions League trophies. These days that history has hovered like a weight on the membership, which has never won a league title since the inception of the Premier League era in 1992-93 and have been previous by bitter rival Manchester United for the most prime division league titles in English soccer history.
Since finishing second under Rafa Benitez in 2008-09, Liverpool’s league finishes are: seventh, sixth, eighth, seventh. Not good. The Reds haven’t graced the Champions League since 2009-10. The club hit its fashionable nadir in 2010 with the disastrous Roy Hodgson era which produced a thirteen-9-9 overall file.
Are sunnier days forward for Liverpool, which sits second — two points behind leaders Arsenal — within the current EPL desk after eleven games ahead of Saturday’s Merseyside Derby (7:forty five a.m., NBCSN) towards rival Everton?
Should you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Reds fan, given the final couple seasons, odds are you stay decidedly pessimistic. The group has teased too long, given you means too many false springs to let a strong eleven-sport run override the past. A impartial observer like myself? I scan over the Premier League table and spot that presumptive preseason favorites — Chelsea and Manchester City — haven’t but clicked. As I wrote final week before the international break, no person seems all that great this season. It’s a giant bunched up, morass. Eventually separation will happen. Why can’t Liverpool be a type of teams to interrupt away? On the very minimum Brendan Rodgers’ club has sufficient items to complete within the Top Four and a visit again to the Champions League.
Liverpool’s lousy 2012-thirteen helps, in a sense, for this yr because it doesn’t have to fret about competing in Europe, unlike their rivals. Clearly you need to play within the Champions League, or swallow your pleasure and play within the Europa League however less video games on the calendar, theoretically, helps maintain the team fresher and centered. Liverpool’s senior workforce isn’t very deep, so coping with the nuisance of the Europa League in the midweek would make mounting a challenge on the High 4 tougher.
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Let’s get to the meat-and-potatoes of any arguments about the deserves of Liverpool: the Luis Suarez/Daniel Sturridge partnership in attack. The English press have dubbed it the “SAS,” which is such a dopey title I’ll chorus from commenting or repeating.
Each players have already got eight goals in the league, which ties them with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero for tops in the division. Suarez has piled up those goals in only six video games, serving his suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic last spring.
A storyline in recent years — for soccer geeks anyway — is the loss of life of the strike partnership, since fewer and fewer groups play a basic 4-four-2 formation. Rodgers is choosing both Suarez and Sturridge, playing a three man defense within the again. The two striker system up to now produced four wins, one draw and a loss to Arsenal. These video games have produced sixteen objectives, regardless of the two-0 loss to the Gunners.
Sturridge, 24, was a coup for Liverpool in last year’s January window with 10 objectives in Pink — one off his career best league total. True, he’s off to a hot start, but finishing around 18-20 objectives come Might is sensible as long as he can keep on the sector and keep away from a physical burnout.
The real query is Suarez, who’s managed to get even higher than his previous, controversy-stuffed marketing campaign which produced 23 goals.
Proper now Suarez is King Midas. Each contact seemingly turns to gold, however ultimately Suarez goes to come again to earth. Let’s look at his shot fee during previous EPL seasons with Liverpool:
- 2010-11: 12 games, 55 pictures, 23 photographs-on-goal, four targets
- 2011-12: 29 video games, 120 pictures, 48 photographs-on-goal, 11 targets
- 2012-thirteen: 33 video games, 187 shots, seventy two shots-on-objective, 23 objectives
- 2013-14: 6 video games, 36 shots, 15 pictures-on-aim, six goals.
His first three years in England Suarez scored on 10 p.c of his total shots and about 26 p.c from pictures on target — stricken by hitting the woodwork early and often. This 12 months these figures are sixteen p.c and 40 percent. He’ll regress but, there’s always the outside likelihood he puts collectively certainly one of those seasons and finishes with 25+ targets, carrying the crew back over the Top Four threshold. Robin van Persie’s lethal instinct in entrance of purpose carried a pedestrian — by its requirements — Manchester United over the road for a league title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s closing season.
Both Manchester United in 2010-11 (Dimitar Berbatov 20, Chicharito thirteen) and Manchester City in 2011-12 (Aguero 23, Edin Dzeko 14, Mario Balotelli 13) received EPL titles with a number of gamers within the Top 10 of goals scored. Suarez and Sturridge won’t be capable of do this alone, but it bodes properly for a place within the Top 4. When Liverpool last received a League title in 1990 John Barnes scored 22 targets, whereas Ian Rush added 18. Strikers alone gained’t win you the league, but targets do win you particular person games.
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Liverpool nonetheless wants much more from the rest of its crew. My old blog friend Nate from the perfect Liverpool-centric weblog on the market, Oh You Beauty, handed along that is the purpose-per-game averages for players who’ve made 30+ begins beneath Rodgers: Luis Enrique 1.87 ppg; Lucas 1.88; Glenn Johnson 1.seventy nine; Steven Gerrard 1.sixty six; Daniel Agger 1.sixty five; Suarez 1.56; Martin Skrtel 1.fifty six. That listing doesn’t embody the ever-bettering 23-12 months-previous Jordan Henderson, rapidly becoming a key cog within the midfield at Anfield.
Enrique is sidelined indefinitely after knee surgery, while Lucas and Agger remain harm considerations given their histories. There’s also the concern about team width. Liverpool would possibly start Saturday’s sport at Goodison park with Gerrard, Henderson, Lucas, and Philippe Coutinho. On-mortgage left back Aly Cissokho has been poor in Enrique’s stead, leaving the membership without much of an alternate. Rodgers tried Jon Flanagan vs. Arsenal and was summarily filleted for the selection. It means Suarez and Sturridge are most their own creators for targets.
If Liverpool want to sustain the push, it must signal some cowl in January across the sphere. The Reds don’t even must hit residence runs like they did with Sturridge, a number of capable, able bodies will work. Liverpool’s switch exercise is much improved from the days of signing Paul Konchesky. Grabbing hulking defender Mamadou Sakho from PSG late in the summertime window was a coup, particularly if it keeps Skrtel on the bench extra usually.
There’s at all times the Gerrard conundrum. The Liverpool legend’s time is winding down … eventually. He’s been an ever-current, enjoying all but 27 minutes so far. Gerrard is a icon. He’s the definitive Liverpool participant this century, but shouldn’t assure he should play each minute of every sport going forward, especially at 33 years outdated. Rodgers must be delicate.
Favorable scheduling sets up Liverpool for an epic finish to 2013. Following Saturday’s derby, Liverpool’4 of the membership’s subsequent 5 are against groups within the backside half. To shut December play at Manchester Metropolis after which at Chelsea three days aside.
Despite how nice Suarez might be this season, Liverpool isn’t going to win the title and saying so definitively on Nov. 22 could be silly. Writing them off based on historical past of the final couple seasons may only be slightly less so. … (Everton 1, Liverpool 1)
* Arsenal vs. Southampton – (Saturday, 10 a.m., NBSCN) An unlikely first vs. third … showdown? Both groups play enticing, passing soccer, which probably ensures we’re in a for a dud. (It’s how things work.) This sport can be all about beneath-appreciated “Huge Lug” strikers in Olivier Giroud and Rickie Lambert. Southampton’s possession game means its confronted the few photographs on course in the league through eleven matches. Mauricio Pochettino is an aggressive supervisor, so will he set the Saints up to attack the Gunners? Arsenal do have some damage issues (Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey) off the worldwide break. Accidents and Arsenal, as we’ve seen just lately, go about as properly together as mayonnaise and marinara sauce. … Arsenal 2, Southampton 1
* Manchester Metropolis vs. Tottenham – (Sunday, eight:30 a.m., NBCSN) I saw this on Twitter (can’t recall who posted it), Spurs scored 9 targets in a win over Wigan on Nov. 22, 2009. Through 11 games this season they have, yep, 9 targets. Danish midfiedler Christian Eriksen can be out a couple weeks, including to Spurs’ troubles. City are nonetheless nearly unbeatable at residence, that means it’ll get by with Vincent Kompany and David Silva on the sidelines. … Manchester Metropolis three, Spurs zero.
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