Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’

Analysis: Leicester change landscape as TV cash flood looms

While the feats of Jamie Vardy (£1 million), Riyad Mahrez (£400,000) and N’Golo Kanté (£5.6 million) demonstrated a new way of spending, Leicester’s football revealed a different way of winning. In an age when many teams continue to worship at the altar of tiki-taka, Claudio Ranieri’s well-drilled, hard-running side averaged 44.8 percent of possession — the third-lowest in the league — and had a pass completion rate of 70.5 percent — the league’s second-lowest. With Tottenham Hotspur, another high-intensity team, challenging for the title under the inspirational Mauricio Pochettino, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke was moved to exclaim: “The old order has broken.” The Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year told its own story, with Leicester and Tottenham contributing four players each. Excepting Harry Kane, the division’s 25-goal top scorer, who came through Tottenham’s youth system, all were signed for fees dwarfed by the £49 million that City spent on Raheem Sterling.

In my review of the Premier League season, I wrote about how Leicester City’s fairytale title triumph has moved the goalposts in English football. You can read it here.

Analysis: Dortmund blueprint serves Klopp in Liverpool rebuild

The sight of Klopp on the touchline — squawking at his players, pumping his fist in celebration of Divock Origi’s first-half goal — will have been immediately familiar to Dortmund’s fans, who granted him a touching send-off at the final whistle. So too the tactics employed by his team, whose aggressive, front-foot approach prevented the home side from settling into any kind of rhythm and whose counter-attacks kept the Dortmund rearguard on constant alert. While Dortmund have become more of a possession-based team under Klopp’s successor, Thomas Tuchel — the legacy of the new status his seven-year tenure left them with — Liverpool are exhibiting the same underdog mentality upon which he built his success in the Ruhr valley. Speaking earlier this season, former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson said the team’s best performances were “reminiscent of Borussia Dortmund at their best under Jürgen Klopp”.

Ahead of the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, here’s something I wrote on how Jürgen Klopp is using the tactics that took Dortmund to the summit of the European game in his rebuilding job at Anfield.

Profile: Sturridge stirs in time for Man City reunion

After becoming frustrated about his lack of progress at first City and then Chelsea, Sturridge did not begin to consistently showcase the staggering ability first glimpsed during his teenage years until he joined Liverpool in January 2013. An intelligent, technically accomplished and elusive striker, he scored 11 times in his first 16 games and contributed 21 goals to a mesmerising 52-goal partnership with Luis Suárez as Liverpool came agonisingly close to Premier League glory in 2013-14. Fondly admired by England manager Roy Hodgson, he went to the 2014 World Cup with the number nine shirt on his back and scored in their opening game against Italy. But since then a litany of niggling injuries has restricted him to 28 appearances from a possible 101 for Liverpool and kept him away from the international scene for over 18 months.

A piece for AFP on Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge, who will be seeking to make up for lost time in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final.

Review: Premier League titans roar in boardroom, squeak on pitch

Untold riches will rain down upon the English Premier League in 2016, but for all their resources, the country’s leading clubs currently seem incapable of staking claims to the title. The record £5.14 billion ($7.72 billion, 7.06 billion euros) television rights deal due to kick in next year will reinforce the English top flight’s status as European football’s financial behemoth. But champions Chelsea have imploded, Arsenal and Manchester City remain hit-and-miss and while Liverpool find their feet under Jürgen Klopp, Manchester United appear to be stagnating under Louis van Gaal. It has fallen to Leicester City to make the early running in what former United captain Gary Neville has described as “the most bizarre league that I have seen in a long time”.

My review of the year 2015 in English football can be read here.

Related link: New money rises in England as old powers slip

Analysis: Hope springs for Liverpool as Klopp effect takes hold

Klopp promised “full throttle” football and he has been true to his word, with Liverpool’s aggressive high press central to their recent transformation. Opponents have been quick to catch on and it was noticeable that Southampton looked to hit frontman Graziano Pelle at the earliest opportunity at St Mary’s in a bid to negate the effects of the Liverpool press. Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, Alberto Moreno and Adam Lallana are among the players who are thriving under Klopp, whose tactile man-management style is characterised by effusive bear hugs.

A piece for AFP on how Jürgen Klopp has brought the smiles back at Anfield can be found here.

Profile: Madcap Klopp to bring dash of daring to Liverpool

Klopp, unmistakable with his stubble and glasses, built Dortmund’s game around the principle of gegenpressing, or counter-pressing. It soon became a buzzword in European football and fans in Germany grew accustomed to the sight of Klopp’s yellow-shirted hordes asphyxiating their opponents with high pressing and quick transitions. It was an approach that reached its apogee in a 4-1 demolition of Mourinho’s Real Madrid in the 2012-13 Champions League semi-finals, when Robert Lewandowski scored all four goals. Dortmund ran out of puff last season, finishing seventh in the league and losing to Wolfsburg in the German Cup final, but Klopp has had time to fine-tune his philosophy during a five-month sabbatical.

My AFP colleague Ryland James and I have had a look at how Liverpool manager-elect Jürgen Klopp is likely to approach the challenges facing him at Anfield. You can read our piece here.

Football: Heysel and the death of English hooliganism

“At Thatcher’s behest, the Football Association suspended English clubs from European competition for a year. European governing body UEFA went further still, announcing a five-year ban on English clubs and an indefinite suspension for Liverpool that would last until 1991. An inquiry into what had happened at Bradford and Heysel — as well as a riot at Birmingham City’s St Andrews stadium in which a 15-year-old boy died — led by leading judge Oliver Popplewell resulted in new, wide-ranging public order powers for police. Recorded incidents of hooliganism sloped off, while attendances in the English Football League the following season slumped to a post-war low of 16.5 million.”

I’ve written a piece for AFP on the Heysel stadium disaster and the role it played in the eradication of mass hooliganism in English football. You can read it here.

Analysis: Brendan Rodgers’s Liverpool to-do list

“With Luis Suárez having left for Barcelona and injuries restricting Daniel Sturridge to only seven starts, Liverpool have struggled for goals badly, averaging 1.38 per game compared to 2.66 in 2013-14. Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert, brought in to soften the blow of Suárez’s departure, have failed, and Liverpool’s four recognised strikers (Sturridge, Balotelli, Lambert and Fabio Borini) have mustered only eight league goals between them. Promising Belgian striker Divock Origi is due to arrive during the summer, having been loaned back to Lille after being signed last July, but Liverpool also need to find a proven goal-scorer (or goal-scorers) if they are to recapture the heights of last season. “You can’t hide the fact we’ve lost over 50 goals,” Rodgers said after Tuesday’s defeat at Hull. “We have to look to improve the squad. It’s always great if you can get marquee players to come in and help you. The owners will support that.””

I’ve written a piece on the five issues Brendan Rodgers needs to address in order to get Liverpool back on track and you can read it here.

Analysis: Why have English teams flopped in Europe?

“Any evaluation of the English teams’ woes in this season’s Champions League must, however, also take into account the major club-specific failings that led to each side’s elimination. Chelsea showed complacency by electing not to press home their advantage following the dismissal of PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimović in the second leg of their last 16 tie, enabling the French champions to claim a 2-2 draw that sent them through on away goals. Arsenal paid the price for kamikaze attacking — a habitual failing — in their 3-1 first-leg loss to Monaco, while in setting City out in a porous 4-4-2 formation, Pellegrini allowed Barcelona to take control of their tie with a 2-1 first-leg win.”

I’ve written a piece for AFP analysing why England’s Champions League representatives came unstuck in this season’s competition. You can read it here.

Analysis: Five ways Rodgers has re-energised Liverpool

“Liverpool began the season with a four-man defence, but after losing seven of their first 16 games, [Brendan] Rodgers rejigged his team, introducing a three-man defensive configuration in a loose-limbed 3-4-2-1 formation. It has yielded defensive stability — Liverpool have conceded only seven times in their last 10 games — and greater zip and dynamism in attack, where the positional fluidity has allowed Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho to thrive, plugging a void created by Daniel Sturridge’s long spell on the sidelines due to injury. “We have great control of the ball and we’ve got the ball longer in the opponent’s half, which means they don’t have to defend as much,” Rodgers has explained.”

I’ve had a look at the reasons behind Liverpool’s improved recent form in the Premier League and you can read it here.

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