So a new round of games and for many clubs new players to blood following their transfer window sprees.
I was perhaps a little harsh on Sky’s coverage of the window. Despite the exaggerated sensation, self congratulatory back patting re the stamina of their reporters for standing outside assorted grounds all day whilst being mobbed by assorted hoodies, they did in fact give us all the information. I just think Sky want to make into a some kind of major event, they ‘d probably be cock a hoop if in years to come fans held transfer window parties” whilst avidly tuning into their coverage!
Anyway back to the football and it’s been a mixed week on the pitch. The response to our performance against Manchester City was generally favourable. I won’t disagree with that. We played well on the whole, took the game to them and deserved a win. Sadly avoidable defensive mistakes cost us. These, like the ones against West Brom a week earlier, were put down to teething problems associated with Brendon Rogers’ new way of playing. Sorry the last time I looked a change of style, be it a major or a minor tweak, did not involve passing back to your keeper when it would have been easier to A; clear it into Row Z or B: up the touchline. Across the back four is not an option moreover to do so without looking up to check what’s on before making the back pass is not a disadvantage linked with any new style of play it’s just basic nuts and bolts football. I don’t care what Rogers’ has said to his defence and ping ponging it about and making things look pretty, surely you play percentages and do the simply, obvious things first particularly when you are 2-1 up with ten or so minutes to go?
This is the second time Martin Skrtel has exercised poor judgement perhaps in his attempts to implement his manager’s will? Rogers’ was keen to defend him and stress that there is some way to go before he gets the team doing what he wants them to do however, does this mean going back to some kind of soccer school and learning from scratch? That said you can’t get too angry with Skrtel given his bullet header to put us 1-0 up and overall we looked better than we did against West Brom. To emphasise everything Match of the Day strung together a long sequence of us passing the ball up and down the pitch (it went sideways backwards forwards and then backward before ending up in more or less the same place as it started) as if Brendon Rogers has the monopoly of this type of play and that we would normally just lump it up the field to Andy Carroll. More impressive was the industry and determination everyone showed. I thought this really came to the fore after Yaya Toure equalised and our response, our second, from Suarez’s free kick, was deserved and commendable. Sadly for us and Martin Skrtel there was a sting in the tail.
I’ll be honest I only saw the Hearts goals however, it didn’t sound like a performance to stoke the fires. I guess the most important thing is that we are through to the group stage. Again it was an instance of us gifting the opposition a goal, this time Jose Reina being at fault, and not taking our chances. However, at least when Hearts went ahead we upped it and struck back immediately. It was nice to see Adam Morgan getting a run out. given the issues surrounding our forwards perhaps he might get more games than he bargained for? The group stage sees us drawn against Udinese, Anxhi (it’s in Russia apparently) and Young Boys of Berne cue the usual sniggery back of the class observations about playing with Young Boys etc etc!
And so to Arsenal today. Wenger’s men have yet to score this season so, given our generosity for gifting goals to the opposition, will no doubt travel to Anfield in an optimistic frame of mind! Claerly it is only a matter a time Arsnala score (hopefully in the game after this one!) but they do visit us without Robin van Persie who did all the damage at Anfield last year with two strikes in a game we should had won (click here for match report).
On that day and now our finishing needed sharpening up. I’m not sure if the same applies to Arsenal but both sides have new players and therefore new ideas and systems to get used to so. To this end I guess both sides might be pleased to be playing each other before they are fully embedded?
Team wise we welcome back Daniel Agger from his one game ban. Despite his errors I’m assuming Martin Skrtel will retain his place and that Coates will make way. In midfield we now have to soldier on without Lucas for two to three months presumably Jonjo Shelvey, who played well on Sunday, will fill in? Hopefully Reheem Stirling will retain his place and it should be interesting to see how he gets on against Arsenal’s full backs.
Prediction. I think this should a good end to end game. Both sides aren’t backward in going forward even if the end product isn’t always forthcoming. We will need to sharpen up in defence and cut out the mistakes otherwise we will be punished, despite Arsenal’s blanks so far. I take Arsenal to break their goal scoring duck but Reds to prevail, 2-1.