Goal scoring issues

goal scoring issues

So we reach 10 games into the season, a quarter of the season has flown by already and it sees us return with a meagre 11 points. We have not even posted three victories from those 10 games which is a disappointing return considering the opposition we have faced along the way. Of those teams we only have amassed more points so far than four of them:-

Sunderland (9pts)
Norwich (10pts)
Stoke (9pts)
Reading (5pts)

We have played six of those 10 games at home. A return of six points from a possible 18 in the fortress Anfield proves a little fine tuning is certainly required for an upturn in fortune.

Last season we hit the woodwork a number of times and missed so many chances to prove that the problem was a little more deep rooted than just bad luck. We amassed just 27 points at home all season a return that shows little immediate signs of improving this term

Of the 13 goals scored in the league this season we have just seen five different goal scorers Suarez (8), Gerrard (2), Skrtel, Sahin and Sterling. Last season when goal scoring and finishing off teams proved an issue we ended the season sharing goals between 13 players with goals coming from:

Suarez (11)
Bellamy (6)
Gerrard (5)
Rodriguez (4)
Carroll (4)
Kuyt (2)
Henderson (2)
Skrtel (2)
Adam (2)
Johnson (1)
Agger (1)
Coates (1)
Shelvey (1)

I think we have a different issue this year; we are missing the likes of Carroll, Kuyt, Bellamy and even Rodriguez. Despite their limited playing time you always felt they may grab us a goal. They have all moved on and not been replaced in terms of the goals they can bring to a side.

It is far too early to judge Borini yet, although he doesn’t look as if he will make a huge dent into that tally, Joe Allen certainly won’t and Suso and Sterling are probably going to be players that won’t start every week at present as they are still plying their trade. So although hopeful they will add to the total, I am certainly not expecting a glut of goals from them.

How does our goals record compare to the top scoring sides in the league this season?

Manchester United (25 goals -13 different goal scorers)
Chelsea (22 goals-10 different goal scorers)
Fulham (22 goals-9 different goal scorers)
Everton (19 goals-8 different goal scorers)
Man City (18 goals-9 different goal scorers)

Before we plough into the issue of who is to blame and point fingers at the owners for not strengthening, Brendan Rogers for not replacing or Kenny Dalglish for wasting money on inferior players (three of the arguments I have picked up from individual papers today) let’s focus on where we maybe going wrong and where can we put it right?

Watching the Newcastle game yesterday I thought I would analyse a bit of our attacking play to see if I could shine an insight into how we can improve this goal scoring issue to get us further up the league and a few more points in the bag. On the overview of yesterday’s game I hear the same moans and groans – we dominated the game, if we had a goal scorer we would have won the game. Our approach play was positive although our goal actually came from a long pass where Suarez got between two defenders to apply a clinical finish. Let us have a look at a few statistics and compare the first half to the second (which is in brackets)

Left Central Right
Entries into the final third
8 (13)
4 (5)
6 (9)
5 (6)
2 (4)
Chances created
0 (1)
1 (3)
2 (3)
4 (4)
1 (0)
0 (1)
0 (1)
0 (2)
1 (4)
0 (3)
1 (2)
1 (3)
Ball out of play/dispossessed
3 (3)
2 (0)
2 (0)

If you pick up the papers this morning you will see that we had 20 shots with 12 shots on target, although apart from the Suarez goal I cannot recall Tim Kruhl having many other serious saves to make. There was the miss from Shelvey and a couple of efforts from Suarez but that apart, has Kruhl pulled off a number of world class saves to keep Newcastle in the game? Simple answer no. I looked at our ability to get into the final third and create chances as I feel the 12 shots on target does not tell the full story.

We have entered into the final third a total of 45 times throughout the game when we are looking in wide areas how many times we got a cross into the box

Entries into final third

The table shows that we were more successful down the left where Raheem Sterling is more of an orthodox winger who will get crosses into the box. For all these crosses our chance creation percentage was poor, too many crosses were cleared, blocked, dispossessed or went out of play.

What does this tell us?

• The qualities of our crosses were poor?
• We lack confidence in the final third
• We do not have enough options in the box

I think all of these three possibilities are true. Firstly we do not reach the intended targets when we get into the final third. We do lack belief in the final third. We do not get enough players into the box giving us another option. When Newcastle scored they had three options to pick out in the box giving our defenders decisions to make. When we got into their box we did not commit enough options. Far too often we do not make it easy enough for our attackers giving them a number of different options. This involves midfielders getting into the box as well as attackers, something we are absent of doing so far. I think when we address this situation more goals will be scored and more points gained. Until then though if you’re looking to place a first goalscorer bet then it looks like there’s only one man who could get you a return from your money – Luis Suarez. For now it seems as though you might as well put all your money into a slots machine if you were thinking about betting on someone else, you’d probably get a better return. Standing only one goal behind Robin Van Persie on top scorers for the league (and way ahead of Fernando Torres), the bookies are giving pretty good odds on him to take the Golden Boot this season. And let’s not forget to keep a mental note on the ‘offside’ winner in the derby a couple of weeks back. You won’t have to contend with bad linesmen at the slots and with a huge array of different games you can always find something to suit your mood at Lucky Nugget – either stick with football in the slots game “Game on” or go for something completely different and try your skills at a card game such as poker or Blackjack.

Liverpool 1 – 1 Newcastle United


By jpa90, 04-11-2012, 19:34:03

Liverpool earned a point in a 1-1 draw against Newcastle United at Anfield in a game that the Reds will have felt they should have won. Despite dominating possession for much of the game, Liverpool failed to exploit the chances that they created and Newcastle took the lead through Yohan Cabaye. Luis Suarez rescued a point for the home side but Liverpool could not find a winner in a game that celebrated Steven Gerrard’s 600th career appearance for the Reds.

A fast-paced start saw Liverpool dominate possession with a series of well-worked attacks. The visitors did well to defend several early corners, despite being unable to hold on to the ball. It was Luis Suarez who was the closest in the first 20 minutes; the Uruguayan narrowly missing the target with an in-swinging free-kick and seeing his close-range shot blocked by Tim Krul’s foot.

Brendan Rodgers will have been impressed by his team’s desire from the off and it was evident that the Magpies were aware of this. Papiss Cissé and Demba Ba provided good hold-up play and allowed Newcastle to test Liverpool’s back line. There were very few clear-cut chances for the visitors in the first half but Liverpool struggled to capitalise on the chances that they created.

As the first half drew to a close, Liverpool’s defence switched off and they paid the ultimate price. Both Jose Enriqué and Raheem Sterling were unable to stop a powerful run down the right channel from Hatem Ben Arfa and his delivery into the box found Cabaye unmarked at the back post. The Frenchman smashed his shot past a helpless Brad Jones, giving Newcastle the lead going into half time.

The Reds will have been frustrated at their failure to score despite being in control for the majority of the half. After withstanding several dangerous attacks, Newcastle had given themselves a significant boost of confidence that they hoped would see them through the second half.

No doubt feeling that the scoreline once again was unrepresentative of their performance, Liverpool started the second half unchanged. Despite a rogue sprinkler drenching a small portion of the Anfield crowd, the Liverpool fans ensured that the players stepped out to the same volume of encouragement as they had in the first half.

Shola Ameobi replaced Ba who limped off almost immediately after the restart and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was aggrieved that Sterling was not given a card for a dangerous challenge on Cissé. Liverpool were playing with determination to equalise and Krul once again denied Suarez with a good save ten minutes into the second half.

Nuri Şahin found an angle deep in the Newcastle half but saw his shot skip just wide. Much of the game was being played in the visitor’s half as Liverpool piled on the pressure. A long ball over the top from José Enrique found Suarez who took the ball down on his chest and shrugged off Fabricio Coloccini. He calmly knocked it around Krul and stroked it into the back of the net, making it 1-1.

Suarez’s goal injected some belief into the team and Liverpool stepped up the pressure. A golden opportunity was presented to Jonjo Shelvey shortly after when Suarez fed him the ball 12 yards out after working hard to get into the box. Shelvey did not get a good connection on the ball and Krul made an easy save.

Suarez was again the provider in another dangerous Liverpool attack when he found Sterling unmarked in front of goal. The midfielder’s shot was blocked however, but it was clear that Liverpool were hungry for a winner. In committing several men up front, Newcastle took advantage of a thin Liverpool defence and Jones got down well to save a low shot from Ben Arfa after the visitors worked a counter-attack.

The referee was yet to produce a card until he gave Coloccini a straight-red with less than ten minutes left for a late lunge on Suarez. With a man up, Liverpool were relentless in their attacking approach but Newcastle were working hard to thwart any attempts on goal. Krul’s concentration was key for the visitors as he twice prevented Shelvey from producing a late winner. The cross-bar saved the goalkeeper’s blushes however when a deflected free-kick bounced over him and off the frame of the goal.

In what seems to be a familiar story, Liverpool have taken a point away from a game which they largely controlled. The visitors’ concentration was admirable throughout the game and they will be pleased not to have conceded late on. Liverpool and Newcastle look ahead to their mid-week Europa League games against Anzhi Makhachkala and Club Brugge respectively.

Kopworld man of the match: Luis Suarez

Rodgers not expecting easy transfer window

Rodgers not expecting easy transfer window

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said it will be difficult to find top players to sign in January despite having the funds to bring in new faces, but reaffirmed his determination to strengthen the squad in the upcoming transfer window.

“We’ll have funds and I’m in talks with the owners at the moment, along with our recruitment team. January is always a difficult window. You don’t get too many top, top players.” said Rodgers. “Clubs will be unwilling to move on players but we have to scour the country and the world to try to get the types of players that are going to be available and correct for our model of play.

“Obviously we are limited in what we can bring both in terms of availability of players and financially but there is no doubt we need to do that.

“Our scouting team are working hard to identify those talents and who might be available. There is no doubt we need that support (from new players) in January and I am very confident we will be able to do that.”

The Reds boss also dismissed speculation linking him with a move for Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, who is out of contract in the summer.

“There is nothing to say [about Walcott]. He is an Arsenal player and it is all speculation about many players at the moment”

Sunday’s visitors Newcastle have been fairly successful in the transfer market since Alan Pardew’s arrival, and Rodgers was quick to praise the setup at St James’ Park.

“Scouting at any club is very important. Obviously Alan has gone in there and Graham Carr, as chief scout, has had a big responsibility in getting the players in,” he said.

“I think they have bought in really well. Cabaye is a terrific player, an excellent passer of the ball, and the boys up front have done well for them.”

Injured pair may return for Newcastle clash

Injured pair may return for Newcastle clash
Injured pair may return for Newcastle clash

Liverpool will leave a decision on the fitness of Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson until the last minute ahead of Sunday’s game with Newcastle United.

The Reds will continue to monitor the pair over the next 48 hours in the hope that they can be passed fit for the Premier League clash at Anfield.

Spanish goalkeeper Reina suffered a hamstring problem whilst with his national team last month and aggravated the injury on his return to training last week – resulting in Brad Jones enjoying a rare spell between the sticks.

Johnson was taken off halfway through Liverpool’s Europa League tie against Anzhi Makhachkala just over a week ago with a tight hamstring and did not feature against Everton or Swansea.

Given his history of hamstring problems Rodgers is keen not to rush Johnson back, whilst with the recall of Alexander Doni – who was given time off for personal reasons – he appears to be ready for Reina to spend a bit more time out. But with an extra day to prepare the squad there is a possibility of both players being fit to return for Newcastle’s visit on Sunday if the medical staff deem it will not be a risk.

If neither player is able to make it back into action this weekend it appears that both will be in contention for the crucial match against Chelsea the following Sunday.

Failing To Prepare Is Preparing To Fail

Failing To Prepare Is Preparing To Fail

One thing Brendan Rodgers has done during his short time as Liverpool manager, which has impressed all Kopites, is giving young players the chance to impress at first team level. Talents like Raheem Sterling, Suso, Andre Wisdom and Jonjo Shelvey have all grasped the opportunity shown by their manager and have by no means let him down, some might say.

With this brave decision, big money expenses such as Jordan Henderson, Joe Cole, Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique have all been put to one side by the Irishman, although the latter has suffered from a series of injuries. Therefore, the Capital One Cup and Europa League is an audition stage for those players to prove to Rodgers that they should be wearing the royal red come Saturday afternoon.

Last nights game against the managers’ previous club Swansea should have been a turning point for them. However, unfortunately that was not the case. Take Joe Cole for example, he arrived at Anfield during the summer of 2010 with big expectation when Roy Hodgson brought him in from Chelsea on an expensive free transfer. He is on a reported £90,000 a week which has not been justified. He was sent off on his debut and had a few stop-start injuries under Hodgson’s brief reign and was never really fancied by Kenny Dalglish, resulting in him spending the last campaign at Lille on a season-long loan deal.

He impressed at the French club and with Brendan Rodgers (a coach he worked with at Chelsea) being named the new man at the Anfield helm, it should have been the start of Cole’s Liverpool career. However, that hasn’t been the case. He picked up injuries against FC Gomel in the Europa League qualifying round and on the opening day of the season during the 3-0 defeat to West Brom. Therefore, last nights Capital One tie at Anfield should have been the night Cole finally showed the Anfield faithful what he was capable off, and prove the manager’s trust in him is justified and not just a sentimental one.

He started the game well off the pace and was not creating any opportunities for Samed Yesil, the young German who was isolated for the majority of the first half. He was too slow and looked out of his depth. That moves me on too Stewart Downing, who really should be nearing the end of his frustrating Liverpool career.

I’ll admit, I was excited by the prospect of signing Downing and, during his final season at Aston Villa, there was no better winger in the country for me. However, since day one at Anfield, he has been a major disappointment.

Last night proved no different. He didn’t look to create anything for himself or the team. He also doesn’t seem to be bothered about his constant failure; if it was me and I was being kept out by a 17 year old, I would be embarrassed and would want to prove a point and show I am a £20million player. However I’m afraid we will never see it.

Jordan Henderson is another player who didn’t turn up last night and failed to show Rodgers why he deserves to be part of his plans. People keep using Henderson’s age as an excuse and whilst he has time on his hands, I do not buy it. Not when Shelvey and Sterling are producing the goods in the Premier League, week in week out. Henderson seems nervous every time he receives the ball, his heads never up looking for a forward pass and he persists on playing a square ball all the time. Last night was no different from what I saw, whether he was out of position or not.

I feel as though the three players mentioned not only let their manager, team mates and supporters down last night, but most importantly themselves. There may be more auditions to come for Henderson and Downing in the remaining Europa League games but I would say it is more or less certain that Cole’s Anfield career is over. Unless Downing and Henderson produce consistent performances when giving their chance before January, they will join Cole out the exit door which will then give the manager the chance to create his own squad, and then start to produce performances like Swansea did last night.

Cole value questioned by Rodgers

Cole value questioned by Rodgers

Joe Cole can be left with no uncertainty about his manager’s disappointment with his performance against Swansea last night after Brendan Rodgers’ comments today.

The former England international was hauled off at half-time in his side’s disappointing 3-1 defeat at Anfield in the Capital One Cup, with the score at 1-0 to the visitors.

It was only Cole’s fourth outing of the season, but it lasted just forty-five minutes and he cannot expect to feature much more after such a poor display.

Rodgers was clearly frustrated with the former Chelsea man’s performance and has questioned his value to the club since his move from Stamford Bridge in 2010 – with the midfielder on a reported £90,000 a week.

“The club have invested an astronomical amount of money on a talented player and Joe had the opportunity,” the Liverpool manager told the press last night.

“He has been back fit a couple of weeks and his opportunities have been limited but you have to see.”

“I thought it was difficult for him. It was too slow and it wasn’t what I would expect from a team I tried to set up to be dynamic.”

Cole was a regular under Roy Hodgson and featured sporadically under Kenny Dalglish in 2010/11 before being sent on loan to French club Lille OSC. He performed well in Ligue 1 and was hopeful of making a positive impact at Anfield this season after being given a fresh chance by Rodgers.

Allen disappointed to lose to former club

Allen disappointed to lose to former club

Welsh midfielder Joe Allen has spoken about his team’s disappointment at losing 3-1 to former club Swansea City in the Capital One Cup – but he has backed them to bounce back with three points against Newcastle on Sunday.

“We’re bitterly disappointed,” the 22-year-old told Liverpoolfc.com.

“To go into the game as holders of this competition, we were hungry and determined to get into the next round. It obviously wasn’t meant to be.”

A first half header from Spanish defender Chico Flores gave the Swans a 1-0 half time lead before winger Nathan Dyer’s tap in put them 2-0 up shortly after the hour. Substitute Luis Suarez gave the Reds hope with a headed goal after 75 minutes, but Jon de Guzman’s late goal sealed the win for the visitors.

“It almost took us to go two goals down before we really kicked into gear, it’s a shame. I think if there were a few minutes left at the end, it looked like we probably would have gone on to get that second goal and force extra time.”

“But time ran out and we had a few chances which we couldn’t unfortunately put away.”

Allen said that it was “very strange, obviously bittersweet” to face his old club, but agreed with his boss that victory was only element that mattered to the match.

“It was great to line up alongside some top friends I’ve got at Swansea,” he said.

“But it’s a game I desperately wanted to win for Liverpool and it’s very disappointing not to have done that.”

Attention turns to Sunday afternoon and an enticing league encounter between the Reds and Newcastle at Anfield and Allen is looking forward for the chance to make an immediate amends.

“It’s easy to say after getting knocked out of the cup but the league is every team’s priority and it’s no different for us,” Allen concluded. “It’s another big game at home at Anfield and one that we’ll be looking to bounce back in with all three points.”

Rodgers hoping to see Lucas return in November

Rodgers hoping to see Lucas return in November

Brendan Rodgers has revealed that midfielder Lucas Leiva could be back in action by the end of the month.

Lucas has been out since suffering another injury in the second league game of the season against Manchester City. He subsequently underwent an operation on a cruciate knee ligament.

But Rodgers is hopeful that the Brazilian can be ready for the busy festive period in December.

“Lucas has been out on the field in the last week or so which is great.” Rodgers told the Liverpool Daily Post.

“He’s not doing multi-directional movements yet but he’s doing a lot of straight-line running and endurance work.”

“I’m anticipating maybe another three weeks but his professionalism is great and he’ll get back probably sooner than is anticipated.”

Rodgers will be hoping that return of the defensive midfielder can help add steel to Liverpool’s backline and help them reduce the number of goals being conceded this season.

Dalglish: Suarez row did not cost me my job

Dalglish: Suarez row did not cost me my job

Kenny Dalglish has said that the racism row involving Luis Suarez did not cost him his job as Liverpool manager – but he said he would do things differently if he had the chance.

The Anfield legend was given the chop at the end of an inconsistent season that saw two Wembley cup finals, one won, and an eighth place Premiership finish.

The campaign was tarnished by the race row involving Suarez and Manchester United’s French left-back Patrice Evra, after which the Liverpool striker was given an eight match ban.

Dalglish was criticised at the time for defending his player, but has pointed the figure at more senior club officials rather than take the blame all himself.

Asked whether the issue saw him lose his job he said: “I don’t think so. That was up to them [the club owners, Fenway Sports Group]. I can go to sleep at night knowing what I did I did to the best of my ability and if that does not come up to their expectations or they want to go in another direction – they own the club.”

“The owners made the decision they thought was best. They don’t want to make a decision which is detrimental to the club because if they did that they would hang themselves because they have a huge investment in it.”

“I think anything that is not done in a positive manner cannot help you but I was only the manager. There are other people with greater intelligence than me and greater responsibilities than me when it comes to something like this.”

“I think [it was] the club as a whole. It wasn’t just me [making decisions]. The T-shirts were the players wanting to show their support for a team-mate. It might have been misguided and not have been right but it was not me who decided it.”

Dalglish told TalkSport: “A lot of things were misguided, misinterpreted and misrepresented. I was always brought up to tell the truth and what I believed to be the truth I said.”

“If it ever came up again I would do it differently – I would be less helpful and less forthcoming and I think that is sad.”

Dalglish has called on the FA to change their stance on such issues – after Chelsea captain John Terry received half the ban Suarez got.

“There is no room for racism in football and the FA have a responsibility to clear it up,” said Dalglish. “If they want to get it cleaned up they need to get closer to the rules and regulations and laws of the land.”

“You can’t be going to a tribunal with the FA and be seen [to be judged] on probability and you go to a court and it is ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’. They have to get closer to the law and make sure the tribunal is independent.”

“You get different degrees of punishment because there are different people with different interpretations. Why not have the same panel?”

“Also, what is the correct terminology, what is the wrong thing to say? There are obvious ones out there you wouldn’t dream of saying but they need to educate us and give us a guideline.”

Houllier: Give Rodgers time

Houllier: Give Rodgers time

Gerard Houllier has urged Liverpool fans to be patient with Brendan Rodgers. The Reds have had a stop-start campaign to date, and rumbles of discontent have started amongst less patient sections of the club’s support. But former boss Houllier is confident that results will come if the club sticks by their current manager.

“You need to give him time,” Houllier told BBC Radio Merseyside. “He’s starting a new cycle with the team.”It will take a minimum of two years, maybe three, to achieve success. If the owners are patient, it will come good.”

The club is currently 12th in the Premier League with 10 points from nine games, and lost their chance to defend the League Cup after the 3-1 defeat to Swansea. Despite results not going his way though Rodgers has got the club playing some good football and the fans prematurely calling for his head remain in the minority.

“I think he will [get time] because now the fans know that he wants to play a certain style that suits the team very well,” added Houllier.

“He’s also giving a chance to young players. There were three or four players below the age of 20 in a big derby. When experience comes along, they will get better and better

“He doesn’t look as if he lacks courage. Brendan is brave and he took some important decisions before the derby game with Everton.”