European Nights – Liverpool vs Napoli

Liverpool 0   Napoli 2

LiverpoolNapoliLiverpool continues its trouble with Away games in the Champions League and fell 2-nil to Napoli. It is not the result I would have expected, not even watching the match. Liverpool fired on all cylinders, had the majority of the ball. But in the 82nd minute, a penalty inside the box gave Napoli the game. I do not believe there would have been a second goal if that penalty had not happened.

Liverpool fans, do not panic. We did this last year and still became champions. Had Salah or Firmino gotten through on some of their earlier chances (both goalkeepers made unbelievable saves), the momentum would have gone to us. Liverpool controlled the majority of possession. We got a bit unlucky on the penalty and a little sloppy in stoppage time.  It happens. We can still dream of multiple trophies. Remember Barcelona.  Keep believing. Never give up.

Liverpool vs Newcastle

Liverpool 3  Newcastle 1

I do not love the international break. It is a period of white noise waiting for the next step in the journey. I am filled with relief that Premier League football is back. And Liverpool remains perfect.  Newcastle gave us a great game, but Anfield is a fortress. Liverpool in beating Newcastle became the first premier League team to win 14 games in a row scoring more than 2 goals in each game. A nice little record. If they win a mere 5 more, they will beat the record for the longest ever winning streak in Premier League history.

Highlights of game

To top it off, Man City fell to Norwich. Liverpool could have warned them. Norwich was a formidable opponent when they came to Anfield.  This puts Liverpool 5 points on the top of the table, the largest margin after 5 games of any team in the Premier League era. This is a big deal but it is early days.

IMG_0004I am still cautious in predicting trophies and triumphs. Anything can happen in football. That said, this is such a special Liverpool team.

The front three remain a force of nature with Roberto Firmino being able to call the wind, Sadio Mane directing lightening, and Mohamed Salah causing thunder. These three are the weapons wielded by the rest of the team.

Virgil Van Dijk commands a tireless defense, with Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold whipping up a gale that makes opponents tremble.  Both Joel Matip and Joe Gomez make great compliments to big Virgil.

Dejan Lovren can come in a pinch. The team is getting deeper and deeper. We still have Nathaniel Clyne back from his loan to Bournemouth.

We have the Golden Glove winning goalkeeper, Alisson Becker. He got injured in the first game. So Adrian, who I imagine did not expect to play a second when he came into the squad, came in. He has done an admirable job filling those big gloves. Already, he has made a trophy-winning save against Chelsea.  Sitting in the background is new signing, Andy Lonergan, who has great experience and will aid in the training of our young keepers as well as come in should both Adrian and Alisson be unavailable.

There is not a weak link in this team. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back from injury, and is primed to contribute in bigger and bigger ways going forward. Fabinho has really found his stride in the midfield.  Naby Keita will be back from injury, and by the end of last season, this young man was starting to show real quality.  Xherdan Shaqiri stayed back from the International Break to improve his play. We will not soon forget his contribution against Manchester United last season. This is an exciting player to watch.

The heroes of Barcelona, Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum, continue to develop into outstanding players.

And do not forget the veterans, James Milner has mastered rallying the troops, and captain Jordan Henderson may take his back out for all the trophies he may have to lift this season. We can dream. Adam Llalana is excellent although injuries have underscored his quality. When healthy, this is a brilliant player that is often under-estimated much to the chagrin of Liverpool’s opponents.

We have a great stable of young players as well in all positions, all with potential to turn into world-class players under the tutelage of this great manager and the players he nurtures into small forces of nature.  Be on the look out for Rhian Brewster, Curtis Jones, Harvey Eliot, Ki-Jana Hoever, Yassar Larouci, Sepp Van Den Berg, and Caoimhin Kelleher.

Regardless of what does happen this season, this is the best Liverpool team I have ever seen in my lifetime, even better than the team that first introduced me to the Reds in the mid-80’s.  There will never be another team like this in my life time. If you are a Liverpool fan, wake up and take it in. This is a rare thing, a rare combination of players, manager, and atmosphere. This Liverpool is a true team, comrades and allies, great talent made world-class by their football mates.  At this pace, these mentality giants may get Jurgen Klopp a statue next to Bill Shankly..  Enjoy the ride.

 

Liverpool vs. Burnley

Liverpool 3  Burnley 0

UEFABestIt has been a great week for Liverpool. Alisson Becker won UEFA Best Keeper of the Year award and Virgil Van Dijk won UEFA Best Player of the Year, beating out Messi and Rinaldo. We cannot wait until Alisson is all healthy again.

VanDijkUEFAPlayerLiverpool won their first clean sheet this season against Burnley with the goalkeeper, Adrian, and they remain the only perfect team in the Premier League.

 

ManeMadA couple of weeks ago, Jurgen Klopp said the boys are friends but not best friends. They have to push each other.  A lot of fans will have noticed Sadio Mane fuming after being substituted. It had nothing to do with being taken out. It seems to have been due to a pass that should have been sent his way.

These are young, passionate men. How else could they play at this level? Do not be troubled.  This is what Klopp meant when he said these boys cannot be “best” friends.   In this instance, Mane was in a better position to shoot. Maybe Salah does not see him. Perhaps, next time Salah makes the assist. Or not.

I am not sure, but this is something, for a team to stay perfect, they have to balance each man’s hunger to score (high driver for both Mane and Salah) against the team’s need to score.  And to catch that elusive Premier League Title this year, we need a lot of goals. Man City will never relent.

FirminoBurnleyRoberto Fermino has the balance between personal desires and performance for benefit of the team down pat. He scored the third goal, set up by Salah (although I am not sure Salah meant to set him up). However, Fermino plays unselfishly, always looking for the best space to put the ball.

He does not get enough credit for his incredible contributions to the team. He is tireless, winning back the ball all the time, setting up teammates, as well as scoring in critical periods. And that is the thing, Liverpool is a world-class team that has made its players world-class. Not the other way around. As long as they hold on to that, anything is possible this season.

Next week is International Break. So take a breath. It is going to be a long season. The games will come fast and furious as both Champion’s League and Caribou Cup competitions begin. No more than three days between games for weeks and weeks. The more Liverpool win, the more they will have to play. And I do not see Jurgen Klopp and his boys wanting to sacrifice one trophy for another. They will want all the trophies.

Liverpool vs Arsenal

Liverpool   3   Arsenal 1

Liverpool looked the best team in the world in their game against Arsenal. In three games, Liverpool is the only team which has not dropped any points left in the EPL.

In his pre-game press conference, Jurgen Klopp talked about “team spirit” in regards to Liverpool. One of the many things that drew me to Liverpool is the heart of the team. It is not the trophies and triumphs, although those things are great, but the way the team plays together. Liverpool went through a lull in the first part of the century. Now, they embody all the greatness of the club.

Klopp said, yes, they are all friends but not best friends. This is important because they must push each other to the next level, to have a team spirit that is super competitive, to maintain a hunger, drive, an anger as well as a love to succeed, to improve, to rise. Against Arsenal, the spirit of Liverpool hit their opposition like an attack of wild dragons.

 

 

Liverpool vs Southampton

Liverpool 2  Southampton 1

Liverpool win the second game of the Premier League season despite the long week with the incredible victory in the double-overtime in Istanbul earlier in the week. What a relief. And Man City dropped points to Tottenham, a tie. Glorious stuff. Here are the highlights.

Part I – My Evolution into becoming a Liverpool Fan

For all the Americans in the audience, the thing we call football should be called Tackleball. Could we maybe get a campaign to make this change to avoid all the confusion.  The thing we call soccer is football everywhere else. There is a reason for this although it has nothing to do with the kicking of the ball with a foot.

In medieval times, there was all this jousting and polo and such. Only nobles could play those games  because common folk could not afford the horse and gear to participate. Football, played by common folk, describes any game not played on a horse. And growing up, while there were horses around, we weren’t allowed to play with them.

I discovered the game at around seven or eight because of a boy that lived a couple of doors down. We were the same age, both book smart and adventurous. His parents had been missionaries in Brazil. He loved Pele more than anything in the world.

I learned about the Ginga style of play because of him. This was his passion.  Mine was music and art and writing. At the time, I loved the Beatles. They were from Liverpool. That was the seed that ultimately made me the Liverpool supporter I am today.

As it turns out, over the years, Liverpool has been home for many Brazilian players. The current ones are just world-class, one and all.

Alisson, our golden-glove but currently injured, goalkeeper.

Alisson

Fabinho, a force to be reckoned with in the midfield and getting better every time he plays.

Fabihno

Roberto Firmino, part of the Liverpool terrifying front three who is a playmaker like none other, selfless and with such amazing stamina.

Firmino

 

UEFA Supercup Liverpool vs Chelsea

Liverpool   2   Chelsea 2 (Penalties 5-4)

 

FEFASuperJordieIn the first half of Liverpool’s first Premier League game of the 2019-2020 season, our world-class goalkeeper, Alisson, went off injured with a hamstring injury. We had sold our backup keeper earlier that week and brought in veteran Spanish goalkeeper, Adrian. He finished up the first game and had to start in the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea. He emerged a Liverpool hero in less than two weeks with the club. That is quite an accomplishment. Cheers to Liverpool on another trophy.

I was at work for the start of this game (3:00 PM US Eastern time) so I listened on the LFC radio. I love those announcers. It sounded like a rough first half, like Liverpool were firing on half their cylinders.   Also, Chelsea’s new signing, Christian Pulesic, is damn good. He should have come to Liverpool but there he is at Chelsea. Making trouble. Had he been able to stay onside, he might have finished Liverpool off in the first forty-five.

 

I arrived home fifteen minutes into the second half after Sadio Mane scored his first goal and brought the score level at 1-1.  Liverpool had decided to show up for the second half, adding Roberto Fermino to the line-up to show the full strength of our starting front three. It made a difference. When Mane, Salah, and Fermino are on the field, it is magic.

FEFASuperJordieI could not find the game on television in English so I watched in Spanish. I really must learn to speak the language. I didn’t mind. Football is football in any language. Even in America where we call it soccer, causing the death’s of random Europeans whenever we call it that.

Apparently, I could have watched on USA network but I did not know that so I synched the Liverpool commentators with the Spanish broadcast. The game went into double overtime – ended up 2-2 and off to penalties we went. In Istanbul.

Apparently, European nights played by Liverpool in Istanbul require penalties. My nerves are shot. I am worried about the players as happy as I am for them winning the trophy. The season has started off at a full-sprint. They fly back to Liverpool on Thursday, then fly to Southampton on Friday for a Premier League game on Saturday.

Talk to you lot on Saturday. Hopefully, Liverpool can beat Southampton. It’s not a given. Not when we have injuries and the possibility of exhaustion to deal with. Hopefully, they remain mental giants and listen to their team-mate, Sadio Mane. Tired is only in the mind.  These are young men. They probably can override tired in those sharp minds of theirs. Me, I need coffee. Now.

 

 

 

Liverpool vs Norwich

ChampionsOfEurope

Liverpool 4      Norwich 1 

I have decided to blog every Liverpool game in the 2019-2020 season. I have been Liverpool obsessed since 1985-1986 season so I might as well make use of this distraction by feeding my other obsession, writing.

I am one of those Liverpool fans that fans of other clubs bristle at. Ask me to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and I will sing it, at the top of my lungs with all my heart … and off key. You have been warned.

Liverpool opened their 2019-2020 season with a convincing win against the newly promoted Norwich. The score line suggests that Liverpool is ready for business. However, the Canaries did not go down without a fight. Here is what went down. I will leave it to the professionals to show the highlights.

 

So the problem is that Liverpool played 1/2 game, scored 4 goals, and then nothing. Zero goals in the second half is disappointing.  With the Man City robot-playing footballers, goal differentiation will matter. A lot. Points and goals. We need both in this league. I am not entirely sure Man City will be our only rivals this year. Money was spent by other clubs. Not Liverpool (which is fine by the way – Klopp is brilliant at building players into world-class competitors).

Also,  our golden glove goalkeeper, Allison, went off injured in the first half. That is not good. Newly acquired, Adrian, took over. He has been at Liverpool a grand total of 2 days. That is it. I bet he didn’t expect to play like ever.  He did well for being called onto the pitch unexpectedly.

I pray Allison will be well before too long. He has already been ruled out for the Super Cup against Chelsea on Wednesday.  We will really see the quality of Adrian then.

So here is what is at stake….

LFCLogoIt’s been 30 damn years since Liverpool FC won the league. This translates “Liverpool has never won the Premier League”. It’s time. Winning in Europe for 6th time was nice and all. Ok, it was amazing, a great way to end the 2018-2019 season. Losing the Premier League by 1 point to Man City, dream-crushing, clinical as Hell robots, sucked a lot. It hurt.

They deserved to win. Liverpool only lost to Man City last season.  Manchester City make the classic adversary. They look freaking scary in black as they pummel West Ham in their opener 5-0. It burns. We start the new season 2 goals behind by goal differentiation despite a 4-1 victory. How is that even possible? Ouch.

To be fair, Norwich looks a better side than West Ham. However, Man City pummeled the Hammers on West Ham’s own pitch. Liverpool was at Anfield which is always an advantage. I see a long, hard season ahead. Fun but loooonnnnnnng.

Next up: Super Cup in Istanbul – Liverpool vs Chelsea. – August 14th – we will catch up then.