We had a terrible time in October and November. Other than Chelski we had fixtures against West Brom, QPR, Hull, Newcastle, Palace, Stoke and Leicester. Even without Sturridge you would have thought we would still get the results and it was great opportunity for Balotelli and Lambert to step up.
Yet again we were left feeling angry and disappointed. Despite the relative easy run of fixtures we managed just 4 wins. A brace as bookends to that particular run. The QPR win was bizarre. Own-goals all over the place in the last 7 minutes. We then managed just 1 point from the next 4 and managed to make a pigs ear of Champions League group. Other than Real Madrid and Basel in the away leg we should have made a decent fist of it. We scored just 5 goals conceded 9 and the only win was with a dodgy pen at home in the last minute at home to Ludogarets.
The reasons for this poor run are simple:
1) Complete lack of defensive organisation and confidence. We seem to have been picking a different 4 players every week. The goalkeeper was particularly dodgy and as far as I am concerned continues to be so. He is being asked to be a footballer which he isn't. That lack of confidence has spread to other parts of his game and ultimately to his defence in front of him and they have been panicky enough. Lovren has brought the stability and leadership desired.
2) Teams have worked us out. Simple really, press us when the ball is in our half someone is bound to give it away. If we are dominating the ball, drop deep with 2 banks of 4 and play on the break. oh yes and just wait for a corner or freekick for a free goal!
3) Lack of a cutting edge upfront. We have tried Balotelli but he clearly actually interested in playing football. I have said it before, I have no idea who decided this guy can even play football. He has no touch, zero tactical awareness, no work ethic and the worst attitude and demeanour on the pitch. Ricky Lambert and Fabio Borini have had to sit and watch this £16mill waster do absolutely nothing, its hardly helped their confidence.
So we stumbled into December with little hope or optimism and facing a trip to The Theatre of delusions and the Gunners at home.Ming-ing-olet finally dropped although Brad Jones isn't really a step forward. Despite the rather lopsided scoreline and the customary offside goal we utter smashed Manure. David De Gea continues to be their best player and the only reason they are not in the bottom 5 never mind the top 4. 9 saves and about 4 of them Worldies.
Having said all that Rodgers was convinced he had stumbled onto something. Playing with a back 3, using Markovic and Moreno as wing backs and playing Raheem through the middle. We had 19 shots and 9 on target against ManUre which is a vast improvement on the 7 shots and just 1 against Sunderland at home the week before.
So on to Arsenal and yet another bizarre encounter. We deservedly took the lead just before half-time only to go to sleep as usual injury time just before halftime. Arsenal then went 2-1 up through Giroud. Needless to say we threw everything at them and deservedly got the equaliser deep in injury time. A bit of Quid Pro Quo. Again we had an amazing 27 shots but only 10 on target.
Fair play to Rodgers he seemed to have found something we can work with. Since then we have gone 6 more league games without losing with just 1 draw and amazingly 4 clean sheets. Yes the opposition for the most part has been most mediocre but we have been less than clinical against the lesser teams. 2-0 up against Leicester, we managed to throw it away.
So have turned a corner? The proof will be in the next 3 fixtures. Everton away, Southampton away and Man City at home. We need 6 or 7 points form those 3 games as despite the run of 7 games undefeated we have actually only moved up 2 league places. More importantly we are just 5 points from 3rd place, so the games against the teams around us are critical.
The return of Daniel Sturridge is very timely indeed we must hope there are no re-lapses for the rest of the season. With him as our spearhead I can't see us not getting into the top 4. We cant afford to lose too many more games possibly only the City game and away at Chelski. The rest will have to be wins. Including Arsenal at the Emirates. We went on crazy run last season and will have to do so again.
Rodgers has also recalled Jordan Ibe from his loan spell at Derby where he seems to have done quite well. I would like to tell you his appearance, assists,goals and Man of the Match awards but neither our Website or Derby's makes any reference to his existence as a player there form a stats point of view! LOL So much for the information age!
Another good decision in this window is to leave Divock Origi out on loan. No point in bringing him back this season. Sterling is showing he can play through the middle if required. God help the League next season when we can unleash Sturridge, Origi, Sterling and Ibe!
So there are shoots of a recovery but I think we are paying for our transfer policy in general. You cant say you will sign and develop younger players and then expect consistency form them. That takes until their mid to late twenties to develop.
Lets hope we can build on our momentum and really push for a top place. It would be awesome if we could keep ManUre out again. No doubt they will come up with a cunning plan to allow their U9 kit to be sponsored by McDonalds for £150mill like they did with their training kit last summer to make up for the lack of Champions League football!
I will be doing another blog about our transfer policy and the various decisions we have made.
- I have been a Red since I was about 6 or 7. My boyhood hero was Kenny Dalglish and I have an autograph from him while he was still at Celtic. Thanks Gran! As such I gravitated towards the team he played for. So I have been Scottish-South African- Scoucer for about 30 years now! I am extremely passionate about our club, and have felt the need to start this blog in the face of the abject nature of our performaces under Benitez and the Hicks/Gillett ownership.