That's the annual abomination away at Stoke over with, then - Round Table

Posted by Col on December 26, 2012, 10:46:57 PM

The party didn't last long.

You know - the party we'd been planning for when Suarez finally got a penalty decision in his favour? Well, it lasted as long as it took to get over the shock of it being not only awarded, but scored too. In fact, some where probably still chuckling away when Agger and Skrtel failed to deal with a long ball, and Walters equalised with a creditably calm finish.

Then, the party went sour. It went quickly from good fun, to a little bit odd, to the kind of party where your old, racist uncle is sitting in the corner shouting obsceneties at anyone and everyone, having just pissed himself from too much Jim Beam and not enough ability to control his bladder.

Speaking of an inability to control things - Jonjo FUCKING Shelvey. He's getting worse with every single game he plays. There's no doubt he has quality, but there's a big difference between having quality and being quality - and the more he plays, the less he looks like he's ever going to be able to make the step up.

There are many things wrong with this Liverpool side, so I'll just touch on a few of them and let you guys do the rest.

Firstly, there's an old saying that "You're judged by your performances in both penalty areas". This is a big issue for Liverpool, because as we all know, not enough players in the squad are capable of making things happen in the attacking box. The players asked to support Suarez - Sterling, Suso, Downing, Shelvey, Cole, Assaidi - are all either far from good enough, or too young to actually know how to influence a game. I could watch Suso play all day, but I'm sure if I did, he still wouldn't score or set up a goal. Sterling is capable of producing something different, but he should be learning from players who are currently not only good players, but effective ones too. We only have one effective player in the final third. One. And I'm including Gerrard in that. These days, he scores and sets up no more than any journeyman midfielder. One effective attacking player is not enough to win games on a regular basis. It's a discussion that's had day after day, week-in, week-out, so I won't dwell on it.

The other side of this is that Suso, Cole, Sterling, Suarez, and Assaidi must have an average height of about 5'9", and (Cole excepted) an average weight of about 10 stone carrying a bag of potatoes. How on earth are Agger and Skrtel supposed to learn how to defend against big, strong, powerful strikers during games, if they never get the opportunity to train against them? It's even worse if they're mobile too - look how good we made Carlton Cole look recently.

The answer is that they essentially have to learn how to handle these types of players during the game - but when those players are effective as well as physical, it's often a very dangerous game. By the time our defence had figured out how to play against Stoke, Stoke had scored three times. One was from a long ball, one from a corner, and one from a long throw. It was actually a bit embarrassing to watch - after all, it's not like it was an unexpected approach from Stoke's point of view, was it?

So, my question here is "Will Daniel Sturridge help us improve in both boxes?"

Is he good enough to  not only bag goals when we play at the weekend, but to sufficiently challenge Agger and Skrtel enough during training to help them learn how to deal with big units?

My second question is this: "With Jonjo Shelvey and Nuri Sahin unwilling to do the dirty work in midfield, Joe Allen too lightweight and suspect during transitions, and Steven Gerrard both too lazy and positionally slack to bother filling in gaps when we lose the ball, how can we close up the gap in front of the two centre backs and become more effective at winning second balls?"

Is Jordan Henderson good enough defensively to sit in alongside Lucas and use his dynamism to press the ball? Or, do we need to buy a physical specimen to play in that destructor role alongside Lucas? Should we be looking to have a dual-protector partnership in the middle a la Mikel - Ramires / sometimes play, especially as we're encouraging both full-backs to attack? How do we fill this massive gap?

My third question is a classic - "What do we need to do with Steven Gerrard?"

He's got all the class and ability in the world, but his legs have gone. We can't play him how United play Scholes, because he doesn't have the discipline and our fowards don't retain possession well enough. He can't play as a central midfielder next to Lucas - he's NEVER been able to play that role.

My preference would be to move him forwards, on the right-hand-side. He's a much more effective player than all our other "wingers" at the moment - he could use that role to whip balls in from wide, or to drive in and link up with Suarez like he did with Torres so well from that position.

My final, two-fold question is regarding Brendan Rodgers - "What mistakes are we making regularly, and is there evidence that Rodgers and his team are noticing and working on fixing them? Also, is Rodgers' philosophy hindering our short-term progress by trying to implement style over pragmatism at any cost?"

Over to you.

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