4 Oct 2014

Confirmed LFC XI vs. WB: BR blows it with €20m huge mistake; surprise on the bench

Well, he only went and did it (!) Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has dropped €20m summer signing Mario Balotelli for today's must-win game with West Brom. It's a massive gamble from the manager, and it's a decision that may come back to haunt him.

FULL TEAM: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Hendo, Sterling, Lallana, Coutinho, Lambert

SUBS: Jones, Toure, Johnson, Markovic, Lucas, Borini, Balotelli

It's a strong team overall, but for me, dropping Balotelli is a man-management faux-pas of epic proportions:

* Earlier this week, Rodgers publicly criticised the Italian, sating that he 'has to do better', and challenging him to score/create goals. How is Balotelli supposed to do that on the bench?

* It's only 6 games into Balotelli's Liverpool career, and and the whole team is underperforming, yet Balotelli is seemingly being made the scapegoat. I doubt he'll be too impressed with that.

* After the Basel game, Gerrard blasted the team for being 'too soft' and lacking desire. Rodgers has now made it clear that the captain was referring (in part) to Balotelli. Why else would BR drop him and bring in a player renowned for his hard-work on the field?

* If Rodgers is going to criticise a player then at least give him the chance to redeem himself, especially since part of the reason he's under-performing is down to the manager's own mistakes (i.e. playing 4231, with Balotelli as a lone-striker).

* Rodgers has now basically invited a throng of media pressure onto the club and Balotelli. The major story for the next few days is going to be 'Balotelli dropped!', and there will be endless negative speculation to go with it.

Probable Formation:

------------------ Mignolet

Manquillo ---- Skrtel -- Lovren ----- Moreno

------------- Gerrard -- Hendo

------ Sterling - Coutinho - Lallana

------------------ Lambert

I just don't get it. What is the point in spending £16m on an international striker and then dropping him for a 32-year old in twilight of his career? It makes no sense to me. Balotelli needs time to gel with his team-mates, and he can't do that from the bench.

Additionally, why sign the Italian and then refuse to play to his strengths? He is not a lone striker, yet Rodgers insists on trying to make him into Suarez MK2, which smacks of poor transfer planning (yet again).

In my view, this decision is a monumental mistake. Rodgers has basically thrown Balotelli to the wolves, and he may lose a certain amount of goodwill from fans - and the player himself - over it.

My Prediction: Still 2-1.

Author:



263 comments:

  1. Suso is injured jaimie ...

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  2. Rodgers, you are absolutely mad. And what's the hold up with this Sturridge return? He was meant to be back over a week ago! I hate Roy Hodgson even more now!

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  3. You never know exactly when exactly player return from injury and when they get matchfit you can't really blame rodgers for leaving Sturridge out

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  4. Imo it's brave to leave balotelli out, he was underperforming and doesn't really deserve his place, same for markovic! Our squad is big enough to rotate, if you don't perform youre replaced and somebody else is given the chance - end off

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  5. I'm taking this as a sign that Balo needs a rest. But would have expected Sterling to be rested today and Markovic given a go again. Why not start Borini with Lambert? Balo as a lone striker doesn't work. Hope Lambert fares better today.

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  6. why 1 forward up front on his own at home Rodgers tactics are poor

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  7. Makes you wonder how much research/thought goes into

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  8. i'm not blaming BR about that, I'm just frustrated by how slow his return has been. Everything this season that could go wrong has happened. Typical Liverpool luck. F***ing typical.

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  9. I hope Lambert scores and Balotelli then comes on later and also scores otherwise I too will be joining those that have been criticising BR of late.

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  10. I don't think it's a disaster. I agree that Balotelli is not a lone striker, but maybe Lambert can perform that role better - he is very good at holding the ball up and bringing other players into play; maybe that is the reason for benching Balotelli, no drama. I think BR is sticking with the 4-2-3-1 because he needs Hendo to cover Stevie. Playing a 4-4-2 diamond will leave Stevie exposed, we all know now that he hasn't got the legs for it, for 90 mins at least. So when Can is fit, maybe we'll see Stevie on the bench (and coming on @60mins to make a game-changing impact as I still believe he can do), and, in a 4-4-2 formation, Balotelli and Sturridge/Sterling upfront. Right now Brendan can only play with the players he's got fit.

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  11. Or you could see it as Balotelli needing some rest after playing a lot of games recently... I think we should wait at least for the end of the game before claiming it's a "monumental mistake"

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  12. Nothing brave about the decision in my opinion. It's terrible man management and another example of Rodgers making himself bigger than the club, if all the stories coming out are true. Daniel Agger & Stewart Downing stories indicate how highly he think of himself.
    If he was being he should have acknowledged he tactics have failed the team and introduced a second striker.
    As for Lambert it's time to admit we sold a dead horse, the man has been awful. The performance in the league was one of the worst captain displays ever.

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  13. If Balotelli was not doing anything upfront on his own then what makes you think Lambert is going to do any different?

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  14. I think he did a good job in the lone striker role at Southampton, I explained my thinking about him below

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  15. spot on in your summary of the situation Jk,it makes you wonder how much Gerrard is influencing rogers to get lambert ( scouser who has been woeful ) into the team ..its almost surreal its not like lambert has been playing well when seen he has been garbage

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  16. Well we first need to give Lambert a chance to see. How will we know otherwise ?

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  17. But Balotelli has not really had any decent service has he? Lambert is going to need to pull off a Suarez performance today otherwise we are in major trouble.

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  18. Dumping all this pressure on Lambert is just utter madness. He needs to lead the line of an attack in a system which has been ineffective. Good luck to him.

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  19. We dont know how Ballo took the criticism midweek, might be a factor in his dropping.

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  20. That's the problem with Balotelli; he needs service or a tag-team partner up there. Lambert has proven in the Premier League that he can be the hub of the attacking line, holding the ball up and making spaces for other to run in to etc. let's wait and see. I think with Sterling, Coutinho and Lallana all buzzing around him, Lambert will own the final third. But I'm an optimist.

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  21. Lambert has been less than impressive so far. Let's see...

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  22. Pressure comes with wearing the Liverpool shirt and Lambert knew that before signing, I doubt it will bother him even a bit.
    Anyway let's not analyse performances before they have even occured. They guy has a chance today, let's see if he takes it.

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  23. Im happy to see GJ on the bench. I hope he comes on in a wide midfield role if he does come on and owns it. The boy has flair, I hope he's in some sort of form.

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  24. Balotelli hasn't been playing that well, what's so wrong in giving the other recognised CF of the squad a chance ?? It baffles me how people can make a mountain out of a molehill so easily.

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  25. barahino and sessegnon up top..... pace and power. We usually dont like pace and power

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  26. Coutinho playing alongside Gerrard. More experimenting from Rodgers.


    One can already see that Lambert is going to struggle up on his own in this match.

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  27. Stuart, that's exactly what I hope, too. I have a lot of time for BR and, if history is anything to go by, his team will improve spectacularly. But this is a terribly odd selection, and not the first dubious call he's made this season. Enjoy the match.

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  28. Good article, Jaimie. Be interesting to see if Lambert gets more service today than Balotelli has. I also view this decision as a monumental mistake. Hope we still win despite my doubts about the tactics/man-management.

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  29. Sh1te football will lead to us conceding goals. We do not look like 1% of the team we were last season.

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  30. WBA looking comfortable. We have no clue.
    .

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  31. Rodgers messing around again. WBA just at walking pace.

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  32. Why the hell didn't Lambert just lob it over Foster????

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  33. lobbing comes with games goals and confidence. only Danny Welbeck lobs everything without the three aforementioned

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  34. We look average..too many long balls.

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  35. So much for Balotelli having no movement.

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  36. No quick tempo from us

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  37. already Lambert has made more runs in behind in this match than Balllo in six.

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  38. We are looking no more dangerous without Balotelli.


    WBA having a training session.

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  39. good teams when they are not paying well. We're trying to grind it. I'll take a ground out result today.

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  40. You got it right there in the end JK. Signing hip at all was, yet another, mistake

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  41. Lambert has no skill or creativity whatsoever

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  42. I do not even feel like watching this sh!te anymore.

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  43. But is was by far the most logical option. Considering Lambert's angle, and how far Foster was off his line, it was such an easier option.

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  44. So Sterling has lost his first touch. FMD.

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  45. lost suggests he had one :)

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  46. RODGERS, YOU'RE A FUCKING FOOL. GET RID OF THIS FORMATION. PLEASE.

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  47. he doesnt play well between the lines when the heat is on. needs to be running on to balls up front

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  48. Completely toothless. Rodgers, change this formation for Christ's sake. Bloody hell.

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  49. 4-2-3-1. The saviour of Anfiled with Lambert upfront on his own :-o


    We are going to win the League people!!!

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  50. We are in the words of Rafa Benitez controlling the game...... its all we can ask at the moment.

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  51. Ballotelli wasn't working hard enough no desire lone striker or not, now give lambert his chance i reckon the team will perform better for this one

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  52. OMG. We know what eventually happened...

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  53. a european cup?

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  54. What happened in the end?

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  55. Raheem you're playing like 1000K a week player.

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  56. 40 minutes has gone and what exactly has Lambert done?

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  57. this team wont ever score a goal

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  58. And we are still playing one upfront. WTF?

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  59. BR has gone mad. If we drop points here I'm going to start reconsidering whether he actually is the right man for this job.

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  60. Poor poor....that header was yours Lovren

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  61. manquillo doesnt know what to do when attacking

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  62. Where the hell has his so-called leadership been? Bloody hell. I'm fed up.

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  63. genius lallana

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  64. he was the only one playing and got his reward

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  65. This is why I had faith in Lallana.

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  66. Well done Lallana. the only player who looks adept at the moment.

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  67. Good goal from Lallana (nice touch from Henderson, too).

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  68. Sorry guy but I think we have actually been playing ok.


    Considering how bad we have been playing of late, confidence is down and we are playing a team who's confidence is sky high I am actually happy

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  69. Wonderful from Henderson too, would love to see him be the next Gerrard.

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  70. Right so Lambert off Balotelli on?

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  71. I appreciate our intensity, but apart from the lallana goal, we've been pretty toothless, and it's a massive drop from the standards that we expect.

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  72. See how he goes start of second half. The assist could give him confidence.

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  73. Did you only start watching when we scored? ;) Just kidding. I'm happy that we scored and, yes, the defense looks slightly less frail today. Some improvement. Hopefully we'll continue the upswing in the second half.

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  74. Lambert hasn't done worse than Balotelli.

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  75. So what do you think lads?

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  76. I believe it was Hendo with the assist

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  77. Like I said, I am happy.


    Considering how bad we have been playing of late this is an improvement, a big one.


    WBA are a team on form, we are a team who's confidence has taken a real knock so I am happy

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  78. WBA are still comfortable.

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  79. We'd take a scrappy 1-0

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  80. They can be comfortable.. they are still 1 - 0 down and have offered little threat so far.


    Let see what happens in the second half when they have to press and leave themselves a little more open at the back.

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  81. I think Balotelli's been more involved than Lambert in the build-up play. But wouldn't take Lambert off yet - he's been okay, but not much more. If anything, I'd give B & L a chance to be striking partners. If I was manager, of course.

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  82. i too see henderson is wasted protecting gerrard..he needs to be up there and make runs that he used to make..4-2-3-1 sucks

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  83. They still look average going forward too impatient is one word but gotta hand it to Lallana he deserved a goal if anyone did.

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  84. On second thoughts, if WBA have twelve good chances and score none and the games as a tight 1-0 to Liverpool, I'd be happy. So, yes, the improvement is pleasing. In previous weeks we've been average and not scored. This one is different.

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  85. You think WBA are going to rest? Nothing has suggested that we are going to win this match.

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  86. I'm not sure it was the right move to drop Balotelli but the pre-match comment really said it for me: only Balotelli can motivate himself. He's not the kind of player who can be riled up by the manager or other players. He has to find it in himself to work hard enough and do the job. Maybe a stint on the bench is the wrong move and it will mess with his head, or maybe it will give him a little time to feel the hurt of missing out and remind him that only he can do something about his place in the team. It's a bit of a lottery with Mario so maybe Rodgers is just doing what you'd expect from any manager when a striker seems to be in poor form i.e. you drop him.


    Rodgers isn't trying to make him into Suarez. Many of his comments have been partly about how Balotelli is not getting into the box enough and it's Balotelli himself who prefers to come deep and take those touches. Rodgers simply expects a lot from his strikers, lots of work and movement and good runs. Balotelli needs to be re-invented to play for Liverpool so there is no ready-made set of strengths that can be played to. Liverpool would need to be an entirely different kind of football team to not require these changes from Balotelli and frankly anyone who didn't see that when we signed him obviously didn't think too hard about it. The player simply has to learn these additional requirements and get on with it.

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  87. To be fair, Logan, we have scored and WBA have not. I agree with many of your comments (Sakho, Balo, other stuff) but I think you (and we) have reason to be a bit more positive going into the second half.

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  88. Countinho and Sterling are off their game, they seem unable to hold on to the ball or make a decent pass. It's hurting us and Lallana is currently doing it all by himself.

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  89. I'm sayin even tho we're not playin well we'd take a scrappy 1-0

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  90. theres only lallana and hendo who look anything like the rest of the team looks mediocre

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  91. Yip. Lambert made the initial pass to Lallana before AL exchanged a one-two with Henderson.

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  92. That's part of the problem. Balotelli is in the build up play too much and not getting in the box to be a threat. He needs to be able to do both.

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  93. If we are going to try protect the lead like we did vs Everton then you can kiss the match goodbye.


    It does not llok like we are going to score for fun so expect a tough second half..

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  94. I get what you're saying if we could win this game without him it might make him really go for it

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  95. you actually thought lambert was nimble enough to pull off that quick back heel? :D

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  96. i agree logans panicking about nothing scraping a home win against wba means we are back on track

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  97. Can't see it happening, Rodgers will have them go out for at least the next 30 minutes and press hard. If we get to the last 10-15 and it's still just the one goal then maybe we'll switch back to protect the lead. Everton shouldn't be a benchmark for our ability to defend a lead, it was simply a great goal.

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  98. Yes mate expect no less but am hopeful rather than confident

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  99. That's true. I read your longer comment above about Balotelli and you're spot on. Harks to the days when new players first spent a few months in the reserves before jumping to the first team. I do think that when Balo has been in the box he hasn't got much good service but, still, he needs to do more. As do many of the others (no complaints from me about Lallana, though!).

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  100. where as lambert can do neither

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  101. Ah, give the old fella a break, he's not been totally useless. He's just a bit slow what with having the walking frame.

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  102. You both are mean *chuckles*

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  103. Balotelli warming up! Not sure if Rodgers has asked him to or if he just went for a walk.


    Lallana is playing with real intent.

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  104. We are still all over the show. WBA are just going with the motion.

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  105. LOVREN FOR CHRIST'S SAKE

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  106. We can and should do better, yes. For this week, though, I'd take just a win. Incremental improvements, starting with regaining the winning habit.


    I think the return of Allen, Sturridge and Can will go a long way.


    Sigh - now we've conceded a penalty.


    :(

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  107. That was not a penalty geez.

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  108. Again we wait for the opposition to score. Even if it was not a penalty, we have been nowhere in this match.


    Becoming utterly frustrating to what this sh!te.

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  109. Somebody by the officials some glasses ffs

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  110. Good penalty from Berahino. Dangerous player.

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  111. So much for feeling hopeful

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  112. Still, we need that 2nd goal. WBA were always going to score anyway.

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  113. Let's not blame the officials. If memory serves me correct we had the most penalties last season.


    We are just not good enough.

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  114. Is this actually Liverpool playing

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  115. its all balos fault

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  116. What does us having the most penalties last season have to do with it? That wasn't a penalty, irrespective of last season.

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  117. We are not going to beat anyone with this mind boggling system we are playing at the moment.

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  118. I don't see too much urgency for LFC to try to get that second goal. Last year we weren't even satisfied with three. Granted, it was Sturridge and Suarez then, but still.

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  119. it will be interesting to see who rogers blames for this piss poor display now that the usual scapegoats sako and balo are not playing

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  120. Eating my words! Great goal, Hendo!

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  121. Johnson also about to make his return. Welcome.

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  122. Glen Johnson coming one. Ha ha.

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  123. great goal by our best midfielder the one who cant pass so we have to have gerrad

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  124. Lets add another two just for fun.And why Johnson? on the left?

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  125. We need another goal

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  126. For once we are actually showing intent.

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  127. Confidence is a wonderful thing

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  128. Intensity has been upped since the subs were made.

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  129. This is much more like it ! Really need the confidence to get back into the players' heads.

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  130. Well we have switched to 4-3-3 with Gerrard holding.

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  131. Yeah loving the intensity. Apparently we thrive off having that "winning feeling". Just got to keep it..

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  132. We still have no control of the game. Accident waiting to happen.

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  133. Gerrard playing further up the pitch.

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  134. Great pass from Ballotelli to Sterling

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  135. gerrard killing it higher up the pitch

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  136. Unfortunately I've to wait fo motd but we're 2-1 up atm

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  137. until he gets man marked and then its back to square one. We have to keep him on the move

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  138. We still are not safe though. Need another goal.

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  139. And there he should remain, for shorter periods if necessary.

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  140. Come on keep it together

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  141. We just need to keep the ball now, dont get why we are still trying so hard.

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  142. Lovren hurts my eyes

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  143. trying to protect a one goal lead again. F*** me.

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  144. In fact we are trying not to concede another goal and therefore win the match.

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  145. If we had not conceded that late goal last week, we would be 3rd right now

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  146. that pass from glen johnson, a gerrard run and ballotelli inside right... simples. but manquillo never plays that pass in the first place

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  147. Haha Lucas trying to get a goal, rarer site than a leprechaun

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  148. WE'RE GONNA WIN THE LEAGUE

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  149. 3 points thanks boys!

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  150. Think we move above Leicester

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  151. hard fought win, wasn't great, wasn't pretty but its a step in the right direction

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  152. Boys fantastic for Burnley, last minute free kick

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  153. Scrappy, extremely scrappy but a win. hopefully our performances will improve. Still not convinced.

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  154. i watched it sail in... beauty under pressure

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  155. Steven Gerrard as attacking midfielder is absolutely world class....BR should play SG there instead of coutinho and play lucas with Henderson at the back

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  156. So glad to be eating my words! Not the best performance, but 3 points nontheless. If we switch back to 4-4-2(diamond), we will be devastating again... The signs are there.

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  157. Balotelli is a lazy footballer...despite a few good instances today he is not bothered.

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  158. Things are definitely not as disastrous as some people would like to think. It's a work in progress with 9 new signings, it will start ticking sonner rather than later.

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  159. did you not witness SG second season there playing alongside Torress. Just like in DM teams stick a marker on him and he has no answer. Horses for courses.

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  160. Nonsense, he played well. Defensively and going forward...

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  161. If i remember right the season he played right behind torres we finished 2nd. That is his natural spot.

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  162. our players forgot how to close a game out, they were shitting themselves. but the win will do their confidence a world of good.

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  163. And then as soon as he has a bad performance playing in that position people will start telling how clueless BR for making him play there. You just can't win.

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  164. WBA had just won three on the spin. Good result. We were still grinding results out this time last year too. We only took off around christmas time. I'll take that.

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  165. We still lack cohesiveness. We are so far off from last season it is actually a joke.

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  166. Spirit of the Shadows4:59 pm, October 04, 2014

    and just for about 10 minutes we were the liverpool of last season

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  167. I liked that final few minutes of stevie and balo, something for BR to think. maybe he should forget about stevie holding and move him up, sub him after 60 minutes for cout.

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  168. the Liverpool of the second half of last season. We werent brilliant all the way through... in fact we struggled until Gerrard was taken out of the firing line where he wast pressing effectively and placed in at DM.

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  169. Against Spurs we were the Liverpool of last season.

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  170. let's just see what a win does to them.

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  171. Makes you wonder about the research/thought that goes into these articles. Every supporter knows Suso is out injured for a while.

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  172. Spirit of the Shadows5:04 pm, October 04, 2014

    it'll only get better when sturridge comes back. I think rodgers didn't play him to avoid a spat.

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  173. His touch...quick passes...one twos...everything was so very instinctive and natural....he should play there...much better shooting skill than coutinho too

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  174. There is no reason why Rodgers cannot play 2 upfront right now. Lambert was neither here or there.


    One upfront really is not working.

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  175. If Emre Can was fit will he be the DM with Gerrard further forward and in turn feeding Sturridge and Balotelli

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  176. the season after that he played in the same position and got marked out of games easily. There is a pattern. Teams usually work out how to play him in any central position. The one place he really consistently dominated with assists and goals was rght mid, but he wasnt having it.

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  177. No, I doubt that will ever happen. At least in a more attacking role, it's closer to Gerrard's best position. DM (or deep-lying midfielder) just isn't his forte. Yes, he can do a job there, but he will be shown up/exposed too. He played further forward today for a while, and looked very dangerous.

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  178. Spirit of the Shadows5:08 pm, October 04, 2014

    lambert is too slow. if only balotelli had the work rate of lambert...sigh

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  179. Finally much needed three points .....relieved

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  180. Balotelli got stuck in when he came on. left up on his own again.


    Rodgers needs a wake up call.

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  181. Spirit of the Shadows5:11 pm, October 04, 2014

    Why didn't hodgson pick berahino for england. looks a fine lad with a great work rate

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  182. You are talking nonsense .

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  183. he takes a great pen but his finishing is really raw

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  184. go on then mr dismissive bring up the stats for the partnership the year we came second and for the season Rafa got sacked in (same one Gerrard got marked out of games) I'll be sitting here eagerly awaiting

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  185. Hasn't finished injuring our players yet

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