18 Aug 2015

Liverpool 1-0 Bournemouth: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. £50m transfer trio settling well...

So: Two games, two wins, two clean sheets, and six points on the board. Results-wise, Liverpool have started the season in superb fashion, and some may feel it's churlish to criticise the performances of a team has a 100% record. Well, shockingly enough, I'm not one of those people. Brendan Rodgers deserves credit for guiding the club to six points out of six, but the victories over Stoke and Bournemouth are merely papering over the many cracks in Rodgers' new-look team.

In my view, it's a mistake to ignore obvious problems just because the team secured a positive result. It's perfectly possible to be happy with a result, but wary of certain aspect of the performance.

In many cases, these issues are symptomatic of deeper malaise that needs to be addressed, and in Liverpool's case, some of the same problems that plagued the team last season still exist.


* Christian Benteke [£32m] put in a good performance on his Anfield debut. He held the ball up well; harried and harassed Bournemouth's defenders (winning possession several times as a result), and carried a genuine goal-threat. Only the crossbar stopped Benteke from grabbing two goals, and once he has a little more support (and better service), he should develop into a consistent threat for Liverpool.

* It's clear after only two games that Clyne (£12m) and Gomez [£6m] are a step-up from Glen Johnson and Alberto Moreno. Crucially, both are defensively proficient, and rarely look like making costly mistakes. Of course, only time will tell if those two can maintain their solidity, but for now, Clyne and Gomez have settled into their roles well.

* Another commanding performance from Lovren and Skrtel, with the Croatian increasingly vocal on the field. Lovren's confidence seems to be growing, and with two clean sheets in two games, Liverpool's first-choice central defensive duo are proving their doubters wrong. Let's be honest, though - the first real defensive test of the season comes next week at Arsenal.

* Liverpool finished last season with only one clean sheet in 7 games, so it's heartening to see two clean sheets in a row. Plus, Simon Mignolet has more Premier League clean sheets in 2015 (11) than any other goalkeeper.

* My Man of the Match: Lovren


* Brendan Rodgers has repeatedly hailed James Milner's alleged leadership qualities, but when Henderson went off injured, Milner displayed little leadership impact. The midfield was overrun on several occasions, and as the 2nd half wore on, Bournemouth looked more and more dangerous.

* On the subject of Milner: Defensive work and industry aside, what exactly does he bring to the team that's going to propel the Reds into the top four? Liverpool need midfielders who will score/create goals, and based on current evidence (see below for an expansion on this point), he'll struggled to get 5 goals/assists all season.

* A largely ineffective game from Jordon Ibe. The pressure shouldn't be on him to be a world-beater, but if he's consistently in the starting line-up, then he has to contribute something. Ibe is 19 games into his LFC career and he still hasn't scored a goal. Additionally, against Bournemouth and Stoke, he didn't make a single tackle, clearance, block, or interception.

* Another creatively bereft performance from Adam Lallana. I'm sorry, but at 27 years old, he is in the prime of his career, yet he's contributed only two goals and one assist since January 1st 2015. Lallana isn't getting the job done, but unlike Ibe, the pressure should be on him to produce.

* When all is said and done, Liverpool won the game courtesy of an obviously offside goal. By the letter of the law, the goal should've been ruled out. Obviously, fans will take it, but when the same injustice hits LFC later in the season (and it will!), I suspect the reaction will be totally different.


* Two shots on target for the entire game. At home. Against newly-promoted opposition. It's absolutely woeful, and highlights yet again the creative paucity of Liverpool's alleged attacking midfielders. Last season, the failure of the club's midfielders to consistently score goals derailed Liverpool's push for the Champions League, and based on the evidence so far, nothing has changed.

* A related point that underlines the problem: Against Bournemouth, Milner, Henderson, and Lallana created just TWO chances between. For Bournemouth and Stoke combined, its four chances created in 180 minutes of football (an average of 1 chance every 45 minutes). Fans can stick their heads in the sand till the cows come home, but that is simply not good enough, and partially explains why Liverpool have struggled to score more than one goal a game so far.

* It gets worse: Add Coutinho to the above trio, and it's still only FIVE chances created in 180 minutes of Premier League football. Include Ibe in the equation, and it's SIX chances created by FIVE players in two games. With that chance-creation ratio, Liverpool are going nowhere this season.

* As a comparison, consider Arsenal's chance-creation in the first two Premier League games: Ramsey = 6 chances created. Ozil = 9 chances. Oxlade-Chamberlain = 4 chances created. Cazorla = 9 chances. Combined = 28 chances in 2 games. Next to that, the chance-creation of Lallana, Henderson, Milner, Ibe, and Coutinho is an embarrassment.

* I use Arsenal as a comparison because they're up next, and whilst the Gunners are not taking the league by storm yet, they're creating significantly more chances than Liverpool, which may be a deciding factor next Monday.

Stats: OPTA

It's great that Liverpool are winning ugly, but with the greatest respect, the Reds *should* be beating the likes of Stoke and Bournemouth. The worrying thing is that Rodgers' team is scraping victories, and is limping over the line whilst barely creating any chances.

Some fans are hellbent on systematically lowering expectations, and will try to convince anyone who'll listen that the Stoke and Bournemouth victories are momentous triumphs of Olympian will.

Well, that's not the case at all. Victories, yes; impressive, inpsiring, convincing victories? No chance.

Bottom line: If Liverpool - after spending £290m in three years - can't dominate a newly-promoted team at Anfield, and have to rely on an offside goal to win the game (after creating only two chances in 90 minutes), there's a serious problem somewhere.

Still, 6 points is 6 points, right?


Well done to gilstrap, FdotM, and Not You for correctly predicting a 1-0 victory. That's two perfect scores in a row now for gilstrap and FdotM - one more against Arsenal, they'll collect 50 bonus points.

The new league tables will be posted on Tuesday morning. Now, it's time for me to shuffle off back to the Phantom Zone...

Author: Jaimie K


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