Friday, 5 August 2011

Slow News Day - Liverpool Preview

Morning all,

Welcome to another rendition of my blog also known as my daily foul mouthed rant. I got some feedback from yesterday and as such am going to try to tone down the use of the word cunt. So with that in mind, this is a no c-bomb zone and as such would request that all in the Goonerverse refrain from using the word c u n t. Let’s see how long this lasts.

We’ll start today off with the usual round up of any transfer news at the moment. There is nothing to note in particular with regards to the Cesc saga or debacle depending on which way you look at it (no I do not think another pathetic bid is worth noting). However his body language, presentation and general demeanour further added to the fuel with everyone under the sun becoming psychologists. There was a series of pictures taken yesterday of the players showed Cesc to be completely unshaven and quite frankly looking a mess. Not exactly the look of a captain ready for the upcoming season to me. We avoided a potentially tricky situation with the team photo due to the weather.

Bartley has signed an agreement to join Rangers on loan for the coming season. This should be a good move. I am glad he is going out on loan as long as it for regular football. I would have preferred a premiership team but he seems to be liked over there so that is a positive. One negative as Arseblog pointed out to me was their propensity to play him in the centre of the park. Let’s hope they play him in his preferred position.

The draw for the Champions League qualifier takes place this morning. The potential opponents are: Odense, Twente, Rubin Kazan, Udinese or FC Zurich. This is happening any minute so will Tweet the opponent.

Aside from that, news has been light and as such will continue my mini series about our rivals and their threat levels to our chances. It is important to note I was going to stop but for the intense pressure from one of my friends to write this. I genuinely do not believe there are any other than the three I have mentioned already that threaten our pursuit of the Premiership but here goes nothing! So today we shall discuss Liverpool’s chances and specifically the threat they pose to Arsenal’s ambition to win the league.

Last Season: In what can only be described (quite aptly by the cheesy cliché) as “A game of two halves” was the shambles that was Liverpool. From being a complete joke in the first half of the season, to going on an unbelievable run in the second half of the season, it is fair to say that Liverpool shared as mixed fortunes as a team can have without having the name Arsenal. I felt sorry for Hodgson for his entire reign at Liverpool certain that the team’s shortcomings were not down to his inadequacies as a manager but down to the shortcomings of his predecessor. I will admit that I may have been slightly wrong, though not completely. He clearly didn’t help with signings such as that of Paul Konchesky and was unbelievably inept at coming to terms with the club, understanding its culture and most importantly being able to motivate the players. This was a recipe for disaster and with the Liverpool fans’ unhealthy passion in supporting someone equally disastrous in Rafael Benitez this put pressure on Hodgson that he could not comprehend in his wildest dreams. He clearly couldn’t handle this pressure as the more that came, the more calamitous decisions he made.

But then came the benefit brigade’s I mean KOP’s knight in shining armour. Mr Dalglish came in and turned things around. I daresay this turnaround was more down to the high regard people within the club held him and how much they hated Hodgson, than his actual management skills. Could be wrong but I doubt it. This meant an almost instant impact and a sense of urgency that was missing from the club since the start of the season and they finished the season very well. In my opinion, looking at their squad and their best XI, I’d say by season end they over achieved, especially with the sale of their superstar and the injury problems to their best player.

Playing Squad: They had an awful squad at the beginning of last season and it didn’t improve in the slightest with any of Hodgson’s transfers. They lost Torres in the winter window which now seems like a great move but added the unproven Andy Carrol alongside Suarez. While the jury’s still out on Andy Carrol, Luis Suarez on the other hand has been a revelation.

It is clear that Liverpool have invested heavily this transfer window. Not only has the investment been substantial, it has been very early in the window, which is imperative to ensure a smooth transition into the squad for any new players. They have added (so far): Stewart Downing, Alexander Doni, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson.

Now whilst I would think it a disaster if Mr Wenger invested in any of these players I do feel that this has strengthened the Liverpool squad to some extent. Downing is not even close to being a footballer and I was wholeheartedly relieved when they secured the signature of that guy with a left foot. In fact they are all players I would not want but they will create competition for places. I think that only Charlie Adam’s signing is one that will improve the starting XI but I think their real strengthening happened last January. With a full pre-season and the time to settle into the Liverpool squad Carrol will definitely get goals as well as having Suarez from the start of the season is where they have really improved.

It almost seemed as though Liverpool’s policy for the summer was one of securing the signature of anyone with a pulse as long as they are British. They seemed to have calmed down but now have their eyes set on Cahill. He is someone I would like to see at Arsenal so hope that this does not happen, but if we are their competition there is surely only one winner: Liverpool. .

Threat: Medium. They will be closer to the top four this year but I cannot see them breaking it. People are saying we will drop out and Liverpool will replace us but I just don’t see this happening. There lack of a European gives them a distraction but it is also a reminder that they are not good enough to be with the European elite.

Verdict: They have strengthened their squad in many ways but I am not convinced as to their ability to break into the top four. Maybe I just can’t see past how far off they were at this stage last season and that I refuse to believe that any of those players added this season will really help. So although they have improved and will close the gap I don’t think they have exceeded us or any around us. This is sure to anger the millions of Liverpool fans in London and Birmingham that are sure it is their year. Ha!

Until tomorrow Gooners!

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