Early Liverpool Thoughts: Heading for the Tenth Circle of Hell

Attention quickly turns to Liverpool following the diversion into the League Cup. History dictates this is one of the biggest home games of the season, even when they were on their uppers and we are now just getting off ours. Or seem to be at least. Unai Emery is receiving a lot of praise for the changes he is making tactically and mentally.

Which is all well and good. There was an interesting clip on social media of Juan Carlos Carcedo coaching the team through a corner on Wednesday night, with Unai vacating the technical area while his coach took over. Once the danger passed, Emery resumed control. Whether this was before or after Blackpool’s goal is unclear. If it’s before, a clip of Carcedo’s reaction would, as the advert said, be priceless.

It’s one of the areas which needs addressing. We’re mixing man-marking with a zonal system and that leads to imbalances. Bellerin, for example, found himself marking Harry Maguire against Leicester. Claude Puel’s side is generally strong in the air, so I’d venture a centre-back might fair better against the man ‘lovingly’ nicknamed ‘slabhead’. Certainly a lot better than a 5’10 right-back.

We’re still a work-in-progress all over the pitch which is why I’m surprised that some wonder if we’re title contenders. The rump of this squad stumbled into sixth place last season and is ‘unlearning’ everything it, as well as learning plans and patterns to replace them.

I guess that’s a dozen or so games unbeaten does to you. Raises hope where there was none. Raising hope where there was none is also the fastest way to the slump of disappointment. Keep it real, people. We’re not title contenders, you know it in your heart of hearts. And in your head.

Going Up

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride. My goodness – not a term I often use, but family readership and all that – it’s nice to feel that the team is on an upward trajectory again. How long that will last remains to be seen.

Saturday evening’s match is the first test of this team for a while. We’ve played tricky fixtures in the past dozen games, matches we lost last season and won this time around. Passed those ‘tests’ so why not this one as well? Why not, indeed. There’s no reason why not; that’s it, no ‘but’.

Liverpool are a good side; unbeaten in the Premier League but not unbeatable, Napoli proved that. There is a danger, however, that this match is being built up out of proportion. It is, after all, just three points. If we play well and are beaten, it shows we still have some way to go. If we play only for the last hour of the game, we know the problems we had in the last dozen games haven’t gone away. We won’t have learned anyhting new.

If we’re outclassed, we file it in the same box as Manchester City. The downsides to this game are no different to any other; three points lost. The upsides – a win, a 90-minute performance – will last a lot longer.

Without being blase about the fixture, it’s almost ‘no-lose’ for us. Liverpool are favourites; they are the team expected to challenge Manchester City for the title. We’re expected to finish fifth, fourth if media dahlings implode in the New Swamp.

Almost ‘no-lose’ but not quite. Three points are up for grabs and that will stand us in good stead, should we take them.

But we’re not going to fall into the tenth circle of hell if we lose.

The Hurt Locker Room

All of which could be a bit of reverse psychology on my part. Knowing our record in recent years – and I define recent as the past decade for the purposes of any outlandish claims which follow – am I preparing myself for the worst?

What worst is that? The worst which has seen us concede at least three in the last five meetings. Yes, we’ve scored three in three of them, but we’ve been generous in defence to say the least. And generous is what our defence has been at times this season.

With Bellerin, Monreal and Kolasinac all “being assessed ahead of Liverpool (h) on Saturday, November 3”, such generosity may continue if one of the left-backs doesn’t pull through. It’s not a game for Jenkinson to be tested out as the latest stand-in; AMN with Xhaka moved back into midfield, for me.

Until I change my mind by tthe morning, that is.

’til Tomorrow.

15 thoughts on “Early Liverpool Thoughts: Heading for the Tenth Circle of Hell

  1. I count a lot on the fans in the Emirates. Hopefully they become the 12th player. And hopefully our team behavior inspires them. I very much doubt it though, as defeatism among our fans is obvious today. Deep inside I believe we can win it. COYG

  2. Excellent stuff Yogi.

    Midfield will be interesting to watch because both Henderson and Keita are out for Liverpool and I am with you, Xhaka back in midfield with Maitland-Niles at LB. Say what you like, but Xhaka and Torriera give us midfield control and while Torriera goes about his business, it allows for Xhaka to play positionally instead of in space.

    I know all the talk has been about Liverpool’s attack but nobody seems to be paying attention to the facr Aubameyang is top of the goal scoring table with 7 and Lacazette sits with 4 to match Mane’s 6 and Salah’s 5.

  3. Thanks for the post and the discussion all. A bit nervous for liverpool, you know they will come storming out of the gates while Klopp is over there shredding air guitar with his giegerpress. If we can hold our own and compete for the first 15 20 minutes , keeping the score 0-0 i will like our chances a bit more. Agree that we should still be looking for the performance here not necessarily the result. A full 90min is welcomed, defensive solidity is welcomed, keeping the goals flowing, no cech dragbacks etc.

    As much as i think we have a chance to push on this year and get back to being a ‘top’ side ( really second tier side behind city/pool) . However it’s year 1 of the project, we hope that the sophomore year showcases a squad that has fully absorbed and acceptable Unai’s principles. This year we need to keep showing progress and i think year 2 and 3 are when we can apply pressure for results.

    Cheers! happy friday yall

  4. Have to echo the comment that our offense is more potent this year. Dont think we’ve had anyone hanging near the top of scoring charts since RVP. You have to say we have had periods in EVERY game where we are on top, pressing, attacking and we usually get a goal. Do we have any goal-less draws yet? The boring end of wenger era shit attack is gone it feels and we have something more solid in place!

  5. Just doing some quick quick research.. Opening day we got shutout by city, every game after that we have put away at least 2 goals. City has scored 27 , us and chelski at 24. The big difference right now is goals allowed, we are already double digits while city and pool have allowed a stingy 3 & 4 goals respectively. Looking at those numbers, to be honest i’d be happy putting away a single goal. 1-1 would be great, 1-0 is a dream.

    Damn guys, +24 goal differential for City after 10 games is pretty insane.

  6. There’s good reason to think this match is special.

    Last season we lost the first round of games at Anfield 4-0. We should be looking to repay that favor in kind. Secondly we offloaded a good but injury prone player to them, will they be looking to pay back… lol.

    I would love to see the ghost of 89 haunt Liverpool tomorrow. And then tomorrow’s my birth date, last time we played a league game on the 3rd of November it was against Man United in 2007 and it ended 2-2. I would very much love this game to end as a victory for us.

    This game is an assessment of our squad. How far have we gone? how well have we imbibed Emery’s methods? Have we developed the winning mentality? Can we find extra gears against Liverpool in this game ?

    26 hours to go.

  7. Going into the season, I looked for a greater intensity, doing better against top-6 sides, no more “no-shows” against bottom-half clubs and a possible CL place at the end of it all. Pretty modest, but (so far) going quite well. Against Liverpool, I hope to see a more complete, 90-minute effort. If, they manage that and, at the end, Liverpool play a superior game and win, so be it.
    Guendozi not playing will hurt us (how often can you say that about a teenager in his first year in the EPL?) so others have to step up. How will Ozil, Ramsey and Mkitaryan disport themselves?
    A good performance and a narrow loss is no disgrace. Anything better than that will be a major building block.

  8. I’m not expecting a win tomorrow. We’ve fallen away over the last 3/4 years due to Wengers lack of transfer activity, bad contract situations and outdated implementation of tactics in bigger games. It will take Emery more than a few months to fix it.

    I’ve had this discussion with a few man u, Liverpool and spurs fans. When I say this isn’t Emerys team I’m hit back with “he signed 5 players in summer that’s half a squad and he inherited Aubameyang and Lacazette up top”. True. We signed 5 players In summer but lets break it down: Sok was brought in because Kos was out for 7 months potentially longer as achilles injuries are somewhat unpredictable. Leno was a signing made as Cech was getting on, and thus far has been good. Torriera was also brought in as had a midfield full of number 10s….ramsey, ozil, mkhitaryan, iwobi all covet the 10 position and we had Xhaka and Elneny doing defensive work and eveyone in world could see we needed a proper defensive minded midfielder. And he has been fantastic. Guendouzi is a prospect. He is a good player but he is more someone for the future imo and Lichsteiner is a RB back up because we had none.

    Exception of Torriera and Leno and even then Leno wasn’t a sure starter at first… He’s signed one starting playing imo. He also needed to see what the current top can do under new management. I reckon by Jan and summer he’ll have a list of what types of player he needs and Sven will be charged with doing his magic to find them and bring them in. Do I personally think Xhaka and Mustafi will make Emerys final cut? No. I think he’ll look to bring in another Nzonzi type beside Torriera someone who can take it from defense to attack. Mustafi has actuslly been quite solid but hes always due a mistake. Top level that’s not good enough.

    I’m begrudged to admit Liverpool will win tomorrow. I just hope it’s not a 3-4-5 goal affair. We shouldn’t be getting beaten anything like that from anyone. I lost faith in Wenger after the Liverpool 5 goals and Chelsea 6 goals games because no top team with players like we had should be getting beaten by that and it showed a tactical nievity from Wenger that didn’t get better.

    I see the rumours of this LB and Almiron coming in Jan are back. I can’t speak as I’ve seen nothing of them minus a few YouTube clips but I trust Sven as he has unearthed more than his share of diamonds

  9. And in better news, Santi scored a Santi-esque goal this week. If there was ever a player whose very presense on the pitch could make a supporter smile, it has to be the little magician.

  10. This is my one annoyance with Wenger when he left. I can’t see Man U players leaving Fergie to go and play for City, Liverpool or Barca. It happened on rare occasions such as Ronaldo and Teves. But overall he had a group of extremely loyal players that stayed with his teams and became bedrock of his teams. I wish wenger had implemented that type of respect to his players. If Cesc, RVP and Nasri etc had stayed, we could have built a much better midfield team.

  11. MesutsLeftFoot,

    Fergie never had to operate on a shoestring to build a new stadium. His players stayed while they epwere winning, and because he could buy top players every year.
    He did, and did it well tbf. But that was a long time ago now. Now they all got new situations.
    As have we. I’m happy with ours. I don’t give a ferk if they are .
    Onwards Gentlemen. Wherever that takes us.
    COYG

  12. MesutsLeftFoot,

    I know most will disagree with me because they only remember Nzonzi from the athlete he was in the PL and NOT the sitting dictator Emery turned him into, but Xhaka is turning into that midfield sitting pivot that Emery wants. Sure, he has to learn to play quicker sometimes but he is a passer who is better at playing positional defense next to a Torriera type than constantly running and closing down space. Nznonzi under Emery was all positional defending but was a passer barely ever running about but instead just dictating the midfield. At PSG, Emery used Motta in this same role with Verratti and Raboit doing all the pressing and losing.

    I could actually see Torriera and Xhaka being our pivots for as long as Emery is here unless Guendouzi takes the reigns or Emery uses a midfield similiar to what he did at PSG and the last 2 Europa winners at Sevilla.

  13. I am not expecting a victory but I do expect a close match or at least a closer match than what last year’s matches felt like. This will be a good test for us and I am with what seems to be the majority in that I am again an optimist. This team is far from the done deal and I have confidence that we can continue to build on what we have – win or lose Saturday.

  14. MLF, I am also far from confident despite being at home. I can’t believe how Liverpool’s CM has gone from Milner Hendo Winauldum (can’t be arsed looking up) to navigator (Pogues song)
    Fabinho (yet another Brazilian who looks a beast) and the Ox (from squad player to…squad player). Not bad.

    I am really interested how Emery will pick our team for this one.

    Perhaps if Monreal can play he could use AMN as a 3 man midfield to compete better?

    Tactics, strategies- isn’t that why we wanted change too?

    I agree C that he seems very happy with Xhaka but I fear if 2 we will be bullied.

    Of course that means Ozil RM which is not ideal…
    We go round in circles fixing our square pegs round holes squad and will be for a 2 seasons which is why YW is right. If we lose we don’t need to panic but all the same a spirited draw would be a good return.

    A win? Wow…COYG

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