There are times when you wonder what passes through the brains of the rich and powerful. It’s only when their schemes become public knowledge that you find out that mostly it is tumbleweed. Yet they seem surprised when (a) their schemes go wrong, (b) nobody believes them when they claim it was all above board, and (c) nobody calls their larks ‘banter’.
Gianni Infantino, formerly chief shill at UEFA, is one such man. I thought everyone knew City bought their way out of FFP trouble? Still, it comes as no surprise that Gianni’s bowels turned to water when City threatened to sue. This is a man whose spine was removed at birth.
City sue UEFA for ten years? The proper answer to that is, “please do,” before suspending the club’s participation in competition as UEFA’s own statutes dictate. But the Gianni had his eye on the bigger prize. He needed the support of City and PSG’s owners, the cronies and despotic neighbours. Gianni wanted to become capo.
But, in the best interests of Gianni, he bottled it. Obfuscation gave football the full benefit of his ideas. You know, the ones which he steals from confederations. A Nations League, a club cup with group stages and knockout rounds. He’s one C-R-A-Z-Y guy.
Not as nuts as the owners of 11 elite clubs who are a lot further down the path of a European Super League than anyone knew, Arsenal among them. but not Tottenham. This is the same Tottenham whose lack of trophies and not having their own home doesn’t stop their media allies proclaiming them as a complete success.
There was me thinking that Mark Carney calling for Linda Lovelace to be the face on the new £50 note was as bizarre as the day would get.
Which is, after all, why we’re here. A match where three months work is up for grabs. Today is Judgement Day for Unai Emery. Talk of revolution will mean nothing if we don’t win. Judgement Day. Happy birthday, Unai.
I’d forgotten Emery was Sevilla boss when they beat Liverpool in the 2016 Europa League – I thought he’d left by then. It’s no surprise we’re a second-half team; Sevilla were that night in Basel. They won the trophy blitzing the bin dippers after the interval.
A repeat of that today and I won’t be unhappy.
Sevilla won by overwhelming Liverpool during the second half. Klopp blamed defeat on the night being their 63rd game of the season; Sevilla played the same number. Did Emery prepare his team better, physically? Does he still do so?
The concern is that we’re going into the game with a makeshift defence. Bellerin and both left-backs are “being assessed” following injury. Will they be fit? If none are, the pairing of Lichtsteiner and AMN on the left will bring us more benefit.
That pushes Xhaka back into midfield where Lucas Torreira wants him:
He’s an outlet for the first pass from defence and frustrates the opposition’s attackers. When he’s playing well, the team are going to win games.
We’re gaining points andLucas Torreira on Granit Xhaka
meand him are playing minutes together and gaining experience together, which is important.
One thing nobody disputes, not even Xhaka’s critics, is that he “occupies space well”. Maybe there is a dispute over the word “well”…
Xhaka divides opinion but is showing himself to be more valuable to the team with his willingness to feature as left-back. However, it’s more important he plays in midfield; Liverpool without Keita and Henderson are there to be overpowered.
But is it Enough To Take Three Points?
Which is where Mesut Özil comes into his
That isn’t lost on Laurent Koscielny:
When Mesut is in this form, he is unstoppable and makes us win. He has extraordinary qualities.
However, he needs to be at this level as much as possible this season. Great players are the ones playing at their best the whole season.Lolo doesn’t mince his words
Therein is the crux of the matter. Emery made it plain his is a ‘carrot and stick’ approach. Play well, I’ll make you captain; play badly, you get hooked. The German got both in a week.
Which Özil will we get tonight? Much depends on the XI around him. With Iwobi on the right, there is more balance to the team but it’s defence which holds the key for us. Liverpool will punish our high line with the pace of their attack but we can do the same with Aubameyang and Iwobi on the flanks. Hopefully, Bellerin will be fit to support the attack as he has so ably this season. A bit of defending wouldn’t go amiss either.
Which brings us to the XI to do the damage to Liverpool’s title aspirations:
Leno; Bellerin (Lichtsteiner), Sokratis (Mustafi), Holding, Maitland-Niles; Torreira, Xhaka; Iwobi, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Can we take more than a point? It all depends on a good performance from kick-off. This is a match where a slow start won’t be forgiven by Liverpool. It’s not a 45-minute performance but from the start to the finish by the whole team, it needs to be our best of the season so far.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.