Tottenham Hotspur Message Board
Like I'd guessed / hoped in the previous thread from what I saw in training photos, we came out with probably our best 11, and a nice flat competent back 4, with tremendous balance in the mid and final third. Again, I DO NOT GIVE A ISHT who we slaughter at home 4-0, because in many years past, we haven't done, and this is what top sides and champions do best. Look at this way, WBA won at Old Trafford, we destroyed them 4-1, and then they should have taken all 3 points the Bridge but were hard done by a rubbish pk call today. Fulham held Arsenal to a draw, and caused Spurs (I think) a lot of trouble.. no such trouble today.
Anyways, it was easily our best and most complete 90" minute performance, and even with us being a little off and not getting a clear breakthrough in the first 20", we kicked on, and got everything we deserved, plus should have gotten a couple more. The only thing I would have liked to have seen, was Alberto maybe getting himself 15-20 mins to fill in that 10 role, and work with Suarez, Lucas, Allen and Moses. BUT, I think Coutinho needed the full 90 for fitness..
Lastly, and most know I would say this, but Skrtel was absolutely brilliant, since his troubles last season, and being dropped earlier in favor of Kolo, he has been sensational and man on a mission. The bullet header was his trademark, we could always expect 3-4 of those over the season, and some don't see it the way I do, but he looks very good on the ball. For me, at the moment, our finest CB. Scary how despite the stories of us never wanting to sell, I fully believe he was off to Zenit or Napoli, and we're lucky that didn't happen.
Well done Red Men! Hopefully everyone stays sharp and healthy for the international break, and comes back ready for a proper derby vs our bitter friends!!
Now that we have Coutinho back, and are reverting back to a back 4 (so I'm predicting and presuming) I think we will see a much better flow to our game, hopefully to reach what we finished last season as.
We'll still likely have Gerrard and Lucas in the midfield, where for me, Lucas is becoming more the problem, but both in there simply on name, and Jordan will keep a place but out wide. I think, while he's not a winger, in the current set up, if Moses isn't starting, Coutinho will start wide left, which allows him to cut in and swap with Suarez, where I'd expect him to be lined up initially in the 10, with Jordan on the other side, and also dropping deep to get some possession.
Overall, that's our best 11, especially since Sterling can't nail a place down and is going out on loan, soon to be followed by Ibe, so if Moses isn't preferred, Coutinho can do well enough to keep a defender on his back foot. Last year's comparisons or presumptions he was Better than Oscar are obviously not correct, not yet anyways, but he, even on a bad day, gives the squad something extra for 55-60, and allows Suarez the freedom to roam a bit more, with the comfort of having Jordan running his socks off, and getting himself into the midfield, allowing Stevie to get forward a bit more... Key is, providing an outlet for Skrtel and Co., and not isolating Danny up top.. If all goes well, I think we could put on a nice show today..
To each his own, so everyone's entitled to their own view. For me, and while we probably all agree, Agger is best on the ball, he is very prone to mental errors / switching off, but gets a pass for his grace, and left boot. I also think that Skrtel plays out of the back quite well, and it goes unnoticed at times, and on set pieces, he almost always seems to be in the center of a loose ball scramble, and our most likely to head one in. I just saw yesterday, that statistically, Skrtel ranks 3rd in the entire league in challenges, duels and possession won, just behind Mulumbu of WBA, and MBiwa of Newcastle. On top form, at the moment, I think he's our best all around.
Kolo is slow, that's my problem, and Sakho just seems to struggle with decision making and speed of thought, which will improve, but no issues with his actual physical play.
Any way we put it, they are all top notch CBs, and any pairing of the 4, should be able to line up comfortably and play a very good flat back line. On any day, I'm choosing Skrtel and Agger, we saw how immense they were 2 years ago, where we finished 3rd in defense, but since, each has struggled for one thing or the other, and we can't seem to just keep a clean sheet now. Let's not forget Ilori who will be introduced at some point!
Or green if you will.. Normally you can't make heads or tails of the colors the players are wearing in training, however, in today's training pictures on LFC, every one of our normal, or preferred first 9 are in yellow, 10 including Agger (Migs gets the purple)..
What does this mean? Maybe nothing, but for me, I think that with us lacking quality in the middle, and Sakho not quite fully adapted, or as good on the ball, perhaps Agger will resume his spot at LCB. What I can't tell, or guess is if it means a flat back 4, but considering Stevie, Lucas, Henderson and Coutinho were also in yellow/green, along with Sturridge and Suarez, that means 2 men are out, and they appear Sakho and Toure, esp since Glenda is fit again, and also in yellow.
I'll be very happy to see a back flat 4, because while I've seen it work to devastating effect in Italy with Napoli and some other sides, and certainly a place and time for us, 4 at the back is our best way to set up the attacking outfield players, and give two solid CBs the chance to play it out of the back, where Toure certainly cannot, and Sakho not comfortably yet.. (Both wearing orange, with Moses, Alberto, Allen etc)
Hoping for a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 with Coutinho/Suarez/Henderson in the advanced CAM role.. Let's hope!
Not sure if you had been here during the week or seen, but I really advocated against it vs. Arsenal, because I was concerned that if Giroud was anything above average at best, which he was, the most damage he could do, was pull the back out of shape, and allow Arsenal's smaller, skilled players to cause damage.. See Cazorla, Ramsey and a few occasions to Rosicky.
What I noticed, which was very smart on Wenger's part, was that Giroud was not staying in a central position, but rather drifting towards our right hand side, to pull Skrtel away, who had him in his pocket, but this created some space in the middle, and as I'd seen on tv, and highlighted, gave Arsenal the exact freedom they wanted down that left hand side to exploit Cissokho, with no real out and out winger to track back and help.
I think 3 CBs certainly can be effective and work in several instances, but not against Arsenal, City or Chelsea, where the smaller, faster, technically gifted players can cause all the damage. Even Newcastle exposed it several times through Yohan Cabaye, with Ben Arfa as a false 9, and Gouffran wide..
Time to get Agger back in there, re-shape to a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. And I have to say, while it pains me, we are awfully reliant as a team on Glenda.. Without him, we seem completely devoid down that side, and he's almost what I'd consider our MVP (not best player), maybe most valuable.
As long as I'm around and able, I will be checking these boards and commenting when time permits me, and when I have a comment to make. For those who might read this but then get lost or blocked again, the simple thing that I did, was add this page to the top bar of my favorites, so i can always just click on it. If for some reason that doesn't work, or they discontinue it, all it takes is a quick search on yahoo or goole of "yahoo eurosport message board Liverpool" and wala! Here you come..
As for the game, it was pretty tense, actually had the feel of a European game, and an actualy, genuine title deciding match, but overall Arsenal were the better team on the day. That said, I think both sides showed strength's and weaknesses. I think Liverpool learned alot about the existing squad, where we need to improve, and perhaps the need to get rid of our 3 CB system because for a team with high skill and clinical play, like Arsenal, they will find ways to exploit it. For Arsenal, I'm not ready to crown them winners by a longshot, as they still have a ways to go as well, but certainly a well done, and marker for this time and place.
Can Arsenal grind it out, taking on the rigors of 3 competitions, while coping with injuries for another 5-6 months, and can Liverpool step it up, and be more composed, not so tenative and less fluid in matches like this.. Both teams have their chance to reach their goal of top 4, and perhaps title, but alot will really determine that come December-January, along with whoever they each buy potentially in January..
I wish I could remember the stat or percentage, but I saw yesterday that a huge majority of Arsenal's attacks, open play and counter attacks come down the right side, which would make sense, considering Sagna is very attack minded, slack in defense, and then you have Ozil who prefers to come down that same side and cut inside, with Wilshere/Ramsey (Healthy Walcott) all going that side too, so that's where we need to exploit them.
We actually did this last year at Emirates with a great deal of success, having Suarez as a left sided attacker, however, in this instance I would agree that the 3 cb system will probably stay, and we'll see a lot of Henderson on that side to help Sissokho attack and defend, and where Sturridge likes to roam on his preferred left foot.
I think this could be done to greater effect with natural width in Moses, where he can take on Sagna, or keep him honest, or exploit whoever is "holding" in midfield, which presumably would be Arteta and Wilshere, and neither is a good defender.
Honestly, I see both sides of the coin with 3 CBs and a flat back 4, but I just feel like the flat back 4, would allow us that extra player in attack, whether it be Moses or Coutinho from the get go, without taking Jordan off. Keeping in 3 CBS may do just fine, and allow us other options, so I won't complain either way, I just want to see us play well, and play to win.
I get the sense that not much is going to change by BR's comments on how hard Agger is working and training to get his spot back. Nothing specifically says he will or he won't, and sometimes Rodgers is a bit cryptic, but when he says "he's working so hard, and when his time comes, he'll rejoin the group" I just make that assumption, though, it could just be cryptic and maybe he will.. That said, I'm not sure I love the 3 CB system here, but I'll give 2 cracks at it..
First, the other things.. Figures Torres plays out of his mind, and gets a 91st min winner, or we could have had a little breathing room in 2nd place ahead of the HUGE match w/ Arsenal. 2nd, US commentary said today's Chelski Citeh match featured a combined $1.3Billion dollars worth of players, just pathetic. 3rd, Southampton are not going away, they're going to be in the top 6 conversation all year. 4th, I think Spuds may just win every game 1-0 on Soldado pk's, their D is impressive. And 5th, Borini scored an absolute stunner for the Sunderland winner, which was great to see, because I've been upset he's on loan and 2 managers haven't used him at all, which I'm sure is not part of a loan agreement, while Altidore looks lost. Good for Fabio, we could always welcome him if he plays like that when he's on..
Ok, now on to yesterday and Arsenal. That was probably the finest we've played all season, by a long shot, if nothing else, while in this 3-4-1-2 formation. I felt that PK was very harsh, just a collision with Lucas in the box, so I felt as if we did keep a clean sheet despite the goal. Skrtel was everywhere, and Sakho looked his best so far, Toure good enough. I don't care that it was West Brom, whereas someone like Colin would have complained as if they don't count, yet West Brom just won at Old Trafford, and held Arsenal to a draw, ending their 9 match winning streak, and who also beat us twice last year, 3-0 and 2-0. We're finding ways to outclass the teams we struggle against with parking the bus.
As for next week, I really think we need to revert back to a normal back 4, because Giroud is good enough to cause some problems, and if his hold up/link up play is on, Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere etc., will all find space and pick the 3 cb system apart. As for who starts, for me, Glen, Skrtel, Aly, and Agger. I'm not sure if Agger is on his way, but we could use his ball skills vs a technical side. 4 Cbs also lets Jordan stay & makes room for Coutinho..
This game while very frustrating on many levels, probably equal to that of Southampton, was a strange one.. We came out flat, then gotten into it when we leveled, and then seemed to control it, but give up another set piece goal, our 5th of the season (4 in last 5 games) against the total run of play, which deflated us again. Then we managed to start to control things and make it wide open until we tied again, but then the whistle blew..
I personally think we had some really tired legs out there, but so did Chelski, City and many other teams, only some of our players are 90" for their country twice a week, whereas some others, like an Oscar, Mata, etc etc aren't. Nonetheless, I don't like making excuses as we weren't at the races for 90", AND I think Pardew outdid Rodgers in tactics by playing a false 9 in Ben Arfa up top, with Remy and Gouffran in wide areas, who are real strikers. This totally baffled and made our back 3 completely redundant and useless.
In the back 3, if there isn't a big powerful or traditional #9, or perhaps 2 of them, to mark, it's a waste of time, and an extra defender creating little confusion. For me, since coming back into the side, Skrtel has been our best defender and one of the best, so he has to stay in. Obviously Glen on the right, and preferably Enrique left, which means a 3-way battle for LCB in Toure/Agger/Sakho. I get the feeling Sakho may be it, which is fine because he and Skrtel are about as powerful as it gets, and mobile, but I'd be fine with Agger too.
Anyways, the 3 cb system has to go away now, especially at home vs WBA, or they'll sit back for 90 mins or catch us on a counter or set piece. We need to revert back to the 4-2-3-1, with Jordan wide, OR Suarez wide along with Moses, and give Alberto a go in the 10.
In a nutshell my front 4 would be: Sturridge, Suarez, Moses, Alberto/Henderson, & just until Coutinho comes back. Jordan does a job on the right which creates balance so Suarez can easily play off Danny
So based on some of the information I'm reading / seeing, outside of what's provided on LFC and related sites, alot of which Dave can see (not making it right or wrong), I'm going to make my assumption and prediction for the lineup tomorrow..
Basically a 3-4-3, or you could say 3-5-2, but with Suarez doing his roaming and Daniel up top..
I don't like leaving Moses out of the team whatsoever, but I think Henderson has become so invaluable through his incredible workrate, improved quality, and flexibility, that we almost find it impossible to get him out of the lineup, and with Glen, who I'm under a strong impression, will start (again could be wrong), we'll get width from him, Enrique and Surez/Sturridge when they work wide channels.
I think Henderson's inclusion allows us to really press the issue up high, and with both their top 2 CB's out, and the way we went into St. James last year 6-0, we outta do the same thing, and suffocate them. I honestly considered leaving Lucas out, to keep Henderson there, and keep Moses in, or even Alberto, but, for now, my only major change is Agger for Sakho.
Bench: Jones, Sakho, Wisdom, Allen, Alberto, Moses, Sterling
I have to agree here with Dave to be honest Colyn, and not to cause an argument or anything. I've noticed (in my opinion) that in each passing game, Stevie has played more and more disciplined, and even almost as a true holding guy, distributing all around the field. I even find him more reliable and competent in the recovery mode/challenges than Lucas, where he gets caught out. I think Stevie's tackling and defensive work rate / cover, are so undervalued by everyone..
Jordan ended up Man of the Match in the Palace game, and much warranted because he was a beast in the middle, and while Lucas will probably slot back in, I'd have no problem if it were Stevie and Jordan back there again..
While out of position, Moses has the necessary pace, creativity and goals in his locker to play that hybrid 10 role, while Coutinho is still questionable, and while it lines up on paper and on tv as a 1-2 sitting behind SAS, it could so easily shape into a 4-3-3, with moses and suarez wide, depending on the run of play. So to that effect, i wouldn't put Stevie up there, and only have him roaming up that high later in a match where we're chasing a goal, or where he can really pressurize if Jordan and Lucas (even Allen) are on, so we've got the whole middle sured up.
Gerrard's goal for the 3 Lions was fantastic, and vintage Stevie, but I don't expect to see much more of that and maybe 5-6 goals a year, but for now he seems good as he is. In my opinion of course..
So while most of us have agreed that we could and should have been better in our last 2 matches, and have a ways to go, we did obviously win and take care of business, while sitting joint top (technically), the question is; now that we've had 2 matches and 3+ weeks, under the belt of playing the new 3-5-2 system, does Rodgers change it, or revert to something else?
For me, assuming Glen Johnson is absolutely 110% fit, this is a tough call because I think Newcastle are starting to find their feet lately, and they offer a lot of pace throughout their team, especially in Ben Arfa, Gouffran and in form Remy, while supporting Cisse, with Cabaye looming. If Glen can go, do we stick with the system and plug him in, which forces Jordan out, or do we go to a flat back four and remove on CB?
If we remove one CB, who is it? For me, it cannot be Skrtel, who has been impeccable since returning, and Sakho has made a strong case, with Agger 100% fit now, adding more of a dilemma, while Kolo has done a job on the right side..
There's suggestion Coutinho could be ready, but I highly doubt that, at least not him starting the match, so Glen's inclusion, and what CB may come out are the only dilemma's to me. If forced to choose, and I'm guaranteed he's fully cleared, I'm going flat back 4 here, Glen-Skrtel-Agger-Enrique..
If not that (which likely won't be), I'd go:
Arsenal: 23-8-7 - 77 points
Chelsea: 19-10-9 - 67 points
Man City: 20-7-11 - 67 points
Manure: 25-6-7 - 81 points
Spuds: 21-8-9 - 71 points
So, without doing goal differential, which I didn't have the energy for, (though I know we had more than Spuds), here is the top 4 over the past 38:
United - 81 points
Arsenal - 77 points
Liverpool - 71 points
Spurs - 71 points
Thought some might find this pretty interesting, though it means little until May, but for tour departed Debbie downers and naysayers, it would show that we are progressing steadily, and actually faster than some of us realize. Again, the points and table really mean little right now, but like Brendan says, these are 16 points we didn't have at this point last year, as we were sitting in the bottom half with a negative g/d. Now, we're joint top with a healthy +/-, and probably could have/should have more points, if we'd done a few little things..
In our last 38 matches, including this year's 7 fixtures, we have
20-11-7, Wins, Draws, Losses
+26 goal differential
These are the type of figures that typically get you 4th spot, and in recent years, perhaps even this year, would be more than enough to even challenge top 3, when looking at how tight it is, and all the competition for those coveted Champions League spots.
Things can only get better, as we've faced some difficult injuries to key players, gotten adapted to 1 system, then started to employ another, while now adapting to a third. Rodgers still has a lot to accomplish, a lot to impress upon this squad, and they have a lot of room to improve, but all things considered, for the first time in many a year, we should feel good (not resting on laurels) that we're not half bad.. It's a glass 3/4 full to me.. a glass of cold beer that is..
If it makes you feel any better, and an interesting move, we've just recalled Joao Texiera from his loan, he scored a goal in his first u-21 match back (a classy one) and I think he has a Jesus in his name somewhere.. Don't forget we (well you guys) had, and have the "King".. we can't be too greedy, though Hulk would also be cool, as would a Zeus!
Re on Moses.. I think we'll have a very strong chance to keep him long term because at the moment, nobody is a better winger in our squad, and he's only 22, with bags of talent. While Moses can still get even better, the sad irony is, he'd never get ahead of Hazard,Willian, Schurrle, Mata, Oscar, Ramires, De Bruyne or whoever else Chelski have, have out on loan, or plan to add to their thin ranks..
Call me naïve if you'd like, but I think we're going to see a lot more players who value playing time equally as much as CL, especially if they don't make their respective world cup squad, or do make it, love it and want to have a bigger role in Euros and future International football. Sitting on the bench or the stands on a CL team, or playing 90" regularly for one challenging to become one, is something I'd consider twice..
Hi Dave / Colyn,
Seems we're all pretty much in agreement and on the same sheet, and I didn't mean to come out as half empty, you guys should know me by now, I'm usually glass full when I'm not being sarcastic, I just felt the need to be a little more harsh because we're off to a good start, but it could be better, and ironically a lot worse if not for a few ifs and buts.
Dave, I will say I didn't mean to overlook Moses, he's been fantastic since the moment we signed him, and 2 years ago I was banging his drum to be signed from Wigan before Chelsea did. He's been nothing short of superb, and he did an admirable job centrally, which is where I'd like to see Alberto come in.
Regards to Sterling, I'm more harsh on him in regards to what I pointed out in his forays going forward and into the final 3rd because his decisions and product, are sub standard, and while he is young, he actually has a ton of experience compared to many players his senior, and those his age. The one thing I'll say in his defense, which you harped on, was that I don't think he had the license to roam too much, particularly drifting inside because he was afterall, our RWB, so had he been caught out somewhere up at the top end, we'd be hardpressed to cope with any counter/speed down that side with Kolo, as we saw vs Soton, so I really just want him to do better when he is forward. He actually did an admirable job as a RWB considering I could pick him up and throw him.. I'm hoping we'll see Kelly at some point, as I might expect Glenda to be nursed back in, always prone to another setback. We'd be far more balanced, and could open back up to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 / 4-1-3-2..
Irony begins with me, the BR advocate and our current position, but I'm not one for complacency, and I like to view things 1 at a time, as they are..
We should have won that game 6-0, minimum, but again (though better) weren't great in the 2nd half, though for some reason decided to really push about 84"+ as if we were chasing a draw. Granted 2 well crafted chances/shots hit the bar in Sturridge and Moses, and they weren't the 2012 hit the bar type, but we definitely should have had more, much like Fergie's biggest thing, scoring more goals and goal differential.. Just look if we'd won 5-0, we'd be clear by 2 goals, and close to City's +9 which will get higher as they climb. If ever a year where clean sheets and goal diff will mean everything, this is it..
As for the players, I thought some were terrific: Henderson / Skrtel the choices as MoM for me. I've often said I'd like to see Jordan groomed into a box to box because I think he possesses a lot more in his locker than Lucas, and boy did he show it. His pace and work rate make it very difficult to go around and through him, and he allowed Stevie to play more comfortably. Skrtel looked his 2012 form and Sakho was commanding. Enrique was his usual Jekyll and Hyde, good then terrible turnovers. Sterling did ok, but needs much better decision making/end product in the final 3rd.
It was nice to see Alberto getting a run because Coutinho is still week's off, and he's really our best like for like, just needs to get up to speed and cope with the rigors. Suarez and Sturridge great obviously, Mignolet very very good, almost too good because of some poor turn overs and fouls given. There were quite a few moments/scrambles where a team like Arsenal or City will smash them home, and that's my problem, and I'm glad Brendan shared the same.. For those who hated his positives even in bad games, surely you can find enjoyment in his criticism after victories. He wants 90" of perfection & we're a work in progress.
Tactically speaking and in regards to the formation/personnel, what I think would be great, and certainly something we could do with the existing squad, and even better when Glen or Kelly is ready to assume RB again, is what Napoli did 2 years ago, where they ran riot in the CL as the surprise team, and caused havoc in Serie A.. 3-4-3, which also essentially breaks itself into 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 depending on the run of play, but allow for tremendous coverage wide, and counter attack play..
For us it would be:
This creates all kinds of chaos in all areas of the pitch, makes it very difficult for the opponent to play through the middle, and allows for a lot of freedom of the 2 main front players, who in our case can interchange with Suarez/Sturridge, where Napoli just really had to get Lavezzi and Hamsik on the ball and find Cavani as the focal..
With Glen back, Lucas available, and the competition at CBS, we'd have Skrtel-Sakho-Agger at the back, and could eventually work in Coutinho as well, when fit.. I found it to be a tremendously exciting formation/style and even last year without Lavezzi (granted Cavani is another planet as is Hamsik) they finished just off Juve, and I happen to think we have overall better personnel. I do prefer 4-2-3-1 at the end of the day, but for 3 CBs this is my favorite especially seeing a top team I like, deploy it.