Tuesday, October 06, 2015

LFC Rodgers is out

Rodgers has been a lightening rod since I started following Liverpool in late 2014.

The team was going nowhere and there were calls for Rodger's firing.

But then he switched to the 3-4-3 and the team went on a great stretch of play only to collapse at the end of the season. 

The blowout loss to Stoke to finish the 2014-2015 EPL season would have been a reasonable time to have fired Rodgers with a summer to find a new coach and make some moves in the transfer market.

However, FSG decided to keep Rodgers. One wonders if that was their plan or they just didn't have any realistic manager candidates at that time. In Rodgers favor was the magic carpet ride of 2013-2014. The FSG braintrust probably felt that maybe Rodgers could catch lightening in a bottle again and should be given some more time.

But with the bland performances to the start of the 2015-2016 season, the fan base was getting restless. One also wonders what was the mood of the clubhouse. Certainly, the players were making the "right" public statements of support for Rodgers. But one wonders if that was just for the public consumption?

With the international break, FSG will try to get someone on board and see if the season can be salvaged. 

The question is simply this: can the current group of players rise to another level under a new manager? Does LFC really have the pieces to be better than a mid-table club?

Last years club finished sixth. This year's team has many new pieces compared to that unit.

Certainly, with a healthy Sturridge and Benteke, they could cause a lot of havoc. Having Ings to plug in will also be helpful.

Coutinho, Lallana, and Firmino on paper all have the potential to be A-/B+ caliber players who can make a real difference on the field. But all three have had injuries or just don't seem quite 100% yet.

Milner and Lucas are solid players who will give good minutes.

Sakho, Skirtel, and Clyne is a defensive unit to build upon.

LA Dodgers 25 Man Roster for NLDS - my guesses

Time to play armchair manager.

The NLDS rosters are due the morning of the first game which will be Friday 9 October.

Here are my guesses:

Catchers: Grandal, Ellis (easy choices there)
Infield: Gonzales, Kendrick, Rollins, Turner, Utley, Seager
(the challenge is how much does Seager play and under which situations)
Outfield: Crawford, Hernadez, Ethier, Ruggiano, Pederson
(just don't think Puig is fully fit and ready to go)

Left hand: Kershaw, Anderson, Wood, Howell, Availan
Right hand: Greinke, Garcia, Frias, Jansen, Hatcher, Baez, Peralta

Go Dodgers!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

LFC injury woes - next up Aston Villa

Henderson is expected to be out 2 months.

Benteke is expected to be out 2 weeks.

Lovren is expected to be out 2 months.

Firmino is listed as day-to-day.

Aside from the tepid goal scoring (Liverpool has either scored 1 or 0 goals per game since the start of the ELP season and including Europa Cup and League Cup competitions), and weak defending, the injuries to key players are piling up.

Who will they trot out onto the pitch this Saturday?

As a "bigger" budget club (though not big 4), LFC is not without options but clearly the club has been searching for some line-up that has some cohesion.

Mignolet back in goal.
Defense: Sakho, Skrtel, Clyne
Midfield: Can, Moreno, Lucas, Allen
Forward: Coutinho, Sturridge, Ings

Subs with likely minutes: Lallana, Ibe, Origi
Subs: Bogdan, Milner (he needs a rest), Gomez, Rossiter

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Out of league play for Galaxy and Liverpool

Liverpool have a match in the League Cup tonight against Carlisle. Since Carlisle is a mid-table League Two club, we would anticipate that Liverpool will rest most of the starters. Of course, that could wind up making the game more competitive!

I would guess Rodgers will use the opportunity to give some players a test as they comeback from injury. For instance, Sturridge is back but not fully fit. As is Lallana who is working his way back to fitness. Don't think that Benteke will be risked tonight however. Benteke is out for at least two matches. Will be interesting to see if Firmino gets a start as he hasn't had so many minutes considering how highly recruited he was. Perhaps feasting on a weaker club might build his confidence. Ings did so well against Norwich so expect he will get more time as he will be needed while Benteke is out. Would anticipate some of the younger guys like Rossiter and Brannagan to get either starting roles or substantial substitute minutes. The Echo writers take their guesses.

My guesses:
Up top - Sturridge, Ings, Firmino
Midfield - Rossiter, Milner, Lallana, Can
Defense - Lovren, Gomez, Clyne
Goalie - Bogdan

Off the bench: Origi to rest Sturridge in the 2nd half, Brannagan to rest a midfielder, and Ibe.

UPDATE: LFC wins during PKs. Lovren and Firmino injured. Lots of shots, shots on goal, but just 1 goal by Ings. The fans are getting restless. But I'm guessing the owners at FSG will stick with Rodgers until they get see how a team with a fit in form and healthy Sturridge and Benteke perform.

As for the Galaxy, they head on the road for the Concacaf Champions League (CCL) match without any of their designated players. They won their first two CCL with mostly the B-team on the field. So expect the same.

UPDATE: Galaxy got the equalizer at the 82 minute to get the draw and advance to the next round of CCL.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

UK Guardian Ruthven: Gerrard source of Galaxy defensive woes

Interesting analysis piece over by Graham Ruthven at the UK Guardian.


With Gerrard in the line-up Juninho is pushed up the field into nosebleed territory, where he is not at his best. Besides, without the Brazilian’s mobility across the halfway line and in front of the back four LA are often left exposed through the middle, with Gerrard no longer the marauding, Captain Everything figure he once was in his pomp. Such deficiency was evident in the defeat to RSL, as the Galaxy’s backline suffered an overload in Utah.

If this is the case, what adjustment will need to be made? Is it just a matter of moving Juninho toward the back and having Gerrard play more forward?

I suppose one might also ask how consistently the Galaxy attacking players (Keane, Dos Santos, Lleget, and Zardes) track back and help with defense since the club is so offense minded.

Anyway, CONCACAF Champions League road game mid-week. Am guessing almost all the starters will be rested. Big showdown against FC Dallas at the weekend coming up. Will Arena make any personnel changes in the starting XI or shifts in tactical formation or both?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Liverpool v Norwich

Good to see Lallana back in there and get a nifty goal. Would anticipate he is in the XI for Norwich.

Minoglet in goal as usual.

Defensive 4 or 3? And has Sakho won a spot in the starting line-up?

My guess is that Rodgers sticks with his usual 4: Clyne, Lovren, Skrtel, and Gomez. With League Cup and Europa Cup games coming up, will see Sakho in those matches. If Lovren has any more howlers than Sakho will be plugged in.

Midfield three: Milner, Lucas, Firmino/Can/Moreno?

Firmino didn't play in the recent Europa league match. Is he in the doghouse? Or was he being rested for Norwich? Am figuring Firmino is going to start but he would be one of the first to be substituted in the 2nd half if he looks tired or is ineffective. Who do you put in? Can or Moreno? Am not sure Moreno has surpassed Can in the depth chart so Can probably gets the call when Firmino goes out. If Lucas is slowing down, Moreno gets in the game too.

Front three: Benteke, Lallana, Coutinho.

Ings comes in if they need fresh energy on the attack; however, might Sturridge get in? Maybe. From the article, seems Henderson might be need a little more time.

UPDATE: 1-1 was the verdict on Sunday against Norwich. In reading game accounts, the team missed opportunities and the equalizer from Norwich was a goalie blunder. Will be interesting to see who the Brodge sends out for the League Cup match this week as Carlisle is a League Two (4th tier of the pyramid) club. Obviously, it is too soon to make any final verdict on the 2015 summer signings but here is where we are at now:
James Milner - giving them good minutes but maybe getting worn down
Danny Ings - with the goal against Norwich, he may have won the opportunity for more minutes
Adam Bogdan - haven't seen him in action, maybe he will get the start against Carlisle
Joe Gomez - has gotten a lot of minutes early but has shown some of his youth and inexperience and so maybe moved to the substitute's bench and get starter minutes in League Cup/Europa Cup matches
Roberto Firmino - so far hasn't lived up to the expectations
Nathaniel Clyne - doing well
Christian Benteke - doing well but needs more support up top

2nd GOP Debate Impressions

The Donald is garnering the "we are mad as hell and we aren't going to take it anymore" vote. And right now, there are a lot of people who feel that way! The candidate who can best connect with these voters without the bluster of the Donald will do well going forward. My guess is that when it comes time to actually cast ballots, the Donald's support will diminish.

The calmer we don't like what is happening in Washington vote is going to Ben Carson. The guy is a neurosurgeon so he isn't about bluster. He is about calm. In the debates, you aren't going to see him set the stage on fire with rhetoric. Voters who see DC as talking screaming heads on TV are drawn to his calm and inspirational life story. My guess is that his support is going to be less volatile compared to the Donald's.

The remainder of the "we don't like what is happening in Washington" vote is looking for a home and may find a home in Carly. Her debate performance was pitch perfect: stylistically firm (more energy than Carson) and in command of facts and policy (no bluster like the Donald). Will be interesting to see if she gets a rise in the polling numbers in the next week or so.

Among the Senators (Paul, Cruz, Rubio), I think Rubio has the best chance for a breakout. Paul has only inherited a portion of his father's very loyal following in the Libertarian wing of the party and doesn't appear to be able to go much further than that small subset of the GOP voters. Cruz has a strong following in the activist wing but his "intense" style which endears him to the activists makes him less appealing to the typical GOP voter. Thus, Rubio is positioned for a breakout. His grasp of policy and articulate speaking set him up for success. The only downside is the youthfulness of his appearance. While Democratic voters often swoon for a younger "Messianic" types of candidates (think JFK, Clinton and Obama), Republican voters by nature appreciate more experience.

For the governors (current and former), it is hard to say who will break out among Bush, Walker, Kasich, Cristie, and Huckabee. Each has plus/minuses.
Bush: plus, the last name, governor of big state; minus, the last name, governor too long ago
Walker: plus, winning battles in Wisconsin; minus, low-key speaking style
Kasich: plus, experience in Federal and State level; minus, maybe perceived as too much of an insider
Cristie: plus, combative style; minus, combative style
Huckabee: plus, loyal following; minus, known more for being a TV personality than as a former governor.
Bush probably has enough "establishment" support to outlast the other governors if he doesn't make any big mistakes. Kasich is probably the natural heir to the establishment supporters should Bush faulter.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Liverpool FC - still not time to panic

3-1 defeat to Manchester United.

Five games into the season: 2 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw. One would have figured losses to Arsenal and Manchester United would not have been surprising prior to the start of the season. So getting the draw from Arsenal was a bonus. Must admit the loss to West Ham was a head scratcher (though West Ham has been turning heads with their wins lately) and the wins against Stoke and Bournemouth were not overwhelming at 1-0.

In any case, two losses in the first five matches was not unexpected. The question is can the team improve?

And that is an open question.

The recent matches have shown the value of Jordan Henderson?

He left with injury in game 2 and hasn't been in since. Since then 2 losses and 1 draw and a team that looks lost.

Additionally, what of Adam Lallana?

He takes much criticism but as we look at the LFC lineup now, would we rather have him in there instead of Can or Ibe? I think so!

Unfortunately, it isn't clear either will be available anytime soon so LFC fans will need to get off the ledge and accept the team will struggle until they are back.

Another injured player that is nearing return is Sturidge. Having him back and pairing him up at the top with Benteke should jump start the offense.

Missing Coutinho due to red card made the Man U match a long shot win.

LFC kicks off their Europa League participation. Look for some resting of starters. How about this for a line-up?

Time to give Bogdan a start and let Mignolet get a break at goalie.
Back four: Moreno, Sakho, Skrtyl, Clyne
Midfield: Coutinho, Milner, Ibe, Rossiter
Forward: Origi, Benteke

2nd half subs: Ings in for Benteke, Gomez and Can for whomever needs a break.

UPDATE: Liverpool Echo is on the case.
They report that Christian Benteke, James Milner, Lucas Leiva, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Martin Skrtel did not make the trip for the upcoming Europa League match.
Thus, to update the "predictions..."
Time to give Bogdan a start and let Mignolet get a break at goalie.
Back four: Moreno, Sakho, Skrtyl, Clyne, Toure, Gomez
Midfield: Coutinho, Milner, Ibe, Rossiter, Furmino
Forward: Origi, Benteke, Ings
Subs likely to be utilized: Can, Lallana, Brannigan.

UPDATE: UGH! Had a 1-0 lead but surrendered the equalizer late. Reading the post-game analysis, looks like the 3-4-3 has made a reappearance with Sakho/Toure/Gomez in the back. Toure got injured and had to be substituted. Can moved from midfield into the back 3. Wonder if Rodgers is going to call this formation against Norwich? My guess is no. He will go to the regular back four of Clyne, Lovren, Skrtel, Gomez. I suppose maybe Sakho could be plugged in for Gomez? Or would Lovren lose his spot to Sakho?

Galaxy losing its luster?

For a while there people were saying they were on their way to the MLS championship. Now, after two goose eggs, people are jumping off the band wagon!

First off, one can't get too high from the wins and go crazy and think they have this thing won when LA was racking  up the goals. Second, there are other teams with talent who can give them trouble.

I saw on TV, parts of the 1-0 defeat to San Jose. SJ has some speed and some attacking chops. Didn't see the Montreal game but have heard Drogba is a force to be reckoned with.

Don't know enough about soccer to know if SJ or Montreal had some defensive scheme to gum up the works of LA's attack. But a general sports observation is that sometimes a good offence is a good defence. If the Galaxy players are having to watch out for the opponents attackers and counter-attacks they might be more cautious about pushing forward. Don't know if that is what happened?

Also, had heard both games were under pretty warm/hot/humid conditions which would also slow things down.

Anyway, will see if they can get back on track soon. Will need to watch out if the Dos Santos injury is minor or a lingering one.

UPDATE: UGH! 3-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake! Didn't see the game and when I saw the final score, I wondered, what happened? The offense was working so well and now they have been shut out for 3 straight games! Anyway, LAG Confidential offers some possible explanations. Can't imagine there are much line-up tinkering options on the offensive line. Maybe some changes on the defense?

7 games left in 2015 Allsvenskan season

Elfsborg wasn't able to hang onto a 1-0 lead against Malmo and had to settle for the draw. They are now 5 points out of the top spot. They will play 2 of the 3 teams ahead of them head-to-head so they aren't out of it yet but it is uphill. Going on the road to Orebro for the next match on Monday. Elfsborg need a win to stay in contention after dropping the last two matches. Orebro is just above the relegation playoff zone at 13th place. Thus, Elfsborg should be able to take the 3 points but you never know!

Falkenberg took another loss and are now in the relegation playoff zone at 14th place. Last season, FFF got 33 points to finish 13th. Currently, they have 19 points with 7 games to go. Will they be able to scratch out a few wins to stay up?

FFF will be playing Halmstad (in 15th place) on Friday on the road a short bus ride south of them. Don't want to say it is a "must win" but it pretty much is a must win since most games are going to be against mid-table and top tier opponents. Here is an opportunity to get 3 points. FFF will also face Atvidabergs which is in 16th place.

UPDATE: Let's go F - F - F!!! They notched 3 points with a 1-0 victory over Halmstad!

UPDATE: Elfsborg takes on Orebro on Monday. A win by Elfsborg helps their quest to stay in the hunt for the title and helps FFF stay out of the relegation zone.