Monday, February 08, 2016

Liverpool Klopp Episode 29: Independence Day



After that collapse against Sunderland on Saturday, Liverpool needs to have a gut check performance and deliver a knock-out blow to West Ham's FA Cup aspirations.

LFC fans would love to see Sturridge, Coutinho, and Origi back in. However, since they are recovering from injury, it is unlikely all three would get in and Klopp has indicated he will stick with the younger lineup he has used thus far in the FA Cup. Allen, Brannigan, and Lovren do not appear likely to be ready for the match on Tuesday.

So here we go with some guesses: Mignolet, Clyne, Sakho, Caulker, Flanagan, Lucas, Stewart, Ojo, Benteke, Sturridge, Teixeira.

New Hampshire Primary Predictions

On the Democratic side, Sanders wins this one. The open question is how big a victory. How about this for a guess:
Sanders 56
Clinton 44

This will be Sanders' high-water mark as Iowa and New Hampshire are the most fertile grounds for Sanders. Mostly likely, going forward Clinton will start racking up clear cut wins.

What could happen to shift the race?

(1) Those "d@m# emails." Even though Sanders won't talk about them, reporters do and probably enough voters do to keep the issue alive. Thus, if the FBI were to declare there was wrongdoing, or some other "shoe drops," it will further erode confidence in Clinton's denials.

(2) Perhaps, those high-priced Clinton "Wall Street" speeches may get leaked in some fashion (remember the Romney 47% remark?) thus further emboldening the Sanders side.

(3) If Sanders' victory gets close to the 20% mark (I forecast only a 12% win), then the rebellion in the party is far stronger than anyone has expected. Nevada and South Carolina will be the next tests before the mega-primaries of March. If the rebellion is real, a 20% win in NH demonstrates it, then it will continue to show up in stronger than expected showings in states that are not natural Sanders territory. 

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, it remains a total mess. The post-Iowa controveries and pre-New Hampshire debate muddied the waters taking the bounce out of the Cruz win and the stronger than expected finish by Rubio.

My impressions:

Cruz numbers will slip in New Hampshire as the Iowa Carson controversy will put a dent in his support on top of the fact that NH wasn't friendly territory for Cruz anyway. If he were to slip to 5th, his team should be worried.

Trump will probably hang on to win but he will continue to under-perform his polling numbers. If he were to lose, S.S. Trump is taking on water and that would be huge!

Rubio will take a hit from Saturday's debate but probably not as big as the "Beltway Media" thinks. He could have distanced himself from the others but as it stands I think he barely hangs onto the number two spot in NH. It would not be surprising if he slips to third. If he were to slip to 5th, his team should be worried.

Kasich would like to win the "governor's sub-primary" against Bush and Christie. If he gets less than 10%, I don't see how he can stay in the race. Ohio isn't until March 15 so he has to show some stronger support somewhere before Ohio and New Hampshire is his best venue for that. I think he accomplishes this. If he were to slip to 5th, his team should be worried.

Bush would like to win the "governor's sub-primary" against Kasich and Christie. If he gets less than 10%, I don't see how he can stay in the race. Florida isn't until March 15 so he has to show some stronger support somewhere before Florida. However, I think he gets enough to keep going even if he finishes 5th as long as it is more than 10% in a tightly clustered two-fifth place candidate totals. A distant 5th is a different story and would be trouble.

Christie knocked Rubio down a peg or two but it probably won't revive his campaign enough. If he gets less than 10%, I don't see how he can stay in the race. New Jersey isn't until June and NJ neighboring states aren't until April. I think it is too little too late.

Trump 27%
Rubio 16%
Kasich 15%
Cruz 14%
Bush 13%

Friday, February 05, 2016

Liverpool Klopp Episode 28: We Can Work It Out



"Life is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friend."

Tough times for Liverpudlians.

Fan favorite Jon Flanagan is out again with more knee surgery.....
UPDATE: OPPS! My bad, as that link is an old one back to 2015 that is still visible on the Echo web page. Flanagan is fine and is on the substitutes bench for today's match!

A supporter group is calling for a fan walkout at the 77 minute mark of Saturday's match against Sunderland at Anfield to protest ticket prices.....

Center back Skrtel has an injury setback.....

Rumors of Sturridge wanting to leave the club in the summer.....
UPDATE: He is on the bench today!

January transfer window target Alex Teixeira appears to have chosen the bigger paycheck of the Chinese league over LFC.......

Criticism of the club's performance swirls around the team amidst the congested fixture schedule.....

Sunderland appears to be relegation bound and should be an easy win for Liverpool. But then again, Newcastle appear relegation bound and they thrashed the Reds 2-0. Thus, this game can't be mailed in by Klopp's crew as the club is in disarray.

With the short rest from last Tuesday match against LCFC and the FA Cup replay coming up next Tuesday, Coach Klopp is likely going to have to juggle the line-up.

Starting XI thoughts

I think the 2-0 loss to LCFC can't be placed entirely on the goalkeeper and the defense so I think Mignolet-Clyne-Lovren-Sakho-Moreno will be on the line-up card. Vardy is an exceptional talent and sometimes there isn't much you can do about that.

However, LFC clearly didn't do much on the offensive end despite possession and shots. Thus, I think there will be some changes there. Henderson has gamely fought through pain and his being the first substitution in the last two games suggest he may need a break so time to put Allen in for him to share defensive midfield duties with Lucas. Firmino looks lost and may need a break. Dare we say it, Benteke to start and lead the line. Running behind him Can, Milner, and Ibe.

UPDATE: Klopp is in the hospital for a possible appendicitis. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

Henderson is still in but Allen is in for Lucas. Firmino remains leading the line with Benteke on the bench. Lallana is in and Ibe is on the substitutes list.


UPDATE: Ugh. Lovren out at 13' with injury. Toure is now in.

Nice goal last night by Jozy Altidore in the friendly between USA and Canada. Would love to see Liverpool get a goal like this once in a while. But at this point, ANY goal would be welcome from LFC! The Reds haven't scored since January 23 when they got 5 against Norwich.



USA TV coverage on USA. Internet radio on TalkSport and LiverpoolFC.

MCFC 1 LCFC 3! Wow, the Foxes take down Man City at the Man City's home grounds!

UPDATE: Argh! Another injury, Allen is off in first half stoppage time. Ibe is sent in. 0-0 so far as Sunderland is parking the bus. LFC has dominated possession, gotten some shots but as usual have botched good opportunities.

update: Firmino's goal was an Altidore like header off a cross.

UPDATE: It is a final. LFC snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. Cruising with a 2-0 lead, they surrender two goals with the last one at the 82 and 89 minute mark. The EPL scriptwriters twist the knife into the LFC fans who stuck to the end instead of joining the walkout to protest the new price structure.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

LA Galaxy Starting XI and Supporting Cast?

Okay, what is the LA Galaxy line-up likely to look like in the 2016 season?

Defense
Starters
Rogers
DeLaGarza
Cole and Van Damme - rumored to be in negotiation with these 2 30+ year old European players
UPDATE: Van Damme has been signed 1/26
Cole has been signed 1/27
Reserves
Leonardo
Gargan
Romney

Midfield/Forwards
Starters
Dos Santos
Gerrard
Lletget
De Jong - rumored to be in negotiation with this 30+ year old European player
UPDATE: De Jong officially signed 2/3
Reserves
Larentowicz - LAG Confidential have doubts about the wisdom of this signing. I wonder if he might get some back four time in addition to being slotted in as a defensive midfielder?
Husidic
Garcia

Forwards/Midfield
Starters
Keane
Zardes
Reserves
Gordon
Magee - experienced player for squad rotation
Villareal
Boateng - Since AEG has eyes and ears in Sweden they picked up this younger player for further development

Goalie
Starter
Kennedy
Reserve
Rowe

My feeling is that at most they will sign two of the three (Cole, Van Damme, and De Jong) and maybe only one. For a deeper dive into how all these selections could impact the line-up see LAG Confidential for their thorough analysis and thoughts.

UPDATE: What do LA Galaxy fans think? The starting line-up could contain FIVE over-30 European players (Cole, Van Damme, Gerrard, De Jong, and Keane). Perhaps, they are going "all-in" to try to win an MLS Cup on the final (?) year of Gerrard and Keane with LA?

UPDATE: I wondered how the LA Galaxy could fit 3 euro-stars into their line-up! The 3DP spots are filled (Keane, Dos Santos, Gerrard). Thus, how will they fit these 3 under the salary cap? Well, some creative salary structuring according to Baxter at the LAT.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Liverpool Klopp Episode 27: Thunderball


The crowded fixture schedule takes Liverpool to King Power Stadium to take on League leading Leicester City. Should be quite the match up! Seems like forever that they last met, but it was only just a month ago on Boxing Day that LFC stunned the Foxes with a 1-0 win. In that match, Origi got injured and has been out ever since. Benteke was subbed in and he got the game winner in the second half.

Klopp seems to have a fairly fixed "A" team. Thus, we should be seeing those players against Leicester. The open questions:
Does Lovren, who played a full 90 against West Ham, start alongside Sakho in place of Toure?
Has Smith earned a shot at displacing Moreno?
Is Henderson ready to go after having to be taken out early against Stoke?

I think Lovren is in if there is no issues with his recovery on Sunday/Monday.
Moreno stays in the starting XI.
Henderson is in if there is no issues with his recovery from the Stoke match though Allen would be an easy choice to plug in if he needs a little more rest.

What do you think?

UPDATE: According to UK Guardian, good news for LFC fans as Henderson appears ready to go for the battle against the Foxes. Also, some of the injury list players (Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Philippe Coutinho and Martin Skrtel) are returning to training and will soon be available for selection. A draw or upset win on Tuesday against LCFC combined with potentially four of the senior team back in the next week or two, LFC could make a push for a top-4 finish. And certainly, having more players to select from will help in the busy fixtures in the EPL, League Cup, FA Cup, and Europa Cup. Rodgers was not able to win any silverware during his tenure. Perhaps, LFC under Klopp might break the drought somewhere somehow!

LCFC does not have European competition to clog their schedule. They have been eliminated in the League Cup. They are still alive in the FA Cup. Thus, they are likely to have the fresher team. Meanwhile, LFC has been playing so many matches with an injury thinned roster. Will see how LFC do tonight. There have been some matches where LFC came out flat and got clobbered. It is entirely possible that LCFC will run them off the field with their counter-attacks. But Klopp's side has had its share of stunning victories when people have least expected it. One of the biggest was defeating the Foxes 1-0 in December.

Go Liverpool!

USA TV coverage at NBCSN. Internet radio through LiverpoolFC.com and TalkSport.

LFC XI and substitutes announced (it is the anticipated line-up):


ESPN Ben Jacobs says LCFC 2 LFC 0 while Steven Kelly says LCFC 2 LFC 3.

In my blog, I have taken to the custom of only predicting the XI and not the results. The EPL scriptwriters have been all over the place with Liverpool. Who would have guessed they would overwhelm Man City on the road (1-4) and squeak past LCFC 1-0? And likewise, they have been shutout by West Ham twice (0-3, 2-0) and mauled by Newcastle (2-0) and Watford (3-0).

LCFC 2 LFC 0.  Too much Vardy. LFC had possession, had shots, but they don't have a game changing player like Vardy. Well deserved win for the Foxes. Klopp and company need to win the upcoming EPL matches against the bottom table teams to keep their faint hopes for European soccer and extraordinary faint hopes for at top-4 finish alive. In any case, more disappointments and the fan base will go crazy and will need to be talked off the ledge as it was during the Rodger's tenure.

As for the rest of February, a mixed slew of FA Cup replay, League Cup final, and Europa league away/home matches.

Here is the Echo's player ratings.
Here is the ESPNFC player ratings.

Will there be some line-up changes for the match against Sunderland?




Monday, February 01, 2016

Iowa Forecast

Finally. Actual. Voting.

Anyway, time to take a guess at the outcome!

Sanders 47 Clinton 46.
ACTUAL: Clinton 50 Sanders 50

Trump 26 Cruz 25 Rubio 20.
ACTUAL: Cruz 28 Trump 24 Rubio 23

Will the Sanders people turn out?

It could be an Obama-style upset as in 2008. Or it could be a Dean-like fade out as in 2004. I'm thinking Sanders pulls it off and it is those "d@m& emails" that causes a small number of Clinton supporters to either go to Sanders or O'Malley.
ACTUAL: Far closer than the Clinton people wanted to see.

Will the Trump people turn out?

I don't think so. But Cruz clearly stalled out and will fall short of catching Trump. Rubio gains ground at both their expense but not enough to overtake them.
ACTUAL: Turnout in the GOP Caucus was up across the board with nearly 187,000 voters a huge increase over 2012

The mystery is who finishes fourth?

Will Carson loyalists hang on to get him fourth place? Will Ron Paul's supporters back Rand Paul to get him to fourth place? Will the Bush name be enough to get a fourth place? My guess that the finish is Carson/Paul/Bush but all very close together around 5%.
ACTUAL: Carson 9% Paul 5% Bush 3% everyone else got 2% or less.

Now it is onto New Hampshire!

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Battle of the Burgers

Like many people, I've reduced my meat intake for health reasons. And am also making some effort to source those items at the market when I do. Am by no means hard core (i.e. not vegan/vegetarian) and can't afford to always buy stuff at Whole Paycheck (i.e. Whole Foods). Having said all that, I confess I still go for the occasional burger. With the reduced intake of meat products, my system really can't handle a big steak any more. But a nice burger is still a treat.

I confess I am a fan of In-and-Out Burgers. When on a road trip, I'll often make a note of where they are along the route and if it makes sense to take a lunch or dinner break at one of their outlets, I'll almost certainly stop there. So in my rating system, In-and-Out gets the A rating.

But what about other burgers out there?

Here is my highly subjective views on burgers at other places.

Denny's (B-). Sorry, I have tried the burger there and realized I should stick to having the breakfast items there!

Marie Callender's (B-). Dunno, just didn't seem that appetizing.

Five Guys (B+). I have to say I'm surprised at the solid fan base. Definitely, they do have a lot of options in terms of fixings to the burgers so hats off for that. But the burger itself? Not sure how come it has gained such a cult following. A+ though on the fried potatoes!

Carl's Junior (A-). I think their all natural burger is their best. The others are okay slip into the B/B+ range.

Apple Pan (A+). Going to the Apple Pan is like stepping into a time machine. Wonder how long that kind of store can survive and how many other places like that still exist in the 21st Century!

Umami Burger (A). It's hip and the burger I had there was pretty good.

McDonalds (B-). I just get the breakfast items at the venerable old place. And in foreign countries, I may visit one when I need to see something familiar!

Jack-in-the Box (B-). I just get the breakfast items.

There are plenty of "snooty" burgers these days in addition to chain ones. I'll be updating this page now and then as I visit some more places.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 26: I am the Walrus


I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together
See how they run like pigs from a gun
See how they fly
I'm crying .....

The crazy busy fixture schedule continues with this Saturday's FA Cup match against West Ham.



Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/Noaa-walrus22.jpg

Klopp, the happy Walrus (yes, am continuing to strain to link the Liverpool story line to movies and Beatle songs!), lets everyone know at the presser today, not unexpectedly, that there will be line up changes. The injury update gives a window into possible lineup options.

Based on these smoke signals, we can engage in the pick the starting XI part of preparing the script for the battle with West Ham.

Am thinking the lineup used against Exeter in the replay is going to be the basis of team selection with some added senior first team strength.

Mignolet in goal. Smith and Randall at full back. Can't imagine the newly returned from injury Flanagan will get the call after that gutty 105 minutes against Stoke. At central defense, time to give Lovren the opportunity to work out the rust after the weeks out from injury. Caulker will pair with Lovren. Fill out the XI with Allen, Brannigan, Stewart, Benteke, Ibe, Teixeira. UPDATE: Looks like I think like the analysts over at the Guardian in regards to team selection.

USA TV coverage at FS2. Internet radio at LiverpoolFC.com and TalkSport.

UPDATE: Also from the presser, Klopp, that funny walrus, said that some of the journalists resembled the cranky Statler and Waldorf of the Muppets!

UPDATE: 0-0! Wasn't near a computer nor a TV so have only read some of the post-match comments. Sounds like both sides had opportunities but neither were able to cash them it. Good to see that the youngsters continue to do well and in particular against a EPL side like West Ham. Walsh at Liverpool Echo wonders when some of the "B" team will break into the "A" team. He pointed to Brannagan, Smith, Teixeira, and Allen as having shown they could challenge for spots on the "A" team.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"Pennies from Heaven," in other words, little change....

I posted this figure a couple of weeks ago on January 14.


Have the numbers changed much in these last 2 weeks?

Taking a look at the RCP poll of polls you find the following ...
National numbers:
Trump 36%
Cruz 19%
Carson 8%
"Establishment" 37%

Iowa figures:
Trump 33%
Cruz 28%
Carson 7%
"Establishment" 32%

New Hampshire
Trump 33%
Cruz 13%
Carson 3%
"Establishment" 51%

The numbers seem pretty static. Small increases here and there (Is a +5 gain by Trump in Iowa significant?). Small decreases here and there.

As we head into the final days before the Iowa caucus, what will happen?

Barring any major developments, I suspect the Trump and Cruz support is pretty well baked in. Thus, the unknown is how effectively those voters will actually turnout and the impact of the weather. My guts tell me that the Cruz supports will have the stronger turnout. Look for a toss-up in Iowa with Trump getting 30% and Cruz 30%. Either will "win" but the margin will be very small.

Other questions:
Will the Carson voters stand by him and send a message? Or will they turn to an "establishment" candidate to make their vote "count?" Or will they stay home in disgust? I'm looking for Carson's number to fall to 4%.

Will there be a movement among non-Trump/Cruz voters to one of the establishment candidates in a practical "stop Trump/Cruz" momentum? At the moment, Rubio appears to be the mostly likely recipient of that option in Iowa. I'm anticipating he will hit 20%. He needs strong 3rd placing showing to stay in the race. If Santorum doesn't get to 10%, he will probably drop out. Likewise, Huckabee needs 10% to stay in.

Kasich/Bush/Christie are betting on New Hampshire. But if any are outpaced by Huckabee/Fiorina/Santorum that would not be a good sign for them. Kasich is banking on a strong third place showing in New Hampshire. Rubio can probably survive a fourth place in NH but not any lower. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Liverpool Klopp Episode 25: The Two Towers




LFC against Stoke in a League Cup Leg 2 Semi-Final match on Tuesday at Anfield.

Both clubs should be highly motivated. Look for a knock down drag out match as both teams covet the chance at silverware in this competition as their prospects for a top 4 finish in the EPL are limited.

Keep an eye on Liverpool Echo for any updates to the current injury report. There is concern that Clyne might not be ready to go. Flanagan may get the call if necessary. Lovren is back to full training but can't image he would get a start under the circumstances. Otherwise, look for the same group that went on the field at Norwich to be on the XI sheet on Tuesday. If Lallana is fully fit, he will probably get the start over Ibe. If not, then Ibe starts with Lallana subbing in as happened at Norwich.

Tactically, it might be tempting to sit on the 1-0 aggregate lead. However, given LFC's defensive problems, that would be a risky approach. Thus, LFC should go on the attack? However, after such a emotionally draining victory on Saturday against Norwich, how much spring do they have in their step? Would they be able to apply their press and go for the quick goal to put Stoke in the hole 2-0 in the aggregate? In the end, Liverpool needs to play to their strength which is to go on the attack. Don't go crazy and take excessive risks on the attack but definitely apply some pressure and see if Firmino and his front line mates can catch the Stoke defenders napping. For LFC, the best defense is a good offense.

TV coverage in the USA is at beIN Sport. Internet radio coverage at TalkSport and BBC 5 Live (turns out only pre-/post-match comments are available in the USA; the game itself is blocked) and LFC.com. Here is a preview of the match over at the BBC. At Liverpool Echo, Pearce notes that this seasons LFC's biggest victories have taken place on the road and that tonight would be a great night to have a huge home victory.

UPDATE:


UPDATE:
Have heard some of the coverage at TalkSport. Torpid effort by LFC. Not a lot from Stoke either but they did snatch a goal in stoppage time just before the half thus, 1-0 for this match and 1-1 in the aggregate. Don't know if LFC is worn out from the Saturday match but tired or not, they need a goal and to keep Stoke out of the goal to make it to Wembley Stadium. Away goal rules apply after extra-time and then it could go into penalty kicks.

UPDATE:
It is a final. In penalty kicks. The seventh spot kick from Stoke is saved by Mignolet. The seventh spot kick by Liverpool by Joe Allen sends the Reds to the League Cup Finals!