Author Topic: This season’s Defence – an Attack  (Read 75757 times)

Offline WesternRed

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #80 on: July 30, 2008, 02:02:06 pm »
Perhaps it was the shock of having players come to Anfield without any attacking intentions that changed his mind. You rarely get that in La Liga. If the equivelant of a Middlesbrough or Bolton went to Barcelona or Real Madrid over in Spain, they go out and have a go. As we all know, we regularly face opposition that are happy to sit back and aim to frustrate, which means the defence have more time on the ball.
Excellent point about Rafa being confronted with such negative tactics, Garstonite - something I for one had never thought of...
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #81 on: July 31, 2008, 06:01:13 am »
From the limited evidence of the games so far where we have neither stretched or been stretched, I would select Carragher and Skrtel as my first choice to begin the season.  Agger, the Rolls Royce that he is, needs to get some more games and sharpness under his belt and to pick up on the attacking with your defence theme, Skrtel has shown both the inclination and ability to do so, especially against Villareal.  Agger may well come up to speed by the beginning of the season - there are three games to go - but I would bet on Rafa beginning with the pair that saw us through large parts of last season.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #82 on: July 31, 2008, 05:00:36 pm »
From the limited evidence of the games so far where we have neither stretched or been stretched, I would select Carragher and Skrtel as my first choice to begin the season.  Agger, the Rolls Royce that he is, needs to get some more games and sharpness under his belt and to pick up on the attacking with your defence theme, Skrtel has shown both the inclination and ability to do so, especially against Villareal.  Agger may well come up to speed by the beginning of the season - there are three games to go - but I would bet on Rafa beginning with the pair that saw us through large parts of last season.

I think that's right. There's not a cat in hell's chance that Rafa will begin the season without Carragher in central defence - and it will probably be Skrtel who starts alongside him. But if Agger concludes the season having only played a handful of games there'd be something seriously wrong. His career would be in a mess for one thing. He can't afford to go two seasons on the bounce without playing much competitive football. It's a real dilemma for Rafa. I just hope he doesn't fudge it and end up playing Jamie at right back. That would be a real backward step.

Perhaps it was the shock of having players come to Anfield without any attacking intentions that changed his mind. You rarely get that in La Liga. If the equivelant of a Middlesbrough or Bolton went to Barcelona or Real Madrid over in Spain, they go out and have a go. As we all know, we regularly face opposition that are happy to sit back and aim to frustrate, which means the defence have more time on the ball. Better quality in a deeper position means that we start off from a positive platform.

Interesting point that. I think Rafa was probably shocked about a lot of things when he first came. Those sorts of teams do indeed get men behind the ball and try and absorb pressure when they come to Anfield. But they fight like tigers in the centre of the pitch too which isn't always the case La Liga. The third thing they do - which is as rare in Spain as a meat and potato pie - is send long balls for the big guy up front. This means an awful lot of fighting for 'second balls' - and it's here that Jamie excels. It can be attritional for a centre back heaving to deal with this kind of play. Despite the defensive mind-set of teams like Bolton and Boro their use of the long ball to get out of trouble means that our centre backs still have a lot to do.

It's going to take courage to let Agger-Skrtel face this kind of pummelling. And a certain bloody-mindedness which says - we are going to impose our style on you. If that finally happens I think we'll see a difference. Those negative teams will find it harder to deal with 10 men who are supremely comfortable on the ball than - say - 7 or 8, or even 9.
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Offline WesternRed

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #83 on: August 1, 2008, 12:11:34 am »
I think that's right. There's not a cat in hell's chance that Rafa will begin the season without Carragher in central defence - and it will probably be Skrtel who starts alongside him. ... I just hope he doesn't fudge it and end up playing Jamie at right back. That would be a real backward step.
Just what I was thinking - but, barring injuries or other complications,  I would expect to see Agger getting more and more playing time and starts as the season progresses.  By the end of the season, I'd expect Agger to be first choice CB, with Carra and Scare-ta-hell* sharing the other spot, with everyone getting rotated periodically.

* I don't remember who came up with that, but I love it!
...If that finally happens I think we'll see a difference. Those negative teams will find it harder to deal with 10 men who are supremely comfortable on the ball than - say - 7 or 8, or even 9.
Unfortunately, I say until now, we've rarely had more than 3 players on the pitch at any time who were very comfortable on the ball when on the run and under pressure.  Luis, Xabi, Danny Agger and (usually) Stevie G, with maybe Finnan and Didi added in - that's about all I can think of.  Anyone want to point out someone I've forgotten?  Now, Torres and Keane look like they can both be comfortable, Skrtel and Benny mostly so, and Masch is improving but not there yet.  I haven't seen Dosser or Degen yet, and I just don't know / haven't seen enough of Lucas to know anything.
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Offline BazC

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #84 on: August 1, 2008, 12:11:50 pm »
That's brilliant mate, thanks.

The point I want to discuss is the Carra/Agger/Skrtel one, as it's been in my mind for ages as well. Thing is, I agree with Agger/Skrtel partnership, but, Carra isn't *just* a defender. It'd be like dropping Steven Gerrard if a better player came up (hypothetical  :P). I think there'd be other implications of dropping Carra as well- I do think he'd get moody, and that can't be good, especially with his mate Gerrard as the captain. Nope, in my opinion, it's too big a risk for Rafa to drop Carra- on the pitch but also off it. In order to win a league title we need the harmony behind the scenes as well as on the pitch.

What I think we'll see this season is all three of them play, in an almost 3-5-2 type formation. Agger and Skrtel on either side of Carra at CB, with Dosenna marauding on the left and Kuyt, Degen or Arbeloa on the right. I think we can afford to play that because we have Mascherano with pace and ability to cover the spaces, and Agger and Skrtel with pace as well. I expect to see something like that in one of our next 2 games- hopefully we'll see most of our first team play in at least one of them for a good period of time. If 4 at the back is preferred, I wouldn't be surprised seeing Carra at RB either. In terms of attacking I don't think it'd matter. Instead of having attacking defenders down the flanks, they'd be concentrated through the middle (in Agger and Skrtel).

Whatever happens, I hope we don't see rotation in that area.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #85 on: August 1, 2008, 12:43:19 pm »

What I think we'll see this season is all three of them play, in an almost 3-5-2 type formation. Agger and Skrtel on either side of Carra at CB, with Dosenna marauding on the left and Kuyt, Degen or Arbeloa on the right. I think we can afford to play that because we have Mascherano with pace and ability to cover the spaces, and Agger and Skrtel with pace as well. I expect to see something like that in one of our next 2 games- hopefully we'll see most of our first team play in at least one of them for a good period of time. If 4 at the back is preferred, I wouldn't be surprised seeing Carra at RB either. In terms of attacking I don't think it'd matter. Instead of having attacking defenders down the flanks, they'd be concentrated through the middle (in Agger and Skrtel).

Whatever happens, I hope we don't see rotation in that area.

We'll see a 3-5-2 all right, but not more than once or twice. Similarly, I wouldn't be surprised to see a genuine 3-4-3 for a couple of games, but there is, in my view, no chance whatsoever of this becoming a regular tactic. A 3 man backline messes with our zones, offside trap, defensivel line and pressing as a unit. These are the cornerstones of our defensive strategy, and are also vital to how we play in attack. There is simply no way that Rafa will abandon some of the main features his success has been based on, especially when these are things that have demonstrably been among our greatest strengths during his time here.

What I do expect, however, is a certain amount of rotation in the defence. I could see Carra/Skrtel starting due to last season's form, but Agger will be introduced for certain games, and Carra/Agger will probably be the main partnership. I could see Carra/Skrtel being preferred, regardless of form, against particularly physical opponents like Sunderland with a fit Jones, or Bolton, or Chelsea given how well Skrtel's handled Drogba.

I can also see Agger/Skrtel being preferred against some of the premierships minnows, mid tablers at home...especially those who don't represent an enourmous physical challenge. West Ham could perhaps fall into this category, as could Fulham, I think. These also represent the kind of teams where keeping the unit/line/pressing rigourously organised really shouldn't be such a massive issue, and so gives Skrtel/Agger the chance to learn the ropes as a future leader of the defense.

I honestly think the only way we will see Skrtel/Agger as the preferred choice for the majority of games this season is if Carra gets a fairly serious injury, and the Skrtel/Agger performs brilliantly in his absence, in games that include the most challenging opposition. If that does happen though, expect to see Carra become 3rd choice with relatively little sentiment, just like happened to Hyppia when Agger cemented his place.
« Last Edit: August 3, 2008, 09:42:01 pm by hesbighesred »
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Offline WesternRed

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #86 on: August 1, 2008, 06:29:28 pm »
[snip]
and so gives Skrtel/Carra the chance to learn the ropes as a future leader of the defense.
I'm fairly sure you meant Agger there, Big...
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #87 on: August 1, 2008, 06:33:04 pm »
I honestly think the only way we will see Skrtel/Agger as the preferred choice for the majority of games this season is if Carra gets a fairly serious injury, and the Skrtel/Agger performs brilliantly in his absence, in games that include the most challenging opposition. If that does happen though, expect to see Carra become 3rd choice with relatively little sentiment, just like happened to Hyppia when Agger cemented his place.
That's pretty much spot on.  Carra is certainly not disposable, but if he can't play due to injury, then Skrtel & Agger would be first choice pairing, with Sami as cover & rotation relief.  However, even if Carra is fit all season, if his form is iffy or significantly below his best, Skrtel will be there to snap at his heels...
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Offline hesbighesred

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #88 on: August 3, 2008, 09:49:23 pm »
I'm fairly sure you meant Agger there, Big...

Cheers, changed it. Agree with what you say about competition as well, this should help Carra keep his form up for one more season at least, and if not, well, Skrtel hardly falls into 'decent squad player' category. It's a nice problem to have, and IMO our defence was at it's best when Rafa, although he would stick mainly to Carra/Agger, had the option of playing Hyppia with or instead of Carra too. Nobody wants constant rotation of our centre backs, but I don't see any problem with changing things a bit if we're facing an obvious type of problem, be it just raw pace (maybe Skrtel Agger) or physicality (Skrtel Carra).
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #89 on: August 4, 2008, 11:44:35 pm »
amazing post and again spot on

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #90 on: August 26, 2008, 08:53:02 am »
From World Soccer, Aug/Sep 2008 - I've transcribed it - not sure if it's been posted online. It's a good issue - interview with Torres, and some other good snippets in there including an interview with Roberto Carlos and Marcelo. Thorougly recommended...

----------------
----------------

The sweeper is dead... long live the sweeper

The old-style libero hasn't vanished, Martin Mazur discovers he's just moved on - but the traditional role may yet make a comeback.



Few words in football are understood so universally that they need no translation. Libero is one of them. And yet the position is now found only in football's history books - depite all those 'free men' who inspired thousands of players over the decades. Even Italy, the country that developed and embraced the sweeper, seems to believe the libero should be remembered as if it were an icon of an ancient, defeated empire.

"Italy is a country of trends, and the trend is now zonal marking," says Giancarlo Corrandini, libero of the Napoli side that won the scudetto in 1990. "Twenty years ago, everybody used liberos and stoppers. Now, that seems impossible. It is not modern football. I don't think we will see a classic libero again in Italy."

The libero is the most conspicuous victim of tactical evolution. "The role has disappeared, and I don't see a reason for bringing it back," says 1982 World Cup-winner Antonio Cabrini.

The European Cup had a massive influence on the birth and death of liberos in Italy. "At the start, it was very difficult for us to win in Europe," explains Eugenio Fascetti. He was the last manager to deploy a traditional libero in Serie A - while coaching Bari eight years ago. "Liberos meant strengthening defence to avoid risks. Suddenly, we saw Inter and Milan lifting the European Cup. Then Juventus. Later, Sacchi's Milan showed there was another way of winning - and everybody copied."

Up until a few years ago, there were still discussions over the pros and cons of using a libero. Not, the debate is closed, even though mention of the position prompts melancholic nostalgia among aficionados.

LIBERO, ITALIAN STYLE

The libero came into being as the only defender free of marking responsibilities - he had no assigned opponent. The first italian libero was Inter's Armando Picchi, who excelled in the catenaccio perfected by Helenio Herrera's Inter (1960-1968). Like most of the greatest liberos, Picchi did not start out as a central defender - he was a right-back.

"I played with Picchi," says former Roma manager Carlo Mazzone, "and every intervention he made ended an opponents' attack. It was a destructive role. But, over the years, coaches honed this position into a new role. Everything started from the libero."

The term was integrated into every language as the liberos' importance grew. No other position has evolved so much, so quickly. "The original libero stayed back and didn't touch the ball for more than two minutes a game. Then they started to participate more and more and balance the midfield," says Renato Zaccarelli, an attacking midfielder who played as a sweeper in Torino late in his career. He was presented with the best-libero award in his final season, 1986/87.

"Aside from Beckenbauer, we had the best sweepers," says Cabrini. "At first, liberos were ultra-defensive. Then we made them evolve into directors of the team. Gaetano Scirea started the revolution, playing as a free man always near the ball."

Scirea scored 25 league goals for Juventus (and this year became the first Italian player to have a street named in his honour - in Turin). Picchi, at Inter, scored only two.

In Scirea's time at Juventus, the libero was a poetic position - the No 10 of the defence, mapping out the game plan. Good liberos needed a rare mix of personality, intuitiion, experience, technical ability, concentration, and leadership. They didn't need raw power; few of them topped 5 ft 11in (1.80m). "Beckenbauer and Scirea, originally midfielders, created the new libero: going forward with the ball and playing all over the pitch. They set the example for many of us," says Zaccarelli.

DID SACCHI KILL THE SWEEPER?

Many blame the disappearance of the libero in Ital on Arrigo Sacchi. His perfect Milan side played a high-pressing game, used zonal marking and incorporated the traditional libero into a four-man defence. This was Serie A's New Testament - and one man was key: Franco Baresi. "Baresi was the last in the evolutionary chain," says Zaccarelli, "becoming what we call a centrale staccato - a detatched central defender. We were nearing the end of our careers, he was just starting - but you could sense his influence on the game would be massive."

Baresi said at the time: "With Sacchi, we focused on creating rather than breaking down, defending spaces rather than marking men. The secret? At all times you must know your position, where you are standing, and you must participate in the action - even if you are far from the ball." Baresi's acceleration was impressive, but few noticed his braking ability. "He could be running flat out and practically freeze in one moment, as no other human being could," says Nestor Sensini, a libero at Lazio, Parma and Udinese. "One time, he provoked Real Madrid into an offside trap more than 20 times."

"Baresi created the elastico," says Corradini. "He'd be behind the line then get back very quickly, putting his opponent offside. Then he'd move forward with the ball. He was a classic libero for Italy and a modern libero for Milan. Eventually, the classic libero disappeared. Baresi beat Baresi."

The arrival of Sven-Goran Eriksson, Zdenek Zeman and Fabio Capello reinforced the trend started by Sacchi and Nils Liedholm. Italy became a zonal-marking nation. In 1987, all 18 Serie A teams had a libero. By 1997, there were seven. In 2007, none.

"The libero evolved so much it became a stealth position," says Fascetti. "In almost every action you see - or should see - soemone playing libero. But the position is so hidden it appears dead."

Corradini, who became a libero after years in another position, reckons football's evolving rulebook is the cause. "A fixed libero has become dangerous for his own team, and some rule changes have left him very exposed," he says. "A professional foul is a red card, and a passive offside isn't penalised like it was 20 years ago. And a fixed last man 5m behind the line in a 70m-wide pitch concedes a 350 square metre patch to the opponents."

Cabrini adds that an old-fashioned libero leaves you a man short. "The libero supported the stoppers, doubling up on an opponent. But with zonal marking, everybody marks and everybody doubles up. Sometimes you see three or four against one."

You can find traces of the old libero in modern football, but not in the back four. "There are trends in football," says Mazzone. "This is a time of between-the-lines players. From a classic 4-4-2, we now have a 4-1-1-1-1-3-0 as we have at Roma. That first man in midfield - Daniele De Rossi at Roma - is the modern libero. His movements are similar, but he starts ahead of the defenders and retreats into the shell if needed. But he gets teh ball all the time and is the main distributor."

At World Cup 94, Brazil's Mauro Silva showed the world how to do it, retreating between the centre-backs as wing-backs Jorginho and Branco were deployed as wingers in attack.

"You have to stay away from one-on-ones," explains Fascetti. "If your opponent plays with one striker, there should be no excuses. One of the two centre-backs must get him, the other sweeps from behind. If there are two strikers, one of the full-backs must mark him, leaving the centre-back free. In zonal marking, this is complicated. It's easier to have someone like De Rossie tracking back and acting as libero, with two centre-backs busy marking the two strikers." Fascetti believes Pirlo would make a better libero than Allesandro Nesta. Mazzone, vital in Pirlo's transformation, agrees: "I was managing Brescia when Pirlo stil lconsidered himself a mezzapunta (attacking midfielder). I told him to play in front of the defenders, because he had vision. 'But I like goals,' he told me, unconvinced. 'You score four or five a year,' I replied. 'Play in this position and you'll score even more. Let's try it for two weeks. You'll be a base playmaker.'

"I told him to play two games without asking questions. Afterwards e told me: 'I feel very comfortable here. I get the ball all the time.' He found out how it worked. If I'd told him I was going to play him as a libero ahead of the defenders, he'd have run away terriffied. Calling him a base playmaker convinced him."

BRING BACK MAGIC MARKERS

Zonal marking rules in modern football, but a decade without liberos has revealed problems. Fascetti has a worrying theory: "After many years playing just one way, Italian defenders are forgetting one of their distinguishing characteristics - to mark. We lack good markers. You see it in every team. We often see central defenders look at each other complaining: 'It was your man.' One striker can put four men at risk. With a libero, we wouldn't see that."

"It's true, the new generation has difficulty marking," says Mazzone. "The abuse of zonal marking has meant centre-backs benefit from not marking any more. Look at Cannavaro: when Materazzi was sent off against Australia in the World Cup, he excelled as an emergency libero. There are not many new Cannavaros."

The libero system encouraged young players to mark. Now, they are encouraged to defend spaces - and some of the art of defending has been lost. "It's the problem of embracing zonal marking so young. I'd bring back the classic libero in football academies. Learning the libero trade makes 14- and 15-year-olds more intelligent," says Corradini. "I'd make all four defenders alternate every 20 minutes between libero and stopper," he adds. "Playing as a libero is like being in a [back-to-basics] Dogme film. You travel with teh ball all the time - the camera never stands still. You discover how football really works, visit parts of the field you've never been to before. You develop your mind." Zaccarelli agrees: "I don't know if the old libero will come back, but something is missing. We've lost the anticipation, forethought and improvisation a libero offers - and we've lost full-time markers, players who could erase an opponent from the pitch.

"At school, I had calligraphy. Now kids go directly to the computer. It's a bit like that in defending. New things come, but craft is lost. I see this when I manage youngsters. They work in fixed-game situations - but don't integrate them in real games. It's like looking at photographs instead of a real film."

Is the old sweeper dead? Fascetti says only a brave coach could resurrect them: "The hard-liners say the libero is dead. If I stil lcoached, I'd play with two liberos wandering around the pitch. Believe me, it's possible."

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #91 on: August 26, 2008, 09:39:31 am »
You can find traces of the old libero in modern football, but not in the back four. "There are trends in football," says Mazzone. "This is a time of between-the-lines players. From a classic 4-4-2, we now have a 4-1-1-1-1-3-0 as we have at Roma. That first man in midfield - Daniele De Rossi at Roma - is the modern libero. His movements are similar, but he starts ahead of the defenders and retreats into the shell if needed. But he gets teh ball all the time and is the main distributor."

Typical Italians. Cheating again  ;D

Seriously though superb article that Roy, thanks very much for taking the time to type that out.  I almost spat my coffee out when Corradini invoked Clause 3 of the Dogme95 Vows of Chastity to describe the way a Libero sees the game.  It's a great comparison:

"3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place)."
 
But can you imagine Tony Adams ever invoking an avant garde Danish film movement to illustrate how his role developed at Arsenal?
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Offline stevie h g

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #92 on: August 26, 2008, 12:50:11 pm »
Really good post. I agree totally with the comments about Agger and Skrtyl, once they get used to playing together they will complement each other's style, every top class central defensive partnership has had a contrast in style between the two players.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #93 on: August 26, 2008, 04:28:32 pm »
But can you imagine Tony Adams ever invoking an avant garde Danish film movement to illustrate how his role developed at Arsenal?

I don't know - 'Festen' could easily have been shot by Tony after he'd had a pint or twelve.

Thanks Roy for transcribing that article.  There's some really interesting thoughts in there - especially about training young defenders. Fascetti seems to believe that the reliance on zonal defending has de-skilled Italian defenders - made them less capable markers while doing nothing to enhance their ball skills. I suppose it could go that way if you lose the libero. But such a thing would never apply to Liverpool because we don't have a tradition of playing with a sweeper and we have always defended zones.

Fascetti talks of the future seeing two liberos. I doubt that. But what I'd like to see at Anfield - indeed the purpose of the original post was precisely this - is more flexibility at the back when we have the ball. To have TWO centre backs who are capable of moving with the ball into unexpected parts of the pitch would free us up as a team. Clearly for that to happen we would need covering midfielders capable of playing a centre back role if an emergency happened.  But I can think of no other tactical change that would have such a major impact on our game as two mobile centre backs who have an attacking mind-set and the skills to pull the opposition around a bit.

So far this season we haven't had this. In fact all three competitive gamnes have been marked by the kind of long-ball stuff from the back that is painful to watch and easy to combat. 
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #94 on: August 28, 2008, 12:36:25 pm »
To have TWO centre backs who are capable of moving with the ball into unexpected parts of the pitch would free us up as a team. Clearly for that to happen we would need covering midfielders capable of playing a centre back role if an emergency happened.  But I can think of no other tactical change that would have such a major impact on our game as two mobile centre backs who have an attacking mind-set and the skills to pull the opposition around a bit.

I thought both of our centre halves did a bit of that last night. Skrtel, in particular, moved up with the ball several times, usually laying off to an advanced Arbeloa or Kuyt on the right.

By the way, was I dreaming or did Skrtel attempt a scissors shot recently?

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #95 on: August 29, 2008, 10:18:06 am »
I thought both of our centre halves did a bit of that last night. Skrtel, in particular, moved up with the ball several times, usually laying off to an advanced Arbeloa or Kuyt on the right.

Skrtel certainly did Corky, though I'm not sure about Carra. Jamie was offered lots of space, as he usually is, but he showed no interest in attacking it.

In some ways Skrtel gets an unfair press. Because he's huge and terrifying and tackles like a steam-hammer many people file him away in the 'Big Stopper' drawer. But there's clearly more to his game than that. Faced by a retreating opposition Skrtel's instinct is to advance with the ball. He may not do this as elegantly or quite as quickly as Danny Agger, but he's still comfortable and reasonably pacy in possession and confident enough to try. The long ball from the back does not come naturally to him - probably because he learned to play his football outside Britain.

There's still this ancient idea around that the ideal combination at the back is a stopper and a ball-player. I don't think so. You can get away with that, but it's not ideal. The ideal is that you have two centre backs who are both strong in the tackle and good in the air - and who are both supreme in possession and conscious that they are the first line of attack. Not many teams in the world possess that combination. Liverpool have, though Rafa has yet to field it.



 
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Offline 5starLfc

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #96 on: September 17, 2008, 10:11:39 am »
Mourinho says attack is the best defence but Benitez proves defense is the best way of attacking.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #97 on: October 20, 2008, 01:34:45 pm »
We saw the best and worst of Danny Agger on Saturday but I'm thrilled to have the lad back. That ability to attack space and to keep on attacking it should the oppo retreat (as it will do interminably at Anfield this season) was shown in all its glory for Kuyt's equalising goal. Everyone in Red benefits from having such an intrepid centre back in the team.

I notice that some people have tried to pass the blame for Wigan's first goal on to Reina. But that's ridiculous. I don't care whether Agger called for the ball or not. It's irrelevant. The pass was on and Reina - rightly - decided to initiate a move rather than whack it upfield. Larry Lloyd might have panicked at receiving the ball in the semi-circle but it ought to have been meat and drink to Agger. In truth, Zaki only fully committed himself once he'd seen Agger's dreadful first touch. I trust that's the last time he'll make such a basic mistake this season.

As for Dossena, I don't understand the flak he's attracting at the moment. The transition from the Italian league to the Premier league was always going to be tricky. Our football just isn't as decorous and cautious as theirs and ironically he'll have to get used to doing far more defending for the mighty Liverpool than he ever did for the lowly Udinese. The quality of attacks he faces may not be as inventive but their quantity will be much greater. It can get attritional facing plucky, committed and physically robust Premier League attackers and the lad's just going to have to get used to it. I think he's done pretty well so far. We're certainly in far better shape this season than  last when it comes to options at left back.     
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #98 on: October 20, 2008, 01:57:11 pm »
I didn't see all the game, just bits and pieces but it seemed to me that Agger and Dossena had a two on one with Valencia and he still got his cross in for Zaki's second. Certainly, Carra seemed to see it that way, as he started spitting fire in their direction (rather than to Arbeloa, who lost Zaki).

Dossena seems to have a more attacking role for Italy, maybe this is why he needs more bedding in time. Agger looks short of match practise, but he certainly offers more going forward. In fact, I can't think of too many centre halves who could have done what he did for Kuyt's first goal. Lucio, maybe, or Alex?

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #99 on: October 22, 2008, 12:05:48 am »
Thought of this thread instantly when I watched Agger power his way into the Wigan box and pull his little Ronaldinho move before crossing to Kuyt.

No offense to Carra, but I can't wait till Skittles and the Dagger line up at the back together.

Great shout Yorky.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #100 on: October 22, 2008, 11:00:18 am »
Excellent post, Yorky.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #101 on: October 27, 2008, 11:28:42 am »
I think more than the Wigan contribution, Sunday's game was the real coming of age for Daniel Agger (or at least his post-injury incarnation).  We all know what he brings to the team in terms of distribution and how his ability to carry the ball deep into enemy territory can destabilise even the most organised of bus parkers.  Where doubts remained was his ability to concentrate fully for 90 minutes when subjected to a serious examination, concentrated opposition pressure, clever movement and passing and a barrage of crosses.  He got that on Sunday and he passed with flying colours.  Both centre backs were immense and played a crucial role in ensuring that Pepe Reina's afternoon was pretty easy, a little bit of catching practice on crosses and a stray elbow from that c*nt Terry were all he really had to contend with. 
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #102 on: October 27, 2008, 03:51:03 pm »
Yes, he's getting better VdM - which is just another way of saying he's getting fitter. Bringing back any player from long-term injury is always a difficult thing to do. But it's especially difficult at centre-back I think. There's no real time to acclimatise. For an attacker to be slightly off the pace is to not reach a pass or a cross. Lapses in concentration mean forward moves break down. That's all. But for a returning central defender, being off the pace equals calamity - as we saw v Wigan. Agger looks almost fully match-fit now. Soon he'll be playing from 'memory' again.

Yesterday was a triumph of defensive organisatioon as well. The coaching staff at the club had obviously thought long and hard about Deco's early success at Chelsea and Rafa set the team up accordingly to deny him the pockets of space he likes to occupy between the lines. Let's hope other teams learn by example and pounce on Deco like we did.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #103 on: October 27, 2008, 10:39:53 pm »
Yorkykopite
I'm not totally won over in your argument that it was totlly Aggers fault.

Yes his touch let him down, but before Reina gave him the ball I was screaming for him to use the full backs, both of them in acres of space, and was shocked when he did give it to Agger.
Yes he should have controlled it and moved the ball on, but what's the point in creating pressure on a player returning from injury when there were two better options for Reina.

For the record I'm a goalkeeper.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2008, 10:42:08 pm by harrytrow »
How come pointed questions recieve blunt answers

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #104 on: October 28, 2008, 09:54:31 am »
Yorkykopite
I'm not totally won over in your argument that it was totlly Aggers fault.

Yes his touch let him down, but before Reina gave him the ball I was screaming for him to use the full backs, both of them in acres of space, and was shocked when he did give it to Agger.
Yes he should have controlled it and moved the ball on, but what's the point in creating pressure on a player returning from injury when there were two better options for Reina.

For the record I'm a goalkeeper.

Never argue with a goalie Harry. That's a fact. However.....I'm a centre back and we have our points of view too  ;).

That was a regulation little roll out that Pepe did. He might be (slightly) criticised for not retreating quickly after the ball had reached Agger - to put a bit more space between them should Agger need to pass back in an emergency. But the original pass to Agger was the right one I thought. Zaki was nearish to him but nowhere near enough to really trouble him and Danny had options. Given the fact that Zaki committed himself, the best option would have been swift ball to Arbeloa which would have had the merit of truly eliminating Zaki from play (in a way that a straight pass from the goalie to Arbeloa probably wouldn't have). But he could have gone the other way as well. What let him down was a crap first touch which was probably the result of a complete lapse in concentration.

But straight afterwards the lad was wanting the ball. And that showed his real character. I wouldn't swap him for another centre back in the world game. Not even Nesta.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #105 on: October 28, 2008, 11:40:46 am »
I was always taught that if I'm to go for it go for it even if it means taking the cenrte half out of it. ;D

Your right and only for the first touch would have been ok
But I still maintain the ball wide was the option, if Zaki had chased it then the ball back to Agger would have been the follow up, and the best option for a forward pass is then from the centre of the field as it increases the options. He would have gotten the ball with more space to move it on.
The lad I think had switched off thinking the ball wide was what was coming and was taken aback when it came to him.


But i'm not one to rant when a mistake occurs when I'm playing.
We all know when we have fucked up and it's then a matter of regaining your composure as quickly as possible which the lad did.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #106 on: October 28, 2008, 12:28:00 pm »
Watching the Wigan game again I was struck by how little Agger did wrong actually. On second watch, although I thought he was also the guiltier party from their cross (it was his unecessary tackle that actually bounced off Dossena into Valencia's path, Dossena had defended the situation fine until that point) he didn't put any other foot wrong. He barely gave the ball away and was consistently dangerous in possession, throughout the 90minutes. It takes true class as well to back yourself in the way Agger did. If Carra had done something similar he'd have spent the rest of the game hoofing the ball on sight, Agger instead 'invents' an equaliser for us.

Sorry to post a link in here, but I just wrote a big article on our tactics that relates to some of the issues raised in this thread, and I think might be interesting to some of you http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=231088.new#new
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #107 on: October 28, 2008, 12:45:00 pm »
Should have posted it in here. It will be more appreciated
Only post two lines there - just like I have
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #108 on: October 28, 2008, 02:01:18 pm »
The AC Milan side of Arrigo Sacchi is known as a huge influence on Rafa’s ideas and methods, and he in turn was inspired by the early ‘total football’ sides like Michel’s Dutch side and Lobanyovski’s Dynamo Kiev. Many of these ideas, especially the defensive ones, underpin all of modern football. However, one crucial idea is rarely, if ever, implemented to its fullest extent.

Like that?
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #109 on: October 28, 2008, 10:16:41 pm »
yorky, i knew you were a centre half. i bet we would have been the dream pairing mate...

...on second thoughts, you'd have always been correcting my positioning though, ya bossy bastud

;D

skrtel's back in training soon by all accounts - some tough decisions of the kind any manager would like ahead eh? bet redknapp (or should i say "greyfriars bobby" as my mate has christened him due to his unflinching loyalty) wishes he had decisions like that to make right now.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #110 on: October 28, 2008, 10:29:46 pm »
yorky, i knew you were a centre half. i bet we would have been the dream pairing mate...

...on second thoughts, you'd have always been correcting my positioning though, ya bossy bastud

;D

skrtel's back in training soon by all accounts - some tough decisions of the kind any manager would like ahead eh? bet redknapp (or should i say "greyfriars bobby" as my mate has christened him due to his unflinching loyalty) wishes he had decisions like that to make right now.
pmsl
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #111 on: November 12, 2008, 02:30:14 pm »
skeever posted his interview with phil thompson today...

http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=231974.new#new

...and it made me think of a few threads, including this one...

http://www.lfchistory.net/redcorner_articles_view.asp?article_id=2245

---

The breakthrough...

I was always a midfield player. I was more defence-minded as a midfield player and every now and again if the reserves were short Ronnie Moran played me at centre-half. I played a few games, but I never played centre-half in the first team. When Larry Lloyd got injured and he was out for quite a while we had a guy called Trevor Storton who played and he didn't make a good job of it. Larry tried another comeback, damaged his thigh muscle again so lo and behold out of blue, Bill Shankly said to me: 'I want you to play centre back for the first team.'

That was not just the case of moving one guy back in defence, it shaped a whole new playing style.

Exactly. People always say it was the Dutch who gave Total football. I say it was Liverpool. Emlyn and myself were not centre-halves like Big Yeatsy, big Larry Lloyd just as a stopper. It was now a totally new ball game. It was Ray Clemence rolling the ball out to me or Emlyn and we pass it and we go across one side, we go across the other side. We'd probe and pass. We used to keep the ball for fun in those days. We always used Ray Clemence as an option. Pass it to him and he would throw it to the other side. It was always keeping possession of the ball. The decision shaped the way Liverpool is of now. We won so many trophies. People couldn't get the ball of us for minutes on end.

Bill Shankly was very forward thinking. When I played my very first game when I came on as a substitute against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Tosh had come off injured and Bill Shankly said to me: 'Play behind Kevin Keegan', so it would give us a bit of strength in midfield. So I was like "number 10" as people called. This was very forward thinking. Not many people had gone for that sort of role. It was quite modern and up-to-date in how he saw his tactics.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #112 on: November 12, 2008, 03:17:10 pm »
skeever posted his interview with phil thompson today...

http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=231974.new#new

...and it made me think of a few threads, including this one...

http://www.lfchistory.net/redcorner_articles_view.asp?article_id=2245

Cheers roy. Hadn't seen that. It's a lovely interview.

I remember Thompson as midfielder. He played centre midfield on the Easter Monday we beat Leeds to set us up for the 1973 championship. But, like he says, it was Shanks's decision to pair him with Hughes at the back that fundamentally altered the way Liverpool played.  I'd say it ranks as possibly the most important tactical decision made in the club's modern history. It really did set us apart from the rest of the English teams.

My understanding though was that Shanks had been thinking of doing this ever since Red Star Belgrade beat us twice in the European Cup in '74. I don't know who their coach was but the Yugoslavs came to Anfield and cleaned up. It was a similar experience to watching Barca beat Houllier's team and - dare I say it - Valencia under Rafa. On each occasion Liverpool - the team and supporters - knew they'd seen something special and knew that something had to be done about the gulf in class. (The Kop gave RSB a huge ovation at the end). Shanks's answer was to introduce two ball-playing centre backs. Without that innovation it's doubtful that we'd ever have fielded the Hansen-Lawrenson combo.   
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #113 on: November 14, 2008, 12:49:33 pm »
was a great interview, wasn't it?

seen this?

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-fc/liverpool-fc-news/2008/11/14/full-backs-can-still-go-on-attack-liverpool-fc-legend-alan-kennedy-100252-22257692/

--

Full backs can still go on attack

Liverpool FC legend Alan Kennedy
Nov 14 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo

BARNEY RUBBLE saw a blast from Liverpool’s illustrious past at Anfield last weekend.

And he’s hoping Alvaro Arbeloa’s stunningly struck goal against West Bromwich Albion will signal a return to a tradition which has been in hibernation for several seasons.

Alan Kennedy scored some of the most significant goals in Liverpool’s history – twice in European Cup finals and another couple in Wembley League Cup finals.

He is part of a dynasty of goalscoring Liverpool full-backs, pioneered by Chris Lawler, and continued by free-scoring defenders like Phil Neal, Steve Nicol and John Arne Riise.

Nicol even led the Anfield goalscoring charts at the beginning of the 1987/88 season, after scoring seven goals in his first seven games – a run which included a superb hat-trick against Newcastle.

But in recent seasons the goals have dried up from Liverpool full-backs. Last weekend’s strike was only the second of Arbeloa’s Reds career, while Fabio Aurelio has created plenty but scored only once.

“I love to see full-backs getting forward and linking up with the men in front of them, but I think the manager’s priority at the moment is to be solid defensively,” said Kennedy. “I always loved to get forward and I’d rather see full-backs being more offensive than defensive, but I think it is possible to combine the two.

“For me the two that do it best are Gael Clichy at Arsenal and Patrice Evra at Manchester United.

“Obviously I pay particular attention to full-backs, and especially left-backs with it being my position. I analyse them quite closely and they are about the best in the Premier League.

“But I’ve been pleased with what we’ve seen from Arbeloa and Aurelio recently.

“Both full-backs had to pick their games up, and the pair of them have risen to the challenge.

“Arbeloa has picked up his game nicely in recent weeks and it was good for him to score last week.

“Aurelio looks like he is the number one left-back at the moment and it’s always nice when you’ve got someone able to deliver the quality of cross that he does.

“I also like the way he has linked with Riera this season. We look such a better balanced side with Dirk Kuyt on the right and Riera on the left.

“I’d like to see Degen and Dossena putting pressure on Arbeloa and Aurelio for their places, but I think it’s fair to say that they didn’t do themselves any favours at Tottenham on Wednesday.

“I wanted Liverpool to go to White Hart Lane and show that they had real strength in depth. That didn’t happen but it wasn’t just about the full-backs. There were plenty of other players who didn’t do themselves justice on the night either.

“But let’s not write anybody off yet.

“There will be problems in the future with suspensions and injuries and there will be other opportunities for people to try and shine.”

One such opportunity will present itself at Bolton tomorrow.

With Arbeloa suspended as a result of collecting five bookings already this season, Rafa Benitez has a selection dilemma.

He could give Philipp Degen another opportunity to prove that Wednesday’s woeful performance was a one-off, shift Jamie Carragher across to right back and play Sami Hyypia alongside Daniel Agger – or take a different route altogether.

Kennedy prefers the last option.

“I’d love to see Stephen Darby get the nod on Saturday,” he declared.

“If I am being honest I haven’t seen an awful lot of him this season but when I have he has looked ready for the step up, and I’ve also heard a lot of very positive reports. I think he deserves a chance.

“Bolton are on a bit of a high and have, how shall we say, a few forceful players, but I think Stephen’s capable of handling that.

“I’d like to see youngsters like Stephen and Jay Spearing used a little more, but the manager knows the players better than anyone and I’m sure he will make the right decision because this is a vital match for us.”

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #114 on: March 23, 2009, 11:29:54 am »
For the first time in  a long time I'm not envious of the full backs of the other top teams. Arbeloa was simply brilliant yesterday in the way he overlapped and supported attacks (even if he did get a serious nose bleed towards the end of the first half). Fabio Aurelio, too, is playing majestic football. It's almost as if he's crossed a psychological barrier and he's sure, for the first time in his Liverpool career, that his superior technique can be converted into a Premier League weapon. Possibly it's something to do with feeling truly fit for the first time in years. But the movement off the ball of both players, the crispness of their passing and the adventure they showed (certainly against Villa) is making the pitch so much bigger for Liverpool than a few weeks ago.

Of course the greatest sight yesterday for anyone looking for an attack-minded defence was the introduction of Agger. Sure, Villa had been humbled by the time he came on and there was precious little defending to do. But the two forward runs he made in the last quarter were - hopefully - a taste of things to come. Is there anyone else - apart from Torres - who carries the ball so quickly at Liverpool? It's notable that our other centre backs are reluctant to carry the ball between opposing forwards even when those forwards are standing 20 yards apart from each other. Agger seems happy to go for the gap when the same forwards are a mere 5 yards apart. And by the time he's committed he's in full acceleration mode which means a stationary midfielder in the first line of four has no chance. I think we'll be needing more of this in the next weeks.     
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #115 on: March 23, 2009, 12:22:49 pm »
I am not a big fan of Arbeloa's but yesterday he was brilliant.

Looked to win the ball early and then got forward so well.  He was a menace and played Ashley Young well (if you are not gonna come back with me then your team will suffer).

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #116 on: March 23, 2009, 01:25:26 pm »
Well said yorky. As I was watching one of the highlights last night, I saw Arbeloa playing with that air of confidence and realised I wouldn't want to swap him for any RB in the league. He's great at attacking and works hard when defending. Then I thought about Aurelio and the way he's been playing lately. Defensively solid but great in attack- just great. 2 months ago I would have replaced both of them with Evra and Bosingwa. Right now, I wouldn't for shit- perhaps the Manc and the Chelsea player would be good options for the squad(!)- but for the way we play football- Arbeloa and Aurelio have turned out to be great fullbacks. Perhaps even the perfect ones. Not only capable of advancing our attacking football, but when they need to defend, they can take on the very best attackers in world football- Messi, Ronaldo, Robben et al- and come out on top.
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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #117 on: March 23, 2009, 02:03:03 pm »
I don't know about that Baz.  I think right back is a position we can certainly improve on.  Aurelio is an exceptional footballer but made of glass.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #118 on: March 23, 2009, 02:17:39 pm »
We might have to hold on the popping of the bubbly until we see how they do against packed defenses.
Now, previous games have been good and all but the open nature of the teams we have played has allowed our full backs to enjoy more space to do their thing.

Fulham on the 4th will be the true indicator of where our fullbacks are at the moment. If I had to make a prediction, I would still say that we may need to improve the right side and allow for Arby to be a utility defender.
I am not yet ready to give up on seeing Glen Johnson power his way down the right flank for us.

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Re: This season’s Defence – an Attack
« Reply #119 on: March 23, 2009, 02:32:45 pm »
I don't know about that Baz.  I think right back is a position we can certainly improve on.  Aurelio is an exceptional footballer but made of glass.

Funnily enough, I was thinking the complete opposite yesterday when watching Aurelio and Arby! That Arbeloa's brilliant for us, but perhaps we could improve on Aurelio (but only because he's injury prone).

In the last 2 seasons Arbeloa's turned himself into a proper RB who's very important to us. In this season he's gained that air of confidence- he isn't just a stop gap player who doesn't 'fit' into our team, but he belongs in our team. He plays like it now. I don't think he has much to prove now, and I don't think he does either. That's why he's now turning into a very good RB.

We could improve on both perhaps- bit more pace is the big one. I wouldn't though. I think they're good enough. We do need cover for Arbeloa though, but for the first team, at the moment, I wouldn't swap either of them for anyone. Sure you could put forward names like Alves, Ramos, Bosingwa, Clichy, Evra, Lahm etc. but I truly think that the defensive edge that our fullbacks will need means that actually, Aurelio and Arbeloa are pretty much perfect for our team. The likes of Alves et al would be much better in attacking football than our 2, but in terms of defensive solidity, they're nowhere near. We've got a great- perhaps perfect- mix of defensive solidity and attacking ability in our 2. Watching Aurelio is like watching Alonso at left back at times- but one that prodominently uses his left foot. Watching Arbeloa's like watching Riera- he has a great indirect effect on our attacking football- links well with whoever's in front of him or next to him and allows us to move forward. Not like Alves or Evra who are almost like wingers- whipping the ball in at every opportunity and showing that blistering pace- but they do the job well in our side.

It'll be interesting to see who Rafa brings in in that fullback area actually. Well, the wide areas in general right? I feel we need at least one player in that area- attacking midfield I'd say- who's able to be direct and take players on, but also able to link well with Gerrard and Torres in attack, and the likes of Alonso, Aurelio etc behind him.

I'm happy with our fullbacks. Not something I thought I'd be saying this season actually.
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