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Posts Tagged ‘Jonjo Shelvey’

Liverpool’s resounding win against Norwich City last weekend was supposed to be a catalyst for change, the fixture that ended a terribly unlucky start to the season and start to the Brendan Rodgers project at Anfield. The word project perfectly fitting because of the long term nature of the task that faces him. In his first few months in charge, noticeable changes have taken place. Rodgers wants to implement a style of play which proved so effective at Swansea, but to achieve this, a revamp is a must. Out with the old and in with the new has been the running theme over the summer in Merseyside.

Long road ahead: Rodgers at the start of his journey at Liverpool

Players like Andy Caroll and Charlie Adam, who were brought in during Kenny Dalglish’s period in charge, have been axed as the new manager seeks to bring in the right footballers for what he is trying to achieve. Changes to any team will always mean a time of transition, it will inevitably mean an unsettled time as new players adjust to their new environment. Having said this, no one would have predicted such an unsettled start to Liverpool’s campaign. Before the weekend just gone, they had played five Premier League games, losing three and without recording a win. Performances have not been bad, but luck has been far from them, as Rodgers continues to reiterate.

A 5-2 win at Carrow Road on Saturday changed that and finally gave Liverpool the domestic win they deserved, after harsh results against ManCity, Arsenal and Man United. It seemed their luck had changed and their season had re-started. Udinese did not read the script though, ahead of their Europa League fixture with the Reds on Thursday. In particular, their striker Di Natalie who’s class and experience lent a hard lesson to an experimental Liverpool team. Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard took their places on the bench before the game – a decision by the manager that will no doubt be argued by many – nevertheless it was a Liverpool team which included quality and more significantly a team of players keen to impress. The first half saw Liverpool boss Udinese in front of an ignited Kop crowd. A 23rd minute goal for Jonjo Shelvey was the first of what could and maybe should have been a few first half goals for Liverpool, who failed to capitalise on their neat play. Their luck worsened within a minute after the break when the timeless classic that is Di Natalie stepped up to equalise for the visitors. Further pressure and unconvincing defending led to a second for Udinese via the headed own goal of Sebastien Coates on the 70th minute mark, and a third two minutes later from Giovanni Pasquale.

Period of transition: Rodgers has had to deal with the problems left by the Dalglish campaign before initiating his own plan

The result proved the hangover from Dalglish’s time in charge remains. The fact is it may not be a physical problem anymore than it is a psychological issue that Liverpool are not winning games that they should. They have often been without luck already this season but that will not hold up for very long with the Merseyside faithful. The issue may be a lacking winning mentality that has been left to linger like a bad smell over Anfield, a problem that Rodgers will need time to fix.

The question is, how long will he have before criticism is directed at him and the lack of luck excuse is no longer in place? Sitting 14th in the league as they go into the third month of the season, Rodgers will know results must pick up soon.

 
Written by Alfie Long. See more of his work at: pitchsidetalk.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter @pitchsidetalk
 
Edited by Charlie Cook @charlie_cook09
 
Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!

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Everton provide blueprint that others should follow

In an era when having two managers in a single season is normal, it is remarkable that David Moyes has manged to spend 10 years at Everton. The chairman, Bill Kenwright’s faith in Moyes, and his undoubted ability are the key to Everton’s success so far this season and in the past decade. Moyes has never had much money to spend, in fact he has only had a net spend of £14 million pounds while at Everton. Despite that, he has transformed them from a team battling relegation to one currently sitting in 3rd place in the Premier League.

Everton’s lack of funds has led many to suggest that their squad lacks depth. This is the case to some extent, but every season despite losing key players Everton become stronger and this season they have more quality beyond the first team than many give them credit for. Jelavic has proven himself as an impressive goalscorer since arriving from Rangers, and he has been joined in the attacking ranks by his former partner at Rangers Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas who was brilliant against Swansea. It looked like the absence of Jelavic for that game at Swansea on the weekend would be a big loss, but Anichebe was a more than handy replacement. They are also well stocked in defence too, with Distin, Jagielka and Heitinga an imressive trio of centre-backs. Everton have a number of players that are versatile enough to play in a various positions, meaning that injuries have less of an effect. Phil Neville can play anywhere across the defence and in the midfield, Fellaini can play up front or in midfield and Jagielka can even play in goal, as Arsenal fans will remember when he kept a clean sheet against them back in his Sheffield United days. These are just a few examples.

Admittedly Fellaini and Pienaar are vital to this Everton side. The diminutive South African adds that touch of class, cutting in from the left flank, he is their creative spark and Marouane Fellaini the afro-haired Belgian has the ability to bully sides off the park as he did against Manchester United on the opening day. Like many sides, they will need to be lucky with injuries to keep this brilliant form going, but it would be harsh to say their squad lacks depth.

I am not suggesting that Everton will win the League, or necessarily even a finish in the Champion’s League places, but they have already shown that they are quality side and they will continue to grow under David Moyes. Their success is a direct result of Bill Kenwright’s trust in his manager. He has given him the time to improve the squad and implement his plans and it has undoubtedly paid off. He is the 3rd longest-serving manager in the Premier League and has recently become one of only four managers to amass 150 Premier League victories joining Harry Redknapp, Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson. This Everton blueprint is one that other teams in the Premier League would be well served following. It may well be one that their Mersyside neighbours may need to adopt to achieve their former glories.

Short supply of luck in Liverpool

It is clear that Liverpool need a finisher, they are 3rd for number of shots per game yet they are lying in 18th place with only 4 goals. It is also clear that Brendan Rodgers only let Andy Carroll go because he was of the assumption that Clint Dempsey was on his way to Anfield.

Liverpool’s bad luck continued on the weekend. Like the Arsenal and Manchester City games previously, they were the better side for much of the game, but on this occasion their inability to score goals was not the sole reason for their downfall. The key decisions of the game went against them. The referee Mark Halsey, in my opinion was very poor. There were two key decisions that changed the game. The first was the red card for Jonjo Shelvey. It is clear from the photo (above) that if Shelvey deserved a red card then Johnny Evans did too. If anything, Evans’ challenge looks worse, it could easily have gone the other way with Man Utd being reduced to 10 men had Shelvey been the one lying on the floor after the challenge. Even after Shelvey’s dismissal Liverpool looked dangerous, but Mark Halsey came to United’s rescue again awarding a very debatable penalty. Glen Johnson was stupid to put his arm across Valencia’s back, but the contact was minimal and not enough to warrant a penalty.

If the defeat wasn’t bad enough, Martin Kelly suffered an injury that could see his season over, Daniel Agger will be out for at  least a week with a “heavily bruised knee”, and Fabio Borini is out indefinitely. Brendan Rodgers has had a difficult start to his tenure at Liverpool, but he has been unlucky. He is trying to transform this Liverpool side and it will take time. Let’s hope John Henry and Tom Werner take a leaf out of Bill Kenwright’s book and give it to him.

Arsenal 12/13 are better than Arsenal 11/12

It seems that Arsenal have solved all the problems from last season. They looked shaky at the back, they lacked structure in the midfield and they were almost devoid of creativity. These are all overstatements that were toggled by the media and fans throughout the season. The one thing that everyone agreed on though, was that Arsenal had the best striker in the league.

What was clear from the game against Manchester City at the weekend, was that Arsenal are more solid at the back now, Steve Bould has obviously made a big difference. They have only conceded 2 goals in their 5 games as opposed to 14 at this stage last season. Per Mertesacker looks to be the player to have benefited most, his intelligence and ability to read the game was evident with 7 interceptions at the Etihad. Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs have also improved remarakbly, they were a constant threat down the flanks and looked far more composed in defence.

Much was said about Arsenal’s lack of a defensive midfielder to start the season, but Wenger’s choice to replace Alex Song with Mikel Arteta has been a master stroke. Arsenal’s midfield looks to be more structured with Arteta in that role, as he is more disciplined than the wandering Song. He is also more efficient with the ball, he made 100 of his 106 attempted passes against City. Diaby too has been a revelation. On the weekend Yaya Toure only really managed to influence the game when Diaby left the field. Aaron Ramsey also had a good game, he will be hoping that he can finally put his injury hell behind him. Santi Cazorla has perhaps been the most important addition to the Arsenal midfield. He provides the creativity that has been missing since Cesc Fabregas left. Wilshere and Rosicky are back in training too and the talented Oxlade-Chamberlain is currently on the bench so there are more options waiting in the wings.

The problems from last season, seem a long way away. Unfortunately, so does the best striker in the league. The one thing Arsenal didn’t need fixing in 11/12 is now missing in 12/13. Arsenal’s most wasteful player, Gervinho, played up front against Manchester City. It would be hard  not to argue that if a certain RvP had been in his place then Arsenal would have won. The Ivorian’s all round play was good, but his finishing was atrocious. Olivier Giroud has failed to find the target and may need more time to adjust to the Premier League. Podolski seems to have slotted in perfectly forming a brilliant partnership with Cazorla, but Wenger seems reluctant to move him from the left flank. It is clear that Arsenal look a far better team than last season, but if they want to truly challenge for the title then they will have to find someone to “score when he wants”, like van Persie did.

Just one final thought…

Sunderland have drawn their opening four games of the season, but with Steven Fletcher in red hot form and Adam Johnson returning you would definitely fancy them to beat Wigan at the Stadium of Light. Maybe have a save some money for a cheeky bet on Fletcher for first goalscorer too.

Wouldn’t be surprised to see home wins for Arsenal, Everton and Stoke either. May be worth an accumulator.

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For many it’s a mystery that why Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has no hair, the young midfielder suffers from a rare disease known as “Alopecia totalis”, in which there is a complete loss of hair.

In severe cases the disease causes loss of eyebrows and eyelashes too, famous Italian referee “Pierluigi Collina” is another sufferer in the world of football.

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