Saturday, August 23, 2008

So Is McClaren.....

The Joker in disguise?

Well, there are more. Just not football related but if you guys persuade enough maybe I'll put them on. Heh!

Some Opta Stats I've Found

Was browsing through the net for some interesting statistics and here is what I've found:

Opposition shots on target allowed

Liverpool 90
Chelsea 121
Arsenal 128
Manchester United 130
Everton 132
Aston Villa 147
Middlesbrough 157
Sunderland 159
Wigan Athletic 161
Tottenham Hotspur 172
West Ham United 174
Bolton Wanderers 175
Blackburn Rovers 177
Portsmouth 191
Newcastle United 192
Manchester City 200
Fulham 202
Birmingham City 214
Reading 223
Derby County 236

This was taken from the whole of last season and we can see that Rafa's tactics is really about closing opponents down and limiting them to as few chances as possible. Well, easier said than done, isn't it? For all of Chelsea's organised and 'world-class' mercenaries, allowed 34% more shots on goal.

It's surprising because Liverpool seldom 'park the bus' in front of the goal and with so much emphasis on attack last season, it is really surprised to see this piece of statistic. Of course, this superiority didn't count in our 'Goals Conceded' column as we indeed, conceded more than Chelsea.

Here are more for your information:

Goals to shots ratio

Aston Villa 17.57%
Arsenal 15.64%
Tottenham Hotspur 15.53%
Everton 15.24%
Manchester United 14.63%
Birmingham City 14.60%
Chelsea 14.32%
Manchester City 13.93%
Newcastle United 12.53%
Liverpool 12.52%
Reading 12.35%
Middlesbrough 12.25%
Blackburn Rovers 11.88%
Portsmouth 11.68%
West Ham United 10.97%
Bolton Wanderers 10.62%
Fulham 10.35%
Sunderland 10.06%
Wigan Athletic 9.37%
Derby County 6.94%

Shooting accuracy

Manchester United 47.53%
Everton 46.81%
Tottenham Hotspur 46.12%
Birmingham City 45.40%
Aston Villa 44.80%
Manchester City 44.27%
Arsenal 43.97%
Bolton Wanderers 43.95%
Blackburn Rovers 43.94%
Chelsea 43.83%
Middlesbrough 43.02%
Newcastle United 42.90%
Fulham 41.96%
Derby County 40.28%
Liverpool 40.00%
West Ham United 39.95%
Reading 39.76%
Portsmouth 38.93%
Wigan Athletic 38.84%
Sunderland 38.27%

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Second Season Syndrome? Not For Torres

Fernando Torres Magic Seals Opening Win

English Premiership

0 -1 Liverpool


As Fernando Torres and his fellow Liverpool players stepped out of the Stadium of Light for the opening fixture against Sunderland, fans of the Reds will be hoping that Torres will once again be Liverpool's hero while the skeptics will be rubbing their hand in glee as they expect the Spanish hotshot to show the symptoms of the 'Second Season Syndrome (SSS)'.

Well, that's something which most fans are familiar with, seeing the likes of Marcus Stewart and Sunderland's very own Kevin Philips having the season of their lives before faltering away in their next campaign.

Torres came to England with a reputation and prolific in scoring is anything but. In his Athletico days, he wasted far too many chances and was dubbed as a profligate. But his first season at Anfield was a revelation and though he didn't set the world alight at the European Championship, he scored the most imporant goal that gave Spain their first ever taste of success in the competition since God knows when.

Despite his vast improvement as a player, doubtors are still around to put him down and suspected that he will not have an easy 2nd season in England, with defenders knowing him inside out finally.

Well, they're probably half-right.

Torres, thought didn't contribute much to the game, came up with an absolute cracker to give Liverpool all 3 points in their opening game. As the commentator summed it up perfectly, that was the only significant thing he did the whole game and it's just the one that counts at the end of the day.

Without a shadow of doubt, that is a making of a legend and I'm definitely not hyping this up. You don't expect players to perform at their best game in, game out but all you need is a little bit of sharpness and effectiveness. Torres showed just that.

Rafa Benitez would be relieved to see his side claim all 3 points as Liverpool, who looked uninterested at times, huffed and puffed their way to the finishing line. Without the magical touch of Torres and the much needed introduction of Xabi Alonso, it would've been just another away game for Liverpool, like how they used to do it all the time.

The first half was exactly how Liverpool looked like they were all of last season in their away fixtures. Passive, lacking the drive and energy and most of all, lack of urgency. It looked like there was no cohesion in the team and the passing was absolutely dreadful.

With Carragher and Dossena punting long balls ahead for Torres and Keane, the strikeforce is always going to be second best and until the last 10 minutes of the first period, Liverpool failed to sustain any sort of pressure or getting any sort of momentum.

Sunderland on the other hand, were aggressive and looked more likely to get any breakthrough. They played some lovely football with Steed Malbranque displaying some of his nifty touches and Richardson troubling Alvaro Arbeloa with his direct running.

12 minutes in and Sunderland nearly took the lead through Daryl Murphy but the gigantic striker failed to gather enough power or direction to beat Pepe Reina. That was a warning sign for Liverpool but the visitors failed to wake up.

Yet it was the introduction of Xabi Alonso at half time that was pivotal and turned the game around indirectly. He dictated the tempo of the game well and Liverpool finally looked to have got the upper hand.

Yet it seeemd as though it wasn't going to be Liverpool's afternoon as a Dirk Kuyt's strike was fumbled away by Craig Gordon and just as Torres was about to follow up, Robbie Keane was at the wrong place at the wrong time and the duo that was supposed to form a strike partnership, got into each other's way.

The Liverpool record signing of this summer was subdued and as space in and around the Sunderland defence was premium, he was left isolated and Nyron Nosworthy kept him quiet throughout. He was eventually replaced by Nabil El-Zhar.

Yet Liverpool believed and poured men forward. Xabi Alonso nearly caught Gordon out with an audacious shot from the half-way line. Reminsce of goals against Newcastle and Luton emerged.

Just right after that, Torres came out of the shadow and totally silenced the Sunderland faithfuls with a peach of a strike. He received the ball just outside the penalty area and with much confidence, he let fly and it went to the bottom right of Gordon's goal.

Totally unsavable.

It was just a show of his class and the midas touch of his. You could tell that he's totally delighted with that strike and probably deep down, he's glad he scored in the first game. He'll of course hope that he'll keep this momentum going.

Not the most beautiful display of football but the Liverpool fans should be happy with the 3 points. But they should be slightly worried with the performance in the first half as they looked totally toothless and clueless.

Most importantly, it'll be interesting to see how the Keane-Torres partnership will forge in the coming months after that 'miscommunication'. Here's hoping that it's just a minor hiccup and as the season goes on, they'll gel and form a deadly strikeforce. The sooner, the better of course.