Opposition view: Liverpool
By Ric Turner, Sat 02 February 2013 11:57
Ahead of Sunday's game at The Etihad, Bluemoon caught up with Steven from RAWK to get the lowdown on the opposition...
What are your expectations for this season?
Well we've been so inconsistent that it's difficult to expect anything really. At time we've looked fantastic and rolled teams over, other times we've looked really poor and have been deservedly beaten. What I would say is that the only two teams that I'd say are certainties to finish in the top four are Man United and Man City, so there are two spaces up for grabs and five teams (Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Everton and us) competing for them. All five sides have played pretty inconsistently so it's definitely a realistic aim. If I'm honest I don't see us finishing in the top four, but I'd like to see us pushing hard for it up until the end of the season.
Are you happy with the manager?
Yes I am. He's brought in a system and philosophy that isn't uncommon at Liverpool, but he's doing it with a really young squad. He's put faith in the likes of Suso, Raheem Sterling & Andre Wisdom and they've repaid him, thus making the squad look healthier. He has made some mistakes but he's not stubborn enough to ignore these and he's changed things pretty quickly when they've not worked out. He's our forth manager since 2010 which is far too many so we need to stick with him, support him and give him time to succeed.
Who are your key players?
Well the obvious answer is Luis Suarez. Based upon last season, some (myself included) doubted whether he could be the 'main man' in terms of goal scoring. We've been blessed to have had strikers like Rush, Owen, Fowler & Torres who consistently scored goals, but I thought Suarez's finishing was too erratic for him to follow suit. However, this season he has been on fire and he just keeps scoring goals. I understand people don't like him because he dives, but in fairness pretty much every team has a player who we know has dived,in the past. I'm not defending it, but I think the press Suarez gets for it is exaggerated due to the whole Evra incident.
I know you guys rate Zabaletta highly, and I do too. I rate Glen Johnson just as highly. There's this perception that he isn't a good defender, but he can defend its just we ask him to get so far up the pitch that he is sometimes caught out. That isn't down to him though, the manager wants our full backs high up the pitch. Going forward he is brilliant and it's great to have a genuine goal threat in the full back positions. Injuries have meant that he's had to play a lot of games at left-back and he's done well there, but when he plays right-back he is fantastic.
Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?
Absolutely. We got stung in the summer when we let Carroll go and waited too long for a replacement so it was nice to see us getting the deal for Daniel Sturridge done early. You guys will probably agree that Daniel has got a lot of talent, and he hasn't really had the opportunity to show it other than during his loan spell at Bolton. We badly needed another striker to help out Suarez, especially because Fabio Borini got injured very early on in his Liverpool career. Sturridge provides us with a lot of options as he can play both wide and down the middle so he and Suarez can change position during games, which will make them difficult to mark. Add to that, he'll score goals and scoring had been a problem for us prior to his arrival. We've also signed Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan, who looks to be a decent prospect, and hopefully he will settle in quickly and provide even more us with another attacking option, as we've been forced to play Raheem Sterling a bit too often for such a young man.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
A lot of the highly rated young lads like Sterling, Suso, Wisdom and Robinson have featured this season already so you will probably be aware of at least a few of them. A couple you may not have heard of are Krisztian Adorjan who is a young Hungarian midfielder who looks to have very good technique and also a player called Michael Ngoo who is a big centre forward who we've just loaned to Hearts.
Your Achilles heel?
Inconsistency and the ability to make stupid mistakes. We've looked comfortable in games at times (such as being 2-0 away at both Everton and Arsenal) only to end the game without a win. For a team that is so good in possession, we really need to take the sting out of games better by simply keeping the ball better when we are in front. We've also conceded some pretty poor goals either due to individual or defensive errors. Off the top of my head I can think of:
Tevez's goal for you lot when Skrtel played him a perfect through ball.
Brad Jones's spill which lead to Oldham's Matt Smith scoring his side's second goal.
Two poor goals conceded from set pieces against Arsenal and Man United away.
There are loads more too, and it's tough to legislate for them. I never feel comfortable of us keeping a clean sheet, regardless of the opposition and that's a big worry for us.
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
Tough question as your side is full of quality. You have some really good players, but if I had to choose one I'd go for Yaya Toure. He is a real dominating midfielder and I think he'd be perfect for us.
What is your perception of City as a club?
Well you've spent a lot of money and that's got you success, although your owners do seem a bit more 'football savvy' than Abramovic at Chelsea who makes some really odd managerial decisions. What I would say is that spending so much money brings a lot of pressure as you're almost expected to win trophies regularly now and that isn't easy. The only negative is that you seem to stockpile players at times, and it's a shame to see the development of players like Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell being halted to sit on your bench and play reserve football. I don't say that as an England fan by the way as I don't really follow the national team, I just like to see young players developing and it looks like those two have chosen money over playing regularly, which is a shame as both are very talented.
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
I think we'll set up in a 4-2-3-1 with Reina in goal, a back four of Enrique, Agger, Carragher and Johnson. Gerrard and Lucas as the two, Downing and Suarez wide with Henderson playing in behind Sturridge. I think we'll lose as well. I think we'll go 1-0 up with a Suarez goal and then you'll beat us 2-1. I just don't trust our defence to keep a clean sheet, and goals against us come like buses. None for a while then a couple in succession.
Enjoy the game!