Casting Klopp as an evolving innovator
Seb Stafford-Bloor writes an interesting article that essentially tells us that staying still is going backwards in football.
I think his description of the Atletico game relies on it being a somewhat distant memory.
xG map for Liverpool – Atletico Madrid
sometimes in football, one keeper has a great game, one team takes a few great shots, the better team doesn’t win pic.twitter.com/L64tmtFENH
— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) March 11, 2020
This xG graph shows two things; that Liverpool would normally have scored three and should not have conceded two and also that our shot location is exceptional. Shots taking place outside the box or beyond the width of the goal posts often signify a lack of penetration or creation. We tore Atletico apart but the difference overall was the keepers; Oblak did to us was Alisson had been doing to everyone else for a couple of years.
In terms of the idea that Liverpool performed well without refreshment because they had a bitterness to avenge; that idea might hold some weight and only time will tell. Maybe we only won it in Madrid because we lost it in Kiev, and by the same token perhaps we are only winning the league this season because we had such an exceptional nearly the year before. That said Klopp doesn’t strictly need a transfer to change the dynamic of this team. He could start to experiment with Trent in central midfield or Curtis Jones could take one of the midfield spots in more games of significance. Harvey Elliot could also test the resolve of the wide two of the front three whilst Brewster might get more of a chance if we are selling Shaqiri or Origi this summer.
There’s a lot of experience in football that broadly shows us that players get bored of hearing the same thing from their coaches. Ferguson is the only manager that I recall who successfully rebuilt and reset but I wonder if that reflected his ability to adapt as the game evolved instead of his ability to buy and sell players. Maybe at the end of his 20 years in charge we see three different sets of players winning the league and assume that’s where Ferguson’s success lay. Perhaps we should be admiring three teams who won the league in wildly different circumstances. When Klopp joined Liverpool we played wild and seemingly chaotic football. In the past two years we have moved to a more sophisticated approach. I wonder if the way Klopp refreshes is to vary the style of football once more, either by coaching them to play a new way or maybe to even consider a big tactical transformation next season.
Ndidi v Fabinho
In light of the recent debate regarding the best defensive midfielder in the league, I thought I’d share some cold hard facts to put things straight. With the decline/change of position of Kante and Fernandinho, I think it’s safe to say the best DM this season is between Ndidi and Fabinho. But who has been better? Let’s find out.
(All stats are from premierleague.com)
Ndidi – 23 (20 starts), 1892 minutes
Fabinho – 20 (15 starts), 1444 minutes
Let’s consider their performances in four areas: Defending, Attacking, Team play, Discipline
Clean sheets: Ndidi (8) v (3) Fabinho
Goals conceded: Ndidi (19) v (16) Fabinho
Blocks: Ndidi (6) v (1) Fabinho
Interceptions: Ndidi (61) v (23) Fabinho
Tackles (Attempts): Ndidi (91) v (41) Fabinho
Tackles won: Ndidi (47) v (23) Fabinho
Clearances: Ndidi (46) v (13) Fabinho
Headed Clearances: Ndidi (16) v (5) Fabinho
Aerial battles won: Ndidi (59) v (31) Fabinho
Error(s) leading to goal: Ndidi (1) v (0) Fabinho
Goals: Ndidi (2) v (1) Fabinho
Minutes per goal: Ndidi (946) v (1444) Fabinho
Shots: Ndidi (18) v (8) Fabinho
Shots on target: Ndidi (3) v (2) Fabinho
Shooting accuracy (%): Ndidi (21) v (40) Fabinho
Hit woodwork: Ndidi (1) v (0) Fabinho
Assists: Ndidi (1) v (1) Fabinho
Big chances created: Ndidi (0) v (1) Fabinho
Passes: Ndidi (1149) v (1102) Fabinho
Pass completion (%): Ndidi (84) v (85) Fabinho
Forward passes: Ndidi (327) v (267) Fabinho
Backward passes: Ndidi (147) v (145) Fabinho
Through balls: Ndidi (2) v (2) Fabinho
Crosses: Ndidi (2) v (8) Fabinho
Fouls: Ndidi (34) v (23) Fabinho
Yellow cards: Ndidi (3) v (5) Fabinho
Red cards: Ndidi (0) v (0) Fabinho
There’s no category where Fabinho is outstanding while Ndidi blows him out of the water in Defending stats. Yes, Liverpool are more dominant in games than Leicester and perhaps require fewer defensive actions, but you would expect Fabinho to be more involved (and superior) in building up play and have more passes, assists, chances created etc. Except he isn’t. A look at the the attacking and teamplay stats reveals a common theme for Fabinho: limited usefulness. Master of nothing.
Fewer bookings for a lot more fouls also suggests Ndidi is more effective at breaking up play with cynical fouls – a vital skill for a side looking to dominate – without attracting penalty. In all, of the four categories, I’d say.
Overall: Ndidi (3) v (1) Fabinho
Make of that what you will but Ndidi is clearly the best defensive midfielder this season. I’d say he’s in the top four overall for all midfielders in the league alongside De Bruyne, Henderson and Grealish.
Speaking as a fan of a competitor club to Chelsea, who has shared a manager with them: I’m always boggled when people talk Willian down. I’ve seen a lot of that across the letters page from the fans over the years and they surely know their players better than others do. But whenever I’ve seen him in action I’ve always thought he is a livewire, an upsetter, and you can always guarantee he will go forward, cause problems for the fullback and create opportunities for his centre forwards. I hate to see him subbed on against us – and it is usually subbed on and not starting.
My view is that from the Special One onwards, his managers have distrusted his talents for some reason (balance of the team? not following instructions? not tracking back?) but he’s actually a bit like ‘Le Tissier for England’. Le God should have played in every England match he was eligible for, but for some reason the managers of the time felt his face didn’t fit. Willian was no Le Tissier but I do think he was three times better than his own club thought he was.
Van’s the man
Can’t help feeling like ‘van’ is the cheat code for Jamie Wiles’ V-Team.
If there were a team that represents your insufferable mate who always has some smart argument for why he’s right and your wrong, it would be the V-Team using the ‘van’ prefix to roll out four of the five best Dutch players in Premier League history, some other still very good Dutchmen then combine it with a couple of other Premier League legends and Antonio Valencia (lol) to beat your carefully constructed and researched team.
The true Europa League champions
After Friday morning’s long list of teams who would have ‘won’ the Champions League by defeating the defending Champion it made me curious as to how this would work with the Europa League, naturally this competition started in 2009/2010 so I don’t need to do such a long list as I would do for the Champions League, but here we go, I must note my own rules I am applying;
– I am “ending” the competition once the defending Champion is beaten, to make it a cleaner list.
– If the team that “won” it the season before are not in the Europa League the next season, then whoever won the tournament will be the winner
2009/10 – Atletico Madrid (2-1 against Fulham in the Final)
2010/11 – Aris Thessaloniki FC (Beat Atletico in the opening Group game)
2011/12 – Atletico Madrid (Aris failed to qualify)
2012/13 – Academica (Beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 in the third group game)
2013/14 – Sevilla (Academica failed to qualify)
2014/15 – Feyenoord (Beat Sevilla 2-0 in fifth group game)
2015/16 – Sevilla (Feyenoord failed to qualify)
2016/17 – Manchester United (Sevilla failed to qualify)
2017/18 – Atletico Madrid (United failed to qualify)
2018/19 – Chelsea (Atletico Madrid failed to qualify)
Well that was certainly interesting, a few surprise winners, I would go back through the UEFA Cup years, but I just don’t have the patience.
All of the belts
Just wanted to say after seeing my and the other two responses (including from the OP) on the linear champions league champions, I was amused to see three different lineages.
This probably explains why boxing is such a mess.
Geraint (throwing stones from his glass football stadium), Swansea
New pet peeve
This will probably get lost due to the return of actual football but…lately I keep reading the word “vertical” in relation to forward thinking players. Just today I read Johnny Nic’s piece about Henrik Larsson where he´s described as aggressively vertical. I understand the word vertical to mean up. Like, skyward. In fact, the definition of vertical is “at right angles to the horizontal plane” i.e. the pitch. So, when I see players being described as vertical, especially aggressively so, I imagine them leaping into the air and fucking off over the tops of the stands.
Can’t we just say forward? Please?
Alan, (nothing to do on a Sunday), Cordoba
It’s coming home
Wait, what’s that? Football’s back on the telly soon. Yes, but it’s been back on for a while, just in other countries. Ah right, I thought we must have invented football again or something.