Monday 27 November 2017

Five things we learned from Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea

Liverpool’s familiar defensive fallibility ruined what was otherwise an excellent attacking performance, which utterly mocked Chelsea’s now-fatally wounded hopes of winning the Premier League.

A 1-1 scoreline was considered par for the course by many neutrals ahead of Saturday’s evening clash, but five key talking points emerged from the maelstrom of Anfield.

Not worth the width without Moses

Antonio Conte’s tactics rightly came in for some scrutiny in the aftermath. Though finding himself with a lethal triumvirate of Liverpool attackers, Davide Zappacosta endured a torrid evening at Anfield. Ever faithful to his wingback system, Conte fielded a side that lacked the balance Victor Moses would typically provide, placing Zappacosta in Moses’ usual position.

Chelsea were, ultimately, very fortunate to escape Merseyside with a point. If the West London club was to have any realistic chance of closing the gap on the Manchester clubs above them, then three Anfield points were a must-have. Following Chelsea’s failure to take all three, the markets for spread betting with Sporting Index now show a further reduction in the buy/sell price of a Chelsea title win.

While Chelsea are sufficiently talented to use of that system without Moses in home against weaker sides, Conte must find viable alternatives for places like Anfield.

Conte must utilise depth sooner... and sell Drinkwater for his own good

Though not a key part of Chelsea’s latest setback, Conte’s hesitancy to make vital changes was cited as one of the reasons for his team’s below-par showing. It took seventy-four whole minutes of football for Conte to act upon Danny Drinkwater, who appeared a man utterly lost amongst a sea of high-tempo Liverpool midfielders.

Within ten minutes, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Davide Zappacosta had also exited stage left. It was a curiously close-knit sequence of changes for Conte, which ultimately reeked of desperation and belied his status as a reigning title-winning manager.
While some would argue that it is unfair to single Drinkwater out for criticism, especially when Bakayoko was culpable for Liverpool’s goal, his overall performance showed exactly why English players will never fit in at Stamford Bridge under the current regime.For the good of his career, Drinkwater must move to a club that will better benefit from the strengths he flaunted while at Leicester.

NEWSFLASH: Liverpool need a new centre back

As usual, Liverpool’s attacking players emerge from a failure to win with clear consciences. While it would be easy to focus on Chelsea’s weaknesses rather than Liverpool’s strengths, it was – once again – an avoidable defensive failure that caused Liverpool to drop two vital points.

The nature of Willian’s equalising goal further embossed the existing belief that Liverpool are nowhere near good enough to challenge for the title. As a result of their collective failure to avoid defensive mistakes at the worst moments, Liverpool continue to be linked with a number of centre-backs to improve the current situation.
Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk remains interminably linked to an Anfield move, and the rumoured £70m it will take to lure him to Merseyside appears to be a snip, when one considers how often Liverpool’s attacking prowess is nullified by avoidable errors.

Gomez is the future of LFC

Perhaps the only Liverpool defender to emerge with any credit, Joe Gomez became a man on Saturday night. Now, through thick and thin, Klopp must build a new-look backline around him over the next two years.

Dealing with a front three containing Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard is never an easy task, even on home soil. Yet, despite the glaring disparity in playing pedigree between Gomez and those decorated two, the Catford-born defender never once shirked his duty.

More clarity is needed on hand-ball offences.

Liverpool could easily have been out of sight long before Willian’s equaliser. Twice the Kop bayed for a penalty after a Chelsea handball in the area, but to no avail.
The subject of handballs – and how they differentiate from accidental ball-to-hand flashpoints – is an age-old debate, but it is a subject that now needs a clearer party line from the relevant authorities.

Author bio

A graduate of Staffordshire University, Tamhas Woods has a wealth of experience in sports writing and creating betting-related content.

Monday 20 November 2017

2.10 Lingfield, Tuesday, November 21

The Betway Handicap (2.10) at Lingfield on Tuesday is competitive enough, numerically, but looks a decent opportunity for Middle Kingdom to open his account on Polytrack. John Gosden’s 3-year-old lost his unbeaten record in a 0-105 contest at Chelmsford 12 days ago, but only went down by a head and half a length on that occasion and drops back into 0-95 company here, off an identical handicap mark. Indeed, the War Front colt is entitled to improve for the Chelmsford run, his first since April, and remains unexposed after just three career starts. The form of his Newmarket win in April has been franked by the second, Euginio, and third, Bin Battuta, who are now officially rated 107 and 98, respectively, so it will be disappointing if he cannot resume winning ways in this lesser contest.

Selection: Lingfield 2.10 Middle Kingdom to win 11/4

Monday 13 November 2017

England vs Brazil - Tuesday 14th November

To be fair to England, after a fairly rocky start they didn't have an entirely abysmal performance in the Germany game on Friday. In the second half especially they showed promise, and of course in true England style, there was a golden opportunity to win at the very end of the game - and we ballsed it up! Jordan Pickford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek really impressed, and there is certainly some cause for optimism since this is a largely inexperienced team compared to previous incarnations.

Just days later, on Tuesday they now take on another top world team, this time Brazil. Despite being another home game, punters seem confident that this task is a bridge too far for England, and as such they're currently 7/2 to beat Brazil. Brazil are 4/5 to win and the draw is 5/2.

Gareth Southgate, no doubt buoyed by the Germany draw, is not holding back from further mixing it up and England Under 21 side Lewis Cook, Dominic Solanke,  and Angus Gunn may well feature. Eric Dier is expected to remain captain. Phil Jones is injured. Many fans will be pleased to see new blood given an opportunity at this level though, rather than some of the 'big names' who have let us down more times than not in recent memory.

Brazil have a good run of competitive friendlies ahead (England, Russia, Germany) after an easy World Cup qualifying group and so are clearly going to give this maximum effort. Coming off the back off an effortless win against Japan, coach Tite is expected to field a top class side. Neymar and Paulinho must be up there as potential goal scorers with the latter available at 7/2. That would probably be my bet here if I was to show an interest. Enjoy the game!