Thursday, March 12, 2015

Upward and Onward: Scott on Liverpool's Run of Form

photo by extranoisevia PhotoRee

Absence is said to make the heart grow fonder and my brief absence from posting to this prestigious blog has found me smitten with how Liverpool are playing, that Blackburn black eye notwithstanding. Brendan Rodgers tinkered with formations and lineups to help the Reds emerge from their late 2014 downward spiral and now sees his charges conceding fewer goals, scoring more and, most importantly, winning. No losses so far in 2015 and, aside from the aforementioned FA Cup debacle at Anfield, they have played some of the best soccer in the EPL of late. Exhibit A was their comprehensive victory over a Manchester City side that was beginning to hit full stride with a healthy Sergio Aguero. One can only hope that Blackburn was a hiccup and this improving run of form can carry them to a Top Four finish.

Still, there are issues to resolve. For one, how does Rodgers rotate and rest players like Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, especially with the injury bug ravaging several key players like Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva? Getting bounced from the Europa League, after the sting passes, should actually be helpful to the long-term financial fitness of the club as fewer games and less travel bodes well for a strong finish and a coveted UCL place, with its monetary benefits.

In the meantime, the return of Daniel Sturridge, while undeniably giving the team a boost, has presented Rodgers with a new puzzle to solve - how to fit last year's 20 goal scorer back into the squad without upsetting the equilibrium so recently restored. Statistics have been put forth illustrating that Sturridge does best with a strike partner up top but the formation that righted the ship plays with only one. Decisions, decisions...