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Analysis: Bolton 0-1 LFC

86 minutes of frustration, followed by 8 minutes of exhuberant celebration as we left the Reebok Stadium yesterday.

Liverpool, on the whole, were lucky to win – and Bolton fans will have been in no mood for hand out any more goodies to trick or treaters that night after we had already left with the sensational treat of 3 points.

The reds registered only their 3rd victory in 10 Premier League games.  And although the rise to the dizzying heights of 12th can improve the mood, it is also a clear reminder who quickly we can once again fall back down there.

Because 18 competitive games in to Roy Hodgson’s reign at Anfield, the quality of football is showing a continuing trend in mediocrity.

With an outstanding talent such as Martin Kelly ready and able on the bench, Roy once again elected to utilises Jamie Carragher on the right wing.  A position he can no longer perform at when Liverpool need to go gathering points.  His inability to support Rodriguez in front of him, and similarly with Konchesky on the left, have turned the reds in to the wingless wonders. But without the wonders.

Liverpool’s most succesful Premier League campaign two seasons back saw the club operate a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Liverpool now have two banks of 4, so close to each other that they may as well be classed as an 8, with an enormous gap to Torres.  One of the fans on the forum accurately depicted Liverpool’s new formation as

4-4-1————–1

And sadly that isn’t far wrong.  On only two occassions in the entire game did Cole and Rodriguez actually get down the line and play a cross in to the penalty area.  Neither found a Liverpool player.

We compared a couple of stats with last season’s corresponding fixture (with the occassionally unreliable Chalkboards admittedly).

Liverpool passed the ball some 250 times less than the last fixture, yet bizarrely made more unsuccesful passes.  The reds previous tactics of midfield domination, playing high up the pitch and pass and move has been replaced by hit and hope, and play down the middle.  With no support for Torres on the wings, with his back to goal, trying to bring the ball down and fend off two or three defenders – it is no wonder he looks nowhere near the player from previous seasons.

Reina saw much more of the ball, but rather than electing to build up play like last year the reds now adopt a strategy of long punts upfield.  Only twice did this strategy find a Liverpool player.  Usually Torres who would then be pounced upon.  The red arrows indicate the failed hoofs.

Kyrgiakos and Skrtel have both had impressive starts to the season and have arguably been two of only three players able to hold their heads high at present.  Carragher’s selection at right back is a poor tactical choice by Roy.  Against Bolton he was often beaten for pace, at one point in the first half he was skinned over only 10 yards.  He fails to overlap with Rodriguez on the wing and whenever he did find himself advanced to the half way line – his preferred method is to play the ball back.

In all Carragher played around half the number of passes as Johnson did in the same game last season, and failed to use the wings effectively to get crosses in to the box.

But a major worry for Liverpool will also be Gerrard’s reduced involvement in play with the reds new more direct approach.

Gerrard sees a lot less of the ball under Liverpool’s new system.  Without wingers pushing forwards he has nobody to pass to out wide on the wings, forced to keep the ball moving through the middle – much easier to defend against.  Whereas most of his play used to be 15 yards outside the penalty box he now barely gets a touch in that position.

Unfortunately Liverpool’s problems are not rooted in playing Torres up front on his own, the reds problems are mainly tactical.  Liverpool are not playing positive attacking football but relying on two banks of 4 players, rigidly fixed in position – failing to move up the pitch quick enough.  They play too deeply, and the right and left midfielders (because they are not playing like wingers) are not being allowed the freedom to move forward.

The so-called attacking midfielder (Gerrard) is sitting only 5 or 10 yards in front of the midfield and the striker is isolated.

Liverpool won at the Reebok because Bolton’s attackers were poor and because Torres, with a moment of magic, produced a backheel that nutmegged a defender.

If our top footballers continue to be asked to play pub football for the next 18 games then expect another stack of shocking results like we have had so far this season.

  • colin

    Good analysis!! has this article been passed onto Henry prior to his meeting with Roy? We are playing horrible football. There is simply no creativity from the wings and simply long balls to Torres. Torres now is assisting to create goals rather that score. Good but that’s not what we want! This is not the style of football we used to play. Roy needs to leave.. pls…

  • GREGSTA

    …but I does anybody really try to tell me that he isn’t almost a brickwall back there? why am I the only one seeing paul stopping the attacks back left? 2. 4-4-2… Man City 3 LFC 0… yeah we played 4-4-2 this season but with the wrong 2. striker: TORRES! He hasn’t been half as much in form than N’Gog has been the whole season and we saw it with the first touch he made in the game after he came in he is the one with the motivation and will to bring us back up there!

  • GREGSTA

    maybe somebody can tell me why Torres is so far outfield instead in the middle trying to run through in the box? It’s just so many things that are so obvious for example Torres just beeing completely unmotivated with his halfhearted runs and attacks towards the goal… I’ve seen some comments in another article about perhaps we should play 4-4-2 and get rid of konchesky, are you having a laugh?! 1. konchesky is a better leftback then aurelio ever could be if he’s better then Agger is in question

    • SOAR

      Torres is not Emile Heskey. He is not supposed to have his back on the goal, catches speculative long hoof balls, hold the ball while our midfield make the 20 minute journey to the box. He thrives on simple crosses, through balls and anything in the six yard. If the manager himself cant see that, despite his 35yrs experience, how can you blame Torres? Re Konchesky, you’re surely kidding. As bad as we were last season, Insua were the fifth ranked LB in the league while Konc is not even top ten!

  • ChriS

    I feel the Premiere league this season is overall competitive but the standard poorer, which makes our position all the more depressing..as the english media were promoting the anti rafa mob last season, its if their darling hodgson and his “judge me after 10 games” quote backfires on him (so dont moan at the fans if they jump on the “anti-woy” bandwagon now, because this time the criticism is more than justified)..
    as a life long RED its hard to take , since the 60′s , when weaned on Shanks mentality and supporting each REDS team ..encouraging any player that wears the LiverBird on their chest ..and whoever managed that team, until now, I cant enjoy it..my heart wanted a win, and as always although I want my team to play beautiful footy i’d take a scambled win..a steal like sunday…but I cant imagine iin my head being truly “happy” whilst that man is sitting in the managers seat.. Pepe , as usual, great , Sotos, Carra & Skrtel defending well, Lucas is getting better all the time (IMO) ..and starting to show some “command” in his play (obviously being picked for Brazil is also helping him) ..our big guns SG & Torres off form, Torres still dont look 100% fit to me, that explosive pace not yet seen this season..I just hope its not lost due to those successive injuries..BUT his “flick” was class..and Ngog did more for the team in his Cameo than Cole had done until then..Konch,,ok at home, but perhaps like his continued boss, not an “away day” lover…Meireles is the one i am unsure about..good last sunday but yeeterday worked hard, but at times looked lost..

    tryting to avoid bias is difficult , but my feeling is that hodgson has proven that there is not one thing about him thats good for LFC (that is the LFC i want to support) ..the “10 games” gone by, and I feel that the “success ” of recent wins are more down to the team than to “tactics” …and I dont see a strategy ..
    i cant being myself ever to want to lose , but rh is no our man, he was appointed by the “corrupt regime” ..and like that nightmare, i want it to be over and him gone, i’d rather have NO coach than someone who disgusts me as he does, and makes me not want to even look or listen to his interviews or post-match “opinions” ..oh…man of the match…
    ….THE TRAVELLING KOP, made it sound like our home game, best to all of you who were part of that , you deserve much much more!

  • samuel charles

    paul konchesky is the worst or close to one of worst liverpool player ever, he is dreadfull. why did we pay close to 3 mill , sorry but he i gos so crap its dire??????? roy has to

    • Angelos

      Emiliano Insua is much better and has the potential to be one of the best left backs in premier league

  • Mike

    It doesn’t matter at the moment how we win, we just need to win, we outplayed Blackburn and beat them 2-1 and that was called a battling result, Chelsea squeeze past them and that’s called champions grinding out results. In the premiership anyone can beat anyone on any given day, I’m seeing progress and that’s all that can be asked for. I can think of nothing more embarrasing than switching managers twice in a year, we are not Notts county, we do not want a conveyor belt of managers, have faith

    • SOAR

      We outplayed Blackburn? lol.
      We were decent in the game, and actually took the initiative to attack for the second time this season (thefirst being in the second half of the Arsenal match). But to say we outplayed them is stretching it a bit far, fella

  • Steve

    Sorry, I’m not discounting the hard work you put in breaking down the passing, the formations, and the comparisons to last year. It’s all very useful and enlightening. I just believe that it’s a work in progress, not a finished product, and that we’ve yet to see the best of this group.

  • Steve

    And if we beat Napoli on Thursday (in Serie A top 4, not to be sneezed at), all of a sudden we will be “in form” or “much improved”, and then Chelski will have to contend with a Reds side that’s confident, scrappy, full of fight, and playing at Anfield. I think the Blues will have more than they want to deal with on Sunday. I’ve had enough negativity via Dumb & Dumber, and I’m tired of it from fellow “supporters” as well. Support means positivity, not this pessimistic crap you’re writing.

    • Will

      Just a small note, and call me picky if you will, but Napoli are currently 5th in Serie A.

  • Steve

    Wow, you guys are negative. 6 points against Blackburn and Bolton are 6 points regardless of your overanalyzed tactics. I think you would rather see us have 6 from 10 rather than 12 from 10 so that you can further your “Roy out, KK in” agenda. The man has won championships in Europe, coached Inter and not a few national teams and (OMG!) took Fulham to the Europa League final last season, even though they finished 12th domestically. Cheer up. Europe in some form calls again; have faith.

    • http://www.anfield-online.co.uk Anfield Online

      Unfortunately not as negative as Roy’s football currently.

      We don’t have any ‘agenda’. We want Liverpool FC to be back up fighting for the top four and the title. Not scraping past West Brom and Bolton.

      • Steve

        That’s fine, I want that as well. But did you realistically think it was going to happen overnight with the previous owners’ debacle they had to fight through? Give it some time, man. I, too, would love to have at least 20/30 points, but it didn’t happen, and I see no reason why you want to throw the club back into managerial turmoil after 4 months in the job. LFC needs stability, not “let’s throw out the manager” every time there’s a bump in the road, which causes more bumps.

        • Will

          In fairness, Roy said himself to judge him after 10 games.

          12th place, 12 points and -4 goal difference just isn’t good enough. I’m sure it’s fine at Fulham, but not Liverpool. We need strengthening – no doubt – but the squad of players we have is better than that. I personally don’t have belief in Roy’s negative tactics. I am yet to be convinced he’s the man to take us forward.

  • Joe

    Is it too late to bring back Benitez now? He was a capable tactican (a well abused one too, but a very capable strategist). We need someone who is actually capable, not just someone English. This is a football game, not supposed to be racist. What’s with going English policy? EPL is supposed to be the best league in the world, why are we moving backward? Going English policy, cos England won the world cups… eh no?

  • Stefan

    I agree with editorial and you Michael, this win was not convincing. But i think we should give Roy until Christmas. From the beginning he warned the LFC fans not to expect to much. If we loose or draw more then 3 games the next 3 months i say Roy has to go. But until then, lets give him a chance.

    • SOAR

      “From the beginning he warned the LFC fans not to expect to much”

      And accept the mediocrity of being in mid table?
      How utterly preposterous…

  • Michael Comino

    I am so pleased that others see the same things I do. How long can this continue? The fans can see what is wrong, so why not bring in King Kenny? It’s an itch all Lfc supporters need to scratch. I fear Purslow was more concerned with how powerful King Kenny might become if he became manager. After seeing how passionate the fans can be after the H&G show. They may feel any decision to remove him later on if he doesn’t appear to be quite up to the task could be met with a back lash. I hope not!