Liverpool Scouting Report: Reviewing the Threat Posed by S.A.S.
When Brendan Rodgers departed Swansea for his adventure with Liverpool following Kenny Dalglish’s shambolic reign, his team’s performances put him under a lot of pressure and a seventh placed finish last season didn’t go down well with the fans as they had only improved their league position by one place.
In the match between Chelsea and Liverpool in Stamford Bridge last season, Luis Suarez hit the back pages for his cannibalistic act that saw the FA slam a 10-man ban on the Uruguayan which dented his chances of winning the Golden Boot as well as the PFA Player of the Year award as he put up outstanding performances all season long. In Suarez’s absence, Liverpool found a new lease of life in attack as Daniel Sturridge and Phillippe Coutinho in particular flourished as the Reds finished the season strongly.
Following the departure of the club’s stalwart, Jamie Carragher, Rodgers invested heavily in his defence, bringing in Simon Mignolet from Sunderland, Kolo Toure on a free transfer from Manchester City, Aly Cissokho from Valencia, Thiago Ilori from Sporting CP and the surprising capture of Mamadou Sakho from Paris St. Germain.
Rodgers also invested in attack bringing in Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas from Liga BBVA outfits as well as an eleventh hour loan move for Chelsea’s Victor Moses. With Suarez set to sit out on six league matches the baton was passed to Sturridge and boy, did he deliver or did he deliver?
Right from the first game of the season against Stoke, Sturridge blasted in a long range strike picking up where he left off in the previous campaign. The goals kept piling up for Sturridge in industrial quantities and every team became mindful of the threat he posed.
His finishes against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace saw the Englishman showcase his dribbling skills, his finishes against Manchester United and Swansea showed his quick improvisation. His goal against West Brom was a stuff of legends.
After his off the pitch shenanigans which saw a failed pursuit from Arsenal, Luis Suarez returned to football action in the Capital One Cup third round against Manchester United but his rustiness was on show as he struggled a bit in attack. However, he had a happier return to Premier League action as be bagged a brace against Sunderland which was followed by a determined finish against Crystal Palace.
Last weekend, Suarez smashed in the first hat-trick of the Premier League season against West Brom which showed the world that the S.A.S. combination is the most ruthless strike force in the Premier League.
The success story of Suarez and Sturridge can be attributed to Brendan Rodgers change of tactics following Suarez’s return to first team action. The Liverpool gaffer began the campaign with a 4-3-3 setup with Sturridge spearheading the attack while supported by Moses and Coutinho but an injury to the Brazilian schemer paved the way for Iago Aspas, that’s currently injured.
Rodgers now employs a new look 3-5-2 formation that has been very successful for Juventus in the Serie A. The three-pronged defensive pairing of Giorgio Chiellini, Leandro Bonucci and Andrea Bargazli serves as a solid base for the Italian outfit but at Liverpool, these positions are manned by Mamadou Sakho on the left, Kolo Toure on the right and Martin Skrtel playing the sweeper role.
These center backs are supported by two wingbacks that have dual personalities as full backs and wingers depending on the position of the ball. Jose Enrique was one of Liverpool ‘s standout performers last season but his place is currently threatened by the arrival of Cissokho that hasn’t done badly in the game’s I’ve seen him play. On the right Glen Johnson continues to maraud the flank providing support in attack and defence.
In front of the back three, Liverpool fields a midfield triumvirate composed of Lucas Leiva and the legendary Steven Gerrard in the deep-lying roles while Jordan Henderson plays at the tip of the midfield triangle. Moses was given a run out in the position but he has struggled but word on the street is that the No. 10 position would be handed o Coutinho when he returns to full fitness.
While Lucas does the dirty work in midfield, Gerrard’s distribution has been a major highlight in Liverpool’s renaissance as his deliveries from set pieces have been class acts all season long.
With the S.A.S. in scorching form, the Gunners would have their work cut out for them and it promises to be a very interesting game of football.
The match preview for the Liverpool game comes up in tomorrow ‘s post.