Sunday, December 23, 2012


Europe's meanest defences: Bayern, Juventus, PSG, Malaga and... Stoke (LAURA WILLIAMSON, 23 December 2012, Daily Mail)


Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth have started every Premier League game in central defence for Stoke this season. Compare that to Steven Caulker of Spurs, who has partnered Michael Dawson, William Gallas and Jan Vertonghen. [...]


Stoke’s back four seem to squeeze the final third of the pitch, leaving no space behind for their opponents to exploit. It took Tottenham at least 20 minutes to realise Jermain Defoe was not going to be effective playing as the most advanced striker because there was no opportunity to sprint on to a through ball - or anything delivered over the top. 

Emmanuel Adebayor was sent up to do aerial battle with Shawcross and Huth, but there was no chance for Defoe to pounce on the second ball.


Stoke’s right back on Saturday used to play for Rhode Island Stingrays. The USA international has been quietly impressive since his move from Houston Dynamo last summer. Not many players frustrate Gareth Bale so much that he moves to the right wing.


Aaron Lennon had no chance on Saturday, did he? Stoke’s back four lines up like a rugby second row: Cameron (6ft 3in), Huth (6ft 3in), Shawcross (6ft 3in) and Wilkinson (5ft 11in). They seize advantage at corners and set-pieces and force opponents to play the ball to feet.


Rodgers delighted with improving Downing (ESPN Star,  23rd December 2012)

Downing has now started seven of the last eight matches, five of which have come in the league after previously making just one start in the opening-day defeat at West Brom.

His brilliant reverse-pass was instrumental in setting up Steven Gerrard for Liverpool's important second after Martin Skrtel's superb volley.

Then came the moment he had waited for, smashing his first league goal for the club he joined in July 2011, before Luis Suarez scored his 11th league goal of the season in added time.

"He is a good guy, he comes in every day to work hard and you saw his technique and quality yesterday [Saturday] but equally important was his fight," said Rodgers of Downing's display.

"He was clever in his pressing and I spoke to him again the other day just to thank him because in the last few weeks he's played left-back, left wing and right wing and he hasn't moaned and groaned he's got on with it.

"He is playing well at the moment and he fully deserved his man-of-the-match award."

Liverpool's win moved them up to eighth, their highest position of the campaign, and within five points of the top four.

...that Downing had created 60 scoring chances since arriving but the team had converted none.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Stand-in Shelvey hailed after leading Liverpool to victory at West Ham (LAURIE WHITWELL, 9 December 2012, DailyMail)

‘In this country it’s always been traditional — the target man. 

‘But 20-year-old Jonjo Shelvey was dropping into midfield, combining to make the fourth man and being a threat when he was in the box. Great credit to him because there was a lot of pressure on him, people trying to compare him to Luis Suarez.’

Asked if he had feared the loss of the 13-goal Uruguayan would prove critical, Rodgers replied: ‘You guys did. For us there was no drama. My focus was about the collective. We must share the goals, we must share the workload. I had great belief we could create goals and score goals. Even without Luis you’ve seen the quality in the team and the fight.’

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