FantasyYIRMA GW36 Review: Getting yourself ‘Transfer-Window’ ready…

It’s that time of year again when the Sunday papers cram their supplements and pull-outs with a deluge of tips on getting ‘Beach-Body Ready’. They once again perpetuate the myth that a few lunges and squats combined with kale and papaya juice will turn the body you’ve been moulding since last November with pizza, chips, beer and crisps into a replica of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or Kelly Brook, all within four short weeks. It is of course an utter nonsense. Anyone who follows ‘The Rock’ on Twitter will know that his fitness regime would make US Marines walk away shaking their head in disbelief. I personally would much rather drool on my pillow at 3.30am and scratch my arse on my couch at 9.30pm rather than hit the gym and lift things heavier than the planet Venus. My body reflects this level of dedication too, and I’m comfortable with that. Yet clearly the media moguls put these supplements in each year because it helps sell the papers, which means there are LOADS of people out there that fall for this claptrap.

To be fair, the professional footballers of #FPL carry out a similar charade at this time of year as GW36 demonstrated clearly. Of course they’re all physically sculpted by virtue of being professional athletes, but many decide that they want to get ‘Transfer Window’ ready. Instead of lunges, squats, kale and papaya they spend a few weeks scoring goals, providing assists and showing a level of gumption and motivation that was bewilderingly absent between GW1 and GW35. Don’t believe me? Well here’s my proof:

Dusan Tadic had 3 goals and 3 assists in 33 GW’s in which he featured in almost all, yet has 3 goals since GW34. What’s that you say? His team may be relegated? He knows he’s better than the Championship, but needs to attract attention ahead of the Summer Transfer Window? Well whad’ya know…welcome to the party Dusan. If I were a Southampton fan I’d cheer every goal and assist between now and the end of the season while simultaneously giving him the finger. This isn’t ‘digging deep to save the club he loves’, this is ‘digging deep to save his own arse’.

There are FOUR Crystal Palace players who scored double digits in GW36, a statistic that has gasted my flabber completely. Now I’m not saying all four are mercenary like our good friend Dusan Tadic, but you have to wonder at their sudden motivation after a quite rotten season. Wilfried Zaha grew up around the corner from Selhurst Park, so he get’s an honorable exception with his 14 points, but Patrick Van Aanholt (13 points), Mamadou Sakho (12 points) and James McArthur (11 points) may well have realised that while their Premier League status is secure, they’re still being managed by The Hodge, and when you’re managed by The Hodge, you really want to get out of Dodge…

Leighton Baines (12 points) has missed almost half the season through injury, but since his return he has 43 points in 7 GW’s. Sure, he’s an Everton stalwart who must love the club after hanging around for so long, but he’s also spent half the season looking at Big Sam’s massive head, his jowls flapping in the wind as he chews what I can only presume is gum, but could quite easily be part of the enormous chip he has on his shoulder. There’s no harm in making yourself ‘Transfer Window’ ready for one last payday and to escape Big Sam’s gravy gulag is there? Idrissa Gueye (11 points) might be looking to hang onto Leighton’s coattails as he’s suddenly scored 24% of his full season points in the last three GW’s. Coincidence? As Buffy The Vampire Slayer once said:

Giles, there are two things I don’t believe in: coincidence and leprechauns

Quite.

Plenty have lauded the effect that Darren Moore has had on West Brom since he was placed in temporary charge following the unfortunate ‘incident’ we’ll just call Chunky-gate. Many have called for him to be given the job permanently when their inevitable relegation is finally confirmed, but I would advise that people start to view the recent Baggies Bounce through my eyes. Sure, Darren seems a lovely fella and the players seem happy to try harder for him…but right now they’re all trying harder for themselves, and themselves only. They’re doomed, they know it, and they know what the wages are like in the Championship compared to the Premier League. West Brom players right now are like the ‘gentleman’ in the ‘Titanic’ movie that wangled his way onto the lifeboat carrying a child that wasn’t his ahead of women and children that should have had been saved. Matt Phillips amassed 11 points against Newcastle, scoring only his second goal of the season while holding a 3 year old West Brom fan in full replica kit.

Titanic Man
You have to save me, I’m far too good to go down…

Cecil Fibreglass, sorry, Cesc Fabregas has had a disappointing season by his usual standards, but that can be explained. Y’see, a few months ago the Chelsea lads decided that Antonio Conte was annoying them and they fancied a new gaffer who might be nicer to them. So the Chelsea lads do what the Chelsea lads do and decided to down tools for a bit, like they did to Jose that time. Unfortunately for them the job they thought Conte would leave for has been taken by Roberto Mancini which means that the gaffer may be around next season after all, so a WhatsApp message was sent around advising everyone to start putting in a shift again. This explains the recent upturn in Chelsea form, and why Cecil scored 10 points this week.

Finally Paul Pogba (10 points) has been the subject of transfer rumours for months now. His relationship with Jose Mourinho is more complicated than a Mormon with 10 wives going on an episode of First Dates. Pogba’s recent upturn in form could be driven by his determination to convince Jose that he’s the man for the future…or it could be driven by his determination to be viewed as another De Bruyne / Salah when he’s flogged by Jose and then goes on to thrive in the future. Either way, he’s also ‘Transfer Window’ ready.

I normally discuss the Villains of the Week now, but in a way everyone I’ve discussed this week could be viewed as that…but for the record Pablo Zabaleta racked up his FOURTH negative points total of the season with -2 against Man City. I’m not saying he’s not ‘Transfer Window’ ready, but the blinds are drawn, the shutters are closed and he lives in a basement. Finally Marc Albrighton was sent off against Palace to score -2 points. He has an excuse though. It’s hard to play football when you’re wearing flip-flops with an inflatable ring around your midriff while drinking a Pina Colada through a straw. Here comes the summer!

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FantasyYIRMA GW32 Review:

There’s one life lesson that we should all pay heed to: If an Austrian man nicknamed ‘Arnie’ has a grudge against you, then be afraid…be very afraid. He could be a cyborg from the future looking to destroy/save the past/future (I’ll be honest, I was young watching the Terminator movies and I’m a bit hazy on the details).

It could also be a West Ham United player with bundles of talent but who sometimes lacks motivation…until he sees Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes in the opposite dugout and decides that he has a point to prove. On Saturday Marko ‘Arnie’ Arnautovic terminated the last remaining shred of managerial credibility Mark Hughes possessed as he plundered 2 goals and 3 BPS against a sorry Saints side to keep the Hammers faithful happy (or at least quelled their urge to rampage…for a week at least).

So in summary, don’t annoy an Austrian named Arnie! Or any Austrian with a first name beginning with ‘A’, come to think of it…..

Before we move on from the London Stadium, we should also acknowledge the other two Hammers who bagged double-digit scores – Yes, THREE West Ham players scored double-digit scores! Who said rioting locals can’t motivate the players, eh? Arthur Masuaku will have been spitting chips at his recent 6-game ban (well, he was spitting something to get the ban in the first place), but he returned to register his fourth clean sheet and third assist as he cleared his throat loudly…to remind everyone he was back. Finally the favourite player of Nintendo’s iconic Italian plumber also racked up 10 points thanks to a goal and 2 BPS. Next time Super Mario finishes a level, just listen as he raises his fist in celebration and proclaims ‘Joao! Mario!’ at you…

Kasper Schmeichel is a player that I just can’t warm to I’m afraid. It’s nothing to do with him per se, it’s more to do with the fact that he reminds me of how old I’m getting. I can’t handle watching the sons of Premier League stars of my youth strut their stuff. Christ on a bike, I’m still waiting for his Dad to make a comeback for one last hurrah. Surely he wouldn’t do any worse than Wayne Hennessey, right? I remember watching Sky Sports in my teens and seeing a young Kasper playing ball in the Old Trafford tunnel with Tom Ince. They were about 7 years of age. At this rate I’m half expecting to see the grandson of John Barnes roaring down the wing for Liverpool as I unwrap one more Werther’s Original to gum on before I sip my cocoa and shuffle off this mortal coil. Anyway, I digress. Kasper saved a penalty against Brighton to preserve a clean sheet (something that’s harder to do as you get older I find…I’ve said too much) and grab 15 points for himself. Jaysus, his father must have been getting a million points a season in his prime, eh?

Spurs are having another outstanding season and over the last couple of games have decided to show Daniel Levy that he should take £120,000,000 for Harry Kane this summer as they clearly don’t need him. No, really. Three goals at Stamford Bridge, with two of them scored by the man they’re going to name part of their new stadium after. Forget ‘The Harry Kane Kiosk’, or the ‘Jan Vertonghen Veranda’. When the fans go for their refreshments in the new White Hart Lane, they’ll queue up for lukewarm Bovril and soggy pies in the Deli Alley. Honestly, if that doesn’t happen then Spurs should be disbanded as a club. The real Dele Alli scored a worldie followed by a scramble to ratchet up 15 points for the 11.9% of FPL players who kept the faith with him.

Speaking of ownership percentages and keeping the faith, just 2.9% of players own Alexis Sanchez. TWO POINT NINE PERCENT. Oh how the mighty have fallen, but with a price tag of £11.5m and a points return of 129 for the season, you can see why. In fact, while he scored 14 points with a goal, an assist and 3 BPS I still judge those stubborn enough to keep hold of him. You can spot these people in real life easily enough. They’re the ones at the penny drop machines in the arcades who plough £25.78 into the machine because there’s a bunch of pennies worth £0.58 ready to drop, and then celebrate when it finally happens. They also voted for Brexit and are most likely serving in Government right now. Oooh, that’s a good Freedom of Information request! Let’s see the FPL teams of the Tory Government! Bet that’ll be an eye-opener…

Our next weekly star is a player who I personally brought in and immediately handed the armband. Now I’m not bragging because I even tried to help everyone who follows me on Twitter. I put out a cryptic clue on Friday about this player, and those of you clever enough to have worked it out will have immediately bought him and reaped the rewards. Here’s the clue (and a reason why you should immediately follow me on Twitter):

Aubameyang Clue

Now let me break it down for you: Golden (Au) Ethnic Minority (BAME) Half Of A Chinese Philosophy (Yang); Au-BAME-Yang. Ta-da! (More) proof that I’m weird, and proud of it. Two goals and 3 BPS a handsome reward for all of you who followed my lead (for the record, nobody officially ‘got it’ on my timeline).

Final mentions for David Silva who is making a late run to make any coronation of Kevin de Bruyne as POTY look foolish, and Ben Chilwell who was once on the radar of Liverpool and could have been ‘Andy Robertson’. 11 points for each.

Nobody in negative points territory this week, which doesn’t make for a lengthy Villains of the Week section, but never fear because as my mother says…’There’s always one’. Step forward Mr. Glenn Murray, who missed a crucial penalty at home to Leicester City to drain his points total quicker than the bank account of a Bitcoin investor. Is there anything worse than a seagull ruining your weekend? When one sh*ts on you, it is NOT good luck, no matter what those ‘old wives’ say.

FantasyYIRMA GW 31 Review: All Hail The Egyptian King…

With just four matches taking place in GW31, the word ‘strategy’ was used frequently among the FPL community this week. Some had been planning for this for weeks, strategically bringing in crap players, sorry, players from teams such as Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Huddersfield with this week in mind. Others were reaching for their ‘Free Hit’ chip and loading up on 12 crap players (Damn! Sorry!), players from ‘non-fashionable’ clubs to add to their three Liverpool sure-fire bankers. Yes, that says bankers. Some even chose the strategy of ‘doing nowt’, hoping that a team consisting of less than a handful of players might avoid a massive red arrow of doom.

Ironically none of the above strategies mattered…as long as you captained Salah. Don’t say this column didn’t warn you!

Mo Salah

The debate surrounding the ‘Footballer Of The Year’ award is going to come to a head in the coming weeks as the ‘De Bruyne / Salah’ debate rages on, where one party is going to be aggrieved no matter what the result. However in FPL world, the results are already in. All hail Mo Salah! Y’see in FPL it’s not about cups won, it’s about points won, and he’s now 83 points ahead of KDB this season. Yes the Belgian has a game in hand put he’d want to be putting in some shift to make up 83 points…

Against Watford we finally saw Mo Salah doing what he’s been threatening to do for quite a while – he tore an opponent a new one. 4 goals. An assist. 3 bps. TWENTY NINE POINTS (In the style of the old BBC Videprinter – ask yer Da).

The remaining stand-out players in GW31 all had ownership under 10% (which is becoming standard in this bloody game at this stage). James Tomkins scored over 20% of his full seasons points with a goal, clean sheet and 3 bps to break Huddersfield hearts and give Crystal Palace a chance of staying up this season. The b*stard (Sorry, not sorry). Cenk Tosun has responded to Sam Allardyce calling him ‘rubbish’ by being not rubbish and grabbing two goals at Stoke. I’m not saying he damaged Stoke irreparably, but he did a damn fine impression of a bull in a pottery shop to smash their hopes of staying up.

Andrew Robertson was purchased from Hull City for £8m last summer by Liverpool. Liverpool then sold Kevin Stewart to Hull City for £8m in return. THAT, Mr. Trump, is what you call ‘The Art Of The Deal’. In fact I’m ashamed to call it a ‘deal’. It’s blind robbery. A long-con of epic proportions. It would make Cambridge Analytica blush. Robertson’s cross for Mo Salah’s second was so beautiful that it can blind you by looking directly at it. I know of men who have left their wives and children to run off with that cross. It helped Mr. Robertson to 11 points. Swoon.

Jordon Ibe was also sold by Liverpool in the not too distant past and for the majority of the time since, it looked like Liverpool had once more gotten the best part of that deal. However Jordon grabbed his second goal of the season to go with his six assists to grab 10 points against the not so ‘boinging’ Baggies. With form like that Herr Klopp must be crying salty tears into his coffee when he considers he could have kept Ibe and not bought Salah….ahahahahahahahaahaaaa!!!!

Junior Stanislas has shown real form in recent weeks and another 10 point haul will have really pleased his Dad, Stanislas Stanislas. At least I think that’s what his Dad must be called, right? You get called Junior when you have the same name as your Dad? Maybe he’s called Senior Stanislas? Imagine if they brought that custom into Scandinavian culture, where I believe that your surname is derived from your fathers name. Henrik Larsson’s dad was called Lars. Anders Svensson’s dad was called Sven. Bring in the ‘Junior’ custom and in three generations you’d have everyone in Scandinavia and Iceland called Juniorsson. It would be a nightmare for football commentators in the 2042 World Cup.

Finally we have Luka MiliVanilli Millvilleneuve Milivojevic of Crystal Palace, a man who has 106 points for the season because he turns up and scores penalties. No really, that’s all he does. Assists? Pah! Luka laughs at the mere thought. He’s there for the penalties and nothing else interests him. He scored his 8th of the season out of 9 attempts. The one he missed? Oh, it just would have beaten Manchester City. No big deal….

So we come onto our GW 31 Hall Of Shame, and this week we have one ‘winner’. This is a man who has had an unbelievably sh*tty start to 2018. To begin with, he plays for Stoke. He started the year with Mark Hughes as his manager. He then had Paul Lambert take over. That’s bad right? Oh you haven’t seen anything yet. He sits on the bench or out of the squad most weeks, but when he does get his chance he has a public row with his teammates over who should take a crucial late penalty to defeat a relegation rival, misses the penalty, moves slower than tectonic plates to the rebound and costs his team a win. He then sits on his arse for a few more weeks, and gets ONE LAST CHANCE when he starts in another huge relegation battle against an Everton team who enjoy playing away as much as Theresa May enjoys EU Summits. After 29 minutes, with his team in the ascendancy he goes in studs up on Wayne Rooney to earn a straight red card. His team go on to lose another crucial game. Then, to round off his utter humiliation NASA find the ball that he blootered over the bar in the 2012 League Cup Final penalty shoot-out against Cardiff City. It’s on Mars. No, really, it is.

Mars Ball

Charlie Adam ladies and gentlemen. And you thought YOU had a hard weekend?

FantasyYIRMA GW 30 Review: From Russia With Love…

Regular readers of this column will know that I am firmly of the belief that this game of FPL trolls us, in a myriad of ways, and with no sense of justice or fairness. It’s almost certainly a complex Russian algorithm designed to drive over 5,000,000 of the global population to drink. Combine that with the Russian algorithms that got Trump elected, Brexit passed and Paddington 2 to be ignored for the Oscars, and it’s clear that the ‘Beast from the East’ is not a bloody snowstorm.

Kane got a point and injured. Aguero injured in training. Salah was crushed under the Mourinho bus. Chelsea clean sheet gone in the last minute. Davies not in the squad…As I stood on the ledge of the highest building in Cork I realised that I now know how those traders on Wall Street feel when the market crashes. However I also realised that I have a Free Hit and Triple Captain chip to play, so I’m still here ready to fight on.

Incredibly it’s one of the best weeks of the season for the quantity of players that hit double figures – a whopping 16 players scored 10 points or more. However just 4 of those players had ownership of more than 10%. Damn you Moscow!

David Silva had been absent in recent months due to the premature birth of his child, which as absence notes go is a bloody decent excuse. Hopefully things have worked out well in that situation, for David has returned to the Man City team with gusto, and his 16 point haul at The Britannia has brought his team to within 6 points of the title. He’s matched on that points total by Kenedy, the young Brazilian on loan from Chelsea. What’s that I hear you say? Young, talented and not getting a game for Chelsea? He’s the next De Bruyne! Salah! Lukaku! Well he did a decent impression of them this week with 2 goals and 3 bonus points.

I’m not saying that Arsenal have been in poor form, but Barnet (bottom of League 2 with 7 league wins) asked for a behind closed doors practice game to boost their players morale. People see that win over AC Milan as a sign that Arsenal still possess quality, and perhaps they do, but you should remember that AC Milan are playing Fabio Borini at right-back these days, so y’know…Anyway, a friend of mine is in a tight race in his FPL mini-league and took a punt this week when be brought in Peter Cech to face Watford. He was handsomely rewarded with a 15 point haul thanks to a clean sheet and a first ever penalty save at The Emirates. I asked my buddy how that left things in his mini-league and his response said it all: ‘Cech, mate’.

Chris Wood of Burnley scored 2 goals, provided an assist and picked up 3 bonus points, all in the space of 29 second half minutes at The London Stadium. You might think that’s impressive, but you should realise that one of those goals was assisted by West Ham fans invading the pitch, and the other was straight from a corner kick taken from the centre circle. To say things got out of hand on Saturday afternoon is an understatement. There were tense scenes as a large group of people gathered in front of Lady Brady looking for an improvement in their lives, something to give them hope for the future…but that’s all I can tell you about the next series of The Apprentice. She then went to watch West Ham play and you know the rest.

Finally the South Korean bid for World Domination (see last week’s column) continued as Son scored twice and racked up another 15 points. It’s rumoured that he’ll lead the ‘peace talks’ between Trump and Kim Jong-Un where he’ll immediately raise the average IQ by 147 points. There’s nothing that this boy can’t do.

Henrik Mkhitaryan scored 13 points as he continues to forge an impressive looking partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Now it just took me 4 minutes to type that sentence so if these two do become a goal-scoring/assist-giving double act of note, than I propose nicknames. I’m open to suggestions, and you should send all ideas to @FantasyYIRMA, but I’ll start with Mickey and the PEA. He was joined on this points total by Serge Aurier who is the FPL equivalent of Russian Roulette. Sure, there’s a chance he’ll grab you points (26 in the last 3 games) but you just know he’s likely to deliver a red card at any minute. The perfect choice for those thrill-seekers out there.

Honourable mentions now for Mustafi, Baines, Rashford, Mahrez, Iheanacho, Shelvey (!), Alli, Willian and Iborra, but I don’t have the time and you don’t have the patience.

Onto our Villains Of The Week, and a strong group this time featuring four players in negative points territory. Young Jordan Ayew has caught the eye of 11.7% of FPL Players as he represents pretty good value for money…until this week when he was sent off after 10 minutes. -2 points for many of us who were also reeling from the Kane/Aguero/Salah/Davies debacle. Cheers Jordan, great timing!

Anthony Knockaert joined Ayew in the red card crucible at Goodison Park to grab himself -1 point and complete a pretty miserable day for the Seagulls. You know you’re having a bad day when you have two players in negative points territory and you’re only playing Everton! Joining his fellow ‘Gull’ is Gaetan Bong who grabbed an own goal to ‘earn’ his -1 point. He must have been dreading the Monday morning review from Chris Hughton. After all, the Seagulls had been flying so ‘high’. I’ll let you work that gag out yourself….

Finally we have Martin Kelly of Crystal Palace, singularly the unluckiest professional footballer playing today. I’m not even talking about his own goal at Stamford Bridge that condemned his side to another defeat and earned him -1 point. I’m talking about the fact that on two separate occasions he’s been at a club which has brought in Roy Hodgson as manager. Nobody deserves that.

FantasyYIRMA GW 3 Review

So an international break is upon us just as you were getting into your FPL rhythm. How frustrating is that? I tell you how frustrating it is…It’s like you’re 16 again and UEFA are your parents arriving home early when you and your ‘significant other’ are just getting into *ahem* ‘things’ (If you are 16 and reading this, behave yourself!)

Anyway, every cloud has a silver lining so my Heroes of the week are going to be based on the Republic Of Ireland football team, who, based on FPL achievements in GW3 are on the verge of winning the World Cup.

STOP LAUGHING!

Ciaran Clark, the colossus at the heart of the Newcastle United juggernaut top scored this week with a sensational Clean Sheet + Goal Scored + Full Bonus Point haul against the mighty West Ham United, who I’ll remind you, actually did in the World Cup in 1966.

Added to Clark is his potential CB partner for the next fortnight, Shane Duffy, who led Brighton & Hove Albion to their first clean sheet of the season at Watford and picked up maximum bonus points along the way. I’ll remind you that the mighty Liverpool conceded three at Vicarage Road a couple of weeks ago, although that match didn’t feature Miguel Britos attempting to remove an opponents leg without anaesthetic.

The final member of the ‘Eire’ (It’s always odd when I see people refer to the Republic of Ireland as Eire, when nobody in the Republic of Ireland actually does so themselves) GW3 hall of fame is Robbie Brady who strolled into Wembley Stadium and produced an outrageous threaded through-ball that took out at least five Spurs players for Chris Wood to score. You really can’t underestimate the quality of the pass because Chris Wood is actually ranked 67th in the World Golf Rankings and is one of the most promising young English golfers for the future. Remarkable.

Moving away from the Emerald Isle brings us to Spain and Alvaro Morata who for the second time in three games produced a Goal + Assist performance, and at £10m is looking like a must-have for all you ‘Screw this I’m hitting the Wildcard before GW 4 merchants’. He’s got Leicester, Arsenal and Stoke City on the horizon which looks ripe for a rich points haul despite the FPL website telling me that the Arsenal game is a ‘4’ on the difficulty rating. Or maybe that’s just a prediction on how many Alvaro will score in that game. Don’t even bother arguing Gunners fans, unless it’s on ArsenalFanTV, in which case keep it up, I do like a good belly-laugh.

Incidentally, did you hear the one about the Senegalese, the Egyptian and the Brazilian that made the Frenchman cry? Mane, Salah and Firmino are the triple-act that is tearing the league apart in the formative first few weeks. An acronym is all the rage in football, and has been for yonks. Remember the ‘SAS’ of Shearer and Sutton for Blackburn? We also had the ‘MSN’ era in Barcelona. I’m tempted to try and arrange the LFC trio into an acronym, but whatever I try, be it MSF / FSM / SFM, it just comes across (steady…) as an advert for a Swingers / BDSM personal ad in your local phone box. Mind you, they look like they’ll f*ck over loads of teams between now and the end of the season and I make some very questionable ‘noises’ when I see them in full flight. Anyway, I’ve said too much.

Finally a special mention to Cecil Fibreglass who I tipped as an asset to have in my pre-season preview, but then proceeded to get himself sent off against Burnley. Those of you with patience will have been rewarded with a goal-scoring and max-bonus-point haul of 11 points. I should also commend Kyle Naughton for his magnificent 12 points at Palace, but seeing as I marooned him in the final sub spot on my bench, I just can’t bring myself to say much more, lest the boo-hoo’s start again…

As for Villains of the week, well, where to begin…

Romelu Lukaku and ZERO points at home to Leicester City. Man, he teased everyone with his first two games hauling in 19 points, and then…THAT. I’m not saying that he telegraphed where he was going to put his spot-kick but Kasper Schmeichel started his dive to the right before Lukaku started his run-up. The fact that Kasper has now saved more penalties at Old Trafford than his Dad ever did is one of the all-time great stats.

Another player proving to be a bit of a frustration is Sergio Aguero, benched for the lunchtime Saturday early game. While he picked up a miserable one point, I think he should have been awarded at least three bonus points for trying to protect that poor young fella that was being hogtied by over-zealous stewards following City’s last minute winner. We’ve seen Cantona go into the crowd studs up but if Kun had repeated that trick to those stewards I suspect many would have applauded. However, if you pick a Captain for that game you deserve all you get. NEVER CAPTAIN A PLAYER IN THE SATURDAY LUNCHTIME GAME. You should always listen to advice you get on FantasyYIRMA…which brings me onto…

Harry Kane, a man whose FPL points haul so far this season would ensure qualification through most rounds of ‘Pointless’, and who you were all advised (on this very site) to pick because he was playing on a Sunday and you didn’t want to spend every Sunday afternoon hiding behind the couch. Well, I followed this advice and now I spend every Sunday evening hiding behind the couch and drinking heavily. Marvellous.

A special nod to Raheem Sterling who managed to ruin a perfectly good away day points haul with his red card, achieved for what in essence was a gentle trip and a hug. And finally to the aforementioned Miguel Britos who launched an outrageous two-footed, studs-up, shin-high lunge at Anthony Knockaert and then argued that the decision was a bit harsh. If you watch the incident again, keep an eye on the linesman who was nearest the action. He nearly shook the flag off his stick in horror. Scientists have now revealed that 98.37% of those who watched a replay of the incident on MOTD uttered the words ‘Jesus Christ’ in response. The other 1.63% of people were Watford fans who uttered the word ‘Tw*t’.

 

You Can Open The Curtains Now, The Transfer Window Is Shut…

Perception can be a cruel mistress. The same fact can mean drastically different things to different people due to their perception of that fact.

Take the Summer Transfer Window business of Liverpool Football Club for instance. I can tell you for a fact that it is thus:

Transfers In

Transfers Out

Total Money Spent: £80,100,000

Total Money Received: £ 42,480,000

So there you have it, all the facts of the matter.

Yet if you printed off all the tweets where people discussed how they perceived these facts, and stacked them one on top of the other, the astronauts on the International Space Station would have enough paper to doodle for months.

As ever, there are extremes of perception in favour of, and against, the business done by LFC in this transfer window. There are those who would organise a #FSGOUT march through the centre of Liverpool with all the gusto of a white supremacist rally in America, while others would volunteer to throw rose petals under the feet of Michael Edwards as he strode to his car after work today.

FSG Out
Look at this f*ckwit…

It’s impossible to write an opinion-piece like this without my own perceptions seeping into these words, but then again you can’t read it without your own perceptions affecting your opinion of this piece, so let’s all agree to read this and never speak of it again, ok?

This has been a GOOD transfer window for LFC. There I’ve said it. If you can’t read the paragraphs below due to the quantity of spittle and bile all over your screen, then you should stop reading here….

It has not been a great transfer window however because one transfer didn’t happen, to address one area of ‘perceived’ weakness in the Liverpool team, namely the failure to capture Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton. This ‘failure’ (and I use that term loosely as I’m not sure you can deem it a failure if the club that owns the player simply refuses to play ball, particularly when you played with their ball without their permission first…) is all the more frustrating as it has been the single biggest issue in the minds of the LFC fans for longer than any other. However it hasn’t happened, no matter how upset you may be about it, and they continue with what they have, and what they have is better than what I hear many say.

VVD
A Saint Or A Sinner? 

I’m not going to name specific players because you all know who is considered a weakness in this Liverpool defence, but I am going to point out some FACTS to you about this Liverpool defence:

In the last TEN league games played, Liverpool have conceded SIX goals. Defensive issues? What defensive issues? Ahh, but hold on, I can actually hear you screaming ‘small sample size’, ‘selective bias’ and ‘FSG apologist f*cknut’, so let’s continue…

In the TEN league games prior, Liverpool conceded FIFTEEN goals. Defensive issues? Oh, aye, those defensive issues. Why didn’t you say so! There you go, proof positive that the failure to capture VVD will ensure this season ends in tears and that the transfer window was a busted flush.

Perception, eh? What a bitch. The FACTS of the matter are that Jurgen Klopp got fed up with his side conceding so many goals and tasked his coaching staff with sorting out the defensive performances. Therefore LFC go from 15 goals conceded in a ten game spell to 6 goals conceded in the next ten game spell with the exact same personnel, apart from Andrew Robertson’s fine debut at home to Palace a couple of weeks ago. You can still argue that it was a ‘nice run of fixtures’ or ‘sheer luck’, and that’s an argument that can be made. However anybody watching LFC over the past two seasons will have seen that Klopp improves players, so you could make a counter-argument that it just took longer for his magic to work on the defensive side of their game.

Any defence will obviously still have ‘off-days’ where you could , ooh I dunno, concede three goals away to Watford (HAH! Evidence that they’re shit in defence!) or concede three at home to Burnley (What? Chelsea? The Champions? Oh, but that’s just a fluke, right?).

Chelsea Burnley
Ropey Defence. LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE. 

It’s accepted wisdom that if you reduce the amount of goals conceded in a league season to below thirty, you’re almost certain to win the league. LFC have conceded 3 goals in 4 games, which extrapolated out over 38 games puts them on target to concede 28.5 goals. I’m already blaming Moreno for the .5 goal you know. I’m not saying that this level of defensive performance will happen, but stretching it out to the last ten games, they’re on target to concede 22.8 goals….I’ll stop now…

So time will tell if the Liverpool defence will continue to be the achilles heel of this team, but if you analyse last season (which I’m sure most of you have) it was the absence of Sadio Mane in January/February that many will tell you really hurt Liverpool. The team was used to (and perhaps accepted) conceding a goal a game when they were scoring three in reply, but when the goals dried up those goals meant losses and draws. In the event of an absence of Mane this season, the transfer window captures of Mo Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dominic Solanke should ensure that Liverpool continue to score two or more goals a game while the defence continues to leak more than the White House (or not, eh?). The start that Mo Salah has made to his Liverpool career should not be overlooked, as he has been simply sensational. In fact he’s been so prominent and successful in getting into attacking positions that I believe he needs to work on his finishing – that may sound like a negative, but it’s a real positive in that he could/should have had another couple of goals this season at least, and Liverpool have scored SEVEN in three games for crying out loud.

Salah
On your marks…Get set…Too late, I already won…

The full-back options open to Jurgen Klopp should be another reason why this transfer window should be considered a qualified success for LFC. Last season ended with an underwhelming Nathaniel ‘Patsy’ Clyne at right-back and a fish out of water James Milner at left-back. However now at the start of September with a rejuvenated Alberto Moreno battling with new acquisition (and seriously impressive clean-sheet keeping debutant) Andrew Robertson for the left-back slot, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez seemingly locked in an incredibly high quality battle to the death to secure the right-back slot, with ‘Patsy’ Clyne humming ‘Crazy’ while rocking back and forth on the bench…

Of course the fact that the left-back slot is now so well covered means that James Milner has been freed to roam freely in the fresh green pastures of midfield, where he’s now battling Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coutinho (steady…that’s a different blog) and from next season Naby Keita for one of the three midfield berths. Now I’m not sure if you can count as well as me but that’s EIGHT players (all of whom are a billion miles better than Kevin Stewart, and that’s not a slight on Kevin) battling for THREE places. Depth? A nuclear submarine could get lost in that depth.

There is now genuine competition for places in every part of the Liverpool team, even in goal. Just when it seemed that Mignolet had seen off Loris ‘Fandango’ Karius, Klopp drops one for the other in a move that I can only describe as ‘sharp’. It was a clear message to Mignolet to not let his standards drop for a second, lest Karius will usurp him in the blink of an eye. It’s quality management by Klopp who has worked out that a complacent Mignolet is a flappy Mignolet. He’ll have him on his toes so much this season Mignolet may well end up starring in Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall before May. He’d look good in a Desmond.

Simon Mignolet Yellow

So when I take a cold, calculated look at the ‘new’ squad as a whole, I feel that LFC fans should be satisfied with the business done. However I accept that others may not feel as sated, and that’s perfectly acceptable. What is not acceptable however is the vitriol that I see on Twitter from so-called LFC ‘fans‘ who ‘want what’s best‘ and won’t ‘accept failure‘. Let me make one thing clear to you all. If I see you on Twitter claiming to be a ‘fan‘ but aiming direct abuse at a player/owner/owner’s wife, I’m going to screenshot it and I’m going to start a new blog and highlight you to the world (or at least the 4 people who will read this). On a serious note, enough is enough. You don’t have to be happy-clappy and believe that all is well in the world of Liverpool Football Club, but abusing your own while claiming to be a ‘fan’ doesn’t wash with me. You have been warned.

Anyway, enough of the negativity, UP THE DEFENSIVELY IMPROVING GOOD TRANSFER WINDOW SCORING GOALS AT WILL CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE REDS (utdigtwsgawclgsr…that acronym needs work)

 

Liverpool 2-1 Burnley: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

 

Yes, I know there’s been another gap between ratings, but there’s another good reason for that…the work I had done with the lads before the Spurs game was nowhere near enough. I had foolishly thought that my motivational speeches and psychological guidance would see the lads flourish against the big teams AND the rest…but following the Leicester debacle, I realised my folly, and was back over to Melwood quicker than Jurgen could say ‘I want a refund, you cheeky Irish git’…

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

One of my tips to Jurgen was to proclaim to the world that he didn’t need a new goalkeeper this summer, and here’s the logic:

  1. It will make the incumbent keepers feel a bit better about themselves, and should result in a boost of self-esteem, which would lead to a boost in performances
  2. If you publicly state that you’re looking for a new keeper, then every sodding keeper on planet earth will have an extra ‘0’ added onto their price tag and weekly wage demands.

Makes sense, right?

Simon took to the field on Sunday with his self-esteem at record new highs, which led to an unfortunate incident pre-match when Ragnar Klavan accidentally kicked his boot across the dressing room, leading to Migs roaring into his face “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the king of the world! I’m the greatest! I’m the glorious lovechild of Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks following a saucy encounter in a laboratory in Brussels in the late 80’s”.

Nothing like a bit of self-confidence, eh?

Thankfully Migs backed up his words on the pitch with a flawless display against a team that thought they had sussed out his (and his teammates) weaknesses. Long ball after long ball was humped towards the edge of Mignolet’s box, but time and again he came strongly (ooo-errr missus!), to fist cleanly (now stop it…) away.

I’m working on deflating his ego just a tad this week, after he tried to chat up nine of the other players wives with the same chat up line. ‘Belgium is famous for it’s waffles, do ya wanna taste my batter?’

Give me strength…

8/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

You may have noticed that Patsy has quite a bit of ink, pretty much from the neck down is covered in ‘body art’…or that’s what he wants you to think.

The truth is that Patsy is a bit, how shall I put this…’Hard Of Thinking’. In essence, he’s one Spice Girl short of a reunion tour, and all that ‘body art’ is actually notes, hints and tips on every aspect of his game.

Before you judge him, think back to your school days. Yep, we’ve all done it, writing notes/formula on our palms or shirt cuffs, or the name of that Welsh town with the longest name in the world on our penis….or maybe that’s just me who was able to fit it all in…in BLOCK CAPITALS….

So the next time you see Patsy hesitate when a quick cross is on, remember that it’s not his fault. He’s just searching for the instructions on what to do next.

Klavan got the blame for the goal conceded, but for me Patsy forgot to read the instruction on his left butt cheek that says ‘Cover and sweep behind the centre-backs when a striker peels off them’.

Unfortunately yesterday he played like all the notes were written in invisible ink. I’m not sure my words of wisdom were much use at half-time when I told him to ‘just bloody copy what the Burnley right-back did when he set up their goal’.

The single tear that rolled down his cheek will haunt me for a good few days y’know.

6/10. 

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

While our right-back has a brain function that buffers more than a porn video in 1997, our Estonian centre-half has the memory of a goldfish.

You would think that being absolutely roasted last August by a fella called Andre Gray might stick with you, but in the first half Ragnar played like he’d never seen the man before in his life, and made pretty much the exact same mistakes as he had at Turf Moor.

Incidentally, Turf Moor is Irish for ‘Big Turf’. I just realised that.

Anway, I digress. After half-time, when I pulled Ragnar aside and showed him You Tube clips of the beasting he got from Gray last August, y’know, to prove that it actually fecking happened, he had a moment of clarity and suddenly he knew what he had to do…so he did it.

Hale-fecking-liua.

In the second half he was big, strong and had Gray in his pocket for the remainder of his time on the pitch.

7/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

To say that the heart of the Liverpool defence has been ‘changeable’ would be a bloody understatement. There’s been more changes in the Liverpool rearguard than there’s been Ed Sheeran songs in the Top 20 this week.

Joel was tasked with creating a ‘working relationship’ with Ragnar Klavan yesterday,  and deep down he knew this relationship was one of many he has to nurture. For a start, Dejan Lovren was peering down from the stands, waiting for his chance to show Joel some love, not to mention Shut Up Shop Ltd on the bench bursting to get back into a manly embrace with Joel, but it’s also the fact that Billy Joel had sung about this exact scenario in his 1986 song ‘A Matter Of Trust’….

 

Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will it’s just a question of when
I’ve lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned
But that won’t happen to us
Cause it’s always been a matter of trust

Indeed, Joel has to build that trust with three different men this season, and that’s leaving aside the fact that Emre Can keeps butting in every five minutes, and he’s a hard man to ignore when you’re trying to build a relationship. I should know, my wife keeps drooling over him every 5 minutes.

I’ve said too much.

8/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

You know the ‘Bleep Test’?

That training exercise where you run from Point A to Point B before the buzzer goes at each end, which just speeds up as you get more knackered?

I believe that some of the world’s fittest athletes get to Level 14 before keeling over.

James Milner is currently at Level 863, and is still going. Up and down that left wing, trying to get a cross in before the buzzer goes, then back down the wing, trying to chase a ball into the oppositions flying forward, which they KEEP. BLOODY. PLAYING. BETWEEN. MILNER. AND. THE. CENTRE. BACK….

The poor man started the season standing 5’10” in his socks, and he’s now 5′ 8″ as his legs have been worn away.

But he just keeps running….

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can: 

 

£35,000 a week might sound like a lot of money to me and you, but to Emre Can it’s a major bone of contention for him as he seeks to hammer out a new contract. He’s looking for around £70,000 a week (you’re hearing £100,000 a week, but you’ve got to highball first in any negotiation, right?).

I’m not saying that my motivational tactics with the lads work 100% of the time, but here’s what I tweeted at half-time:

Tweet 1

Within 15 minutes of that tweet, Jackie had hit a 25 yard daisy-cutting, worm-burning thunderbastard into the back of net at the Kop end, and then launched himself into a knee-slide celebration that made everyone over the age of 37 envious.

You’re welcome.

Leaving aside the ‘real world money’ argument, in modern football Emre Can has got to be worth £70,000 a week on a new contract, if only for the fact that a new contract increases his selling price if it ever comes to that. Sign him up Jurgen.

Oh, and stop playing silly buggers Emre. Good lad.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

 

What you may not know about Adam is that he’s quite insecure in himself.

He knows he’s got all the tools to be a top class footballer, but you might be surprised to know that footballers don’t always just think about football.

Adam is into his ‘looks’ because he’s compensating for his insecurities surrounding his appearance. That’s why he moisturises 19 times a day and why his skin holds more moisture than the Great Barrier Reef.

His performance yesterday, while not bad, was not up to it’s usual high standards, as Adam realised just before kick off that he was now playing in arguably the most handsome midfield in world football….and he soiled himself.

Jurgen tried to help by hugging him for 12 minutes straight, while stroking his hair, but it didn’t work, and now Jurgen can’t hold anything without it slipping right out of his grasp.

Nivea has a challenge on it’s hands. Does it try and make Adam more handsome, or does it take Gini/Emre into a back alley and smash their faces in?

Decision, decisions.

7/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Composure.

It’s a rare commodity.

When the most gorgeous woman in the bar approaches you and tells you she wants you right now, do you jauntily raise an eyebrow, smirk and tell her she’s made a wise decision, or do you shake uncontrollably, dribble like a teething baby and make a squeaky noise associated with pet toys?

Aye, exactly.

Gini showed incredible composure on the stroke of half-time as the ball ricocheted between him and Mee (no, not him and me, him and Mee. No, not me, Mee. Oh forget it…). While Mee stretched out a leg in vain (no, not me, Mee), and Ward charged towards him, and Heaton did his best starfish impression, Gini went all ‘Matrix’ and made the world pause…before slamming the ball into the net.

Gini is like ‘Hawkeye’ in the Avengers movies. The big names like Iron Man or Hulk or Thor with all their fancy moves tend to get all the attention, but when they don’t show up, the Avengers need someone else to come to the rescue. So as Phil/Bobby/Sadio have gone missing at various times this season, Gini has stepped up with goals against City/Chelsea/Arsenal and Burnley.

I know which one I prefer right now.

9/10

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Some said that this was a ‘huge chance’ for Divock and that he must grab it with both hands.

Some said that he blew his big chance.

Some talk an awful lot of guff.

Make no mistake about it, Bobby Firmino comes back into this team as soon as he’s fit, so nothing Divock did yesterday was ever going to change that. He knows it, and I know it, and you should know it.

That’s not to say that he didn’t do well though. While the Fantasy Football stats may only give him one assist, in the real world, he has two. It was his cross to Gini that set up the equaliser, as well as his pass to Emre that set up the winner.

What more can he do?

Well yes, of course he could score. I take your point. Alright, nobody likes a smartarse.

8/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

Have you ever seen ‘The Three Amigos’ movie?

It’s a cracker, I highly recommend it. Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short combine wonderfully to make you howl with laughter for 90 minutes.

However, I’ve found that when the ‘Three Amigos’ are seperated, they’re funny, but not THAT funny. I mean Chevy Chase can be downright annoying, Martin Short is barely noticeable and Steve Martin, while clearly a very funny man, needs someone opposite him to truly thrive.

I know that Bobby F was missing yesterday, but that can’t excuse that performance Phil. You were DIRE. I’ve never done this before, but yesterday I felt I had to. I tweeted about you Phil. I feel dirty, but strangely vindicated.

Tweet 2

I know you’re annoyed at Jurgen for hooking you, but as you can see now, it was all me Phil. I’m not sorry either. This ‘thing’ we have has to be a two-way street. Since your return from injury, it’s been all ‘take, take, take’ from you. What have you given me? Do I not deserve the very best? Is the magic gone between us Phil? Just say the word and I’ll be out of here! Just be honest with me Phil, that’s all I ask.

As always,

Love you,

Xxx

5/10

sadio-mane

Sadio Mane:

 

The one player I have to spend the least amount of time with is Sadio. He’s just got all the self-confidence you could want, and shows it out on the pitch. He was Liverpool’s only real threat during that woeful opening half, and he kept the Burnley defence on edge all match long.

On more than one occasion he was inches away from the perfect pass to set up a goal.

The thought of Sadio on top song against THAT City defence next weekend makes me happy.

8/10

Substitutes:

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

11 minutes left when the barriers came down, and they stayed firmly down until the full-time whistle.

Not only did Lucas shore things up, he also found himself rampaging forward with the ball at his feet, 30 yards from goal. Even he realised how daft that situation was…

7/10

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

How would you feel if you woke on Monday morning and remembered that you were brought on by Jurgen Klopp after an hour to replace Philippe Coutinho?

Aye, exactly. That’s why Ben is walking around with an 8 hour erection as I type. Ah, the miracle of youth.

He did pretty well too.

7/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Right Jurgen, you’ve had the benefit of my presence before Spurs and now Burnley, so every other game this season will be degrees of each.

10 games to go. You’ll be fine for the next two, that’s a nailed on six points, but it’s the final 8 that will really tell us about this team: Bournemouth (fighting), Stoke (on the beach), West Brom (on the beach), Palace (probably on the beach by then), Watford (on the beach), Southampton (on the beach and we owe them one), West Ham (on the beach and a bit sh*t), Boro (in the Championship by then).

If you need me, you know where I am. You’ve already started using my advice, so keep it up. I like the whole ‘I don’t have a Plan B’ thing, that was beautiful. Just remember to pick Moreno every now and again and you’ll have everyone fooled. LOL.

7/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

Liverpool 2-0 Spurs: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

Before I begin, a quick update. I haven’t posted a blog for a few games now because, as I told those of you who were kind enough to ask for/demand a blog, I was weighed down with many, many mundane issues that have taken up my time. I can now reveal that was a lie…

Things had to come to a head, enough was enough, so I made a decision…

I went to Liverpool a couple of weeks ago to sort things out once and for all.

I gave Jurgen a call, arranged to have dinner with Philippe and I’ll now begin…

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

From my seat in the Anfield Road end, it appeared that Simon Mignolet is very small. Of course it’s simply that he was very far away at the Kop end.

In person he’s a very imposing man, a big strong strapping lad who towers over you, almost intimidatingly so…especially when you’re outlining the most witty descriptions of him that I’d heard, like ‘deranged gibbon’, ‘Dracula on prozac’, ‘Belgian beer bottle-squatting twat’ and ‘as useful as a langer in a lesbian orgy’.

Thankfully we saw eye to eye in the end and there were no hard feelings, and I like to think the chat worked. Migs was commanding, dominant, made a few good saves and never really looked threatened.

Before I departed Anfield, I stuck a note in his locker for him to read before any game in the future. It says:

‘You Are Simon Mignolet. Not A Langer’

I just hope I put it in the right locker or somebody could be very confused today.

8/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

I always had Patsy pegged as a straight-laced, formal type of guy, no airs and graces and certainly no sign of rebellion in his personality.

Therefore I was stunned when he arrived for our pre-arranged pep talk dressed like Jazz from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. To top all that he was giving me pure attitude, muttering under his breath with a constant smirk on his mush.

I knew what had to be done, and luckily someone got a picture of what happened next:

jazz-fresh-prince

I know, I know, the new Main Stand is a bit fancy, right?

In conclusion, let’s just say that Patsy will be less in-Clyned to rip the piss in the future.

ITHANGYEW.

8/10. 

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

I smirked as I saw the usual Twitter meltdown when the teams were announced at 4.30pm with the name ‘Lucas Leiva’ at CB. The hysteria was approaching the levels I would expect if Donald Trump was seen riding a nuke headed to North Korea wearing a cowboy hat with ‘Kim Jung Un can kiss my orange ass’ on his t-shirt.

Unbeknownst to most, Lucas was actually stood beside me when that shit-storm kicked off, acting as my ‘minder’ while I leveled a few home-truths at the rest of the squad. As a senior squad member he demanded that I be listened to and respected…until it came to his turn that is…

Let’s just say that the reason he had a pop at that Joseph Musker lad on Twitter was because he was a bit upset at the home-truths I delivered to his doorstep:

lucas-twitter-1Lucas Twitter.PNG

Mind you, he’s right. Anybody spouting that kind of shite on Twitter needs to be exterminated, immediately. Isn’t that right Donald?

Oh, and before I forget, Harry Kane was released back to Spurs on Sunday afternoon at 2.54pm after Lucas found him in his pocket.

8/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

 

NEWSFLASH:

BILLY JOEL IS NOT JOEL MATIP’S FATHER….

I know. I’m still reeling from the news myself. It’s like the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker revelation, but in reverse.

Of course it took 98 pages of birth certs, sworn affidavits, a DNA test and a very uncomfortable phone call with Billy Joel himself before I believed it, but I’m satisfied that he’s really not his father…after I learned every lyric Billy wrote too. That’s 9 months of my life I’ll never get back.

In any case, I asked Joel (as I asked all the players) if he wanted me to reveal what I said to him during our ‘chat’, and Joel is the only one who didn’t mind, so here’s what I said to Joel Matip:

Don’t go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore

I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times; I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

Sorry. Not sorry.

8/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

Have you ever tried to have a meaningful heart to heart with a Yorkshireman?

It’s like trying to get a baboon to recite the Greek alphabet…you don’t get much back.

However I’m a master of motivation, so when my words didn’t cut the mustard, I decided to cut the gravy…

Yes, for every goal conceded by Liverpool for the rest of the season, James Milner will have one less pint of gravy that week. But I’m not a monster, so I included a motivational aspect too…for every goal he scores or assists, he gets an extra pint of gravy that week.

I’m not sure that’s the best idea I’ve ever had though because he fecking dived looking for a penalty within 30 seconds of our deal being agreed. It was 1.30pm last Tuesday…

Still, a clean sheet is a clean sheet, so that’s good, right? Mind you, with two weeks until his next game, he could look like the bloody Michelin man against Leicester City.

7/10

jordan-henderson

Jordan Henderson: 

 

Captain Henderson is being lavished with praise today as the news emerges of a ‘player-only’ meeting that he called, excluding Jurgen Klopp, where the players all had an open, honest and frank exchange of views, which led to the performance we all saw against Spurs.

I can now confirm that it wasn’t a ‘player-only meeting’…because I was there and it was my bloody idea. Don’t believe all you read in the media folks. Alternative facts my arse.

Anyway, I don’t care who gets the credit, as it worked, and to be fair to Hendo he delivered one of the most passionate, goose-bump-raising, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-bristling speeches I’ve ever heard (apart from when I listen back to my own). It was magnificent.

Nobody understood a bloody word, but we all got the gist of it.

Leader.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

I find that to get an open and honest conversation going with a player you sometimes have to do what they do, so they feel that you’re ‘one of them’ and can be trusted.

After applying 9 litres of Nivea to myself I now look 10 years younger, my scrotum has no wrinkles whatsoever and I literally slid out of bed last night. Remarkable.

My ploy worked though as Adam and I had a great chat covering lots of topics; from Bouremouth Lap Dancers to taking out Jurgen Klopps bins. Mind you, during our 45 minute chat Adam ran 12 miles around the room. He just can’t stand still. It could be boundless energy…but it could also be a reaction to the Nivea….

Whatever he’s doing, it’s working, especially when he’s got the three amigo’s in front of him.

8/10.

 

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Go on then…what sweet do you think I brought to my one-on-one meeting with Gini last week…

Yep, you guessed it….a bag of Revels.

No, I’m not being obtuse, there was a point to it. There have been games this season where Gini has been oustanding. The goals at home to Chelsea and City stand out, but he was pretty bloody good away to Arsenal and Chelsea too. However he’s also had a few ‘Coffee Revels’ this season which make you want to explosively eject your tongue from your mouth…

So the basis of my ‘chat’ with Gini was him munching through a bag of Revels and shouting out the games he’s played this season that match with the flavour Revel he happened to get.

I’m not one for predictions, but I seriously doubt we’ll be seeing a ‘Coffee Revel’ performance from Gini ever again.

Oh, and ‘Coffee Revel Vomit’ is as grim as you’d imagine. *shudder*

9/10

 

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

Since the advent of social media, the world is awash with people who claim to be ‘In The Know’…they know why players are so effective, or why they’re out of form…and to a man (or woman), they’re all full of sh*t.

It wasn’t until I sat down at length with Bobby that I discovered why his form had dipped so drastically. From the outside looking in I thought it was the almost symbiotic relationship with Philippe that he was missing…but I was wrong.

The truth of the matter is that Bobby Firmino has been a major twat and is now embarrassed to be…well, Bobby Firmino. Look, we’ve all done something in our past that we’re not proud of and we’d all rather forget, and Bobby is no different. To add to that he was facing a (deserved) court case where there was always an element of doubt as to what punishment he would be facing, and that’s going to affect you, no matter what walk of life you come from. If you’re a bricklayer and facing a serious court case, you’re not going to be laying as many bricks in the weeks leading up to the case, are you?

Once it became clear what the issue with Bobby was, I was tempted to just leave it alone. The court case was over, his punishment has been delivered and that was that, right?

Heh. Don’t you know me at all?

To cut a long story short, I got Bobby Firmino absolutely trollied – and I use that word for a reason. Basically I got him flutered/balooba’d/banjaxed/wankered/smashed/arseified (select your favourite) on 23 pints of Guinness, strapped him into a shopping trolley and rolled him down Abbey Road while I got 4 lads to walk across the pedestrian crossing as Bobby hurtled towards them. It was to demonstrate that what he did ran the same risks as he now faced.

The poor lad soiled himself, but got the message very, very quickly.

Maybe a weight is now off his shoulders? He was certainly back to form against Spurs…although his shite is still jet black and probably will be for some time.

8/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

 

Some have accused me of playing favourites as our meeting was over a candle-lit dinner and the rest of my player meetings…weren’t.

However you know you’re special, and I know you’re special and our dinner…was special.

I’ll never reveal this to the other players, but there was a specific reason why our meeting was over a romantic dinner. I wanted you to play footsie with me under the table…using just your left foot. I mean, you never use it for anything else and I’ll try anything to get you using it in a game…

Love you xxx

7/10

sadio-mane

Sadio Mane:

My meeting with Sadio was the shortest of the lot.

I can’t divulge too much information of course but suffice to say that Sadio looked me dead in the eye, told me none of this mess was down to him, admitted that he skewed that penalty in the AFCON on purpose after receiving my SOS SMS, and he said he’d sort it.

The man is true to his word. He eviscerated Ben Davies and friends.

Majestic.

9/10

Substitutes:

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

My meeting with Emre didn’t go according to my plan. I called him ‘Jackie’ one time too many and was spark out after he hit me with a 6″ punch.

Yep, no similarities there at all.

At least he showed the same ruthless efficiency when he came on to see the game out. Job done.

7/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

What do you do when the Security company you hired to do a job suddenly goes down sick?

You bring on a bouncer. He asked Dele Alli for I.D. and then barred him from the penalty box.

N/A

trent-alexander-arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

You might think that getting thrown on with seconds left so the star player can get a standing ovation is a bit demeaning, but all these players are on appearance bonuses.

Those few seconds could buy TAA 1,890 Happy Meals.

N/A


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

You’re welcome Jurgen, it was my pleasure, and I’m around to do it again if you ever feel the need.

However I think you’re set for the rest of the season now. They’re a great bunch of lads and it was great to get to know them all in person.

As for our meeting, I enjoyed it but I don’t think I’ll have another schnitzel for quite a while. I’m glad you took my advice and are taking the lads off for a few days in the sun. Thanks for the offer to attend with you but my small fella has something on Thursday night that I have to be there for.

Don’t forget the Factor 50!

8/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool: The Ranting Rebel Ratings…

 

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

Mignolet.

Marvellous. Majestic. Magnificent.

My Christ that clearance against Zlatan melted my mind.

In all seriousness though, today felt like a day when Migs finally filled that Liverpool ‘keeper shirt for the first time. A string of tremendous saves, confidence coming for crosses, and he could do nothing for the goal conceded.

If you’ve had a bad time in the Liverpool XI and you get a second chance, then making a mark at Old Trafford is probably the best way of getting fans back on your side.

On a side note, credit to Jurgen Klopp for introducing Loris Karius into the equation. Both have now impressed in successive matches…who knew that competition for places would be so effective?

Why buy a ‘world class’ keeper (with the associated exorbitant price tag) when you can pit two decent keeper against each other to force one/both to reach that standard?

9/10 

trent-alexander-arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

A first league start…at Old Trafford

A first league opponent…Anthony Martial

A first of many appearances for TAA and he did exceptionally well, all things considered.

Once again I remind you of what you were doing at 18 years of age, and if your answer doesn’t contain the words ‘pints’, ‘sex’, ‘joints’ or ‘Call Of Duty’, I applaud you.

A slightly rocky start (understandably) followed by 80 minutes of solid, dependable defending which contributed massively to the positive result achieved today.

Mind you, on the rare occasion that Patsy Clyne is missing from a big game, you suddenly realise what he contributes in an attacking sense. That wasn’t there from TAA, but I’m not in any way critical of him.

Well in Trent.

 8/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Yes, one back-pass was a bit short (but we’re in an entertainment business, right???)

However Dejan Lovren today produced his best performance in a Liverpool shirt.

Here we have a man booked for a brilliantly strong tackle where he won the ball cleanly, yet saw Rooney go without a booking for trying to break James Milner’s ankle, and saw Pogba perform an exquisite neck roll / choke tackle on Hendo without any sanction. That’s enough to drive any man to the edge of distraction…yet Dejan remained calm, composed and focused.

Many fans lost their sh*t at the reason for Matip’s absence, but I think we can all agree that when he does return (after Cameroon and FIFA take their collective heads out of their collective asses) he’ll partner Lovren once more.

An added bonus is how he utterly dominated THE MOST EXPENSIVE PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL at corners. Pogba lost Lovren with the same regularity as Kevin McAllister lost his parents in Home Alone. Thankfully Dejan didn’t require a paint can on a rope to get his own back, he just convinced Pogba to ‘Dab’ while the ball was about to hit his head.

‘Take that, ya filthy animal’.

9/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan: 

 

Have you ever waited for a crucial phone call?

You constantly check the volume on your phone to ensure that it’s not on silent, even though you know that you set it at ’10’ only 15 minutes before. You bring it with you to the toilet to ensure you don’t miss that vital call. You’re constantly paranoid that you might have missed a call in that 0.0005 seconds it took you to blink…

Poor Ragnar has been waiting for an answer from FIFA / Cameroon about the eligibility of Joel Matip, and up until this afternoon he still didn’t know if he was going to be able to play in this game.

It must be hard knowing that the manager / owner of the football club are bashing down the door of FIFA to find out if your direct opponent can play instead of you. It’s like finding out that the woman of your dreams has decided that she might play with your joystick after discovering that her preferred PS4 controller had broken…

In any case Ragnar performed as well as any ‘sloppy seconds’ would be expected to.

7/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

Despite the fact that his calf muscle was being held in place with blu-tack and gravy, James Milner was able to defend like a hero and step up to take an incredibly crucial penalty when the situation presented itself.

You might have noticed that a lot of penalty takers give the opposition goalkeeper ‘the eyes’…glancing constantly at the corner of the goal that they’re NOT going to shoot for. It’s football level ‘psychology’, up there with telling his opposite number that his sister was a fabulous ride last night….

However James Milner comes from ‘simple folk’. There’s none of that psychological bullshit, just a clear indication of intent.

James looked at the right hand side of the goal as he lined up the kick. He than kept looking at that side as he ran up to the ball…and then he battered the ball into that exact corner….

It doesn’t matter that De Gea had read his mind, James Milner is from Yorkshire. You might know what these people are going to do, but you’re powerless to stop it.

Kudos to James for accepting an ‘apology’ from Rooney after he tried to break his ankle, the dirty sh*tbag. However that’s gone right in the memory bank for next time…when Rooney is playing for Indianapolis Idiots at the age of 52 and James Milner will crunch him playing for Milwaukee Morons.

9/10

jordan-henderson

Jordan Henderson: 

 

Jurgen Klopp has alluded to the fact that most players with Hendo’s injury wouldn’t have appeared today, but here we saw Jordan Henderson rampaging through the midfield, thundering into tackles, spraying passes left right and centre and making Paul Pogba’s hashtag the most counter-intuitive public symbol since Donald Trump was elected President Of The United States.

Personally I’m demanding a Twitter hashtag for Jordan Henderson. It should reflect his personality, his appearance in the heat of battle and how much Liverpool fans adore him…

jordan-henderson-emoji

8/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

After a few ropey performances, and facing into a match when it was all on the line, Emre Can produced when it mattered.

He created more chances than any other player on the pitch, and despite the fact that he took one or two (or twelve) more touches than necessary every now and again, his constant energy was invaluable as Liverpool tried to switch between constant defence and sporadic attack during a difficult second half.

From next season I promise that the ‘he’s still very young, we must not forget that’ excuse won’t be used, but since we’re not there yet, I’m going to use it. Juventus have shown interest, and I can’t blame them….once upon a time they purchased a young player from an English club that wasn’t rated…and sold him back for £89,000,000 a few years later.

I suspect that Jurgen Klopp won’t make the same mistake…and will save LFC a fortune (and pride).

8/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Two weeks ago I asked Gini to open his ‘away goal in the Premier League’ column and by christ, he tried.

As part of a midfield trio designed to stifle the flow of the United midfield, he was effective but when the chance came to break, he was leading the charge.

One day Gini will score away from home, and I’m going to say it right here and right now…it will be away to West Ham United, on the second last day of the season, and it will secure us the title.

You heard it here first.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

How apt that the ‘diamond’ of this season was played at the tip of the diamond as Jurgen Klopp changed formation to suit the challenge presented.

Adam was as effective off the ball as he was on it…chasing the ball down, harrying the opposition and forcing errors when normally there wouldn’t be any.

With the return to fitness of Coutinho, we should see Adam drop back into the midfield three where he has been most effective this season, and I can’t wait. His late runs from deep have been missed since Philippe has been crocked, but with 10 of our last 17 league games at home, he’s going to play a crucial part in our run-in….

8/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

A famous term in football is ‘a game of two halves’, but today we saw ‘a game of a two thirds, a third’.

While Bobby huffed and puffed, harried and hassled throughout the first hour of the game (to great effect it must be said), his performance in the last half hour showed what we’ve been missing since Philippe was crocked.

I’ve made many gags on this blog about the symbiotic relationship between Coutinho and Firmino but the fact that Bobby was set up for a chance within 30 seconds of Philippe’s introduction just proves my point.

Now they’re back in tandem, I expect them to steamroller the rest of the Premier League.

ACE!

8/10.

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Millions were on tenterhooks as young Trent Alexander-Arnold took the field away to Manchester United, tasked with a crucial role in the defence…

Not as many were worried about a young player like Divock Origi doing the same in the Liverpool attack, but that’s not really fair on Divock.

He’s young. He’s very young. Yes he has some experience, but he’s learning all the time, and he gave Valencia a rough time on the left wing. The fact that he was chosen ahead of Daniel Sturridge should throw some cats among some pigeons for the rest of the season.

God bless the pigeons.

7/10

Substitutes:

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

 

Dearest Philippe,

17 games left. 10 at home. 7 points behind Chelsea.

While we lost our best player for the last few weeks, rumour has it that Chelsea are about to do the same, possibly for a lot longer than a few weeks….

I know it feels awkward, but trust me when I say that you should have a few ‘sleepovers’ with Bobby this week. Cuddle. Spoon. Brush each others hair. You two are the perfect double-act, and he’s missed you Philippe, more than you will ever know. (I know because he called me to tell me, but I’m sworn to secrecy).

When you two spark once more, the league title is ours…

Love you

xxx

8/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

17 games left.

10 at home (3 v Top 6 teams / 7 against ‘the rest’)

7 away (1 v Top 6 team / 6 against ‘the rest’)

Philippe is back. Sturridge is fit. Mané will be back (hopefully)…

While we’re 7 behind Chelsea, we have them at home to come soon, so if that becomes 4 points, it’s game on. We’re top of the ‘Top 6 Table’….

You trust your young players, and your judgement has been proven sound so far (TAA today a prime example).

When you call me next Tuesday as you usually do, I want you to answer me this…

If Costa fecks off to China, who many points will we win the league by?

Talk soon JK xxx

8/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool: The Ranting Rebel New Year Ratings

Thank Christ 2016 is behind us, eh? 2017 can only get better!

What? A draw at Sunderland? Ah f*ck this, 2017 is going to be worse!

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

The best Liverpool player on the park and won us a point.

It feels like a new start for Migs in the team, and combined with a new year, he’s feeling pretty chipper about things. I sent him a beautiful piece of Waterford Crystal glass for Christmas, and he was chuffed with me for thinking of him.

Mind you, when he called me to thank me, he also told me he’d dropped it and smashed it.

Never change Migs. Never change.

9/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

Solid at the back as ever, and even threw in a few naughty, teasing crosses that really should have led to goals.

Patsy has confided in me that his New Years Resolution is to kill Kyle Walker make the England right-back slot his own, and if he continues his current form, I don’t see any reason why that won’t happen.

In fact I can’t see any reason for Kyle Walker, truth be told. Has there ever been a more over-hyped, under-criticised player in the history of the game? The wazzock makes more mistakes than Boris Johnson, but you never hear anybody point them out.

The bloody cockney mafia have their favourites, eh?

8/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Imperious at the back and inventive up front….

Don’t be foolish and think that the opening goal was in any way fortunate. Dejan read the flight of the corner, gauged how many men stood between his foot and the goal, anticipated the movement of Daniel Sturridge, adjudged the exact moisture content of the turf and then executed a sublime bounce pass onto the bonce of Sturridge.

Honestly, he did.

Dejan has given an emotional interview recently where he poured his heart out over his recent troubles on the field and how he believes that he is bouncing back. The issue with certain players who have hit bad form is how long it can take to convince people that you’re back…

If you’re a striker, a couple of quick goals can change you from a common Victor Anichebe into Gerd Muller in the eyes of the fans. However if you’re at the back (or in goals…) then a few mistakes and a run of bad form can take up to 20 good performances to erase from the minds of those who doubt you. That’s a tough ask…Just keep that in mind. Especially you. Yes, you – the Twitter Keyboard Warrior covering your screen in spittle at the merest hint of a mistake. You know who you are…

8/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan: 

 

Now if you are one of those Twitter Keyboard Warriors you no doubt were salivating at the prospect of criticising Klavan The Barbarian after he conceded the first penalty.

STOP! I CAN EXPLAIN EVERYTHING!

Y’see, Ragnar grew up in the wilds of Estonia, and has only been tamed since the age of 18 when his football prowess was discovered (think of it like The Jungle Book meets Billy’s Boots). Yet underneath it all is the wild-man of Estonia, the young man who roamed the Estonian plains dining on squirrels and living in caves….

Most of the time his wild side is tame and hidden from view. However sometimes, when the conditions are just right, the wild side emerges…

Ragnar spent most of the past three weeks Christmas shopping. He hates Christmas shopping. All that hustle and bustle, trying to manoeuvre his way through the hoardes of shoppers, all the while resisting the urge to rip someones scalp off and use it as a duster. The man who grew up in the wilderness just can’t cope…but he managed it this year…until yesterday…

When Ndong made his run between Gini and Ragnar, the Christmas hustle and bustle came flooding back. People trying to squeeze through gaps that just aren’t there, in order to get that last selection box…and Ragnar finally snapped. He’d had enough. He finally succumbed to the temptation to just kick out…just a little bit…and it felt good, until he realised what he had done.

Show Ragnar some compassion this January. It’s not easy being him.

7/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

‘He has a little kick on the calf, we think, and we didn’t want to take any risks which is why we took him off’

The words of Jurgen Klopp there, covering up the real truth about James Milner once more.

James Milner does not go off with a kick on the calf. James Milner went off because his calf muscle fell out of his leg. No, really, it did. It just fell out. The man has run so many miles up the left wing this season that the I.S.S. is behind him in terms of miles covered.

I’m glad to report that James just picked up his calf muscle and stapled it back onto the bone, and would be fit to play tomorrow if required.

Also, rumours that he had overdosed on gravy over the Christmas period are scurrilous and libelous.

7/10

Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

Not at his eye-catching best in terms of creativity and goal-scoring, but unlucky not to end up with at least one assist, and as usual he covered more ground than anybody else, just 44 hours after doing the exact same thing.

If somebody could put a compilation video together of Adam’s best flicks, tricks, Cruyff turns and goals from this season alone, I guarantee it would be the most viewed video in the history of PornHub within 20 minutes.

He’s so damn sexy.

8/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

Alright, alright…

The big audition didn’t go so well, I admit it.

A rare chance for Jackie to play in his preferred position, and he kind of made a balls of it. He was a bit unsure of touch and decision-making, but I ask you this…

Why didn’t Klopp opt for Kevin Stewart instead?

Y’see ‘The Kid’ Kevin Stewart is older than Emre Can and been around the game longer. Don’t forget how young Emre Can actually is.

He’ll come good, I have no doubt in my mind. He may get a run of games in this central role, depending on Hendo’s Heel (which sounds like a headland off the coast of Scotland).

Keep at it Emre, lad.

6/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Just two days after the unsung hero (in the mind of Jurgen Klopp) became the sung hero (yes I know that’s daft, but I’m sticking with it), he went back to being a bit unsung again, and less of a hero. (That’s a Pulitzer prize winning sentence if ever I’ve read one).

His usual hard work was mixed with a couple of decent efforts and ‘nearly’ moments, but alas a goal away from home in the Premier League has not yet come.

Old Trafford in a couple of weeks Gini…I’ll just leave that thought with you.

7/10

 Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge: 

 

A rare start matched with a not very rare goal. The man is class.

He’ll be annoyed not to have notched at least two, but as is bloody typical, our opponent lost their first choice keeper to injury and then their reserve stopper turns into Lev Yashin (if you don’t know who Lev Yashin is, you should get off Spotify and read a bloody book, kid).

His movement and anticipation for his goal is worth watching. Forget the corner and the volley from Lovren, watch as Daniel moves from the left of the goal to the right, losing his man and landing in the exactly right spot to take advantage of the bounce of the ball. You can’t teach that, it’s instinct. You either have it or you don’t, and Daniel Sturridge just has it.

Now if we could only toughen him up a tad, that would be perfect. If the UK had ‘National Service’ then we’d be laughing. Or Daniel would be dead. Hmmm….

9/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

His dip in form is starting to become a tad alarming, considering that Jurgen Klopp won’t countenance not playing him as long as he’s breathing…

He’s so crucial in all that we do, and to be fair to him, even when not playing well, he still does a job, and was a major part of a front-line that scored another two goals.

However when you know what someone can do, and you see what they are doing when it’s not going well, it hurts. Just ask those in Times Square when Mariah Carey made a late run for ‘cringe-moment of 2016’ (and that’s a VERY tough category, isn’t that right Donald?).

7/10.

Sadio Mane.jpg

Sadio Mané:

 

And so he departs…

So Long! Farewell! Auf Wiedersehn! Adieu!

F*ck you! F*ck you! F*ck you and you and you! (That’s aimed at the AFCON organisers and their ‘timing’).

eddie-murphy-barbershop
‘Who’s next?’

He thought he’d secured another vital three points as his parting gift…and then he literally grabbed the chance to chuck two points away…how Sene-GALLING….(I’m sorry).

So we enter the era of LASBSCB (Life After Sadio Before Sadio Comes Back). Will Jurgen shock the world and buy Messi to cover? Will Daniel Sturridge stay fit for a month and bang in the goals while he’s away? Will Coutinho come back and make us forget who Sadio Mané is?

Stay tuned kids….

7/10

Substitutes:

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

A disastrous night for this company, introduced to the fray with a lead to protect only to concede the free-kick that brought about the equaliser.

I know it wasn’t a free-kick, but that’s not much consolation to the Directors and Staff of Shut Up Shop Ltd. The rumour is that they are now in frantic negotiations to keep the Italian Enterprise from dying before it even gets off the ground.

As far as publicity goes, it’s like Janet Jackson at Superbowl XXXVIII – He made a right tit of himself.

6/10

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Confusion.

The poor kid didn’t know what to do for a full 7 minutes.

How can he be on the field at the same time as Daniel Sturridge? Utterly baffling for all concerned. That’s why Daniel hobbled off, just to bring some normality to proceedings.

You suspect that Divock is going to have another prominent role to play in the next month or so.

7/10

alberto-moreno

Alberto Moreno:

I’ll admit that when the second penalty was awarded to Sunderland, my first reaction was to scream ‘Bertie ya boll*x’, but credit to him, he played a full half of football without doing anything daft. Yes, I know I’m exhibiting the same behaviour I criticised in my review of Dejan Lovren, but I never said I was perfect, did I?

There’s a 3rd Round FA Cup tie with Bertie’s name written all over it. A solid defensive showing laced with attacking menace would be nice.

7/10


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Right, here we go…*deep breath*

The FACTS are that right now we’ve closed the gap on Chelsea to 5 points. Yes, they have a game in hand, and yes it could be 8 points on Wednesday night, but it could also be 5 points on Wednesday night.

To most of you this won’t apply, but to some I still have to say…GET A F*CKING GRIP.

The amount of people I saw on my timeline saying things like ‘This is what we always do, we always drop points against the smaller teams’….and they were basing their argument on historical games going back to 1993….f*ck me.

Let’s judge THIS team on THIS season shall we? Because THIS team didn’t exist LAST season. THIS team is in its first full season under THIS manager. So some FACTS:

  • 2nd in the league after 20 games
  • Averaging 2.2 points per game. TWO POINT TWO!
  • Chelsea are on a run that would win the league 100% of the time in any other season
  • Two league defeats in twenty games
  • Thirteen wins in twenty games
  • Just five draws in twenty games

Yes, the draws / defeats to ‘smaller teams’ (you’re a patronising pr*ck if you really believe that too by the way) are annoying, but would you rather we had draws / defeats against Arsenal / Chelsea / City / Everton? You know which would be more harmful, don’t you?

If you think we shouldn’t have draws / defeats against either the big clubs or the small clubs, then you should go and watch WWE Wrestling instead. Brain-dead idiots like you should be able to work out who’s going to win pretty easily and you can adjust your support and hopes accordingly.

The next league game is away to United at Old Trafford. We also face Chelsea at the end of this month. It’s a big month, just like August was..and September…and October now I think about it…and November..and…you get my point.

Each game as it comes, and we have NO reason to believe that what we’ve done in the opening 20 games won’t be repeated in the next 18, and who knows where that will take us?

Relax….

8/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel) If you would like to pay me to write like this, please do get in touch. Christmas cost me a fecking fortune.