He’s The Best English Player In The Premier League

So managers listen to criticism from fans and pundits after all, do they?

After Pep and Klopp suggested they were standing by their men after last weekend, a convenient little opportunity to ‘rest’ or ‘rotate’ players popped up.

Pull The Other One
Nobody is fooled of course and I’m never sure why managers don’t just come out and say “he’s been poor, he needs to get back on the training ground and get back into the team”. Two players sprung to mind; John Stones and Loris Karius.

I have to say I feel for Stones. Both Pep and Roberto Martinez have told him that he’s a great player over being a solid defender and he’s suffered as a consequence. Two managers from a nation which produces great technical teams, but not for the hand-to-hand combat of the Premier League.

Stones needs to seek out counsel from some of the greats who could defend first and play after.

Maybe a trip to the Merseyside area? Call Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen, two players who you could rely on to scrap it out with the best centre forwards in Europe while being able to play on the deck at a level that Stones simply isn’t capable of at the moment.

Players take the stick, it’s them after all who go out on the pitch, but two key voices in his early development are doing him no favours at all at the moment.

Calamity Keepers
As for Karius, whether he’s Liverpool quality or not remains to be seen. I’m not personally convinced, but then I’m not about Mignolet either, a player bought essentially on the stat of most saves in the league when at Sunderland. That’s Sunderland who’ve struggled for a number of years, so hardly surprising he had a lot to do!

I think Jurgen knows both aren’t up to scratch and doesn’t want to burn either, especially as one was his signing. But calamity goalkeepers (I played with one) don’t give the air of confidence that a constantly changing back four need to keep those clean sheets.

Megs made a couple of good saves, but I liken that to Heung Min Son having a couple of decent games as Kane’s deputy earlier this season – good for the very short term, not consistent enough in the medium or long term in a specialist position. So for me, Liverpool now need to be ruthless and go out and find a goalkeeper that the very best in the world want, make him the number one and let one of Karius or Megs battle it out on the training ground to earn the trust of the manager.

Bravo Adam
A word on Adam Lallana from a guy who many, me included, thought may not be the type of pacy, mobile forward that could gegenpress his heart for Klopp.

He’s become the best English player in the league this season.

Having seen him play at the Hawthorns in tier two about a decade ago now for the Saints, with a super body swerve and the ball glued to his feet, he’s got his head down, adapted and thrived at Liverpool this season, and that’s massively to his credit.

Add England performances to that too and you’re looking at a player I personally wish we’d see more of from these shores, one who stands up to be counted rather than being happy to play second fiddle to a glamorous foreign signing or two. The fact he’s Liverpool’s most important player as we approach the turn is a testament to the kid, well done!

Pog Improving
Manchester United were the focus of my analysis against Palace and I have to say, far from perfect that they are, at least now they look more defensively solid with Jones. I have a major concern about Bailly, a player who should go on to prove he’s the best central defender in the league. I just hope that like Vinny Kompany he doesn’t break down like an old Ford Fiesta.

I’m happy to modify my thoughts on Pogba too. I had him down as one of my three disappointments of the season, partially because I’ve yet to see that incredible ability and physique dominate games. But the signs against Palace are that he’s growing in his role and adding creativity but I’d still like to see him boss a game, he really has the ability to do that.

Basement Battle
The losers undoubtedly this week are Boro, who despite playing some lovely stuff in the league are now at a point where the style may have to give way over some substance, some ugly play, some set pieces, some working the percentages. Otherwise I fear for them.

Hull just don’t have the squad depth to threaten anyone, just a hard working but imagination-less workforce. Likewise Swansea are conceding way too many goals home and away, 12 in the last 4 games.

Sunderland by far have shown the most resolve out of the bottom dwellers in recent weeks.

But if you can’t get back-to-back results in this league, you can work as hard as you like, confidence will be fragile.

To me the 3 looking the likeliest to go down are Hull, Swansea and Boro with Sunderland having a nervy time of it until late in the season when their seniors will step up and go on a run the others aren’t capable of.