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Liverpool Article 30 May 2020
By The Numbers - Part 1: Liverpool

4 FA Youth Cup wins, the first coming in 1996 with a team featuring Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher. The last in 2019 on penalties over Manchester City.

1892 The year of the club's birth, after Everton had a dispute with Anfield landlord John Houlding and went off to play across Stanley Park. Houlding set up Liverpool to play at the now empty Anfield.

41 The club's oldest ever player was Ted Doig, who was 41 years and 165 days old when facing Newcastle United in 1908.

41 It was also the number of goals Roger Hunt scored in the 1961-62 season.

18 He was known as 'Supersub' for a reason. David Fairclough notched up 18 goals for Liverpool as a substitute.

38 At the age of 38 years and 55 days the great Billy Liddell became the oldest player to score for Liverpool. Liddell was so important in his time that the club were nicknamed Liddellpool while he played for them.

35 The club's first transfer record was the £35 paid for Scottish left back William "Billy" Dunlop from Paisley Abercorn.

1959 A crucial year in the history of the Reds as Bill Shankly was appointed to replace Phil Taylor as manager. Shankly had previously been turned down for the role as he had wanted too much control for the Liverpool board's liking. It was an appointment that changed history.

114 Liverpool's most capped player is Steven Gerrard with his 114 England caps.

16 The youngest ever players was Jerome Sinclair who was just 16 years and 6 days old when he faced West Bromwich Albion in 2012.

17 Gordon Hodgson managed to notch up 17 hat-tricks while playing for LFC.

42 Taking penalties was just about the only time Jan Molby seemed to move out from the centre circle and he scored 42 of those during his Liverpool career.

1 Lancashire League titles before joining the Football League.

6 European Cups, the most of any British team.

18 Reserve Division One Championships. At one time the reserves actually meant more than just a way to get first team players fit.

1964 The arrival of the all-red kit appeared in November of this year. Shanks felt it made the team look more intimidating.

15 Charity/Community Shields, though 5 of them were shared with their opponent on the day.

5 In the 1961-62 season Roger Hunt scored this many hat-tricks for the Reds.

417 Phil Neal managed to set a record for most consecutive appearances between October 1976 and September 1983.

20 Mr Consistency Phil Neal also managed to win 20 trophies in his time with Liverpool.

346 The most first team goals is a record held by Ian Rush. 39 of them in the FA Cup and 48 in the League Cup are also club records.

75,000,000 The club's record transfer fee which was spent on Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.

1974 The end of an era as Bill Shankly handed over the reins as Liverpool manager to Bob Paisley.

245 Roger Hunt has more league goals than any other Liverpool player.

1 FIFA Club World Cup, taking until 2019 to lift it, despite taking part a number of times as defending European champions in the past.

21 The club's longest serving player was Elisha Scott, the goalkeeper serving the club for 21 years and 52 days between 1913 and 1934.

4 The number of different managers who won the European Cup with Liverpool. Bob Paisley, three times, Joe Fagan, Rafael Benitez and Jurgen Klopp.

1901 The year of Liverpool's first league title.

18 Or should that be 19? The number of league titles won by Liverpool.

7 FA Cups have ended up going up to Merseyside.

41 Steven Gerrard was the man to look to in Europe, as his club record total of 41 European goals shows.

17 Liverpool's youngest ever goalscorer was Ben Woodburn aged 17 years and 45 days when he scored the second goal in a win over Leeds United in 2016.

1977 The year of Liverpool's first European Cup win.

78 Ian Rush's 78 League Cup appearances are a club record.

8 League Cups, 4 of them in a row in the early 1980s.

3 UEFA Cups under three different managers, Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Gerard Houllier.

1977 It was a big year for Anfield as the King arrived to take his place on the throne. Kenny Dalglish cost what now seems the paltry fee of £440,000 from Celtic and went on to become a legend on and off the pitch for the Reds. Initially he was wanted as Kevin Keegan's partner, but Keegan's desire to move on saw the Scot end up replacing him on the pitch and in the hearts of Liverpool fans.

857 Ian Callaghan holds the record for the most first team appearances with 857 in total. He also holds records for most league appearances, with 640, and most FA Cup appearances with 79.

2015 October of this year saw Liverpool take a huge step forward as Brendan Rodgers was sacked on the 4th and Jurgen Klopp brought in to replace him on the 8th.

4 UEFA Super Cup wins, 3 after European Cups and 1 after a UEFA Cup victory.

150 With the increase in European games, Jamie Carragher was able to create a new record for appearances in Europe.

4 Division Two titles. The Reds were not always a top flight team and won the second tier of the English Leagues 4 times.

20 Jurgen Klopp is Liverpool's twentieth manager in their history.

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Liverpool Article 26 May 2020
Top 10 Left Midfielders/Wingers/Forwards

10. Lorenzo Insigne - SSC Napoli

Small in stature though he is, Insigne has been a giant for Napoli over the last few years, prior to the arrival of Sarri anyway. Fast and tricky, Insigne is a skilled winger who can give a defender nightmares when on song. It is his consistency that is a problem.

9. Memphis Depay - Olympique Lyonnais

A few years ago, Depay's career looked to be a complete flop after his time at Manchester United turned out to be a mess. It does seem like that move just came too soon, as many said at the time, and he was just not ready to join a club the size of United. Since leaving he has turned around his career and you can see the player they wanted has finally emerged.

8. Heung-min Son - Tottenham Hotspur

It is a tough one to decide where he plays best and that versatility has cost him a place higher up the list. A brilliant player, on the left, on the right or up front, but struggles to hold down a position on a permanent basis just because he can play so well in those positions.

7. Gerard Delofeu - Watford

Pacey and tricky, Delofeu can be unplayable on his day. If he can just learn consistency, then he will be moving up the list. He has already improved from being a one or two times a season superstar to being a one in two performer. Playing for a club that expects more from him and that needs him has done him good.

6. Diogo Jota - Wolverhampton Wanderers

The Portugese has been a breath of fresh air this season, pace, skill, workrate and scores goals too. Jota grew in stature as the season went on and is one player who would particularly be disappointed by the interruption caused by the virus. It is no wonder the media link him with all the big clubs around Europe.

5. Neymar - Paris Saint-Germain

The talent he has should put him miles ahead of the rest but his attitude holds him back badly. Playing in a weak French league does not help his case either, but it is solely down to him and him alone that he is not top of the tree in his role. It is nothing short of embarrassing watching him cheating his way through games and is such a waste of incredible talent.

4. Eden Hazard - Real Madrid

His move to Madrid should have been the catalyst for a step up, but instead it has been a struggle for Hazard as he failed to get himself into the shape that he should have and his lack of fitness caused injury problems early in the season. Once he did get himself fit and in the first team, Hazard did begin to show the qualities Chelsea fans adored.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo - Juventus

Still a great player but he has long since settled in as a striker only for him to be mostly used on the left this season by Sarri. As a result, it was not a great season for him and he finally showed signs of decline.

2. Raheem Sterling - Manchester City

Sterling, despite the media hatred, has improved massively over the youngster that left Liverpool, learning to use his skills for the benefit of the team, while mostly mitigating his weak striking technique. The pace and workrate he has is a genuine problem for opponents and he usually causes the opposition to alter their match plan to counter him.

1. Sadio Mane - Liverpool

There is so much good to talk about with Mane, his workrate is incredible, often popping up in full-back areas and showing an ability to defend one-on-one that very few modern full-backs display. The acceleration he shows is insane, his skills and first touch are incredible and he scores and creates goals. Plus he is good in the air. Mane is fast becoming the complete player.

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Liverpool Article 07 May 2020
Top 10 Right Midfielders/Wingers/Forwards

10. Ismaila Sarr - Watford

Sarr makes such a significant difference to the Hornets' results that he has to be in here. He never looks particularly outstanding, if anything he looks clumsy, but he gives full-backs nightmares. Pace, power, skill, added to youth and enthusiasm, Sarr looks like a huge talent on the rise.

9. Jadon Sancho - Borussia Dortmund

While I am not convinced he is as wonderful as the hype makes him out to be, a lot of the defences he faces are, at best, woeful. Sometimes it is embarrassing watching how the defenders panic and jump out of his way without him having to actually do anything. However, his stats demand inclusion no matter how poor the defences are Sancho has to be good enough to take advantage of their shortcomings.

8. Federico Chiesa - Fiorentina

Chiesa is just 22 himself, another youngster, but he is established now as a key player in Serie A. What he needs now is better players around him to make the most of his talents. Something which did look likely to happen this summer before a virus changed the footballing transfer outlook.

7. Hakim Ziyech - Ajax (Deal agreed to sign for Chelsea in the next transfer window)

When he has his head in the game, Ziyech is top class. The problem he has is attitude. In the past he has squabbled with team-mates and coaching staff and ended up left out of the team as a result. On his day Ziyech can be a real handful for any defence and his attitude has shown improvement recently.

6. David Neres - Ajax

Despite being lightweight, the Brazilian is a lightning-quick tricky winger with real quality. The only thing he really needs to learn is to be more consistent and involve himself in games more. With Ziyech leaving that will give him the chance to solidify his place as first choice right winger at the Amsterdam club.

5. Riyad Mahrez - Manchester City

On his day the Algerian can be simply magical, with tricky fast feet and a wonderful left foot. However he is too inconsistent to move higher up the list. There are a lot of days when he is not even playing and when he does, Mahrez can often try too hard and do too much, losing possession. In large part that is down to being in and out of the side, but he has begun to show signs of adapting over last season.

4. Serge Gnabry - Bayern Munich

It is hard to remember him now as a raw, but promising, winger at Arsenal, because Arsene Wenger was oddle reticent to use him, despite him regularly looking like he had something to offer. Much more than many first team players that he was unable to displace. Since moving to Germany, he has not only lived up to the promise he showed at Arsenal, but exceeded it.

3. Adama Traore - Wolverhampton Wanderers

There is just one weakness left in Traore's game, end product. If he can produce a more consistent end product, rather than running into blind alleys regularly, then he will be unstoppable with his insane acceleration and pace. He is more than just fast though, he has great skill too. If Traore continues to improve at the rate he has, then he will be pushing the top 2 next season.

2. Mohamed Salah - Liverpool

The only reason he is number 2 is because of the long-term consistent brilliance of the number 1. Salah has been sensational for Liverpool from wide areas, producing numbers from wide areas that only Messi can compare to. Though Messi regularly faces much weaker sides than Salah does, so the gap is much smaller than it might seem. One thing that particularly impresses is Salah's workrate, something that is a clear edge over Messi in recent years.

1. Lionel Messi - Barcelona

In recent years he has stopped working for the team and it is showing in Barca's performances of the last few years. However he is still on top of the pile, in large part for his years of brilliance for the team. His age is beginning to show and he is clearly not the player he once was, though still good enough to be on top of the pile.

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Liverpool Article 22 Apr 2020
Top 10 Attacking Midfielders

10. Thomas Muller - Bayern Munich

A few years back he was the best around, but his performance level has been gradually dropping by the season. Now he is just about scraping into the top 10 on past performances. Unless he plays better when football resumes, this will be his final time in the top 10.

9. Mesut Ozil - Arsenal

Once so good he was breathtaking, now completely misused by Arsenal for years but still turns it on when they do play him to his strengths. Even though he has had a disappointing last few years, still his creation of chances is unbelievable in pure numbers. Imagine how good he would be if they actually knew what to do with him?

8. Nicolo Zaniolo - AS Roma

The Italian is on quite the opposite trajectory to Muller, his star is rising while Muller's dims. Zaniolo has had an impressive season and is a player that is sure to be attracting the attention of other clubs. The only thing keeping him down here is that he is young, so has not yet got the lengthy history of high-level performances.

7. Bernardo Silva - Manchester City

Exceptional player but it is difficult to figure out which is his best position, right mid or attacking mid. He is excellent in either, though overshadowed in the City team by his namesake and the brilliant Belgian De Bruyne. Personally I do feel he will establish himself in the centre once the Spanish magician leaves at the end of this season, so he is in as an attacking mid for my lists.

6. Bruno Fernandes - Manchester United

Has been a revelation at United, though he was excellent before that in a much weaker league. Since his move Fernandes has shown he is good enough for the higher level in the English Premier League. More than good enough. Fernandes has become United's key player already.

5. Luis Alberto - Lazio

The Spaniard has come a long way since his failed spell with Liverpool. He has completely rebuilt his reputation as an exciting playmaker and become a key figure for Lazio as they challenged for the title. To have recovered from such a poor spell shows what a good mentality he has.

4. James Maddison - Leicester City

Has been key to Leicester's improvement this season as he provides the creativity they had been lacking. Still has areas to improve on, such as terrible dives, but he has shown some real quality. His set-piece delivery is especially good and he is one of the better players in the game right now at putting deadballs in.

3. Paulo Dybala - Juventus

Dybala is so much better in a slightly deeper role, though he does need to work on his pressing to help the team. His quality on the ball usually makes up for any deficiencies, as he has finally started to look like the player everyone expected him to become.

2. David Silva - Manchester City

The little Spaniard is quite simply a magician, it is only age and injuries that have seen him not be as effective as usual this season. Still a wonderful player, who is not just a creative genius but also hard working and willing to put his foot in when needed. Silva has grown into possibly the best foreign player of the Premier League era and it is sad that his time has ended in such a way.

1. Kevin de Bruyne - Manchester City

What more can you say about de Bruyne that his media admirers have not already said? He is the darling of the sports media, but this season he has fully earned all the plaudits, when played in his best role. The problem he has is that Pep often plays him in a deeper role, which lessens his effectiveness. I do worry that one day he is going to spontaneously combust as his face is so red, but what a player he can be.

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23 Apr 2020 13:55:44
No Coutinho? :) :) :)

Liverpool Article 20 Apr 2020
Comparison 5 - Alisson v Ederson

These two became an argument with life of its own, similar to the old Paul Scholes v Frank Lampard v Steven Gerrard debate. With these two, thanks to David de Gea's collapse in form, standing out as the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, the argument over which was better raged all last season. However it must be said that this season the discussion has died down, with Ederson finally being tested and found wanting for Manchester City, while Alisson has saved Liverpool on a number of occasions.

There used to be a very direct comparison, but with scant evidence to really prove whether or not Ederson was as good as pundits suggested. No one was really taking the game to City to test his prowess. This season that has changed and now the comparison seems out of date, as Ederson has been shown to be nowhere near as good as was claimed. It is now clear to see why Alisson is Brazil's number 1 ahead of him.

Command of Area: Alisson is a clear winner here, though this is not one of his stronger suits when it comes to corners, most of the rest of the time he is very much in command in there. Ederson, on the other hand, is hindered by having a very ropey bunch of defenders in front of him and seems to struggle to work with them. Because of that, I would say that it is difficult for Ederson and that is probably a bigger difference between the two than actual ability in this respect.

Communication: This is one area I believe both could improve on. You can often see Alisson and Virgil van Dijk gesturing to each other to deal with a ball, disputing over who should be there first. Alisson needs to be more clear when he feels it is not his to get to. Ederson, on the other hand, is fine with that part of communication, but balls into the box he is often having to go through teammates who had no idea the Brazilian was trying to get to it. Neither win in this particular facet and both need to work on it.

Eccentricity: Being eccentric is something that seems common to all keepers, good or bad, but I am not sure whether it is a plus to be more eccentric or a negative. Seems to be a bit of both! I would have to say that Ederson is clearly more eccentric of the two, Alisson seems a bit staid by comparison.

First Touch: Normally I would not bother with this for a keeper, but these two are different and as much part of the outfield team as they are goalkeepers. Their ability to control the ball is vital. Both have excellent first touches, but both have had a number of moments when they lose concentration at the vital moment and miscontrol an easy pass causing themselves problems. Over the last few months, Ederson has been prone to more mistakes of the two, they are almost becoming commonplace. It seems like he needs a wake up call, as quite a few have led to goals and Ederson has yet to react to those mistakes by sharpening up his control and concentration. Alisson, on the other hand, has made fewer as time has gone on. When he does make a mistake, you can see him visibly react to it and it makes him much more careful with his play for a while. Ederson just does not seem to learn.

Handling: Both of them are competent in this area. You very rarely see either fumble a catch, though that may be down to the fact that the more difficult balls they punch clear rather than attempting to catch. I am sure the defenders in front of them feel confident that when they do come out, there is a good chance of them dealing with the ball.

Kicking: This is an area of strength for both but Alisson has a clear advantage here. There is a reason he picked up so many assists in Italy and has managed some since arriving at Liverpool. When he gets the ball in his hands, if there is an open runner then he can find him with a highly accurate long kick. I think he is probably the best I have ever seen, which is why he has an advantage over Ederson, who is also often very good with his long pass.

One-on-ones: This is extremely difficult to judge, both play for such dominant sides that they very rarely get put in these situations. I do not think it would be fair to judge on what I have seen, as it is not really enough to make a genuine decision.

Passing: Put the ball at their feet and both of them can play, probably as well as most outfield players. However, I have to give a slight edge to Ederson here, which is why he is so well suited to a Guardiola team. While Alisson is excellent for a keeper, Ederson is even better. It is his best quality as a goalkeeper.

Reflexes: Both are excellent, with lightning reflexes. You would back them both to make reflex saves most other keepers would not manage to get to. There is little to pick between them.

Rushing Out: The pair of them are quick to come off their line and also tend to be off their line looking to sweep up behind the defence, which means they are never far from the action. They can be rash, but usually they get to the ball. Ederson is slightly more reckless than Alisson, which gives the edge to Alisson, but there is little in it.

Throwing: Another part of the game that both keepers excel in. They can launch quick counters with a long and accurate throw. However it is rare that either get the chance, as teams do not tend to get high enough up the pitch against either Liverpool or Manchester City to allow a throw out.

Composure: While both can get ruffled when put under pressure on the ball and make a mistake (like any player), Alisson has a clear advantage in this field. While Ederson can fall to pieces after a mistake and have a poor game, Alisson very rarely makes more than one mistake in a game. Usually he learns from his mistakes as well. Ederson's rashness tends to come to the fore after an error as he has lost his composure.

Concentration: Both have shown themselves to be very good at keeping themselves focused, despite having little to do. This season in particular, Alisson has massively impressed with his ability to pull a save out of nowhere after spending long periods watching the game with little to do.

Decisions: Another area both could improve on. They can both come for balls they are never going to get to, though Ederson needs to learn when to stop and retreat in those cases.

Positioning: This is a weakness of Ederson's game and why he is not as likely to pull off saves as Alisson. Ederson simply does not get himself positioned as well. Cutting down angles, both keepers are excellent at, but just general positioning is a real strength of Alisson's game, but not of Ederson's. I am probably being harsh calling it a weakness, as he is positioning himself well enough to be a Premier League level keeper, but when you are talking about being the best then you have to get this absolutely spot on. Ederson is just not quite there. There are a number of times he will get himself off to one side by a noticeable amount. Strikers that work with a goalkeeper coach, such as Xavi Valero, who gives them information about opposition keepers, will learn that weakness and prey on it by hitting shots to his other side.

Vision: Alisson has shown at Roma and (when he gets the chance) with Liverpool that he has excellent vision and can spot an open forward making a run when he has the ball. That is why he picks up assists each season. Ederson has not really had the opportunities to do so, but he has shown little inclination to even attempt those kind of ball with Man City. Perhaps that is simply a consequence of the way the team plays, but you do think if he could see the opportunity in training they would play for it in matches.

Acceleration: Both are surprisingly quick for keepers but Ederson has an edge here. You would expect people that big to take a while to get going but they come flying out of their area when needed.

Agility: Both excel and are agile enough to keep most shots out and, in Ederson's case, mainly make up for his slight weakness in positioning. While Alisson can use his to pull wonder saves out of the bag at times, Ederson rarely does, but that is mainly down to that slight positional weakness, which leaves him reaching.

Overall: There is one clear winner here, as was proven over the season played so far. Alisson is Brazil's number one for a good reason. He is simply a better goalkeeper than Ederson, though they are both at the right teams for their way of playing. If you swapped them around, Alisson would still be seen as world class at Man City, but Ederson's weaknesses would be exposed much more at Liverpool. That is a key difference for me.

Suggested by Deependra

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21 Apr 2020 19:46:05
Thank you Ed. Really interesting read. Clearly you have spent a lot of time researching and writing this.

{Ed001's Note - cheers mate, really glad you enjoyed.}

Liverpool Article 03 Apr 2020
Top 10 Central Midfielders

This was the most difficult list of all, players such as Kevin De Bruyne often play in central midfield, even though it is not their main position really. I decided I was going to consider players only in what I considered their best position, which ruled out Saul and De Bruyne, as they are better in other areas of the pitch. Though both would surely have to be in there otherwise.

10. Houssem Aouar - Olympique Lyonnais

Lyon are not having the best of seasons but Aouar has been one of the few highlights of the season for their fans. Just 21 years old, he has a very bright future ahead of him, if he can keep his feet on the ground.

9. Arthur - Barcelona

While not on the level of the great Andres Iniesta or his midfield partner Xavi, Arthur is always impressive in Barca's midfield. Their best performances always seem to come when he is playing and I do not believe that is a coincidence.

8. Abdoulaye Doucoure - Watford

In recent years Doucoure has been head and shoulders above his teammates in the Watford team, this season his role has been slightly changed, giving him much more freedom to get forward and it has made him look an even better player. Doucoure's pace and power have always aided him in snuffing out danger, now they are also bringing him goal scoring chances on a regular basis.

7. John Fleck - Sheffield United

Fleck has improved every season I have seen him, but this season he has come on in leaps and bounds. If Scotland do not build their team around him, then they are making a huge mistake. Fleck is almost a complete midfielder, stamina, range of passing and the vision to spot them, lovely left foot, skill and excellent workrate are all there. The key to his game is his passion though, everything is done at 100%, like his career depends on it.

6. Joao Moutinho - Wolverhampton Wanderers

His performances have belied his years. The Portugesa may be getting old, in football terms, but Moutinho has been an example over the course of the season in keeping fit and playing at a high intensity for a large number of games. Added to that, his quality is exceptional.

5. N'Golo Kante - Chelsea

For a while he was undoubtedly the best central midfielder in the world, but Chelsea's continuing insistence on misusing his talents have meant he is no longer playing at the same level. Still a top class player, just no longer the best in the world.

4. Nicolo Barella - Inter Milan

One of the key players for Inter this season, his influence on their team has been increasing as he gains experience. It is easy to see why Premier League clubs have been sniffing around him all season.

3. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic - Lazio

I was going to write that he was back to his best, but I think it is fair to say that he is probably playing his best football now and that he has eclipsed his previous best. It is easy to see why so many clubs wanted to sign him in recent years, he has skill, strength and the size to make him a threat in the air on top of that.

2. Jordan Henderson - Liverpool

At one time the butt of people's jokes, as his distinctive running style drew unfair criticism. The last two seasons has seen him overcome the disdain some people viewed him in and made it clear just how good a player he actually is. This season he has been the driving force, once more, behind Liverpool's title push. He is more than just a player, he is a leader too and that is invaluable in the modern game, which has very few true captains left in the game.

1. Marco Veratti - Paris Saint-Germain

If anything, you have to say the Italian is just too good for the league he plays in and it has been to his detriment that he plays there. It is only really in Europe that you can see the genuine quality he has, added to a good brain and workrate.

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01 Jun 2020 19:34:45
Henderson gets into almost every top side in my opinion. He’s a managers dream, hard working, strong as an ox, has immense stamina, is a good footballer and a real leader.

Liverpool Article 23 Mar 2020
Top 10 Defensive/Holding Midfielders

10. Kalvin Phillips - Leeds United

I know he is in the Championship, but he has stood out like a sore thumb as having the qualities that could make a top class player at the top level. He can be rash when trying to win the ball back and lacks a little in mobility, but his range of passing is outstanding.

9. Luka Milivojevic - Crystal Palace

The main difference between him and Phillips is the level he plays at, but like Phillips he lacks mobility. His main strengths are set piece delivery, which is excellent, and his aerial ability, particularly when defending set pieces. He does not have the same level of passing as Phillips.

8. Jefferson Lerma - Bournemouth

Lerma has made a significant difference to the Cherries' defensive record, as they finally get some protection from midfield. One thing he does not lack for is mobility, it is a key part of his game and he can get around the midfield extremely quickly to snuff out danger. He does tend to pick up too many bookings though and leaves him suspended a couple of times a season at least.

7. Sandro Tonali - Brescia

The Italian youngster is gaining a big reputation and is starting to become a top class midfielder. It is hard to see Brescia keeping hold of him for much longer with Juventus, among others, sniffing around him.

6. Marcelo Brozovic - Inter Milan

Brozovic has been key to Inter's title challenge, despite being a little on the small side. If you wanted a bruiser to out muscle opposition players, he is not going to do that, though he very rarely gets bullied. It is more about his quality on the ball that makes him so good.

5. Declan Rice - West Ham United

Sometimes it feels like he is being limited by his role as a defensive midfielder, Rice can do more than he is able to show. When the chance comes to drive forward, Rice shows flashes of brilliance, but most of the time he is relying on his excellent reading of the game to put himself into position. Rather than being one of those players who is throwing himself into last-ditch challenges and chasing his tail, Rice is about picking off the ball and being in place early, to negate his slight lack of mobility.

4. Fabinho - Liverpool

While his ability to break up play is excellent, especially the way he can reach his long legs in and sneak the ball away, his real quality is his passing. Fabinho has the almost perfect combination of defending and playmaking but he needs to maintain his form over a longer period to move further up the list.

3. Saul Niguez - Atletico Madrid

Saul is an exceptional player and would probably be at the top if he was not often used in other roles. Whatever position he is used in, he excels. A truly brilliant player.

2. Thomas Partey - Atletico Madrid

Partey has the mobility and skill to be a fantastic player. Right now he has finally begun to prove himself as an indispensable part of Atleti's defensive strength. However, the way they play does make it a lot easier for him to break up play and protect the backline. That is why it is that he is dropped to number 2.

1. Wilfred Ndidi - Leicester City

Playing in a more limited, and slightly deeper, role than his great predecessor N'Golo Kante, Ndidi has been an exceptional replacement. Not quite at the same level as Kante, but he has a less demanding role. Ndidi's mobility and workrate is not as high as Kante's but his deeper role allows him to concentrate on being in the right place. It is no coincidence that the Foxes have been doing so well this season with Ndidi in place and that their form dipped while he was out.

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12 Mar 2020 10:09:22
Adrian did not cost us the tie last night. Our inability to score more than 1 goal in 180 minutes cost us the tie.

If you can't score, then one mistake by defense or goalkeeper is fatal.

I count a grand total of ONE goal from our fabled "front 3" in 5 CL matches against Spanish sides last 3 seasons? Pretty poor.

But for probably the greatest comeback ever, we would have been knocked out 3 seasons straight in those match-ups.

Let's hope we can fix this problem for next season.

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12 Mar 2020 10:33:24
Whether you like it or not, Adrian cost us the tie, there's no questions about it. 2-0 up in Extra Time and your goalkeeper makes a mistake as big as the one he did. It is clearly their fault.

The boys put in an absolute shift last night and it was one of their best performances of this wonderful season. We are still Europe's best in my eyes. A mistake from our backup keeper is not going to change that. But there is no need to dwell on it as it can't be changed now.

Since our CL hopes are over, let's look towards number 19 and then pushing again next year. This squad is very, very special. Never forget that.

14 Mar 2020 04:38:13
Your stat of front 3 scoring only once is not only wrong but not even relevant. Firmino the last night and mane against Madrid in final is 2 goals. Also mane only played 45 mins 1st leg, salah and firmino weren't available 2nd leg against Barcelona while firmino also missed first leg and salah only lasted 20 mins vs Madrid so your point is hardly damning.


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