All posts by Matt Carter

Does Rodgers need to review his front five?

Brendan Rodgers is a manager who has tried to freshen up Liverpool with a fluid style of play focussed on passing and flexibility in attack.

Liverpool have Sterling, Borini, Suso, Sturridge and Suarez at their disposal. They are all strikers who can fulfil a role as a main attacker or as an auxiliary forward. This should be a trump card for the Anfield outfit.

Despite the array of options the Merseyside club have they again struggled to get going last night against West Brom.  It was not through a lack of fashioning chances either as they managed 19 attempts on target it was about having the incision to put the game to bed.

Steven Gerrard’s penalty miss may have been the turning point but in a home fixture against a team around them Liverpool need to find a way to unlock tough defences.

The Baggies failed to fashion a single attempt on goal before the Gerrard penalty secured a smash and grab from a corner which followed their first shot on target.

If Liverpool are to be anywhere near the top four contenders they want to be they may need to strengthen further up top yet still, rather than passing sides to death.

The reason for this being that neither Downing nor Henderson appear up to the task of providing enough attacking flair. Sterling and Suso need time to develop and mature whilst few are convinced Borini was up to the challenge in the first place. This leaves far too much dependence on Sturridge and Suarez.

Sturridge had been pivotal in Liverpool’s mini revival at Man City and Arsenal both away from home, but he is not enough when delivering by himself.

If Rodgers is to remain he needs to find his best attacking complement and ways to make them compete against each other and have a thriving up front or he will have his contract cut short sooner rather than later. There is one thing having a project another having abject performances like yesterday’s Monday night “special”. The only ones with a unique experience were those sat in the away end.

Is Ricky Lambert capable of the international stage?

The rise of Rickie Lambert from the lower Leagues to a respected relic in the Premier League jewellery set has been one any footballer would aspire to achieving.

He has done exceptionally well to convert his imperious goal scoring record he had in the Championship into the Premier League.

It is certainly form which is very difficult to ignore. Lambert could be the difference between relegation and survival amongst the English elite for Southampton.

It is difficult to dismiss goals as an option when it comes to any stage but the international stage is one which is a very different beast to the Premier League.

The international game is focussed very much around passing and is played at a far slower tempo as there seems to be a nip and tuck of tactical chess when the World’s best match up.

In this environment you can’t afford to carry any dead weight.  There are some players that are decent enough footballers but just not cut out for playing for their country.

Whilst Lambert is a shining example for players looking to climb the League and make it to the top his rise should end here. He does not belong in the Three Lions set up and falls into a similar bracket that Grant Holt did last season. He is above average but not exceptional.

He is latest fancy for the media to try and put in the national set up. Rickie Lambert will soon prove he isn’t capable of replicating such form consistently, so Hodgson should save the fans the pain the frustration and waste of time it would be calling him up.

Can Bebe realise his potential at Manchester United?

The Portuguese striker has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the Premier League whilst he has been on the books at Old Trafford.

Is he really well and truly out of his depth at one of the world’s best clubs or just a talent waiting to be showcased?

There will be several Man United fans who would not even entertain this debate. It has been accepted that this was a rare rash judgement from Sir Alex Ferguson who got trapped in by media hype suggesting Real Madrid interest.

A fee of £7 million has been dismissed as ludicrous in several footballing quarters.  When Bebe did step out on to the pitch he made less of an impression than a fountain pen without an ink cartridge.

He put in a man of the match display as Rio Ave managed to beat Sporting Lisbon in their latest outing, which could signs of life and vitality and life in the attacker after all.

Ferguson once dismissed Diego Forlan to the scrapheap and Arsene Wenger has now done similar to Carlos Vela as both went on to flourish in Spain.

The greatest managers hate to make the same mistake twice, so even though Bebe should have initially been ignored, Man United may very well land on their feet with a talent coming back to their club when he returns in the summer.

Has Leandro Damiao missed his Premier League chance? (Video)

The Brazilian international has been courted by Tottenham Hotspur for several transfer windows. They failed with a deadline day bid of around £17million for the enigmatic forward who clearly looks a cut above the rest when he turns on the style.

Damiao may feel he has little to be concerned about. It is not exactly news to him that he is a wanted asset in Europe.  He continues to score goals in Brazil and clearly made an impression with his 6 goals in the Olympic Games last summer.

Despite this, he may be careful on being so nonchalant about not forcing through a move to Europe. If he is not careful his time may never come.

Mr Levy is not a man who is easily taken for a fool and he will think very carefully as to whether he wants to splash excessive money on a South American fancy that is an unknown quantity in the Premier League.

The Spanish and French League have proven to be the sources of football bargains for English clubs in recent times. The price tag has risen so high now that you can seemingly fit on one hand the potential suitors outside of Brazil for the forward.

European clubs are aware that Brazilian exports such as Oscar and Lucas Moura may be sensational talents but also have premium prices to match, so may decide to steer clear of this uncaptured one.

This said he may just provide a timely reminder why he is set for the very top against England on Wednesday.

This video may jog your memory of what Leandro Damiao has to offer:

Is Sissoko the latest bargain to evade the top four? (Video)

A French International, 23-years-of-age, a physical presence you simply can’t ignore and the textbook definition of a box-to-box midfielder, what is there not to like about Moussa Sissoko? This is the point where you expect there to be a catch.

There simply isn’t, as there is no Robin Van Persie price tag. He was signed from Toulouse for a mere £1.8 million.

The Newcastle United fans have already made a chant about him that sounds awfully similar to one made for a former idol on Tyneside Kevin Nolan and he has instantly captured the imagination of the supporters in the North East. You suspect his talent will drive the Magpies firmly towards the rich rewards that come with Premier League safety if his first two displays are anything to go by.

Just 2 years ago, the player had an estimated transfer value of £16 million and you can instantly see why. All of the current top four are missing the kind of steel he provides in midfield.

It is not as if paid just shy of £2 million is a gamble for the Premier League’s top sides and maybe they should also not dismiss the notion that a bargain can bring dividends with it. Arsene Wenger can put his excuses book away, as the player was well within Arsenal’s price range and would have filled the void left by Alex Song in August.

Wenger back then admitted that he had never heard of Michu. It shows once again the value of scouting thoroughly and having those with an eye for footballing talent within your ranks.

Next transfer market it may be time for a review of scouting systems for all clubs in the Premier League. The TV money is set to increase and with so much at stake at top and bottom with a £1.8 million signing being able to make such a difference; the scouts could be worth their weight in gold.

If you are still not convinced check out this video of Sissoko’s full display against Chelsea below:

Should Abramovich go for Vicente Del Bosque?

Roman Abramovich has always strived for perfection and to bring the world’s very best managers to Stamford Bridge.

This led many to believe this was the reason between sacking club legend and cult hero in west London Roberto Di Matteo last November.

It appears that even winning what was supposed to be the missing piece in the jigsaw the Champions League still can’t keep you in the Chelsea hot seat for the long term.

The appointment of Rafael Benitez looks like it will not be extended beyond the end of this season as the 52-year-old looks to have made Chelsea rather rudderless of late.

A further twist to the plot for Abramovich has occurred as his supposed long term target Pep Guardiola has decided to take over the reins at Bayern Munich at the end of this season. Despite no formal offer being made, several believed should Guardiola have wanted the Blues job then it was there for him.

This should not lead the Russian owner to be disheartened though. If he is to be satisfied he needs to go for the very best.

The leaders in World football at this current moment in time are in Spain and the transformation of the country’s national team has been heralded by the 62-year-old Vicente Del Bosque.

Del Bosque left club football at Real Madrid with a sacking and a bitter taste in the mouth that comes with this. He may fancy a chance to finish in the domestic game in the Premier League on his terms and make a legacy for himself having achieved it all on the international stage.  He has succeeded in transforming Spain into the very best so there is no reason why he can’t do the same for Chelsea.

Is De Gea really under fire?

There has been some discussion of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea being under pressure. He covered himself in no shining glory a few weeks ago with an error at White Hart Lane to effectively discard two minutes for the current Premier League leaders at the death.

Is his capability really being questioned by Sir Alex Ferguson? I highly doubt it. The player was signed for £20 million and if reports are too believed then his potential sell on value has increased somewhat since then and both La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid would welcome him back with open arms.

De Gea has made mistakes in his time at Old Trafford but there is not a blindness to see past this. His distribution is game changing and on very few can match his modern approach to keeping in this sense. His awareness to quickly start counter attacks is one which could prove invaluable to Manchester United in future years. A player under pressure I think not, this is a keeper ready to flourish for many years to come.

The Spaniard is young, but at Fulham this weekend showed he had the reflexes and shot stopping ability of a goalkeeper of any age. Those that are suggesting that because he has had to fight for his place with Lindegaard means he is not up to the task miss the point. He was signed for the long term future, not to be the instant finished package.

It is worth bearing this in mind before people wade in to criticise De Gea, they may want to be careful what they wish for as there would be several managers all too willing to fly him on a plane back to Spain.

Three Deadline Day Deals

As the transfer window comes to a close we all know that sides will be looking for that one final impact buy. Here are three stunning suggestions of players and what clubs they may end up at.

Edinson Cavani

This transfer could be tailor made for Manchester City. He is so highly rated only a handful of clubs can afford Napoli’s asking price. There have been no £20 million + marquee signings from any of the current top four clubs, so this could be the big one we’ve been waiting for. Roberto Mancini didn’t get his chief striking target in the summer in the form of Robin Van Persie,

Money is no object and a striker to persistently deliver the goods to bring the title over the line could be what Cavani has to offer, so don’t be surprised to see him arrive at the death. In the modern City era they did do a last gasp deal for Robinho so don’t rule out business with seconds to go here too.

Leandro Damiao

The Brazilian has been a flavour of fancy at White Hart Lane for quite some time now. It appears that AVB sees the versatile forward as the answer to his forward line with the club’s woes no secret in the striking department. The top scorer at the Olympic Games may be where most fans know him best from.

This may have been an early omen that he is set for a return to London on a more permanent basis. He would cost around £15 million but for a Premier League club looking to fill the void pushing to get in the top four, Damiao could make the difference. Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham could find way worse.

Iago Aspas

The Celta Vigo has been catching admiring glances across this transfer window. He has really hit the ground running in the Primera Division in Spain. Michael Laudrup has been casting his eye over him all season but the bigger fish may not want to risk the chance of him signing another Michu like bargain at Swansea.

Chelsea have been credited with an interest as things heat up as we approach Thursday. He may have an inflated price tag and be a gamble at £8 million but that seems at minimum the going rate for forwards who can give you that edge in the final third at the moment.