Saturday, August 20, 2022

3 Season Defining Lessons Learnt By Liverpool, Arsenal and Leicester on Saturday | PL GW 2

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Jon Depp (JD)
Eccentric writer, effervescent blagger. What he lacks in cheekbones, he makes up by being cheeky. The footballing Jack Sparrow pompously navigating the high-waves of journalism. 2015 International Football Blogging Award Finalist, the pin-up boy of The 4th Official.

Sunday on the virtue of being a Sunday redeems itself from the rest of the week. It’s not quite as hopeful as Saturday since you don’t have two more days anymore, between you and Monday. But Sunday seems to carry the languid grace of knowing and gives you enough leisure to ruminate and sleep on the results of Saturday, which Sunday’s matches do not afford – you get up and you get thrown into the hustle of your everyday 9-5.

Forgive my incoherence, as my team lost and my thoughts are meandering – I’m sure you relate. You try to not make eye-contact with reality, avert your eyes from the back pages of your paper, change the channel when the sports package rudely interrupts your breakfast and ignore all those text messages from your cruel, opportunistic mates.

But there are lessons that are learnt, regardless, that sets you up better to know what to expect from the rest of the season. And while it’s just the second game-week of English Premier League, some mistakes are glaring enough for fans to know that that would set the tone. Srijandeep Das at The 4th Official dives into the disillusionment and picks out three of such lessons that Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester would do well to learn from.

#1 Juergen Klopp’s greatest strength can be his most obvious weakness

Juergen Klopp backs himself to be a motivator beyond compare, and to be fair, he may just be one of Europe’s finest in that regard. His trust in his own players is incorruptible from duress or criticism, such belief has on most occasions worked to the mutual benefit of the coach and the player – both reaping rewards from the upturn of form. A constant theme that has laid the narrative for some of the Bundesliga’s leading lights in Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mario Goetze, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan, Neven Subotic, Marco Reus and countless more influenced by his constant assertion of their talents. But it does beg to ask, where does one draw the line? Where does one cut the cord?

The obstinacy surrounding Liverpool’s insistence on not procuring a left-back cover, and operating without a central defensive midfielder defies common sense. While Klopp may believe, that in the grander scheme of things, Alberto Moreno may indeed turn out to be one of the better wing-backs in the Premier League, and that eventually, either of Emre Can or Jordan Henderson or even Marko Grujic may grow into the sheet-anchor role – that future seems distant, and a little less than certain.

It’s not long before the transfer window slams shut, and it would prove to be counter-intuitive if Liverpool do not invest the monies gathered from the sale of Christian Benteke, the entire 27 million GBP of it – daft, even. Zeljko Buvac should have a word.

#2 Arsene Wenger has lost his aura

What becomes of a manager who has stayed in the game a little too long, with intermittent success? Arsene Wenger is an ideal case study for any aspiring football manager. Coming from the orient, managing Nagoya Grampus Eight, he brought with him the methods that would forever change the English game as we know it. The landscape of player nutrition to rehabilitation and recovery, conditioning, coaching, tactics, scouting, metrics and finances was altered irrevocably – all carried out with the meticulousness of a Shogun.

While there is no doubt in regards to the sheer debt of gratitude that fans and the club owe to Arsene – not just in terms of success, but in terms of stability; the charm wrapped around his footballing enigma has long since been unravelled, his methods dissected and studied and bettered. The tooth of time has done its work, and much like Johan Cruyff, when he was (timely) sacked at Barcelona, despite his legacy, the supporters refuse to take him seriously any longer – and that, if their performances are anything to go by, seems to have crept into the dressing room. Like a man who sees the end of the line, and is unsettled by it, his marked countenance gives away the very fact. The least he deserves, though, is respect.

‘‘There is one thing I am sure. I will leave a very healthy club. The stadium will be paid. The facilities will be paid. There will be money to spend for the next man and I will leave a good team’. That was his target.” – Jacques Crevoisier, close friend to Arsene Wenger, on his last objective.

#3 There May Not Be An Encore For Claudio Ranieri

There are two types of footballers at Leicester City at the moment. One, who never expected to reach the heights they have had in their footballing lives, and know for certain that they may never again. Two, who having achieved said heights, have half-an-eye on moving on and attain more celebrity on a more ready frequency at a bigger club.

The wizened Italian’s most unenviable task would be to motivate those two sets of players. On the evidence of complacency displayed last week at the KCOM stadium at Hull, and then the profligacy on show against Arsenal, that one criterion may prove to define Leicester City’s season.

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