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Monday, July 25, 2005

Reply to Sissoko question on Vieira article 17/07

I appeal to the anonymous commenter who left a message on the article titled 'Sissoko will not surpass the awesome Vieira', 8 days ago, asking my opinion on the midfield set-up at Anfield. The comment quoted was:

"I've been impressed with Sissoko, actually, but from what I've seen, he looks to have more the capabilities of Papa Diop than Vieira. Isn't he going to be Hamann's eventual replacement? How do you see Benitez lining up your midfield, redsman?"

Please, firstly, my unreserved apologies to that commenter for not replying, usually I scroll through past articles to see any additional replies and missed your own. Very sorry about missing your one.

Secondly, my answer to your question. We look at the set-up of Hamann, Gerrard, Alonso and Sissoko. Rafael Benitez is not breaking up his 4-4-2 formation, which is welcoming from the 4-5-1 we had last season with Baros. Alonso and Gerrard are set to be the standard selection for the middle, Hamann is, as he came to be in May in Istanbul, the experienced peacemaker who will come on if need be to settle any loss of possession in the midfield, a sweeper if you will. I find that from what I've seen of Sissoko, his mold at present is similar to Hamann, and to some degree of Vieira. Dispossess, hold off if need be and distribute to clear danger and/or engage the attack quickly.

This is why Benitez likened the Mali man to the Senegalese-born former Gunner. Vieira has the strength to hold off a player long enough to think ahead on what to do with the ball when he gained possession. Hamann had been deployed to enact an equivalent role, and being that he has this season only, so far, to remain at Liverpool, I feel you are correct in asking the question. It is likely Sissoko is to take over from that rein of play. For what also hindered Benitez last season was the injury to Alonso, which denied the team of the reserved playmaker who distributed, leaving Gerrard to attack forward. In the event either Alonso or Gerrard are injured, Sissoko should be geared to replace adequately.

As for Papa Dioup, I like him. Another tall, strong player packing a hefty shot on him, coming from midfield late for the loose ball, he has troubled the likes of Man Utd and Chelsea with his ability. This ability to shoot from late arrival is fitting more in Papa's game, and Hamann, and, I feel potentially, from Sissoko, but Vieira was more the midfield anchor, leaving the final attack near or in the box more to Henry, Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, etc.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply redsman. The reason I asked is that I find it interesting that Benitez would play without a true defensive midfielder, with Alonso playing deep and Gerrard tracking back, although I suppose either Hamman or Sissoko would start for difficult away matches. Like Vieira, Gerrard has seemed to perform best with this type of shielding/sweeping midfielder, but that favoured pairing looks terrific on paper and with a full pre-season together could develop into a devastating partnership.

Respectfully, Rex

7/26/2005 5:10 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgot to say, I wasn't disparaging Diop, but rather his, Hamman's, and Sissoko's role would seem rather more similar, as you pointed out, than Vieira's.


7/26/2005 5:21 am

Anonymous Sham said...

There have been some rumors adrift that Benitez might in fact employ a 4-2-3-1 formation with Alonso and Hamann/Sissoko in the defensive midfield position and Gerrard in the middle of Cisse/Garcia and Zenden/Kewell/Gonzalez, and Crouch/Morientes up front. It remains to be seen how much we use this tactic but the great thing about the way the squad is developing is that we might now get even more insight into how great a tactician Rafa truly is.

7/26/2005 9:21 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

That is something to think about, a 4-2-3-1 formation. I am not too comfortable with the lone striker, though were Bentiez to employ this formation I stand behind him, as I do with his decisions overall. I sense that Morientes or Cisse wouldn't wish to kick heels waiting on the bench to come on and I'd hate for any player to become disgruntled as a result. I do prefer two strikers and the Spaniard and the Frenchman would certainly start together for me.

I also am not in favour of Baros leaving, yet there could be more to this than his ability on the pitch.

One thing I have thought on is the 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Again, in Istanbul, against a strong side in AC Milan, 0-3 down in the CL final, Benitez took the plunge to withdraw a defender and increase the midfield. That would seem to me a backdrop for Benitez were the game to go against us and it could be that the ex-Valencia coach spotted a weakness in midfield in our away games. Though why it would differentiate between whether we play home or away is so far beyond myself.

One always mentions that a manager's first season in charge is too early to make judgement on them. Mourinho grapsed the title for Chelsea, Benitez the CL. Arsene Wenger grabbed the double in his first full season. Yet I sense that, as the commenter above stated, we will see the extent of Benitez's vision for Liverpool FC's future this season.

Notice that the players brought in are not potentially big names, probably because the budget is considered not economically suited to stretch so expensively. But these players are potentially those who, once molded into the type of player for a particular position, can deliver the goods, so to speak. The one example to turn to is Arsenal. We, well at least I, knew little of Henry, Pires, Vieira, Ljungberg, perhaps Reyes can be included, and not forgetting bargain buy Anelka.

Buying the type of player little known is a compliment to the management when that player becomes a valuable and talented asset to the squad.


7/26/2005 11:04 am

Blogger T said...

Liverpool certainly possessed greater team strength when Hamann came on to anchor the midfield in Istanbul, giving Gerrard the freedom to attack the box.

And at Valencia, Benitez definitely employed the one man up front option with two wingers and Aimar/Angulo supporting in the centre.

Therefore, Sham's pointer to a 4-2-3-1 formation could be spot-on, especially (as Rex pointed out)when you consider that Gerrard is similar to Vieira in being at his best when he has a defensive midfield partner behind/next to him.

Redsman, if Gonzalez turns out to be a player like the Arsenal one's you mentioned then I truly will rate Benitez even more than I do now!

7/26/2005 11:25 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

I sincerely hope so. There is more of a selection to choose from now and the likes of Kewell, Traore and others will have to step up their performances. Zenden and Garcia hold the wings for now with Riise at left-back, but Gonzales fit and playing to the ability that Benitez saw in him could move Garcia into a striker role.


7/26/2005 2:24 pm


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