Why Liverpool are too wasteful this season despite being second top scorers

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side have scored an impressive 61 goals so far this season, however the stats show that the Merseyside club could have scored more, wasting many of their clear cut chances this season.

Liverpool have the league’s second top goal scorer at their disposal in the form of Egyptian Forward, Mohammed Salah. The former Roma man who is well-known for his pace and flair has scored 22 goals in the 2017/18 campaign, just one behind Spurs Striker Harry Kane. The 25 year-old also has the second highest amount of shots dispatched with a tally of 103 this season.

Salah is also joint sixth in terms of the assists that he has made with a tally of seven. Mesut Özil and Riyad Mahrez have also gained this number so far.

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Despite the club having this special player at their disposal, they are still missing more chances this season compared to last. So far, the Reds have missed 45 big chances this season meaning they are the second highest wasteful club in the league. Like The Reds, Manchester City struggle to convert their chances, wasting the most opportunities in the league. City also did this in the season prior, unlike Liverpool who missed considerably less opportunities being in sixth place in terms of chances missed last season.

 Big chances wasted  Times hitting the woodwork  Overall shots on goal
 Liverpool in 2016/17: 35 18 640
 Liverpool this season (so far): 45 14 469

The fact that they have wasted ten more opportunities already this season compared to last is quite astonishing for a side with so many quality attackers available. This could be in relation to the change in their style of play.

Klopp seems to have majorly rid of a traditional striker role set out in his starting eleven. Instead he relies on the likes of wingers like the prolific Salah and Sadio Mané to supply the goals. This has in fact proved to be a crucial factor in the team’s success in the majority of games, however it could explain why more key chances are missed in front of goal without a native striker who would be specifically trained in that area. However, the correlation of touches taken by all the players this season is very similar to last.

The German manager has also seemingly worked more on his defence rather than attack this transfer window, as Klopp’s defensive frailties were exposed as the Reds had to endure some terrible defeats. This includes a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City and a 4-1 to loss Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the season.

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Therefore Klopp signed Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk in January for £75 million to help out the back. Of course, Brazilian maestro Phillipe Coutinho leaving to Barcelona in that transfer window effected the squad too. It could also explain why they have missed more chances with his absence.

Liverpool have though, kept the same style of play in terms of going forward, unlike their changes at the back. They still maintain a high-work rate and emphasis on moving the ball around quickly.

Top 3 teams who completed passes:

 2016/17 Season  1. Manchester City  2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal
 2017/18 Season  1. Manchester City  2. Arsenal  3. Liverpool

This inability to put away clear-cut chances has proved hurtful for Liverpool at times in spite of currently residing in third place in the table.

For example in their recent outing to lowly Swansea City where the Reds lost 1-0, they had a staggering count of 21 shots compared to Swansea’s measly three. Missed opportunities in games like this will prove to be crucial come the end of the season if Liverpool are to hang on to their Champions League spot, as the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham linger closely behind.

Only time will tell if Liverpool can reverse this trend.

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Liverpool next face West Bromwich Albion.

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Former Rotherham United player reveals what it was like playing for the club during the turbulent times

How aware were the players of the scale of the jeopardy facing Rotherham United during their years of near crisis? Former Millers full-back, Dale Tonge explains what it was like wearing the red shirt through this unstable period for the club, and indeed through the better times, too.

Rotherham United were threatened with extinction as they entered administration twice prior to 2008. Multiple points deductions would follow as a consequence, eventually resulting in relegation to League Two. The situation was extremely dire. Dale Tonge contended that even the players weren’t fully aware of how bad the situation was at the Yorkshire club, and stated: “On a personal note, I struggled being a single lad with a mortgage, but lads with families struggled more which was hard to see. The people who had worked for years at the club got made redundant too, which was an awful situation to be in as these selfless people are the heart and soul of a club!”

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Local businessman Tony Stewart took over the club as chairman, but they still had to sadly leave their native home of Millmoor in the 2008-09 season, after failure to come to an agreement with the ground’s Landlords. Millmoor had been the home of Rotherham United for over a century and Tonge who had the pleasure of playing there, enthused that: “Millmoor was my favourite place to play!”

The 32 year-old also described the nature of the 8,300 seat stadium: “It reminded me of when I was young watching games on the terraces. The stands were close in, which created a great atmosphere!”

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The Millers moved to a temporary home at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield. The 25,000 seater stadium had an athletics track surrounding the pitch, which made it incredibly hard for supporters to create an atmosphere. “No player or staff member liked the move to Don Valley”, remarked Tonge. “However, we knew the move was necessary. We played for Rotherham, but never actually visited there often, trained in Doncaster and played in Sheffield!”

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The Don Valley Stadium – Photo courtesy of Chris Sanders

“Overall we tried to make this ground a tough place to come and I think we achieved this, but it certainly never felt like home!”

The club finally returned home in 2012, as they moved to the state of the art AESSEAL New York Stadium. The aesthetically pleasing 12,000 capacity stadium was to be the secure home of the club, finally back in their own town. Tonge described how the stadium created a wave of much-needed “optimism and excitement” around the football club, which: “rewarded the fans and in particular the chairman who deserves it for all the hard work and patience in seeing the process through.”

The Millers enjoyed back-to-back promotion from League Two to the Championship at the stadium under lively manager Steve Evans, whom Tonge played under. The club are currently battling for promotion again from League One this season under manager and former player, Paul Warne.

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Finally, Tonge summed up his Rotherham United career which lasted between 2007-13: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club and making memories there. It’s fair to say, I’ve had my downs too with me being injured far too many times, but this has made me a stronger person.”

“I was treated very well being a local lad and I was very proud to wear the shirt that a lot of my family supported.”

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He ended the interview with the remark:

“Once a Miller, always a Miller!”

Tonge came out the Barnsley youth set-up and made his debut in 2004 against Brentford. He currently plays for FC United of Manchester. A massive thanks to Dale for taking the time to speak to me!

A full feature on Rotherham United including more of Dale’s comments and supporter’s views will be on The Yorkshire Voice in the near future.

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Lizzy Yarnold wins Team GB’s first Gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics

Lizzy Yarnold has successfully retained her golden status as she has won Team GB’s first gold medal in PyeongChang.

The 29 year-old who also clenched the gold medal at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014, is in fact the first ever British athlete to retain their golden title.

Yarnold set a fantastic track record on her final run which won her the medal. This was after heading in to the last run behind Austrian Janine Flock, by narrow margin of 0.02 seconds. Flock was visibly distraught after the event as a disappointing finish on her final run made sure she missed out on the medals in fourth place.

Yarnold’s teammate Laura Deas also finished 3rd in the event, ensuring that this is Team GB’s most successful day at these games so far.

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HEAD2HEAD Preview: Rotherham United vs Bradford City – 23/01/18

Here’s a head to head preview ahead of Rotherham United hosting Bradford City in League One’s Yorkshire derby on Tuesday night.

Standings

Both clubs are eyeing promotion this season. The Bantams are four points higher in the table than Rotherham with a tally of 48 points, as they currently reside in 5th place in the league table. The Millers meanwhile are situated just outside the play-offs in 7th place.

Recent Form Guide

Rotherham have stretched their impressive unbeaten run to eight games following their recent 1-0 victory over promotion rivals Portsmouth. Out of these eight games, five have resulted in Paul Warne’s side gaining all three points.

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The visitors on the other have have entered a period of inconsistent form, losing their last two games. They lost at the weekend against Bristol Rovers 3-1. They have now lost three out of their last five games, however the other results were victories for the West Yorkshire club.

In the dugout

Rotherham United – Paul Warne

Bradford City – Stuart McCall

Top Scorers

The hosts’ top scorer was on-loan Striker Kieffer Moore who had become one of the leading scorers with 13 goals to his name. However, he was re-called by his parent club Ipswich and was subsequently sold to Championship side Barnsley. Therefore, Rotherham’s current top scorer is former Fleetwood Town striker David Ball who has a tally of 6 goals.

The visitors’ top scorer is Middlesbrough-born Striker Charlie Wyke. He scored at the weekend in Bradford’s 3-1 loss to the Pirates. The 25 year-old who has more often than not proved to be an aerial threat is reportedly attracting a lot of interest from some Championship clubs, which is a suitable credit to his abilities.

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All-time Record

Bradford wins: 28
Rotherham wins: 36
Draws: 14

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High-scoring striker Kieffer Moore joins Barnsley, but Rotherham fans shouldn’t be too disappointed on missing out

Former on-loan Rotherham United striker Kieffer Moore has joined Championship side Barnsley after being recalled by his parent club Ipswich Town. He snubbed his former employers and various other clubs like Bradford City and Peterborough, to sign with the Tykes.

The fee is reported to be around £750’000.

Barnsley fans have valid reason to gloat about the signing, as the high-towering strikers’ record speaks for itself. The striker scored an impressive tally of 13 goals during his fairly short time at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Moore quickly became somewhat of a hero during his 22 game spell at Rotherham United. Paul Warne’s Millers side based much of their play around the prolific 25 year-old at the start of the season, using Moore more often than not to hold up the ball and battle past defenders.

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Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom highlighted what he was expecting Moore to bring to his struggling Championship side:

“We were after a player of his qualities, who can offer something different and improve the starting 11. His height will trouble defenders and cause problems, but as a player he’s got much more in his locker and will score different types of goals.”

The fact he has also played in South Yorkshire already and knows the area will only benefit him in his new career at Barnsley. Heckingbottom said he expected him to “settle quickly”.

The Torquay-born striker trained with his new team-mates today in cold conditions at Barnsley’s training ground:

Very recently, the player tweeted his thanks to the Millers and further enthused about joining his new club:

It’s fair to say that the deal provoked some disappointment from Rotherham supporters, as despite a reported ‘club-record bid’ attempt in trying to capture the striker’s signature, he instead chose to move 13 miles North to Oakwell.

This disappointment is further understandable given the rapport that the 6ft 5 attacker developed with the Rotherham faithful. Not just with his goals, but with his positive demeanour off the pitch.

This United supporter’s tweet possibly sums up his positive relationship perfectly:

Despite of the striker choosing to join a rival side, Rotherham fans will surely be comforted by the fact that their own striker David Ball has entered a positive period of form. The former Fleetwood Town man had to be very patient in waiting for his first team chance under Warne, as Moore often started up front as a lone striker in the starting eleven. Ball has now scored in Rotherham’s last three fixtures. Most recently it was an 88th minute equaliser against high-flying Blackburn Rovers to earn the Millers a well-deserved point.

With regards to other transfer news relating to Rotherham, it has been sparse so far this January. There have been no new signings as to date, and just one departure. Goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell left the club to join fellow League One side Northampton Town on a permanent deal, after making 27 appearances, but failing to secure his spot in the first team this season.

In the Tyke camp, Kieffer Moore was the Tykes’ first signing this season, but there have been no other deals so far.

Barnsley too, have had departures on their own. Harvey Barnes was recalled by his parent club Leicester City. He netted five goals whilst he was with the Reds, including a fantastic strike against rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

Another exciting player who returned to his Premier League club from Barnsley, was young Chelsea striker Ike Ugbo.

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Additionally Barnsley sold 21 year-old midfielder Josh Kay to lowly Chesterfield for an undisclosed fee. They also sent midfielder Jared Bird out on loan to Yeovil Town and Cameron McGeehan on loan to Scunthorpe United. Finally, Goalkeeper Jack Walton Joins Northern Premier League Premier Division Stalybridge on loan.

Barnsley’s next fixture, which may well feature their new singing, is a stern test in the Championship at home to top of the league Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

Meanwhile Rotherham will make the trip to Oldham Athletic on Saturday, in League One.

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League One: Rotherham United should make the Play-Offs

It seems that the majority of the ‘Paul Warne Out brigade’ have gone into hiding at Rotherham United, for the time being anyway…

This comes after Paul Warne’s Rotherham United side are enjoying a refreshing period of positive form coming into the New Year, re-igniting expectations of a possible promotion push. This followed an inconsistent period of form prior in which sections of the Millers faithful heavily criticised the former fitness coach.

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Recently, the good times for the Millers continued as they equalised in the 88th minute against third placed Blackburn Rovers, in their last fixture which finished 1-1. David Ball prodded the ball in from close range to send the AESSEAL New York Stadium into rapturous scenes, in a game where Rotherham were perhaps unlucky to not take all three points.

This result means that, not only have the Millers proved that they can more than compete against the division’s top sides (again), but it also means that the Yorkshire club have extended their unbeaten run to six games, gaining a healthy tally of 14 points in the process.

I still maintain my opinion that the club will finish in the top six at the end of the season, as I believe that they have all the right conditions for a successful campaign.

To name a few examples: Rotherham have a driven manager who cares deeply for the club and has also proved that he can manage a side sufficiently. This is combined with a talented squad, particularly in terms of the attacking talent at disposal. But, perhaps most importantly of all, the squad now has a clear identity on how they want to play.

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When the Millers were relegated from the Championship, they perhaps lacked this strong sense of identity. This season it is a different story. Warne and his backroom staff deserve credit for how they have created such an identity of how they want to play, with a high-intensity, high-work rate, attacking style of play, impressing the Millers faithful this season.

What’s also an added positive for the club, is that despite Rotherham’s top-scorer Kieffer Moore being recalled by his parent club Ipswich Town (and without speculating on him signing a deal with Rotherham), supporters will be comforted by the fact that striker David Ball has entered a good period of form. The former Fleetwood Town man, who had to be patient in waiting for his first team chance under Warne, has scored in Rotherham’s last three games.

The squad also genuinely seem to want to make amends for last season’s, let’s face it, disaster. When I spoke to Millers winger Jon Taylor back in November last year, when Rotherham were 7th placed in the table, as they are also now, he believed that with the level of quality in the squad that they should have been higher up in the standings.

Of course it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Rotherham. It does appear that on occasions, Warne’s side doesn’t always appear to have a potent back-up plan when things aren’t quite going their way.

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Moreover, after regularly watching Rotherham this season, the amount of chances that are being created, but are subsequently let down with a lacklustre final ball, is frustrating. That and some of the questionable defending at times too, is concerning.

Nevertheless, this season has been a welcome contrast from the misery of the previous campaign. Warne has put together a motivated, talented side, that I’m sure will finish in the top six come the end of the season. In terms of the now Merry Millers gaining promotion though, I’m not so sure….

Watch the video below to see my thoughts at the start of the season:

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My Favourite ALL-TIME Rotherham United XI

I examine my favourite ever Rotherham United starting line-up, after watching the Millers since 1997. Perhaps you’ll be surprised…

GK – Lee Camp

Rotherham United’s player of the season 2015/16 has to be my choice ‘keeper between the sticks. (Andy Warrington was a very close second). The current Cardiff City shot stopper played a crucial role in maintaining the Millers’ Championship status during his time at the club. It was also great to see a player show a great amount of passion, as Camp would often rally up supporters behind the Millers goal. I will always remember replicating the chant ‘Campy what’s the score’ that was sung by the Derby supporters initially, until at the end of the game when we came back late on and ended up drawing 3-3. This was much to the delight of Camp who seemingly isn’t looked at particularly fondly by those set of fans.

LB – Joe Skarz

Full-back Joe Skarz joined the Millers in May 2013 from Bury after spending a loan deal with Rotherham the season prior. The 28 year-old helped the Millers to promotion twice under Steve Evans, most notably playing a key role in the 2013/14 campaign which saw the Millers promoted to the Championship. Whilst he wasn’t perhaps the most technically gifted full-back, I particularly liked the dependability the Yorkshire-born defender possessed. Skarz currently plays for Bury.

CB – Ryan Cresswell

Rotherham-born Ryan Cresswell was one of my favourite players when I was younger. I remember feeling particularly disappointed when we moved to The New York Stadium and new manager Steve Evans deemed the 6ft 1 defender as surplus to requirements. I liked the no nonsense nature of his defending and the fact he was a local boy probably played into my favouritism. The 29 year-old now plays for National League side Eastleigh FC.

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CB – Kari Arnason

Kari Arnason is probably one of the classiest players I’ve seen wear a Millers shirt. His partnership with fellow defender Craig Morgan was immense. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a more versatile central defender. The Icelandic International’s composure was superb both when he stayed in his native defensive position and when the 35 year-old would push forward. Now Rotherham fans tend to disagree on a lot of things, but there was a unified sense of sadness from all supporters when he left the club to play Champions League football with Swedish side Malmö FF. I can only compare such a sadness to dropping a bucket of KFC on the floor…

RB – James Tavernier

He left you wondering whether he was in fact an attacker instead of a defender. The right-back who was on loan at Rotherham from Newcastle United at the time became a crucial part of Steve Evans’ side. I don’t think there was a better full-back in the league. The man produced some terrific free-kicks, had a stinger of a shot and left opponents on their arse with mazy runs. He was also fantastic in his defensive duties. He had it all. The 26 year-old currently plays for Scottish side Rangers.

LM – Ben Pringle

“That man Ben Pringle, he loves killing pigs”. Need I say more? The lively winger created countless goals for Rotherham, playing an often crucial role in our back-to-back promotion campaign, with pin-point crosses coming from the magical left-foot of the Newcastle born man. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his fantastic volleyed goal in the Cup against Sheffield Wednesday. Perhaps his volley against Shrewsbury was even better! Pringle was in the 2013/14 Football League PFA Team of the Year, highlighting just how good he was. His Twitter feed and Instagram was always a treat for the eye too…

CM – Lee Frecklington

Current captain and longest serving Millers player Lee Frecklington just has to be in my all-time favourite Rotherham team. He really is a role model to young, aspiring footballers on what a player should be like. He’s a player who’s not afraid to get stuck in, in addition to having a keen eye for goal for a midfielder. You can tell that the team misses him in midfield when the 32 year-old is out. I sense that the Lincolnshire born man has earnt a testimonial (even though it’s arguable he deserves a knighthood), though hopefully not yet of course!

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CM – Danny Harrison

Perhaps this is my strangest choice in my eleven. I do always remember loving Danny Harrison when he played. The midfielder always gave maximum effort in games and genuinely cared about the club’s supporters. He scored his first Rotherham goal against Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup. He might not have been the most agile player, but he helped add to some great memories during his five year tenure in South Yorkshire.

RM – Kieran Agard

Alright, yes, there’s argument that he should be my striking option. But Agard was chosen as a right-midfielder when he played his crucial role in Rotherham’s League One promotion campaign, and man did he play that role well! After initially being lower down in Steve Evans’ pecking order, he became a regular starter, both scoring and contributing to goals on a regular basis. He was Rotherham’s top scorer in the 2013/14 season with 26 goals in all competitions. I had his name printed on the back of a Millers shirt, that was, shortly before he sadly moved to the then League One side Bristol City. Just my luck! Oh, and let’s not forget has last minute goal in our 2-0 win against Bradford in 2013, where he slotted it in to an open net. LIMBS!

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ST – Adam Le Fondre

He was perhaps just too good for us, wasn’t he? I was there when Le Fondre scored his 50th goal for the Millers with the second goal in a 2–0 win against Accrington Stanley in 2011. He was a joy to watch in every game he played. After leaving the club and having various spells with Reading and Wolverhampton Wanderers among others, it seemed like every single bloody transfer window the striker would be linked with us in some way. Often it was just wishful thinking by our supporters, but that’s understandable I suppose. The goal-machine still maintains a fond connection with Rotherham United, often tweeting his support for the club on social media.

ST – Daniel Nardiello

Daniel Nardiello joined the Millers in May 2012 and became the club’s top scorer that season. I was actually rather sad that he fell down the pecking order slightly in the 2013/14 season, especially after his achievements in the season before, and being selected behind a striker like Matt Tubbs just didn’t seem right! He ended his relatively short Millers career with 23 goals in 45 games. His footballing abilities aside, I recall that he was an all-round nice bloke too, and always had time for fans before games.
You can read my interview with Daniel Nardiello by clicking/tapping HERE

Here’s my full starting eleven:

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