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Gamblor Watches the Table, Midfield Tactics, and Other Tuesday Notes

Kenny Dalglish Andy Carroll

So, a big win against a big spending side and suddenly everything's back to flowers and sunshine and cute little puppies bearing winning lottery tickets and beer. Or something. In any case, what a difference a week makes. Rapid cycling bipolar disorder, we've got it.

My lithium, on the other hand, seems to have gone missing, so let's just get on with the news and notes while the world's still a smiling happy place...

* Over on the official site, Kenny Dalglish offers up his thoughts on yesterday's match, and they're to his usual high standards. He hails the academy, Carroll, Flanagan, and just about anybody else he can fit in. And he also calls Luis Suarez "Wee Luis," which is just about worth the price of admission. Though now I've got images of a three-foot tall Suarez standing next to a nine-foot Carroll, and I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with that.

* Meanwhile, we aren't normally ones to talk up the betting sites, but apparently yesterday's thumping of City saw the nice blokes who would be happy to take your money drop the odds from 40/1 (ie., pay a dollar or pound or Euro to win forty) all the way down to between 25/1 and 12/1 that Liverpool would finish fourth. That's fourth, not the still unlikely fifth. And that's this season, not next.

Premier League Table

There are two possible ways to look at it. First, that some bookies think Liverpool has as good as a one in twelve chance to finish in a Champions League spot this season. Or two, that enough people think Liverpool has a good enough chance to do so to send the price so low, since betting lines are meant to drive money rather than being straight predictors of results, and if nobody was putting money on Liverpool at 12/1 the line would still be closer to 40/1 to attract business from people who thought it was worth a proverbial punt. That it's as low as 12/1 anywhere, then, suggests quite a few people are quite a bit more positive about Liverpool's short term chances than I honestly would have thought.

Now, I suppose all that optimism is nice, but with six matches remaining City remains eight points ahead and with a likely insurmountable goal differential, while fifth placed Tottenham is almost as tough an ask to top with five points and a game in hand. With eighteen points available to both sides, City would need to drop nine points and Liverpool none for the reds to beat them, while Tottenham would have to drop eight of an available twenty-one for Liverpool to likely beat them. The later, though unlikely, still seems almost doable--especially with Tottenham still to play their return leg against Liverpool. Somehow doing both seems as though it should be worth rather more than twelve pounds for every one spent. Heck, it seems as though it should be worth more than twenty-five, too. But hey, I guess optimism is good and stuff.

* Then we have Jonathan Wilson, arguably the top writer out there when it comes to football tactics, nominally talking about Fernando Torres' struggles at Chelsea. Only it's as much about midfield tactics as it is the slumping former Liverpool striker:

Football is not a predictable game. A team can have 20 chances and still lose to a side that musters only one. All a coach can do is manipulate the percentages as best he can in his favour. With that caveat in mind, though, a prediction – in the next decade, no side will win a major international tournament playing an orthodox 4-4-2.

When a good side play with three central midfielders, whether in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 (or either of their close cousins, 4‑2‑1‑3 and 4-1-2-3), they will almost inevitably dominate possession against a side playing only two central midfielders.

He then goes on to talk about why, while also managing to get at the Torres issue in there somewhere. After a handful of matches where Liverpool's 4-2-2-2 has looked light in central midfield due to a numerical disadvantage, only for Roberto Mancini to foolishly play two there instead of City's usual three and in doing so help give the game to Liverpool, it's a reminder for those who need it that an insistence on sticking two in the middle of the park against Arsenal could see all that renewed optimism thrown right back out the window.

In the meantime, while you try to figure out if violent mood swings caused by football matches is a medically accepted problem, and if so whether there's some way to profit from it or if perhaps you should just curl up for a nap in a nice corner somewhere...

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