Talent Radar is our latest feature, you can know more about it here. Updates and Performance Reports on young talents is one of its features as we track the progress of their early careers.
Sterling’s stellar performance as Reds cruise while Brazil awaits
Raheem Sterling has had a good two months in a Red jersey, scoring 5 goals and putting in some impressive defensive shifts. This rise in performance levels has prompted many experts to praise the young lad; and with the World Cup round the corner, making a mark is vital. This is particularly crucial for England youngsters such as Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling, with Theo Walcott set to miss the trip to Brazil through injury. This has clearly opened the door for Liverpool’s teen sensation to capitilise and take full advantage of the opportunity at his doorstep. Note that both Sterling and Chamberlain have featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch-Out for in 2014, with Sterling in at #6 in the list of attackers and Chamberlain at #5 in that same list. See the full list and all other lists here.
Sterling again started as Liverpool named an unchanged side against Arsenal, a game in which the first 20 minutes were arguably the best any Liverpool fan could hope for. While Skrtel started off with a brace, it was Sterling who took control as the game wore on, scoring a goal in either half.
The first arrived through some quick football by the home side after stealing possession off Ozil. Henderson ran with the ball from the half-way line as young Sterling made a free run into the box; Henderson didn’t spot it, instead finding Suarez on the right flank. The Uruguayan’s ball was played to the far post , allowing Sterling an easy tap in. A goal which clearly overjoyed the youngster.
In the second-half it was Sterling again who extended Liverpool’s lead to 5 goals. Kolo Toure played a lobbed ball past Arsenal’s highline, allowing Sterling to take control after watching his run (to stay onside). A good first touch and burst of pace saw Sterling facing Szczesny one-on-one, a delayed and lazy effort was initially saved by the Polish goalkeeper, before the rebound was tapped in. A brace for Raheem Sterling, the first of his senior career, coming against the league leaders.
The Englishman had a couple of chances to earn a hat-trick, the most glaring one coming after he was played through. Again, sheer burst of pace saw him get past the Arsenal defence, and while he had two extremely good options, he went for the greedier effort, to no avail. Nevertheless, another stellar performance from Raheem, inducing many journos to comment on the possibility of Sterling heading to Brazil.
Incredibly, in a game that featured strikers like Suarez, Giroud and Sturridge, young Raheem Sterling took the most shots on goal (5) and had a 100% shot rate with all his shots hitting the target. He so easily could have had a third.
Rodgers’ stated that young Sterling is the best winger in the league, open for discussions but he certainly has made a case. His exploits with Liverpool have seen the Anfield side surprise many with Liverpool’s title chances seeing a rise as well.
Paco leads the line at the Mestalla
After intense deliberation by the editors of outsideoftheboot.com, Paco Alcacer missed out on featuring in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch-Out for in 2014. Our theory was that the youngster was struggling to get a regular run of games in the season and was probably unlikely to do so in the near future as well. But with the appointment of new boss Juan Antonio Pizzi, Alcacer has been galvanized with the new man showing faith in the 2o-year-old, opting him to lead the line at the Mestalla. Under Pizzi, Alcacer has started 4 consecutive games for Valencia scoring 4 goals in that time. His best run of games this season and best scoring record for the club as well; those 4 goals are his first for the club.
Alcacer once again showed his class this past weekend against Real Betis, scoring for the third consecutive game in a 5-0 win, incidentally the first brace of his career as well. The 20-year-old started as the lone striker and took full advantage.
The game got off to a fairly slow start but incredible attacking intent 5 minutes before half-time saw Valencia score twice and go into the break with their spirits high. After Jeremy Mathieu gave Valencia the lead, Paco Alcacer showed his poaching credentials 3 minutes later. New signing, Eduardo Vargas, took a snap shot from close the range with the ball whistling past the Betis defence and sailing along the floor across the box. Alcacer reacted quickest jumping at the chance and connecting on the slide despite the pace on the ball. The Betis defence was left rooted as Alcacer celebrated the 2nd goal of the game.
Just past the hour mark in the second half, Alcacer turned provider with another neat bit of play. Alcacer isn’t the tallest or strongest of players, but he showed why he could be a good choice to play as the lone man upfront, taking advantage of his clever play and quick touches. A ball was played right at Alcacer, the youngster showed immense composure and awareness to play a first time touched-through ball onto the path of Feghouli, a touch of class that. The Algerian made no mistake, scoring the third goal.
Just 6 minutes later Alcacer was involved again. Once more we witnessed Alcacer’s superior play as a poacher. Michel who had just come on played a quick cross into the box. None of the Betis defence reacted as Alcacer made a run in behind the defence and onto the cross, a simple nudge of the head helped the ball into the net and it was 4-0. An incredible performance by the young Spaniard, and arguably his best yet in a Valencia shirt, proving his doubters (us, the OOTB editors) wrong in the process.
Alcacer took just 3 shots on goal in the entire game, 2 of those hitting the target, both ofcourse being goals. He created 2 goal scoring opportunities as well, with 1 ending up in a goal (Feghouli).
The appointment of Juan Antonio Pizzi has seen a rejuvenated Valencia, with the club losing just 1 game in 6 since his appointment. The rejuvenation has been extended to all youngster in the side. Juan Bernat is another young Valencia starlet who featured in our Talent Radar pieces, you can read that piece here.
Read all our other Talent Radar articles here.
To discuss this and many other football topics, join thousands of fans at R/Football