The Liver Bird  

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Liverpool V United: 3 Key Results From The Last 5 Years

Hello everybody, long time no type. I haven't blogged in ages, I guess I've just been super busy, a pandemic happened and I lost a bit of love for writing but with a simply massive match on the horizon against Manchester United, I had to take the opportunity to get back to the keyboard for a trip down memory lane.

Below are three key results from the last five years of Liverpool v Manchester United. Let me know yours on Twitter.

1: European Prowess

Result: Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0
Goalscorers: Daniel Sturridge (20' peno), Roberto Firmino (73')

In March 2016, Liverpool had drawn Manchester United in the Europa League. Just six months into Jurgen Klopp's tenure and the German had been dealt once of the most mouthwatering ties ever. Yes, this may not have been the Champions League but both sides were desperate to win here with progress to the quarter-finals at stake.

Jurgen Klopp celebrates

Image via football365.com

In the Premier League, Louis van Gaal's side were 3 points ahead of the Reds in 6th place but Klopp's team did have a game in hand. Manchester United had already got the better of Liverpool in both league games this season, winning 3-1 in September 2015 at Old Trafford and victorious at Anfield thanks to a late goal from Wayne Rooney.

While United for years had bragging rights over the Premier League, they could not compete with Anfield's European prowess. The 2-0 victory at Anfield is one of my favourite moments from clashes between the two sides in recent years. United were dire in this match and the Reds went on to seal their progression, drawing the second leg at Old Trafford 1-1.

Liverpool went on to make it all the way to the Europa League final against Sevilla but lost 3-1, it didn't matter though, greatness was around the corner.

2: Salah Lost His Shirt

Result: Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0
Goalscorers: Virgil van Dijk (14' peno), Mo Salah (90' +3)

It's Sunday 19th January, Liverpool are flying high at the top of the Premier League, coronavirus is some pesky thing that we're denying will ever hit us and we're allowed to go to the pub... little did we know.

The Reds scored after just 14 minutes thanks to Van Dijk but United managed to find a foothold and began to put Klopp's side under some serious pressure. While it may not have been the end of the world if Liverpool had dropped points here, pride alone was worth fighting for, we weren't going down to United, not today.

Mo Salah and Alisson celebrating
Image via premierleague.com
In the third minute of extra time, Mo scored a brilliant goal assisted by Alisson (memories of Pepe Reina evoked) and Anfield erupted. We'd seen a lot of wins so far in the season but this one felt special.

The victory extended our lead at the top, which was now a 16 point gap, and the Kop, finally, allowed itself to make vocal what we'd all been thinking for some while now but were too afraid to admit. The chants of "we're gonna win the league!" rang around L4 and that elusive Premier League title felt closer than ever.

That snap of Mo Salah whipping his shirt off and running to the Kop End is etched in my mind, simply awesome. Unfortunately, the Reds had to wait patiently for their title as coronavirus ripped through the nation, but we got there in the end and boy was it emotional.

3: Big Shaq, Super Sub

Result: Liverpool 3 Manchester United 1
Goalscorers: Sadio Mane (24'), Xherdan Shaqiri (73', 80')

In December 2018, I watched one of my favourite performances from a sub ever. Shaqiri only entered play with 20 minutes to go as the Reds were level with United and struggling to find a way through.

Xherdan Shaqiri celebrating
Image via goal.com
A win here would be vital for Liverpool as Manchester City has beaten Everton for another three points the day before. Both efforts from the Swiss international were deflected but nobody cared, Big Shaq had entered play and completely turned the fixture around with two goals in two minutes, it was a superb performance.

Still to this day, that's one of my favourite results, United were shellshocked and the win took us back to the top of the table. It's a shame that for whatever reason Shaqiri is still on the fringes at Liverpool but he is certainly a player who can completely turn a game in your favour.

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Saturday, 27 June 2020

A Lifelong Wait: Liverpool FC, Premier League Champions

30 years. A literal lifetime for me and many others. Some follow a football club because it's the team their parents support, others like me live 80 miles away from Anfield but were submerged in Kopite culture from around the age of 6 or 7, thanks to an older brother who was obsessed with the title stomping Reds.



Of course, my brother had the right idea, follow the Reds in the 70s and 80s, titles come along like buses. Look up silverware in the dictionary and you'd probably find a Liver Bird crest beneath it. Little did I know, I wouldn't enjoy this same feeling, my life as a Liverpool fan living in Wolverhampton would be an absolute emotional rollercoaster.

My first obsession over a footballer would begin with Michael Owen, he'd later break my heart, but that didn't stop me buying anything with his face on and naming my female rabbit after him. Owen tricked me into thinking this was our time. The Houllier treble convinced me that I would soon have the bragging rights. I could walk into secondary school and dish out the stick to all the kids in United shirts but no, I'd have to wait much, much longer for that.

In 2005, I sat in the living room with me Dad, taking in all the build-up to our pinnacle moment in Turkey. Led to the final by a man who can only be described as a tactical genius and the first Liverpool manager I truly loved: Rafael Benitez.

At half time, I ran to the bathroom, unable to hold back the tears after watching us go three-nil down. I didn't think I could bring myself to watch the second half but Dad with his wise words persuaded me otherwise.

By full time I was dancing in the street outside our council house, draped in the same Liverpool flag that I held aloft this Thursday just gone. The neighbours didn't understand but at that moment, that was true vindication of what it meant and how it felt to be a Liverpool fan. Even when everything is against you, you never give up, you keep fighting. I was basking in the glory of the Miracle of Istanbul, one of the greatest football matches that has ever been played.

Again, Rafa and his magic had tricked me into thinking this was our time. Liverpool would finally be able to push for that elusive Premier League title. How wrong I was. Rafa, of course, went close, but it wasn't to be.

By 2009 I had left sixth form with some dodgy A-Level results, I couldn't get into Uni and was on the dole looking for a full-time job. To keep me occupied, I set up this blog which would eventually go on to win awards, unbelievable. One of the first blog posts I put out was a description of my first ever match at Anfield in 2010, hearing You'll Never Walk Alone reverberate around L4 is still etched in my mind.

I blogged constantly, the writing was a release, I never expected though that there would be so much negative. What followed was post after post on Roy Hodgson, relegation zones, missed chances, dodgy owners, court cases, utterly terrible signings and no real light at the end of the tunnel. Still, the wait went on.

By 2012 I'd completed a college course and got into University. I was chuffed to bits, but while a big part of my life off the pitch was somehow getting itself in order, could it be as Liverpool announced Brendan Rodgers as the new boss, Liverpool were getting themselves in order too?

It didn't take Rodgers long to provide us Kopites with a serious, serious title challenge. By the end of the 2013-2014 season, I had written the following in a summary blog post: "I'll never forget coming so close to the title with Rodgers, I'm 26 in November and that is easily (aside from the Champions League final in 2005) the most excited I have ever been as a Liverpool fan."

It truly felt like the tides had turned when the Northern Irishman steered us so close that season. But, you guessed it, I'd fooled myself again into thinking this could actually be happening, the title had never felt so far away by the time Rodgers was sent packing in October 2015. 

Gerrard said goodbye and over the years we'd lost some of the iconic players who I associated Liverpool with while growing up. There was no Carragher anymore, no Gerrard, no Owen, Fowler or even Riise (another player I was obsessed with). Yes, there'd been the likes of Torres, Suarez, Alonso, even Dirk Kuyt and some brought a sparkle to Anfield that made you believe but only for a moment.

It would take a complete change of tack, a new manager with new ideas, and a set of owners willing to throw in some cash in order to create the catalyst.

In October 2015, "The Normal One" showed up at Anfield. I can't deny that if you went searching through the blog's archive you would find a paragraph somewhere where I said, in a choice between Ancelotti and Klopp, I'd lean more towards the Italian. Thank god the club chose Jurgen...

As Liverpool supporters, it's never been just the football that moulds you into a fan. The Hillsborough Disaster happened in April 1989, seven months before I was born, but a story my Mom recalls reeling at after seeing it on the news. On that day, 95 football fans went to a game and never returned home, a 96th victim would later lose his battle in hospital. In 2016, after an agonising fight for justice, a jury concluded that the fans were unlawfully killed. Raw emotion of a different kind. Justice for the 96.

By the end of the 2015-2016 season, Klopp had taken us to two finals, the League Cup and the Europa League. His impact was almost instant and although we lost those finals and there were a few initial hiccups at the start (some of which I probably also discussed on the blog), it soon became clear that this man had a plan.

His rapport with the players was phenomenal, his understanding of the club and the fans? Perfect. He knew exactly what he wanted to build and how he wanted to build it. Rival fans scoffed at us spending megabucks on the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson but Klopp knew precisely where his team's flaws lay, he addressed them and boy did it work.

As a Liverpool fan, I spent the majority of the 2018 - 2019 season with a massive grin on my face. Yes, I'd faced heartbreak the year before watching Mo Salah leave the pitch injured and crying in the Champions League final but this season felt different. It felt as though we were finally ready. I believed again.

A phenomenal effort saw Klopp's side finish on a massive 97 points, just one sole point behind City. In the years gone by, we'd finished second on a handful of occasions in my time as a Liverpool fan, but I never truly went into the following season thinking we could surmount a credible title challenge, the Rodgers season was probably the closest I'd felt to that.

This time though, I knew we'd be battling for it. The trio of Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were virtually unstoppable, we'd purchased a brick wall and plonked him in the centre of defence and our goalkeeper was the best in the world. It was time.

I hoped it would be our season but I could never have predicted the distance we would put between ourselves and the opposition this time around. We're yet to know the points gap we've won by but to finish with seven games to go as Champions? This is the stuff dreams are made of.

In March, the horrendous Coronavirus pandemic that has shaken the world put things into perspective. I love my football club and I struggled to function without them but some things were more important.

The rumours of "null and void" began to swirl and I just kept thinking, that would be peak Liverpool, wouldn't it? My time as a Red has taught me that things often go against you and the asterisk brigade were out in force. "Oh if you're gifted the title it won't be a REAL title." I was fuming, I'd not waited 30 years for some tin pot fans to spout "fake title" at me for the rest of time. Thankfully, football was allowed to safely restart.

The Reds took a game to settle in after a draw with Ancelotti's Everton (can't say I predicted he'd end up at Goodison when I was considering him as our own boss) but won emphatically against Crystal Palace. The gauntlet was laid.

Fast-forward 15 years on from when I was a tearful almost 16-year-old, sat at my parents' house, wrapped in that Liverpool flag, praying for the right result to gift us the first huge trophy I'd seen us lift. Here I was, now in my own flat living with me Wolves mad fiance, sat on the floor, wrapped in that same flag, nerves shot to pieces.

There'd been several points over those 30 years that I'd convinced myself I will never see my side lift the Premier League title, but in the moments I believed we may do it I never accounted for the fact our victory could be confirmed by the result of our rivals match.

It was a bizarre evening Thursday night, watching on a phone screen, I squinted to make sure Willian's penalty had definitely gone in and that the crowd noise bloke hadn't accidentally pressed the wrong button again. It was in, and there were 10 minutes to go. 

I'd held back the tears at this point but after screaming my head off at the final whistle I switched over to Sky on the tele. A montage of Liverpool from the year I was born to the present day was shown and I was an absolute mess. 

This is me moments after our first Premier League title win was confirmed.



A lifelong wait, but nobody can ever, ever take that feeling away from me, pure and utter joy.

I drank and danced around the living room well into the early hours, despite having work the next day. While I dreamt of celebrating in Liverpool, in the end, it didn't matter, I was elated.

I just hope I don't have to wait another 30 years for the next one...

#YNWA

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Friday, 12 June 2020

Liverpool FC, Lockdown and Mental Health

There are just five days until Premier League football is back in our lives and nine days until Liverpool line up against Everton in the Merseyside derby. The UK has been in lockdown for close to 12 weeks and a Premier League ball hasn't been kicked since Monday 9th March.

For many, the lack of football will have been a blessing but for those like myself who class the sport as one of their true loves in life, this has been a difficult time to say the least. I don't think anyone could have predicted the impact a lack of football could have on a fan's mental health and well being.

Image via Science Focus
Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not somebody who has suffered with significant mental health issues (though I know plenty who have) but I think the lack of football, the lack of a routine, something to look forward to, has had a significant impact on my personal mental health.

Football is escapism in its purest form, unlike a film or a TV show, you can't successfully predict the outcome. You're taken on a ride, through a rollercoaster of emotions, you're often shouting expletives at the opposition but this is a release and without it, without this release of emotions and the experience of the highs, something huge is removed from your life - it's only natural that you then struggle in its absence.

Pile onto this the fact you couldn't leave your house aside from one bit of exercise initially, maybe you've been furloughed, maybe all your mates don't live close enough for you to have a socially distanced BBQ... and all of a sudden you've created the perfect storm.

It's for this reason, and I know I am not alone in this, that the feeling of relief knowing that Liverpool will be back on our screens in less than 10 days is an immense one. 

It's not just fans who have struggled through this Coronavirus lockdown, players have suffered too. Liverpool were reported to have provided mental health advice to players early on including breathing exercises and social media advice. It's also been reported that players who were close to the end of their contracts have had significant mental struggles and have been reaching out for support.

I was reading some very interesting snippets from Kevin George who is an ex-professional and mental health in football expert (I need to check out his book "Soccology") and for me he hit the nail on the head:

"Coronavirus has taken everyone out of their routine and this is what can bring problems. People get lost without the comfort of their schedule or what their schedule may be protecting them from for example sitting with thoughts. Creating a schedule also puts control back in your hands instead of sitting in uncertainty, waiting for updates."

Football forms a huge part of that "schedule" for me and I know for many others and so taking it day by day and forming a plan for each day has been a real coping mechanism.

For anybody struggling with mental health issues I highly recommend the Mind website which is packed with superb advice. The NHS also produced "10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus".

Looking ahead, when football does restart next week. As a Liverpool fan born in 1989 I have literally been waiting my whole life to watch us lift the Premier League title. You couldn't have ever predicted that a pandemic would delay proceedings but I suppose after waiting for that long, I can wait a while longer.

After it was confirmed recently that the Reds will be able to play the Merseyside Derby at Goodison and not at a neutral venue, it could be that this is where Jurgen Klopp and the boys claim the title. This is dependent upon the Manchester City v Arsenal result on Wednesday.

I've dreamed of this moment for years, we've come close on occasion, Gerrard's slip still causes a physical pained reaction whenever I see it but it'll all have been worth the wait after the way this year has unfolded. 

Yes if we don't win it at Goodison we win it in another empty stadium with fake fan cheers and no opportunity to gather and celebrate but at this stage, I don't care, to watch us lift the title after lockdown will be phenomenal. Cider will be flowing, Si Senor, You'll Never Walk Alone and the Mo Salah chant will be sung, it will be an emotional moment for all Liverpool fans and I for one cannot wait.

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Sunday, 5 April 2020

TWO MORE GAMES

TWO MORE GAMES. 

That's what I was saying to myself over and over again approximately four weeks ago. At the time I had shared the below on social media, which unfortunately now sounds more like a distasteful joke but this was genuinely how I was feeling. The club I had supported and followed my whole life, a full 30 years, had got within touching distance of lifting their first Premier League title and then a pandemic breaks out.


You just couldn't write it, it's peak Liverpool. Throughout the years, the club and football as a sport has faced some torrid times but to throw around what I'm sure will be the word of the year for 2020... this is unprecedented.

After what has happened in Britain and across the globe over the past few weeks, it does really make you take a step back and think about the vital things in life. Bill Shankly once said "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." On this occasion, I have to disagree with the great Shanks. 

Interestingly, it's the great man himself though who has really got me thinking about the latest decision from our wonderful football club. The club this week has decided to take advantage of the Government furlough scheme in order to assist with paying its non-playing staff. While the scheme is there to help those employees from all companies who may suffer during this crisis, it seems immoral for a club that checked in around £40million plus in profit last year to take this route when so much more could be done. It goes against everything the club, the city and its fans stand for and I truly hope another conclusion is reached.

"The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It's the way I see football, the way I see life." - Bill Shankly

Away from the club's current stance of furloughing, one man who has made me immensely proud is our captain Jordan Henderson. It was revealed this week that the skipper is working to set up a fund for NHS workers by speaking regularly with captains from other Premier League clubs. This is the example Liverpool should be setting.

Image source: Liverpool Echo
With no real indication of when it may be safe to restart the Premier League and football across the country in general, while I am desperate to see my boys back in action (I heard YNWA on a quiz show midweek and nearly started crying!) this whole situation has made me realise how lucky we are and it really makes you take stock and value the smaller things in life.

All I do hope is that Liverpool are given the opportunity to earn that trophy, I do not want to be gifted the Premier League title and do not feel it is right to scrap the whole season. Next season hasn't yet begun so sort out what's happening in the here and now before you go looking to plan ahead.

I don't know when, but at some point this year, Jurgen Klopp and his phenomenal Redmen will lift that elusive piece of silverware. I always thought I would cry when we won the league but as this season went on, the Reds were making it far too easy, the raw emotion of going so close in the 2018/2019 season was absent so I was beginning to think the waterworks wouldn't happen. I'm almost certain now though, after everything that has happened, seeing Jordan Henderson lift that cup will not just be a true sense of happiness, it will symbolise a return to normality and I will never look at life or football in the same way again.

Stay safe folks, stay home. YNWA.

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Sunday, 29 December 2019

Liverpool 1 Wolves 0 / Four Things We Learned From Liverpool's 2019

I haven't blogged in two months... what an absolute shambles.

I've been stupidly busy and tied up with switching jobs etc and I guess I'm learning that blogging is something I adore but that it's ok to blog less frequently.

Anyway, I figured what better way to round up Liverpool's 2019 than with a post after just watching us beat my future husband's team haha.

The Reds managed to get the better of Nuno's side with a slim 1-0 victory at Anfield on Sunday evening. While I feel Liverpool commanded the game in terms of possession and playing the ball out from defence, I don't feel we were entirely in control.


A weakened Wolves side after their emphatic win over Manchester City still posed a real threat for Jurgen Klopp's team and were, as predicted, difficult to beat. Sadio Mane celebrated his goal for a second time after the smiles were initially cut short when VAR was called in for a handball decision. It clearly hit Lallana's shoulder and so the goal was awarded.

However, the real controversy happened just before half time when Neto scored for the visitors. He received some stick online for an over zealous celebration but he had netted what he believed to be his first goal in the Premier League. That was until the tape measure was brought out again.

I understand the offside rule, if you're offside you're offside end of. However, the offside rule was introduced in a time before VAR, in an attempt to prevent goal hanging and to decrease the advantage of the attacker but I ask you this since when did being offside by an armpit give any sort of advantage to an attacker??

Offside I don't believe was ever meant to be studied and measured to the millimetre and if VAR is here to stay (I personally wish it wasn't but that's another story) then perhaps the offside rule needs updating.

Nevertheless, Wolves may feel hard done by, I've felt the same with similar decisions earlier this season, but rules are rules and that's what VAR is following so the goal was correctly ruled out.

As for all that talk about Virgil potentially hand balling, he didn't so just don't even start with that.

As the second half played out and Wolves brought on the 100% pure muscle Adama Traore some significant chances were created but Nuno's side just couldn't seem to convert.

All of this means Liverpool at the time of writing after collecting another three points, sit unbeaten at the top of the table, 14 points clear of Manchester City and 13 points clear of Leicester... I'm not saying it.

So, what have we learnt from Liverpool's 2019?

1) Tenacity, we do not know when we are beaten

It wasn't so long ago when I would watch Liverpool go down in a match or spend half an hour at 0-0 and look as though they had no route through. I've always believed in my side but it's only really in 2019 that this side that Klopp has built has made itself truly formidable.

Teams have thrown everything at us, from England, from Europe, from the World, but they can't stop us. The chips can be down and the tiredness setting in but this team will never give up, a late goal will come, there's sheer belief that we will be victorious.

It's so refreshing to see.

2) Champions of Europe, Champions of the World

A year ago it was heartbreak, I spent the majority of summer 2018 hoping Ramos gained a career-ending injury and at the time, despite knowing how good we were, just couldn't see us getting to the Champions League final again.

But we bloody well did and we did it in style. That match against Barcelona (other than the 2005 final in Istanbul) is the most exciting and ridiculous Liverpool game I have ever watched in all my life. Absolutely phenomenal and again proving we just don't know when we are beaten.

The Champions League win was nothing short of what Liverpool deserved after finishing so agonisingly close to winning the Premier League title.

More silverware followed as Adrian the hero in goal helped us lift the UEFA Super Cup and then we travelled to Qatar in December and just casually became literally the best team in the world.

3) A team of stars

In years gone by Liverpool have never been short of stars, there's always been one or two diamonds within the team. Think of your Gerrard's, Torres', Suarez's. What hasn't happened for a very long time though is for Liverpool to have a team full of stars, players other clubs are desperate to have and that fellow professionals rate very highly.

In 2019, Liverpool had seven players on the finalist list for the Ballon d'Or and let's face it, the only reason Virgil van Dijk didn't win is because he's a defender and apparently if you don't score goals you don't deserve awards in football.

4) Use of the squad

Klopp has found a way to bring in star quality, retain star quality and keep that star quality happy, even when they're sat on the bench. This may not seem like a skill or a lesson learnt but for me 2019 showed how important the ability to rotate and utilise the squad was and Klopp is a master at it.

The prime example for me was Divock Origi, at the start of last season, I genuinely had forgotten Divock was even on our books. By mid-2019 I was considering tattooing his name on my arm haha.

A squad player who often was found sitting on the bench yet on every single occasion he was called into action he gave his absolute all. He was pivotal in Liverpool's 2019.

Roll on 2020. Have a bloody fab new year all!

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Saturday, 19 October 2019

Back On Our Perch?

I was about 13 when Ferguson talked about knocking Liverpool off their f**cking perch and for the past 17 years, I've had to live with Manchester United fans making that well and truly known at every single opportunity.

Fast forward to today and the tables have turned but while I have had to sit and take the stick for over a decade where are all the United fans now? Where are the 18-year-old lads on Facebook who used to wax lyrical about Wayne Rooney, where are the "Beckham" replica shirt wearers that used to crowd the local pub? I'll tell you where... in hiding, cause they can't hack it.

Image via The Mirror

This Manchester United side is absolutely abysmal yet weirdly, as Kopites, we still find ourselves concerned about the trip to Old Trafford. Why is that?

Well, I'll tell you why, it's because as a Liverpool fan who's about to turn 30, I can count on one hand the times I remember watching the Reds win at the self-titled "Theatre of Dreams". It just doesn't happen and it hasn't happened in five years.

Last season despite Klopp's side picking up a whopping 97 points, the game at Old Trafford was absolutely horrendous. A terrible advert for football with arguably two of the biggest sides in the world game seeing out a 0-0 draw. Absolute snore-fest.

This season though, the gulf has widened, it's more of an abyss to be honest. United, with Ole at the wheel, at the time of writing are one point away from the relegation zone. Liverpool, on the other hand, are unbeaten and five points clear at the top of the table.

United look soulless and even after bringing in players like Harry Maguire and Wan-Bissaka it doesn't appear to have been enough to solve the situation. With rumours Paul Pogba may or may not be fit to start and also the influential David De Gea unable to play this surely should be a chance for Liverpool to add another Old Trafford victory to the list?

I sometimes feel like as Liverpool fans we're scared to be confident, we've learnt from experience that it's better to wait until after the event but I'm sorry, if I'm not allowed to feel confident as European Champions sitting pretty on our perch going into a game against a piss poor Man United side then when can I feel confident?

Whatever happens tomorrow I trust the Reds will give it their all. Part of me wonders whether Solskjaer will opt park the bus tomorrow but will the United faithful really accept watching their beloved team defend in desperation against a swift Liverpool attack for 90 minutes? I'm not so sure.

Roll on kick-off, if we're going to stay on our f**cking perch and keep Man City at bay, we need this one.

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Saturday, 14 September 2019

Four Things We Learned From Saturday's Results (14/09/19)

1) Firmino is smooth af.

The Brazilian didn't enter play until just before half time as he replaced Divock Origi but he immediately made an impact for Liverpool who were drawing 1-1 at this stage. A stunning strike from Willems gave Newcastle the lead after just seven minutes but Mane had equalised just before the half hour mark. When Firmino joined, the Reds were beginning to gain control of a game which started a bit wobbly for Klopp's side.

Image via The Mirror

It was Firmino's assist though for Mo Salah in the second half that has had Kopites drooling over replays. A sublime bit of skill in the box saw him roll the ball backwards and complete a little side footed pass behind his ankle, all this while being closed down by the Newcastle defence. His assist for Salah was stunning and the Egyptian ensured he put Liverpool 3-1 up.

2) Lost without Laporte?

I wouldn't usually write about other matches on the blog but it's been a bit of a bloody weird day football-wise, all of which is a positive for Liverpool. If you didn't know cause you've been under a rock, which I apparently was for about 50 minutes of the City match, Pep's team were beaten by plucky Norwich.

It was an unbelievable display from the Canaries and some of the goals/attacks in particular have shone a light on City's defensive problems with Laporte now being out. It's an interesting one because when an injury like this happens you always presume that a top class side will find a way through but people often underestimate the power of a defender, especially in terms of their communication and organisation.

I'll be watching City more closely over the next few weeks.

3) Sadio's calmed down

After throwing a bit of a tantrum the other week, my absolute favourite player Sadio Mane seems to have calmed down. Enjoying a break after no international duties with Senegal, it was lovely to see Mane score twice and celebrate with his fellow forwards, including that Mo Salah, you know the one that never passes...

It is laughable to me that the only issue people can cling on to or try to talk about at Liverpool at the moment is the fact that we have a selfish striker. Strikers are meant to be selfish and yes he should have passed but who gives a shite when you're top of the league?

Opposition fans and the media will grasp at anything to try and bring down the Reds this season, anything so they don't have to put up with the unbearables winning the title but put your pens away folks because there's no rift at Anfield, these lads love each other.

4) Pukki for golden boot?

Pukki, what an absolute hero and did I hear somewhere he's a Liverpool fan or is that just a rumour? Either way he's already been involved in eight goals in the first five matches this season, that is some record for the 29 year old who also scored 29 goals in the Championship last season.

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Saturday, 24 August 2019

Five Things To Note From The Arsenal Win

1) Mo Salah is here to stay

A header from Joel Matip opened up the scoring for Liverpool on Saturday evening in their 3-1 win over Arsenal but it was Mo Salah who would go on to grab the headlines. A blatant shirt pull by David Luiz meant the Egyptian was awarded a penalty (which he converted with ease) but it was his second goal of the game that was really special.

Image via The Guardian

David Luiz had an absolute mare and Salah not only gained the penalty off him but left him for dead on his route towards goal meaning the ex-Chelsea man could only look on in desperation as the forward scored with a low finish.

Some like to question whether Mo can keep at the level he has been playing in previous seasons but I have no doubt he'll be up there fighting for top goalscorer again in 2019/2020.

2) Virgil van Dijk is going to be under a microscope this season

I don't know if anybody else has noticed this but from about five minutes into the Norwich game it appears that all commentators are now on van Dijk's case. They've had enough of the world class, Champions League winning defender and now want to try and pick faults at any moment.

Gary Neville today wasted no time having a dig at van Dijk simply because on a couple of occasions the Dutchman decided to give Pepe a bit more freedom, but he still had things under control. It's already winding me up this and there's a whole season to go yet.

3) Adrian unlucky

It was frustrating to see Adrian's reaction upon conceding late on in the game, an early mistake when he should have left Virgil to deal with the situation nearly ended in a goal for Arsenal but on the whole, I thought Adrian did quite well. He was unlucky to concede after a bit of a mis-hit by Torreira eventually turned into a goal.

It must be extremely tough for the sub keeper as he's barely had anytime really to settle in with the squad and get used to how his defence will play things in certain situations. For me, as much as I'm 100% behind Adrian we definitely need Alisson back sooner rather than later.

4) VAR nonsense

It's no secret that I'm very much in the sack VAR off camp, I know opinions on this are as split as who likes Marmite but that red card decision early on was absolute nonsense. Nobody in the ground had a clue what it was for or even if it was related to an Arsenal or a Liverpool player. There's no screen at Anfield but even on the screens at home, we're sat watching a cut out of the referee next to a replay of a situation on a purple VAR background with zero information as to what is being checked. Martin Tyler didn't have a pissin clue what was going on. I still don't even actually know what happened... absolute joke.

5) This team is solid

It was always going to be hard for Liverpool to hit the ground running, especially after a dodgy pre-season and with the pressure of entering this year as Champions League winners but the Reds have looked very strong so far.

Norwich and Southampton you could argue weren't a full test for Klopp's side but they made Arsenal look pretty average today. It's evident how happy the team is together and the link-up play between the front three is just awesome. I am so excited for the rest of this season, this team is solid.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Three Times Liverpool V Arsenal Was Awesome For The Neutral

It's funny, when you ask people to name classic football matches and rivalries not many people come up with Liverpool v Arsenal. In my opinion, this has thrown up some of the most exciting league fixtures of recent times.

The game often has lots of goals and although there have been times when the match has felt one-sided (see Liverpool 5 Arsenal 1, December 2018) on the whole it makes for an evenly pitched clash and I for one am looking forward to Saturday's game.

So for this post, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane and look back on some of the close ties between the two sides.

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 3 - Friday 22nd December 2017

A cold December evening three days before Christmas saw the two sides line up with Liverpool in 4th place. The Reds needed at least a draw to remain in that position.

It was a great start for Liverpool who opened up the scoring with a rare header from Coutinho after 26 minutes. Mo Salah then went on to score early in the second half with a deflected strike. Things looked comfortable for Klopp until the Reds failed to deal with a cross from Bellerin. His effort was met by Alexis Sanchez who headed home Arsenal's first of three in six minutes.

Image via Sky Sports

Just three minutes later the Gunners had found a second thanks to a strike from Xhaka, Mignolet attempted to save but couldn't get enough on it. The Reds were well and truly under pressure now and with barely a chance to regroup, two minutes later Arsenal had scored again this time thanks to Ozil.

Liverpool looked dumbfounded but the neutrals watching across the country were chuffed this match had been the Friday night selection. It was a crazy game of football and it wasn't done yet.

Never a side to throw in the towel, Klopp's team eventually found an equaliser to keep themselves in 4th. Bobby Firmino's powerful strike was enough to beat Petr Cech and collect a draw.

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4 - Sunday 14th August 2016

The opening encounter of the 2016/2017 Premier League season and what a belter it was. It took 30 minutes for the first goal to go in after Theo Walcott found the net for Arsenal (after missing a penalty just moments earlier) but from there on out it was goals galore.

Image via The Independent

A lovely free-kick from Coutinho gifted Liverpool an equaliser just before half time and Adam Lallana found the net to put the Reds 2-1 up after 49 minutes. Seven minutes later Coutinho scored again to increase Liverpool's lead and this was closely followed by a strong strike from Sadio Mane.

Things were looking great for the Reds but one minute later, future Liverpool starlet Oxlade-Chamberlain would score for Arsene Wenger's side. Arsenal were starting to gain momentum but despite finding another goal thanks to Chambers at 75 minutes it wasn't enough to earn them any points and on this occasion, Liverpool would walk away victorious.

Liverpool 3 Arsenal 3 - Wednesday 13th January 2016

Liverpool... and Arsenal... loads of goals? Who'd of thought it?

Yep, the two sides were at it again back in January 2016. Bobby Firmino opened up the scoring very early on for the Reds but saw his goal cancelled out when Ramsey found an equaliser.

Clearly not happy with this our Brazilian forward then scored a stunning goal from 20 yards to put Liverpool back in the lead. It was a wet and miserable January evening and neither side wanted to lose this game, Arsenal also had one eye on the title at this stage of the season.

Image via Football 365
Giroud who was influential for Arsenal then went on to score once in the first half and once in the second, Arsenal remained in front for the majority of the second half. That was until a Welsh substitute entered play.

Joe Allen was brought on for Emre Can at 82 minutes, perhaps not the most likely goalscorer, Joe converted a low drive on the stroke of 90 minutes to grab Liverpool a point and dent Arsenal's title hopes.

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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Adrian Saves Final Peno To Gift Reds The Super Cup

Well, that was a bit of a slog wasn't it? The Reds seem to love taking the long way round but after 120 minutes and ten penalties, Liverpool finally lifted the Super Cup after Adrian saved Abraham's spot kick.

It was written in the stars really, Adrian joins the club a week earlier, enters play in Liverpool's first Premier League match after an injury to the mighty Alisson, faces massive boots to fill but then basically wins us the Super Cup. Just brilliant. I'd tweeted at half time having a little moan at the keeper about his distribution but in fairness, I wasn't calling his saves into question and he made some important stops in the game including his penalty save.

Image via standard.co.uk

The Spaniard ended up featuring in several talking points during the match including during the second half when Chelsea were awarded a penalty. Jorginho converted and at that stage had drawn Chelsea level at 2-2 but I'm still not sure it even was a penalty. The match was reffed by female officials which was absolutely fantastic to see and I don't think it was a decision that any referee could have called at the time as it was so close, even Adrian didn't seem certain whether he'd touched the player or not.

By some standards, the Reds were lucky to even reach extra time as Frank Lampard's Chelsea side played very well for the duration of the 90 and held their nerve in time added on. The first 45 minutes for Liverpool was very sloppy, neither side found the net but it was Chelsea who looked far more likely, several through balls were catching Liverpool completely off guard and the Reds were lucky to keep the clean sheet.

For me, the midfield was just unbalanced and Oxlade-Chamberlain was extremely quiet. Add to this Fabinho who was losing a lot of possession and making mistakes and it was very difficult for Klopp's side to get hold of the ball. Luckily Fab did seem to pick up as the game went on. Chelsea found their opener thanks to Giroud after 36 minutes, the Frenchman had already caused several problems for the Liverpool defence early in the game.

By half time I was asking for the introduction of Gini to settle the midfield and I also tweeted that to win this match we'd need Bobby on. Bobby entered play immediately in the second half and instantly made an impact after setting up Sadio Mane. For a man who apparently still needs rest, the Senegalese forward looked very lively and went on to score Liverpool's second with a fantastic strike in extra time.

It was a valiant effort from the Reds who were playing in a somewhat mis-matched XI but as always battled until the very end. This team are going to be very difficult to beat this season, very difficult and once again we have proven even when we're not at our best we're a tough side to beat.

I just hope that we can use this now as another boost for the league, the missing Alisson is definitely not ideal but Adrian will feel on top of the world after tonight and here's hoping he can look after the gloves until the Brazilian returns.

Liverpool: Super Cup Winners 2019.

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Saturday, 10 August 2019

Alisson Injured In Norwich Win

Liverpool made a solid start to their 2019/2020 Premier League campaign on Friday night as they opened up the season with a 4-1 win over Norwich. An own goal began proceedings but goals from Salah, van Dijk and Origi quickly followed in the first half. The Liverpool supporting Norwich forward Pukki did find a consolation in the second half but despite a valiant effort from the away side, they could only find the one goal.

Image via sports.yahoo.com

The big news from Liverpool's perspective, aside from the emphatic win, was the injury to goalkeeper Alisson Becker. The golden glove winner went down after taking a goal kick in the first half, appearing to clutch his calf. Second choice keeper Adrian who only arrived at the club this week looked shocked that his chance to play in front of the Kop had already arrived and he received a rapturous welcome from the Anfield faithful.

Divock Origi's cross was turned into the net by Norwich's Hanley after just seven minutes and despite a bright start from the visitors, this moment did somewhat take the wind out of their sails. Klopp's side capitalised and Mo Salah found the net with a lovely angled finish, followed closely by a classic Virgil van Dijk header. Origi scored the fourth and final goal for the Reds who entered the second half with the same tempo but couldn't find the net again.

Pukki's goal was deserved for Norwich who had stuck to the football that had served them so well in the Championship. Scoring bags of goals but also conceding a lot too on their way to the Premier League, it could have been easy for the Norwich manager to attempt to play tactically but they didn't. The Canaries came to Anfield and attacked, which is more than you can say for most teams, so full credit to them.

After the Reds threw down the gauntlet, all eyes were on rivals Manchester City. Many have predicted that this season will once again be a two-horse race and Pep Guardiola's team certainly responded. A 5-0 victory over West Ham, with a load of VAR coverage thrown in, provided the Sky Blues with an immediate response to Liverpool's result.

A win produced an almost perfect start for the Reds but the Alisson injury news has added a bit of a downer. The latest seems to be that the Brazilian could be out for up to 4-8 weeks, Liverpool are apparently looking at signing Lonergan on a free transfer to play the second keeper to the promoted Adrian as our third choice keeper Kelleher has a broken wrist...

I mean what are the chances of your star goalkeeper getting a pretty bad injury on the opening day of the season? I'm not usually a downbeat person and would usually be the one saying all sorts of positive things here but I genuinely am concerned by this, Alisson is such a huge factor in our attempts to chase that elusive Premier League title.

Adrian is a top keeper and with van Dijk in front of him I don't doubt that he can assist the Reds in their hour of need but I am praying that Alisson's injury resolves itself as soon as possible.

Next up for the Reds is Chelsea in the Super Cup.

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Thursday, 8 August 2019

Reds Open The Premier League Season Against Norwich

So, we didn't sign anyone... shocker. Can people just get over it now in time for kick-off on Friday? Yes, we could have done with a couple of extra players but this team is quality and the bench looks stronger with the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain, plus I feel Brewster will get more of a chance this year. Let's look at the positives eh? Six times European Cup winners entering another Premier League season under Jurgen Klopp, it doesn't get better than that.

On paper, the Reds should be standout winners on Friday night but Norwich are no mugs and too often the "big teams" underestimate promoted sides. Especially on the first day of the season when you haven't really had chance to assess their plans for the league they have just entered.

Image via premierleague.com

For Liverpool, Sadio Mane returns which is fantastic news and James Milner is also available after recovering from a muscle problem. Norwich have a few injuries to contend with including defender Timm Klose. A familiar face who may appear for Norwich is Patrick Roberts who is on loan from Manchester City.

Norwich City manager Daniel Farke has had very kind words to say about Liverpool, in a recent interview he explained: "I had a little smile when I saw our first game is against Liverpool. For me, they might be the best team in the world right now."

In years gone by I would say that was an exaggeration but the Norwich manager has a point, Liverpool were phenomenal last season and will be desperate to go one better this time out. As Norwich enter the Anfield fortress it's good to know the Reds are unbeaten in their last 40 league matches at L4.

The last time the two sides met was that ridiculous match in 2016 which Liverpool eventually won 5-4. I watched highlights of that game on YouTube recently and it's easily one of the craziest games I've ever seen. Klopp will be hoping there isn't a repeat of that although I'm sure he'd take the points!

The last meeting at Anfield between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw and in the last five games at Anfield Liverpool have won on three occasions.

Enjoy the match folks, I will hopefully be back with a match report/opinion piece. I'm still toying with getting back into blogging more regularly at the moment and to be honest I don't think you'll see as many match previews as I used to do because I feel my writing is better post match/on a specific topic. This season I'm going to try to do more general opinion pieces I think and less previews but we'll see how it goes. Enjoy your Friday night all, up the Reds!

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Sunday, 4 August 2019

Five Things We Learned From The Community Shield

Don't tell me that was a "friendly", both teams desperately wanted to win the Community Shield on Sunday afternoon and while I'll definitely get over the fact that Liverpool lost on penalties I can't be doing with people pretending to not be arsed.

Image via mirror.co.uk

I was massively invested in that game and so too was Pep Guardiola apparently after he got a yellow card for literally kicking off at the fourth official. Add to that an acrobatic goal-line clearance from Kyle Walker and it is clear Man City were desperate to prevent us getting the first silverware of the season and vice versa.

So what did we learn from the loss?

1) There's still nothing really separating these teams

The first half was a bit of a slow burner for Liverpool and City looked a lot stronger, opening with a goal from Raheem Sterling after our defence for once looked completely out of sync. The Reds though quickly settled into the game and in the second half, it was Klopp's side piling on the pressure.

It may well be a "friendly" in some people's eyes but both managers fielded very strong teams on Sunday and once again there was all but nothing splitting the class of the two sides. A Gini Wijnaldum penalty saved by keeper Bravo was the only difference.

2) Reds missed Mane

Mane is still to return to the Liverpool side after reaching the AFCON final with Senegal and it was clear on Sunday the Reds missed his influence in the front three, particular in the first half I felt where Mane's directness would have been much appreciated.

Mane has been my favourite Liverpool player for a long time now and it's such a comfort knowing that the Reds played extremely well in this Community Shield fixture yet still have Mane to call upon. As joint top scorer last season I can once again see him having a massive influence this year.

3) Defensive goal

Image via telegraph.co.uk

Who needs Mo Salah and Bobby Firmino when you can have a nice tasty link up from your centre backs? Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip teamed up to score Liverpool's equaliser and Matip looked elated to get Liverpool off the mark this season.

Virgil, as we all know, was phenomenal last year but Matip is often overlooked. He really made an impact when injuries gave him an opportunity last season and although Joe Gomez is a quality defender I don't personally think he should automatically have the right to re-enter the team. Joel played very well on Sunday and for me, he'd be in my back four against Norwich.

4) Bobby and Mo look sharp

There's always a worry, especially after a slow pre-season and players having to take extended breaks that the quality may not immediately return in time for the season start. Match fitness and sharpness can take a long time to rebuild but on Sunday despite a couple of missed chances, it was clear that Firmino and Salah are ready to pick up where they left off.

The forwards both look raring to go for the Reds and as mentioned earlier, throw Mane into that mix and once again Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with up front.

5) The bench is looking strong

It's quite clear that Liverpool will not be spending this transfer window but I think sometimes we forget that our bench is actually pretty strong. The return of Oxlade-Chamberlain offers a great option for Jurgen Klopp and Shaqiri for me is a brilliant player to have at your disposal.

Naby Keita made an impact when entering play today and while I can't say he's my favourite of the bunch, so too did Adam Lallana. I take the point that if we get a couple of injuries we could be in a bit of a tricky situation but away from that Liverpool have a strong squad going into this 2019/2020 season.

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