The Liver Bird  

Monday, 30 August 2010

Fernando Is Back

Liverpool's Fernando Torres (L) challenges West Bromwich Albion's Gonzalo Jara (R) during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, August 29, 2010.   REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Sometimes he does make you think "Where would we be without him?"...

It may have taken a while longer than we're used to and i'm with the conspiracy that he's had to wait for his new hairstyle to settle in... But Fernando Torres got off the mark for the new season yesterday in an otherwise evenly poised tie against West Bromwich Albion.

Hodgson again chose to field Agger as a make shift left back in his back four with Skrtel, Carragher and Johnson completing the set up. Reina was in goal and it was Jovanovic, Poulsen, Lucas and Kuyt who made up midfield. Captain Steven Gerrard had the role sitting just behind lone forward Torres.

A slow start by Liverpool meant West Brom were able to try their luck, the Baggies weren't too prolific in front of goal but the defence had some scares when players like Fortune and Dorrans managed to get through the midfield blockade of Poulsen and Lucas and into the danger areas.

Despite this Liverpool eventually found their feet and Torres followed suit after his very early shot on goal which forced Scott Carson into a save. Torres settled even more as the minutes went by and with supporting play from the likes of Kuyt, Gerrard and Jovanovic it was clear it wouldn't be long before a flash of brilliance from the Spaniard.

The Reds would have to wait until after half time though for their Spanish saviour and even with West Broms best efforts, they too would need to have some patience if they were going to be fruitful in these 90minutes at all.

In the second half both sides were becoming slightly more aggressive, with a new sense of urgency for that vital game changing and points winning goal it was time for serious business. The likes of Martin Skrtel and co were getting very stuck in with their tackles and so too were the West Bromwich Albion midfielders, James Morrison who would later be punished was being rather careless with a few of his challenges but the Reds fought on.

Just before the hour mark Roy felt it was time for a change, a respectable stint from Milan Jovanovic saw him replaced by Maxi Rodriguez.

Minutes later a corner created quite a shocking site for a Liverpool fan after Martin Skrtel of all people smashed a half volley and was inches away from seeing it hit the back of the net. He must be quite frustrated because he always without fail is awaiting his chance from corners and i've seen him take a few shots, most of which are headers but he just doesn't seem to have that bit of luck on his side... We'll all keep our fingers crossed for you Martin.

Speaking of volleys...

One man who knows what he's doing when it comes to that skill is El Nino himself. When he played the ball out to Kuyt on the wing it was evident from his request for that ball back that he had a plan. Kuyt answered the Spaniards request and hit first time by the number 9 it was only the bounce on the ground before the ball went into the net that spoilt the display.

A fantastic goal from Fernando and hopefully now he has his landmark 50th goal at Anfield we will see several more from the forward this season... I have absolutely no doubt that we will.

It was another shot from Fernando Torres that nearly saw the Reds go 2-0 up just 5minutes later but a reaction save from Scott Carson denied us our second.

In the twenty minutes before time a baffling couple of decisions from manager Roberto Di Matteo who decided to take off Graham Dorrans (who i thought was their best player) and bring on Somen Tchoyi (excuse my ignorance but who the hell is he when you need an equaliser?). Di Matteo also then switched Marc-Antoine Fortune who again was impressive for Chris Wood.

To make things worse for the Baggies James Morrison after a tackle on Fernando Torres was given an early bath. The red card was possibly a bit harsh but fueled by his earlier poor challenges perhaps he did not have too much to complain about.

Liverpool swapped Torres for Ryan Babel within the last ten minutes and the Reds managed to see out the rest of the game to take away the 3 points.

Not a brilliant win by any means but i feel by the end of the 90minutes we did deserve it. Strangely enough Phil Brown actually made a good point on MOTD2 saying Liverpool would be drawing games like that last season and i have to say i agree, it's these silly 1-0 wins that could be the difference this year. We all know full well that teams like United are often praised for the amount of slim margins they win by in difficult games.

Next up we have Birmingham away and then Steaua Bucharest at Anfield before one of the big clashes of the season against bitter rivals Manchester United.

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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Baggies Boing Boing To Anfield

Fernando Torres Liverpool 2010/11 Micah Richards Manchester City Manchester City V Liverpool (3-0) 23/08/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Torres looked lively against City, lets hope he continues this form if he starts in tomorrows clash...

Liverpool face West Bromwich Albion tomorrow at Anfield and after a tough start with Arsenal and then Manchester City as the opening games of the Reds' season it will be a game hopefully of less demand and more things to cheer about.

Newly promoted Midlanders are often reffered to as the "yo-yo" club, after several seasons rotating between the championship and the premiership, they just never seem to have been able to settle in England's top footballing league.

West Brom have a few players unavailable for tomorrows game through injury including Ishmael Miller who i personally think poses a slight threat for the boys from the Hawthorns. As for players that are fit and could feature i'd say it would perhaps be wise to keep an eye on Graham Dorrans who for a midfielder in the championship did well last season goalscoring wise.

West Brom don't really have too many stand out players, they are more so just a decent unit together. However it would be silly of Liverpool to take this opposition easy, although this should be a winnable game and perhaps by a good margin, getting complacent especially after some not so fantastic performances could be dangerous for Liverpool.

Scott Carson has now well and truly settled in for the Baggies and the ex Liverpool stopper will surely want to prevent the likes of Fernando Torres and co from putting one past him.

For Liverpool it is assumed that Fernando will be available along with Steven Gerrard. The skippers back problem is hoped to have cleared up by now, that too of Agger's problems after the concussion he suffered against Arsenal. We could struggle if Gerrard is in fact unavailable tomorrow as two defensive midfielders for me was just not a tasty recipie, as proved against Trabzonspor, it was a pretty lifeless set up.

Joe Cole is still serving his ban so will also be unavailable to Roy and again it will be interesting to see what route he goes down with defence and what formation he goes for.

I'd be quite happy to see good old 4-5-1 with Ngog starting and then Torres getting a good half hour or so. Perhaps give Babel a start too and i'd think that this sort of game would be suited to ever improving Martin Kelly who again impressed even in a nervy Europa League clash on Thursday night.

So with all of this in mind i shall punt for a 2-0 win for Liverpool tomorrow, bearing in mind i don't think i have ever predicted a score correctly, nevertheless Liverpool must come away with nothing less than 3points, anything else at this stage would be rather embarrasing for the already slow starting Reds.

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Friday, 27 August 2010

Kuyt Converts To Secure Liverpool's First Ever Victory In Turkey

Martin Kelly Liverpool 2009/10 Liverpool V Atletico Madrid (1-2) 08/08/09 Pre Season Friendly 2009 Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International
Really hope Martin Kelly continues to get game time from Hodgson, we need to support talent coming through the ranks...

A nervy and somewhat scrappy 2-1 win for Liverpool last night, thankfully prevented Hodgson from becoming the first manager to go out of Europe with Liverpool before the end of August. Liverpool will now face Steaua Bucharest, Napoli and Utrecht in the group stages of the Europa League.

Hodgson's side as mentioned in my preview was without Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Javier Maschernao, all for differing reasons but this ultimately meant a very different XI would be fielded. Reina, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Johnson and Kelly made up the back 5. Ngog was up front alone with Poulsen, Lucas, Cole and Kuyt making up the midfield.

Liverpool's starting 5minutes couldn't have been filled with more contrast. 2 minutes in and Kyrgiakos went close with a header from a Fabio Aurelio corner but just another couple of minutes later the Reds found themselves down after a Gutierrez goal.

Possession lost by Dirk Kuyt in midfield meant that the Turks could immediately punish, a great ball through from Colman which appeared to be a cross come shot saw the number 9 connect and slide the ball home past Pepe Reina.

For the entirety of the remainder of the first half it is disappointing to not be able to comment on any real Liverpool sparks or chances. We looked a tired team and with no attacking midfielder present it was no surprise that things weren't going at pace in terms of finding a return goal.

Trabzonspor continued to trouble us but with some admirable performances in defence from Carragher and Kyrgiakos, luckily they were kept quiet.

Second half and Liverpool were still looking like a below par side, Trabzonspor in front of their home crowd were more than up for the challenge and were very lively from kick off right through to the final whistle.

For Liverpool "lively" was not a word that could really be used to describe any ones performance. I must admit though that perhaps some of our best play came down the right flank courtesy of Glen Johnson who was constantly trying to add some of his flair to help create something for his side. Kelly on the other side of defence i also thought put in a lot of hard work, some of it may have gone unnoticed and yes he made a few slip ups but i am more than pleased with how the lad is progressing.

In an attempt to change things Roy Hodgson decided it was time for a substitution. With 20minutes to go Fabio Aurelio was brought off and youngster Daniel Pacheco was brought on to the field. A superb talent and just his presence seemed to ignite a sense of belief. After all, we only needed a goal and nobody really fancied extra time.

Glen Johnson supplied the assist for Liverpool's first goal albeit it ended up being an own goal courtesy of Kacar. To Hodgson's elation though Liverpool had equalised and however it occurred, that was all that mattered.

With a new lease of life Liverpool appeared more comfortable in the dying minutes of this Europa League tie. David Ngog made way for Ryan Babel and just minutes later Liverpool got themselves a second goal.

Originating from a Pacheco shot that was turned back away from goal by the Trabzonspor keeper, Dirk Kuyt was on call to send the ball back home and put Liverpool 2-1 up on the night and 3-1 up on aggregate.

Liverpool gave Martin Skrtel a few minutes on the pitch before the final whistle was blown and fans, players and manager a like could all just calm down a bit. For the majority of that game it looked like disaster, thankfully endurance and persistence paid off. It wasn't neat but another win on the card for Liverpool will do them the world of good.

Next up for the Reds is West Bromwich Albion. Up my neck of the woods they all hate the baggies round here, i don't necessarily care whether they win lose or draw but this time out i hope Liverpool take advantage of playing weaker opposition and get a decent goal tally under their belts to help their confidence.

West Brom are not a fantastic footballing side, traditional style, we should certainly be able to get a good result at Anfield. If not, then it will be a very worrying yardstick for Liverpool games to come.

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Second Leg In Trabzon

Aug. 19, 2010 - 06348481 date 19 08 2010 Copyright imago Color Sports Football UEFA Europe League Liverpool vs Trabzonspor David n GOG of Liverpool Battles with Trabzonspor Egemen Korkmaz AT Anfield Liverpool PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxPOLxUSAxONLY Football men UEFA Europe League Europe League Qualif EC 3 2010 2011 Liverpool Action shot Vdig 2010 horizontal premiumd.
Ngog will certainly fancy his chances...

After the poor result against Man City on Monday night Liverpool will be looking for a much better performance and result tomorrow night in Turkey.

With suggestions that Fernando Torres will not be playing it is reasonable to assume that Ngog will get another go up front for the Reds. Steven Gerrard will also miss out, suffering from a minor back problem the skipper will be rested instead and the worrying realisation that we have no real attacking midfielders anymore after the loaning out of Aquilani means it could be difficult tomorrow.

Of course Lucas Leiva's original title surprisingly enough was an "attacking midfielder" not in fact the defensive one he has been moulded into. With this in mind i expect it may well be himself and Poulsen in the midfield tomorrow. Be safe to suggest Kelly might get another chance in defence too.

There will be changes but Roy still needs to keep enough experience and talent in the side to ensure we go out and seal the deal. Trabzonspor were quite lively at Anfield despite not getting on the score sheet and with a target of just one goal to start with they will be well up for the challenge at home with their strong support.

Even with the confidence of Trabzonspor Liverpool already have a general knowledge of their set up from the last game and in all honesty they shouldn't prove too difficult for Liverpool to handle. If the lads can remain concentrated and get some good balls up to Ngog (if it is he who starts), focus on some decent set piece play, then we could nick a nice neat 2-0 which would be perfect.

There isn't much more to note really, i would hope that Roy has realised like the rest of us however that Agger does not work at left back because i would like to see Aurelio back in that position for tomorrow nights clash.

As for Trabzonspor they have made a couple of new signings in the space between games, they have signed Polish defender Glowacki who is 31 years old and a midfielder from the Turkish league - Baris Atas. These signings should not pose too much of a threat to the Liverpool side but may be two players to keep an eye on within the game.

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

City Give Liverpool Early Season Blues

City of Manchester Stadium Eastlands Manchester City v Liverpool Premier League 23/08/2010 Disappointing night for Liverpool Manager Roy Hodgson Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Hmm, i wonder if Mascherano has answered my voicemail...

It was always going to be a pretty tough fixture for Liverpool last night but i don't think many would have predicted such a one sided affair from the home team. Liverpool looked like a team still in pre-season with sloppiness and slow reactions, not to mention a shoddy section of defence. It was just an altogether unpleasant game of football to watch as a Liverpool fan.

Hodgson started Reina in goal with Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel and Agger across the back. Midfield was missing Javier Mascherano who had apparently said he no longer wished to play for Liverpool to Hodgson earlier in the day. It was Gerrard & Lucas then who made up the centre with Kuyt and Jovanovic on the wings. Ngog and Torres led the 4-4-2 formation.

At first glance i felt intrigued by this formation and was interested to see if it could work after so long going 4-5-1 but it didn't take long to start to see the flaws in this plan.

The first incident of note for Liverpool was strangely a booking for Martin Skrtel, this would later be an indicator for the defender who appeared to be having a poor game and was making the wrong decisions quite frequently.

Adam Johnson who the Slovakian tackled would prove to be a big problem for Liverpool too along with brand new signing James Milner.

City took just 12minutes to get on the score sheet, with a move consisting of Barry, Milner and Adam Johnson.

Johnson easily swept the ball through Jovanovic and Agger to Milner who then provided a cross for Barry to connect with and send the ball home. Barry was allowed into the area far too freely and Agger just looked lost on several occasions during the 90 minutes.

Usually even with a deficit Liverpool tend to manage to settle down quickly and re group then go at it again but this time it was different. City were pushing hard and Liverpool had no time to calm down and re-think. The speed and number of counter attacks coming at the Reds was not only worrying but becoming ridiculous. Possession lost by Liverpool must have been high, i do not recall much activity from the boys when they finally managed to get the ball into the final third as it was constantly being given away in midfield.

Fernando Torres was rather lively for Liverpool but i think it was quite clear to see that the Spaniard although he was trying was not fitting into the 4-4-2 system with David Ngog. Ngog too was clearly struggling although some more of his hold up play was valuable. I just feel that both Fernando and David thrive as the sole striker, Ngog hasn't coincidentally scored his four goals so far this season from being up front alone, and Torres's record in front of the net isn't coincidental either. I realise Torres can and will work in that formation, as he has done with Spain, but in a Liverpool shirt and with the players around him, he needs to go it alone i think.

It was hard to pick out other decent performances because to be honest Torres's display was alright but he had the excuse of match fitness being low, none of the other lads really had any reason to fall back on and apart from what i thought was an okay display from Glen Johnson and a passionate but not fruitful performance from the captain, i have to say the boys all had a bit of a terrible time out there against City.

City by now only 30minutes in were bombarding us, even the slight glimpses when we did manage to break it was prevented before we even reached the danger zone.

Micah Richards went close with a header in the remainder of the first half and Adam Johnson saw a great strike saved by Pepe Reina.

Mancini's boys didn't take long either to get stuck in second half. Just as i thought Liverpool were beginning to look a little more productive they struck again. Carlos Tevez managing to get the slightest of touches after a City corner was sent goal bound, the Argentine made sure it was a goal.

Now at 1-0 the prospect of a draw seems acceptable and achievable for Liverpool but at 2-0, it already felt like all hope was lost. Again Liverpool had no time to regroup, City just were going full force, they were filled with confidence now and fancied their chances for another goal against a slow paced and below par Liverpool side.

Liverpool's only real moment of threat was when Steven Gerrard smashed in a shot which hit the post. It then came out for David Ngog who saw his shot saved by Joe Hart, then amazingly Joe Hart managed to get another save in when the rebound came to Torres. I said in the match preview that Hart could have held the key to the result... Well he certainly helped. A Liverpool goal at that time may just have changed the game, all credit to the keeper.

Just before the 70minute mark things got worse for Hodgson's boys, Skrtel who as i said earlier was being a bit risky with his decisions and timing brought down Adam Johnson in the box. Perhaps through frustration but it was all already over for Liverpool anyway, we just didn't really need salt rubbing in the wounds.

Carlos Tevez stepped up to see City go to 3-0 with less than 20minutes left on the clock.

Fernando Torres was brought off towards the end of the game and replacement Ryan Babel couldn't do much to help the faltering Liverpool side. Youngster Pacheco was also given 5minutes by Roy Hodgson but it was too late for any impact from substitutions.

City played well and for a side i still think won't work well together did in all fairness appear to gel yesterday but i think unfortunately so, they were made to look a lot better by a poor Liverpool performance.

One thing i can't quite get my head around is why Roy chose to play Agger at left back? I realise he has played there before but this was only through no other choice. It's confusing because i thought Roy re-signed the Brazilian Fabio Aurelio to fill the hole at left back due to Insua supposedly being sold and Aurelio was sitting on the bench. So where is the reasoning in playing Agger over and established player in that position? Just baffled me and was rather annoying because Agger is a top defender and it was awful to see him struggle last night out of position.

If we play like this against Trabzonspor on Thursday we could well find ourselves out of Europe already, i don't mean to get all morbid and dreary on you lot but it's just a shocking reminder of what we could be expecting to see from this Liverpool side this season. Hopefully this isn't the case though and i still have confidence in Liverpool to seal the deal in Turkey.

To end on...

Doesn't it make you proud when the travelling fans of our Liverpool base still sing You'll Never Walk Alone at the end of a game, even after such a battering.

Best fans in the world.

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Monday, 23 August 2010

Reds Face Moneybags City

Roberto Mancini Manager watches from the stands at Anfield Manchester City 2010/11 Liverpool V Arsenal (1-1) 15/08/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports InternationalTest Photo via Newscom
Hmm... I wonder where i put my scarf...

Well folks after a weekend away with my other half in rather wet Torquay i have been slammed back to reality this Monday afternoon and here i am back in regular routine supplying you lot with a short and sweet match preview... It's ok, there's no need to thank me...

Moving on, if you aren't excited yet for tonight's game i don't know what's going to spur you on. It's a different kind of excitement to the Arsenal game, perhaps due to the realisation that Man City will probably be one of our closest rivals in terms of battling for places just underneath the top four this season, of course we hope for more but that has to be the realistic target for now.

Hodgson has been speaking today/yesterday about how Torres fared against Trabzonspor in his 45minutes on the field and his comments suggest he was very pleased. Torres therefore has got a good chance of starting against this unpredictable City side and boy are we going to need a touch of class.

The one thing i still stand by with City however is yes, they are a decent side now, some players are fantastic, not just on paper but also on the pitch but there is just no way that flashing the cash in such flamboyant style and expecting the players to work well together and click is going to work. Yes we should be weary of City but they aren't the team the media are making them out to be.

As for Liverpool's team, i think we can safely say that there is a strong link and connections between the new players with the rest of the side appear to have already been established. I would be very happy to see Jovanovic start tonight, his strength would be a needed asset i feel. The defence must be solid, with City's attack and the flair of Tevez it would be dangerous to push the back four up too far. They need to be pin point when defending set pieces too.

I have all the confidence in captain Steven Gerrard to have a good game and would not mind either Lucas or Mascherano to sit with him.

Joe Hart could be the holder of the end result of this game, if he has a game like he did against Spurs the other week it will take a lot to get something past the stopper.

New signings for City Balotelli and Milner could also feature tonight, the Liverpool boys will be more than familiar with Milner from his Aston Villa days but Balotelli poses a different threat. He scored 20 goals in 59 appearances for Inter but after playing only that amount of games in three years at the club it may take some time for the Italian to settle in.

Our last three meetings with City have all ended in a draw. As for our results on the road to City we have 1 win, 1 loss and 3 draws from the last 5 clashes.

Even if it does end in a draw tonight the chances are it will still be a fast paced game filled with controversy. So enjoy your 90minutes tonight and keep your fingers crossed for Torres to score first cause i'll be off up Ladbrokes tomorrow morning if he does! Haha.

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Friday, 20 August 2010

Babel Scores To Secure Liverpool Win

Aug. 19, 2010 - 06348458 date 19 08 2010 Copyright imago Color Sports Football UEFA Europe League Liverpool vs Trabzonspor Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole of Liverpool congratulate Ryan Babel ON His Opening Goal AT Anfield Liverpool PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxPOLxUSAxONLY Football men UEFA Europe League Europe League Qualif EC 3 2010 2011 Liverpool Action shot Vdig 2010 horizontal premiumd.
Babel celebrates his first goal of the season with team-mates Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic...

Last nights Europa League clash for Liverpool was not one of our most memorable European nights at Anfield but a win is a win and the sole goal from Mr.Potential allows Liverpool to go to Turkey with a slim lead over their opposition.

Hodgson opted to rest some players who had featured in the game against Arsenal meaning lads like Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard sat this one out. Mascherano and Agger were unable to feature through injury and rather surprisingly Alberto Aquilani wasn't even chosen for the bench.

Reports coming out this morning though suggest that he may be subject to a loan move and other reports say that Kuyt could be considering a move to link up with Rafa at Inter Milan... All that is for another post though.

So Liverpool had Reina in goal with Kelly, Carragher, Kyrgiakos and Aurelio making up the back line. Midfield consisted of Jovanovic, Rodriguez, Lucas and Pouslen with Cole sitting of Ryan Babel up front.

Bulut who i mentioned in the match preview was perhaps the most lively of players for Trabzonspor in the first half. With Liverpool starting at a slow but steady pace it was only Bulut who really caused Reina any problems.

For Liverpool it was Sotirios Kyrgiakos who had the first attempt to get on the score sheet when he made a decent connection and nearly headed in Liverpool's first. The big Greek was perhaps the only one shining in the Anfield downpour, Poulsen was clearly trying but his passing was not up to scratch first half. Joe Cole was again giving his all but his determination was sometimes working against and not for him.

It was Joe Cole though who on the stroke of half time put a great ball through to Ryan Babel. In all honesty he'd had another frustrating first half but there was no denying the quality of his finish. He took one touch to bring the ball forward and then swept it home to the far right of goal. His celebration was very modest, let's just hope some consistency from the Dutchman comes with it.

Ryan Babel was substituted for the second half and Fernando Torres entered the field. Torres may not have managed to convert last night but it was quite clear he was back on track, with some promising displays of forward runs and his effortless skill, I'd be concerned if i was a member of the Man City defence. His goal back from injury is coming and don't think your mega bucks are gonna stop him in his tracks.

Cole worked hard trying to supply El Nino but it's fair to say his performance was more off his own back. Cole is desperately trying to impress the Anfield crowd because let's be honest folks, we can be a right harsh bunch, but i just wish he would tone it down a little. He'd play a lot more freely if he didn't feel as pressured.

The penalty given for the foul on Lucas seconds after the one that should have been given for the foul on Maxi Rodriguez was just another sour note to add to the start of Cole's Anfield career. He was superb in being strong enough to step up and take the penalty but there was just a feeling before he stood up that it wasn't to be.

At least he hit the target and didn't appear to let it get to him but i just think it's important to highlight that we need to stick with him and support him, which Anfield last night did and will continue to do.

Jovanovic was lively again and was also showing his brute strength in his no nonsense style of play. With some good hold up play and even some more attempts at goal he has continued to impress me.

It was also nice to see Fabio Aurelio back in defence and he was unlucky to see two of his free kicks just go shy of goal but i thought it was a solid display from the Brazilian.

Martin Kelly also put in another very respectable display and it was a good job Liverpool's defence remained stable whilst the Reds struggled to find another goal.

Of course we did score a second courtesy of Poulsen however the goal was disallowed. People were making shouts for it being offside and i haven't been able to find a video to review it but from the live game i personally didn't see anything wrong with it, certainly wasn't a foul on the goalkeeper which appeared to be the reason the whistle was blown.

Anyway, no point dwelling on that, it's a win and it's off to Turkey next week. With Man City up next it's some tough football and travelling for the boys but i have a confident feeling about getting the results we want and require.

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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Liverpool V Trabzonspor

The Hawthorns West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool Premier League 17/05/09 Daniel Agger (Liverpool) exchanges pleasantries with the linesman Photo Roger Parker Fotosports International
Here is hoping Agger gets his memory back soon, might be embarrassing if he calls Roy, Rafa...

Daniel Agger and Javier Mascherano will not be featuring in Liverpool's game tomorrow against Trabzonspor. Agger seems to have totally forgotten he even played a football match on Sunday and is still suffering from concussion whereas Mascherano has picked up a calf injury.

Roy's selection will therefore be slightly different to Sunday's team fielded against Arsenal but will presumably still include the big names i.e. Torres, Gerrard and co.

So what about the opposition? Well some of you older lot will remember a clash with the Turkish side in the European Cup in 1976. The first leg Liverpool trailed 1-0 but won their home leg 3-0 to see the Reds through.

What else do we know Trabzonspor then?

Well, it's no coincidence that they hail from the Turkish town of Trabzon. They were formed in 1967 when several football clubs in Trabzon merged together.

They play in dark red and blue hence their nick name - Maroon Blues.

They were promoted to the top league in Turkey (Super Lig) in 1974 and they have remained there ever since. They have won the league 6 times and this is a record for a club outside of Istanbul.

They have won the Turkish Cup eight times and have also won several other cups and division championships.

Their manager Senol Gunes has had a senior playing career with Trabzonspor making 453 appearances but scoring no goals. He must like the club as his current managerial stint is his fourth time back to manage the club.

In terms of who to keep an eye out for tomorrow Bulut got a few goals for them last season and is a decent player from what i have glanced at online. I also hear their Argentinian Colman may be one to cause some problems too.

In all honesty though, this opposition should not phase a Liverpool side at home. A nice lead to go into the second leg in the magical Turkish coastal town is a very achievable target.

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Monday, 16 August 2010

Joe Cole Sees Red In Draw With Arsenal

Aug. 15, 2010 - 06330395 date 15 08 2010 Copyright imago Liverpool s Pepe Reina looks ON dejected After His mistake LED to Arsenal s Goal Barclays Premier League Liverpool v Arsenal 15th August 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK men Football England Premier League 2010 2011 Liverpool Action shot Vdig xsk 2010 horizontal premiumd.
Aww... The poor sod! Someone give him a bear hug and a whiskey...

Liverpool came away from Anfield yesterday with a draw, at first glance, a more than respectable result but after the circumstances and sheer madness of the match, the Reds were right to feel hard done by after such a hard fought game.

Roy set up his team with Reina in goal, Skrtel and Carragher in the centre with Agger as left back and Glen on the right. Gerrard sat with surprise inclusion Javier Mascherano in the centre of the park. Jovanovic and Kuyt were the wing men with Cole sitting behind David N'Gog.

For the first 45minutes Liverpool looked steady, fireworks weren't exploding but we were more than holding up against Arsenal i thought. That being said it was clearly dangerous to think Arsenal may not pop up with a flash of brilliance.

Liverpool were eager to get going and keen youngster N'Gog was caught offside on a few occasions in the first half after he set off just that slight bit too early. Persistence would eventually pay off however for the hard working Frenchman.

Arsenal's new signing Chamakh was looking lively for the gunners but again, nothing Liverpool couldn't handle for the time being. With Arsenal missing star man Fabregas it was visible in their football that they were feeling a little less confident.

On the note of confidence i think it's pretty safe to say that Mr Milan Jovanovic is obviously not going to need a boost of it any time soon. He was superb in terms of effort and also fantastic in showing his strength and determination. His shot late on in the second half may have been off target but there was some power behind that stinger. Keep up the good work Milan.

Onto our other superb summer signing Mr Joe Cole, who could have thought it would all end so badly? After another enthusiastic half from Cole it was his desire to prove himself to us Liverpool fans that saw him see Red.

The card delivered by Atkinson i can't help but feel was very harsh, i fully understand that reckless tackles i.e. two feet off the ground need to be treated by the rules of the game and yes reckless tackles are straight reds but i seriously cannot see how by also using the referee's discretion he thought it was reckless.

Just a few of several points starting with the fact that although Cole's trailing leg left the ground it was not pushed forward with intent... Cole did not have his eyes on the player... It was quite noticeable that he was attempting a block, not a malicious tackle. I don't want to moan about decisions, especially not this early in the campaign but as you know by now i always try to put my thoughts on controversial situations across.

What was even more ridiculous is that the player who was clipped by Joe Cole's knee - Koscielny was stretchered off but miraculously sprinted onto the pitch second half. Even Steven Gerrard made sarcastic comments in a post match interview about the incident.

So for the second half Liverpool came out with 10 men. I had literally seconds before said to my fella who i was watching the game with, "No need to panic, Liverpool know how to cope with 10 men, it's happened too many times." (or words to that effect) and bang out of no where N'Gog nets a brilliant goal straight into the roof of the net from an unfavourable angle.

Of course the pundits and many others will say Almunia should have saved it or at least have done better but i think it's important to give most of the credit to N'Gog for a fantastic finish.

Nothing much to note up until the double Arsenal substitution which saw Wilshere and Eboue replaced by Rosicky and Walcott. Liverpool waited until just past the hour mark for their first substitution which saw Jovanovic leave the field and Maxi Rodriguez come on.

Steven Gerrard who was playing more of a defending role after his several clearances when tracking back ended up in the referee's book after a tackle on Maroune Chamakh. Shortly after Fernando Torres was welcomed onto the field by a vociferous Anfield and replaced goalscorer David N'Gog.

Arsenal began to respond to the deficit and were looking a bit more of a threat after chances from Walcott, Rosicky and Chamakh troubled us slightly.

It was Pepe Reina though who ended up gifting Arsenal their equalizer. Despite the fact he made two superb saves earlier in the game it would be this moment most will remember. As they always say, goalkeepers are remembered for their mistakes...

After Rosicky whipped the ball into the danger area it was easy to see there was a glare in Reina's eyes, despite this Chamakh managed to get something on it and Liverpool seemed to have been saved by lady luck when the ball came back out off the post. In a split second however an approaching Reina unfortunately with not much time to think sent the ball into his own net.

It was gutting to watch, still is now I've watched the replays. We all know what a world class keeper Reina is but this along with the beach ball will continue to be the fuel for United, Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal fans jokes everywhere.

It's ok though cause all of us here at Liverpool know exactly how good a keeper Reina is, thankfully he's not the type to let things get to him so onwards and upwards Pep! We're all behind you... Just a shame we weren't yesterday in extra time... Okay that's it, that's the one and only joke. It's a good job the lads got a great sense of humour!

So with all things considered, a draw with Arsenal is a good result, obviously, the win would have been better and it's just horrible how we went about conceding but i think that was a respectable display from a 10 man Liverpool, 9 man Liverpool at one point after Agger was concussed from a smack in the face with the football...

I'm sorry but I've been smacked in the face with a football from some burly Sunday leaguer over the park and i managed to run home and clean up my face myself, no concussion, nothing. Agger's a bloody wuss! As i imagine Carragher said when he went over to offer him some kind words of sympathy... "Gerrup yer tart!". At least that's what i reckon he said haha.

So with the next match against Trabzonspor on Thursday night let's hope it's less drama and more goals for the Reds.

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Friday, 13 August 2010

This Time It's Gunner Be Different

Apr 21, 2009 - Liverpool, United Kingdom - Premier League: Liverpool 4 v 4 Arsenal.Arsenal's ANDREY ARSHAVIN second goal celebration Photo via Newscom
Ohhh shush yerself!...

I don't know about you lot but i don't fancy an early dose of smug mug Arshavin as the starter for my Premier League 5star meal do you?

It's a very strange thing because although Arshavin is clearly a good player he just seems to come alive at our glorious Anfield and i for one am just about sick of it. For Sundays fresh start under Roy Hodgson and with a team that shall have elements of surprise for Arsene Wengers boys, it may not be such a bad result.

A lot of people like myself are probably thinking we're gonna get hammered. At the same time however when you sit back and really have a good old think about things... Why can't we go and get a slim win over Arsenal? We've got some goalscorers, some game changers, we shouldn't have to fear Arsenal surely? A draw is more than feasible but it's the pundit fuelled ruling out of a win for Liverpool that i feel spurs on this negative attitude into the game.

Yes, maybe Arsenal will beat us and yes, with the continuing malarkey going on with the ownership it's hard to get more important things off your mind but let's enjoy our super Sunday clash, i for one feel we need cheering up, let's just hope the lads can provide something to smile about.

With Roy not showing any real hint as to how he is going to set up or who he is going to play it is again guess work for our first Premier League game of the season.

It's safe to say the likes of Reina, Carragher and Gerrard will be starting and if passed as fit enough El Nino himself but for the other positions Roy has many options.

New signing Poulsen could also more than likely feature, he's experienced and has already voiced his want to get going. Alberto Aquilani will also be pushing his name forward in the hope that he gets more game time this season to show his talent.

Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic i would say will most likely be in the mix and i wouldn't be surprised if this leads to 110% man Kuyt getting a rest this week. As for the back four, the now age old dilemma of Skrtel or Agger will be in full swing but with the added influence of Kelly from the last few games and big man Kyrgiakos, it will be a difficult decision for Hodgson.

Glen, Insua and Aurelio ... You have to say that it's two out of those three who will be filling in the full back rolls if Kelly isn't selected.

Arsenal haven't been too busy in the transfer market so i assume it will be a familiar system from Emirates long stay resident Arsene Wenger. New signing Chamakh who Liverpool were very interested in is believed to be making his debut too, fans further North will surely hope that he is not as big a prodigy as once thought.

Whatever the outcome of tomorrows game, at least judging by games gone by against the gunners we know it should be an action packed 90minutes. Let's just hope Liverpool get the last laugh and get off to a good start in their 2010/2011 league campaign.

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Friday, 6 August 2010

Win Over Rabotnicki Means Trip To Trabzon

Aug. 06, 2010 - 06282578 date 05 08 2010 Copyright imago BPI Steven Gerrard of Liverpool PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Football men UEFA Europe League Europe League EC 3 Qualification 2010 2011 Liverpool Single Action shot cut out Vdig xkg 2010 vertical premiumd Football.
Gerrard more than pleased the home crowd...

Liverpool notched up their first Anfield win of the season last night after they put two past Rabotnicki in their Europa League clash. A lively Anfield despite it not being a sell out provided all of the atmosphere as the away support was minimal. Chants from the kop gave a great welcoming taster of the famous atmosphere to new signings Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic.

The side fielded by Roy was a real mixture of experience, youth and players who wouldn't always get a chance to shine. With Reina's understudy Cavalieri in goal it was Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel and Glen Johnson who made up the defence.

Jovanovic, Lucas and Gerrard made up the three man centre with Joe Cole chosen to sit behind the two front men: Pacheco and Ngog.

Liverpool got stuck in immediately and were strong even without the ball. Possession was great and the lads were playing with confidence. David Ngog notably who had two superb chances to get on the score sheet very early on took one too many touches and missed his chance.

It didn't take long for the Frenchman to convert an effort though after Joe Cole whipped in a lovely ball, the young forward connected perfectly with a great header and sent the Reds to a one nil lead.

The pressure continued from Liverpool, the Macedonians were constantly pushed back into their own areas and defending was top of their to do list. Their best chance in the first half was a shot from Dos Santos which flew way over the cross bar.

Glen Johnson was providing a lot of threatening forward runs and had a great game but it was the other full back that most fans had their eyes on with Martin Kelly putting in a superb performance. His barriers seemed to break down as he got more comfortable, by 70minutes he was pushing forward a lot more and got right stuck in towards the end with a last ditch block that prevented Cavalieri from ruining his clean sheet.

Liverpool's second goal also came courtesy of David Ngog, pulled down by Fernando Lopes in the box, the challenge resulted in a penalty for the lads. Step up Steven Gerrard, precision penalty. 2-0.

The game was dead and buried but this by no means meant Liverpool were going to relax. One player in terms of work ethic who really impressed me was Milan Jovanovic, he was running round like a mad dog, constantly chasing down lost causes. Fantastic hour or so for the new Serbian.

Alberto Aquilani also made an appearance putting in a respectable stint in the Steven Gerrard role. Maxi Rodriguez also put in a show along with academy star Jay Spearing.

A nice comfortable win for Liverpool and after the draw today we will now face Trabzonspor in Turkey. A memorable country for most Liverpool fans and i think we will all agree a winnable tie for the lads.

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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Anfield Opens Its Doors For The Competitive Season

July 27, 2010 - Liverpool, United Kingdom - epa02262991 New Liverpool player Joe Cole enters the pitch to attend a photocall at the Anfield Road Stadium in Liverpool, north west Britain, 27 July 2010. Cole, along with Danny Wilson and Milan Jovanovic, were unveiled as Liverpool's new signings under newly appointed head coach Roy Hodgson.
Can Joe Cole impress in his first Anfield appearance?...

Liverpool play their first match of the season at Anfield tonight as they look to secure a place in the next round of the Europa League after this 2nd leg against Macedonian side Rabotnicki.

After the superb news earlier in the week that star striker and adopted Spaniard Fernando Torres will remain at the club, unfortunately the number 9 will not be featuring tonight due to his very late on injury he picked up in Spain's win in the world cup final.

Other players who probably won't be utilised include misfit Philip Degen who has been told he can find a new club and out of place Javier Mascherano who has told Hodgson he wishes to leave the club. Despite this Hodgson remains adamant that he is treating the midfielder still as a Liverpool player so you never know, we may just see the Argentine.

With Pepe Reina, Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel recently back in training after their extended breaks we could probably see all three of those players within the 90minutes.

Hodgson has been keen to give some of the youngsters more of a chance too in these games so the likes of Kelly and Amoo may also get another chance to shine.

The first leg ended in a 2-0 victory for the Reds where young Frenchman David Ngog netted twice and seemed filled with confidence. Should he start tonight he will definitely fancy adding himself to the score sheet.

New signing Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard will also be good to keep an eye on should they start, despite a disappointing result against Borussia Moencengladbach the two England internationals linked up very well together and portrayed some exciting play.

I expect this to be another win for the lads tonight, don't expect it to be a huge margin but a comfortable progression to the next stage of the competition.

To end on, i received for once an email that was worth reading and wasn't trying to convince me to play online bingo today... Which was rather refreshing... Anyway, the football corner over at ITV have only gone and put my blog in their sidebar for the page that they are showing the game on tonight - Nice one!

I know a lot of you are computer fanatics and i also know a fair few of you have watched games online, so i urge you to pop on over to ITV and get discussing the game over there whilst your at it. Just follow this link.

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Monday, 2 August 2010

Borussia Moenchen(not-so-glad-to-be)bach

Aug. 01, 2010 - 06260442 date 01 08 2010 Copyright imago Moritz Mueller Moenchengladbach 01 08 2010 Borussia Park Marco Reus BMG against Joe Cole Liv VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach FC Liverpool Football men ger 1 BL 2010 2011 try out Moenchengladbach Action shot Vdig 2010 vertical premiumd Football men Bundesliga Season 2010 11 Preparations.
Cole makes his debut...

Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carraghers return to football for the Reds ended with a loss yesterday after just the one goal split the two teams. Joe Cole was also allowed his debut and Glen Johnson was back too.

Cole had an impressive hour or so for Liverpool, particularly good in his ability to link up with captain Steven Gerrard. Other familiar faces for Liverpool such as Insua were also putting in respectable performances and the start from the Argentine raises new questions over his imminent future.

It took only 8minutes for the Germans to score after an unfortunate defensive error by Liverpool, Matmour was able to score what would be the winner for Borussia. They looked a stable side throughout, perhaps encouraged by some sloppy play by Liverpool after passes weren't always finding their way through but again as with all the pre season matches played, the Reds have nothing to be ashamed about.

With Reina, Kuyt, Torres and the like back in training today, my anticipation to truly get the season underway is ever growing. Despite the fact the football almost seems unimportant whilst we are still in this ownership crisis, i seem to be filled with a bewildering sense of optimism.

I think i'm basing it on the fact that because finishing in 7th this year would actually be summed up as acceptable, that means that anything better is a bonus, which to be honest as a Liverpool fan is a strangely refreshing place to be in. Don't get me wrong, of course i'd like to be back at the start of the 08/09 season knowing we could fight for the title, but the amount of pressure, the weight on the players shoulders... It's simply immense.

It will be interesting to see what a free Liverpool side can do, one with realistic expectations thrust upon them for a change.

Just to end on i would like to welcome Fabio Aurelio back to the Liverpool camp. Nice one Roy for chasing after what seemed like a lost cause. Great talent is Fabio.

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