The Liver Bird  

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Hup Liverpool Hup

"Ere boss dyer know what way it is?" ... "Of course it's just down there..."
"Are yer sure?... Av Utrecht?"
Hahaha... Okay, i'll stop with the puns.

Liverpool are in the Netherlands for tomorrow nights Europa League fixture against Utrecht and if anyone is going to know the way to the nearest bar it will be former Utrecht star man Mr. Dirk Kuyt, he spent 5 years playing for the Dutch side and still owes his career to them after they gave him a chance to play on a professional level.

Dirk Kuyt hopefully however won't be the only traveller who knows a lot about the opposition with Roy Hodgson having to choose a side and tactics carefully as Liverpool look to keep their 100% record so far in the competition.

Hodgson has named the likes of Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Glen Johnson, Joe Cole & Raul Meireles to name just a few in his 20 man squad. Steven Gerrard however has been rested and there is no Daniel Agger or Fabio Aurelio due to injury. Konchesky will also miss out after he had to end his game early against Sunderland on the weekend. His injury isn't believed to be too serious.

For those of us that know little if not anything about the opposition then i shall attempt to give you the low down in the next couple of paragraphs.

Utrecht are a relatively new club in the footballing world and weren't founded until 1970 when three clubs merged together - DOS, Velox and Elinkwijk. They have won the league once but as it was back in 1958 when they were under the name DOS, many fans of football do not class the victory as fully legitimate. They have however won three Dutch cups, two of which they won on the bounce in 2003 and 2004.

Under the name Utrecht they have never been relegated from the top division in the Netherlands, last season they finished in 7th place with a total of 60 goals scored. Currently they are perched in 12th with 9 points after 7 games.

From a quick scan through the internet Utrecht appear to have made a lot of new signings especially in the attacking section of their side. Ricky van Wolfswinkel though (don't try saying that when you're pissed!) is still with the side and with 18 goals in 38 appearances since 2009.

The Dutch side also has some talented players in midfield and i assume will play to the effect similar to the national side with a lot of play down the wings.

After Liverpool's rather disastrous week including a League Cup exit and a rather drab draw with Sunderland it is clear what kind of result us kopites are requesting. Thing is, there appears to be a pattern being created now, despite a confident 4-1 win over Steaua, the steam ran out just at the wrong time in a tough but promising clash with Manchester United.

Despite an uplifting win over Trabzonspor after being hammered by Man City three days earlier we could only muster a rather embarrassing 1-0 win over yo-yoers West Bromwich Albion.

I don't know about you but it's beginning to feel as though Roy is the man with a plan in this Europa League that he did so well with Fulham in, but as my praises rise for his European performances, my concerns grow stronger after our following league games.

This time out what we want to see is a nice away win tomorrow night and then an absolute rout in the game against Blackpool. If anything will give our torrid season a boost then the chance to take is against a side like Blackpool.

Anyway, all that talk is for Saturday's preview and Sunday's report.

I have to feel confident in Liverpool over the low seeded side in our group, let's just hope the lads can go over there and continue their brilliant European form.

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Sunday, 26 September 2010

Bizarre Kuyt Goal Helps Liverpool Scrape Draw

Liverpool Fans Protest in the Kop End after the final whistle Liverpool 2009/10 Liverpool V Sunderland (3-0) 28/03/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Fans protest from the Sunderland game in March portrays a similar picture to yesterday's sit in protest at Anfield...

It was an eventful 90minutes to say the least yesterday for all those in a Red shirt and Sunderland were having their fair share of the action too. There was no beach ball this time but a refereeing mishap leading to a goal just as bizarre meant the game got off on a very strange foot.

Roy stood by his claims from a few days ago and completely changed the side that he started against Northampton. Reina was back in goal with the four in front of him including Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel and Konchesky. Midfield was made up of Cole, Kuyt, Gerrard, Meireles and Poulsen who was sitting in an even more defensive position than he has been placed in previous games. Torres lead the line.

It didn't take Liverpool long to get going after we saw a Torres goal ruled narrowly offside. It appeared we had started with the correct tempo.

Just before 5minutes Liverpool had themselves down on the score sheet although this certainly wasn't down to a good tempo.

In perhaps one of the most baffling incidents i have seen in the Premier League. The referee awards a free kick to Sunderland after a poor challenge and the ball is passed to Turner as he is near to the position the free kick should be taken from. As the referee turns his back Turner makes a flick which to my viewing and i'm sure everybody else's was clearly a pass for the goalkeeper to line up and take the free kick.

Amazingly though a quick thinking Fernando Torres took his chance and stole the ball after seeing the referee hadn't blown and after a backwards pass to an otherwise offside Dirk Kuyt the Dutchman couldn't believe how simple it was to send Liverpool ahead.

The referee had words with his linesman but for whatever reason his assistant believed that the goal should stand. Now of course i am not complaining but this all ties in with the end result, the fact that we had to be supplied with that dose of luck and terrible refereeing makes it clear that we were lucky to come away with a draw really. Depressing thought.

For the next 20minutes or so Liverpool looked stable, nothing fantastic but with some efforts on goal from the likes of Merieles and Joe Cole it was an acceptable display at 1-0 up. Things took a turn for the worse though when Christian Poulsen with a blatant handball in the box presented Sunderland with a penalty.

Darren Bent stepped up to take the spot kick. I did mention in my preview that if we could keep him quiet we should be alright and to be honest although his first goal was a penalty i think it's fair to say had we of managed to handle him better the result may have been a lot easier to take.

A decent take from Bent although it did ricochet off Pepe Reina meant the Mackems had equalised.

To make matters worse for the Reds shortly after the penalty, Konchesky had to be replaced by Daniel Agger after he picked up a knock. Agger out of position to be fair did quite well but his farewell moment made a few fans grit their teeth in extra time.

Half time was reached and Liverpool were looking as though they were running out of steam, certain match winners like Gerrard and Torres were still showing some electricity but it appeared the likes of Kuyt, Johnson and even Joe Cole were going to need a charge in the interval.

Still in this and now refreshed the Reds restarted the match on the back foot. Just 3 minutes in and Sunderland had managed to get themselves a second after a fantastic cross by Onuoha was met by the head of none other than Darren Bent.

Liverpool were looking really deflated now, performances were slowing and it was hardly an inspiring feel from players or manager to go and get that second goal.

Kuyt and Torres got themselves in the book before the hour mark at which point the boss thought it was time to make his first substitution.

Christian Poulsen was replaced by David Ngog and it was almost an immediate effect. I don't like to get on to players especially if they haven't been here very long but Poulsen just isn't working for me, not only does his play not seem up to scratch but i don't think he fits into any system that i prefer Liverpool to play.

As i said it was clear when you removed the negative style of the Dane, the side was boosted. David Ngog too for me so far this season has looked superb, if he could link well enough with Fernando Torres i wouldn't just be using him as a highly useful sub, i'd be starting the lad.

The freshness must have rubbed off onto Steven Gerrard pretty quickly because minutes after the substitution the Liverpool captain got the Reds their second with an absolutely cracking header after a Fernando Torres ball in took a deflection.

2-2 now and Liverpool clearly needed the win, it was fair to say that we didn't deserve it after our performance but nonetheless we sure as hell were going to fight for it.

Complaints were made shortly after the goal when Steven Gerrard appeared to lead with his elbow in a challenge on Danny Wellbeck. I think to be honest although perhaps Steve Bruce actually had a point this time in one of his "oh my god i'm so mad my big fat head is going to explode" rants at the fourth official, it was one of those challenges that could have gone either way.

As the clock began to push to 80 and then 90minutes Liverpool fans i assume were just as myself waiting for a substitution, we still had the likes of Jovanovic and Maxi on the bench who for me could have changed the dying moments with some effect.

Strangely however although Roy's mannerisms on the sideline appeared to show he realised something needed to change he was reluctant to do so.

Now as you will know if you tweet with me on the old Twitter, Roy Hodgson was never my first choice for the Liverpool seat but i am determined to not take the easy route and just go all guns blazing against him. I am aware this is our worst start in what? 18 years? And i too am picking up on how his tactics/style don't seem to be working at the moment but fact is, would it really matter who was in his chair at the moment? I personally can't see a clear cut change in the side, the sides attitude, the results, anything really until the source of the problem is solved i.e. the Yanks.

To cut a long story short, i don't see the benefit at the moment in jumping on Roy's back and criticising at every chance. I'm always one to say how i feel and trust me, i won't be holding back in his continued reign should things start to get too replicated.

I think it's quite clear to all of us and hopefully to him that his plan A isn't quite working, he's picking up some good results in Europe but in the Premier League a narrow victory over the Baggies and some decent performances against Arsenal and United aren't going to cut it. Low expectations or not Liverpool still need to finish within the top half of the table and at the moment that appears to be slowly but surely getting further and further away.

For Liverpool a last ditch hope of taking all three points saw Agger miss a sitter of a header and we were left with a strange feeling of relief and disbelief.

Relieved that we had managed to hold on to the draw but unable to believe how hard it was to keep hold of that point at home against Sunderland. It just wasn't on.

Another poor result to add to a string of draws and Liverpool are still perched in 15th. It's going to be a long hard season but if we can ride it out with some sort of respectable finish and hopefully with those two Yanks upstairs removed then we can try to look forward to the 2011/2012 season.

Fans gathered after the game for a sit in as part of a protest organised by supporters union Spirit Of Shankly. If you haven't already done so stand up for your club and join the supporters union here.

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Friday, 24 September 2010

Bruce's Sunderland Travel To Anfield

Let's hope if they do score this time out it's an actual player on the scoresheet...

Liverpool open the doors for Sunderland tomorrow as Steve Bruce's side make the trip to the North West to face Roy Hodgson's deflated side. After being knocked out of the League Cup by Northampton it is not a great feel around Anfield at the moment but Hodgson has dropped clues in an interview that none of the XI who started on Thursday night will feature on the team sheet for tomorrow's game.

No Liverpool fan will forget a certain Sunderland game last season when a giant inflatable Liverpool beach ball helped along Darren Bent and completely fooled Reina to seal them a 1-0 win. Liverpool of course had the last laugh though in the follow up fixture when they beat Sunderland 3-0, the game included that superb goal from Fernando Torres from a tight angle near the far corner of the box.

It is believed there is a possibility that Dirk Kuyt may feature for the Reds tomorrow after apparently recovering a lot quicker than expected. Fabio Aurelio however is still unavailable.

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is clearly concerned about Liverpool's renewed attitude coming into this game after a humiliating defeat, he was quoted saying: "It won't be easy because they'll be hurting and disappointed over what happened in midweek." he went on to say "We must be weary."

Looking at the Sunderland side it's hard to back up a statement that they have any "real" threats, of course Bent will always pop up with a goal but take care of him and there shouldn't be many more problems for a strong Liverpool side.

Joe Cole i think will probably start tomorrow and his skill & pace will be useful in this game. I have to assume that because Roy is supposedly not starting Lucas that it will be Poulsen in midfield tomorrow either alongside Meireles or Gerrard depending on where the boss decides to play the captain.

Going with a 2-0 score prediction as i feel we can keep a clean sheet against these lot and after looking at Fernando Torres against Manchester United it looks like he's at the stage now where the goals are going to start coming more frequently.

A convincing win would do us the world of good.

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Northampton Give Liverpool Reality Check

Ohhh Cobblers!...

As Liverpool fans this season will know, the preparation for a very average season was made in the summer and we all knew it would be a tough time for the Reds in their start under Roy. What we couldn't have predicted though was to crash out of the league cup after being beaten by the sole league 2 side left in the competition and in all honesty not even be able to say we played well.

As always i shall say it as i see it but if you think your about to read some nonsense excuses or some stories about Rafa or how it's Roy's fault then i'd stop reading now. I'm not here to fuel people's bandwagon, nor am i here to supply ammo for the negative brigade, i'm here to be fair and try to look at things rationally.

As expected Roy started a mixed XI with the only real regular starters being Lucas and Jovanovic. The side also fielded familiar faces in Kyrgiakos, Agger, Babel and Ngog. Wilson, Spearing, Kelly and Pacheco made up the rest of the out field players with Brad Jones getting a debut in goal.

So before i continue let's look at the ability of that side, David Ngog - Liverpool's current top goalscorer. Kyrgiakos and Agger two solid defenders. Jovanovic and Lucas - some good games under their belt. Pacheco and Kelly upcoming stars.

To get this point out the way, i don't care if your Kenny Dalglish, a part time fan or Tom soddin Hicks, it's crystal clear that those players are more than able of getting a result at home against a league 2 side. There's quite simply no debate.

So how people can be looking towards Roy when his tactics clearly weren't the problem after Liverpool netted twice is a bit baffling to me, give the bloke a bloody chance!

Liverpool got off to a good start when Agger played a lovely ball to Milan Jovanovic, the Serbian capitalised and after a good run put Liverpool 1-0 up with his first goal in a red shirt.

Pleased for the lad as i am convinced he will be a good player if he keeps working hard.

For the remainder of the first half though, after the goal Liverpool had quietened down, a lively looking Northampton couldn't get off the mark yet but things would change in the second half.

Billy McKay gave his fans something to cheer about after he connected with a ball sent over across goal, Liverpool would have been unable to do very much about the goal so had to settle for regrouping and starting again.

Full time came and went and Liverpool were unable to find a winner. Northampton had already made their three changes yet bizarrely Liverpool hadn't appeared to even have thought of changing things.

My one criticism from Roy and i think a fair one was that perhaps earlier substitutions would have been beneficial. When the first sub was made at the start of extra time it just raised more questions after Jovanovic was replaced by Eccleston, again perhaps wouldn't of been my preference but at least we had some fresh legs on the field.

Northampton got their second early in and despite a fantastic double save from Brad Jones, the ball found its way out to Michael Jacobs who converted for the Cobblers.

Liverpool made their remaining two substitutions before the end of the first half in extra time. Babel was replaced by Shelvey and Thomas Ince came on for Pacheco.

Again this just gave out the wrong message to me, almost felt like they'd accepted the loss. Don't get me wrong i'm fully behind supporting Shelvey and Ince and i hope they come good but you don't bring those players onto the field when you need a goal to save your side from embarrassment.

But then again what were his options from the bench? He'd selected a youthful one along with a thin side, perhaps we should have been more precocious, but i know one thing, our squad is lacking depth, we can't afford to play weakened sides because even our best XI appear to be struggling at times.

4minutes before humiliation and Ngog managed to find the net after a nice corner taken by Shelvey. The faith was restored, because everybody knows Liverpool are good at penalties... Right...?

Well, not this time. Nathan Eccleston had to suffer the heartache after his miss set up Northampton for victory if Abdul Osman could convert from the spot, which he did.

There are no real excuses, it was simply a poor performance, to sit back yesterday and read the fans attacking each other yet again because one person thought it was so and so's fault, the other the ref's, the other the formation, well quite frankly it pisses me off.

Wouldn't be so bad if it was friendly banter but sometimes you'd not even realise they were fans of the same team. It's a real shame, especially considering as a fan base we all have more pressing issues to worry about at the moment.

Yes it's frustrating, annoying and basically a shambles but all credit to Northampton and for Liverpool let's just look forward to Sunderland and hope some twonk doesn't decide to bring a beach ball again!

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Liverpool To Get League Cup Started Against Northampton

Aug. 06, 2010 - 06282602 date 05 08 2010 Copyright imago Color Sports Football UEFA Europe League Qualifying Liverpool v Rabotnicki Skopje Rabotnicki s Martin Bogatinov meets Daniel Pacheco of Liverpool in The Air AT Anfield Liverpool PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxPOLxUSAxONLY Football men UEFA Europe League Europe League EC 3 Qualification 2010 2011 Liverpool Action shot Vdig xkg 2010 horizontal premiumd.
Pacheco could thrive in this sort of game...

The Reds face league two side Northampton Town tomorrow night at Anfield and Roy should surely be looking to do well in this competition with the realisation that the Premier League for Liverpool this season is more than out of reach.

It would be nice however to see a mixture of youngsters play tomorrow but also a few more experienced players. Would like to see Kelly and Pacheco start, also think Poulsen could do with some game time and players like Babel. Whatever side Roy starts you can be sure it won't be a familiar one.

Northampton are currently 17th in the league with 7 points from 7 games. Liverpool find themselves 16th in the Premier League with 5 points from 5 games.

Northampton 's last three fixtures read: LWD, for Liverpool it is the exact same reading: LWD, Liverpool's however includes a European tie against Steaua Bucharest.

Liverpool still have injuries to Fabio Aurelio and Dirk Kuyt who are both still recovering from quite serious strains on their fitness. Northampton have two doubts in Ryan Gilligan and Marcus Hall.

Northampton have beaten Brighton and Reading in their run up to this stage of the League Cup and are the only League 2 side left in the competition. This perhaps being a reason in itself for them to do well tomorrow although i am sure their players need no incentive to do their best at a ground like Anfield.

A fixture for Liverpool that shouldn't pose too many problems, let's hope we can watch Roy and the lads progress tomorrow evening.

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Monday, 20 September 2010

Berbatov Hat-Trick Breaks Reds Hearts

Steven Gerrard Celebrates Scoring 2nd goal with Sky Cameraman Liverpool 2010/11 Manchester United V Liverpool (3-2) 19/09/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Gerrard runs to the camera after netting his free kick...

It was a cracker of a game and once again Liverpool proved that they can more than handle the pressure when on display at Old Trafford. Despite an inspired performance from the lads though, the end result was an unfortunate one for Liverpool who fought hard.

Roy started Reina in goal with Konchesky, Skrtel, Carragher and Johnson across the back. Midfield was made up of Meireles, Poulsen, Cole and Maxi and it was Torres up front with Gerrard sitting behind him.

A slow start for Liverpool meant that United pressure was invited. With several cracks at goal within the first minute and hardly any possession from Liverpool, we looked rather unsteady.

From early on it appeared the Reds may struggle and possibly unfairly so my attention drew to Christian Poulsen. I realise both Konchesky and Meireles should have been watched closely too but there's just something about Poulsen that made me feel he wasn't right from the start for this fixture.

Later on in the game he did produce some good crosses and balls to Torres but if you created a montage of his 90minutes i think it's fair to say there would be a very high percentage of balls back to Reina or just general backwards movement of the ball. I realise his role is a more defensive one but i can't remember Mascherano being that cautious, i'm not making him a scapegoat because in all fairness his game as a whole was okay but his performance just made it more prominent to me that Lucas would have been the better option in this tough game against United.

For the remainder of the first half Liverpool failed to even have a proper chance but in true Liverpool style they were strong in defence as they always seem to be for a good portion of the time in these big games. Of course we also know that this is never the case for the full 90minutes with Liverpool and just before the stroke of half time unfortunately all of the Reds hard work was undone.

A corner sent into the box was met with Berbatov who easily headed home to make it United 1-0. It was so frustrating because i don't know how or where along the line the mistake was made but when the ball was sent in it was Torres marking Berbatov, clearly a big threat, surely he should have been marked by one of either Carragher or Skrtel. From the replays it seemed as though it was Johnson out of position, but the bizarre thing is, perhaps Torres was told to mark him? If this is so then it's simply baffling. Unfortunately for Torres he made matters worse by fighting behind and not in front of his man but then Torres isn't a defender is he? Berbatov didn't even have to jump!... Terrible.

No changes for the second half and Liverpool needed to change tactics. Fresh from i'm sure a thriving team talk, there did seem to be some more life in the side now fighting to come back from 1-0 at Old Trafford.

Half chances from Joe Cole and Fernando Torres were perhaps the only highlights before United punished again. This time there were no complaints though, there was no stopping this effort.

Annoyingly a great ball from the diving, rolling pansy that is Luis Nani looked like it was about to be met by Wayne Rooney, Berbatov had other ideas though and after an acrobatic bicycle kick the Liverpool lads could do nothing but watch the ball fly past Reina.

I think we all have to hold our hands up and appreciate the stature of that goal, even more annoyingly this is the soddin thing with Berbatov! He can be so lazy and do nothing for games on end then he can go and score a goal like that!

So another shock to the system for Liverpool didn't help with the confidence levels after coming out second half thinking it wasn't over. Of course it wasn't necessarily over yet either but 2-0 down at Old Trafford... Well any team knows that's a tough task to turn around to your advantage.

Tensions were high and as Liverpool began to go on the attack some sloppy tackles from the United boys were beginning to show. When Joe Cole sent a lovely ball through to a forward pushing El Nino, he was far too quick for Jonathan Evans who brought down the Spaniard in the box.

All of a sudden there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I always maintain before a match like this as long as i have something to cheer about then that is a positive i can fall back on, no matter what the result. Even if the result isn't favoured nothing beats celebrating in front of some of your bitter rivals fans in the pub.

Steven Gerrard rarely misses from the spot but i tell you something, doubt comes flooding back when you watch him step up against United.

The number 8 clearly didn't have even an ounce of doubt though as he sent the ball past Van Der Sar to get Liverpool off the mark.

So now, the game was on, the Reds can be a major threat on the come back as we have all seen so many times, but whether we could do it this time out, well that was a different matter.

Just under ten minutes later though and Fernando Torres is yet again causing trouble for the United defence. After John O'Shea pulled him to the floor on a run to the box it was definitely a free kick, i was expecting a red too because he was clearly last man although after reading some articles, some people appear to have had differing opinions.

Whether United had of gone down to ten men or not i don't think it would have made too much of a difference but it might of bloody helped!

Again, Steven Gerrard takes responsibility and with kopites all over the land pushing the weight down on his shoulders he must of felt as light as air when he sent his free kick through the wall and into the net. Superb.

I went mad when this one went in, jumped up off one of those high bar stools and knocked me Smirnoff Ice over! Twas hilarious! I was in a pub in town with me fella and a couple of mates, there were a few United fans in but for once there were more Liverpool fans, it was a top atmosphere although it did get a bit heated at one stage when the two sets of blokes squared up to each other... but they all shook hands at the end and did the whole "good game" thing haha.

Gerrard's celebration said it all as he ran emphatically to the camera and as he did in the famous 4-1 victory gave it a kiss in the hope that Liverpool were about to turn the tides in what would have been one of the most memorable North West derbies.

For a while it seemed like we may be able to nick it, as the time ticked by though it was beginning to be a case of please just hold on to the draw. A point from the Mancs in their own back yard after coming back from two nil down would have been nothing to frown at. And after Liverpool's performance second half, i think it was fair to say we deserved something.

Berbatov with another header made it 3-2 to United and also has the title of scoring the first hat trick in this fixture since 1946. Just to add to that "gutted" feeling yer know...

Horrible to watch but it was almost a sense of, i knew that was coming. Always the same with United. Just seriously frustrating to throw away what would have been a very good point.

It's been a tough start for Liverpool but hopefully things will begin to pick up now, keep doing our stuff in the Europa League and start to pick up some better results in the league with some lesser teams coming up and hopefully we can have a bit more to smile about.

We'll do those Mancs at Anfield anyway... I feel it in my bones.

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Saturday, 18 September 2010

Clash Of The Titans

Fernando Torres Liverpool 2008/09 Nemanja Vidic Manchester United Manchester United V Liverpool (1-4) 14/03/09 at Old Trafford The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International
Just never stops being funny does it?! Hahaha!...

So once again we're here folks. The excitement, the nerves, the bubbling hatred for the likes of Gary Neville and Farty Fergie's extra chewing gob.

This kind of feeling only tends to come around twice a year and as much as it brings out the worst in me i can't help but absolutely love it. This is what football is all about, the banter, the biggest clubs and the memorable clash of world class players going all out against each other.

Of course tomorrow evening i could be in a total different state of mind, quite possibly depressed... But this is the roller-coaster ride that we all have tickets for due to being a Liverpool fan.

Liverpool are again still without regular members in this head to head - Dirk Kuyt & Fabio Aurelio. The lack of some experience could possibly be detrimental to the Reds but with Joe Cole back from his ban and having made a great performance on Thursday along with rested Gerrard, Carragher and Torres, Liverpool could have some sort of upper hand here.

Manchester United are without Valencia who is expected to be out for a large majority of the season after he fractured his left ankle in their game against Rangers. Carrick is also unavailable due to an achilles problem.

Tomorrow's referee could pose some serious questions from many a Liverpool fan but i think it's important for us all to not get into that whole "We always get shit refs" bollocks, really does my nut in that! Trust me, i've shouted and balled my head off at Howard Webb many a time but i hate being the fan that blames a result on the ref, only on very few occasions do i find that to be valid, so let's just keep our fingers crossed and hope Fergie hasn't paid him for 7minutes added time if it's a draw at the 90minute mark!

In all seriousness a draw would be a fantastic result for Liverpool and at the moment it seems a realistic approach. We all know that Rafa had a step by step guide on how to over turn the Mancs but we mustn't forget that old Roy also has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Ok, so his record at Old Trafford doesn't bode too well but he knows his way around a Fergie set up and with Torres and Gerrard in his poker hand this could be a good day for the ex Fulham boss.

Fernando Torres of course has his own record awaiting tomorrow, should he manage to net that brings him to four goals in four games against United which isn't bad at all! So there's the incentive for him. The likes of Carragher and Stevie don't need an incentive, they know what it means so with the added spirit from Reina and a solid defensive performance we could just be on to something here.

Liverpool can fall back on memories of the 4-1, the Vidic flat on his face, the 2-0, the 2-1, the Murphy days... Or they can simply create new one's tomorrow.

Whatever the outcome it is sure to be a game filled with excitement and probably several yellow cards and bad decisions. I don't mind what happens at the final whistle as long as it is entertaining and we don't get mauled!

And i trust and persuade anyone watching in the pubs tomorrow to give those bantering Mancs as good as they get! Haha.

And if you are one of us pioneering few wear your "Standards Corrupted" shirt with pride tomorrow! In recent light of Tom Hick's new dastardly plan of action we all need to continue the protest!

You can purchase your shirt at just £20 for all adult sizes and £15 for kids. Get on it!

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Friday, 17 September 2010

Cole Gets Ball Rolling In Liverpool Rout

Lucas Celebrates Scoring 3rd goal Liverpool 2010/11 Liverpool V FC Steaua Bucharest (4-1) 16/09/10 UEFA Europa League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Lucas dedicates his celebration to his unborn child...

It was a rather wet and windy setting for Liverpool's game last night against Steaua Bucharest but who needs sunshine to brighten things up when you have the Reds on superb form?

It was a mixed team fielded by the boss and it was a side missing the likes of Carragher, Gerrard and Torres. Ngog was given another chance up front and the XI also included academy boys Spearing and Kelly who were more than willing to impress Hodgson and the fans.

I was still getting settled and into a comfortable position when Liverpool first decided to raise the eyebrows of everyone watching. After just 30 seconds a very sloppy defensive pass from the Romanians meant Joe Cole could sneakily steal the ball, after making the run his shot wide past the keeper almost seemed as though he had missed the target but his effort found it's way in and Anfield was jumping.

I'm so pleased for the lad, we all know he's not necessarily here for banging loads in the net but that will have completely settled his nerves about meeting our high expectations and can imagine he enjoyed it! Ecstatic.

After the goal the boys seemed to do the opposite of what everyone was expecting, after such an early advantage surely we would at least be forward pushing and go on the full attack... But it was Steaua who found a new set of legs and the next ten minutes for Liverpool proved difficult as the Romanians came through strong.

12 minutes in and the Reds had already lost their lead. A great ball through to Tanase allowed him to complete a superb finish and send the ball over an out coming Reina and into goal in front of the Kop end.

It was a good goal and looking at their performance minutes before hand, the Reds may have been in trouble if they failed to concentrate.

Steaua made a substitution in the midst of their steady half hour or so switching Emeghara for Nicolita. Thankfully Liverpool managed to keep the door shut up until the 45minute mark despite an impressive display from the Romanians and the boys entered the second half level.

Kick off for the second half and within moments it was clear that Liverpool were more refreshed, an enthusiastic team talk maybe? Mixed with a will to go out and please the fans? Whatever it was the local lads Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing were certainly raring to go. They weren't willing to fail in front of the Kop.

A truly inspiring display from both lads with some great crosses and forward runs from Kelly not to mention some fantastic last minute tackles and good protective play from Spearing and even a decent long range shot at goal.

Liverpool found themselves at 55minutes with a chance to take the lead. After contact was made on Kyrgiakos in the box (no denying though that Soto seems to have had some amateur dramatics lessons recently after he made it very clear he'd been grabbed haha) the referee gave a penalty.

Up steps David Ngog. A calm penalty sent low to the right of the keeper and the Reds were 2-1 up.

At this stage i was having that strange feeling when you have a punt on your own side...

I'd had a cheeky quid on Liverpool 2-1 Torres to score first. It was a sort of last minute thing and it didn't cross my mind that Torres may be rested, so of course, Nando was in the stands in his suit but after double checking with me Pa, my bet would apparently go to just the scoreline so one part of me wanted it to stay 2-1 and the other wanted to see us smash in some more goals.

I must say, what followed though was worth much more than the £8 quid i would have collected.

Liverpool had now well and truly found their footing and things only got better when Lucas entered the field of play.

The Brazilian had only been on the pitch for a few minutes when out of nowhere he fancies a pop from 30yards. There is no way to describe it other than an absolute belter! Fantastic for the man who is so often made the scapegoat, he's no world beater we know this but he's so under rated.

Steaua were quiet for the second half and it appeared their lively selves had just lost most of that electric energy that they had in the first 45minutes. A few flickers of chances but nothing really to trouble Liverpool meant that the Reds could now end the game in freedom.

Not content with just the 3 goals and David Ngog not content with just the 1 for his night of work, in extra time the Frenchman with a confident run against a few yellow shirts made it 4-1 for Liverpool with another great finish.

Brilliantly done, a top performance from the whole team, and for the first time this season i think the display filled us with hope. That was an impressive performance against a team that at one stage seemed like real trouble. A side missing some of our star names too, the boys efforts need to be cheered.

With that major confidence boost and just general lift then Liverpool are perfectly poised going into the match against bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday. With Torres, Gerrard and Carragher back we all know what those three boys add to our game and if Lucas fancies his chances i'm more than willing to celebrate a screamer like that in front of the Man Ure lot in the pub!

Bring it on ay!

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Steaua Grapes

Aug. 06, 2010 - 06282576 date 05 08 2010 Copyright imago BPI Joe Cole of Liverpool Puts in A Cross PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Football men UEFA Europe League Europe League EC 3 Qualification 2010 2011 Liverpool Single Action shot cut out Vdig xkg 2010 horizontal premiumd Football.
Cole could be back for tomorrow nights tie...

It's quite clear that Liverpool have a European history to be proud of but will Steaua Bucharest tomorrow night look back on the match as an achievement or will the beams of jealously begin to emerge as Liverpool get off the starting blocks in the group stages of the Europa League.

With the match being shown on channel 5, the KO at 5 past 8, it's a game that will be watched by many a Red. With the pressure on from all of the onlooking kopites can Liverpool get the win desired to send us on our way.

Of course, any team you welcome to Anfield you have to fancy our chances but in particular when it is European opposition. This is no Olympiakos in the Champions League but you can still guarantee an atmosphere.

Roy is still unable to select both Dirk Kuyt and Fabio Aurelio due to their injuries but has choice of the rest of his squad. Joe Cole is of course also available due to his match ban not being applicable in this competition. Joe has now served his 3 match ban so will also be available for Roy on Sunday.

Romanians Steaua Bucharest are the most successful club to come from the land of the roma. They are also the first team from Eastern Europe to win the Champions League. So to cut a long story short, they know their way around a football game.

Sometimes i feel it's dangerous to under estimate opposition but at the same time, over evaluating them can damage your performance. Liverpool need to go into this game with freedom and confidence.

We last met with Steaua in the 03/04 season when Houllier saw us progress through the UEFA Cup after a Harry Kewell goal. Our overall record against the Romanian side reads: 8wins, 2draws and 1 loss.

Steaua aren't spectacular on their travels and haven't won away in Europe in four games. Despite this i think their calibre and style of play still should ring warning bells and the Reds should be weary of slipping up in a silly draw.

With Manchester United on the weekend it may be a different side fielded by Hodgson, a side capable of winning but perhaps not containing all of the regulars. With a few options to consider in midfield i.e. Poulsen, Lucas, Meireles, Gerrard and also the options on the wing what with Cole being available, it will be interesting to see who Roy chooses to start.

With all of this in mind i'm going to have to punt for a 2-1 win for Liverpool tomorrow. Hopefully that scoreline includes one in the back of the net for Torres, just to warm him up for when he's running rings around Vidic on Sunday afternoon.


Just to end on folks, if any of you have a second to spare could you please stop by and vote for me in the "GoldenTwit" awards...

Not usually one to involve myself in these sort of things but after a follower nominated me i had a sense of well why not ay?

Much appreciated! Here's the link...

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Monday, 13 September 2010

Reina Prevents Reds Defeat

Steven Gerrard Liverpool 2010/11 Birmingham City V Liverpool (0-0) 12/09/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Yer wha?! I can't hear yer!

It was a tough game yesterday for Liverpool and to be honest by the end of the 90minutes it could have been a less flattering scoreline. Despite the best efforts from the Reds it was the heroics of Pepe Reina that kept our dignity and in turn the point.

I did say in my match preview that this away fixture wouldn't be a walk in the park but analyzing Liverpool's chances/play it wasn't particularly fantastic.

Roy decided to go with Maxi Rodriguez in place of the injured Dirk Kuyt which i was quite happy to see. The rest of midfield was made up of Lucas, Poulsen and Jovanovic. Gerrard sat behind Torres, Reina in goal and a back four of new man Konchesky along with Carragher, Skrtel and Glen Johnson.

It was a match built up to be entertaining but one that unfortunately failed to meet expectations. Birmingham started the game well and were strong in attack, Liverpool appeared caught off guard, they knew the Blues would come at them but their rate of success was too high for an unsettled defence so early in the game.

Ridgewell and McFadden were looking good for Birmingham and along with the likes of Jerome it didn't seem like it would be too long until they punished a lack lustre Liverpool. Luckily the Reds were strong in defence but it was the inefficiency going forward that would prove to be Liverpool's problem.

Fernando Torres still coming back to full fitness showed signs of his usual fluent and magic creating self but he wasn't on top of his game. Throw in a Steven Gerrard who was constantly on and off the pitch after a collision caused his ear to keep bleeding, well, it wasn't going too well up front for Roy's boys.

Jovanovic was quite impressive and although he helped create some chances i would have loved to have seen him have a pop himself or just push that bit further forward to create even more havoc.

Pepe Reina was really whom to thank though after two fantastic saves the Spaniard showed his true colours again in a great performance from a goalkeeper under plenty of fire.

Late into the second half we saw Konchesky leave the field after picking up a knock. A reasonably good performance from the new recruit and he applauded the fans as he was replaced by Daniel Agger who would get into make shift left back role again.

Meireles who was also brought onto the field late on for Liverpool was perhaps the boys best chance of equalising after a close range shot nearly saw him score on his debut for the Reds.

Although it is possibly unfair to make comparisons between Poulsen and Meireles, especially considering i haven't seen much at all from the Portuguese man (parts at World Cup) i do however feel that the linking up of himself and Lucas would be a better option than he and Poulsen or Poulsen and Lucas.

I realise they are different players but it's not only this that has raised my concerns. Poulsen despite bags of experience has worried me the few times i have seen him so far. Sometimes even the simplest of passes he messes up and for a midfielder sometimes acting in a holding role, that surely can't be good. I shall keep my eye on him though and see how it goes.

So all in all a rather uneventful one for the Reds and worryingly Roy's comments suggest that he didn't really have high expectations... Neither did i Roy but i'm writer of an amateur blog, not manager of the bloody side! Keep it to yourself next time or just make something up and say we're gonna hammer um! Talk about confidence boost.

Of course there will be no high expectations of Liverpool until these owners shift the hell out of our club but it wouldn't go a miss if Roy raised the morale. It was nice to see him jump to the defence of Torres though after some media talk.

Next match for Liverpool is a home game against Steaua Bucharest, followed by a trip next weekend to the theatre of shite. We won't fair well if we play as we did yesterday against United but you can't help but laugh when they fail to put one over the bluenoses despite being 3-1 up. Hahaha.

Roll on a big week for Liverpool!

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Happy Birthday! One Whole Year Of The Liver Bird

Ooo... I could so eat that cake!

Well folks, i can't quite believe it but today marks one year since i first started this blog - The Liver Bird. Back in September of last year i had recently finished 6th form coming away with 3 A Levels. The original plan was always to go to university to do Geography as i simply love the subject but due to my A Level grades not being quite high enough to get enough UCAS points i ended up being unable to take the university option.

Ever the optimistic person, whilst i was realising how much spare time i had when not spent searching for jobs or courses i started to find myself on the internet a lot more than any normal person would be. To fill my time i would always be checking up on the latest Liverpool news because after all, my football club is my second love and anything that involves them and keeps me occupied can't be a bad thing...

That's when it hit me, i'd stumbled across a few really good Liverpool blogs and forums and just thought to myself why not give it a shot? I'd researched some blogging websites and after choosing Blogger i soon found myself with a fair few blog posts up and right in the swing of things. A few months in i created a Twitter account and if i am honest without Twitter and the security of knowing at least someone is reading my posts, i think the blog would have crashed and burned.

I mean, to keep myself occupied and because it was a hobby i suppose i would have continued, but it does make me feel a lot better knowing i have readers.

So post after post went by, readers began to learn about how i live in Wolverhampton and work at the Molineux stadium, but what i also clearly portrayed was my passion for the club. Sometimes fans from other cities can be out of touch with the club they support and it's traditions and values but i was proud to know that people could see i was a true fan.

Even when the posts came about me first experiencing seeing Liverpool, when i got a free ticket due to my job to watch the away game against Wolves, fans read my almost diary posts and made good voices about it.

My highlight of my year of blogging though had to be my first trip to see the lads at Anfield. I had been to Liverpool and Anfield on many occasions but up until February for several reasons had been unable to watch my beloved team play at the glorious Anfield.

I was very nervous about posting my match report/diary of the day because it seriously felt like i was just rabbiting on, the super long post was nothing like any of my others but to my surprise people really enjoyed it. The Twitter Liverpool fan base even got into a spur after reading the post and i had fans tweeting me posts about their own first experiences of Anfield. It was fantastic to see everyone linking together and fascinating to read some fans stories.

I've always maintained that i am no football brain, i enjoy my football, have a basic understanding of the rules, managers, clubs, players etc and i simply say it as i see it. I am sometimes bias and i've certainly had many a rant but my main aim is always to provide an easy and mildy interesting read for any Liverpool fan, wherever they may be in the world.

To end on i would like to leave you with some kind tweets from some of my readers/top twitter people and i will also leave you will a few links of some of my favourite posts.

Thank you all so much for reading, here's to another year doing what i have loved so much these past 12 months, writing about Liverpool FC!

@LFCKirstyLFC your best blog was about your 1st match at Anfield, truly felt I was making the trip with you, outstanding piece of writing

I love reading the thoughts of a young talent like @LFCKirstyLFC - always fresh & insightful, honest but fair. I look forward to much more.

@LFCKirstyLFC Your 'first match' post was my favourite because it came across how excited you were about experiencing Anfield.

As the title suggests she's a bird & not even Scouse! But this top blog is full of Scouse passion & knowledge for our great club - LFC YNWA

@LFCKirstyLFC Can't pick out 1 piece. But thought ur match reviews were written w/ur passion for LFC but also maintaining a pragmatic view!

@LFCKirstyLFC A person can change name, address, etc, but one thing you can not change....... your passion(LFC) your blog iz awesome ;)

My match report and musings on my day after seeing Liverpool at Anfield for the first time (most read post) - Here.

The post containing the farewell to Rafa - Here.

The post that actually moved me whilst writing it on Hillsborough, if you haven't already done so, please take the time to read the links on this post at the bottom - Here and following similarly the post i did containing my email to the disgrace of a man that is Russel Hawker - Here.

My post having a rant about the play off for champions league idea - Here.

Match report after seeing Liverpool at Molineux - Here.

Post on standards corrupted shirts (Get yourself one!) - Here.

The story of my day and match report after watching us v Wolves with my other half and some mates who are Wolves fans in a pub full of gold and black - Here.

That beach ball goal - Here.


Friday, 10 September 2010

Can Liverpool Come Away With More Than Just The 1 Point?

Raul trains with Reds before Birmingham clash...

So after what seemed like a hell of a long international break, Liverpool swing back into action on Sunday against Midlanders - Birmingham City. Liverpool were quite lucky in terms of injuries with all the players coming back from duties with their countries in good shape, Dirk Kuyt however was an exception after he injured his shoulder. He is expected to be out for quite a while so this could prove problematic for Roy.

Liverpool are also without Fabio Aurelio who is still recovering from an achilles problem and David Ngog also picked up a knock but may still be available for Roy to select on Sunday.

As pictured new signing Raul Meireles was also training with the rest of the boys so could most certainly feature in this difficult clash against the Blues.

Not forgetting too for the Reds that Joe Cole still has one match left on his ban for receiving his red card at the start of the season.

Birmingham also have a couple of injury worries and ex Arsenal man Alexander Hleb was supposed to be ruled out but after further reports suggesting that Alex McLeish may indeed utilise the winger within the 90minutes this weekend, we could see him play after all.

Parnaby and Phillips are two other players who are unavailable for the Birmingham boss but he has the pick of the rest of his fully fit squad.

Last season Liverpool's two games against the Blues proved tough and both ended in score draws. With the added controversy of the David Ngog penalty, Sunday's game will be far from a simple one for Roy's boys.

Birmingham will definitely be up for it and are more than capable of getting something like a 2-1 win over us and it worries me because i always feel looking at the Birmingham side that they will score. Although a draw would be acceptable you have to feel that Liverpool must go for the win. There will be harder away trips to come so capitalizing on the ones where the highest points tally is achievable is a sensible plan of action in my eyes.

Not sure how Roy is going to set up but you can almost guarantee it will be Torres leading the line. Would be very nice to get a glimpse at Meireles and i would also like to see Maxi Rodriguez start the game as we haven't really had to chance to get a good match out of him yet at this early stage of the season.

Image courtesy of

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Friday, 3 September 2010

Carra: GOLD

Well this is a new training pitch routine...

So, the scouser we all love has finally decided to host his testimonial game on Saturday to celebrate 10 years at Liverpool FC. His tenth year at the club was in fact back in 2007 but the 32 year old wanted to wait until he could create an appropriate and one off special football match, something he had always dreamed of, not only this but he always had imprinted in his mind that all the proceeds would go towards his 23 foundation in order to help people and charities in Liverpool.

I must confess i had the biggest schoolgirl crush on Carragher, then the biggest teenage crush right up to a sort of now guilty pleasure, he is 32 after all, bit of an age gap going on there Jamie! Haha.

Point being, i have followed Carragher closely through his career, he started at the club just as my interest really began and as i grew older i really started to appreciate what a superb example of a footballer he is.

Yes, he can sometimes get hot headed and we all have hung our heads in shame when he's netted one of his famous "own goals" but it's all part of his character, part of the man.

Carragher may come across and sound like he's not the most intellectual man in the world but you ask any fellow footballer, manager or fan and they will all stick by the fact that Jamie knows his football. He is a brilliant reader of the game, obsessed with getting things right and learning from mistakes, any youngster coming up through the ranks would be proud to call him their teacher of the beautiful game.

Outside of football he is also a shining example, he takes care of his two children - James and Mia. He is happily married to a fantastic lady (Nicola) who i respect more than any of the other "WAGS" if you wish to call them that. She leads her own life and doesn't try to cling on to the fame of her footballing other half, works hard and cherishes her children and husband. Just what a real lady should do.

Over the years we have all witnessed Carragher lift trophies, head in to crunching tackles, run round several football pitches shouting his head off at the rest of the lads (remember Arbeloa? haha) and showing shear passion every second he plays in front of the Liverpool faithful.

I for one feel it's high time we all raised our glasses to such a great man and such a fantastic hard grafting traditional footballer.

His spats with Gary Neville and over exaggerated celebrations in wins over Everton despite the fact he supported them as a youngster still to this day put a smile on my face and pushing aside the fact that in a couple of games time we'll probably all be utterly annoyed when he's slightly off the pace or nets ANOTHER own goal but we can brush that all under the carpet because his performances and passion for the club out weigh all of those niggling negatives.

Here's to another ten years... Whatever his next step is at Anfield i'm sure we will all be 100% behind him.

Jamie Carragher - They just don't make them like him these days...

Images used from & Google Images

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