The Liver Bird  

Monday, 29 November 2010

Skrtel Scores At Both Ends In Hard To Take Defeat

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool , Premier League 28/11/2010 Tottenham Manager / Head coach, Harry Redknapp looks on as Jamie Carragher of Liverpool leaves the pitch injured  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom
Kyrgiakos finally gets on the field after Carragher with a dislocated shoulder still manages to yell some instructions to his defensive partner...

It wasn't just the wind that was bitter at White Hart Lane yesterday evening, it was the feelings of the travelling Liverpool fans too after a gutting end to an otherwise entertaining hour and a half of football.

Realistically before kick off not many fans or neutrals thought Liverpool were in with a chance here. A few thought the Reds would manage to get themselves a draw but nobody saw a win on the cards.

Annoyingly for Liverpool it appeared on a few occasions that we were going to prove everybody wrong, but luck hasn't necessarily been a partner in our league campaign and Tottenham eventually rose towards the end with a kick in the teeth for a hard working Liverpool side.

Spurs had early problems when Van Der Vaart who was believed to have been "50/50" pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury. Perhaps the risk from Harry Redknapp was a bad move but for Liverpool the removal of a goal threat from the field would only help things.

Liverpool had started with a good attitude and were willing to play a part in Spur's apparent tactics into forcing the Reds to play the ball. For the lads it's usually a case of that age old "pass and move" but with the pressure being applied it was nice to see that we could still play some threatening balls through and have players with the confidence to take on men on their own.

Shots were coming thick and fast in the first half with Meireles, Maxi and Fernando Torres all having efforts at goal. Some more promising than others but it sent out a clear message that we meant business, a goal was coming, that was for sure.

In the midst of the battles on field, Liverpool also unfortunately picked up three yellow cards in the first half. For me the first card to Meireles shouldn't have been. He played the ball and got none of the man but it was soon apparent that referee Atkinson was feeling card happy.

41 minutes and the Reds finally managed to convert all their efforts into something worthwhile. Martin Skrtel of all the people scores with a driven effort from inside the penalty box. Skrtel in all fairness is never usually on target with his head let alone with his feet, to see him score was not only a good feeling but for Spurs it must have meant something was wrong!

After reaching half time looking steady it was only a terrible missed opportunity from Maxi Rodriguez that was leaving a sour taste for Roy Hodgson's side.

More bad tastes were to come though in the second half in a moment of sheer despair when Spurs got themselves a penalty, thankfully it didn't end badly for Liverpool. A free kick awarded after a Carragher challenge (i didn't even think it was a foul) resulted in Ngog jumping up like he was doing the Mexican wave and blatantly hand balling in the area. Defoe however made a right meal of his penalty and sent his effort wide meaning Liverpool could regroup.

Spurs weren't looking completely beatable but in all honesty it was looking more promising from a Liverpool point of view. Ex employee Peter Crouch wasn't causing too much havoc for the defence and Gareth Bale was being held extremely well by Glen Johnson. The defence was going strong.

Disappointingly though it was the defence that was responsible for the equalizer from Tottenham an hour into the second half. When Modric left Johnson and Carragher for dead and whipped in a cross, poor old Martin Skrtel was left with no choice. If he'd of let the ball through it would have been straight at Crouch's feet, he had to do something, sadly for Skrtel he ended up turning the ball into his own net.

He never soddin' scores then he gets one at each end... Never mind ay Martin.

Even after this it still looked as though Liverpool would be able to get something from the game. Whether that meant holding on for a respectable point or getting a winner, we just didn't know but after our hard work we certainly didn't deserve to lose.

At 73minutes Hodgson thought it was time for a change. David Ngog who as always was valuable in hold up play was beginning to slow and i agreed with Roy's introduction of Fabio Aurelio.

At 85minutes things took another turn for Liverpool when Jamie Carragher went to the floor. Anyone who knows what type of player Carragher is will know that he does not go down unless he is near enough dead - no joke. I remember when he kept playing with i think two broken ribs and a pierced lung, this bloke will put everything on the line for Liverpool just like his last ditch block earlier on in the game to hold out Spurs.

It was clear it was a serious injury and it later turned out the the stalwart had dislocated his shoulder. The highlight of the game for me looking back afterwards was watching Carra being helped off the pitch like an old man crossing the road and then seeing him in a split second suddenly begin to shout his head of at Kyrgiakos to get on the bloody pitch. Absolutely priceless! Makes me proud that we have such a player in our team.

With Kyrgiakos on i still felt pretty comfortable with us holding on to this draw. The big Greek knows his stuff and there were only 10 minutes or so left.

However, Spurs decided they had other ideas and wanted the three points. An injury time winner from Aaron Lennon made all Reds hearts sink. Konchesky whatever he was doing should definitely feel somewhat responsible because by the time he'd realised the threat it was far, far too late.

What is most annoying about this defeat is that we actually played well, very well in fact. If it wasn't for missed chances and bad luck for Skrtel it could have been a very different story for Liverpool.

In all honesty i would have much rather seen us be absolutely thrashed by that Spurs side rather than holding them and then rolling over at 92minutes. Absolutely horrible.

With Steaua away on Thursday night and then Villa at Anfield on the 6th, it's going to be a tough couple of games for a Liverpool side without the likes of Gerrard and Carragher.

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Friday, 26 November 2010

Difficult Task For Liverpool At Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur v Werder Bremen , Champions League Qualifting Gp A 24/11/2010  Gareth Bale of Tottenham in action Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom
I'd bank on him netting or setting one up...

Liverpool travel to White Hart Lane on Sunday on the back of a convincing 3-0 win over fellow Londoners West Ham United. Arguably the victory isn't a worthy example of decent form but as proved against Chelsea this season the Reds don't necessarily need good form to be beating big teams.

Spurs are on the back of uplifting wins over Werder Bremen in the Champions League and a hard fought victory over bitter rivals Arsenal in the Premier League last weekend. With players such as Gareth Bale looking a stronger threat as each game goes by, Liverpool need to be on their toes for Sunday's fixture.

The Reds are without influential captain Steven Gerrard who we will sorely missed. Also still out is Daniel Agger. Jay Spearing is the latest to be added to the injury list after he cracked a bone above his ankle. Some good news though is the possible re-emergence of Joe Cole, Hodgson is hoping to reintroduce the winger in the clash with Spurs.

As for Harry Redknapp he has injuries to Huddlestone, Dos Santos, Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate who all have groin problems. O'Hara is also out and doubtful are Jenas and Dawson. Van Der Vaart is on the doubtful list too with Redknapp quoting that it would be "50/50" as to whether he would be able to face Liverpool.

We have to go back to the 07/08 season for our last victory at White Hart Lane and last time out we didn't fair too well losing 2-1.

Harry Redknapp will surely enjoy a win over us but with Roy Hodgson no doubt holding his own will to beat a fellow English managers team it could well be a battle of wits.

The main problem for Liverpool i fear is keeping the strong attack from Spurs at bay. With the likes of Johnson sometimes leaving gaps in the defence and Martin Skrtel looking a little wobbly of late i think we may benefit more so from playing Kyrgiakos to add that extra bit of support, not only this but as we all know the big lad can nick a goal from a set piece and to be honest unless Torres has a stormer on Sunday i think set pieces are the only way we are going to threaten.

A fair result looking into this game would probably be a loss for Liverpool but i think we are capable of getting a draw. A win is probably out of the question but you never know we might do a Chelsea again.

With Lucas back from suspension let's hope that it's himself and Meireles who feature in the centre of midfield rather than one of them and Poulsen.

I don't think anyone is expecting much for Sunday but hopefully it will be an entertaining match.

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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Yes, We Know, 3-0 Against West Ham, We Shouldn't Get Carried Away...

Maxi celebrates after his header...

Liverpool showed signs of an amicable performance yesterday after they beat West Ham in a comfortable 3-0. Of course, we shouldn't get up on our high horses though due to the Hammers' current form and table position, even if we'd of won this one by a cricket score nobody was ever going to dish out the compliments and rightly so.

Despite this it's always a nice feeling to watch the boys win. A good first 45minutes was perhaps cancelled out by a slower second half but as so many people have said, we'd rather have a slow second half than a slow first.

Roy had to make changes to the side with the injury to Steven Gerrard and suspension of Lucas Leiva causing him the most selection troubles. Ironically the lack of two of our top performers meant that Hodgson was pretty much forced into playing Raul Meireles in his correct position of centre midfield.

It was clear straight away that the lad was more comfortable here and i just hope Roy picked up on the differences in his performances both in and out of his favoured position.

Poulsen was the other adjustment to the midfield and although he didn't play bad at all to be fair to him (he even had a great attempt at goal, who knew he could attack???) i still stand by my judgement of him not being good enough to start for the Reds. Nevertheless he played well against West Ham so fair does.

Glen Johnson included in defence was first to get the Reds off the mark. Some sloppy and downright poor defending from the Londoners meant Johnson was allowed enough space to chest the ball from the incoming corner down and line up his shot which went straight past Green and their man on the post.

Showing remnants of a strikers goal this once again backed up Glen's extra attributes in the attacking portion of his game. Thankfully though proving some of his critics wrong he was back in defence directly afterwards glancing away a dangerous ball that would have reached a West Ham player had he of not interfered. A nice game overall for Johnson.

Liverpool's second goal came just ten minutes later. Within the interval between the two goals West Ham were reluctant to change things it appeared, allowing Liverpool all the freedom they liked it seemed Avram Grant hadn't set up his side with the "let's have a pop at them at Anfield" attitude.

To be perfectly honest i think that's the only way teams like West Ham can ever do us over at home, they may as well set up like that and lose 7-0 rather than allow the Reds to walk all over them. Some of their defending was abysmal and their sense of urgency to get to the ball? Well where was it?

Dirk Kuyt was the man to put the boys 2-0 up from a spot kick after Fernando Torres helped cause panic and confusion in the box resulting in Gabbidon hand balling for the away side.

Kuyt finished straight down the middle and a quick thumbs up to Steven Gerrard in the stands showed he'd been paying attention to the man we usually see line up for the peno's.

By now we were looking like we could score 4 or even 5 and sure enough 5minutes before half time the Reds found themselves with a third.

Maxi Rodriguez with a superb header from a way out had everyone with mouths agape. A lovely finish from the winger and Anfield began to ring out the Argentine's song to the tune of Heartbeat.

3-0 and we were laughing, yes we know "It's only West Ham" blah blah blah. Don't you wish commentators would just let you enjoy it sometimes? More to the point, we were well up for this, at half time it seemed like we still had more goals in us!

Second half however ended up being a total opposite of the first. We had some chances and were moving the ball around the field well. Torres was still looking pretty lively and West Ham were still looking poor but the pace had slowed and the desire.

Just after 70minutes Ngog went off and on came Fabio Aurelio, a pleasing sight for all Liverpool fans who have missed his ingenuity no doubt. He went on to have one of his power shots but unfortunately saw his attempt go over the bar.

Shelvey also made an appearance as did Ryan Babel but none of the three subs could add and extra goal to yesterday's tally. The Hammers failed to get on the score sheet and Reina in fairness had little to do.

We can take some positives from this of course we can but with Spurs away up next prepare for a dose of "Reality Check" and a spoonful of "Gareth Bale".

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Friday, 19 November 2010

Gerrard Injury Is Massive Blow For Liverpool

Wembley Stadium England v France (1-2) Friendly International 17/11/2010 Steven Gerrard (England) feels his hamstring and has to be substitiuted Photo: Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Gerrard grips his hamstring after over 80minutes against France...

Liverpool were already in the midst of a struggle and after poor performances against Stoke and Wigan the fixture against West Ham doesn't necessarily look as pleasing as it should be.

West Ham are currently bottom of the table with just 9 points. Pressure is on Avram Grant and with a goal difference of -11, things aren't going well for the Londoners.

West Ham have injuries to Ben Haim and Hitzlsperger. Three of their players are also out due to knee injuries - Collison, Kurucz and Hines. However the team regularly fielded by Grant should not be affected.

For Liverpool we are without Lucas Leiva who received a red card against Stoke so will have to serve a one match ban. Also out are Joe Cole and Daniel Agger and of course Captain Steven Gerrard. Furious Liverpool staff blew their tops after Gerrard was played for longer than the agreed time, it wouldn't feel as bad if it wasn't a friendly but to see our number 8 limp off the field with a bad hamstring injury at Wembley was horrible. Bloody England! Cheers Capello!

This is the Hammers worst ever start to the season and although we aren't quite at that level we are extremely close. Usually the added stability of being at home would be something to be positive about but this time out, it's not. Despite West Ham clearly being beatable i have seen nothing in the last two matches from the Reds that backs up us being able to get three points, let alone deserve it.

With Gerrard out there is also the scary possibility that Poulsen will be brought into some sort of shaken up midfield. One plus side is the newly fit Fabio Aurelio who i would gladly welcome into tomorrow's starting line up, his skill and ingenuity will be a refreshing burst for a drab looking Liverpool side.

Lucas out too will only cause more problems in the possession and supply sector. Assuming Torres starts tomorrow, the weight is going to be fully on his shoulders, perhaps unfairly so but when Liverpool need a talisman they're only going to look to one player - El Nino.

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Monday, 15 November 2010

Deserved Win For Stoke Highlights Poor Liverpool Display

July 28, 2010 - Skopje, FYROM - epa02264147 Liverpool's player Martin Skrtel gestures during the training session in Skopje, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 28 July 2010. Liverpol FC will face FC Rabotnicki in the qualification for Europa League in the Macedonian capitol Skopje on 29 July 2010.
Martin Skrtel's interesting defensive techniques yesterday could have made it a better margin for Stoke...

Liverpool fell to a Stoke defeat on Saturday evening and again made a lacklustre performance look almost like a crafted art form. The terrible display from the Reds only adds to the ever growing pressure on manager Roy Hodgson and is backing up many a fans theory about how Hodgson and the boys are set up for away fixtures.

Liverpool held out for the first 45minutes but barely so. Stoke were playing well and Liverpool were asking to be punished. A hardly electric performance from star man Torres didn't help but other effective players such as Kuyt and Meireles were also nonchalant.

Skrtel who was looking super unsteady was also causing nervy situations when Stoke were on the attack and the Reds were subject to many attempts at goal from Tony Pulis's side within the first 45minutes.

I knew from kick off this wasn't going to be a walk in the park but this was just unacceptable.

At 55minutes Stoke finally converted, it appeared even after the half time break we hadn't learnt anything. Ricardo Fuller who had been looking dangerous already put the home side 1-0 up with a goal from close range.

The one positive from Hodgson was his change of heart and decision to actually utilise the effect an early substitution may have, bringing on Ngog just after the hour mark. Unfortunately for David he couldn't put his mark on the game but it was definitely worth the try i thought. Ryan Babel was also brought on after 70minutes but i personally don't think that was beneficial.

Stoke made matters worse for an absolutely deflated Liverpool side when Kenwyne Jones netted them a second just into injury time. The goal originated from the Reds losing possession and in honesty capped off the match perfectly. Stoke were nothing but deserving of the win.

Lucas Leiva received a second yellow card in the second minute of added time and had to leave the field. Another blow for Liverpool because even though most people don't appreciate his ability i personally feel at the moment he is one of, if not the only player adding real stability and a good passing option within the team.

Steven Gerrard tried his utmost to provide that glimmer of magic but the captain wasn't at fault for such the dismal display.

I hate to jump onto people's backs as you know but i can't help but feel now that it's no coincidence our away form is so poor.

Our tactics and attitude last night did nothing to provoke a successful attacking period. One away win in the league is just not good enough after 13 Premier League matches. Ok it was against a strong looking Bolton side but even so, a 1-0 win is barely filling fans with confidence. With other winnable away fixtures such as Birmingham and Wigan also going badly i think it's time to take note of our poor performances.

Something needs to change because the last two fixtures have been a world away from a side realistically hoping to finish within the Europa League places let alone the top half.

My other half is a Wolves fan and for years he's been able to make jokes about Liverpool without me giving a crap... Why? Because he and i both knew that they weren't true and his jaunts could not be backed up but now? Well his beloved Wolves may not be getting results but they can at least provide some highlights and goals for MOTD...

Utterly miserable, i can't really see how we are going to get out of this hole and to be brutally honest i'm still sticking with the fact that Roy Hodgson is not "Liverpool FC". I can't give him much more time without it becoming ridiculous, do we wait until Christmas? February? May? If this is the pattern of matches to come then we seriously cannot afford to wait.

Change it up Roy, big style or i'm sorry but you're going to have to face the consequences.

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Friday, 12 November 2010

Can We See Off Stoke?

Jan. 16, 2010 - 05352218 date 16 01 2010 Copyright imago Sportimage Jose Manuel Reina of Liverpool makes A Fingers Tip Save From A Header by Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City Barclays Premier League Stoke City v Liverpool 16th January 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Football men England Premier League 2009 2010 Liverpool Action shot Vdig 2010 horizontal premiumd.
Liverpool drew 1-1 at Stoke last season...

Liverpool travel to the Britannia Stadium tomorrow for an evening clash with Stoke City. After the dismal performance at Wigan, this away trip is again posing questions for Liverpool fans, even with Stoke on such poor form (perhaps some of it can be brushed off as bad luck) i still don't think Liverpool will get anything at all if we set up tactically and play as we did at the DW.

Liverpool seem to have an ever growing injury list, just as somebody gets fit another gets injured. Ryan Babel is suffering from bruised ribs. Meireles came off at half time against Wigan due to sickness. Brad Jones is still injured and so too Daniel Agger. Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Glen Johnson with both have late assessments and rumour has it that Roy will be making a late call on Joe Cole.

Liverpool can still boast being unbeaten in 4 league games but Stoke will be well aware of the Reds lack lustre performance midweek. Stoke themselves have just got their first win in 5 matches when they beat Birmingham at home. The Britannia is not one of the easiest places to go and with Stoke having a win under their belts Liverpool will need to be cautious.

For Stoke they have just one player out - Sidibe. Ryan Shawcross is able to return after serving a one match ban.

Stoke i would imagine will play in their usual hard fought style, whether the ingenuity of Torres can break that down i don't know but i do feel we'll need some real strength down the wings to gain enough width and hopefully whip some threatening balls in.

I think i'd be happy with a draw but in all honesty we have to hunt for that win!

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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Reds Hold On To Draw

Mar. 09, 2010 - 05600138 date 08 03 2010 Copyright imago BPI Hugo Rodallega of Wigan Athletic Celebrates Scoring The Opening Goal of The Game PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Football men England Premier League 2009 2010 Wigan Action shot Single Vdig 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd Football.
Rodallega punished again...

Liverpool just about managed to come away from the DW with a point yesterday, after a promising early start it only got worse for the Reds and with several threats from Wigan, at one stage it looked like we could be staring defeat in the face.

A steady start from Liverpool meant that the Reds could capitalize within the first ten minutes. Showing similarities to the start of the Chelsea game, it was Fernando Torres who again began Liverpool's goalscoring.

A lovely pass from Steven Gerrard meant the number 9 could collect the ball and make a run. Using his strength he battled with the Wigan defender and with another cool finish got himself his third goal in two games.

A top start and a goal already, it was looking fine and dandy for Liverpool who lost here last season and drew the season before. Martinez must have been weary of a Liverpool side who were on the back of three wins in the league but to be fair to Martinez, he and his side never let their guard down.

By about 20minutes in, attempts from the likes of Lucas and Maxi were replaced with increased pressure from N'Zogbia and Diame. Rodallega was also looking dangerous and in the run up to half time Liverpool were lucky to not have already conceded.

We were clearly inviting pressure which is fine if you can still handle it. At the moment and after our start to the season i don't think we're at the confidence level to be able to play bad and still win, i was hoping with Wigan being the opposition that in the second half we'd pick up the pace a bit and not keep playing on a knifes edge but this was not going to be the case.

A substitution straight after the second half saw Raul Meireles leave the field for Jonjo Shelvey. A tough game for the youngster to come on in, no question about it.

Wigan were certainly insistent on enforcing their same attitude from the latter of the first half into this one and less than five minutes in Rodallega got the equalizer for the Latics.

A powerful shot sent into the bottom right corner was well deserved as Liverpool continued to look poor and allow Wigan to put pressure on the defence.

Possession for me is usually a pointless statistic because for me it's not how much you have of the ball, it's what you do with it but this time out the Reds in terms of passing and keeping possession were abysmal and it wasn't doing them any favours.

The only real hope for Liverpool was a fantastic chance when Maxi set up Steven Gerrard who with a drilled shot saw his effort come back out off the cross bar. In all fairness we didn't really deserve to win but seeing that goal from the number 8 go in would have been fantastic.

At 1-1 you'd expect to see a Liverpool side go out and find a winner. You'd also expect any Liverpool manager to instruct the side to go out for the win, perhaps make some attacking substitutions?...

Or maybe just take off two threatening wingers in the likes of Kuyt and Maxi and then bring on the world renown midfielder Poulsen who is bound to help us get a winner and bring on Eccleston who no offence to the lad was not going to be effective in this unbalanced fixture.

Pepe Reina was called into action late on and thank god he was still on song. The Spaniard prevented this terrible display from being an embarrassment and Liverpool came away at 90minutes with the point.

Hodgson's tactics were all wrong and his substitutions were shocking. Some of the lads on the pitch were not showing the same game they did against Chelsea but i still feel enough of them were up to scratch to get the win. Torres again proves his worth and Gerrard had a decent game but we can't keep relying on them to get us out the dirt.

Hodgson's mentality away from home appears to be totally different compared to Anfield, which i suppose is fair enough if you're managing Fulham but this is Liverpool FC. For christ sake, ATTACK!

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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Can We Make It Four Wins On The Bounce?

Pepe Reina Celebrates after 1st goal Liverpool 2010/11 Liverpool V Chelsea (2-0) 07/11/10 The Premier League Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Reina celebrates after the Reds big win over Chelsea...

Liverpool make the short trip to Wigan this evening for their midweek fixture. After an emphatic win over Chelsea anything seems possible but can Liverpool transfer the skills from beating the champions into skills to grind down lower caliber opposition?

Injuries for Liverpool mean we are still without Joe Cole and Daniel Agger. Brad Jones is also injured and Sotirios Kyrgiakos is still recovering from his bout of tonsillitis.

Fernando Torres simply has to start. Clearly justified from his most recent performance the number 9 would surely benefit from another 90minutes and i for one would bank on him scoring tonight. Defence could be slightly different tonight depending on whether Roy sticks with Kelly or brings Johnson back. Midfield i feel has been working well and it's no coincidence that the performances have been better with the absence of Poulsen.

For Wigan they are without James McCarthy, Steve Gohouri and Emmerson Boyce. Wigan have familiar face Chris Kirkland in between the sticks and unfortunately for him his recent record doesn't bode too well with 14 goals conceded at home. The Reds will be ready to pounce on this weakness for the Latics.

The last 6 matches show only one win for Wigan whilst we can announce 3 wins on the trot.

Wigan of course beat us in our last meeting with a 1-0 victory. They also managed a 1-1 draw the season before at the DW Stadium so perhaps Wigan will not be so easy to break down?

With the Reds on such good form of late however it would be criminal not to capitalise and hopefully move even higher up the table.

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Monday, 8 November 2010

Torres Shows Chelsea How It's Done

Fernando Torres Celebrates Scoring 2nd goal with team mate Raul Meireles Liverpool 2010/11 Liverpool V Chelsea (2-0) 07/11/10 The Premier League Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Torres celebrates emphatically after netting his wonder of a second goal...

Lets be perfectly honest folks, not one of us thought we'd be able to get something from yesterdays clash with Chelsea, the odd few perhaps fancied our chances of a draw but most of us, such as myself were fearing the worst.

Chelsea even without the likes of Lampard and Essien were still going to be super tough to beat, the added bonus of Drogba starting on the bench only relieved a little pressure and with Liverpool having their own last minute injury worries after Kyrgiakos woke up with tonsillitis well it was a worrying few hours before kick off.

Before i continue i must first get out the old "fair play" phrase and direct it at Roy Hodgson. I'm still not fully convinced he's right but you've got to hand it to him for yesterday, yes the side too deserves credit as everyone gave 100% if not more but full praise to Hodgson who with a sudden lack of the big Greek was brave enough to start Martin Kelly and also took the risk in starting a possibly still unfit Dirk Kuyt. Both decisions more than paid off so fair play Roy old chap!

It didn't take long at all for Liverpool to get onto the score sheet and after a confident first ten minutes or so, Liverpool after being calm enough to allow Chelsea to play the ball around the field and keep possession managed to take a chance and punish.

An absolutely superb ball over the head of John Terry from Kuyt found its way sweet as a nut to Fernando Torres. With a neat little first touch his composure saw him sweep the ball past Petr Cech and send Liverpool ahead.

Just ten minutes in and we were already holding a lead over Chelsea. It wasn't even a fluke, it was clearly a great goal and made through patience and waiting for the correct opportunity to arise.

Throughout the 90minutes it was evident Chelsea had a lot of the possession but this didn't seem to phase Liverpool at all.

As the first half went on Liverpool's confidence grew. Solid performances in midfield particularly from the likes of Lucas meant that Steven Gerrard was freed up more and supply through to the wings and directly to Torres was high. Supremely underrated is our Lucas and it's always refreshing when the pundits suddenly notice his abilities.

Dirk Kuyt too was clearly stamping his mark on the game, for a man who was supposed to be out of action for a lot longer he certainly made and immediate impact in his first game back.

Chelsea barely even had a chance to shout for aside from an attempt from the cautioned Zhirkov. For the price tag on his head he ain't all that is he?

The defence were handling any organised pressure around the box well and Ancelotti's side appeared to find it difficult to breakdown the linking up of Carragher and Skrtel. Konchesky was also doing his best to get down the flank and Martin Kelly on the opposite side had a fantastic game.

So it was 2 minutes before the half time whistle when Liverpool decided to add to their tally. Who else but Fernando Torres?

Raul Meireles after stealing possession made a wide pass out to the Spaniard. Lucas awaiting and asking for the ball in the box never crossed Nando's mind but it didn't matter because what followed was sheer class.

A little cut inside and the number 9 lifts his attempt over the head of John Terry and way past Cech before he even has chance to think about it. Absolutely fantastic goal.

It's quite hilarious that people thought Torres was "out of form" or on a route downhill. The fact that it's two of Nando's last goals that have got us wins should be some sort of indicator and anyone who truly knows Torres should know that in or out of form you can never predict what his next move will be.

Those two goals were nothing less than a stroke of genius and a big fat reality check to anyone thinking Torres was looking less dangerous of late. I just feel sorry for our next few oppositions! Haha.

The second half was nowhere near as eventful for Liverpool. Chelsea had to pull out their trump card and bring on Didier Drogba but not even he could change the game for Chelsea.

A superb reaction save from Reina and a scary moment when a deflection off the cross bar came out towards Drogba were the most nervy moments for Liverpool but Jamie Carragher made sure he was a saviour and not a joint top own goalscorer when he helped direct the ball into the safety of Reina's hands.

Liverpool lasted the 90minutes and not only beat Chelsea in style but kept a clean sheet and almost made the current Champions look like a poor side. Ancelotti looked like he'd ran out of options whilst Roy finally got a chance to look more relaxed.

The combined effort from all the lads on the pitch has to be praised and Liverpool must be pleased with that brilliant display.

Victory tastes even sweeter when nobody expects you to do it.

This massive win takes us up to 9th in the table, somewhere i didn't think we'd be seeing soon. With Wigan away up next and then Stoke this is a real chance to start a turn around.

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Sunday, 7 November 2010

Chelsea Travel To Anfield

Anfield Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers (2-1) Premier League 24/10/2010 Thumbs up from Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) Photo: Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Will we see some more of Gerrard's magic today?...

Liverpool welcome the blue of Chelsea to Anfield tomorrow in what will certainly be a massive tie for the boys in Red. On the back of an eventually convincing win over Napoli in which Gerrard played a major part, can Liverpool, with the eyes of everyone just waiting to watch them fail, perform a miracle?

Lets face it, our start to the season needs no explanation, it doesn't back up a plan to do over Chelsea really does it? The only thing we have to go on is that we are on some sort of streak. Blackburn, Bolton and Napoli aren't necessarily a champion of a run but we'll take anything at the moment.

Beating Chelsea has always been hard even at the best of times for Liverpool so at this point it should be even more difficult but as seems to be the case with Liverpool, when the cards are down, sometimes we just pop up and shock the hell out of everybody. Let's hope today it will be one of those cases.

For Chelsea they have injuries to Essien, Benayoun and Lampard although Ancelotti says he will see how Frank is late on. Bosingwa is also unavailable through illness.

Liverpool are still without Joe Cole who would have relished the chance to face his last employers. Agger is still out, and David Ngog after being subject to a terrible tackle is a doubt. Dirk may feature but again will be subject to a late fitness test.

The last two meetings at Anfield don't read too well for Liverpool. A 2-0 loss and a 3-1 defeat show that we were never really even in the game. However, we don't have to go too far back to find a win at Anfield and it was February 09 when we beat them 2-0 under Rafael Benitez.

If Hodgson sets up a decent side and Liverpool put their heads together, get a strong start and don't concede before half time then maybe, just maybe we'll have a chance.

Not getting my hopes up too much today but there we go.

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Friday, 5 November 2010

Gerrard - Different Class

Steven Gerrard Celebrates Scoring 3rd goal Liverpool 2010/11 Liverpool V Napoli (3-1) 04/11/10 UEFA Europa League Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Gerrard celebrates with Lucas after completing his hat trick...

Just as it seemed the cards were down for Liverpool, just when Napoli had capitalised on early strength, the boys in Red thought all hope was lost. But a certain number 8 had a totally different plan of action and when brought on by Roy Hodgson for the second half, Liverpool's game was lifted.

Hodgson fielded another youthful side with the likes of Spearing and Shelvey appearing. Ngog was up front and it was an experienced choice of defence in front of Pepe Reina.

The first half for Liverpool despite its moments was perhaps one to forget. Some half chances from Kyrgiakos and Meireles were our only real threats on the Napoli goal. The Italians however were gaining a hold of the game, Lavezzi was looking stronger and stronger and Hamsik was again causing problems in and around the penalty box.

Lavezzi pounced on his good start just before the half hour mark sending Napoli 1-0 up. A lovely headed ball through to Lavezzi allowed him to continue a smooth run and with a cool finish put the ball in the back of the net.

Liverpool had now been deflated, half time could not have come sooner. A few glances down the wings from Johnson and Jovanovic with another half chance from Ngog were the only moments to take from the dying minutes.

At this stage it was hard to see where we were going to get a win from, let alone the mentality to go out and turn the game around. But then it hit us all... Steven Gerrard is on the bloody bench, get him on!

And thankfully, Roy did exactly that. Replacing Milan Jovanovic, just the presence of the captain on the field appeared to raise everybody's spirits.

With the players now boosted, confidence seemed to come too. Shelvey who had a great game in Italy had a few frustrating moments in the first half but in the second although unsuccessful he was having some of his own shots at goal and troubling the Napoli defence.

Eccleston entered the field of play at 65minutes replacing Poulsen. Even more youth on the field, which is always superb to see but no matter how many times people tell me, you've got to give the youngsters a chance, i'll always stick with my guns. I'm always a fan of giving the academy lads a shot but have always stood by the fact that there also needs to be enough experience on the field to make a balanced side that these upcoming starlets can show off in.

Steven Gerrard is the epitome of that thought. When the youngsters aren't quite having their day and you have no other solid game changers on the pitch (due to experienced players being in defence yesterday) you can always rely on the sheer class of somebody like Steven Gerrard.

Scoring his first of three at 75minutes it was a relief just to be level. A goal structured via the determination of the captain after he chased down a sloppy pass back to goal by none other than Dossena, the goalkeepers efforts didn't prevail and our number 8 scored an entertaining equalizer.

With just 15minutes to go, it was an ask to get a winner from anywhere let alone another two goals from the same player.

An incident to note before Gerrard's second was the horrifying tackle on Ngog from Aronica. How the referee did not see this i do not know but surely it needs reviewing. A clear red card and David was lucky to even get up! A potential leg breaker if ever i have seen one, absolutely terrible tackle. Ngog shortly after was replaced by Lucas.

For Gerrard's 2nd he would be given more of an advantage. When Glen Johnson went on one of his pacey runs into the box it was another case of defenders not knowing how to deal with him. After Glen was brought down, the referee with no hesitation pointed to the spot.

Up steps Stevie. Rarely ever one to miss but you still get nervous don't you?! Nothing to worry about though as Gerrard puts us ahead with a lovely penalty to the far right of the goalkeeper.

Gerrard's penalty left us with less than 3minutes of full time left so i was fully expecting to see the "just hold on" attitude filtered through the pitch but oh no.

After Lucas Leiva chased down superbly to steal possession from Napoli and put a ball through to Gerrard, captain fantastic wanted to end the night in style. A scintillating chip over the keeper made it a truly fantastic finish and Liverpool could celebrate in style with a 3-1 win over Napoli.

What started with a slow performance and a real prospect of losing ended with a very convincing and well crafted win. One man doesn't make a team but dear lord if he wasn't in it we'd be in deep trouble!

John W Henry and fiancee seemed to have a top night and seeing our new owner punch his fist into the air after Gerrard netted his penalty is again another promising vision.

I too was celebrating in style after the win topped off my 21st birthday perfectly!

Next up is Chelsea on the weekend and what a story it would be if we could do them over!

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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Lads, Just Win It For Me!

Pepe Reina Liverpool 2010/11 Liverpool V FC Steaua Bucharest (4-1) 16/09/10 UEFA Europa League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Can Reina keep his 6th clean sheet of the competition?...

Liverpool welcome Napoli to Anfield tomorrow for another Europa League tie. The match sharing a special day tomorrow as yours truly will be turning 21! So here's hoping my birthday gift from Liverpool is a nice secure win.

After Roy's boys picked up three points with a late winner against Bolton on the weekend and before that managed to beat Big Sam's Blackburn surely the newly instilled winning mentality can be rubbed off in the competition we are still unbeaten in.

The tie in Napoli was somewhat disappointing but with no Gerrard or Torres we did well to keep a clean sheet and come away with a respectable 0-0 draw.

Jonjo Shelvey was a surprise inclusion in the last meeting and had a superb game. Whether Roy this time out will opt for a changed side what with the Chelsea game on the weekend i do not know but if he does choose to field a less familiar side i'd certainly welcome the likes of Shelvey and Kelly again.

For Napoli Dossena will be sure to raise a few eyebrows as he steps onto the Anfield turf once again. Marek Hamsik will also be looking to get on the score sheet, the man with a rather questionable hair styling routine is Napoli's top scorer in the league and showed flashes over in Italy.

It would again be nice to see Lucas and Meireles in midfield but i have a feeling the unused Poulsen will be given a game tomorrow. Up front as much as i feel Torres needs some more good performances i feel Hodgson will and perhaps should start Ngog, top goalscorer in the competition for Liverpool, it's about time he got himself another goal.

The injury list for Liverpool has gained another name after Joe Cole picked up a hamstring injury against Bolton. Believed not to be too serious, Joe will be out for at least two weeks. Worryingly Daniel Agger is still out due to sickness and a calf problem, i still think behind the scenes there is more to this, but i just hope that my train of thought is wrong.

It just feels slightly strange that no real news on his situation has been released and i'm not buying the whole "sickness" excuse from a man like Agger. I'm worried that his reoccurring back problem is catching up on him but hopefully he's back on the pitch soon.

Still unavailable too is Dirk Kuyt and Glen Johnson will again be subject to a late fitness test.

Doubt we are in for anything fantastic tomorrow but any sort of win will be acceptable for me. With just two games left in the group stages we can't really afford to draw and Napoli at home looked beatable so the Anfield atmosphere should supply an extra bit of help.

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Monday, 1 November 2010

Torres Trick Sets Up Maxi Treat

Maxi celebrates the winner for Liverpool...

There were no horrors in store for Liverpool yesterday after their Halloween clash with Bolton Wanderers ended in a 1-0 win. The victory takes the Reds up into 12th and finally out of the relegation zone. Perhaps not a perfect performance and it did begin to get worrying as we got closer to the 90minute mark but refreshingly, the lads didn't give up and in the end we deserved the win.

Roy fielded an unchanged line up which meant thankfully Christian Poulsen was on the bench. Glen Johnson was still deemed unfit so Jamie Carragher was again played out of position making Skrtel and Kyrgiakos the centre pair.

Liverpool started well, Joe Cole was quick off the mark sending in some lovely balls and Konchesky was trying his best to push up field to help with the threat. Fernando Torres was unlucky a few times with an unsuccessful header and an offside call but it was clear the Spaniard was causing problems.

For Bolton, Stuart Holden was perhaps their best attacking option after a powerful strike was saved by Pepe Reina. Elmander who has been pairing up well of late with Kevin Davies appeared to be leaving his partner to make an impression as his touches and play in the final third became sloppy.

It was a confident display for Liverpool in the first half ending with a good header from Kyrgiakos who was eventually ruled offside. My quid on him to score first was looking as though i might see some winnings but it wasn't just the big Greeks attacking abilities that were troubling the Bolton side.

The Greeks aerial battles never cease to amaze me, he barely ever fails in the air. As the commentator suggested at the start of the match, the game could be decided by how the pair of Kyrgiakos and Skrtel deal with Kevin Davies... Well i think its safe to say Kyrgiakos dealt with him superbly. Some edgy moments when a couple of barges from the Greek could have seen him get in trouble were easily forgotten after a fantastic 90minutes from the fast becoming Kop favourite.

Second half for Liverpool began with much of the same. Bolton did appear to be slowly gaining a foot hold but good defending and still some life in the attack meant Liverpool could deal with Owen Coyles boys but also supply some attempts in front of goal.

Fernando Torres again came close and Steven Gerrard was unlucky early on too.

Just after the hour mark Liverpool were dealt a blow though when Joe Cole pulled up. The ex Chelsea man had a slightly frustrating game but definitely put his all in. Roy Hodgson to be fair i feel made a good decision in replacing Cole with Ngog rather than bringing on another winger.

Ngog's hold up play is arguably one of the best. Just that simple attribute from him i feel changed something for Liverpool. The Frenchman may not have been productive in front of goal in his 30minutes but he added value elsewhere.

As the clock ticked closer to 80minutes, nails were beginning to be bitten. Maxi Rodriguez who i feel had a great game for the Reds was extremely unlucky when his acrobatic shot went over the bar. Another chance from none other but Sotirios Kyrgiakos made it feel as though the goal was coming but would Liverpool have enough time to turn around what would have been a disappointing 0-0 draw?

86 minutes and Liverpool finally got on the score sheet. A sublime link up between Torres and Maxi sent the away end crazy. Fernando Torres with a simple but brilliant little flick sent the ball through the Bolton defender's legs and through to Maxi Rodriguez who with a lovely little toe poke made it 1-0 to the Reds.

A well deserved goal i felt for Maxi who for me from kick off was looking one of the most lively players. His set up for Gerrard who hit wide and his acrobatic miss made this goal all the more worth while.

Hodgson brought on Poulsen at 88minutes, i assume to shore up the midfield but he still didn't really seem to do his job even within the narrow 2minute margin. Nonetheless Liverpool held on to gain a well needed three points and Roy chalked up Liverpool's first away victory in the league since April.

The back to back league wins make a lovely springboard to try to get to that "steadying the ship" level. However with Chelsea up next in the league we may have to navigate through a few more icebergs until we can get to port.

With Napoli up next (on my birthday :D) it would be nice to bang another win out even if it is in the Europa League to keep us in a good state of mind for the massive task at home to Chelsea.

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