The Liver Bird  

Monday, 28 February 2011

Parker Starts The Party For West Ham

Gutting to see Kelly pull up, wish him a speedy recovery...

An inspired performance from West Ham saw Liverpool fall to a rather embarrassing defeat yesterday as the Hammers put three past Pepe Reina whilst the Reds could only muster one return goal. No arguments i feel, we just have to own up to the fact that West Ham were the better team.

A side consisting of Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Martin Kelly and Danny Wilson (two of which were injury doubts) meant that Liverpool had some fresh legs and a strong eleven on display.

An early effort for Liverpool got us off on the right foot after Raul Meireles got himself into a decent position heading into the Hammers area. A headed attempt which needed a lot of effort just to reach in the first place was sent just wide.

This early positive wasn't going to set the theme for Liverpool though as West Ham quickly began to gain a hold.

I mentioned in my match preview that in order for West Ham to be successful their star man Parker would need to be on song, of course, just our luck, he was at the top of his game yesterday.

20 minutes in and the hard work from the home side was rewarded after a cheeky little finish from outside the area saw Scott Parker put his team ahead. There was little Pepe Reina could do but the pressure from the defence in the build up could have been a lot more intense.

I was quite surprised at the defence as a whole yesterday really, Martin Kelly was perhaps the best of the bunch and even he had his moments. When he pulled up grabbing his hamstring, that left the defence in even more disarray.

Danny Wilson has barely played for the Reds but i still think it's fair to say his 90 minutes today could have been better. The only way the lad can build though is with starts so that's fair enough. As for the likes of Carragher, Skrtel and Glen Johnson, well they have no excuses. The only reason Glen misses out on most of the criticism is because he later converted.

Shortly after the first goal of the game Liverpool came close with a strike from Dirk Kuyt outside of the area. Hitting the side netting meant the Reds were still in search of a goal.

New signing Demba Ba was set to make things worse for Dalglish's boys just before the half time whistle. A fantastic header sent Upton Park crazy as Avram Grant's side increased their lead.

David Ngog came on in the second half for Raul Meireles. Joe Cole was also back out after replacing the injured Martin Kelly in the first half. Both substitutes appear to be in a stage at the moment where they need to prove their worth. Ngog, although he's still top goalscorer has been on a poor run of form lately and Joe Cole, despite his clear effort has also been unfortunate. So that was two men on the pitch at least with some sort of point to prove.

Steven Gerrard however who has nothing to prove was below par yesterday. Aside from that effort outside the box taken first time he just didn't seem right. Of course he's back from injury but that Gerrard heart was missing. No doubt that will be rectified in time for Sunday though.

Liverpool finally managed to get on the score sheet just after 80 minutes. Luis Suarez was unlucky beforehand after leaving the West Ham defence for dead, a great save from Rob Green prevented the Uruguayan from scoring his second but he would redeem himself with a lovely assist.

Some more tom foolery in the box saw Suarez head in one direction and end up facing the other within a split second. The turn was superb and a cross through to an awaiting Glen Johnson allowed the England international to convert and grab Liverpool a goal.

With minutes left on the clock there was finally some belief on the pitch that we could get something out of this. A free kick gave us some hope after Suarez was fouled but the Gerrard attempt to put the ball in the box was poor.

West Ham deserve credit for their efforts throughout the 90 minutes and their third goal in extra time just backed up the fact that they were simply the better team. A strong run from Carlton Cole past a flailing Martin Skrtel was finished with a rather tame shot. Reina beaten at his near post meant that the Hammers had secured 3 points.

There's not really much we can say after that really, it's not ideal and it was bloody shite! But, it's not disastrous, we're still in 6th and although that would usually be seen as the worst we've played this season, after enduring the Hodgson half i think it's safe to say we've seen worse.

A massive clash with bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday will surely liven the taste buds and what better way to forget about this defeat than with a win here?!

Bloody gutted as I'm at work for this match, they have TVs but they have little or no sound, it's not the same!

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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Dalglish Takes Reds To West Ham

Havin' a quid on him tomorrow i think, if i remember haha...

Liverpool travel to London tomorrow to face Avram Grant's struggling West Ham side. With the Hammers searching for a win in their pursuit to get out of the relegation zone and Liverpool looking for three points to strengthen their holds on 6th (and possibly breath some fear on the backs of Chelsea) it could be an interesting game tomorrow.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 8 matches and in that time we have only let in 3 goals. For any side coming up against a Liverpool team in that sort of form, they have to be weary.

A negative point for Liverpool however is the ever growing list of injuries. Andy Carroll, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Jonjo Shelvey, Fabio Aurelio and Martin Kelly all compile a list of doubtful options. Some players like Gerrard and Kelly could still feature but Dalglish i would think is going to be forced into playing a slightly different side tomorrow.

For West Ham they are without Upson, Dyer, Keane, Stanislas, Collison and Kurucz and Obinna is also a doubt for manager Avram Grant.

West Ham haven't managed to keep a clean sheet in 9 matches, put together with our run of form at the moment this has to spell goals. Luis Suarez should be able to start after sitting out the Europa League tie due to being ineligible.

The Reds have put three goals past West Ham in their last 4 meetings. Perhaps another indicator of a scoreline favoured to Liverpool tomorrow.

Whenever anyone thinks of West Ham at the moment, people always mention their talisman - Scott Parker. In order for West Ham to be in with any sort of chance tomorrow he needs to be on top form.

Dalglish I'm sure will instill the lads with some faith in the dressing room tomorrow whoever he chooses to field i think we have to be confident going into this.

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Friday, 25 February 2011

Late Kuyt Goal Secures Liverpool Progression

He's well chuffed!...

A slightly different starting eleven fielded by Dalglish for the home tie against Sparta Prague meant Danny Wilson, Daniel Agger and Sotirios Kyrgiakos were included in defense. Glen Johnson and Jamie Carragher did not feature and with captain Steven Gerrard still out Pepe Reina was named as captain.

A start which showed similarities to the dismal display in Prague meant that Liverpool were creating slow build up in attack. Still without Suarez and awaiting the start of Carroll the Reds were suffering slightly. However Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles were good sources and their efforts throughout the 90minutes were superb.

Martin Kelly was impressive once again for Liverpool, dedicated to the cause and some brilliant whipped in crosses meant that a watching Fabio Capello would surely have been pleased.

Speaking about being dedicated to the cause, what a man Kyrgiakos is. He was bashed in the mouth and bleeding so had to be treated for that. Clattered in the throat by a fast paced ball after a Sparta Prague free kick and then slashed above the eye which ended up with him re-appearing with a dashing red bandage wrapped round his glorious locks.

I think we take Soto for granted sometimes, for the bargain buy of Rafa at £1.5mil and a player that never complains if he starts or is on the bench, always does what is asked of him, i think he needs the credit. Not only is he up there with the best in terms of aerial battles but he's also very capable of grabbing you a goal as he nearly did last night with a very close header. What a legend the big Greek is!

Another trier on the pitch was Joe Cole, it was clear his full fitness was still a few matches away but fair play for his efforts. He gave his all and was unlucky on several occasions.

For Sparta Prague again I'd say Pamic was the main threat for us, a midfield of Poulsen and Lucas meant that although passing and playing the ball was easy for us, i felt the interception within the central areas was low. Pamic and youngster Kadlec found it quite easy to navigate through midfield but with our defence staying strong it was only a rare Pepe Reina mistake that really caused any problems for us.

Liverpool's winner didn't come until the 85minute mark. A lovely corner from Raul Meireles was met by the head of Dirk Kuyt who sent the ball home from a close range. His celebration said it all as the fans cheered with relief.

Nobody ideally wanted extra time and penalties so to score so late on was dramatic but welcomed!

Liverpool now have to face Braga in the round of 16. With the first leg at Anfield (not sure why as the list on Europa League website says we're away first but then that annoying little asterisk * and text below says *match reversed) means we will need a solid result to head over to Portugal with.

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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Sparta Second Leg

Fans will be looking towards on target Raul Meireles for goals...

Sparta Prague travel to Anfield tomorrow for Kenny's second game in Europe as Liverpool manager and his first at home. After a match capable of putting people to sleep last week in the Czech Republic, fans are all hoping for a more exciting fixture this time out.

For Liverpool there are still doubts hanging over Steven Gerrard who will probably not feature even if he is able to start. It's too much of a risk in a game that is winnable without him really. Andy Carroll is recovering quicker than first thought but will still be out for this clash.

Also unavailable is Jonjo Shelvey and Fabio Aurelio is also a doubt after he picked up an abductor injury in the 0-0 draw in Prague.

With Luis Suarez ineligible for the competition we will be relying once again on players like Meireles and Kuyt to find a goal. With the away goal rule things could get tense if Sparta manage to net one before we get off the mark but after witnessing them at home, where they should be at their best, they shouldn't be too much of a problem for a well organised Liverpool side.

Pamic was the player causing all the problems last time for Sparta but once again we must keep an eye on forwards Kadlec and Kweuke who are both going well within their national league.

With Kenny seeming to favour this new 3 at the back set up and favouring wing backs i think we can expect to see that once again. Martin Kelly perhaps taking the place of Aurelio as a wing back with possibly Agger, Skrtel and Carragher as the three.

It's hard to fully look forward to this sort of game but at least this time out we have to win whereas in Prague it never mattered as much.

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Friday, 18 February 2011

Snore Draw Ensures A Tastier Tie At Anfield

"I am the God of Hell Fire and i bring you...
FIRE! du du duuu, i'll take you to burn."

Well it was hardly an enthralling battle was it? But nevertheless Liverpool have come away from the Czech Republic with a respectable 0-0 draw. A perfect base for an Anfield victory and progression to the next round.

With the likes Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger and Luis Suarez unavailable it was a slightly different side put out by manager Kenny Dalglish. However the King still opted for his now favoured, three at the back set up. David Ngog was given the chance as the sole man up front but unfortunately, the top goalscorer struggled to impress.

Solid displays from Carragher and Kyrgiakos meant the defence had pretty much everything covered. It wasn't only the veterans shining though with Danny Wilson putting in a great 90minutes.

For Liverpool, efforts from Glen Johnson and Raul Meireles were early indicators that goals were not going to be a theme for the night. Some positive runs from Kuyt and Ngog were ruined by several offside flags. Johnson for me had one of those games where he was more effective in attack than he was defensively.

He wasn't terrible but considering he was on his favoured side he allowed Sparta's wing man to easily get behind him on several occasions. If this was Arsenal or Man United, we'd have been done by a whipped in ball from Nasri or Giggs on at least five occasions. A scary thought when you put it into perspective.

Manuel Pamic was one of few players for Sparta causing problems and a powerful shot palmed away by Reina meant a clean sheet was reserved for the second half.

Possession within the first 45minutes for Liverpool was perhaps the biggest compliment, but it was time in the second half to actually do something with it. Some encouraging displays from Maxi Rodriguez meant threatening balls into the area were almost converted but still the Czech's held on with their keeper largely untroubled by Liverpool.

An uneventful draw to say the least and surprisingly the most exciting moment of the game was when a cloud of smoke covered the pitch. Pepe Reina for one or two seconds actually disappeared.

Is still think he should have fooled the fans and cameras and ran off to hide somewhere before the smoke cleared. It would have been more entertaining than the 90minutes that's for sure!

Despite the poor display and drab performance it's important we focus on the positives, we're off to Anfield on a 0-0 draw and that's a perfect set up to continue our expedition in the Europa League so fair play to the King in his first European match in charge.

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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Liverpool In With A Sterling Chance

Raheem in action...

Liverpool travel to the Czech Republic tomorrow for their first knockout stage clash of the Europa League against Sparta Prague. Youngster Raheem Sterling who has only just turned 16 has been named within the squad and should he make an appearance he will break the record currently held by Jack Robinson as the youngest ever player to play in Red for the first team.

Captain Steven Gerrard has not travelled, it is believed he was too much of a risk and is being saved for our next Premier League tie when he will hopefully be back to full fitness.

Also unavailable is Daniel Agger who picked up an injury whilst on international duty for Denmark. Jay Spearing is back in training but still not available to start.

Jonjo Shelvey it has been revealed will be out for some time after an injury to his knee. Andy Carroll has also been back in training and although he will not feature in the game, Dalglish is taking the Geordie boy on the plane so that he can feel a part of the squad, i personally think that's a grand idea.

Sparta Prague are currently second within their national league with forwards Vaclav Kadlec and Leonard Kweuke helping the side along. They have 19 goals between them and will be the main threats for Liverpool tomorrow.

After dropping out of the Champions League, Sparta Prague, even after some poor results will have gained some good experience this season from being in the competition. Formidable oppositions will mean they know exactly what to expect when facing a side like Liverpool.

For the Reds tomorrow a win would be fantastic but of course with Anfield in our back pocket for the return leg a draw would also be a good result. I can't see Dalglish setting up defensively in his first European match back in charge though really can you?

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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Meireles Scores In Wigan Draw

Raul Meireles scores once again for Liverpool...

A side clearly suffering from fatigue yesterday meant that Liverpool could only muster a draw against Wigan Athletic. With key men Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard unavailable plus several players only just back from international duty, the match took its toll into the second half and by 90minutes, 1-1 was probably a fair result.

A first half goal from the on fire Raul Meireles saw Liverpool take the lead. A deflected Fabio Aurelio cross eventually found its way out to the number 4 who with a great finish sent the effort into the left of goal and past Wigan keeper Al Habsi.

The linking up of new recruit Luis Suarez and Dirk Kuyt in the first half was perhaps the most prominent thing to note. A strange almost immediate link between the pair meant clever flicks and passes within the oppositions box were a regular occurrence.

Suarez once again put on display his technical ability with the skill and confidence of a player who had been in the Premier League for a few years not a few matches. A chance of his in the first half had completely beaten the keeper but he was denied by the post.

The second half saw the introduction of David Ngog who replaced goalscorer Raul Meireles. With Liverpool perhaps getting more of a hold on the game in the first 45minutes it now appeared it was Wigan searching for a grasp on the second half.

Rodallega nearly found Wigan their equalizer with a close range effort just before the hour mark, lucky for Liverpool, Pepe Reina had it covered.

Steve Gohouri was the man to spoil Liverpool's run of clean sheets though after an assist from N'Zogbia set him up to put the ball into the Reds net.

For Liverpool their efforts petered out as the match drew closer to 90minutes. A nail biting moment after Luis Suarez stepped up to take a free kick though had fans hoping for a winner. The Uruguayan's attempt wasn't far off and only the crossbar prevented what would have been a mad celebration at Anfield.

It feels like a loss after such a whirlwind of results but i don't really think we should be too disappointed. A draw against a Wigan side who fought hard is nothing to sniff at. We're still in 6th place and although of course we should be beating sides like Wigan, especially if we can go to the Bridge and be victorious, i still think yesterday was acceptable.

With Sparta Prague up next we have the exciting prospect of seeing King Kenny and the lads in Europe!

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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Incentive For Reds As They Search For 5th Win & 5th Clean Sheet

It will be no surprise if the on fire Raul Meireles scores again tomorrow...

Liverpool are in search of a 5th win on the bounce tomorrow as they welcome Wigan to Anfield. Also on the back of four clean sheets, Dalglish's side will surely be brimming with confidence going into this fixture against a side in 18th place.

With results seeing a major improvement at Liverpool it is very hard to look at this clash and not predict a Liverpool win. With solid defensive displays and clear attacking options, even without using our two new signings, surely 3 points are within our reach tomorrow.

However, it is vital we don't push aside Wigan's valiant efforts in a mad weekend of football last week. A battle with Blackburn saw them eventually take all three points after beating fellow Lancashire neighbours 4-3.

Liverpool have never lost to Wigan at home but despite this strong home record, as recently as March of last season i am sure you will all remember a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Wigan in the DW Stadium.

Injuries for Liverpool mean we are still without Andy Carroll and Jay Spearing. Major doubt Joe Cole will probably not feature and Jonjo Shelvey will be out for at least 10weeks after suffering a knee injury.

Steven Gerrard and Martin Kelly who both missed international duties are believed to be ok but will be subject to late fitness tests. Martin Skrtel is also a possible doubt after he had to take a pain killing injection just to carry on playing against Chelsea.

For Wigan they are without Figueroa who has a hamstring injury. Gary Caldwell suffered a break to the cheekbone recently but could play with a protective mask to prevent aggravating the fracture.

On paper it looks like a dead cert, but it's dangerous to go in to these sort of games thinking it will all fall nicely onto a plate for you. King Kenny though of course will know this and after some more gruelling sessions at Melwood with sidekick Steve Clarke I'm sure the lads are both physically and mentally prepared to continue our great run of results tomorrow.

It will be interesting to see if Luis Suarez starts from the bench again or earns his first start for this Wigan clash.

Still contemplating whether to put a quid on Meireles after what happened last week but think i want to keep it to put towards a few bevvies as i'm off out for the night! Haha.

Cheeky punt or no cheeky punt, enjoy the match folks!

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Monday, 7 February 2011

Liverpool Show No Signs Of Sadness In Victory At Stamford Bridge

Fernando Who?...

After all the hype and build up to yesterdays fixture, a mix of the general rivalry in clashes with Chelsea, oh and the added sprinkle of Fernando Torres playing his first game in a blue shirt, well by kick off the whole fan base was ready and raring to go.

It was always going to be a slightly heated atmosphere after the timing of Torres' leave and although some fans have taken the peaceful and well wishing option, there were also plenty portraying the more vexed option.

Liverpool started in a similar fashion to the Stoke fixture. The reintroduction of Jamie Carragher was the only change for the Reds. 

A daunting looking strike force from Chelsea in the threesome of Drogba, Anelka and Torres looked a lot scarier on paper that it did on the pitch.

Liverpool immediately set to work in closing off the Chelsea attack and Jamie Carragher especially was in no way going to allow former Liverpool colleague Fernando Torres to give his new side the lead. A typical thrown in block from the talisman defender prevented Torres from getting his first Chelsea goal.

Carragher too was also making sure Didier Drogba was kept quiet, some close clashes between the pair were nail biting moments but the 90minutes from the number 23 must be praised.

The best chance for either side in the first half fell to the feet of Maxi Rodriguez. The man with the heartbeat theme tune was visibly distraught after missing a sitter and watching his effort come back off the cross bar. The whipped in ball from captain Steven Gerrard needed little on it to put the Reds ahead but it just wasn't the Argentinians day.

The game was clearly unbalanced but in terms of defending Liverpool looked a different side. Under Hodgson they literally looked lost but arguably due to the efforts from Steve Clarke our boys at the back now look more than solid and Chelsea were certainly finding it hard to break through.

The addition of Kelly and Johnson's freedom to push forward is a tactically sound movement from manager Kenny Dalglish and for two games on the trot now it has been proved the mixture of bodies forward plus defensive strength have helped Liverpool win games but also keep clean sheets.

Just after the hour mark the fourth official standing next to Salomon Kalou was ready to put the board up. Most Liverpool fans were already preparing their Hyena laughs as the number 9 of Fernando Torres appeared. 

Although some may feel it's harsh i must admit i am so glad he was ineffective and didn't get chance to score. I'm not a fan who works by hating ex players etc and this case although i am very disappointed in him is no different. From here on in i don't mind if he has a good season and scores goals for Chelsea i am just proud that we proved he's made the wrong decision (in my eyes), the only way Liverpool could point score on Torres leaving was with a win a Stamford Bridge.

Step up Raul Meireles. Again, to bring Hodgson back into conversation, under Roy, although it was his signing, Meireles looked a shadow of the player that he is now. Thankfully, the skills of King Kenny are never ending it appears and since Dalglish has been in charge Meireles is in a far better position and brimming with confidence.

A mishap between goalkeeper Petr Cech and defender Branislav Ivanovic meant the Portuguese midfielder could receive the ball in front of goal. A fine left footed finish saw Meireles bring his tally up to 4 goals in his last 5 league games. Fantastic!

Somewhat annoyingly for myself i had missed out on some winnings! I had a cheeky quid on Meireles against Stoke and he won me a tenner. Yesterday morning on Twitter whilst sussing out where to put my quid i mentioned how Meireles to score again but now at 16/1 was tempting...

"Seriously buzzing now and still so long until KO!Don't know whether to have another punt on Meireles 1st goalscorer.Paid off last time haha."

"Why has Meireles gone up to 16/1 that's madness! His odds should have been shortened if anything."

Foolishly, i never took my own advice but it appears some of my followers did!...

"@LFCKirstyLFC I put my quid on after your tweet! I know that doesn't help you, but thank you!" - @JamesHerd

"@LFCKirstyLFC you earnt me 85 quid you little beauty" - @liverbirdpie

I was bloody gutted! But well done to all those who cashed in! Haha.

With such a slender lead, of course the end to the second half was going to be tense. Chelsea although having several attempts at goal were fortunately sending them off target. A save from Reina to his near post was perhaps the only real threat for Liverpool who dealt well with Chelsea even after the introduction of Malouda and new signing David Luiz.

Aurelio replaced Maxi at 75minutes and after a link up with Dirk Kuyt shortly afterwards, the Brazilian nearly had a chance to put Liverpool two nil up.

Goalscorer Meireles made way for Christian Poulsen at just over 80minutes as the lads wound down the clock.

Another brilliant performance from the side and a real sense of a team effort was given. Even after scoring goals recently we appear to be celebrating as a team and it's great to see! It's always a great feeling to beat Chelsea on their own turf but add to this another clean sheet, another Meireles goal, Torres getting clattered by Daniel Agger (totally accidental I'm sure) and the table now reading that we're in 6th place...

Well it's extremely hard not to feel positive at the moment!

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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Stamford Bridge Is Falling Down...

*cough* Chelsea's famous (donated) atmosphere on display...

With debt repayments... Haha.

On a more serious matter, despite Chelsea releasing stats on record losses of roughly £70million i believe, it didn't stop old Roman and Co splashing the cash to lure away our number 9 did it. Fair enough, he didn't seem to need much luring but £50million quid to spend all of a sudden?

If that's not a sign of "oh my god we're not gonna win the league this year, I'll be bored of not winning things and i still haven't won the Champions League, please, we need help!" then i don't know what is.

In all honesty and this is pushing my clear biased view aside, i don't think this move for Fernando is going to be the dream one he and Chelsea have been drooling over. Of course, i have been proved wrong, far too many times, all I'm saying is, i don't want any Chelsea fans running to me when he hasn't scored in ten games and his hamstrings playing up.

Defender David Luiz, also part of the January spending spree for Chelsea will be available for Sunday's fixture against the Reds. A solid player with a proven track record but in terms of threat to Liverpool, he doesn't pose that much.

With Dalglish's new ace of spades Luis Suarez once again available i think it's a mystery for Chelsea to attempt to unravel. The number 7 scored against Stoke (admittedly some luck was involved) but after having chance to actually train with the team this week, surely this will only increase the now sky high level of confidence for the Uruguayan.

Carroll, Liverpool's second buy of the transfer window is of course still unavailable, recovering from a thigh problem. Also out is Jay Spearing with a small fracture in his foot. Joe Cole and Christian Poulsen are both doubts.

Positive news in the camp though is the newly fit Jamie Carragher, there is a good chance he will start tomorrow and although i reckon he and Nando are probably still on good terms, it doesn't mean Carra won't show him what he's left behind tomorrow. I expect a tasty battle between those two.

Out injured for Chelsea are ex Liverpool man Benayoun, Zhirkov and defender Alex.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 3 league games, the same goes for Liverpool but the Reds can also boast three clean sheets.

A tough task, no denying it, for Liverpool's trip to Stamford Bridge but after a whirlwind of a month it just feels like it's possible at the moment. I'd like to think realistically we were capable of a draw but i just have a feeling we're gonna cause an upset tomorrow. Maybe it's because of all the excitement of the transfer window and King Kenny being back or maybe it's an omen.

Either way...

Stamford Bridge will be pumping on Sunday, decibels supplied by the travelling fans of course! Let's get right behind the lads and with Luis Suarez as the waiter, hopefully we can serve up Fernando Torres a nice plate of karma.

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Thursday, 3 February 2011

Suarez Scores On Stoke Debut

Suarez celebrates after scoring at the Kop End on his Liverpool debut...

An unconventional line up chosen by Dalglish for last nights clash with Stoke, almost had people doubting the King (i stress the word almost) but as all great managers work, there is method behind the madness. A superb tactical set up meant Liverpool were extremely hard to break down, a Stoke side renowned for battling in games found it difficult to get anything through. This paired with enough attacking balance meant Liverpool came away with a deserved three points.

The man at the centre of all the talking - Luis Suarez was named on the bench and so he would have to wait to light up Anfield.

For Liverpool, a relatively new concept of "Wing Backs" meant despite the defensive looking line up, we had several attacking options. This was proved almost straight away when a cross whipped in from Martin Kelly was met by Glen Johnson, only denied due a great save from the Stoke keeper.

With Torres gone, many outsiders were questioning the Reds ability to cope without such an influential player but as we all know at Liverpool, greats have come and gone but the club has still fought. A fantastic phrase doing the rounds on Twitter i feel sums it up for me - "Liverpool will always be able to replace Fernando Torres but Fernando Torres will never be able to replace Liverpool."

We were looking strong although against a Stoke side offering little in front of goal. Attempts from Carew and Walters are the only real chances that spring to mind. 

For Liverpool a first half filled with attempts from Dirk Kuyt all the way back to Kyrgiakos, meant sooner rather than later the Reds were going to punish.

Raul Meireles was the man to get the scoring underway after only a minute into the second half. Not only did the beauty win me a tenner but he brings himself up to three goals in four games which isn't bad at all for a player who under Roy Hodgson looked like he was becoming a spare part.

Man of the moment Suarez entered the field of play just after the hour mark as Fabio Aurelio made way. An exciting time for all eyes watching the match but most importantly for Liverpool fans keen to see what he was really made of.

Of course after one game we would have been happy with a glimmer of hope but Suarez wanted us to feel more than that...

Goalscorer Meireles was replaced by Jonjo Shelvey at 70minutes and what a time for our young prospect to enter the field of play. By now Suarez had a good ten minutes under his belt and the skill and movement on display from the Uruguayan was superb. 

Steven Gerrard was also having a solid game and his anticipation was clear when linking up with our new number 7.

Just before 80minutes a great ball through from Dirk Kuyt saw Suarez on a run. A none existent Stoke defence began to track back but as Suarez took the ball around the goalkeeper it all seemed too little too late. As the number 7 calmly aimed his shot at the Kop End a last minute attempt from Wilkinson to clear the ball only helped the on target effort into the back of the net.

Anfield went crazy as El Pistolero ran off celebrating his first Liverpool goal in his first game for the Reds. 

An emphatic win not only due to the clean sheet and goal tally but the fact that Suarez already looks set to be a winner. Yes, it would be stupid to be fully praising him so early on but after that performance it's hard not to. As Dalglish said after the game, the lad hadn't even had chance to train so once that has been addressed, who knows what could happen against Chelsea.

On the topic of Suarez and scoring on your debut, don't forget folks i have a competition running at the moment, it's unbelievably simple, just write a 250-300 word article on your favourite EVER Liverpool player for your chance to win the Istanbul Champions League Final DVD, follow this link for more details.

With Chelsea up next at Stamford Bridge in a crucial grudge match and then Wigan at home to follow, this could be a nice little run of results for Liverpool with a little luck.

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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Competition! WIN: The Champions League Final/Road To Istanbul DVD

Right folks, whether you're a Liverpool blogger, a Liverpool Tweeter or just a passionate fan who reckons they can write up a decent article... I have a proposition for you.

Here at The Liver Bird i like to think i do my best to support other amateur writers, websites, people who make LFC videos etc etc. Point is, I'm always willing to put on parade the talent of Liverpool fans from across the world wide web.

I write this blog for fun but I'd be nowhere without my readers so it's time to give something back.

For this competition i simply want you to write a 250-300 word article on your favourite ever Liverpool player. Think about what made/makes them so great? Your favourite moment or goal from the player?

Try to steer clear of foul language although I'm not too strict as you can see from my own blog posts. Also if you require any stats/figures try to use trusted websites, I'd recommend www.lfchistory.net

Once you have completed your article, double check your spelling and grammar and then paste it into an email (don't attach and send word files as my laptop tends to have problems opening them), send it over to lfckirstylfc@hotmail.co.uk and i shall keep a list of each persons article with a number next to it. Please include in the email your full name and your Twitter username (if you have one.)

All entries should be in by 12:00PM Tuesday 22nd February.

Once i have received all the entries i will use an online random number generator to choose the winner who will then receive this DVD. (I'll email the winner requesting postage details.)





Fear not though, if you aren't the lucky winner i shall post what in my opinion were the top five articles on the blog.

Good luck to everyone! If you have any questions or problems feel free to email me or tweet me.

***UPDATE*** Competition cancelled until a later date.

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Suarez Expected To Make Debut Against Stoke

Suarez arrives...

Earlier in the season Liverpool fell to a 2-0 defeat at the Britannia but as we all know, several things have changed since then. With Kenny Dalglish settling in nicely to his new job and clearly boosting the sides performances in the past few weeks, hopefully this time out Liverpool can get the better of Stoke.

On the back of a win in the FA Cup against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Stoke may have some confidence coming into this fixture but with two losses and a win in their last three games in the league perhaps this backs up a case for Liverpool's confidence.

The Reds recent form reads two wins and a draw with the attack looking a lot more lively too. Raul Meireles has been on fire of late and should he start tomorrow expect another electric stint from the midfielder.

Steven Gerrard I'm sure too tomorrow will be filled with excitement and will no doubt be looking to support Luis Suarez in his bid to find his first Liverpool goal.

The Reds are still unable to call on Jamie Carragher but he is expected to be back in time for the huge game against Chelsea. Also unavailable is Andy Carroll who is close to being fit but still not quite there. Doubts too for Liverpool mean Lucas and Spearing may not be available.

Stoke are without Higginbotham who has a hamstring injury and also out due to suspension is defender Ryan Shawcross.

Liverpool didn't even get on the score sheet last time out so that is perhaps the first point to assess. Of course another three points would do wonders for our league run at the moment and could see us increase our hold in 7th place.

Don't know about you lot but I'm off to check the odds on Luis Suarez first goalscorer!

Enjoy the match folks!

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New Owners, New Manager, New Players; New Era


Well for once it was an extremely exciting and eventful transfer window for Liverpool fans. After years of turmoil under Hicks and Gillett, the transfer window was something we feared not looked forward to.

Yesterday spelt major ins and major outs for Liverpool. After it was clear Fernando Torres would be leaving the club, it was no real surprise when Dalglish and the owners upped their pursuit of starlet Andy Carroll. The Newcastle striker has impressed football fans all over England with his strength and consistency up front for the magpies, of course he has more to learn but Liverpool is a club that can help a player to grow.




£35million is the believed fee and if we are all brutally honest, i don't think anyone would say that is a fair price. However in this day and age, you have to pay silly money to get your man, Torres going on current form was perhaps not worth £50million either but that's the price it took for Liverpool to agree a deal and rightly so.

Moving on to Torres, i must say, even after sleeping on it i can't quite believe he's gone. To make matters worse his answers in his first interview for Chelsea were hardly the words of a man who supposedly held Liverpool Football Club, the fans and the city in such high regard. I'd like to believe that he is simply caught up in a moment, it's a career move he believes will benefit him, we all get excited but as proved by Suarez it is easy to leave a club and sign for a new one with some dignity.

Despite all this, despite the crippling disappointment i feel in Fernando Torres i can't bring myself to hate him, it's just not the way i work so I'll boldly say thanks for the memories Torres.

With Torres gone it is paramount that Liverpool supporters use their efforts to get right behind our new signings and not on a hate campaign against the ex number 9. As mentioned new number 9 Andy Carroll will need a lot of support but we also have a certain Luis Suarez to cheer for.

For a fee believed to be in the region of £22million the Uruguayan will be a fantastic addition to the Liverpool side. A skillful front man who can also assist with ease will be a breath of fresh air to the Reds. From his comments after signing he seems up for the challenge and i hope his transfer from the Dutch to the English league will be a successful one.




All in all i think it's been a positive window for Liverpool, we must thank our new owners Fenway Sports Group for fully backing up their claims when they purchased the club and for supporting Kenny Dalglish 100%. Dalglish will surely get the best out of his new signings and here's to an exciting end to the season!

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