The Liver Bird  

Monday, 21 March 2011

Suarez Stunner Sinks Sunderland

Celebrations for Lucas's newborn baby boy...

"STEVE BRUCE! You've got a big fat head! You've got a big fat head!"... Oh sorry, that's right, i have a match report to type up.

Bruce's Sunderland fell to a 2-0 defeat yesterday at the hand of Dalglish's Liverpool. A progressive performance which got better as the 90minutes went on saw Kuyt, Suarez and Spearing conspire to find the Reds those 3 points.

With Sunderland's Gyan having an intense rivalry with Suarez after the World Cup saga, we knew from the start the reaction our Uruguayan would get on the ball. Starting up front with our number 7 was none other than Andy Carroll, back in his more familiar number 9 jersey this was the Geordie's first Premier League start.

In midfield Dalglish had once again opted for youngster Jay Spearing with Lucas alongside him. Meireles and Kuyt made up the rest of the midfield line up with Agger, Skrtel, Carragher, Johnson and Reina making up the defence.

Sunderland had to make two substitutions before even half an hour was played after key men Muntari and Richardson both had to leave the field. Unfortunately for Liverpool, replacements in the likes of Malbranque and Cattermole meant the black cats were if anything in my opinion improving their starting line up. The substitutions didn't appear to have much of an effect on Sunderland's start to the game.

Jay Spearing who was easily the liveliest player on the pitch for Liverpool was at the centre of controversy when the linesman overruled the referee and awarded the Reds a penalty. Quite clearly, i think we can all agree, it definitely wasn't a penalty, at least a yard out of the box the challenge should have meant Liverpool were awarded a free kick and a free kick only.

Due to the fact that Spearing fell into the box perhaps it may have appeared "close" to the linesman who was a lot further away from the referee but hey ho, it happens and Liverpool once again deserve a bit of luck in the league.

Dirk Kuyt sporting a lovely black eye stepped up for the penalty. The Dutchman confidently converted to put Liverpool a goal ahead as half of the team ran off to celebrate. Baby in a cradle was the theme to welcome Lucas's newborn son Pedro into the world.

Once again, even the little things like celebrating as a unit make me feel a lot happier about Liverpool these days. When we truly seem like a team and to work so well together, well, it's half the battle isn't it?

In the run up to half time we saw Andy Carroll bringing the ball down and in to play time after time. Despite the fact that he was subbed at 70 minutes (let's not forget he's still coming back to match fitness) i think he played well. His link up with Suarez was looking good, they seem to have a good knowledge of when either one of them is in enough space so i have no qualms about that partnership shining in the near future.

Second half and although personally i didn't think Liverpool played that well in the first, it was important to note that Sunderland had barely bothered Pepe Reina. Possession wise perhaps they had the edge but in terms of doing something with it, for a side playing at home, they were poor.

The Reds picked up their act a bit in the second half as they looked to keep hold of their clean sheet and find a second goal.

Another moment to highlight for the referee and his officials came after Andy Carroll was fouled on a threatening run pushing to the box. A certain foul but as the ball splayed out to Raul Meireles on the wing the referee played advantage, Meireles's shot went over the bar but then to his surprise the referee blew his whistle and brought back play. Once again though, I'm not complaining, makes a change to have a ref making bad decisions that don't affect us haha.

Luis Suarez's free kick was tantalizingly close as it just brushed wide of the post. Shortly beforehand an Andy Carroll header was superbly blocked by Sunderland's man on the line, Carroll was unfortunate to not be celebrating his first Liverpool goal.

A powerful and and accurate shot by Jay Spearing only added to the attack from the Reds and the local lad was only denied by a great save from Sunderland keeper Mignolet.

It was the magic number 7 though who would find Liverpool's second goal. Out of nothing after taking on a tentative Lee Cattermole who was already on a yellow card, the Uruguayan spotted his chance and from an impossible angle sent the ball straight across goal, behind the Sunderland keeper until it hit the inside side netting. Absolute class.

The travelling fans went wild and it wasn't long before Depeche Mode began to ring out around The Stadium Of Light.

Even after the poor penalty decision, Sunderland never deserved to win here and topped off by a brilliant Suarez goal the Reds walked away with 3 points and an impressive performance away from home, something we've been searching for.

With West Bromwich Albion up next this is a great chance for Liverpool to add some pressure on Spurs.

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Saturday, 19 March 2011

Can Carroll Get Off The Mark Against Old Rivals?

Suarez returns...

Liverpool are off to the Stadium Of Light tomorrow to face Steve Bruce's Sunderland side. Sunderland are currently 8th in the league included in the pack pushing behind Liverpool and have had a respectable season.

Injuries for the black cats mean they are without Meyler and Turner who both have knee injuries and also unavailable is Campbell. Their main men though; the likes of Gyan, Malbranque and Cattermole are all fully fit so expect several attacks making their way from the wings.

For Liverpool we are still without Steven Gerrard and will be for a while. Also doubtful are Shevley and Agger along with Aurelio and Kelly. Aurelio and Agger have been spotted in training so depending on fitness levels assessed at Melwood we may see them on the bench.

Whenever we play Sunderland now, everybody always makes the gag about the now infamous beach ball, but to be honest, the jokes on Sunderland, that goal provided only Sunderland's second victory over Liverpool in the Premier League.

It's quite a special game for manager Kenny Dalglish tomorrow as a win would be his 250th in his managerial career. Whether the lads can help supply him with it is a different matter!

After the performance against Braga we know full well that won't be good enough against Sunderland, however having Suarez back is a massive boost in itself and I'm certain Andy Carroll will look forward to smashing one in against his old rivals.

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Friday, 18 March 2011

Liverpool Flop Out Of Europa League

Reina played his 300th game for Liverpool last night...

I use the word "flop" because it is highly appropriate. I don't think we deserve "crash" out of the Europa League because really we didn't provide enough action to be subject to a "crash", don't know about you but last time i checked a "crash" involves movement from two objects or in this case sides and we sure as hell weren't providing enough movement! "Drop" i also don't think we deserve because it's nowhere near harsh enough...

To "flop" out of the Europa League of course is quite embarrassing, but no less embarrassing than having to compete in the competition in the first place. We can fall back on several excuses but when it boils down to it, despite a long unbeaten run within this competition we'd been dragging out and scraping through performances, i can't remember a good performance.

Despite this, because it's Liverpool and our pedigree in Europe is unrivaled by the rest of the clubs involved, you tend to get to a stage where even if we're playing terrible, you assume we'll get through, most people had already booked their Ryan Air tickets to Dublin.

Last night's performance was no different to any other under both Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish in Europe. Though i still stand by the fact that Kenny has improved the attacking nous and forward positions of players so it's still an improvement on Roy's negative and defensive set ups.

Without Suarez and Gerrard we were missing a two link chain. The supply from midfield to the skillful Suarez was a spark that was clearly missing but not only this, Andy Carroll was lacking a consistent feed and you have to feel Gerrard could have filled that gap.

Meireles and Cole tried their best to whip in some crosses for Andy Carroll and the Geordie rose and fought in the air time after time but with only one real chance it was clear Liverpool were going to struggle.

In fairness to Braga without managing to score they still managed to hold us out. A strong, perhaps unimpressive but steady performance must have been a carefully crafted plan from manager Domingos.

John W Henry was present for the dismal display and surely he has spotted that his well received cash splashed in the January transfer window will surely be needed in the summer to sort this lot out.

As so many people have pointed out we have the basis of a great team but take out a couple of men and we're lost for options. If we can become a side who can take off a Suarez and replace with an Aguero or sign an Iniesta but still have Sneijder on the bench, well we'd be laughing! (Don't worry I've not lost my marbles i know there's no Iniesta! haha)

A very poor game for Liverpool saw nearly an hours worth of unsuccessful passes, loss of possession on the wing, offside calls against Kuyt and Carroll. Quite frankly it was a shambles. I thought the introduction of Ngog added an extra dimension and his hold up play once again allowed us to keep the ball in their half for longer periods which as the clock pushed closer to 90minutes finally saw us cause some problems.

Ngog nearly connected to a Liverpool free kick in the dying moments but the ball agonizingly scraped passed the Frenchman's rising shiny head (filthy minds sod off! haha). Whether Ngog on from the start would have helped i do not know but the whole side should feel responsible after that sorry display.

So there we have it, no more Europe, probably not next season either but brilliantly explained in an article by @robbohuyton (see here), maybe it's not such a catastrophe. I mean don't get me wrong I'll be gutted next season not being able to watch European games but if it meant a chance at being back in the Champions League the year after (highly unlikely at the moment) well it would be worth it!

Dalglish is the man who can convince players to come to Liverpool, he can rebuild with the players he purchases and his knowledge combined with Steve Clarke's will set us up perfectly in tactics.

It's not so far fetched to think about taking one step back before we take those two steps forward...

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Thursday, 17 March 2011

Must Win Game To Progress To Quarter Finals

Meireles could be star man...

After the heated, intense and bitter fight to stay awake last week i think several Liverpool fans are hoping that the lads can provide a match worthy of not sleeping through this time out. Of course, this time it's slightly different, for a starters it's at Anfield (always better) and secondly we have to win.

Braga have the lead on aggregate and things could get messy if they get an away goal. Liverpool need to level it up as soon as possible and then search for a winner. 

I think for once in the Europa League we could be in for an exciting match, with the real possibility of Andy Carroll starting too i think we might be in for a good night.

Liverpool were dealt the major blow of Steven Gerrard having to have surgery and so will be without their captain for tonight's game against Braga. Also still out are the likes of Fabio Aurelio and Jonjo Shelvey although both have been spotted in training. Martin Kelly is also still unavailable after a hamstring tear but Daniel Agger who suffered a small knock has also been back in training may be available.

With injuries and of course Suarez being unable to play i think the Reds will be relying on the likes of Meireles and Carroll tonight to put this game to bed. Meireles is becoming more and more of a play maker and with Gerrard out it could well be his free kicks that find their way onto the head of Andy Carroll.

It's feasible for Liverpool to see out a 2-0 win here i think and that should be a decent target for Dalglish and his boys. Hopefully by 90minutes we will patiently be awaiting the draw for the quarter finals...

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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Past Players: Volume 4 - Michael Owen

There was a time for Liverpool fans when the name "Michael Owen" was uttered, we felt proud. Nowadays however, after the Liverpool starlet went from Anfield to Bernabeu to St James' Park and then to Old Trafford, feelings have somewhat changed.

I've been meaning to do a past players post on Michael Owen for months, partly because i can start by voicing my own opinions on the saga but secondly because it's a real talking point it would be great to hear some of your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.

As a 21 year old, i grew up with Michael Owen, from the stupid childhood crush to the amazement at his pace and ability to weave through defences, he was my idol. Back then he epitomized what Liverpool FC was to me, i loved him so much i named my pet rabbit after him, i afterwards found out the rabbit was female though poor bunny.

My brothers room was plastered with Michael Owen posters and i think it's safe to say he was my first ever favourite player. I find it hard to disregard his talent at the top of his game and in the years that Michael was at Liverpool FC he was arguably the best in the world.

For these reasons i don't fall into the category of fans that now actually hate the ex forward. I can totally see and understand their reasons and many fans were already angered by Owen's money grabbing move to Real Madrid before his United move even came about.

The less said about Manchester United the better but it's bad enough when an ex player moves to a rival let alone when it's them. I still can't really understand why he went ahead with the deal, aside from cash. If he wanted football he knew he'd barely play at United and with offers or interest from Villa and City i think at the time if he'd of held out he may have still been sparking up the Premier League as we speak.

So let's get to it...

The Basics
Full Name: Michael James Owen
Date Of Birth: 14th December 1979
Born in: Chester
Height: 5'7"
Position: Forward


Liverpool

Michael Owen was born in Chester and straight into a footballing family. Father Terry Owen was also a professional footballer and had stints at Chester City and Everton. Similar to other Liverpool favourites i.e. Jamie Carragher - Michael Owen was actually a boyhood Everton fan.

In his early footballing days at school Owen beat a record previously held by Ian Rush after scoring 97 goals for Deeside Primary School. Owen was constantly watched by scouts from as young as the age of 10 and way before Liverpool were on the case the youngster had tabs being kept on him by several world class clubs.

He had just turned a teenager (13) when Liverpool snapped him up and he signed a schoolboy contract. The striker also attended Lilleshall the FA's school of excellence just like his team mates at the time Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.

At 16 years old when Owen graduated from Lilleshall he was signed up onto Liverpool's youth training scheme. It wasn't long however before he was promoted to senior football and just after his 17th birthday he was into the first team.

His debut came against now defunct Wimbledon in 1997, a decent side in their day and Michael Owen managed to score coming on a substitute gaining his first goal at senior level.

In the 97/98 season Owen finished as joint top goalscorer, a feat he would become somewhat familiar with.

The following season late on we began to see the first signs of Michael Owen's proneness to injury. His first hamstring problem would eventually become the bane of his entire footballing career. For several seasons Owen battled with this recurring injury but in 00/01 he sprung back to life.

The famous cup treble saw Liverpool pick up the UEFA Cup (now Europa League), the League Cup and the FA Cup under manager Gerard Houllier. Michael Owen was a key aspect in the side and Owen single handedly turned around what would have been a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal in the FA Cup into a 2-1 victory and another trophy for the Reds cabinet.

After also ending the season beating Manchester United to win the community shield and Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup, Owen was a member of the first English side to win 5 trophies in one calendar year.

In the 02/03 season Owen was again in cup winning form after scoring in the League Cup final against Manchester United - Liverpool went on to win.

Michael Owen was Liverpool's top goalscorer from 1998 until he left the club and in August 2004 Real Madrid came knocking...

Real Madrid


The Spanish side snapped up our star striker for £8million. Looking back now and thinking about prices these days, that was a bargain! Even for an injury prone player.

Madrid appeared to have purchased Owen as more of an "option" though and he spent a lot of his time warming the bench. Despite this, Owen ended his first season with thirteen goals and it was the highest number of goals scored to minutes played ratio within La Liga.

As early as 2005 though speculation began building that Michael Owen would be subject to a move back to the UK.

Newcastle United


Newcastle spent £16million on Michael Owen, double the amount Liverpool received when the striker moved to Real Madrid only a year earlier. Newcastle fans were very excited to have signed such a prolific goalscorer but typically an early injury kept Owen out of action for a few months.

Michael Owen saw out his contract at Newcastle and was present at the club at the stage when Alan Shearer was drafted in. Newcastle were relegated and after June 30th Michael Owen would be classed as a free agent.

Manchester United


Owen signed for Manchester United in July 2009. He scored 4 goals in United's pre-season. Goals for United have been few and far between but most people will remember his stoppage time goal to give United a 4-3 victory over Manchester City.

Owen plays fourth string in United's attack and is often not chosen by Ferguson who opts for Rooney, Berbatov and even Hernandez rather than the ex Liverpool player.

Currently injured but not believed to be too serious, Owen is still on the books at Manchester United so who knows what will happen next.

England


Owen began his England career at the age of just 18 and he once held the record for the youngest player to ever score for England. Unlike a lot of club players and football fans, Owen was genuinely passionate about his national side and always appeared to want to do well and try his best.

Owen will forever be remembered for his masterful goal against Argentina. To watch a player who was so young utterly embarrass the Argentinian defence was fascinating and i still think as somebody who isn't very excited by England playing, it will forever be my favourite World Cup moment.

Michael Owen is still the only player to have scored in four major tournaments for England.

Another poignant and heartbreaking moment to watch at the time for Michael Owen was when he had to crawl off the pitch in a group match against Sweden in the 2006 World Cup. However to have played in 3 World Cups, only a few players can boast that.

In more recent England times Owen seems to have slipped below the radar, injuries playing a major part however but Capello doesn't appear to be a fan of Michael Owen and if there was any sort of chance of him being chosen he would need to be playing regular football, something that isn't happening at Manchester United.

Personal Life


Michael Owen has been married to partner Louise Bonsall since June 2005 and has four children Gemma, James, Emily and Jessica.

Outside of football Owen has a keen interest in motoring and also owns a helicopter, there was a time when he was training to be a pilot. He is also very fond of horses and horse racing and can often be spotted at events on the racing calendar.

Owen has also hinted that when he retires he would like to become involved Chester City.

Final Thought


I think however you feel about Michael Owen, given the choice at the time most fans would have wanted him to stay at Liverpool Football Club and nobody would deny his ability in his days at Anfield. Undoubtedly as he's moved on he's never really returned to the top of his game and i personally will always have bitter feelings about his move to United but in all fairness, in his prime Michael Owen was the full package and Liverpool FC was part of the unit that brought out that potential.

Honours


Liverpool

FA Cup - 00/01
FA Community Shield - 2001
League Cup - 00/01 & 02/03
UEFA Cup - 00/01
UEFA Super Cup - 01
FA Youth Cup - 95/96

Manchester United

League Cup - 09/10
FA Community Shield - 2010

England

FA Summer Tournament

Personal

PFA Young Player Of The Year - 97/98
Premier League Golden Boot - 97/98, 98/99
Carling Premiership Player Of The Year - 97/98
Premier League Player Of The Month - August 98
Ballon d'Or - 2001
Included In FIFA 100
Premier League 10 Seasons Award
BBC Sports Personality Of The Year 98

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Friday, 11 March 2011

Penalty Gives Braga 1-0 Victory

Carroll impressed the fans...

It was another drab performance in the Europa League for Liverpool and as much as we all try to, it was hard to find a positive from such a game. The main excitement was the chance to see Andy Carroll again and thankfully the Geordie did get some game time.

Braga who have done well against Arsenal at their home ground of The Quarry before were well up for the task ahead of them. A lacklustre Liverpool struggled to find strength in attack with Luis Suarez ineligible and Steven Gerrard out injured. The missing link in midfield despite Meireles' best supporting efforts meant that Dirk Kuyt was a shadow of the player that jogged out against United.

A decision just before 20minutes was the only real highlight of the whole game. Braga were awarded a penalty after a poorly timed challenge from Sotirios Kyrgiakos, perhaps an unneeded one too. Alan converted for the home side despite Pepe Reina diving in the right direction.

The most action seen by the travelling fans was the arm lifting of the linesman. The amount of times Kuyt was caught offside you'd think he'd set up camp. Timing of his runs was poor.

Andy Carroll was introduced just before the hour mark and replaced an ineffective Christian Poulsen. After such a dismal first half Carroll in the number 29 shirt (bloody Torres!) made an immediate impact.

Getting stuck in aerial battles and doing his best to bring his team mates in to the game meant that finally a spark was created and the Reds might actually be able to find an equalizer.

Efforts from Kyrgiakos and Raul Meireles made the Braga defence work but still Liverpool didn't seem to have that last touch to convert an attempt into that all important goal.

A poor challenge towards the end of the match saw Andy Carroll elbowed in the face. It was bad enough no free kick was given but to me that was a red card, not that it would have made much difference but it was an utterly terrible challenge.

So the Reds come back to Anfield on the back of a 1-0 defeat. It's not the end of the road of course but as Dalglish said post match, if we play like that at Anfield we won't beat them.

I still don't know the latest on Gerrard but it would be nice to have him back for next week and i think we're slightly suffering from having to shake up the defence. Dalglish's original set up of the three at the back was working wonders but with Carragher utilised as right back last night it was clear we were struggling.

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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Reds Travel To Portugal

Those of you who intently watched Euro 2004 will recognise Braga's fantastic stadium with one face being the wall of an old quarry...

Liverpool travel to Portugal tomorrow to face S.C. Braga in the Europa League. The Reds are still unbeaten in the competition and will surely look to continue that run with a good away result here to bring back to Anfield.

Braga are a sort of behind the pack team and regularly within the Portuguese League finish under the more famous clubs such as Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. However we shouldn't underestimate Braga who have beaten the likes of Celtic in their Champions League run before dropping down into this competition.

Liverpool will be without influential captain Steven Gerrard. A statement from the website was very vague this morning, no real information on the reasons why but he has not been included in the travelling side.

Andy Carroll is expected to make his first Liverpool start. An exciting time for anyone watching, after a flicker of what he can offer was on show against Manchester United a larger chunk of the 90minutes will surely kick start his Liverpool career.

We also know that Fabio Aurelio will be unavailable after he picked up a hamstring injury against United. Also still out are Shelvey and Kelly and there's still a doubt hanging over Daniel Agger.

Compared to our last fixture with Sparta Prague, personally i think this one is an easier test. Sparta Prague are a more experienced side in Europe so after successfully knocking them out hopefully we can put in a similar performance to see off S.C Braga.

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Monday, 7 March 2011

Kuyt Hat Trick Means Liverpool Aren't Quite "Off Their Perch" Just Yet

Happy chappy!...

With Andy Carroll on the bench, Suarez starting, Gerrard in the side despite a rumoured injury, Dalglish and Fergie squaring up in the dugouts, no Ferdinand or Vidic for United... Most people would have chosen one of those to steal the headlines, how wrong our predictions were. Meanwhile working his arse off in the background as always was none other than Dirk Kuyt, the Dutchman stole the show in a confident Liverpool victory!

It felt this time out the Liverpool could actually turn United over. After the disappointment of the dodgy penalty in the FA Cup, we could all see we held out the United attack well and with a few more matches under his belt Dalglish easily improved on the 1-0 defeat.

Due to injuries what seemed to be the favoured three at the back was scrapped and the King fielded Aurelio, Skrtel, Carragher and Johnson in defence. Maxi was also included after missing his chance to start against West Ham.

Immediately it was clear Liverpool had a tactical plan set out. I know i keep going on about it (and so do the millions of forum members and Twitter users) but that old favourite pass and move is most certainly back. Under Hodgson and even under Benitez i have never seen anything quite like the movement and ability to get into space of not just one player but the whole side like yesterday.

Benitez had his methods and we never had many problems getting the ball around the field but the way we ran rings around United yesterday, well Kenny has to be credited along with mastermind Steve Clarke.

Suarez, Meireles and Lucas were probably the masters in this ethos and what a game from all three!

A lot of people were questioning before kick off the chosen United midfield. Carrick perhaps being a surprise inclusion. Berbatov and Rooney seemed lost without a link to central midfield and there was way too much reliance on Giggs to whip in threatening balls.

The first real moment and one of very few highlights for Manchester United was a Berbatov attempt from a distance, his effort thankfully hit the post but after Suarez had missed a decent chance just minutes before, at this point the game had a feel of a United bombardment and Liverpool regretting not taking their chances.

It got worse for the Reds as Fabio Aurelio who was just back fit got injured and had to be replaced by the big Greek. Again for a side to have shuffled a defence so early in the game and shifting Carragher to right back, Kyrgiakos and the defence as a whole did brilliantly for the 90minutes.

Just after the half hour mark and a strong looking Liverpool got their break through. A frankly beautiful mixture of skill and sheer effort from our new number 7 Luis Suarez saw him leave three United players for dead in their own box, his effort went under Van Der Sar and was on it's way in when up popped Kuyt to secure the goal.

Even Kuyt realised he had just nicked an extremely easy goal and robbed Suarez after all his hard work but as the team unit we are these days both lads celebrated emphatically.

(I was right miffed at Kuyt at this stage because i had Suarez 2-1 on! Haha)

Barely time to catch a breath and Liverpool were at it again. This time however Kuyt was gifted by United and not a team mate. A supposedly defensive header from Nani found it's way back into his own box and an awaiting Dirk Kuyt was able to send the ball home with a pretty easy header.

2-0 up already and we hadn't even reached half time, this was fantastic! Not only were we confidently in the lead but Fergie and his United side for once looked like they had no tricks up their sleeve.

In the run up to the half time whistle it was the highlight of the match for the referee...

Two incidents both in quick succession could have easily seen two players sent off but Phil Dowd i think did well over the 90minutes and at least he kept his consistency.

A late Carragher tackle on Nani, clearly with no intent was the first incident. Nani at first actually got up after his regular routine of theatrical diving. Of course he only got up to run and moan to the ref. At this stage i must admit it just seemed like another one of his boy cries wolf episodes but after seeing the image of his leg it was a bad injury. Surely he didn't need to cry though?

Anyway, Carragher apologised and it's his own fault the referee, players, crowd, even his own team mates didn't think he was injured because he dives on the floor like a loony match in, match out. Maybe now he'll learn his lesson??? (Hernandez replaced the injured Nani)

The next incident was Rafael having a hissy fit basically, a poor challenge on him which got him riled ended up seeing him put a poor challenge in himself. After Skrtel and Rafael began a spat, both sets of players began pushing and mouthing off but hilariously Dowd just stood, arms crossed, as if to say, "When you're ready ladies!" Fair play haha!

Second half and Fergie's half time inspirational speech clearly didn't work. Maybe he couldn't sound out the words with his rapid extra chewing after that first half...

Again Liverpool worked great as an actual team. Whenever one player had the ball there were three in space as an option, it was fantastic to watch.

This combined with a solid performance from the defence meant that United, even though their efforts were picking up were still unable to get anything past Pepe Reina.

Just past the hour mark and Liverpool were awarded a free kick. As Luis Suarez stepped up it was clear he fancied this one. A lovely free kick but it looked like Van Der Sar had it covered. Unfortunately for Van Der Sar a bumbled ball splayed out to international team mate Dirk Kuyt who with another tap in completed his hat trick at the Kop End!

For a man that's never scored a hat trick and never scored against United, it's not bad going is it that? Talk about a poacher too, Kuyt certainly made sure he was in the right place at the right time yesterday, his three goals were scored within a combined total of 7yards.

It just goes to show how important spacial awareness within 90minutes can be and for Liverpool if it wasn't Kuyt yesterday it would have been Meireles, Suarez, Maxi... The list was endless and it's nice to see the availability of players in the box.

The Reds were running away with it now and at 3-0 up against bitter rivals Manchester United, what better time to bring on your British transfer record breaking signing? Andy Carroll replaced Raul Meireles to the roar of the Anfield faithful. His first touch was a half decent headed effort but the Geordie was denied by Van Der Sar.

Manchester United after 91minutes of poor, drab, ineffective football did what they always do though and managed to get a late goal. Not that anyone really cared, even their fans couldn't be arsed, I'm sorry but if i was at Old Trafford and we scored even at 3-0 down with a minute to go I'd still go mental haha.

A header from Hernandez got Fergie's side a consolation goal which in fairness i don't even think they deserved.

It didn't matter though because Liverpool were the ones set to party. A superb game from each player, there were no real complaints at all. Manager Kenny Dalglish seemed to enjoy his victory and his beaming smile after a rendition of "Happy Birthday" from the fans was a perfect symbol of the day.

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Saturday, 5 March 2011

12th Man Key In Search For United Victory

The fans will confidently back the Reds tomorrow in what has to be the best clash in the Premier League...

Anfield tomorrow is the destination for Alex Ferguson's Manchester United. It needs no build up, I'm sure the majority of you, like me, are already buzzing for the match and after United fell to a Chelsea defeat and Liverpool to a West Ham one, both sides will be looking not only for three points but as always, for bragging rights.

For those of you going to the match, no doubt the atmosphere will be phenomenal, I'm just wondering whether Gary Neville will brave enough to get in with the away fans this time like he did at Stamford Bridge...

I'm soddin' gutted as for the first time this season I'm at work when our match is on. I can't really complain because last season i was at work on several occasions with fixture clashes, just annoyed that the first one this season is the most exciting clash. It's not all bad as i can still watch the match on the boardroom teles but am set to miss the first 5 or 10 minutes and also they don't have sound!

Anyways, never mind that, I'm still going to be able to witness a Suarez opener and Gerrard penalty with a 2-1 Liverpool victory so it's all good! Haha. Plus last time i was at work when we played United we battered them 4-1, here's hoping it's an omen.

Injuries for Manchester United and the suspension of Vidic mean that a weakened defence could be a positive for Liverpool. Ferdinand is still apparently unfit and won't start but don't put it past Fergie to have been saying that as a cover story. If this is true however it is believed Wes Brown will feature in defence, he's scored for Liverpool before so i welcome his contribution!

Anderson and Hargreeves are both out with knee injuries. Ji Sung Park is unavailable due to a hamstring problem and also out for Manchester United are Valencia and Evans.

For Liverpool, the big question on everyones lips is will Andy Carroll be available?

He's been back in training and looking good but even though i feel Dalglish's pre match interviews are those of a man with a trick up his sleeve, i still feel Carroll will start on the bench. Which of course is nothing to frown at, with Suarez starting and the option of bringing the big Geordie on in the second half, that could be a great asset for Liverpool in a big game like this.

Martin Kelly and Jonjo Shelvey we know won't be available with long term injuries. Meireles and Agger are both doubts but Meireles appears to have recovered from a knock to his knee and the general consensus is that Agger will start too.

Liverpool are fully capable here, the clash with United in the FA Cup was only lost due to a dodgy penalty. In terms of open play we handled United well yet this time out we have reinforcements. Suarez has already said how he would love to score against United and you have to feel with his skill and a second string United defence he could be set for stardom.

If Carroll does come on, again his strength will do nothing but trouble the United defence. I feel our problems and difficulties are going to lie in trying to get through their midfield. With Giggs apparently starting too any counter attacks could be devastating for Liverpool as they look to weave a path through.

Gerrard after a poor display against West Ham has to be raring to go for this fixture and i personally although jokingly predicting it earlier in the post can see him causing havoc and ending up getting a penalty.

If Berbatov starts, knowing our luck he'll be back to his hat trick ways. After another quiet spell in the league Berbatov is one of those annoying players who will just embarrass you, let's hope it's not his day.

Here's hoping some heated touchline conversations between Dalglish and old farty Fergie will provide some added entertainment in what is sure to be a fantastic game tomorrow afternoon.

Enjoy the match folks!

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