The Liver Bird  

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Gerrard Scores From Acute Angle In Newcastle Win

And people say he's past it!...
Liverpool put three past Newcastle United at Anfield on Friday night after finally figuring out how to convert their chances. In a game where the Reds didn't have many attempts at goal, the finishing was this time on song. Newcastle took the lead but the Reds came back to take all three points.

The start to the game had no essence of fixtures gone by between these two clubs and for a while it didn't seem like things were going to get exciting. With no real chances from either side it was hard for both sets of fans to find where their goals were going to come from.

Just before the half hour mark, Newcastle saw their chance. A whipped in ball into the box was met by Yohan Cabaye, on it's way toward goal it was clipped by Demba Ba but the prolific forward was the first to point to team mate Cabaye and support his claim for the goal.

To be fair to Liverpool this was a bit of an unlucky goal to concede, there wasn't much Reina could do with the nature of the way the ball came towards goal so the Reds could only keep their heads and carry on.

Liverpool took less than five minutes to reply to their deficit courtesy of Craig Bellamy. The Welshman has been fantastic since he resigned and he didn't half put in the effort on Friday. A lovely finish from a strong strike saw Bellers put the ball in the bottom left hand corner of goal.

Craig Bellamy i must admit is one of those players that when he's playing for another team you can't stand him but when he's in your team's shirt, he gives his all and you end up loving him. As i keep saying at the moment for me, it's all about Bellamy and Maxi on the flanks our other options aren't quite cutting it.

This sent both sides level into the second half. The game was beginning to show signs of life now, it was just a question of whether the break would shake either side. Fortunately for Liverpool it did nothing but galvanise them.

Just before the hour mark Liverpool brought on Steven Gerrard who replaced Charlie Adam. The Reds were finding themselves with quite a large portion of possession but not doing enough with it. Andy Carroll was crying out for the balls Gerrard continually pinged in and it once again felt like the captain had never been away.

A few minutes after the Gerrard substitution and it was Gerrard himself who stepped aside to give Craig Bellamy the chance to take our free kick. Newcastle perhaps had a case for the foul on Agger not actually being one but i think it could have gone either way quite easily.

Bellamy showed us how it's all done with a lovely free kick that the missing Luis Suarez would have been proud of. A great goal to put Liverpool ahead.

Minutes after Liverpool had finished celebrating, the lads were faced with a truly nail biting moment. Demba Ba the man of the moment got himself into a great position and had beaten Pepe Reina with his shot, but then, like a man possessed, Martin Skrtel appeared. The big defender literally threw himself at the ball to make a crucial goal line clearance and ended up taking a smack of a landing in the process. What a bloke! He was like a warrior. After the way Liverpool have been playing of late, who knows how the game would have went if Newcastle had equalised at that moment.

As Liverpool continued to attack, looking for a goal that would create that cushion to put fans minds at rest, Craig Bellamy had to be substituted. A suspected elbow to the face from Coloccini left the Welshman needing stitches. Dirk Kuyt replaced him.

Just over 10 minutes left and the magic finally happened. Steven Gerrard made a run into the box and after taking another touch, most fans had assumed he'd took the ball too far but at an impossible angle, the captain swept the ball underneath Tim Krul and into the back of the net.

It was a cracking goal! Anfield went mental and Gerrard's celebration ended with a high five to manager Kenny Dalglish. It was bliss!

Despite their efforts, Newcastle just couldn't come back from this. To be fair to the away side they played pretty well, the scoreline doesn't reflect their performance really it was just that on this occasion Liverpool actually took their chances. Aside from Andy Carroll, who agonisingly hit the bar!

I think the Reds can look back on 2011 as a pretty successful year and as for our start to the season, well we've done alright, in touch with those teams lurking around 4th and despite a build up of draws, we're still a tough side to beat.

Liverpool's first game of 2012 is against Manchester City, what a start to the New Year!

Have a good one folks!

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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Magpies Fly To Anfield

Andy, what do you think of Kuyt's new jeans? "Eh, they're alright i spose."...
Newcastle make the trip to Anfield on Friday bringing with them Demba Ba, the man who has stepped up to fill the massive boots left by Andy Carroll. Unfortunately for Liverpool it's Demba Ba who can boast the greater goal tally but with Luis Suarez serving a ban for this match will Andy Carroll take his chance to put a sock in the critics mouths?

Injury wise it's good news for Liverpool, with Gerrard featuring against Blackburn he is expected to start from the bench again on Friday. The only real missing party is Luis Suarez who as mentioned above is serving a ban.

For Newcastle they have no new injury worries and Dan Gosling is also back after completing his three match ban.

The last time the two sides met, Liverpool put 3 past Newcastle. Interestingly, the previous two occasions for Liverpool at home to Newcastle also ended in a 3-0 victory (I know where my money's going haha). For a Newcastle win at Anfield we have to go all the way back to 1995.

Newcastle did comfortably beat us at St James' Park or the Sports Direct Mike Ashley Is Dancing Around In A Shite Tracksuit Arena or whatever in December last year. The 3-1 scoreline shows that Newcastle could still offer some surprises.

And of course with Liverpool racking up the draws at home, this should be an exciting fixture for both clubs.

Stat Sandwich

  •  Liverpool have failed to score more than once in their last 6 home matches.
  • Newcastle have not scored at Anfield since 2004.
  • Maxi Rodriguez has scored 11 goals in his last 12 starts for Liverpool. 9 in 9 in the Premier League.

I've been saying it a lot lately and if you've just read the bottom piece of bread in that there stat sandwich you will see why i am so supportive of Maxi Rodriguez starting games. No offence to Henderson or Stewart Downing but if it meant sacrificing them to start Maxi, i would do it every time at the moment he is our best winger in my opinion. The tough thing is though that Bellamy is an extremely close second, but it doesn't look like Dalglish likes starting both players.

With Suarez out, i can only assume it will be Carroll supported by Kuyt up front but perhaps the boss will utilise Bellamy in that position?

Either way, whoever ends up on the pitch they need to start converting their bloody chances! With Suarez out that lowers the attempts too. We need some accuracy around here!

And for those on Twitter pestering me for betting tips, will you leave me alone! I'm not soddin' John McCririck! But if you must know, if i get chance tomorrow i'm gonna slap a quid on Liverpool 3-0 with Maxi Rodriguez as first goalscorer, why not ay?

Enjoy the match folks!

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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Maxi Heads Home In Blackburn Draw

Andy Carroll gets a tackle in...
It was a score draw at Anfield for Liverpool on Boxing Day after the Reds struggled to find a winner against Blackburn. The away side took the lead at the end of the second half but Liverpool found an equaliser via Maxi Rodriguez. Steve Kean must have been over the moon with his sides performance and will be very grateful of the sole point.

Dalglish chose to start Andy Carroll up front with Luis Suarez, something most fans weren't expecting. Maxi was also given the start on the wing and perhaps the biggest news of the day was that captain Steven Gerrard was on the bench for Liverpool.

For the first half, Liverpool had their fair share of chances and once again it was a fluid start from the Reds that appeared to filter out. With Liverpool at the moment, it seems so important to capitalise on the early attacks because when the Reds fail to do so, they begin to struggle for ideas.

During the first half there were chances from Suarez, Adam and Henderson but every time the ball was whipped into the box, the big Christopher Samba was there in the way. Target man Andy Carroll was being dealt with superbly and even when the Geordie had a chance with his feet he was denied by a great save from Blackburn's keeper Mark Bunn.

Andy Carroll in all fairness was extremely unlucky throughout the game, partly due to the offside flag but also due to some fantastic saves from Mark Bunn. Just lately the opposition goalkeepers facing Liverpool seem to be pulling off their performances of the season.

Just before the half time whistle, Blackburn found themselves with a corner. Taken by Gamst-Pedersen, it was Charlie Adam who unfortunately got the last touch on the whipped in ball. Perhaps he'd have made a better choice by using his head (no pun intended haha) the midfielder's touch would have been a clearance on another day, but on Boxing Day it just wasn't to be.

Ten minutes into the second half and Liverpool found their equaliser. An unmarked Maxi Rodriguez easily headed home from a ball whipped back in by Martin Skrtel.

The Argentinian for me despite it being an easy header, proved why he should start every game. For me, it's him and Craig Bellamy doing the real business on the wings.

Just before the 70 minute mark, the Anfield faithful were given a treat, the decibels rose as Steven Gerrard entered the fray, replacing Charlie Adam. Gerrard's first touch of the ball was a dangerous free kick that found it's way to Maxi's head, unfortunately Maxi couldn't convert it into his second goal.

Blackburn were relying on the counter attack for their chances and as the game wore on, more of them became available. A run from David Dunn ensured Blackburn found themselves with a real chance to take the lead but Dunn's teammate Yakubu actually barged into him just as he was about to take his shot, forcing the ball wide.

Bellamy joined the action at 80 minutes in place of Maxi Rodriguez as Liverpool desperately tried to find the winning goal so that the Reds would take all three points. With Chelsea dropping points earlier in the day, the full amount would have been greatly appreciated.

Despite some edge of your seat stuff in the dying minutes when another shot from Andy Carroll was kept out by an on song Mark Bunn followed by a Daniel Agger attempt cleared off the line by Adam Henley, Liverpool just couldn't find the winner.

Whilst Steve Kean's side were delighted, Dalglish's boys were left wondering once again why they can't seem to comfortably beat some of the lesser teams.

There's no excuses because Liverpool should have won this fixture and whilst it's soddin annoying to watch us fail against a team propping up the table i think sometimes you just have to take whatever positives you can from a situation. The positives being that once again we haven't lost and also that Steven Gerrard looks like he's never been away.

I can remember several seasons where Liverpool have racked up draw after draw after draw and to be honest I'm not too surprised that in Dalglish's first full season, this is what is happening. Nobody truthfully sat down and expected 2011/2012 to be a stormer of a season and at the moment it 6th but still in touch with a couple of teams above us i think we're doing ok. Obviously you always hope for more but that will come with time under Dalglish, it'll all slot together sooner rather than later.

Next up for Liverpool is Newcastle on Friday.

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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Boxing Day Against Blackburn

A worried Steve Kean could do with three points on Boxing Day...
Liverpool welcome Blackburn Rovers to Anfield on Boxing Day for a festive feast of footy. Blackburn have been very poor of late and with unbearable pressure on manager Steve Kean it could work in Liverpool's favour. Blackburn have sometimes shown signs of taking teams to the cleaners but they've lost their nerve at vital moments.

Liverpool have Jay Spearing back for selection after he served his final ban against Wigan. Steven Gerrard is back in training but it is assumed he will not be back for the Boxing Day clash.

Blackburn have several injuries and to add to this goalkeeper Paul Robinson has torn a calf muscle. Such is his hunger for the cause though, Robinson is believed to be starting still and playing on through the pain. Blackburn are also without Nelsen, Dann, Olsson and Givet.

Liverpool are currently in 6th place, 2 points behind Arsenal whilst Blackburn are left propping up the table.

The last time the two sides met was in January. Blackburn beat us 3-1 in what was one of our worst games under Roy Hodgson. Captain Steven Gerrard on that day missed a penalty for us and it was left to Torres to grab a consolation goal.

Blackburn haven't managed to beat Liverpool at Anfield since 2000 and in all honesty it doesn't look like that is going to change on Boxing Day.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have lost only one game in their last 12 in the Premier League.
  • Blackburn have not won away from home this season.
  • Liverpool have failed to score in 5 league matches this season.

Liverpool have a very good away record this season and despite a poor performance against Wigan the Reds still kept a clean sheet and didn't lose. At home however, some of the smaller clubs have posed problems for Dalglish's boys and with Blackburn sitting at the bottom of the table, this could be a bad omen for Liverpool on Boxing Day.

I'm not so sure whether we'll see Craig Bellamy starting on Boxing Day but if I'm honest i would like him to start. Unfortunately for me the wingers have not been up to scratch of late and Bellamy in that position is a far better option for me at the moment.

I'd also be quite happy to see Shelvey alongside Adam in midfield again but i have a feeling Dalglish will start Jay Spearing now he has served his ban.

Whatever side is fielded by Dalglish here's hoping to a Boxing Day treat!

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Friday, 23 December 2011

Festive Fun: Guess The Liverpool Players

Merry Christmas to all my readers out there!

I just thought for a laugh and to get us all into the Christmas spirit i'd make a short and sweet post giving you the chance to have a bit of fun.

Below are ten Liverpool players from past and present but Santa, baubles, stars and all sorts of things have got in the way, can you guess who they are?

To find out the answer simply highlight the sections between the brackets. If you want to see the original photos simply click the link. See how many you can get and let me know how you get on!

1)


To view the answer highlight between ( John Barnes ) me. Link to original.

2)


To view the answer highlight between ( Steve McManaman ). Link to original.

3)


 To view the answer highlight between ( Abel Xavier ) me. Link to original.

4)


To view the answer highlight between ( Ray Clemence ) me. Link to original.

5)


To view the answer highlight between ( Steve Nicol ) me. Link to original.

6)


To view the answer highlight between ( Luis Suarez ) me. Link to original.

7)


To view the answer highlight between ( Peter Crouch ) me. Link to original.

8)


To view the answer highlight between ( Kenny Dalglish ) me. Link to original.

9)


To view the answer highlight between ( Oyvind Leonhardsen ) me. Link to original.

10)


To view the answer highlight between ( Steven Gerrard ) me. Link to original.


~A very Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year! #YNWA~

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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Skrtel Scores Second In Villa Win

Defender beats defenders...
Liverpool scored two goals in the first fifteen minutes at Villa Park to secure a much needed three points. In the slot under the top four at the moment Liverpool are slowly but surely putting some pressure on and the win lifted them up to 6th. Craig Bellamy and Martin Skrtel were the goalscorers.

A slightly different side fielded by Dalglish saw a five man midfield and a start for Jonjo Shelvey. Maxi Rodriguez was on the bench and Luis Suarez led the line.

Aston Villa were without their main men in Darren Bent and Gabby Agbonlahor so from the onset it was bound to be a difficult game for Villa, a side who even with the men mentioned previously are struggling to find the back of the net.

Stewart Downing received a rather noisy reception as the home fans made sure the winger was subjected to boos each time he was on the ball. Unfortunately for the home fans though, Downing would eventually get the last laugh.

Liverpool's first goal came just 10 minutes in. A corner whipped in by Stewart Downing caused problems in the box. Luis Suarez set up Bellamy after missing his chance and the Welshman with an easy goal from close range to put the Reds in front.

I can't remember the last time we scored from a corner, perhaps it was down to some sloppy Villa defending but even so, it was great to see the lads score from the set piece.

Four minutes later and Liverpool found themselves with another corner. This time goalscorer Craig Bellamy whipped it in and despite five Aston Villa players in the vicinity, Martin Skrtel was allowed to find enough space to send home a header for Liverpool's second.

Like the first goal but arguably worse, Aston Villa were all over the shop. Without being detrimental to Martin Skrtel, he's hardly the most prolific in the box, if you're allowing him to get into so much space with such ease then you really need to be looking at your defensive set up.

Unfortunately for Villa, things didn't get better in attack either. Fair enough they were missing Bent and Agbonlahor but where was the fight? Maybe the two goals so early flustered them but they never really troubled Pepe Reina. Charles N'Zogbia was perhaps their biggest threat but not even he could find a goal for McCleish's side.

With such a lively start for Liverpool it felt like a rout could be on the cards, however things appeared to fizzle out for the Reds. The second half saw no goals but once again it was Liverpool creating the majority of the chances.

Luis Suarez saw an effort hit the crossbar but the Uruguayan was lucky to get the shot on after handling the ball without the officials seeing beforehand. Later in the second half, the number 7 had another effort hit the woodwork, a sublime chip floated over the keeper and was agonisingly close to going in.

For Liverpool it made a small difference to see us hit the woodwork after taking the lead instead of struggling to find a goal. It was nice to see the Reds take their chances early on so that things didn't get too tense as the clock ticked down.

Andy Carroll, Jamie Carragher and Dirk Kuyt made appearances late on for the away side but the scoreline was destined to stay the same.

From a Villa point of view i would have been very disappointed with the side. Yes, Liverpool created an early lead and a two goal cushion but it was clear during several stages in the game that Liverpool had petered out. There were chances for Villa but they didn't seem to have the drive to take them. In all honesty I'm not sure whether they would have got anything past our defence anyway because the back four have been on song but it was like McLeish's side weren't even trying.

For Liverpool this is yet another positive. Yes, the play did die down in the second half and maybe against another team that would have created problems but the key point is we've picked up another three points. For any other side it's "They may not have played well but they did the important thing and won." but what I'm hearing from a lot of Liverpool fans after a win like this is a focus on the play, i understand that obviously there are still areas of improvement for Liverpool but the lads aren't going to stop making an effort just because they've grabbed a win at Villa are they?

With Wigan up next in the week and Martinez's boys on a bit of a high, we need to make sure we continue to rack up the points over this Christmas period, because they could be valuable come season's end.

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Saturday, 17 December 2011

Reds Away To Villa

Downing returns to Villa...

Liverpool make their way down to the Midlands on Sunday for a game against Alex McLeish's Aston Villa. Villa at the moment appear to be struggling to score goals and with Liverpool creating chances but perhaps not converting as many as they should be, this could be an interesting fixture.

Injuries for Aston Villa aren't a real problem but Gabby Agbonlahor will miss out due to a one match ban for collecting 5 yellow cards.

For Liverpool, Steven Gerrard is still out and so too is Lucas of course. Jay Spearing will also be unavailable due to his 3 match ban he picked up at Fulham.

Most fans will remember the last meeting between the two sides. Stewart Downing scored the winner for Villa in a rather dry affair for the Reds. Times however have changed and now perhaps Downing will be able to find his first goal in a Red shirt at his old stomping ground?

Other than the 1-0 win for Aston Villa we have to go back to 1998 to find them another win at home against the Reds. With Liverpool on a decent run of away form, on paper this looks good.

In the news this week you're sure to have heard that the FA have still not come to a decision on the Suarez/Evra situation. It's unfortunate really because one way or another we would like to find out the verdict so that Suarez can move on. I just can't understand why the FA said they were going to give a decision and then changed their minds at the last minute? I'm aware this needs to be taken seriously and they are fully entitled to more time but don't tell us one thing and mean another!

With all this going on in the background it would be nice to see the Suarez we saw last match, putting everything behind him and just focusing on the football for 90 minutes.

I also think that the starting line up against QPR was a good one and would love to see Maxi start again.

Stat Sandwich

  • The Reds have the best defensive record in the league, letting in just 13 goals and keeping 5 clean sheets.
  • Darren Bent has scored 5 goals this season, all of them at Villa Park.
  • If Daniel Agger starts for Liverpool it will be his 150th appearance in a Red shirt.

With a nice run of fixtures over the Christmas period for Liverpool it would be brilliant to get off to a winning start. As mentioned in the opening to the post Villa haven't exactly been prominent in front of goal and with Agbonlahor out, i can't see them having too many chances. Liverpool just need to make sure they take theirs and with hopefully an attacking presence consisting of Suarez, Bellamy and Maxi, we'll be able to grab all three points.

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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Suarez Header Secures 3 Points

Suarez fires home his header...
Luis Suarez grabbed the winner for Liverpool on Saturday in a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers. The Reds had bags of chances whilst QPR barely troubled goalkeeper Pepe Reina. The away side however showed great courage in ensuring Liverpool didn't get anything else past Radek Cerny.

Dalglish made some changes in the line up for Saturday's fixture. Namely the inclusion of Maxi Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt.

Stewart Downing was at the forefront of the Liverpool attack during the first half and had one of his better games for the club. The winger found himself some space on several occasions and set up Suarez numerous times.

On the other wing Maxi Rodriguez too was flustering the QPR defence, this set up appeared to allow more freedom for the wingers with Henderson and Adam in the centre. Jordan Henderson when played on the wing unfortunately at the moment doesn't appear to have as much confidence going forward so he is left helping cover with the central midfielders. Maxi Rodriguez is more experienced and i feel the best option at the moment on that side of the pitch.

With the service to Suarez improved, the Uruguayan had stacks of chances at goal. The most clear cut was a header, the number 7 was in bags of space and perhaps should have scored but Cerny saved.

Neither side managed to find the net in the first half but it wasn't long into the second when Liverpool found their winner.

Luis Suarez was the name on everyone's lips once again, after causing havoc all of the first half, this time he converted.

A corner from Charlie Adam came back out to the Scotsman who whipped another ball into the box. Suarez was unmarked after Luke Young lost his man and the number 7 with a sweet header put Liverpool in front.

It was brilliant to see Suarez score, not only because it's been a while since his last goal and compared to his chances and work rate, he should have several goals behind him but also because that's the best way to get the critics to focus on your football and not what's in the papers.

If it wasn't for Radek Cerny, Queens Park Rangers could have found themselves on the wrong end of a rout. The goalkeeper made some superb saves to keep Neil Warnock's side in with a chance.

The away side had a period of play late on where they began to create some chances, namely shots from Barton and a corner that Pepe Reina punched away but they never really looked like scoring.

For Liverpool the win, although only by a slim margin actually means a great deal. The points were obviously needed after the loss to Fulham but also, this may be a turning point. The last few matches at home have ended in draws and not only this but promoted sides have been a stumbling block, on Saturday however the set up was perfect i thought and the 3 points were well deserved. If only we could start converting more of our stacks of chances!

Next up for the Reds is Aston Villa away from home, a side who are struggling to score goals meets a side who can't seem to convert enough chances, could be interesting...

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Friday, 9 December 2011

Queens Park Rangers To Meet The King's Boys

Oi FA! Are you watchin'?!
After the drama at Craven Cottage on Monday night, Liverpool welcome promoted side Queens Park Rangers to Anfield on Saturday. A missed opportunity to collect three points for the Reds means this fixture becomes even more important but I'm sure Neil Warnock will be thinking exactly the same thing.

Injuries for Liverpool as you all know by now mean unfortunately there is no Lucas Leiva or Steven Gerrard for manager Kenny Dalglish to select. Also unavailable is Jay Spearing who starts his three match ban (*cough* disgrace) so the Liverpool midfield will look somewhat different.

For QPR they have a big problem in goal, both Paddy Kenny and Brian Murphy are out so Radek Cerny starts again for the London side.

Queens Park Rangers have had a bit of a strange season since being promoted. A side fielded by Neil Warnock will always have a never say die attitude but whilst they managed to beat Chelsea and nearly got the better of Man City they had big defeats at the hands of Bolton and Fulham without managing to put one in the net themselves.

The last time the two sides met was in 1996 where Liverpool won 2-1. To find a win for Queens Park Rangers we only have to go back to 1994 where QPR flipped the scoreline around and beat Liverpool 2-1. The last 6 clashes between the two sides reads; WWWLWW for Liverpool.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have drawn their last 4 league games at Anfield but they are the only side along with Man City not to have lost at home this season.
  • QPR have kept one clean sheet in their last 9 league games.
  • Charlie Adam will be playing on his 26th birthday.

I think it's safe to say that this is going to be a tough game for Liverpool. With our current record against promoted sides and teams lower down the table, all the signs are there for a hard fought draw. However, this isn't to say Liverpool don't have the ability. 

I personally think Bellamy has to start on Saturday and preferably up front, i also think unfortunately at the moment both Downing and Henderson (unless given a chance in the centre) don't deserve to start before Maxi. Maxi can't do much more to show his worth but he seems to be the second option for now in Dalglish's mind.

Whatever happens it should be a quality game, all the signs are there for an exciting clash.

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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Late Dempsey Winner Leaves Liverpool Deflated

Bellamy already laughing? Fearless! Lol...
(Now is it me or is this picture a lot worse what with being a role model, compared to a petulant sticking up of the finger? Yeah, i said it. Why didn't the papers use this as their main match report picture?)

Liverpool fell to a late defeat at Craven Cottage on Monday night after the home side grabbed a winner courtesy of Clint Dempsey. Liverpool by no means deserved to lose and after a frustrating battle with rotten luck and some questionable refereeing decisions the Reds found themselves gutted by the end of the 90 minutes.

Dalglish chose to play Jay Spearing in the gap left by the injured Lucas Leiva and it was Henderson and Bellamy selected for the wings. Dempsey and Dembele did start in the end after doubts over there fitness and Jol went with Zamora as his front man.

Before i get into the swing of things I'd just like to point out from the onset that i am not making excuses, I'm not blaming the referee, I'm just going to be highlighting the fact that Liverpool were seriously unlucky. On another day, decisions would have been different and the soddin bar and post would have moved an inch! Anyway...

It was a lively start from both sides at the Cottage with Dembele getting things underway for the home side, forcing Reina into a save just 5 minutes in. For Liverpool it was Charlie Adam creating play and a few chances for himself but Schwarzer like Reina kept the early effort out.

Clint Dempsey along with Dembele was probably looking the most threatening for Fulham but for the majority of the first half it was Liverpool maintaining possession and creating more chances.

Arguably the best chance of the first half fell to Jordan Henderson who neatly curled a shot round Schwarzer, everybody thought he'd beaten the goalkeeper only to watch the ball agonisingly clip the inside of the post and roll away from danger.

Things really started to liven up in the second half. Just three minutes in and Dempsey had shoved his face in to Bellamy's.

Now maybe I'm being bias, I'd like to think I've kept a calm head on this though (ahem unlike Dempsey) but in all seriousness, the last time i checked you simply can't push your forehead into another player, I've seen players sent off just for looking like they're "about to" push their head into the opposition. In my eyes Dempsey should have been off and i must say, if Bellamy went down, he probably would have been. I'm a big fan of Dempsey's but he didn't half annoy me yesterday!

Dempsey and Bellamy were both booked, still no idea why Bellamy was but there we go.

Dempsey continued to find spaces through the centre of the Liverpool midfield. Although i thought Spearing put in a good stint (whilst he was on the pitch) it was clear there hadn't been enough time to work on the areas that were missing due to the lack of a certain Brazilian.

A lot of people still don't appreciate what Lucas does for our side but i hope that some people realised after that performance the amount of work he puts into his role. The effort required to constantly create that link with calm distribution from defence to midfield, whilst patrolling the midfield like a man possessed is truly something.

Strangely, due to the spaces opening up in the centre of midfield, Liverpool weren't really having to deal with play coming in from the wings, meaning that if play was intercepted, the Reds could get the ball out to Bellamy or Henderson in good time.

Bellamy i thought was fantastic, he immediately makes decisions, there's no thought when he receives the ball because he already knows where everybody is, where he's going and what he's going to do. Add to this his pace and you're looking at a real problem.

The only thing he didn't do was score, which unfortunately was the same story for Carroll and Suarez, but then we have the next incident...

Luis Suarez was another player on the pitch working hard to find his side a goal and despite not getting on the score sheet, he did put the ball in the net.

A lovely ball from Enrique allowed Suarez to put the ball in the back of the net in "Messiesque" style as the commentator described but his effort was flagged as offside. Looking back at the replays however it appears the Fulham defender's back foot is playing the Uruguayan onside, just another indicator of Liverpool's bad luck.

Martin Jol brought on Andy Johnson just before the 70 minute mark for an ineffecitve Bobby Zamora. And shortly after Liverpool would end up needing a substitution or two of their own after the whole game changed.

Jay Spearing was given a straight red card for a challenge on Dembele. I couldn't believe it! Looking back at the challenge, for a starters Jay gets the ball, secondly, he does not enter the challenge two footed and thirdly where was the malicious intent? In my eyes that was a bad decision by Kevin Friend, the only thing i can say to try to back him up is that because Spearing came out of the tackle two footed, he could have been misled, but it just isn't good enough.

Now down to ten men and still creating chances but not looking like grabbing a goal, Liverpool had to change their action plan. Kuyt replaced Carroll and Downing replaced Bellamy. Bellamy for me was our best player but with a yellow card and tempers fraying it was a good decision i think by Kenny to remove him.

Clint Dempsey sunk the hearts of the travelling fans just before 85 minutes. The American had already had 3 or 4 shots in the minutes beforehand and was growing in confidence throughout the 90 minutes despite his tiff with Bellamy.

A lapse in concentration perhaps from Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson saw the ball come back out to an awaiting Dempsey after a Danny Murphy free kick, Dempsey slotted the ball home from close range.

I've been gutted at conceding many a goal, but this one hurt. I honestly don't feel like we deserved to lose but i also take note that Fulham played well and created chances themselves, they acted on their luck, it's just a shame Liverpool didn't have a bit more luck of their own floating around yesterday.

Add to this the fact that Schwarzer pulled out what could be his save of the season to deny Stewart Downing, well it was just never going to be our day was it?

I can't round up this fixture, I'm still just so frustrated as I'm sure Dalglish and the boys are. I do agree however that we appear to have a lack of instinct in attack at the moment, Carroll was unlucky early on with his shot saved by Schwarzer and Suarez was unlucky with his offside goal but at the moment neither of them are playing like the proven goalscorer we're after and i still think both of them can get bags of goals but the only way that is going to happen is by sticking at it.

Bellamy for me is our main threat in attack at the moment, i feel if he was played up front yesterday (though i understand why he was deployed on the wing) then he would have got the Reds a goal.

For the next clash at home against QPR, I personally would start Bellamy up front with Suarez. But I'm fully expecting that game to be another difficult one for the Reds.

We're going ok though, we're still a working progress, we're picking up some steady points and can come out against the big boys, have been good on our travels. As far as I'm concerned, fixing home form and games against smaller teams should be easier than doing the opposite.

I'm sure Dalglish and the lads will be out all guns blazing next week!

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Trip To Craven Cottage

Most people hate him now after his Chelsea own goal but i still love the big Norweigan!...
Liverpool make the long trip down to Fulham for a Monday night fixture this week. The Reds have just come off the back of a 2-0 win over Chelsea in the League Cup and are in fighting form at the moment. Fulham however suffered defeat to FC Twente in the week and have to go back to October for a win in the Premier League.

Injuries for Liverpool mean that Steven Gerrard is once again unavailable and after the terrible news on Lucas Leiva, we now know the Brazilian will miss the rest of the campaign.

For Fulham Damien Duff will be unavailable for manager Martin Jol and doubts hang over Dembele and Dempsey but Fulham are hoping they will be fit enough to start.

Most people will vividly remember the last clash between the two sides. The 5-2 victory last season for Liverpool was a hell of a game, Maxi Rodriguez even grabbed a hat trick. We don't have to go too far back to find a Fulham win at home though, the Cottagers beat us in 2009 on Halloween the confident, 3-1 win certainly left Liverpool in shock.

Stat Sandwich

  • The Reds are unbeaten in their last 11 games in all competitions.
  • Fulham have only won 1 of their last 8 games at Craven Cottage.
  • Luis Suarez on average has 8.2 touches of the ball per game inside the opposition penalty area, the best tally in the league.

With the comparison of form for the two teams this looks like a winner on paper for Liverpool but as we've seen already this season, sometimes it's the teams further down the table or the teams on a bad run of form that become a stumbling block for the Reds.

I hate to say it but in the back of my mind i can see this one being a draw. Players like Danny Murphy and John Arne Riise have a point to prove as always against their ex employers and if Dempsey and Dembele do make the start things could get tough for Liverpool.

If we get out the blocks quickly and grab an early goal i think we'll be ok but if the minutes start to tick by and we're hitting the bar and post with stacks of chances I'm gonna start getting worried.

It will be interesting to see how Dalglish lays out the midfield tomorrow, i personally would like to see Henderson given a chance in the centre because he seems to prefer the central role and is improved in that position i feel. However, Dalglish also has the option of Spearing, Shelvey etc.

Either way i think it will be a good game to spice up our Monday evenings.

Just a quick thing to end on folks, if i could gently guide you in the direction of this link. It's a radio show made regularly by @Russ_Goldman who is a big Fulham fan from the States. Within the show there is a preview for the Liverpool game with guest Richard Buxton who some of you may know from the website Click Liverpool. If you get chance have a listen! 

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