The Liver Bird  

Monday, 30 April 2012

Fulham To Face Before Cup Final

Stewart Downing; Ventriloquist extraordinaire...
Liverpool welcome Fulham to Anfield on Tuesday evening for their last league game before the massive FA Cup final at the weekend. The Reds recorded a confident win over Norwich on Saturday thanks to a glorious Luis Suarez hat-trick and here's hoping that sort of result is repeated.

Fulham have the chance to go level with Liverpool in the league on Tuesday which is a worrying thought considering Liverpool haven't finished 8th or below in the league for 58 years and already find themselves in a sticky situation with the Toffees just above them.

The last time the two sides met Clint Dempsey rubbed salt into the wounds with a late winner. The problem was, really, he shouldn't have been on the pitch after the headbutt on Craig Bellamy, maybe Bellers should have jumped to the floor like Perch did for Newcastle.

Despite some good results against Liverpool over the years Fulham have actually never won at Anfield. Considering Liverpool have been poor of late at home, this is a nice stat to hear but knowing us, we'll go and mess it up now.

With Pogrebny(I just ate a bowl of alphabet spaghetti and spat it out)ak back fit I have no doubt the Liverpool defence will have their hands full dealing with him and obviously the aforementioned Clint Dempsey is always one to watch.

For me, this has draw written all over it and assuming Dalglish plays a weakened side with the FA Cup Final in mind then this is probably the sort of result we'll get.

It's bad really because we've still got a point to prove in the league, although it feels like we've given up and in all honesty I can't be arsed at the moment (though sublime Suarez hat tricks do help) we still need to make sure we finish 7th, because I just can't take the stick from the Evertonians.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Suarez Sinks Stunning Hat-Trick Against Canaries

Suarez celebrates...
Liverpool put three past Norwich at Carew Road on Saturday as the Reds got themselves back to winning ways in the League. A stunning hat-trick from Luis Suarez sent the away fans wild and with little left to play for in the League other than perhaps topping Everton, it was an exciting and refreshing 90 minutes from the Reds.

Dalglish opted for a slightly different starting line up, perhaps due to having one eye on next weekends fixture. Carragher was in the defence and Downing and Shelvey also made the start.

Norwich had to make a substitution early on in the game when Adam Drury went down injured. Russell Martin took his place.

It didn't take Liverpool long to find their first goal and after some good pressure from the Reds Luis Suarez found the back of the net. Set up by Steven Gerrard the Uruguayan with a lovely finish curled the ball past Ruddy, it looked like it was about to go wide but it slotted itself in and put the Reds 1-0 up.

Many feared Gerrard was actually injured heavily after he disappeared last match but thankfully he started and had a fantastic game. Everyone seems to agree that when Gerrard is freed up and closer to the forwards, especially Suarez, it creates wonderful play. The captain has certainly got a connection with Suarez and this is always stronger when Gerrard is pushed forward.

Just 4 minutes after his first stylish finish Suarez found himself a second. Play was intercepted after a Norwich throw in and the number 7 took full advantage. With such a tight angle to score from, the goal looked a hard option but Suarez appears to like scoring the harder goals and with a sweet finish he slipped the ball passed Ruddy again.

Norwich to be honest, considering how threatening they were the last time we played them had very few chances. Liverpool have been a different side though away from home this season and this showed on Saturday.

Suarez's third and final goal in Liverpool's confident win came with 10 minutes left to go. If you thought the first two goals from the forward were sublime then you must have been knocked for six when he netted this one!

He picked up the ball just past the half way line and decided to ignore a completely free Gerrard on his left. Similar to the Xabi Alonso goal when Gerrard was actually annoyed but then elated, Suarez went for it!

His chip from 50 metres was nothing short of genius. Ruddy tried his best but he'd been well and truly lobbed. This could well be a bit of bias creeping in but you won't see another hat trick as good as that for a long while!

Norwich with the little time left that they had could not find any consolation and Liverpool's defence deserved to be credited despite a quiet game for keeping a clean sheet.

With Fulham up next and then the FA Cup final this is exactly the sort of form we need to be in.

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Friday, 27 April 2012

Reds To Face Canaries

Kuyt in action last year against Norwich...
Liverpool face the Canaries on Saturday as they look to end April on a high. Norwich have lost their last two league games but they have been a breath of fresh air since they were promoted from the Championship last year.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are without Charlie Adam but captain Steven Gerrard was back in training and is expected to be available for Saturday's game. Norwich are without ex Reds man Daniel Ayala who is suffering from a knee injury and also unavailable is Marc Tierney.

The last time the two sides met was in October. A 1-1 draw in which Liverpool played quite well was a string of many poor results at Anfield for the Reds this season.

The last time Norwich beat Liverpool at Carew Road was in 1993 which to be fair isn't that long ago considering how infrequently the sides have met.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have won 7 away league games this season.
  • Norwich have only kept two clean sheets this season in the league.
  • The Reds have only converted 9% of shots into goals in the Premier League this season.

With the FA Cup final pretty much just around the corner and another league game against Fulham before that it will be interesting to see who Dalglish starts. I personally would go for a strong line up, we could do with a win in the league and I don't really think the game play will be detrimental to the lads chances in the FA Cup.

However with most players fit and a pretty large squad, the boss could easily mix and match and still have a pretty strong side out against Norwich.

With rumours flying around that Dirk Kuyt could be off in the summer I'd love to see some more of the Dutchman and would like to see him start on Saturday. I also assume Henderson will start and I must admit I'm not his greatest fan but in the last couple of matches (considering the games on a whole were poor) i think he's done quite well.

I predict a 1-0 win for Liverpool, I can't see anything spectacular happening but here's hoping I'm wrong.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Monday, 23 April 2012

Baggies Snatch Win At Anfield

Roy was all smiles on Sunday...
Liverpool fell to yet another defeat in the league on Sunday as Roy Hodgson's side got the better of the Reds. Liverpool had chances aplenty and maintained pressure throughout the 90 minutes but they just couldn't find the back of the net.

Liverpool started without captain Steven Gerrard who was left out as a precaution according to manager Kenny Dalglish. Suarez and Carroll were opted up front with Kuyt and Maxi on the wings. Pepe Reina was also back between the sticks.

The first real chance for Liverpool fell to Dirk Kuyt who found himself in the area, his shot flew wide past the post and really he should have done better, but as always, it was too early to panic, or at least it would be for most teams because there was still plenty of time to grab a goal...

Later in the first half West Brom had a couple of great chances in the midst of a Liverpool attacking fest. The Baggies were denied though by two brilliant saves from Pepe Reina. Other than these two moments, West Brom had hardly anything of note to shout about and so it seemed as though Liverpool would eventually take the lead.

Liverpool were literally throwing everything at West Brom but the combination of their defence and Ben Foster meant Liverpool would need to work harder in order to break through. The Reds haven't been the most accurate of shooters in the Premier League and this game was no different considering the lads go on to hit the woodwork twice.

The second half started with no changes from either side. Andy Carroll was one of many players finding himself without any luck but the big man played an integral role on Sunday. He gave his all and didn't give up any chances, whenever he was unable to take a shot he made sure he set up play for somebody else, a great effort from the Geordie.

Just before the hour mark Dirk Kuyt was terribly unlucky when he found himself with another chance to put Liverpool ahead. His effort took a deflection but was still heading towards goal when it bounced back into play off the post. Quite clearly it wasn't going to be Liverpool's day.

Jordan Henderson was also unlucky too when his pure strike smashed off the crossbar, everyone at Anfield including himself was sure it was going in but once again Liverpool were denied by the woodwork.

West Brom found their goal with 15 minutes left on the clock. A poor pass from Glen Johnson was intercepted after he'd done so well to gain back possession. Mulumbu made sure he took full advantage of the situation and set up Odemwingie who was confident in putting the ball past Pepe Reina.

West Brom hadn't won at Anfield in 45 years and it just goes to show how Liverpool have fallen in the league of late. Anfield is no longer the fortress it once was and whilst Liverpool are a real presence in the Cups we're barely feared in the league at the moment.

Liverpool continued to throw everything at the Baggies including an onslaught late on with three or four players in Red shirts attempting to beat the away sides defence.

Once again though the Reds were victims of their own lack of accuracy. The simple fact is we can't score goals and whilst I wouldn't get rid of Carroll or Suarez we still desperately need a player who can score 15+ goals a season. That would be a start anyway.

With Norwich up next who knows what will happen, I'm fully expecting to get beat but to be perfectly honest I'm past caring now, this league campaign has been a mess, I'm just trying to look forward to the FA Cup final where hopefully we can collect another piece of silverware.

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Can Carroll Score Again?

Carroll celebrates his FA Cup winning goal with Skrtel...
Liverpool will welcome West Brom to Anfield on Sunday after they've got rid of those giant puppets wondering around the Kop End! And West Brom coming to Anfield means nothing less than the return of the face rubber himself; Roy Hodgson.

The first piece of team news for Liverpool has been eagerly anticipated... That's right, Reina is back. Despite a great performance from Brad in the FA Cup I think everyone has missed the security of Pepe Reina and thank god he's returned. Other than the long term injuries within the squad, Dalglish doesn't really have anything to worry about and can select a side from a pretty in shape squad.

West Brom have doubts hanging over the fitness of Fortune because he's suffering from a hamstring problem but Olsson is expected to return for the Baggies.

The last time the two sides met was in October when Liverpool were victorious scoring two goals without a return from West Brom. Andy Carroll was on the scoresheet that day. Most fans will also remember though that in the game before this Liverpool fell to an embarrassing defeat at the hand of Hodgson's side.

Stat Sandwich

  • If Liverpool win it will be there first run of three wins in the league for 2012.
  • West Brom have only gained 1 point from their last 4 away games.
  • Liverpool haven't lost in their last 10 matches with Andy Carroll starting.

I can't be the only Liverpool fan who at the moment has all but given up with the league? With the only incentive left to finish above Everton it's hard to get into it really, especially when you think of the prospect of Everton fans boasting about "finishing above Liverpool in 2012", what a plaque for their wall that'll be!

Nevertheless, it's always nice to win. As the last piece of bread in the stat sandwich says, Carroll's last ten matches have seen Liverpool be more successful than they are without him. For me, he should start with Suarez, the more time these two get together the better they will be.

I'd like to see Bellamy and Maxi too because I just think they add interesting attacking options and Maxi always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

With Reina back and the lads hopefully in good spirits with Wembley awaiting around the corner I'd like to think Liverpool will win this one. My punt for Sunday is a 1-0 Liverpool win.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Update: Report On Liverpool Ticket Prices

Hi folks! For those of you that follow me on Twitter you've probably noticed that for a few weeks now I've been mentioning my Research Skills project for college and you probably also noticed when I was asking for people to complete a survey about ticket prices at Anfield... Basically I've been annoying the hell out of my followers.

Well today I handed in my completed report and I have put it online too (embedded below). I'd just like to say thank you to everyone that completed the questionnaire because without your answers I wouldn't have been able to complete the report.

I've tried to make it as professional as possible, it is quite in depth but for those who don't fancy the full read, the graphs and charts supply visual responses to the questions asked in the questionnaire.

I hope you find it useful/interesting and any comments, good or bad are appreciated!



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Sunday, 15 April 2012

Liverpool Through To FA Cup Final

The Don't Buy The Sun posters were out in full force as the team and fans paid their respects for the minutes silence...
After an afternoon at Wembley that began with both the Red and Blue sides observing a minutes silence for the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough it was the Reds who could boast about their ticket to the final. An 86th minute header from Andy Carroll grabbed Liverpool their win.

Dalglish has started quite a strange team in a sense, whilst it had both Suarez and Carroll up front which was expected it had Daniel Agger playing at left back. It wasn't a perfect idea but it doesn't really matter now because it all worked out in the end. Brad Jones as predicted started in goal for the Reds.

For those of you that enjoy the posts i do when i end up chatting to you about my day watching the match then you'll probably like this one, it's bound to contain anecdotes of me and my brother in the pub haha.

Liverpool started lively as they have done so often in many matches both in the league and the cup, fortunately for Liverpool though things tend to turn out better in their cup games after starting well. Jay Spearing i was particularly impressed with mainly because he always gets stuck in, you could tell he desired to rise to the occasion and he made some important tackles on Saturday.

At a point in the game where if i remember rightly Liverpool had 75% of possession you wouldn't then expect Everton to go and grab a goal, of course they managed this through Liverpool failing to keep possession in what should have been a simple clearance.

For me it wasn't Carragher's fault, I'm the first to admit even though I'm his biggest fan that he hasn't been up to scratch of late but that goal wasn't his fault. Carragher was simply trying to do what Agger should have done two bounces earlier, Carragher was just unlucky that his attempt deflected off Cahill. The fact is though, because it came off Cahill, Jelavic should have been offside but the blindsman linesman missed this.

Thankfully this didn't matter either but it could have been a very different and aggravating story!

By this stage me and my brother were just annoyed at the nature of the goal, we were right behind Brad and were just gutted that there was nothing he could do about it and his clean sheet had been ruined due to a defensive blunder.

Half time came and i think the Liverpool players were thankful. Things were starting to get a bit nervy and the lads just needed to calm down. We were well and truly still in this not forgetting too that just a goal would push the tie to extra time.

Liverpool began the second half in a similar fashion to the first, maintaining possession and creating trouble in the Everton box. There were a fair few balls whipped in from the likes of Stewart Downing but nobody could quite get any accuracy on the end of them.

The most prominent example of accuracy failing was the Andy Carroll missed header. When it came to him it looked so easy that he just couldn't miss and without knowing it had gone about 3 miles bloody wide me and my brother were already jumping around the pub going mental. It was hilarious!

For those that don't know, my brother is the reason i support Liverpool. When i was growing up he was mad on them, he watched every game, had videos (that's right folks, back when DVD's weren't around!) of old matches, shirts, posters, magazine subscriptions, the lot and that's what got me hooked, i just followed suit with what my brother was doing and learnt what Liverpool FC were about along the way. However, unlike my loyal and passionate self, my brother when he was about 19 started going to Wolves games and then gave in to the fact he could catch a bus to the match whenever he liked and started buying bloody Wolves shirts, so long story short he now supports Wolves, so he says...

But if you could have seen him, prancing around like a right idiot with me after that Carroll miss and for the eventual goals, I'm sure you'd believe me when i say he's still a Liverpool fan really, he tries to hide it but he's always loved um! And it was brilliant yesterday because that's the first time I've watched a full Liverpool match with my brother since i was little.

So back to the game and away from my life story! Haha

Liverpool got their equaliser just after the hour mark and this time it was Everton's turn to succumb to a mistake.

When Distin clumsily gave away possession whilst Suarez was on the prowl, everybody immediately saw the chance in front of the Uruguayan. The Blue side of Wembley prayed for a miss whilst the Red side was almost certain Suarez would put this away.

And with a lovely finish, that's just what he did! Wembley went mad and so did the pub, there was one sole Everton fan in the pub i went into and he looked absolutely gutted, brave bloke though tbf! Haha.

With an equaliser my brother was convinced we'd go on to win it now, I on the other hand still had bad feelings that my prediction of it going to penalties was beginning to come to fruition. I knew however that one thing we required was substitutions.

At 75 minutes Maxi came on which i thought was a brilliant choice. His two goals against Blackburn only backed up the praise i always give this man and despite his age i still think he deserves more starts. Maxi was followed shortly after by the introduction of Craig Bellamy, "the trick up Dalglish's sleeve" as my brother correctly described him.

Just 4 minutes after Bellamy was introduced he had chance to take a free kick to the left of the box gained by Steven Gerrard after he was fouled. It was a silly challenge from Coleman because Gerrard was relatively non-threatening at this stage and I'm sure the Everton player was turning in his sleep last night.

Craig Bellamy delivered a great ball into the box and up rose the ever trying Andy Carroll with his face away from goal to flick the ball into the back of the net and secure Liverpool's place in the final!

Carroll worked hard throughout the 90 minutes and it was nothing less than what he deserved to get the winner, especially considering Fellani was ragging on his shirt at the time!

I said to my brother after we celebrated the none existent Carroll goal that he missed the easy header against Blackburn but scored the hard one and i was saying how he'd probably go on to do it again and he soddin well did!

Once again me and me brother were dancing around and he even starting signing there's only one Andy Carroll! Haha. Bearing in mind we're in the middle of Wolverhampton sitting in a pub that actually has Wolves flags up, i thought it was quality.

The final whistle blew and as Brad Jones dropped to the floor pointing to the sky whilst Gerrard pounced on Andy Carroll's back, Liverpool fans could once again boast about a Wembley final!

We never seem to make it easy but that just doesn't matter, we're there. Kenny's face was a picture at full time and i truly hope he leads the Reds to another cup victory in May!

I'd just like to end on saying what a wonderful Hillsborough Memorial Service once again at Anfield to mark the 23rd anniversary of the disaster. And full credit to Dirk Kuyt for doing a reading during the service. *#JFT96*

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Today we remember the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough on the 15th April 1989.

No football fan should attend a football match and not return home to their loved ones.

As the independent Hillsborough panel continue to sift through the thousands of documents, here's hoping we are edging closer to justice.

~96 Angels Who Will Never Walk Alone~

H.I.L.L.S.B.O.R.O.U.G.H - N.E.V.E.R. F.O.R.G.E.T

Article with @Ian_LFC apologies for images not showing up - HERE
Last years post to mark Hillsborough on the blog, contains several very good links to posts about Hillsborough - HERE
Don't Buy The Sun - HERE
The Hillsborough Football Disaster - Context And Consequences - HERE

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Friday, 13 April 2012

Put The Champagne On Ice

They even have a blue gas canister... #Loyalty
We're going to Wembley thrice?

Well, that's certainly Liverpool's aim as they travel down to Wembley with the blue half of the city on Saturday. A win here for the Reds could send them to their second Wembley final of the season and as many Liverpool fans will admit another trophy in the cabinet would just about balance out the poor league campaign this season.

Injuries for Liverpool mean that Lucas, Adam, Kelly and Robinson are all unavailable but luckily for the Reds Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson have now got some game time under their belts after coming back from injury. Suspensions also mean that goalkeepers Pepe Reina and Alexander Doni will miss out.

For Everton their only real missing puzzle piece is Rodwell who has a hamstring injury. Pienaar is also cup tied but other than that the manager should have a free choice from his squad.

The last time the two sides met in the FA Cup was as recently as 2009. In a season where the Reds finished second in the league Everton actually got the better of them in the FA Cup, victorious in a second leg at Goodison Park.

Everton's route to the semi final saw them beat Tamworth, Fulham, Blackpool and Sunderland whilst Liverpool knocked out Oldham, Manchester United, Brighton and Stoke.

Everton have got the better of Liverpool the last two times in the Cup but Liverpool have recorded wins in the finals of 89 and 86 against the Toffees.

Steven Gerrard has been talking in the run up to the semi final and believes Liverpool have what it takes despite their poor league form "There's still one massive hurdle to get over before we can get to the final. We still believe we can beat anyone, Everton included."

Of course, when it comes to the Cup, form goes out the window, the phrase is coined so often but it's quite simply true and even more so when the stage is neutral.

With Liverpool finally recording a win in the league and players showing reason to be selected with the likes of Maxi and Carroll scoring it will be interesting to see who manager Kenny Dalglish selects to start on Saturday.

With Gulasci being recalled from loan at Hull he will provide cover for Brad Jones who will surely start after replacing Doni against Blackburn. The Australian has a massive task ahead of him but with Liverpool fans already feeling a connection towards the goalkeeper, the Anfield faithful are 100% behind him.

I personally think this one is going to go right to the wire and i expect it to be a fantastic game. I don't want it to go to penalties, who the hell does?! But I'm afraid that is my prediction for this one. Everton have looked very good of late and are more than capable of scoring goals, hopefully Agger and Skrel start together to prevent this but i still think they'll break through.

I fancy Suarez to get himself on the score sheet but as i say i think we'll be relying on our forwards to step up to the spot late on. Here's hoping I'm wrong, which to be honest, wouldn't be a first! Haha.

Enjoy the match folks!!!

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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Carroll's Bonce Gives Liverpool Late Win

Carroll heads home...
Liverpool grabbed themselves a win in dramatic style at Ewood Park on Tuesday night in a 3-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers. Two early goals from Maxi Rodriguez gave the Reds a cushion in just 16 minutes but after goalkeeper Doni was sent off for Dalglish's side, Blackburn managed to get two goals in to bring things level. Andy Carroll was there when Liverpool needed him most though and sealed three points with his head.

The Liverpool side had several new faces within it as Dalglish kept an eye on Saturday's clash with Everton in the FA Cup semi final. Maxi Rodriguez was one face we haven't seen in a while and the likes of Glen Johnson and Sebastian Coates were opted in defence.

Liverpool for the first time in weeks actually capitalised on their lively early start against Blackburn with a goal just after 12 minutes. Maxi Rodriguez is a clever little fella and always seems to get himself in the right place at the right time, something that appears to have been difficult for a lot of the Liverpool players in recent matches...

A superb 80 yard pass from captain Martin Skrtel met Craig Bellamy on the wing. The Welshman continued his run and with a simple cross into the box set up Maxi Rodriguez who slipped home Liverpool's first with ease.

For once, Liverpool had managed to create a goal from their promising start to a game, too often have we failed to score when chances were being created and it was refreshing to see Maxi show the lads how it's done. Something as simple as being in the right place at the right time can often change games.

Minutes later and Maxi was at it again. A shot from Shelvey was saved by Robinson and Andy Carroll couldn't get an effective shot on the rebound however, Maxi was loitering again. The Argentinian collected the ball after a Scott Dann block and put home Liverpool's second.

What followed for Liverpool was totally unexpected. A poor pass from Flanagan back to goal meant Doni was left in a tough situation. With Hoilett one on one with Doni is was perhaps unwise to lead a challenge with his feet, followed by his hands, missing the ball and taking Hoilett out. You just couldn't make this stuff up! Two games after Reina had been red carded, here was our second keeper getting sent off too. It's frustrating because that would have been a difficult situation for any keeper but perhaps he should have made a different decision.

With Doni off, Flanagan was substituted to allow Brad Jones to take his place between the sticks. A massive chance for Brad who lost his son last year to leukaemia, his girlfriend though recently gave birth to their son Nico, congratulations to them both!

The resulting penalty for the sending off of Doni was then saved by Brad Jones. Yakubu's effort was pretty feeble but the save gave Brad immediate confidence, the Liverpool fans behind him roared as he pointed to the sky to remember his son Luca.

Thankfully for Liverpool, the two goal cushion was still present because with the Reds now down to ten men, an onslaught from Steve Kean's side was expected.

Yakubu may have failed to convert his penalty but he took his chance at 35 minutes. A free kick from David Dunn left Liverpool all over the shop, some poor defending from the Reds allowed Yakubu to get his head on the ball and left Brad Jones with no chance.

The score remained the same at half time and five minutes in to the second half Daniel Agger was brought on to the field replacing Glen Johnson.

By the hour mark, Blackburn's efforts were rewarded with an equaliser. Yakubu was pressurising the goalkeeper when Brad's goal kick deflected off his back. Brad tried to collect the ball but parried it into the path of Yakubu, Brad placed his hands out, probably naturally to try and get Yakubu out the way and of course this isn't allowed but Yakubu didn't half make the most of it! He went down like a sack of spuds!

Jones was booked and up stepped Yakubu to try and beat him again. Yakubu beat Jones this time with a penalty in the centre of goal as Jones went the wrong way. Blackburn were now level with half an hour left to go.

I feel it needs to be noted that whilst Blackburn did get themselves back in the game, Liverpool didn't give up. For a side with 10 men and two goals up they were still going for it and even more so when Blackburn scored their first. Once they equalised of course this was going to continue but where was that winning goal going to come from?

Andy Carroll of course.

Daniel Agger was first to get his head to the incoming ball and he did brilliantly placing it across goal for Carroll. Carroll seems to prefer scoring the harder goals and with a fantastic header he put the ball past Robinson and sealed Liverpool all three points!

It was fantastic to see because we've all been wanting him to score and his attitude recently has been letting him down. It's no secret that i got extremely annoyed at Carroll after the Newcastle game and said i was sick of sticking up for him but despite this I've always known he's worth trusting. I personally think the kick up the arse from Dalglish he no doubt had and him missing the start for Villa did him good and I'm so glad that it was him who scored the winner! I just hope he can keep scoring now!

With our league campaign in a mess anyway the three points aid our chase after Everton but the game on most people's minds now concerns the FA Cup, here's hoping that Liverpool can pull it off and Brad Jones, we're all behind you mate!!!

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Monday, 9 April 2012

Reds Midweek Match At Ewood Park

I'd start these pair again...
Liverpool have a midweek trip to Blackburn on Tuesday as they aim to improve on their draw in the league with Aston Villa. It's no secret that goals and wins have been evading the Reds lately and with an important FA Cup Semi Final against Everton at the weekend, they need to find form, fast.

Injuries for Blackburn mean Steve Kean could have to readdress his starting line up, Olsson gained a knock in Blackburn's last match and so is a doubt and Kean is also without Modeste who is suspended.

Liverpool still have long standing injuries within the squad but thankfully after Agger made an appearance against Aston Villa it is expected he will feature once again. Doni is also sure to start in goal as Reina serves his second match ban.

Blackburn have lost their last three in the league but have still produced some decent and sometimes threatening performances. At times during their game against Manchester United it looked like they may keep them out but they went on to lose 2-0.

Blackburn are one of several clubs in a relegation fight and after watching Liverpool's recent performances they will surely fancy their chances. Liverpool need to take the positives from the Villa performance and capitalise on them.

The last time the two sides met in December at Anfield, both teams had to settle with a point. The 1-1 draw back then was considered a poor result but as we've seen, things have become a lot worse in the league since then for Liverpool.

Even more of a concern for Liverpool is the fact that the last time they visited Ewood Park they lost 3-1. Blackburn actually have a decent record at home to Liverpool and they will surely take heart from this.

Usually here I'd give you a stat sandwich but once again, the beeb and other previews where i get the stats from are being stupidly slow and so you'll have to go hungry this week! I do apologise! Haha.

Here's hoping that Liverpool win on Tuesday night, not only to restore a small glimmer of pride to our league campaign (or what's left of it... catching Everton) but also to boost our confidence ready for Wembley.

I still am in the mindset that Liverpool will play well against Everton because we've played well against bigger opposition this season and we've been great in the cups. Plus, it's at Wembley so there's no home advantage.

Enjoy the match anyways folks!

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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Draw With Villa For Reds

Gerrard, Suarez and Shelvey get ready...
Liverpool managed to make a slight improvement on recent form as they held Aston Villa to a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Saturday. Aston Villa took the lead with a goal from Chris Herd but Luis Suarez equalised late on for the Reds.

Dalglish appeared to give Andy Carroll a reality check as he was allowed only to start from the bench. That man Kuyt who never gives up was opted to start and aided Suarez up front. With Reina beginning his suspension, Doni was chosen to play between the sticks.

Villa got their goal very early on and almost sadly, it wasn't even a surprise. This sort of thing was expected because Liverpool of late have just been terrible. The good thing was that with 80 minutes left, just maybe we could do something about it.

A ball was whipped in by Warnock and whilst Doni's punch wasn't confident it was enough to put the ball out of danger and get himself back into position. Unfortunately for Liverpool though the ball fell to Chris Herd who with a lovely strike beat Doni and put Aston Villa 1-0 up.

For Liverpool the time in between Villa's goal and their equaliser was a frustrating one. It was clear within the first and second halves that there was a renewed sense of effort. The Reds were almost bombarding the Villa goal at stages but as always the goals weren't coming and luck wasn't going our way.

Dirk Kuyt of all people missed a sitter when he smashed the ball over from 2 yards out. Add to this the fact that there were two calls for hand ball that was brushed over despite them being clear cut cases and also that Luis Suarez was fouled in the box but no penalty was given supposedly due to his "reputation" well that you have a recipe for things not going Liverpool's way.

Suarez was also booked for simulation when he was fouled again. It's getting to a ridiculous stage now because we all know Suarez sometimes doesn't help himself but it's a referee's job to treat every game and every player equally at the start of each game, it shouldn't matter what they did in a world cup or last week.

The thing is though, (Ooo i missed the fact we hit the bloody woodwork too!) all of this lot is meaningless, they're excuses and whilst of course better decisions would have helped our plight in a game where we actually played quite well, we need to realise that you can't always win games by relying on decisions.

Liverpool managed to find an equaliser just after the 80 minute mark. A Daniel Agger header came off the bar and left Suarez with an easy second header to put past Given.

A stinging shot into extra time from Steven Gerrard nearly found Liverpool a winner but Shay Given with a strong pair of hands denied the Reds.

Whilst Liverpool certainly deserved more from the game and it didn't appear as though Villa really deserved anything i think it's another important lesson for the Reds especially going in to the Blackburn game and then FA Cup Semi Final next week. Results aren't handed to you just because you're the better team, sometimes you just need a bit more of that cutting edge and you always need triers and to be fair to Liverpool, on Saturday they finally seemed like they were bothered.

It's still not good enough but in all honesty, the league campaign has already gone tits up, let's just hope we can get a few more results to finish above Everton!

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Friday, 6 April 2012

Liverpool Look To Escape The Rut

McLeish's needs a win as much as Dalglish...
Aston Villa are the visitors to Anfield on Saturday as the Reds look to readdress their form in the league. Dalglish's side have only had some joy of late when they beat Everton but results against the likes of Newcastle, QPR and Wigan have brought Liverpool back to a cruel reality. Aston Villa also find themselves in a bit of trouble as they risk being dragged into a relegation dog fight.

Liverpool are still without Charlie Adam but Daniel Agger could be a possible choice for manager Kenny Dalglish. The real problem of course for the boss though isn't with injuries it's concerning the fact that Pepe Reina is suspended for 3 matches. Doni or Jones will make a start on Saturday and it will be interesting to see who is chosen.

For Villa they are without Weimann who has an ankle injury and Cuellar is considered to be a doubt for Saturday's fixture.

The last time the two sides met was in December when Liverpool put 2 past the Villa side. The previous May though Villa got the better of the Reds in a 1-0 win.

Liverpool have an inconsistent record against Aston Villa to say the least and we only have to go back to 2009 for a Villa win at Anfield. Bearing this in mind and considering Liverpool's current form, Saturday's match should be an interesting one.

Stat Sandwich

  • The last time Liverpool lost 4 league games in a row was in 2002.
  • Villa haven't won in their last 4 away league games.
  • If Jose Enrique starts it'll be his 150th appearance in the English league.

After the embarrassment of Newcastle for me i think it's time that certain players were given a kick up the arse. I personally would love to see Kuyt start on Saturday because as i mentioned previously, he's one of very few with the will to fight when things aren't going Liverpool's way.

I'd start Bellamy again because even though he wasn't fantastic last match he still offers that extra bit of ingenuity which can sometimes win you games.

Villa aren't fantastic, we know this but they certainly have the ability to get a result and as they look to get themselves out of that relegation battle they'll have more incentive than ever.

Reluctantly I'll have to punt for a 1-1 for Liverpool on Saturday. I hope it's more but whilst i feel we have the ability to beat Villa and i feel there may be a slight improvement, i still don't think it will be enough.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Monday, 2 April 2012

No Laughing Matter

Reina let's the occasion get the better of him...
Liverpool fell to a 6th defeat out of 7 league games on April Fool's day as Papiss Cisse confidently put two past the later dismissed Pepe Reina. In an embarrassing display which actually began with a lively start from Liverpool, fans were left completely deflated as they made their way back from St James' Park.

Dalglish appeared to have listened to the calls from fans for the likes of Shelvey to start and he also played both Carroll and Suarez. He also opted for a more positive line up adding Bellamy to the two up front, on paper and before kick off that team looked good, it was a total change and to me after recent results it was exactly what was required.

Just 9 minutes in Andy Carroll found himself with a chance to hush the boos from the Newcastle fans. The big man was hoping for a slightly better reception but if he wanted some respect from his ex employers he passed up the chance immediately. After some brilliance sweeping the ball into space past the Newcastle defenders Carroll found himself one on one with the keeper, after taking Krul on, Carroll unfortunately decided to go down as opposed to staying on his feet and getting a shot on an empty goal.

Some people, including Dalglish are saying Carroll was on his way down anyway but to me he had the choice to keep his landing foot strong, i agree he may not have managed to steady himself and get a successful shot on goal, but he should have tried anyway. The dive was a ridiculous decision from Carroll.

Andy Carroll's chance aside, Liverpool still had some opportunities to get themselves on the score sheet. Namely when a cross was whipped in by Steven Gerrard, after hitting the face of a Newcastle defender and heading goalwards Danny Simpson who was holding the post pushed his arm forward to prevent the ball from going into the back of the net.

This was hand ball, no question about it but did the referee or the linesman see it? No. You could argue in a game currently at 0-0, a penalty for Liverpool would have been invaluable and yes you could probably assume that given the chance, Gerrard would have converted but after the following performance does anyone seriously think we'd have won the game anyway? Because i don't. We didn't deserve anything from that game and sometimes that's just the way luck goes.

Shortly after the penalty decision Newcastle found their first goal. A cross from Ben Arfa was sent into the box and after Martin Skrtel misjudged a defensive header and perhaps his positioning, Papiss Cisse was able to get in a header and left Reina with no chance.

It was that typical story again for the Reds, a lively start complete with some chances missed and before you know it we're on the back foot. There wasn't much confidence going in to this game and once Newcastle had scored despite the hope, the game already felt like it was lost.

In terms of shots on target, by the end of the 90 minutes there was only a goals difference in it with Liverpool's 6 to Newcastle's 7 but vitally, Newcastle took their chances when they arose.

Just under the hour mark and Newcastle converted their second. Once again Papiss Cisse with some wonderful skill weaved the ball into a position where he could slide it into the back of the net. There is no doubt in the ability of this star buy and Alan Pardew must be over the moon with his forward's performances but in all honesty, he was offside. Miles offside.

Once again though, luck isn't Liverpool's lady at the moment and i still get the feeling that even with some magic dust, Cisse would have probably found himself another goal anyway with they way he was playing.

Shortly after Newcastle's second Liverpool attempted to quickly respond. A Luis Suarez shot that looked like it was about to go in was blocked by James Perch. The resulting corner gave Skrtel a chance at goal but he couldn't convert either.

Things began to get frustrating for Liverpool and the temperature certainly began to rise. The performances from the majority of the lads just weren't up to scratch, in fact i only really appreciated the efforts of Suarez, Flanagan and probably Spearing in that game because to me the other lads didn't really look arsed, even Bellamy had an off game which is very unlike him.

The difference for me with Suarez and Carroll (and Carroll didn't actually have that bad a game, just a shame he dived) is that Suarez always tries, he'll chase down balls that are lost and constantly put pressure on a goalkeeper or defender attempting to distribute. With Carroll it's like he expects everything to fall to him, if a cross isn't perfectly to his feet or head he instantly moans, if he'd just shut his trap and go after the ball he might find himself less frustrated.

At 80 minutes Carroll was replaced with Dirk Kuyt. Unsurprisingly he wasn't happy about this but by this stage i was still sticking up for the lad who was in a hostile environment from the first whistle however, my sympathy quickly disintegrated.

Andy Carroll would have done better by having a hissy fit and kicking a Lucozade bottle at the fourth official but instead he completely ignored Dalglish and went off sulking down the tunnel. When your side is 2-0 down in such a bad run of form, how on earth does that help anyone? I understand he was frustrated but so was the whole side, what the lads needed was his support and Dalglish would have appreciated a hand shake for his constant faith in the number 9 too. I seriously hope Carroll has had a long hard think about Sunday because I'm fed up of sticking up for a man who clearly has bags of potential but is turning in to an absolute arse.

Carroll's replacement Kuyt is certainly somebody i would look at starting in the next few games. Currently there is no motivation from the lads and no fight but Dirk Kuyt is the type of man that is instantly motivated, he always gives his all and he's a brilliant example for the other lads to follow.

As if things weren't bad enough for Liverpool who by now were almost praying for the full time whistle, things were set to get worse. As mentioned before, frustrations were high and Pepe Reina let the red mist descend.

Upon trying to quickly distribute James Perch clipped Pepe Reina and put him off balance. Understandably, Reina was angry and even when he began to walk towards Perch i still expected just a barge or a shout to show the lad who's boss but what followed was a silly decision from the Spaniard.

James Perch made sure he made the most of it, holding his face when it wasn't even touched and falling to the floor but Pepe Reina cannot act in such a way. You can't push your head forward or show intent, you just can't. Some people reckon Reina shouldn't have been sent walking but you only have to look at the Fulham game when Dempsey put his head to Bellamy and we were all calling for him to be sent off to see the comparison. Of course, if Bellamy had gone down like a pansy I'm sure Dempsey would have been sent off too.

I still can't believe Reina did it, it's so unlike him and the only positive is that a man like Reina will make sure he learns from this. Unfortunately for Liverpool though an apology and a lesson learnt won't quite cut it as we're now left without our world class goal keeper for one of the most important games of our season; the FA Cup semi final.

What made things worse at this stage was that Dalglish had entered the field of play. I'm not quite sure why he did that but i think Gerrard was right to instill some sort of command and reality to the situation by asking Dalglish to return to the sidelines. Dalglish i feel must have just been trying to help but he doesn't help himself in doing this, to opposition fans this must have been hilarious and i just wish he'd have stayed put.

After a couple of goal kicks from Jose Enrique and a decent save too Liverpool had to settle for nothing once again as the final whistle was blown.

I know, you know and the whole footballing world knows that for a Liverpool side with the names that are in it, this isn't good enough. Of course the Carling Cup win and the FA Cup semi final are fantastic but his cannot take the shine off the persistently poor performances in the league.

Dalglish is a true legend, and nothing will ever take this away, he knows how to play football and I'm still convinced he knows how to manage but importantly at this moment in time he just can't seem to get the lads motivated. Why this is I'm not sure and i truly wish that the story was a different one but Dalglish would admit himself that he should be criticised as any manager should and that he's no different.

The players must take half the blame too and whilst i agree the situation needs to be looked at in the summer i still see no benefit in sacking him now. As I've mentioned before, what's the point? The league is messed up anyway and there's no time in my opinion to change our position substantially. Dalglish got us to the semi final and he's at least earned the right to attempt to get us to another cup final.

In a perfect world there would be a sudden rise in form, superb signings would be made in the summer and Dalglish would have unlocked the secret but i personally cannot see this.

Until then all we can do is get behind the man we love so much and get behind the players because as disappointing as it is to see Liverpool like this, throwing our toys out the pram and failing to get behind them isn't going to help anybody.

Here's hoping Doni can pull off a miracle!

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