The Liver Bird  

Friday, 31 August 2012

Suarez Goal Secures Liverpool Progress

Suarez pays tribute to an injured Lucas after scoring...
Liverpool secured their progress to the group stages of the Europa League last night after a 1-1 draw with Hearts. The Reds were supposed to go through with ease but a rather dire majority of the game was only livened up when Hearts found a goal late on, luckily for Liverpool Luis Suarez managed to find a return.

Rodgers made quite a few changes to his side and true to his word he played Stewart Downing in a left back role, explaining to the player and the press recently that if he wanted to stay here he would need to fight for his place and think about trying out that position. Adam Morgan also started for the Reds to the excitement of many fans.

The first half for Liverpool despite being in the lively Anfield was very similar to the one at Tynecastle. Hearts this time though were less effective themselves but were dealing pretty well with the Liverpool attacks.

Luis Suarez for had a few chances to nick the lead in the first half but he was taking a few too many touches for me, sometimes and it's clear he doesn't mean it, he'll try to be too clever and against a side like Hearts why not I suppose but it bloody frustrates me sometimes. He was constantly creating problems for the Hearts back four though.

Adam Morgan was very unlucky in the first half after he put the ball in the back of the net, unfortunately the ball had gone out of play before it was crossed in to him. There were some promising signs from the youngster last night though.

Another Liverpool player having a good game was Jonjo Shelvey. He was superbly calm and played some brilliant balls throughout the game, he really began to come into his own in the second half though.

Raheem Sterling entered the fray on the hour mark replacing Adam Morgan. The Anfield faithful applauded both as the change was made.

Hearts found their goal very late on and it wasn't a pretty sight for Reds fans. A fumble from Pepe Reina after what should have been an easy save for a man as experienced as himself allowed Templeton to score for the away side. To be fair to Templeton, he was one of the more impressive players in both legs and perhaps deserved a goal but not like that. Reina was visibly gutted and I just have no idea how he managed that. Thankfully though Suarez made sure we wouldn't have to dwell on it.

Luis Suarez 3 minutes later found himself applying the pressure once again in the box and in what seems to be his favourite challenge he scored from another tight angle to secure Liverpool's progression. The keeper perhaps should have done better at his near post but there we go.

A boring performance but aren't they always in the early stages of the Europa League? The main thing is Liverpool are through. I'd like to say thank you to the Hearts fans after hearing on Twitter that several of them placed scarves and flowers at the Hillsborough memorial on their visit, pure class.

Liverpool will now have to face Udinese, Young Boys and Anzhi after the draw was made in Monaco this afternoon. I personally think that's a pretty good group, the only thing that concerns me really is the travelling to Russia and from what I know about Anzhi the area isn't the most pleasant but hey ho.

Next up for Liverpool is Arsenal at the weekend but will we have any new faces signed by then? I hope you're all enjoying deadline day!

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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Liverpool Look To Book Place In Group Stages

Here's hoping his passing is as slick as his hair...
Liverpool welcome Hearts to Anfield on Thursday evening as they aim to book their place in the Europa League group stages. With a 1-0 win at Tynecastle it's the Reds who hold the advantage but the tie is far from over.

After a strong performance against Manchester City (minus those silly mistakes) Liverpool are in a more comfortable position going into this fixture compared to the match at Hearts which was played after Liverpool had fell to a 3-0 defeat.

Brendan Rodgers will surely look to make some changes to the side that lined up against Manchester City. Daniel Agger may feature after serving his ban and also new signing Nuri Sahin may get his first chance to impress the Anfield faithful.

Raheem Sterling is the starlet on everyone's lips at the moment and although some people feel he may not start due to playing the whole 90 minutes at the weekend I think there's a very big chance we'll be seeing him Thursday night.

Hearts on the other hand I would assume will not be making many changes. Their strongest possible side troubled Liverpool at times on their home turf and so to have any chance of going through they need to replicate this.

I think Liverpool will have got their act together since the last fixture and even when performing pretty badly we still picked up a result and so I'll go for a 2-0 win at Anfield for the Reds.

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Monday, 27 August 2012

Skrtel Slip Up Lets City Steal Draw

Skrtel celebrates...
Image: Link
Liverpool put in a fantastic performance on Sunday at Anfield and should have collected all three points, unfortunately for the Reds a Skrtel mistake late on allowed Man City to find an equaliser.

Brendan Rodgers proved that he had faith in his youngsters as he started Martin Kelly and Raheem Sterling. Sterling at 17 had massive pressure on his shoulders but most Liverpool fans like myself knew he would rise to the occasion.

Liverpool's start to the game wasn't an ideal one after Lucas Leiva pulled up just 4 minutes in. Apparently he picked up the problem in the warm up but they thought he may be ok to play. I think it was definitely best to take him off though, there's no point risking a bad injury after the amount of time he's been out. Jonjo Shelvey took his place.

Liverpool quickly adapted to the change in their line up and Shelvey was impressive replacing the big boots of Lucas. Alongside him in midfield was Joe Allen who was easily controlling possession for the Reds.

Liverpool's first real chance saw Raheem Sterling fully involved after a lovely ball through to Fabio Borini nearly saw the Italian turn the ball past Joe Hart but his effort went wide.

The Reds were bossing this first half and City's attack barely got chance to bother Pepe Reina. From the two up front though it was certainly Mario Balotelli putting in the most effort, Carlos Tevez was very quiet for the first 45 minutes.

Just after the half hour mark Liverpool got themselves on the score sheet. A lovely corner from Steven Gerrard allowed Martin Skrtel to encroach and with a bullet header he smashed Liverpool 1-0 up. Skrtel shouldn't have been allowed to get into the position he did but it was still a superb header.

With our efforts from the first half rewarded things were looking good, this performance was ten times better than the one against West Brom and the risk of starting Sterling instead of Downing I think fully paid off.

Sterling was an absolute star, to play like that against the champions at such a young age is just brilliant. Nothing phased him, most youngsters would at least feel a bit nervous taking on the big frame of Kolo Toure but not Raheem.

Just before the hour mark City brought on ex Evertonian Jack Rodwell, you can imagine the reception he got from the Anfield crowd. He replaced Nasri and was a talking point for all the wrong reasons very quickly. Dzeko also entered the fray replacing Balotelli.

Before Rodwell got his chance to help out Liverpool, Liverpool were doing some favours for City. A Tevez cross was dealt with poorly by Martin Kelly who attempted to control the ball but unfortunately played it straight into the path of Yaya Toure who made sure his strike put City level.

It was a silly mistake but there was still worse to come for Liverpool. The plus side at this point though was that the Reds had never given up on finding another goal so the task remained the same and the pace was still very high.

Less than 5 minutes after City equalised, Luis Suarez found himself with a wonderful chance to put Liverpool back in front. A handball for Jack Rodwell left Liverpool with a decent free kick. Suarez and Gerrard were over the ball but it was the Uruguayan who was taking this one. His shot swept round the wall and tucked inside the post, it was a class goal! Hart tried his best to reach it but couldn't quite get there and some were saying his wall wasn't set up as good as it could have been, I think we have to agree though that in the end it was just the skillful foot of Suarez that bagged Liverpool that one.

Back in front and still looking very solid, Liverpool were deservedly ahead. By now though, as a Liverpool fan you should know that luck doesn't seem to tumble our way very often and we're often partial to a lapse in concentration.

Just before 80 minutes Liverpool had possession in defence, Martin Skrtel was on the ball but bizarrely, when it appeared he didn't even need to, he went for a long pass back to Reina without as much as a glance to check if the coast was clear. As soon as the ball had left his feet he spotted Carlos Tevez. Reina tried his best and quickly came out of goal, Coates also tried to get back in time for a block but there was nothing we could do, the mistake had been made and Man City capitalised.

Andy Carroll entered play late on as Liverpool tried to find a winner but it wasn't to be. The Reds deserved a win but a silly mistake took that away from us. Before kick off though, most fans would have taken a result because really anything seemed like a bonus, there were plenty of positives from this game too and it sets us up nicely for the next match in the league against Arsenal.

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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Champions Come To Anfield

Sahin, welcome to Anfield...
Liverpool welcome Mancini's side to Anfield on Sunday as they look to improve on their performance against West Brom last weekend. Most fans looking at this fixture would agree that anything is a bonus and so the pressure is somewhat off, this is the kind of game last season that we'd come out in and we always seemed to fair better against bigger opposition, but will it be the same again for Brendan this year?

Liverpool are without Daniel Agger who is serving a ban for the red card he picked up last weekend and Joe Cole is still out injured. It is believed Jose Enrique is available for selection again. Manchester City suffered a big blow after Aguero was ruled out with a knee injury. Also unavailable for City are Richards and Barry.

The last time the two sides met was in January this year when Liverpool secured their progression to the Carling Cup final at Wembley. Craig Bellamy was on the score sheet in the 2-2 draw.

Liverpool today have agreed a loan deal to bring Nuri Sahin to Anfield but I'm not so sure we'll see him on Sunday. Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard will surely get starts though after they were left at home for the Hearts game on Thursday night.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have only won 1 out of their last 5 league games.
  • Man City only conceded 17 goals on their travels last season.
  • Liverpool have won 50% of the last 20 meetings in the league between the two sides.

City have lost their top goalscorer from last season but you have to feel that firepower will only be replaced and quickly. The likes of Balotelli are a nightmare to deal with but in fairness to this Liverpool side trying to learn a new trade, our back four have been pretty strong for a while, Skrtel will also be very fresh as another player that wasn't used against Hearts.

On the prediction league I've gone for a 1-1 draw, I think perhaps this is more out of optimism but I do feel that we will score against City, I still think that in big games and at Anfield we go for it and that usually leads to a more exciting and therefore productive performance.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Friday, 24 August 2012

Reds Win In Edinburgh

Raheem was the star last night...
Image: Here
It wasn't exactly a pretty performance nor was it very controlled but it was a win nonetheless and by the end of the 90 minutes Liverpool's experience had helped them to a 1-0 victory over a plucky Hearts side.

A mixed side from Brendan saw plenty of youth given the chance with the likes of Martin Kelly, Jack Robinson and starlet Raheem Sterling all starting. Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger added some experience in the back four though as they lined up against a strong Hearts.

Andy Carroll travelled with the squad but was unable to feature due to a knock previously mentioned by Rodgers, Fabio Borini instead played up front.

Hearts had a very good first half and forced Pepe Reina into a couple of saves. Players like Templeton were oozing with confidence and causing Liverpool plenty of problems. Liverpool on the other hand were sort of tootling along, nothing special and a few sloppy passes but it was a weakened side.

One person that did stand out though for Liverpool was Raheem Sterling. Reds fans had been excited to see him start for days and after last nights performance I think there are suddenly several neutrals hoping their club takes the midfielder on loan. He's skillful, pacey and doesn't seem phased by anything, whilst some 17 year olds would allow their adrenaline to create silly decisions, Raheem seems very controlled, he knows where to play his pass and where to be and can only go from strength to strength. A real talent.

Hearts were struggling to deal with the youngster who cut inside several times and got a shot on, the only thing missing for Raheem last night was that elusive goal but his time will come.

No changes for the second half but Liverpool began to look a bit more comfortable now. Hearts had come out all guns blazing but that kind of stamina was never going to last, despite this they still had a fair few chances to raise Liverpool's eyebrows.

Just after the hour mark Liverpool were forced into a substitution after Jack Robinson picked up an injury, he was replaced by Stewart Downing who ended up in an unfamiliar position. Shortly following this sub, Jay Spearing left the field and Joe Allen entered play.

It was immediately recognisable soon after Allen came on that more balls were coming out of midfield and the passing was a lot calmer. Allen has a very specific job and sometimes it will go unnoticed, like last night, he came on, did his job and his side scored whilst he was in the team, not a coincidence in my opinion.

Liverpool got their lucky goal just before 80 minutes but in fairness it was the pressure we created that forced the Hearts player into a mistake. An own goal was scored by Andy Webster after Martin Kelly's superb cross just went past an encroaching Fabio Borini.

Hearts played well enough to earn themselves a draw but sometimes that little bit of luck falls out of your favour and as mentioned before, Liverpool's experience seemed to carry them through as the Hearts boys tired.

Coming back to Anfield with a 1-0 lead and with the ability to field a stronger team is a real positive for Liverpool. Hearts aren't out of this tie by any means but it would be a tough ask now.

Next up for Liverpool are current champions - Manchester City, you will find a match preview for this game on the blog on Saturday afternoon.

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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Brendan's Boys In Bonnie Scotland

Could Carroll get a start?...
Hearts are the opposition for Liverpool on Thursday night as they continue their attempts to proceed through the Europa League rounds. The Reds will look for a result to take back to Anfield and with Manchester City looming at the weekend they will surely want to go about this in the easiest way possible.

Injury problems aren't major for both sides but Joe Cole pulled up in the West Brom game and there are also doubts over Jose Enrique for the Reds. For Hearts, striker Zaliukas is a doubt after suffering a knock on the weekend.

The sides haven't met since 1929 and with Liverpool rarely playing Scottish opposition competitively this game is sure to be an interesting one. The short away trip will also help provide an exciting atmosphere in Edinburgh.

Whilst Hearts will have the desire and the ability to field a full strength team, Liverpool will perhaps go into this one feeling a bit like it should be a done deal. The City game on Sunday may encourage Brendan to field players like Henderson and Shelvey who didn't get called up for the West Brom game.

Luckily for me the prediction league doesn't ask for predictions in this competition because I honestly don't have a clue, I reckon it could well be a score draw but by what amount I don't know.

Liverpool's performance against the Baggies was hardly an encouraging one but you have to feel lessons will be learnt from last weekend. Of course there is pressure to get a result in this fixture but you would hope the lads would feel more relaxed here and hopefully get the chance to regroup before the City game.

Here's hoping it's a good result for Liverpool, enjoy the match folks!

MGPHCWXJRYVG (Don't worry I haven't gone insane, that code is for Technorati to accept my blog claim.)

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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Ten Man Liverpool Fall To Day One Defeat

Gera tries to break through the Liverpool midfield...
It was a poor start for Brendan Rodgers on Saturday as his Liverpool side fell to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Steve Clarke's West Brom. A contrasting first half for the Reds made it look like a victory was possible even when Gera netted a peach but in the second half things went from bad to worse after Daniel Agger was given his marching orders.

Brendan started a very good side including both new signings; Borini and Allen. Gerrard was slotted in behind Suarez and Borini but this wasn't a set formation with Suarez and Borini often interchanging or dropping back on some occasions. Kelly was in for Enrique who apparently has a small injury.

It was a confident first half for Liverpool and although it was clear this was a side coming to terms with a completely new set up, it still looked promising. Joe Allen certainly did his job and more and he seemed to have no problem getting to work in the Liverpool midfield. Luis Suarez was easily the most lively though but unfortunately for the Reds he didn't really seem to be at the races. A shot sent wide and a missed header proved that this wasn't going to be the Uruguayan's day but as always he never gave up.

The Reds had the wind taken out of their sails a bit in the dying minutes of the first half after a fantastic goal by Zoltan Gera. The defence perhaps tried to late to close him down but there wasn't much you could have done with that strike, goal of the month contender for sure.

No changes were made from either side for the second half and understandably so, both sides were going pretty well really. Liverpool would soon be forced into a change though after Phil Dowd's decision to award a penalty.

For me, it was very harsh and so too was the second penalty. There was contact from Agger but Long made an absolute meal of it luckily his resulting penalty was a poor one and Reina confidently made the save.

The following penalty was also harsh in my opinion because Skrtel wasn't even aware of it as far as I could tell. Very unlucky to concede a second soft penalty so quickly too. This time Odemwingie stepped up and he made sure that he put his side 2-0 up.

Jamie Carragher was now brought on to fill the hole left by Daniel Agger and of course with the side now down to 10 men things became difficult. As mentioned, the side are already one in transition and learning the boss's new tactical set up so it's not really surprising that the sending off shook us more that it perhaps should of.

Joe Cole came on for the Reds just before the 70 minute mark replacing Lucas Leiva, he got a bit of stick yesterday but we must remember he's still gaining fitness. I personally am so glad to see him back.

Lukaku put the nail in the coffin for Liverpool with a headed goal soon after our substitution after he was given too much space.

Andy Carroll got his chance to come on and find Liverpool a goal late on in the game but only because Joe Cole had picked up an injury, subbing the sub, just brilliant. Joe Cole is made of glass, very expensive glass too.

For Liverpool this is certainly a match to completely write off and forget about and as I said on Twitter yesterday the result is not acceptable. I don't understand why people are trying to hide from that, this season or last, first game or in the middle of the season and new manager or not, that result was dreadful.

This doesn't mean that this is a sign of things to come though and as I also said, Brendan Rodgers' revamp of the side was never going to happen over night and so lets hope we can correct things before the City game because anything in that fixture is a bonus really.

All in all it was a terrible start for the Reds but I suppose it is best to get this sort of thing out of the way early on, I can't see this being a reoccurring incident but one thing I do know is that we need to find out how to find the back of the net and fast.

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Friday, 17 August 2012

Reds Kick Off League Campaign With Trip To Baggies

Steve looking chuffed with his new job...
Brendan Rodgers faces a relatively kind start to his Premier League season as Liverpool travel to the Midlands on Saturday to face West Bromwich Albion. The pre season friendlies and the start to the Europa League provided some relief to those football withdrawal symptoms but it's safe to say we're very close to being in full swing now.

Liverpool are in a good state concerning injuries with no real problems after Joe Cole made a quick recovery from a hamstring pull. For West Brom they will have to take a look at Morrison and Olsson who gained small injuries whilst on international duty. Also unavailable for the Baggies is the pretty influential Graham Dorrans.

The last time the two sides met was in April this year. Another rather embarrassing defeat for Liverpool saw Roy Hodgson's side collect all three points after an Odemwingie goal sealed the win. In general terms, Liverpool have a pretty good record against West Brom winning 46% of all 137 matches between the two sides. West Brom are always capable of causing an upset though.

How can we forget of course that not only are West Brom probably fancying their chances they also have new manager Steve Clarke at the helm. Familiar with Liverpool from working under Kenny Dalglish last season will this aid Clarke in Saturday's clash or will Brendan's new tactics completely fluster him?

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool haven't won their opening game in the last 3 seasons.
  • Only the relegated teams from last season clocked up more losses at home than West Brom.
  • Liverpool only won 14 matches in the league last season.

The excitement is definitely rising now that the start of the Premier League is around the corner and with Borini and Allen signed and also the airing yesterday of the signing of Assaidi (a mystery man to myself in all honesty) people are beginning to anticipate the set up that Rodgers will employ.

I've joined This Is Anfield's prediction league this year because I'm bored of doing fantasy teams and then not bothering with them about 3 months down the line. If you're a reader of the blog you'll know that predictions aren't exactly my strong point and this year I have a reason to attempt to make a prediction for every game so this should be fun.

This time I've gone for 2-1 to Liverpool. I was tempted with 2-0 but changed my mind at the last click haha. Whatever the scoreline it would be brilliant to get off to a winning start and I'd love to see Borini score his first Premier League goal.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Monday, 13 August 2012

Sami Returns To Anfield

In the last friendly of the season for Liverpool, Sami Hyypia brought his Bayer Leverkusen side to Anfield on Sunday. It was brilliant to see Sami back at the club he spent most of his career at, I must admit, I've missed that smile of his.

Liverpool scored 3 goals in the game whilst Leverkusen could only find one return. Raheem Sterling scored the first, this young man is just oozing confidence. Taking on two defenders he then curled his strike into the back of the net, it was a cracking goal.

Lucas scored Liverpool's second with an easy tap in after a terrible clearance from the Leverkusen defender.  It's nice to see Lucas back and even grabbing a goal! Haha. The last goal was scored by the big man Andy Carroll, at one stage it seemed like he may be off but here's hoping Brendan has had a change of heart because Carroll offers "the trick up the sleeve" he's a contrast to what is expected from a Rodgers side and that may well aid us in some stages throughout the season.

Carroll's strike was definitely helped in by the keeper's poor attempt at a save but nevertheless, a goal's a goal.

Sidney Sam scored for Leverkusen.

Here are some snaps from the match all collected from

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Friday, 10 August 2012

Joe Allen: Welcome To Anfield

He looks pretty chuffed...
Liverpool have completed the signing of Joe Allen making it the shock of the century after he was spotted watching the lads versus Gomel, I hope whoever planned that one doesn't have to organise a surprise birthday party...

But nevertheless he's here and we're happy. At 22 he's a youthful signing from Brendan and of course the manager knows him extremely well from his time spent working with him at Swansea. So much for not going after their players ay? I'm sure a Christmas card to the chairman will sort everything out if they don't feel it's in their best interest.

Allen was clearly keen to link back up with his former boss but there seemed to be a bit of a tussle over the price. In the end Liverpool are believed to have paid in the region of £15million. Slightly more than I would have liked us to have paid if I'm honest but definitely not extortionate.

The midfielder is renowned for being a great passer of the ball, in a side that Brendan wants to make sure retain possession he will be invaluable. After reading several blogs on the player too (I haven't seen as much of Joe up close as I would like) it appears he not only enjoys keeping possession but if it's lost, he's the first to try and regain it. I like somebody with tenacity.

Those who chat to me on Twitter will know that my only real question about Joe was where he would fit into our midfield but after watching the Gomel game last night and chatting to a few people online it's quite evident now that he and Lucas will sit in the centre allowing Gerrard to have a lot more freedom.

Looking at it that way it's quite an exciting prospect if Joe can replicate the form he had under Rodgers at Swansea, which I'm sure he will. I'll be the first to admit I have been a bit disappointed and not very excited this transfer window but slowly things seem to be clicking in to place and I'm never a person to dive on a manager or his signings before we have seen anything.

Here's hoping Brendan Rodgers' second signing will have a good first season with the Reds.

Joe Allen on joining Liverpool - "The passion that people here have for football is something I share and I want to be part of that."

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Borini Scores In Liverpool Win

I hope to see more of this celebration this season...
Image: Link
It was of complete contrast to the game out in Belarus as Liverpool easily put 3 goals past Gomel and sealed their place in a play off against Hearts. It's a nice draw for the Reds and will also provide a good atmosphere as fans make the short hop to Scotland. The second leg at Anfield is always a nice addition too.

Rodgers started a very strong side considering that he could have easily fielded a below par one. Pepe Reina was back in goal which was great to see and Lucas started in the centre. Borini and Suarez both started and Gerrard was freed up immensely due to Lucas and Shelvey in the middle of the park.

Liverpool got off to a very lively start as they looked to impress a near capacity Anfield crowd. Also in that crowd was Swansea's Joe Allen, it certainly looks like he'll be the next man revealed in a Liverpool shirt.

The first goal for the Reds came just after the 20 minute mark and who was the scorer? The man himself Fabio Borini. I know I wasn't the only one excited to see this chap at Anfield and hoping he could hit the groud running. Borini took the shot first time after some Suarez trickery caused the goalkeeper to make a save, the ball splayed out to the number 29 and it was a sweet strike to put Liverpool ahead.

Liverpool were off to a fabulous start. Suarez was here, there and everywhere, Gomel's defence were dumbstruck. Borini and Suarez appeared to be interchanging throughout the match and due to Gerrard being further forward it meant both players could take advantage of some fantastic link up play.

There are still some people that get on Gerrard's back but the 32 year old looked as fresh as anything last night. This was proved by a goal for the captain who was in the right place at the right time just before the half way mark.

Assisted by Suarez once again Steven Gerrard slipped the ball past the Gomel keeper with ease.

There were no changes from either side at half time which was quite surprising when looking at the Gomel side, they'd already ran out of ideas and I suspected maybe the manager would attempt to shake things up a bit but apparently not. Alumona who caused some problems in the first leg was perhaps the most lively again for Gomel.

The hour mark gave Suarez an opportunity to wow us with a free kick, he didn't score but he wasn't far off! Suarez had a brilliant game and although obviously we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves with this performance due to the calibre of the opposition there were some aspects that are major positives for any side to have in a player.

I spotted Suarez on several occasions get genuinely angry because somebody hadn't played the right ball or at the linesman for a decision and although some will look at that as a bad thing I personally think it's great, if he's THAT concerned in a Europa League qualifying match then you know for certain he will give his all in every game.

Liverpool's third goal completely put the game to bed and what a cracking shot it was. Glen Johnson who loves to cut inside when given the chance saw his opportunity and after controlling his effort his pure strike flew into the back of the net and sealed the Liverpool win.

Jamie Carragher, Charlie Adam and Jay Spearing all got some playing time and the final whistle meant Brendan Rodgers had bagged a convincing win in his first match as manager at Anfield.

Next up for Liverpool is a friendly against Sami Hyypia's Bayer Leverkusen, there won't be a match preview for this on the blog but there will be a mini report/round up!

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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Brendan's First In Front Of Kop

Carra played his 700th game in Belarus...
Gomel will be the opposition at Anfield on Thursday evening as Brendan Rodgers looks to send Liverpool through to the next round of the Europa League in his first match as manager in front of the Kop.

The first leg ended in a Liverpool win after Stewart Downing found the back of the net but it wasn't an easy victory for the Reds as Gomel provided the defence with several problems. Perhaps the unpredictability played into their hands but it is always dangerous to underestimate the opposition.

With the home crowd behind Liverpool though and the magic of Anfield you have to feel the home side will wrap this one up and in a more successful manner.

Last time out Brendan had Borini up front but with Suarez back from the Olympics after Uruguay were knocked out there is a possibility the number 7 may feature. It will also be interesting to see whether Daniel Agger features in this one too, last time he didn't travel supposedly because he had to work on his conditioning back at Melwood but with the rumours flying around that he could be off a missing Dane will not help things.

Craig Bellamy is also now back from his Olympic efforts but Brendan has admitted talks are open with Cardiff and so I doubt we'll see the Welshman. I'd like to see a full 90 minutes of Gerrard and Lucas personally to get them settled just before the new season, it's a good opportunity but I'm still struggling to suss out what exactly Brendan's plans are for the midfield.

My prediction for this one is 2-0, I think now both the lads and Brendan have seen Gomel in action they will be better prepared and the Anfield crowd will certainly spur them on to grab a couple of goals. Would be great to see Borini bag one.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Friday, 3 August 2012

Downing Strike Seals First Leg Win

Downing celebrates with Raheem...
Image: Link
Liverpool had a rather shaky start in Belarus but managed to find some composure as the game went on and Stewart Downing found a goal from nowhere with his 25 yard strike. Gomel did threaten the Reds goal though on several occasions namely a bout of shots late on in the first half that Brad Jones and the defence had to deal with.

Brendan Rodgers fielded a rather strong side in his first competitive match as manager and included in that line up was Jamie Carragher. A fan favourite and legend to many, he was making his 700th appearance for the club, an amazing feat for any footballer. Due to the special occasion captain Steven Gerrard gave up his armband for this one.

Also in the starting XI was new signing Fabio Borini and Joe Cole who would be looking to prove a point.

Early on Gomel showed their intent to fluster Liverpool as they got stuck in and a foul on Stewart Downing was met with a yellow card for Klimovich.

The Reds in this match were certainly portraying the passing & possession mantra that Rodgers is known for, it wasn't exactly precise but even when the lads lost the ball there was nobody giving up to regain possession. It was certainly an improvement on some of the pre-season performances which were full of long balls. As I've been saying on Twitter though these games aren't really a yardstick in my opinion but it's still nice to analyse.

Unfortunately for Liverpool and perhaps more so for Joe Cole, the ex Chelsea man got injured in the first half and had to leave the pitch. Believed to be a hamstring problem it's more rotten luck for the midfielder. Raheem Sterling replaced him.

Alumona probably had the best chance of the game for the home side when he forced Brad Jones into a save. The forward shocked the likes of Skrtel and Carragher on a couple of occasions and at one stage even out muscled the big Slovakian.

Half time saw Brendan Rodgers make one substitution with Martin Kelly replacing Glen Johnson. Martin Kelly is probably my favourite youngster at the club and those who know me will know I have a soft spot for defenders, not only this but I feel he's a fantastic talent and could really come into his own under Rodgers.

The bigger substitution though was the introduction of Lucas Leiva. The Brazillian entered play just before the 70 minute mark and I can't describe how happy I am to see him back. Some won't agree but I feel he is instrumental to a successful Liverpool side, his task is often a thankless one but I hope this season that people wake up and smell the coffee because we're blessed to have him.

Shortly after the introduction of Lucas, Stewart Downing found his chance out of no where to put the Reds ahead. From outside the area a pure strike caught everyone off guard and had me thinking "Stewart Bloody Downing". He does pretty much nothing for a whole season yet apparently he has that in his cabinet? I am perhaps a bit harsh on Downing but am willing to be converted if he can pull out some performances this season, it was nice to see the lad score though! Haha.

Gomel faded in the second half and Liverpool had gained control of the game. 3 substitutions couldn't help the home side find the goal that they were looking for and the Reds go back to Anfield with a lead in the first leg.

It would take a massive, massive upset for anything to go wrong at Anfield and hopefully we can have a livelier performance for the home fans.

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Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Competitive Seasons Kicks Off At FC Gomel

Gomel in action...
Image: Link
Liverpool have made the trip to Belarus for their first competitive match of the season as they look to take advantage in the first leg of their Europa League tie with FC Gomel. The Reds were not in Europe last season and missed out on a Champions League place but manager Brendan Rodgers will look to take his side through this years Europa League.

FC Gomel finished 3rd in their league last year and play their home games at Central Stadion which has a crowd capacity of just over 14,000. Interestingly Fabio Borini has revealed this week on the club website that he and his family used to do some charity work for children from Gomel. Gomel was one of many areas affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

The majority of Gomel's squad are from Belarus but they also have some Russian forwards. Gomel have actually introduced a fair few players for the 2012/2013 season just to add to the unknown.

Brendan Rodgers has a full squad to choose from but Andy Carroll apparently hasn't travelled with the team after his loan move/signing with West Ham is still being settled.

It's no secret that Liverpool in Europe are almost an immovable force but in these early stages of the Europa League sides can sometimes be dealt with a real shock.

For Liverpool fans watching, this is also our first real chance to see what Brendan's plans are, with only one new signing he will be sure to start that man Borini but similarly to the friendlies in North America he may well choose to play around with the tactics and take full advantage of his substitutes out in Belarus.

It would be nice for the Reds to get off to a winning start and on paper that's what it should be but I can see this being a score draw, Liverpool always seem to get off to a nervy start and hopefully this can get itself out of the way in this first Europa League tie before the real start of the season.

Fun Fact - DYK? FC Gomel have changed their name 6 times in 36 years.

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