The Liver Bird  

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Swansea Back To Haunt Brendan?

I'm sure Laudrup would relish a win at Anfield...
Image: telegraph.co.uk
Brendan Rodgers welcomes his old side Swansea to Anfield on Wednesday night as both teams aim to give their fans a treat on Halloween. This is the second outing in the League Cup so far for Liverpool and the Reds will certainly be looking to progress through the competition that they went all the way in last season.

Injuries for Liverpool mean that Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson are unavailable and it is predicted Brendan may field some fringe players. After a rather strong side against Anzhi and his best XI against Everton, it could be seen as an opportunity to give some players a rest.

The big injury worry for Swansea lies with Michael Vorm who is out for 8 weeks. It's a big blow for the Welsh side and his replacement Tremmel will have a lot on his hands.

Michael Laudrup got his Swansea side off to a steady start in the Premier League but the Jacks currently lie in 10th (still a plus on Liverpool's current standing). Their last match in the league cup saw them face Crawley and after an injury time goal Swansea sealed a 3-2 win.

The last time the two sides met was at the end of last season in May. Swansea won the game with the help of a late Danny Graham goal. If Swansea believe in omens though they won't want to be reminded of the last time the sides walked out together for a cup tie. The FA Cup of 1990 saw Liverpool put 8 goals past Swansea at Anfield.

Stat Sandwich

  • This is the first time the Reds have had a fixture at home in the League Cup since September 2010.
  • If Swansea win, it will be their first appearance in the League Cup quarter finals.
  • Liverpool have scored in 45 of their last 46 League Cup games.

Cup ties are always unpredictable and I'm struggling to make a suggestion about the game myself. Swansea are a strong side and have some real attacking presence but if Liverpool can hold their nerve and play like they have been of late then a win at Anfield should be on the cards.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Disallowed Goal Robs Reds Of Derby Win

Absolutely hilarious, well in Suarez!
Image: 101greatgoals.com
I said there'd be controversy and there bloody well was. It was an enthralling game for anybody watching but Liverpool's early dominance faded in the second half after Everton had found two responses to the away side's goals. Add to this a denied Suarez goal in the dying minutes and you have yourself a typical Merseyside derby.

Brendan Rodgers chose to keep Brad Jones between the sticks for this one but Pepe Reina was on the bench. An exciting front three of Suso, Suarez and Sterling gave Moyes enough to think about even before kick off.

The game began with a very high tempo and both teams wanted to be first on the score sheet to set the tone, it wouldn't take long at all before we saw a goal.

Jose Enrique did well to hold possession on the wing and after regaining the ball he put in an inviting cross. Raheem Sterling was encroaching but had fallen over before he even had chance to make contact, luckily Suarez picked up the cross on the far side and from an angle (as always) took his shot, a helpful deflection from Leighton Baines put Liverpool ahead.

What happened next was just hilarious, a golden moment of football on television for years to come.

After all the talk in the press about Luis Suarez, particularly from David Moyes of late, Suarez saw his chance to show everybody what he really thinks. Pointing at Moyes and running to the dugout, the Uruguayan celebrated in front of the bench with the most theatrical swallow dive you'll ever see in your life!

I was almost crying with laughter, for me, that's the best thing Suarez could do, bollocks to all the naysayers, I'll score and I'll batter you with some theatrical banter, I love it.

From the pressure being applied Liverpool were certainly deserving of their lead but it was clear that in a game like this, one goal wasn't going to be enough.

It only took Luis Suarez 5 minutes to further Liverpool's lead and therefore strengthen their hold on the game.

A booking for Osman after a challenge on Raheem Sterling left Liverpool with a free kick in a tempting position. Captain Steven Gerrard was the man for the job and a perfect ball into the box left Suarez with an easy job of heading the ball home past Tim Howard.

At this stage Liverpool looked strong, they were 2 goals up and still looked capable of grabbing some more.

Everton's main threat in the first half was most certainly produced via Mirallas. The Belgian was causing havoc and on several occasions caught the Liverpool defence off guard, praying sometimes on the inexperienced Wisdom and forcing his way through.

Just after the 20 minute mark Everton found their first goal of the game. A sloppy clearance from Brad Jones set up Leon Osman perfectly and with a confident strike he gave his side some hope.

Merseyside derbies are always an exciting affair but Sunday's game was certainly living up to the expectations. It was end to end stuff.

Ten minutes later and the home side had found themselves an equaliser, much to the disappointment of Liverpool who looked as though they should have been in control of the game.

A dubious throw in that perhaps shouldn't have existed for Everton paved the way for Fellaini who received the ball and placed a cross straight past Brad Jones, Naismith had one thing on his mind and made sure he struck home Everton's equaliser.

Shortly after the equaliser Phil Neville thought he'd show us his stance on the whole diving debate by, well... falling over. I'd be very surprised if it's him all over the back pages tomorrow though.

The half time whistle was somewhat a relief for both sides as Rodgers and Moyes looked like they could benefit from a team talk and some time for their boys to compose themselves.

The second half saw two changes for Liverpool and I must admit I was expecting a change but thought that the boss might take of Sterling after he got booked in the first half, he didn't though and it was Shelvey and Coates who entered play replacing Suso and Sahin.

For me this created a totally different second half because Sahin and Suso were supplying a lot of the creativity, at 2-2 as well it didn't feel as though the scoreline would stay that way so I was quite worried that we'd be left short.

Both sides in the second half appeared less urgent, the tempo had slowed drastically and it was a lot less eventful but the game was still perfectly poised with either side capable of finding a winner.

The dying minutes would supply the match with it's last controversial moment and what a moment it was.

A Gerrard free kick was met by Coates who set up Suarez to smash home Liverpool's winner unfortunately for the Reds though the linesman decided extremely late on to raise his flag. Suarez wasn't offside though and Everton knew it (you could see from Distin's reaction). The other suggestion was that Coates had committed a foul but Marriner hadn't blew his whistle and so therefore it wasn't given, the fact is, the linesman bottled it and cost Liverpool the game.

In general a draw was probably the correct result for the game because both teams had fought so hard that almost nothing was left, as always though, Liverpool's Luis Suarez did have something left but the decisions were against him.

Next up for Liverpool is Swansea in the League Cup here's hoping the unbeaten run continues.

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Saturday, 27 October 2012

Derby Sunday

Game on...
Image: telegraph.co.uk
Liverpool make the short hop to Goodison Park on Sunday as they line up to play their 219th Merseyside derby. As a neutral the fixture is often unmissable and even more so if you are a Blue or a Red. The clash never fails to entertain and I'm sure Sunday will be no different.

Liverpool only have two injury problems (discounting long term) with Pepe Reina having to wait on a late fitness test and Glen Johnson being a doubt after picking up a knock against Anzhi.

Everton were worried whether the influential Fellani would be able to start on Sunday but the general consensus is that he will feature. Unavailable for Moyes' side though is Steven Pienaar who is serving a ban.

The last time the two sides met was in the semi final of the FA Cup last season. Suarez and Carroll were on the score sheet to send Liverpool to Wembley for the third time that year.

The last meeting at Goodison was in October 2011 where Liverpool were victorious but we only have to go back to October a year earlier to find an Everton win on their home turf. One thing is for sure, there will be a mix of goals and controversy (20 red cards in the Premier League games).

Liverpool are in a good place heading into the game after beating Anzhi and Reading recently. Brendan Rodgers appears to be properly settling in and the team is certainly beginning to work in sync.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool will record a third clean sheet on the trot if they can shut out the Everton attack.
  • Everton have only won 1 of the last 11 Premier League games between the sides.
  • Liverpool haven't won games back to back in the league since December last year.

I'm very much looking forward to this one but I'm afraid to say my mind is telling me it's a 1-1 draw. I'm going as far as to put a score cast on it with Gerrard too. Everton have had a brilliant start to the season and Liverpool although they are finding some strength, still have a weak point.

I think we'll dominate the game, certainly in the first half but I can see things becoming a bit worn and with perhaps a goal on the score sheet already I feel Everton may find an equaliser and we'll run out of ideas once again, having to hope Suarez is on a good finishing day.

Anyway, I'm being very negative here, let's face it, literally anything can happen in a Merseyside derby, that's why they're so brilliant so here's hoping Liverpool can carry forward their recent success and come away with all three points!

Enjoy the match folks!

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Friday, 26 October 2012

Downing Strike Seals Comfortable Win For Reds

Downing celebrates...
Image: Link
Brendan Rodgers went for a very strong XI against Guus Hiddink's Anzhi on Thursday night after many expected a weakened side. The only real fringe players were Brad Jones in goal and Stewart Downing who would end up proving he still has at least something left in his locker.

Anzhi's megabucks line up consisted of Samba, Zhirkov and Eto'o but it was evident from the whistle that the Russian's plans were to get the ball to the latter and hope for the best.

Liverpool started confidently and were strong in keeping the ball. Possession is obviously very close to Brendan's heart and I think the majority of Thursday evenings performance backed up that mentality. Game stats did finish at exactly 50/50 in possession though.

The Reds first real chance fell to Jonjo Shelvey but he couldn't quite convert his effort into a lead for Liverpool. It was safe to say from the tone set though that the Anzhi keeper would have a lot coming his way throughout this 90 minutes.

With little away fans present, a decently filled Anfield provided a perfect European atmosphere for the fixture, all that was missing was a goal.

The back four were dealing very well with any incoming Anzhi attacks and so too was Brad Jones. A clean sheet looked very possible and whilst this is obviously a positive I still find myself worrying about our lack of goals, especially in games like these.

Assaidi and Johnson had a fantastic start to the game linking up wonderfully together and Johnson nearly managed to get Liverpool off the mark. Assaidi isn't afraid to take the ball out wide in order to gain his advantage something wingers these days don't seem to do, several players (and sometimes it works wonders) are too keen to cut inside at the first opportunity.

In the second half Glen Johnson had to be replaced with the young Raheem Sterling who was as always very eager to get involved.

It was Stewart Downing though who had moved into a left back position for the second half who would find Liverpool their goal. Downing is a bit of a mystery for me to be honest, I've probably said before that I don't think he's terrible, there is definitely something there and it was on show at his previous clubs but at Liverpool for me he hasn't warranted a starting position and perhaps harshly even after last night I still think he needs to keep up the hard work to gain a place.

Pushing that a side you cannot fault the lad whatsoever for his goal, it was an absolute cracker!

On the left channel and a fair way out from goal he saw his chance to have a pop, with his right foot his powerful strike flew into the top right corner leaving everybody pretty gobsmacked.

I must admit when the goal went in I didn't properly see who struck it and my last guess was Stewart Downing, unbelievable.

As the second half went on Anzhi were still very much in the palm of Liverpool's hand and with Eto'o only having one real strike stopped it looked as though the Reds would be able to keep their concentration and collect an important 3 points.

Daniel Agger at 80 minutes decided he may as well double the home sides tally after a cheeky George Best-esque goal which was disallowed. The Dane headed the ball from the Anzhi's keepers hands and put the ball in the back of the net with a superb finish but it wouldn't count, can't blame him for trying though haha.

As the clock ticked down Anzhi found themselves with a final chance to cause some trouble in the box after they were awarded a free kick, remarkably though instead of whipping it straight into the area it was passed directly to Eto'o and the danger filtered out.

It was a calm performance from Liverpool and it only needed the one goal to secure the points, add to this a clean sheet and all is well. Top of the group with Anzhi away next in the Europa League. Liverpool's immediate port of call though is Goodison on Sunday...

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Anzhi At Anfield

No wonder he's happy...
Image: Link
The Russians with the rubles travel to Anfield on Thursday night as Guus Hiddink's Anzhi face Liverpool in the Europa League. The two sides have never met before and although Anzhi are well known in the media it's still guess work for many as to what they are like on the pitch.

Brendan Rodgers still has long term injuries to worry about with Borini, Kelly and Lucas but the boss might opt to field a slighty different team in this Europa League tie. The youngsters have been fantastic and I get the feeling he will probably start most of them alongside players like Downing and Henderson who are now very much on the fringe.

In their last five games in all competitions Anzhi haven't lost. They have also managed to bag two goals in each of their last 4 games. In terms of their performances in the Group this year they confidently beat Young Boys at home and picked up a draw in Udinese.

Anzhi's squad has some massive names within it including Eto'o and Lassana Diarra, their money and newfound presence gives them an aura but I'm not so sure they will be able to compete in the awesome Anfield atmosphere.

Liverpool will be looking to stamp their authority in the group on Thursday evening after they lost to Udinese. Performances on the whole have been pretty positive for Liverpool it's just ensuring that somebody finds the back of the net and we don't run out of steam.

Enjoy the match folks.

(In other sad news, today has been and still is a very tough day, I learnt this morning that my Uncle Ray had passed away. For anybody that follows me on Twitter or noticed the Just Giving page on the blog for the Zip Slide I did, you will know how special my Uncle Ray was to me, as you can imagine I'm finding it pretty hard at the moment and so I just want to apologise for any half hearted posts in the coming weeks. I want to update the blog because it's a hobby I love and it's also something to keep me occupied but I'm not fully with it to be honest, thank you to everybody for your kind messages on Twitter, in the spirit of Uncle Ray I will fight on! #RIPUncleRay)

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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sterling Strike Seals Reds Home Win

Sterling celebrates...
Image: telegraph.co.uk
Brendan Rodgers was desperately searching for a first home win since his time in charge of Liverpool on Saturday and for the majority of the game it looked set in stone that the three points would finally be his, however a rather tentative end to the game when Reading found their feet left Liverpool with a lot of work to do.

Liverpool made only one change to their side after Pepe Reina was kept out with a hamstring problem, Brad Jones took his place. Reading had ex Reds man Guthrie in their starting XI and fielded Pogrebnyak up front.

The first half was of good quality for the home side and Reading were causing minimal problems. The likes of Suso, Sahin and Sterling were linking up well and as always despite his finishing not quite being up to scratch Suarez was offering a lot in terms of attack.

Both Sterling and Suarez had chances at goal but were denied by McCarthy or sent their efforts off target. Their tenacity and freedom to easily break through the Reading defence though meant more chances would come.

Just before the 30 minute mark Luis Suarez ensured Liverpool would be in a position to put themselves ahead. A cheeky chip set up Sterling perfectly who was in the right place at the right time and with a lovely finish backed up his efforts over his past few matches to cement his presence as an upcoming star in the Liverpool side.

Shortly after Liverpool had broken the deadlock perhaps one of the funniest moments at Anfield in a while occurred. After being fouled by Gorkss Luis Suarez was left on the floor, he'd been battered all game (and we know the usual proceedings of late when Suarez is challenged) but remarkably the referee awarded Suarez a free kick.

Anfield went mental, clapping and cheering, basically having a party because finally something had gone Suarez's way, quality haha.

In the second half Reading took their chance to take more from the game, their first half was pretty weak but with Liverpool looking more and more like they needed another goal to secure the points, now was the time for Reading to pile on the pressure.

Garath McClearly became a threat for the away side and forced Brad Jones into action twice in quick succession. Liverpool's second choice goalkeeper had a good game and in fairness did enough to perhaps make Pepe Reina fight for his return.

As Liverpool reached the latter stages of the second half and Enrique and Shelvey were brought into play it did begin to get a bit desperate. We were allowing Reading to fluster us when really if we just remained calm the points would be ours.

Shots from several players in the side couldn't find their way into the back of the net but it appeared as though Suarez was getting all the stick, especially online.

I just don't understand this at all. Suarez as we have known all along is not the best finisher but he still brings goals to our game and more importantly causes complete havoc for the opposition. At this moment in time the weight of the entire fan base is on his shoulders to score, as if it wasn't already hard enough so for me people need to cut him a bit of slack.

Yes, his finishing yesterday was probably the poorest I have seen in a while but he set up the goal and very nearly got us a second. Take him out of the equation and you can guarantee yesterday's 90 minutes would have been a lot tougher.

Despite the struggle late on to maintain their lead Liverpool managed to do so and now had a home win in their tally.

A win is a win and although the game could have and should have been put to bed early on to prevent the worries towards the end we have to look at the positives in a game like this. 3 points and a clean sheet is all good in my book and with top class performances from our youngsters again we can't really moan.

One piece of advice though: Get on that finishing!

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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Doubts Over Reina For Reading

Brad certainly looks prepared if Reina is out...
Image: liverpoolfc.com
Football is back! Real football I mean, not the one where you travel all the way to Poland with your national side only to be told you can't actually play the game because the pitch is now a massive puddle... Internationals ay?!

Anyway, fear not, the boys in Red are back and their opponents this Saturday are Reading.

Unfortunately for Liverpool the break has also offered the chance for injuries to be aired and Pepe Reina will have to undergo a late fitness test to see whether he will be able to start after picking up a hamstring problem. Fabio Borini will also be unavailable for up to 3 months after fracturing a bone in his foot, with Suarez our only real forward left I don't even want to start thinking about what may happen.

Reading on the other hand are relatively strong and only have one real concern with a doubt hanging over Noel Hunt.

The last time the two sides met I am sure you will remember was in the FA Cup. In January 2010 Reading came to Anfield after sealing a draw at home in the first leg. The Reds were going through a pretty bad spell but still bringing the tie back to Anfield left people pretty confident that Liverpool would find a way through, they didn't. Reading won the game 2-1 with a late goal from Shane Long.

The last time Reading got the better of us in the league was in December 2007 when they won 3-1 at the Madejski.

The 5-2 win over Norwich in September made it look as though Liverpool had found their springboard and would be back on track in the league but the draw that followed with Stoke was hardly inspiring. Add to this the loss to Udinese in the Europa League and suddenly the Reds look like they can be chipped away at again.

I'd talk about the positive of playing at home but as I've droned on about for a couple of weeks, Anfield isn't very impenetrable at the moment and Reading will certainly fancy a pop.

Reading's last two league games have saw them come away with a point and both fixtures ended with a 2-2 scoreline. They have only won 1 of their 4 away games so far this season but it is worth noting that Liverpool have only won 1 out of 3 also.

I can see a couple of goals in this game and unfortunately I can also see a dire draw so I will punt for 1-1 however I hope I am completely and utterly wrong. I hope the youngsters take Reading by surprise.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Everything But The Goal

There's a lot of weight on his shoulders...
Image: Link
Liverpool had to settle for a draw on Sunday afternoon despite their best efforts and a good all round performance. The passing and movement was bang on and chances were certainly created but with a lot of the work left to Suarez to find the back of the net, in the end neither himself or the rest of the side could find the Reds a goal.

Brendan opted to field his youngsters once again with Sterling, Suso and Wisdom all starting. Suarez was the main man up front. Stoke had two ex Liverpool players in their starting line up; Crouch and Adam whilst Owen didn't even make the bench after picking up a knock in training. (Shocker).

The first half left Stoke chasing the ball a lot of the time. Liverpool were confident in retaining possession and the likes of Suso and Sterling were creating space making the Liverpool attacks more threatening. The Stoke defence for the time being was easily undone.

Despite this, Liverpool didn't get many clear cut chances in the first half but were by far the more effective side. A save from Begovic near the half hour mark denied captain Steven Gerrard from putting his side ahead and Suso was also denied after a block from Robert Huth.

By half time the home side could feel happy with their performance, all that was missing was a goal but it certainly appeared as though eventually the lads would find one. Stoke were very quiet upfront in the first half and I almost forgot Peter Crouch was on the pitch at one stage.

Into the second half and Liverpool were playing at the same tempo of the first, there was no letting up for Stoke. Glen Johnson found himself with a good chance about five minutes in but his precision let him down.

Luis Suarez throughout the game for Liverpool was once again on full cylinders. The Uruguayan is never one to give up but he was left with an awful lot to do on Sunday. Of course it's his job to score goals and he hasn't been doing bad at all this season but he isn't going to find the back of the net in every game. He had several mazy runs, weaving his way past four or five players at times but his efforts went wide or were blocked.

Joe Cole came on for the Reds replacing Suso not long after the hour mark and whilst he did ok and got a shot on almost immediately it did feel as though Liverpool had lost some of their flair and vision minus Suso.

On the plus side, I don't know if anyone else agrees but for me Gerrard seems to sit into this starting line up perfectly, he looks a lot more comfortable and is free to break into a more attacking role whenever needs be. Joe Allen compliments the midfield wonderfully.

As the minutes ticked down it was becoming clear that Liverpool would have to settle for just the one point here. A late, late effort from Martin Skrtel was sent across goal without anyone meeting it and time was up for the Reds.

Liverpool haven't notched up a win at home yet this season and in fairness Anfield doesn't seem to be scaring anyone anymore. Anybody who is sitting there wondering why we have a goal scoring problem though after our transfer window must be a bit daft. It was clear we would have problems in these sort of games, you can retain possession and pass the ball all you like, it's relatively pointless if you don't have somebody to smash it into the back of the net week in, week out.

Suarez of course offers goals and it looks as though Sahin could grab a few too. Borini for me is more like an Italian Emile Heskey, he'll support his fellow forward 100% but as for his own return of goals, well...

Gerrard again will find the net and Johnson, Skrtel etc etc and I'm sure the youngsters will soon enough too but we don't have a natural goalscorer, for me, that's first thing on the shopping list in January.

Despite all of this you have to find comfort in the way that we played and just hope that some other players begin to step up and score goals to aid Liverpool's season.

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Saturday, 6 October 2012

Owen Returns To Anfield With Potters

It'll be interesting if he finds the back of the net...
Image: football365.com
Stoke make the trip up North to Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool look for their second win on the trot in the league. The Reds season only began at Norwich in many senses and it's important Brendan's side keep hold of their momentum now especially at home.

Liverpool don't have any new injury woes but still unavailable is Jonjo Shelvey who is serving his ban. Stoke have similar problems with Andy Wilkinson out through suspension too. Interestingly for Stoke they have four players who will know Anfield very well - Crouch, Owen, Pennant and Adam.

Michael Owen has turned into a bit of a talking point for this game but not because of his football, because of the reaction he will or won't receive. Most Liverpool fans can't stand him and they certainly aren't afraid to make their opinions clear and so anyone hoping for a good reception for Owen may be disappointed.

Most people who have read my Past Players feature on Owen will know where I stand on the situation and whilst I can't personally hate him I still understand others frustrations and it doesn't bother me whether he's applauded or booed, he's a grown man, he can deal with it.

Anfield was once a fortress for Liverpool but it's more like a pile of ruins at the moment. Our home record isn't the best in the league and so it would be nice to get up and running against Stoke.

Liverpool were very familiar with Stoke last season after they met them in both cups, plus the league. The last time the two sides met was in March for an FA Cup tie and the Reds won 2-1. Stoke beat us in the first meeting between the sides of that season though with a 1-0 win in September.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have only kept one clean sheet in their last 16 league games.
  • Stoke haven't won away in their last 17 trips in the league.
  • Liverpool haven't lost three on the trot at home since September 1963.

Stoke are always a tough side to play but for me with the freshness of our youngsters and a league win finally under our belts we can have these on Sunday.

I won't be expecting a high scoring game and this time out I'm going to go for a 1-0 win for Liverpool.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Friday, 5 October 2012

Di Natale Leads Udinese Win

Di Natale celebrates...
Image: Link
Liverpool fell to a shock defeat at Anfield on Thursday night after Udinese found the back of the net three times leaving the Reds without enough time to find an equaliser. Liverpool certainly weren't poor but an early goal in the second half shook the side a bit and the lads never really fully recovered.

Robinson was the youngest of Brendan's chosen starting XI but the main men like Gerrard and Suarez were left on the bench. In contrast to original reports Di Natale wasn't rested and started for Udinese.

Liverpool made a very confident start to the game and were retaining possession with ease. Udinese looked happy to allow this early on but it quickly became apparent that they would need to capitalize on the break.

Liverpool took the lead just after the 20 minute mark and Jonjo Shelvey was heavily involved in almost every aspect. It's easy to forget that Jonjo himself is only young but he has bags of experience under his belt now and for me has been very impressive of late.

After playing the ball out to Downing on the wing Jonjo made his run straight into the box, when encroaching it was clear he wanted his head on the end of this cross. Downing put a lovely ball in and Shelvey made sure that baldy head of his smashed home Liverpool's first goal.

For the rest of the first half Liverpool looked very comfortable, we'd already penetrated a resilient Italian defence and were creating steady attacks.

The second half though was when things began to go seriously wrong for Liverpool. Udinese brought on Lazzari in order to aid their offence but it was the veteran Di Natale that would bring the away side level.

Lazzari actually provided the assist and Di Natale finished inside the penalty area.

It was very unexpected due to the timing but Liverpool couldn't afford to let it knock them back, they were the better team so far, unfortunately, everything seemed to go to pot.

Suarez and Gerrard were brought onto the field of play by Brendan not long after the hour mark, just what we needed to go and find that second goal. Most had predicted that Udinese might find the back of the net but it certainly didn't look at this stage as though they'd be able to find it again and so the Reds needed another goal themselves.

What unfolded during 2 minutes after the Liverpool subs just dumbstruck Brendan's side. A free kick whipped in ended up being turned in by Coates who gifted Udinese their second but a minute later Pasquale had found them a third. Di Natale provided the assist.

I don't quite recall how that was even able to happen but nevertheless Liverpool were 3-1 down with less than 20 minutes to go.

Luckily for the home side Luis Suarez had a little trick up his sleeve. The Uruguayan found the back of the net with a precise free kick. Liverpool still had 15 minutes to find an equaliser but it would be a tough ask.

Sterling got some game time late on but not even the sparks from him could provide Liverpool with a third. It was a mental game to be honest and of course really you would expect the Reds to win but it wasn't exactly disastrous and you have to admit for a Europa League game it was entertaining, so that's something I suppose.

The group is more open now but if anything that just makes things more tasty, there's no real reason to panic.

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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Italians Come To Anfield

Everybody loves Di Natale!...
Image: uefa.com

Liverpool welcome Italian side Udinese to Anfield tomorrow as they look to gain another win in their Europa League group. The Reds found there first league win in some style against Norwich at the weekend so here's hoping the goal fest rubs off.

Brendan is unable to call on Lucas or Kelly who are both out long term and there are also doubts hanging over Jose Enrique and Joe Cole. Udinese do not have any major injury worries but it is believed they will not start Di Natale and will opt to rest him instead or bring him on as a sub.

Liverpool have never met Udinese and whilst they have come across Italian opposition many times before this game may be a hard one to predict for Brendan Rodgers.

A positive for Liverpool is that Fabio Borini is experienced in Italy and may be able to shed some light on what to expect from Guidolin's side.

I can't say I am an expert on Udinese by any means but it does certainly appear from this season that they play to the stereotypical Italian way, i.e. they rely on their defensive strengths. They have drawn their last two games 0-0 and so appear to be pretty solid at the back.

Anfield however can have a massive effect on a side, shapes and systems can be ripped to pieces within seconds and if the lads play like they did against Norwich they will find a way through.

Stat Sandwich
  • Liverpool have won 8 of their last 23 games against Italian sides.
  • Udinese have only beaten an English side once - Tottenham Hotspur.
  • The Reds have won 3 of their last 4 matches in all competitions.

I've always been a fan of Italian football, some people slate it but I find all the controversy and the fans entertaining, people say it's boring but I feel Italian football has definitely evolved. If you follow me on Twitter you'll probably have noticed that I've recently started reading a book called "Calcio" it's basically a book including everything about the history of Italian football, I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in Italian teams.

So as you can imagine when I saw we had Udinese in our group I was looking forward to the two fixtures. Anfield will provide its own atmosphere but you can guarantee it will be just as lively at the Stadio Friuli.

For this one I'm going to go for a 2-1 win for Liverpool.

Enjoy the match folks!

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