The Liver Bird  

Monday, 31 December 2012

Brendan Absent But Reds Beat QPR

Another top performance from Suarez...
Liverpool bagged themselves all three points in a confident win at Loftus Road on Sunday. Manager Brendan Rodgers was absent through illness but it didn't matter because the Reds had all bases covered and thanks to Luis Suarez and Daniel Agger they found the back of the net thrice.

It didn't take Liverpool long to get off the mark after a lively start. Luis Suarez with another one of his famous attacks in the box put the Reds ahead after taking on the QPR defence and finishing confidently. The early goal was a blessing for Liverpool but they needed to ensure they used it to their advantage and didn't lose their lead so quickly as they did against Stoke.

Luckily for Liverpool, Luis Suarez was in one of his moods and when the Uruguayan is on form, the Reds are very dangerous. This time Suarez came into the box from an angle, his attempt at a cross was deflected back to him and he smashed the ball home high into the goal.

We knew QPR hadn't been playing the best football this season but I personally wasn't expecting us to take the lead and then also find a second so quickly. QPR really did look out of ideas already and thankfully it didn't look as though Liverpool being minus a manager was going to matter.

Just before the half hour mark and Liverpool were at it again. This time a short corner from Stewart Downing was crossed in by Steven Gerrard. Daniel Agger timed his jump perfectly and headed home Liverpool's third.

From here it looked as though there was certainly no way back for QPR and Liverpool continued to apply pressure throughout the remainder of the first half.

For the second half Harry Redknapp decided to take off Cisse and bring on Derry. QPR were getting played off the park in midfield and so this was perhaps an attempt to ease that problem, however they'd also now taken a goalscorer off.

Liverpool didn't have as many chances in the second half as they did in the first but they still clearly had hold of the game. Just after the hour mark Lucas Leiva replaced Jordan Henderson who had a decent game to be fair. Enrique also had to leave the field 10 minutes later with a hamstring problem, this was such a shame to see. Suso replaced him.

The second half provided no more goals for Liverpool but better still QPR didn't find any either. A clean sheet and three goals for Liverpool is fantastic, I just hope that we can now use this as a springboard. No offence to QPR but we know they were pretty poor and hence this aided our performance but the Reds can still take this as a positive moving forward. Next up for Liverpool is Sunderland.

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Saturday, 29 December 2012

In Need Of A Win At Loftus Road

Thinking time for Rodgers...
Liverpool are away at Loftus Road on Sunday as they look to put out a better performance than the one that unfolded at the Britannia on Boxing Day. So far it's not been a tremendous festive period for the Reds and many fans have lost their confidence in Brendan's boys at the moment.

Liverpool have no new real injury worries but Luis Suarez picked up a slight knock in the game against Stoke and has been nursing the problem this week, it is assumed he will still start on Sunday though. There's also a doubt hanging over Joe Allen who has had a problem with his pelvis.

For Queens Park Rangers they are without Onuhoa, Cesar and Park Ji-sung. There is also a doubt hanging over Ryan Nelsen who has picked up a virus this week.

Queens Park Rangers are currently dead last in the drop zone but after new manager Harry Redknapp turned up they've been given a new lease of life. Liverpool on the other hand had the chance to start knocking on the door of the top four if they'd of beat Stoke, instead the find themselves in 10th place.

The last time the two sides met was in March 2012 when QPR got the better of Liverpool in a lively game complete with that acrobatic goal from Sebastian Coates.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have lost 17 league games this season, an all time high.
  • Redknapp will lead QPR out for his 600th league match as a manager.
  • Liverpool have taken 20 out of 27 points against sides in the bottom half of the table.

I'm not quite sure what to expect from this game to be honest, Harry Redknapp may have brought some more stability to QPR but he's not quite got the ball rolling yet however Liverpool aren't exactly stable either. The results against Stoke and Aston Villa show just how weak we can be at times even after taking an early lead in the Stoke case.

There's far too much reliance on Suarez at the moment and players aren't stepping up to the mark to support him. The wingers should be busting a gut to get into the box but it just doesn't seem to be happening. Steven Gerrard also works better in the side when he's allowed more freedom but he seems to have been grounded in recent games.

I'm hoping the Reds can pull out a win at Loftus Road though and will optimistically punt for a 2-1 win. Enjoy the match folks!

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Thursday, 27 December 2012

Stoke Confidently Beat Reds

It feels as though Suarez is left to do everything at times...
Liverpool fell to a dismal defeat at the hands of Stoke on Boxing Day as the Reds struggled to keep hold of their very early lead. It started so well for Brendan's boys but quickly turned sour when Stoke equalised and then took hold of the game.

Liverpool fielded an unchanged side from their last outing and it was Luis Suarez who immediately got things underway. The Uruguayan found an early run into the box and Ryan Shawcross felt he was unable to deal with him deciding instead to tug on his shirt from outside the box and all the way into it. It was a clear penalty.

Steven Gerrard stepped up to take the penalty and there was no doubt where this spot kick was going. His effort was placed perfectly into the bottom left corner of goal.

At this stage I was very pleased, I'd mentioned an early goal would help and after scoring so early surely we could capitalise on this and only improve? Who was I kidding? I should have known not to hold out so much hope with us lot at the moment. 3 minutes later, Stoke found an equaliser.

The goal from Jonathan Walters sent the home fans crazy whilst the Liverpool's fans stood with mouths agape. It was a good goal to be fair to Stoke but they surely shouldn't have been able to find a return so quickly. Once this goal went in I already felt as though the Reds had lost their chance, it seemed like a real task now to try and get all three points.

Things were made even worse when 6 minutes later Kenwyne Jones scored a header for the home side. It was a bit of a mix up in the box for Liverpool and Glen Johnson nearly turned the ball in himself but Stoke didn't care when or how, all they knew was they'd found a lead and they were really pressing the Liverpool side.

Half time was reached with no further damage and Brendan Rodgers decided to bring on Raheem Sterling for the second half replacing Suso.

Barely a chance for the Reds to get back into the swing of things and Stoke scored, again. Jonathan Walters found his second of the night shooting in to the left corner from inside the box. I was pretty dumbstruck by now, I didn't feel as though there was a way back for a win but I was still considering the possibility of a draw, not now though.

Stoke desereved to win, Liverpool had a few good chances but failed to make them count and despite the introduction of Henderson and Joe Cole the Reds just couldn't find a route back. Suarez as always had to put in an enormous effort but sometimes that's detrimental to the side. The amount of times Suarez has to leave the danger area in order to help his side get an attack going means that he's not in the box and neither is anyone else. I don't understand how people feel we're going to pick up a run of form when there is literally never anyone in the box, frustrates the hell out of me.

Next up for Liverpool is QPR with their new manager Harry Redknapp.

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Monday, 24 December 2012

Boxing Day At Britannia

Will Raheem be back for this one?...
Liverpool face Stoke on Boxing Day as they look to continue what they started against Fulham last weekend. The Reds are only 5 points off 4th place and it makes you realise what a loss means at this stage of the season, if Liverpool can do well over the festive period they could seriously propel themselves up the table.

Stoke are without Charlie Adam who has taken leave after his Father passed away. Another ex Red Michael Owen though could be available after returning from a recent injury. For Liverpool, thankfully there are no new injury worries.

The last time the two sides met was in October and the game ended in a 0-0 draw at Anfield. In terms of the Reds at Stoke there's been a lot of draws recently and Stoke also picked up wins in 2011 and 2010. This is usually the sort of game for Liverpool that would see them get just the one point but if the lads can play like they did against Fulham then Stoke could become very flustered.

Stoke haven't lost in their last 6 Premier League games whilst Liverpool have lost twice. I'm afraid there's no stat sandwich today due to my match preview being rather early but I'm sure you'll all have enough turkey sandwiches to keep you going!

Stoke have a very good record at home and for me this is always a tough game for Liverpool, unfortunately I can see it being a score draw. If Gerrard is freed up as much as he was at the weekend though that would improve our attacking options, we need full force to break through the Stoke defence and I would also think an early lead would do us wonders, we can't afford to be wasting chances.

Whatever the score I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Best Wishes from me here at The Liver Bird.

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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Four Goals Stun Fulham

Silencing his critics? ...
Liverpool notched up a very successful 4-0 win at Anfield on Saturday as they brushed aside Martin Jol's Fulham team. It was a far cry from the Villa game and Liverpool found their goals from four different scorers, a perfect way to start off the festive season.

Liverpool started with Suso and Shelvey for this one with many wondering why Sterling had been dropped and some calling for the improved Henderson to start instead. I personally was happy with this line up, Suso is somebody who I felt should have featured in the Villa game. He's a bit of a rough diamond at the moment but he adds an angle that the opposition aren't expecting.

Fulham haven't been playing their best football of late and so it was a good time for the Reds to face them as they had the chance to move into 8th place. It didn't take Liverpool long at all to cement their intentions with unlikely goalscorer Martin Skrtel getting things well and truly under way.

A corner from Steven Gerrard fell to Martin who steadied himself and smashed home Liverpool's first goal with a lovely finish. It had an essence of the old Sami Hyypia and the defender was visibly delighted. It was a great start for Liverpool who often struggle to score early on.

Liverpool's next goal came just after the 30 minute mark. Captain Steven Gerrard was allowed into much more forward positions for the majority of the 90 minutes against Fulham and he capitalised on his chance when set up by Stewart Downing. Another lovely finish saw Gerrard's strike find the bottom left corner of goal.

Stewart Downing who I must admit I am not a big fan of had a superb game, it definitely seems that after being told he can leave he's really tried to buck his ideas up and his game on Saturday had remnants of his days at Aston Villa. He was supplying several balls into the box and also having a pop at goal himself eventually finding the back of the net later in the game.

By half time it was easy to notice that Fulham were struggling and lacking in attack. With no real trouble at all for Pepe Reina Liverpool were left to pretty much do as they pleased and Jol's defence weren't putting up much of a fight either.

The second half saw Fulham introduce Rodallega who would later provide the away side with their best chance of the game from a free kick.

Five minutes into the second half though and Liverpool applied some more damage. This time a ball collected by Stewart Downing on the right wing saw him take it all the way into the box and with a confident strike find Liverpool's third.

For Fulham there appeared to be no way back now whilst Liverpol still looked as though they had something left in the tank. Substitutions saw the introduction of Sterling, Allen and Carragher but it was mainstay Luis Suarez who would find the final goal of the day for the Reds.

Set up perfectly by an encroaching Jose Enrique, Suarez was left with the easy task of turning the ball into the back of the net and sealing Liverpool's 3 points.

It was an almost perfect game for Liverpool and very frustrating for me because I find myself asking why we had to be so poor when I made the very rare trip to Anfield against Villa. If we can continue playing like that then I'd be extremely pleased, the passing was more purposeful, the chances were regular and most importantly the conversion rate was high.

Next up for Liverpool is Stoke.

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Friday, 21 December 2012

Festive Fulham At Anfield

Good news for Liverpool as Raheem signs a new contract...
Here's hoping it's a fun festive atmosphere for Liverpool by the end of the 90 minutes as Brendan's boys get ready to face the Cottagers. It's been a week since Liverpool's rather disappointing defeat at the hands of Aston Villa and most fans were left pretty miffed by the result so here's hoping an early Christmas present is on the cards.

For Liverpool they are once again able to call upon Jose Enrique and Nuri Sahin who now has a fixed nose either that or he's playing the part of Rudolph. Out and not available for Liverpool though is Assaidi. Fulham are nearly at full strength squad wise but Steve Sidwell is serving a ban.

The Reds are currently two points ahead of Fulham placed 12th in the table. Liverpool were hoping to apply some pressure on the teams above them with three points from their last game but after that failed to occur Brendan will surely be even more eager to ensure he takes the win this time around at Anfield.

The last time the two sides met was in May when Liverpool gifted Fulham their winning goal courtesy of Martin Skrtel. Fulham have failed to score for themselves on their last 6 trips to Anfield, a stat Liverpool will surely hope becomes extended.

Stat Sandwich

  • The Reds are yet to be defeated twice in a row in the Premier League.
  • Fulham have only won 1 of their last 9 Premier League fixtures.
  • The last goal scored for Liverpool against Fulham at Anfield was an own goal.

For me this match has draw written all over it, the history suggests it and the current form does too. If we play like we did against Villa then it could be far worse! The thing is though if we catch Suarez in a game where he's on song and converting chances then it could well be three points but at the moment for me things are becoming more and more strained, the sooner the January transfer window comes the better.

Enjoy the match folks and if you don't catch the report have a very Merry Christmas!

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Sunday, 16 December 2012

Reds Were The Real Villains As Midlanders Take 3 Points

Only one manager was left smiling at full time...
Liverpool fell to a shocking defeat at the hands of Aston Villa on Saturday after Benteke bossed the front line and the Reds were unable to create any clear cut chances. With 16 on target though, Brendan's side should have perhaps done better. The moral of the story is, don't allow me to attend Premier League games...

I was so excited Saturday morning, getting up early, putting on the new Warrior shirt and my retro Liverpool scarf, I wasn't super confident that we would win but I expected better than what I saw. I was in the Main Stand again but a bit further to the left than where I was for the Unirea match, it was an alright view to be fair but I struggle to see the Kop End even with my glasses on so the second half was going to be less fun, even more so when the game began to unfold!

Brendan opted to start Stewart Downing in defence replacing the injured Jose Enrique whilst back up front leading the line was Luis Suarez. Jonjo Shelvey also featured in the midfield after his recent good performances.

The game started pretty well for Liverpool, it wasn't amazing but we had a lot of the ball (as always) and we were pressuring the Villa defence. Sterling was supplying several crosses into the box but unfortunately for the youngster he wasn't quite as pin point as he usually is. The likes of Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard were also taking chances at goal but to no avail.

Things changed for Liverpool at the half hour mark when Villa's big man up front; Benteke saw his chance to put his side ahead. It was a bloody good strike to be fair to him and it caught Reina completely off guard, the Midlanders were ahead but at this point in the game it felt almost undeserved.

The Villa fans next to me went absolutely mental. In fairness, they'd travelled further than me (just about) and they wanted to make sure their voices were heard. I was slightly disappointed with the subdued atmosphere at Anfield to be honest, I'm a person that looks forward to singing the songs and getting the chants going but it's hard to do in the Main Stand so you rely on the Kop to get things under way but on Saturday nobody seemed up for it and once we'd gone behind the levels of excitement dropped even more.

Once Villa had found the back of the net they began to realise that they could really take the game to us, Liverpool barely had chance to re-group when Paul Lambert's side were back at us again. This time it was Weimann scoring for the away side but Benteke was present again with a superbly timed and placed back heel to set up his team mate. Villa were 2-0 up.

I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing, for those that read the blog and my tweets I've strangely been quite the sceptic this season (I'm usually very optimistic) and so I wasn't expecting miracles but as I mentioned at the start of this post, I certainly wasn't expecting this, this was beyond belief and it didn't look like there was any route of comeback.

I was disappointed, obviously, I'd finally managed to get some more tickets for a match and look what was happening, however, it's always a special time for me when I'm in Liverpool, I bloody love the place and just sitting in Anfield again has pretty much made my Christmas, if only there was a result to go along with it!

Half time was reached and Brendan made an immediate substitution bringing on Joe Cole for Jonjo Shelvey. Joe Cole has put in some good work of late and so I was agreeing with his introduction but I'm not so sure Shelvey was the one to take off.

5 minutes in to the second half and Liverpool had conceded yet again. Again, Benteke used his power to break in to the box but in all honesty he could have walked through, I'm not quite sure what the defence were doing for this one but they may as well not have been there. It was gutting to see someone break through with such ease and then finish with his second goal of the game.

I sat in the Main Stand, directly opposite the goalscorer, mouth agape. I still couldn't believe what I was seeing, the 3 points were long gone let's face it and now a draw was too so all I could hope for was a goal, just give me some sort of consolation...

On the hour mark Jordan Henderson replaced Lucas Leiva which for me was a bit of a nothing sub because Hendo didn't really offer too much going forward, I saw the idea but I'm not sure it worked.

At 86 minutes, thank god, Liverpool found the back of the net and finally I had something to smile about. I was hoping I'd get to see a Suarez goal but failing that a Steven Gerrard one would always be welcomed! Glen Johnson's attempted shot was met by the head of Steven Gerrard, the captain had converted and I just about managed to see it but that would do me just fine haha.

In the dying moments there were two notable bookings before Liverpool had to settle for 0 points. Firstly Benteke who from what I saw live and in front of me got into an argument with Glen Johnson and then pushed him in the head, others are saying he made a fist but either way he was lucky to remain on the pitch, at the time I didn't know he'd been booked, probably because I was too busy moaning about what had just happened but for me he was a very lucky boy. Moments later Luis Suarez was booked, from the distance away I was it was clear Suarez was in the referee's face and we all know what Suarez's temper is like but to get booked for that whilst Benteke raises his hand to someone and stays on the field? It's a bit rich really.

The game ended and I had to let out a rather gigantic sigh, I'm just glad we managed to find a goal. I'd usually have an opinion of some sort on how/why the game went so wrong but for this one I just can't fathom it, all I can say is that Villa were top notch and by the end fully deserved their victory. I just hope that Liverpool can bounce back from this and I hope even more that the next time I pay a visit to Anfield it's a more happy experience!

Just to end on I'd like to voice my sincere appreciation to all of those involved in the #RedRoseWalk. An immense task to walk for 96 miles through the night and in all sorts of weather, they have raised money for such a great cause and are a credit to their football club. YNWA.

I'd also like to note how proud I was to be a part of the minutes applause for Stiliyan Petrov and I hope he continues to do well in his battle against leukaemia. Stan is one of the good guys in football.

Till next time Anfield!

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Suarez Back For Villa Clash

Rodgers is feeling pleased with his Liverpool side...
Liverpool are up against Paul Lambert's Aston Villa on Saturday as they look to continue their good form within the league. The Reds are currently 10th  in the league and only 4 points away from that elusive 4th spot. At the start of the season it seemed like something that was out of grasp but if Brendan's side can keep doing what they're doing and pick up some more wins then it may be a reality.

There are no new injury worries for Liverpool aside from Jose Enrique who is due to have a late fitness test before Saturday's game and Brendan Rodgers will have almost a full side to choose from. Luis Suarez is once again available suggesting that Jonjo Shelvey will either be pushed back into midfield or start from the bench.

In fairness to Liverpool though they proved against West Ham that they don't necessarily need their top goalscorer to find the back of the net and it was fantastic to see scorers from other areas of the pitch.

Brendan this week has been noting how he is "quietly pleased" with his Liverpool side after his first half year in charge at Anfield and I feel that's the best attitude to go for, we shouldn't be getting ahead of ourselves but at least we're slowly going in the right direction. The boss also took a look back at the West Ham game noting the fight in the side, something I was also very pleased to see - "When we were down we showed the spirit and fight we have in the group, to come back and win the game."

The last time the two sides met was in April this year, the match ended in a 1-1 draw with none other than Luis Suarez on the score sheet. We don't have to go too far back to find a Villa win at Anfield though, the Midlanders won 3-1 at the start of the 09/10 season.

Aston Villa themselves have also picked up some decent results of late, notably seeing themselves through to the semi finals of the League Cup which their fans are chuffed with. Despite this I still feel with the momentum Liverpool have, this is a game that can and should be won.

For those that follow me on Twitter you may have spotted I managed to get tickets to the game! I'm so unbelievably excited because I never get to go due to a lack of cash and fixture clashes with work, plus it's so bloody hard to get tickets. I got them on a fluke really, just happened to check at the right time. I bloody love Liverpool and the fella has kindly offered to come along and see what he thinks of Anfield which means I don't have to get on and off trains in the bloody cold! I'll be sure to provide you with a nice diary style post after the match and hopefully I can discuss a high scoring win!

Enjoy the match folks!

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Monday, 10 December 2012

London Lads Lead Liverpool Win

A muted celebration from Glen...
Liverpool collected all three points at Upton Park on Sunday but it was close to being a different story for the Reds when they lost their lead in the first half. On the score sheet for Liverpool were Glen Johnson and Joe Cole, Shelvey almost got the last touch for the third goal too, making it a very Southern affair.

With no Luis Suarez, Brendan Rodgers did make the decision to start Jonjo Shelvey up front with Sterling and Downing supporting him. It's obviously not a natural role for Jonjo but he played in the number 9 position in the Europa League and actually did quite well.

The game started encouragingly for Liverpool who burst out the blocks intent on attack. West Ham had picked up some good results of late and we certainly couldn't afford to take them lightly. The first real chance of the game fell to Diame but it was a comfortable stop for Reina.

Glen Johnson was very lively to start with and he was beating winger Matt Jarvis with ease enabling him to either head for the byline or cut inside as he is so good at doing. Just after the 10 minute mark he did just this. After gaining enough space Johnson surprised everybody by having a pop at goal, his strike flew straight into the top left corner, an absolute peach. There was no real celebration from Glen at his old ground but there was plenty of noise from the travelling Anfield faithful.

At this stage of the game I already felt a lot happier than usual. We were far more dangerous, balls were being played out to the wings instead of in triangles and there was end product almost immediately, it was exciting but it was clear that at times throughout this 90 minutes we would be left open, something West Ham would surely take advantage of.

Just before the half hour mark the Reds had to watch Enrique leave the pitch who appeared to pick up a knock, he was replaced by another ex Hammer; Joe Cole.

Ten minutes later and West Ham had found their opportunity to level things up a penalty given for a handball by Joe Allen was perhaps a bit harsh but I wasn't going to get up in arms about it. Mark Noble coolly converted the spot kick bringing the Hammers level.

Despite the penalty Liverpool still looked pretty comfortable but more misfortune was to follow for the Reds. Matt Jarvis (who I know a lot about what with working at Molinuex) put in one of his usual searching crosses but it wasn't a West Ham player on the end of it, it was Steven Gerrard and the captain turned the ball past Reina gifting West Ham their lead.

We were down but we weren't out yet. Things would be difficult without Suarez and although chances were still flowing the finishing was looking like a bit of a problem, Jonjo Shelvey missed a few good chances and Sterling also had come close.

At 70 minutes Liverpool still hadn't found a return and Jordan Henderson was brought on as a substitute for Lucas Leiva. Shortly afterwards the Reds had found their equaliser via another Londoner; Joe Cole. It was a lovely ball through from the now 18 year old Raheem Sterling and with a cracking finish Joe Cole scored Liverpool's second, perhaps adding another reason to his case for starting more games.

With roughly 15 minutes left to go it was in the records that Liverpool had struggled to score within this section of the game this season but Joe Cole had just proved it was possible so the Reds continued to apply the pressure. Just two minutes later and Liverpool grabbed themselves a winner, albeit with a little bit of luck.

A cross in from the right by Henderson was met by what looked initially like the foot of Jonjo Shelvey, make no mistake, Jonjo Shelvey's foot was present but it was James Collins' last ditch attempt to defend that sent the ball into the back of the net. We'd done it, we'd found the winning goal, now all we had to do was hold it together.

Coates was brought on to shore up the defence and sure enough Liverpool ended the game 3-2 winners.

It wasn't ideal, of course it wasn't, nobody wants to lose their lead and then go behind through an own goal but I still find myself happier with this performance than a lot from this season. I must admit I wasn't expecting to be so pleased especially minus Suarez and ironically considering I feel Suarez offers the most attacking nous, this game actually seemed more positive. The play down the wings especially via Johnson was constant and as I mentioned there was ball retention but of the right kind in my opinion, there weren't many triangles or backward passes which in my book at this moment it time is great!

Next up for Liverpool is Aston Villa, if you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I've managed to get tickets!! Regular readers will know that due three things 1) Me being skint 2) Fixture clashes with work and 3) The difficulty of getting tickets I pretty much never get to see Liverpool play, I've been to a home match once and seen Liverpool 3 times away but this is definitely a problem I am working on so I was chuffed when I realised there were some tickets left for Villa and that I had no match to work and also had just enough of my student loan left to blow on it haha so roll on SATURDAY!

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Friday, 7 December 2012

Trip To West Ham But There's No Carroll

Carroll will not feature...
Liverpool have an away trip to Upton Park on Sunday as they prepare to face Sam Allardyce's West Ham. Ex Liverpool man Andy Carroll won't be present though as he's unavailable through injury and would be ineligible to play against his old side.

Other injury worries for West Ham mean Vaz Te, Diarra and Collison are out but Yossi Benayoun could be available to start on Sunday. For Liverpool their main problem is the absence of Luis Suarez who misses the game after picking up his 5th yellow card against Southampton.

West Ham are currently in 8th whilst Liverpool are down in 11th however the gap is only 3 points. The Reds last match in the league saw them notch up a win against Southampton and coupled with their win over Udinese they go into Sunday's game in decent form.

The problem Liverpool will have to assess though is where they're going to get their goals from, with Suarez out it makes things tens times harder. Jonjo Shelvey has played a few times further up the field and so Brendan may opt to start him there against West Ham.

The last time the two sides met was February last year, the clash at Upton Park saw Liverpool lose 3-1, Glen Johnson got the Reds only goal. In the three meetings between the two sides after this loss though Liverpool managed to score thrice on all occasions.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool had 19 efforts at goal in the game against Southampton.
  • West Ham have not conceded via a headed goal yet in the league this year.
  • The Reds have won 5 out of 15 games in the league this season.

For me, this one is going to be a tough game but we should take some heart from the Southampton and Udinese performances, if we can find a goal and maintain the level of concentration, that would be a perfect result in London.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Reds Through Despite Di Natale Shock

Henderson celebrates...
Image: Link
The hard work was nearly in tatters in the dying minutes for Liverpool after Di Natale threatened to very much spoil the party but thankfully the legendary forward missed on this occasion. The Reds only needed a goal from Jordan Henderson to secure all three points and they ended the 90 minutes top of group A.

Brendan Rodgers opted for a side consisting of both youth and experience for this clash with Udinese. The back four had veteran Jamie Carragher in it whilst Suso was up front supporting Suarez. It was Luis's first away appearance in Europe for Liverpool. The big team news coming from the Italians though was that Di Natale would start from the bench.

It was a pacey start for Liverpool who knew that they had to give everything in this game in order to secure their progression. Unfortunately for the Reds though Nuri Sahin was quickly sidelined with a nose bleed, after the medical staff were unable to stem the bleeding he was replaced with Jonjo Shelvey just after the 10 minute mark. Many were calling for Shelvey to start anyway so if anything perhaps a few more smiles were on the travelling fans faces.

The forced substitution didn't affect Liverpool at all and they continued the first half as they had started. Jordan Henderson's goal came 10 minutes after the introduction of Shelvey but it was Suarez and Suso involved with the goal. A corner in saw Suarez head for goal but his off target attempt fell to the feet of Suso, a lovely placed ball left Henderson with little to do but put some power behind it and that he did, his shot found it's way past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net putting Liverpool ahead.

Liverpool were creating plenty of chances but there was still a lot to deal with from the Udinese attack. Some fans always bring up their feelings on Jamie Carragher being past it but I think they would all agree that himself and Skrtel last night formed a great partnership. I personally struggle to ever fault Carragher but that's probably just because I'm a little bit in love with him...

Late in the second half Luis Suarez nearly added to the Reds tally with an acrobatic effort but ex Liverpool keeper Padelli managed to make a save and keep his side in the game.

It was interesting watching Udinese because they knew there was nothing in them for it but pride and on occasions you could see that, certainly from some players but then others were going all guns blazing. There was a lot of counter attack too for one of the oldest sides in Italy, no real portrayal of catenaccio.

The second half couldn't provide Liverpool with another goal but Brendan's side did fantastically keeping their concentration and blocking out Udinese. Liverpool had several penetrating runs with the aid of Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique who are both wonderful when they break up the wings but no end product was found.

As the clock ticked down Liverpool brought on Raheem Sterling at 70 minutes whilst shortly after Udinese had to deal with losing a player. Pasquale received a second yellow and was given his marching orders just before the 80 minute mark.

Liverpool didn't need the help of Udinese down to 10 men but they certainly weren't going to complain about it. It seemed a simple task now, keep your head, keep the clean sheet and we're through. You have to panic though when at 85 minutes you see Di Natale waiting on the sideline.

We've seen what this man can do throughout his career and more importantly we saw what he did against us at Anfield, all he needed was half a chance and boy did he get it. In the final minute of added time the forward out of what seemed to be nowhere absolutely smashed his strike, for a moment, every Liverpool fan had stopped breathing, a split second later it had flew over the bar. Jesus Christ! That was bloody close.

The whistle blew and the Reds were now in the round of 32 able to find out their opposition on the 20th December. It was one of those games for Liverpool that was mechanical, we knew what was required and we went out and did it, it was also encouraging to see Jordan Henderson score because I feel he definitely needs it for his confidence.

Next up for Liverpool is West Ham.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Forza Rossi

Suarez should start against the Italians...
It's an early kick off for Liverpool on Thursday evening as they prepare to face Italian's Udinese. The Reds need a win to secure their progression through to the knockout stages of the Europa League but a draw may be ok if Anzhi draw with Young Boys, if Liverpool lose, they are out.

Left at home are Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger and Lucas Leiva which causes some concern for me but the positive for Liverpool is that due to Luis Suarez being suspended from the weekend tie with West Ham, he can play for the full 90 minutes against Udinese. Udinese themselves have no fresh injury worries and Pinzi is also back for them.

Udinese are unable to make it through to the knockout stages and so some would feel they may use this game as a run out for their fringe players but even so, the Italian's will not want to lose at home to a side like Liverpool, pride is very much at stake.

Despite not travelling with the squad Daniel Agger has been speaking out about the team this week saying "It’s difficult to compare two seasons but the feel when I’m on the pitch is that we are creating more chances." I have to agree with Daniel Agger in some senses because we certainly have been dangerous in front of several opposition this year but it all boils back down to that age old problem of scoring goals and improving our finishing.

Some fans brush off the Europa League like it's a nothing competition and whilst it doesn't have the glamour of the Champions League I still would like us to continue to progress through. I enjoy watching us play obscure opposition in all honesty and after all, a trophy is a trophy.

Di Natale will be one to watch on Thursday night, the veteran is still very capable of grabbing a goal for his side and his experience allows him to outwit the defence. For me though as long as Liverpool keep their heads it's a task that's doable and hopefully the Reds and Brendan can notch up a win and walk away wondering who lies ahead for them next in Europe.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Agger Do

It was brilliant to see Lucas back!...
Liverpool notched up a 1-0 win over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday with defender Daniel Agger heading home in the first half for the Reds. It was an improved performance from Liverpool and whilst finishing still could have been better there were plenty more chances than there have been of late.

Starting for Liverpool was Lucas Leiva, a real staple for the side in most people's eyes he retained his old position in the centre of midfield allowing Steven Gerrard a lot more freedom. Up front for Liverpool was Suarez as always whilst Southampton had the rather dangerous Rickie Lambert leading their attack.

Liverpool began the game with a real tempo and applied great pressure on the Southampton defence. Chances from Shelvey and Suarez were thick and fast and the supply from the likes of Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique on the flanks was plentiful. With Steven Gerrard entitled to move around a lot more too it was clear more direct balls were going through. Liverpool have played the passing game a lot this season but it's refreshing for me to see a cut through ball straight into the box every now and then and Gerrard can certainly provide that.

Liverpool saw two of their chances come back off the woodwork late in the second half as a Jonjo Shelvey shot smashed off the post it was followed by a Suarez free kick that crashed off the bar. Luckily for Liverpool the deflection fell to Glen Johnson who had plenty of red men left in the area to play the ball to. A nice cross in allowed Agger to finish with a lovely header leaving the Southampton defence dumbstruck. The Reds were ahead and deservedly so.

For the second half Southampton must have made the most of their half time break as they appeared more confident now. Chances mainly via Gaston Ramirez gave Liverpool something to deal with but Pepe Reina pretty much had everything covered.

Jordan Henderson was brought on just before the 70 minute mark for Liverpool replacing Joe Allen. Many fans were intrigued as to how the system would work with both Allen and Lucas in the midfield but I feel it went pretty well. Allen was forced into a more attacking role which is good because although Joe is effective in his role he does tend to pass sideways quite a lot and as mentioned before with a more direct approach Liverpool on the whole were looking more dangerous.

At 80 minutes something happened that kopites have perhaps been expecting for a long while. Luis Suarez picked up his 5th yellow card of the league season meaning he would miss the next match. I dread to even think what we're going to do against West Ham without him but at least this game against Southampton had more positives than usual.

The Reds still troubled keeper Gazzaniga a few more times late on in the second half via Jose Enrique and Luis Suarez but they couldn't double their lead. Lucas left the field of play for Jamie Carragher late on too but the score remained the same until the end of the 90 minutes.

A win is a win and despite the fact the goal tally perhaps should have been higher I was happy with that performance. For me the passing was a lot more purposeful and it proved that you can retain stacks of possession but still attack consistently and vitally find a goal that gets you all three points, for me, it was a big improvement and part of that fell down to the reintroduction of Lucas and the knock on effect he has.

Today the Reds drew Lincoln/Mansfield in the FA Cup which is a very nice draw for Brendan but next up is Udinese away.

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