The Liver Bird  

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Reds Take One Point After Leading 2-0

The goalscorers celebrate...
Image: telegraph.co.uk
Liverpool managed to lose their grip on victory at the Emirates on Wednesday evening after scoring twice with no Arsenal return. Giroud brought the home side back into the game though just after the hour mark and a Walcott goal soon after levelled things up for the Gunners.

Liverpool started with a slightly changed line up as Pepe Reina was reintroduced between the sticks and Jamie Carragher was added to the back four. Up front for the Reds were Suarez and Sturridge.

Liverpool started the game with real intent, determined to put behind them their loss at Boundary Park, Brendan's boys were eager to pile the pressure on Arsenal. The effort paid off almost immediately as the Reds found their first goal of the night just 5 minutes in.

Arsenal's defence were quite simply all over the shop, failing to clear in the first instance the ball eventually fell to Sturridge for an effort, after half heartedly clearing again the ball fell to Suarez who took his chance head on and slipped the ball past Szczesny giving Liverpool their lead.

Suarez and Sturridge are looking extremely good as a partnership. We all knew Suarez was a bit of a magician but Sturridge also seems to know exactly where Suarez is and when. Sturridge also throughout the game despite not scoring offered us the outlet we have needed for so long, again, Sturridge's presence in the area ultimately led to Suarez receiving the ball and allowed us to gain an early lead.

For the next section of the first half Arsenal did manage to instill some sort of calm, Liverpool were still creating chances but at this stage the home side didn't look like they were going to break that easily, they were creating some good passing play but were struggling more than Liverpool in the final third.

Arsenal's rather safe period didn't last much longer in the game though as Liverpool continued with their momentum and provided several attacks for the home side to deal with. Arsenal's defence began to look very questionable, in open play Suarez and Sturridge were causing havoc and from corners the likes of Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson were making things very difficult for the back four.

Half time was reached with no more goals from either side but it was clear that there was still firepower left, certainly in Liverpool. I'd had a bet on it being 2-2 and with Suarez first goalscorer because I wasn't sure we'd be able to find a win but had predicted there would be goals scored!

Liverpool found their second goal on the hour mark and perhaps deservedly in terms of effort it fell to Henderson. Earlier in the game the midfielder had a chance to chip the ball over the Arsenal keeper but whereas most players have the confidence to take the chance instantly with Henderson you could physically see him hesitating, the thing that gets me with Henderson is his hesitation, if he just had enough guts to go with his first thought he'd be a better player. Nevertheless he made this chance count, this time with some quick thinking he gave the Arsenal defenders the slip, his first effort was saved but he made no mistake with the follow up emphatically putting Liverpool 2-0 up. Again, you could tell from the level of celebration how much the goal meant to Henderson, I have a lot of time and patience for the man I must admit that and was pleased to see him score.

Unfortunately for Henderson and Liverpool things quickly changed after the second goal. Probably fed up with being bossed all over the place Arsenal found an opportunity to pull one back.

Wenger's half time talk must have done the trick. A free kick from Wilshere left Liverpool with a lot to deal with, Giroud with a confident header though had scored Arsenals first.

Just 3 minutes later and the Arsenal onslaught was well and truly underway. Giroud was once again involved, setting up Walcott who with a superb strike had found the home side their equaliser. At this stage I was in one of those extremely horrible situations, this scoreline with Suarez as first goalscorer was about to win me a much needed £47 but I also wanted Liverpool to get the 3 points they were so close to picking up after going 2-0 ahead. Remind me never to bet on a draw again! Lol. It wasn't all bad though because if Johnson found our winner I'd of won a tenner, that would of been sound haha!

Liverpool though couldn't find a winner and neither could Arsenal. With the momentum now in their court there were some hairy moments for the Reds to deal with in the dying moments of the game but we also hit Arsenal on the counter too, eventually the game fizzled out and both sides had to settle for a point each.

This result is a frustrating one really because if you look at a 2-2 scoreline at the Emirates and think about that result before kick off then you'd be pretty happy about it but when you add in that you lost a 2-0 lead in a game you were controlling then it becomes very annoying. The game exposed some of Liverpool's weaknesses but it also highlighted the strengths, as I've said several times in the past few weeks it still definitely feels like slowly but surely Liverpool are moving in the right direction and hey, at least I got 47 quid out of it! Haha.

Next up for Liverpool is Manchester City on Monday!

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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Reds Look To Redeem Themselves At Arsenal

Carragher was very pleased last time he was at the Emirates...
Image: liverpoolecho.co.uk
Liverpool are in London on Wednesday evening preparing to face Arsenal and hoping to put behind them their League Cup loss. After losing to Oldham in the FA Cup this weekend the Reds have had their pride knocked a bit, if they can pull off a result at the Emirates though they may be able to recoup some bragging rights this week.

Thankfully for Liverpool the injury situation is looking a lot better. Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique and Pepe Reina should all be available to start on Wednesday . For Arsenal they are without ex Everton man Mikel Arteta, Fabianski and Coquelin who are all still recovering from injuries. Also unavailable is Gervinho who is at the African Cup Of Nations.

The last time Liverpool and Arsenal met was in September last year. The match at Anfield ended badly for Liverpool who succumbed to a 2-0 defeat. Our last visit to the Emirates though makes for more positive reading, in August 2011 Liverpool won the match 2-0 after an own goal and a Luis Suarez effort.

Both teams have lost 2 out of their last 5 matches but whilst Liverpool have lost to a League 1 side as well as Manchester United, Arsenal have lost to Chelsea and Man City which is perhaps more excusable than our Oldham result.

Both teams also notched up five goals in their last Premier League outings, the Reds putting 5 past Norwich whilst Arsenal only conceded 1 in their confident victory over West Ham.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool are joint with Manchester United on the most away games won in the league at Arsenal (6).
  • Arsenal have only lost 1 of their last 11 Premier League games.
  • If Daniel Sturridge scores for the Reds it will be 4 in 5 for the ex Chelsea player.

I must admit I don't know what to expect from this fixture. Over the past couple of seasons it's become a bit of a thing with Liverpool that they seem to perform pretty well against the big sides even if they aren't collecting results elsewhere, of course playing well doesn't always guarantee a result against the big boys either but we tend to come out of our shell.

With Brendan surely playing a full strength side after the defeat at Boundary Park you would hope that the lads have remembered how fluent they were against Norwich. Ok Norwich aren't Arsenal but if they take that attitude into the game and remain calm whilst they are on the ball then we could really cause those boys at the Emirates some trouble.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Monday, 28 January 2013

League 1 Oldham Knock Out Lacklustre Reds

Matt Smith was brilliant for the home side...
Image: telegraph.co.uk

Liverpool fell to an embarrassing defeat at Boundary Park on Sunday evening as Oldham found an early lead via their influential forward Matt Smith. The Reds found an equaliser shortly afterwards but another Smith goal in the first half left Brendan's boys with a lot of work to do. Wabara's goal in the second half rubbed even more salt into the wounds and despite a stunning Joe Allen strike late on, Liverpool just couldn't find the equaliser that would earn them a replay at Anfield.

Rodgers made some changes to the starting line up which was most notably missing the likes of Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard, although the side was slightly weakened an attack consisting of Raheem Sterling, Fabio Borini, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge meant the Reds were certainly gunning for it.

Paul Dickov set up a strong side to face Liverpool and as mentioned in the preview Wesolowski was made captain in midfield, the boyhood Liverpool fan leading the way in terms of attitude for this important FA Cup Fourth Round tie.

The game couldn't have started much worse for Liverpool who were immediately caught off guard. Matt Smith who was tipped to cause problems by more knowledgeable people than myself was trying his luck on the weakened Liverpool defence. His header fooled the back four and even a late attempt at a clearance from Martin Skrtel couldn't stop Oldham from taking the lead.

It was an unexpected situation for Liverpool to be in but of course, this was the FA Cup, you can almost guarantee that something will go against the grain. The Reds needed to react quickly. Raheem Sterling picked up a booking shortly after the goal for a foul on M'Changama the man who provided the assist for Oldham's goal would eventually leave the field being replaced by Winchester.

Oldham were certainly holding their own in the early stages of the game but when you're up against a player like Luis Suarez it's always sensible to remain alert. The Uruguayan's trickery and confidence allowed him to score low into the right of goal from inside the penalty box to give Liverpool their equaliser.

By now the Reds had steadied themselves a bit, Oldham were still causing problems but all the lads needed to do was make it to half time without conceding again, unfortunately they weren't able to do that.

Matt Smith once again brought the woes for the Reds. Creating havoc for the defence again another goal from inside the box allowed Smith to restore his side's lead just before the half time whistle.

It was frustrating to watch for Reds fans because we knew the defence was not at it's usual strength but even Martin Skrtel who is usually very reliable appeared to be having an off day. What also annoyed me was how quickly the defence became aggravated by Oldham. Dickov had obviously told his side to get stuck in before kick off and so getting on the nerves of the defenders was part of their plan, however I don't appreciate the fact that immediately after we conceded Brad Jones, Skrtel and I think Coates were going mad at an Oldham player for no reason, you could tell the game was already getting to them and Oldham could see that too so they capitalised on this.

The first half for Liverpool was defintely one to forget and it was clear that substitutions would need to be made sooner rather than later if the Reds were going to get anything out of this game. The second half started in exactly the same way as the first though and Liverpool now found themselves adrift.

An assist by Winchester enabled Reece Wabara to send in a lovely header past Brad Jones whilst the Liverpool defence stood agasp. 3-1 down against a League 1 side in the FA cup just wasn't good enough, the only positive for the Reds was that there was still enough time to do something about it.

Just before 55 minutes Brendan Rodgers made the decision to bring on Steven Gerrard and it was perhaps the best move of the game. Gerrard brought with him his famous never say die attitude and immediately there was a spark within the game. Stewart Downing was also brought into play shortly after Gerrard, he replaced Fabio Borini.

It took an improved Liverpool side a further 20 minutes after the introduction of Gerrard to find themselves a second goal. A beautiful strike taken first time from outside the area by Joe Allen flew straight into the right of goal giving Liverpool just a little bit of hope as they searched for an equaliser in the dying minutes.

The best Liverpool could offer was a stinging Steven Gerrard shot that smashed off the cross bar but by the final whistle it was Oldham who were celebrating an historic win over Premier League side Liverpool.

There's no excuses for this result, our poor defence from the onset was the root cause of the problem but the Reds should have never been in a position where they were 3-1 down. Suarez and Sturridge tried their best to get Liverpool back into the game but it just wasn't happening. Congratulations to Oldham who I am now fully backing as they face those bluenoses from over the road!

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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Oldham In Fourth Round For Reds

1993, Rush facing Oldham...
Image: dailymail.co.uk
Liverpool make the rather short trip to Boundary Park on Sunday as they prepare to face Oldham Athletic in the fourth round of the FA Cup. After their emphatic win over Norwich last weekend Liverpool are certainly looking like the favourites going into this tie.

Liverpool are still without Pepe Reina who is recovering from a thigh injury and they are also missing Jose Enrique who isn't quite fit enough to start again in defence. For Oldham they are without Dean Furham who is taking part in the Africa Cup Of Nations.

Oldham are currently 19th in League 1 whilst Liverpool are sitting 7th in the Premier League. Of course league positions don't tend to matter in the FA Cup and even less so when you're facing your opposition on their home turf, anything can happen. Oldham's captain James Wesolowski is also apparently a big Liverpool fan and so I'm sure he'd love to lead his side to victory over the mighty Reds.

We don't have to go far back at all to find the last meeting between the two sides, again in the FA Cup. January 2012 saw Oldham travel to Liverpool though and the Reds punished the away side putting five goals past them, the game ended 5-1. Craig Bellamy was on the score sheet that day.

The last time Liverpool lost at Boundary Park was in 1993 when Oldham won 3-2 in the Premier League, Ian Rush found the back of the net twice for the Reds.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have scored 20 goals in their last 7 FA Cup ties.
  • Oldham have lost three games in a row in the league.
  • The last League 1 side to knock Liverpool out were Bolton.

I'm feeling confident for this game and with Rodgers naming Suarez and Sturridge in the squad it's clear that he isn't taking any chances, he wants them there and available should he need them and with that back up (if they don't start) you have to feel the Reds will win this one.

Oldham are on a very poor run of form and although the occasion could aid their ability with a no doubt very excitable crowd I just don't feel they have the strength to pull it off. Liverpool seem to have hit a point now where things will continue to slowly improve and a win here for me is part of that package.

Enjoy the match folks!

P.s.

If you didn't see it yesterday I uploaded a post about being shortlisted for the Sportskeeda Blogger Awards something I'm delighted with as it is but I'd really appreciate it if you could take two seconds to vote for the blog as best club fan site, I'm the only Liverpool blog in the category too! Just follow this link to view instructions how to vote, thank you! #YNWA

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Friday, 25 January 2013

Give Us A Vote?

Image: sportskeeda.com

Afternoon folks! I'm delighted to announce that I've been shortlisted for the Sportskeeda Blogger Awards! I must admit I've never come across the site before but was very happy to receive the email this morning and I've since had chance to look around, it's a very comprehensive sports website and it would be brilliant to receive an accolade from the folks over at Sportskeeda.

As you all know I was over the moon last July after winning best female blog at the football blogging awards and I'd really appreciate your help in my quest to try and gain the blog another gong.

I know my blog isn't the most technical, that's not what I'm here for and we all know that I'm no footballing genius but one thing I'm sure you will vouch for is my effort, since starting in September 2009 I have only missed one match preview and my blog has become a massive part of my life!

The Liver Bird is the only Liverpool FC blog in the category and we can't have somebody like Republik Of Mancunia winning it now can we?! Lol.

TO VOTE simply follow this link, scroll to the bottom of the page and select "The Liver Bird" for "Best Club Fan Site" then cast your votes for the other categories (Fellow Liverpool blogger Feint Zebra is in the video category, drop him a vote please!) then simply enter your email and submit!

Your votes are very much appreciated, I will keep you updated as things progress, voting ends 31st January!

#YNWA

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Reds In Norwich Rout

Henderson was over the moon with his goal...
Image: guardian.co.uk
Liverpool put 4 past Norwich and accepted a gifted own goal to finish their 5-0 rout at Anfield on Saturday as the doubters of the Sturridge and Suarez partnership were hushed once again. In a game where Steven Gerrard found the back of the net and Jordan Henderson too it was a brilliant performance from the Reds who look to be finding their feet.

Liverpool were without Pepe Reina and Martin Skrtel for this one and so Brad Jones was between the sticks with Jamie Carragher brought back into the defence. Norwich were thankful to be able to start their main man Grant Holt up front as they would need the extra fire power.

Immediately for Liverpool it was clear that Sturridge and Suarez (despite the small amount of time they've been working together) had an awareness about them. Sturridge knew exactly where Suarez was and Suarez knew exactly where Sturridge was, to be playing that freely already and feeling confident in your partner is fantastic and it wasn't long until Suarez was causing problems for the Norwich defence.

Weaving in and out and closing in from tight angles as he always does, Suarez was causing havoc in the run up to Liverpool's first goal. Eventually the ball found it's way to Jordan Henderson, most who praise Henderson will still admit that he's very much a confidence player and so to see him "have a pop" with the way the ball fell to him was fantastic. Hitting it first time it was a cracking finish that flew straight into the back of the net and gave Liverpool the lead. Henderson celebrated emphatically, you could see what it meant to him.

Ten minutes later and that man Suarez was making sure everybody was talking about him again. On a break he took the ball all the way to the keeper and with typical flair, provided a classy finish to give Liverpool their second. Lucas set him up after Sturridge allowed the ball to run through his legs, knowing that the Uruguayan striker was free.

Things were going almost too well for Liverpool, you have to take into account the opposition and the fact it was at Anfield of course but we were running like a smoothly oiled machine, even with big changes to our usual line up.

Norwich were creating chances here and there and sprung Brad Jones into action very early on but the Reds had too much of a hold on the game now, it had the feel of a goal fest and it certainly turned into one.

No substitutions were made from either side for the second half. Norwich needed a spark to be honest but Hughton wasn't ready to change things yet. He'd perhaps left it too late though as Daniel Sturridge scored close to the hour mark.

It's 3 in 3 for the ex Chelsea man and once again he was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, it's such a simple goal but as I've mentioned before, Downing plays that lovely cross in any other game pre - Sturridge and it's simply not scored, because no one is bloody there in the box waiting! A tap in suits me just fine.

It's a late one but my New Year's resolution is definitely to learn Sturridge's celebratory dance...

Hughton made a sub five minutes after this goal bringing on Hoolahan for Bennett who ended up having a less than favoured impact on the game. Norwich are in a bit of a rut at the moment after a good start to the season and they may have fancied their chances of getting something against us after their draw last time out at Anfield but it just wasn't to be.

Immediately after the substitution Steven Gerrard decided he'd quite like to get in on the action and with a goal that showed remnants of his glory days, his long range shot beat the keeper to the left bottom corner of the goal.

Raheem Sterling and Fabio Borini were brought into play shortly after the Gerrard goal and it makes you realise that we do have some decent options at the moment, people who can add a different element to a game.

Just to rub salt in the wounds for Norwich, Raheem Sterling created the problem that caused their man to turn the ball into the back of his own net at 75minutes. It was unfortunate for Ryan Bennett but some good work by Sterling meant his cross would have probably been met by Fabio Borini anyway even if Bennett didn't get in the way.

It was a brilliant performance from Liverpool, a real rout and to keep a clean sheet too is just fantastic. I'd never have guessed a 5-0 scoreline pre-match. It must be a hard one to take for Norwich who didn't actually play all that bad but for a change Liverpool were not wasting their chances and made nearly every one count. If we can take that kind of attitude and performance to Arsenal next in the league then we may well be on to something but before that we have to face Oldham in the FA Cup.

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Friday, 18 January 2013

Norwich At A Snowy Anfield

Pacheco in the snow at Melwood...
Image: @dani37pacheco
Liverpool are apparently ready despite the wave of snow hitting the country to face Norwich on Saturday afternoon at Anfield. With preparations well underway the main problem lies with the travel arrangements of the fans who have a long way to commute however assuming systems are still go I'll try and give you some sort of match preview!

Liverpool have no new injury worries but many are wondering whether new signing Daniel Sturridge will get a start or not after scoring in both games he's featured in so far. Norwich are in a better position too with players like Surman returning from injury and Grant Holt may also be ready to start after suffering a hamstring problem recently.

Norwich are currently 12th in the league 5 points behind Liverpool who are placed in 8th. Norwich are on a rather poor run at the moment losing 4 out of their last 5 Premier League games, Liverpool however have won 3 out of their last 5.

The last time the two sides met was in September and it ended up being a bit of a goal fest with the Reds taking all 3 points. Suarez scored a hat trick in the game that ended 5-2. The last time Norwich were at Anfield they managed to hold out a 1-1 draw and so they are capable of getting a result.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have scored at least once in their last 9 Premier League matches.
  • Norwich have kept 5 clean sheets at home this season but they aren't so successful away.
  • Daniel Sturridge was the first Liverpool player to score on his league debut since Luis Suarez.

Liverpool may have lost against Manchester United last weekend but there were certainly some positives to take from the game, namely Sturridge and the possibility of a great link up between him and Suarez being created. Also Borini was back fit and that provides us with another option from the bench and I felt the lads once they banged their heads together applied some good pressure and showed real fight.

Taking all this into account I feel Liverpool should be on to a winner tomorrow, Norwich are on a real bad run and unless something switches in the game on Saturday I can't see them getting a result at Anfield however I still expect them to find the back of the net. If the game goes ahead I'm going for a 2-1 Liverpool win.

Enjoy the match folks and the snow!

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Monday, 14 January 2013

Reds Fail To Make A Comeback At Old Trafford

Sturridge celebrates...
Image: telegraph.co.uk
Liverpool fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United on Sunday after a poor first half performance allowed the home side to take the lead, another goal in the second half almost put Brendan's boys to bed but Liverpool managed to apply a lot of pressure and found a consolation goal via Daniel Sturridge.

All eyes were on both teams strikers for this one as Van Persie and Suarez both started up front. An injured Rooney was unavailable for Manchester United whilst Liverpool kept new signing Sturridge on the bench. Also back for Liverpool was Fabio Borini and for a change there was an abundance of fire power present for the Reds.

Liverpool began the game very much on the back foot, considering beforehand pundits and fans alike suggested our midfield would boss the possession, it didn't exactly go to plan. United were the ones retaining the ball and on several occasions when Liverpool intercepted they quickly lost possession.

With the United keeper untroubled throughout the first 20 minutes it was Pepe Reina who soon had to spring into action. A cross from Patrice Evra was met by none other than Robin Van Persie who slotted the ball home easily and gave his side the lead.

It was no surprise to see Van Persie score and after the start we had we deserved to be behind. Liverpool really struggled in the first half and things were made worse when it was clear several players were having an "off day" at exactly the wrong time. Allen had (being kind) a bit of a nightmare, Sterling wasn't as effective as he usually is, Johnson was also slipping up and Andre Wisdom had a hell of a lot to deal with, it was clear that a substitution or two would be needed for the second half.

Brendan Rodgers decided to bring on Daniel Sturridge replacing Lucas Leiva whilst United replaced Ashley Young with Valencia. As I've mentioned before I'm quite excited by Sturridge's potential I just hope he fulfils it but I was certainly happy when Brendan decided to bring him on to link up with Luis Suarez.

Unfortunately for Liverpool Suarez was also having no luck, I was convinced before the game that he would find the back of the net but nothing seemed to fall right for the Uruguayan, it certainly wasn't through lack of effort but it just wasn't happening, things perked up though when he had Sturridge to work with.

A goal from United just after the 50 minute mark dampened Liverpool renewed spirits a bit, the Vidic header which he nicked off Evra gave United a buffer but it still felt like the Reds were capable of finding a goal, the pressure had increased immensely now and finally we were beginning to trouble De Gea.

3 minutes after the United goal and Liverpool had found their consolation. A shot from Steven Gerrard was parried away by De Gea but unfortunately for him Daniel Sturridge was encroaching immediately and he scored his second in two appearances for Liverpool. The most important thing to note with this goal for me was the fact it wouldn't have been scored in the first half. Liverpool recently have had no players in the box, Suarez is left with so much work that most of the time he can't wait in there because he's trying to create the attack himself, Sturridge however, well that's what he's there for, a poacher. I was very pleased with his performance on Sunday.

With a goal now boosting their more positive performance Liverpool desperately searched for an equaliser and again it did seem possible, United were breaking ever so slightly and all we needed was one good chance.

Borini and Henderson were brought on in an attempt to bolster our attack and it definitely worked, chances fell to Sturridge who hit the side netting, Johnson and Suarez who did well to even keep the ball at his feet on occasions but the Reds just couldn't find that all important goal.

Remarkably nobody was sent off during the game and neither was there a penalty. As always Liverpool put in a respectable performance and it certainly seems despite the loss that we're slowly moving in the right direction now, there's no shame in losing to Manchester United at Old Trafford, it's just bloody annoying! But with players coming back to fitness and our new boy Sturridge coming in to play I think we can begin a push now to the end of the season, however the Arsenal and Man City games are going to be very tough.

Next up for the Reds is Norwich at home.

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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Suarez And Van Persie Look To Seal Their Side The Win

The strikers go head to head...
Image: independent.co.uk
It's that time of year again, the time when Liverpool make the short trip to Manchester and attempt to wipe that smug grin off Alex Ferguson's old wrinkly face. He can chew all the extra he wants, everything that comes out of his mouth still stinks and on Sunday the Reds will look to pull off a rare victory at Old Trafford.

With Daniel Sturridge scoring on his debut for Liverpool and Luis Suarez in excellent form it certainly feels as though the Reds are capable of scoring, the thing that worries me is can we hold on to a lead if we manage to find one?

For Liverpool there are no new injury worries but with the news about Jose Enrique recently there has been a shuffle in defence with Glen Johnson switching sides and Andre Wisdom most likely taking the right back position for this one. I like Wisdom a lot but I get the feeling he's going to have a tough time against United.

The Red Devils are minus their scouse talisman Wayne Rooney but it won't worry them too much what with Van Persie and Hernandez both fully available. United also received positives this week with Nani and Anderson getting back to full fitness.

This is a massive game for Liverpool one that never really needs an introduction but the bragging rights are even bigger this year because the Reds are yet to beat a side above them in the table, quite a sobering stat I'm sure you'll agree.

It's an important section of the season for the Reds who face Arsenal away after Norwich at home followed by Manchester City away. There's a lot riding on it for United too though who will be looking to extend their lead at the top of the table.

United haven't lost in their last 5 meetings in all comps whilst Liverpool have lost twice at the hands of Stoke and Aston Villa.

The last time the two sides met was in September when Steven Gerrard opened the scoring, Jonjo Shelvey was given his marching orders beforehand and Liverpool eventually let two goals in and lost the game.

We haven't won at Old Trafford since that famous and frankly brilliant 4-1 victory in 2009 despite this Liverpool have still managed to find the back of the net away from home in this tie in 3 out of the last 4 occasions.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have had 412 shots at goal so far this season.
  • United have come back from a losing position more times than any other team this season.
  • Liverpool V Everton is the only other game to have more red cards than this fixture.

As always I'm mega excited for this game and until recently, unfortunately my confidence in our performances had gone, however we seem to have hit a bit of a positive patch and without getting ahead of myself I seriously think we could get a result from Old Trafford on Sunday.

If Suarez plays like he has been doing then the newly fit Vidic is going to struggle to deal with him, Suarez is exactly the man to find a weakness if it's there and then pick at it and I certainly fancy him to grab a goal on Sunday. As I mentioned at the start of the post though my problems lie with our ability to hold on to a lead, these games always have controversy and I can just see us going ahead and then United getting a penalty or something, they always seem to need an extra push to get back into the game against us just lately and they may be top of the league but they are vulnerable.

Robin Van Persie scares me though, give him even half a chance and we'll be dead in the water. Perhaps optimistically I will punt for a 1-1 draw tomorrow but my cheeky punt is definitely going on a 2-1 Suarez scorecast!

Enjoy the match folks! Game on!

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P.s. If you fancy winning a Gerrard T-Shirt head over to the blog's Facebook page and "like" the post, one lucky winner will be drawn at random on Sunday after the United game!

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Monday, 7 January 2013

Sturridge Scores In Stags Win

A very touching tribute to the 96 from Mansfield Town...
Image: itv.com
Liverpool are through to the next round of the FA Cup after beating Mansifeld Town 2-1 on Sunday. Some controversy arose about the manner in which the Reds scored their second goal but Mansfield failed to make their chances late on in the game despite finding a consolation.

Brendan Rodgers made several changes for this fixture and he also gave Daniel Sturridge his first Liverpool start whilst Luis Suarez had to settle for the bench.

The Reds didn't take long to get themselves off the mark at Mansfield and I quickly began to regret not popping some money on Sturridge for first goalscorer before we got to the pub...

The ex Chelsea man immediately stamped his authority on the side after a timed pass from Jonjo Shelvey the forward confidently finished without any hesitation and put Liverpool 1-0 up. I've felt a bit like the black sheep lately on Twitter in terms of opinions on Sturridge because I personally was pretty pleased with the signing, albeit a bit more expensive than I'd of hoped. I'm not over the moon about it but I'm genuinely pretty happy, most people however seem to be very sceptical but here's hoping Sturridge can prove the doubters wrong.

For the remainder of the first half Liverpool may not have been able to find the net again but the match was still very much in their control, the real swing came after the sides came back out for the second half.

The Reds had control first half but it was clear the candles were dimming, Mansfield must have had an enthralling team talk at half time, the kind you only see in the magic of the FA Cup. They certainly came out all guns blazing and confident in the second half, almost as confident as their CEO who made sure she appeared in every camera angle possible.

Shots were coming in left, right and centre for Mansfield with the likes of Howell, Green and Briscoe really stealing the show. Liverpool looked vulnerable now and Mansfield were craving that goal.

Noticing this Rodgers decided to make two subs just before the hour mark with both Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson coming on. Suso and Sturridge left the field.

He'd barely been on the pitch five minutes and Luis Suarez was at the centre of attention once again. I'm not one to beat around the bush as you know so here goes... It was handball, I know it, you know it, Mansfield know it (apparently the officials don't) but there's no hiding from it, it was hand ball, what's Suarez supposed to do though? Own up? Pah. This theory is just ridiculous, as I mentioned on Twitter early today what happened when Robbie Fowler owned up to that "none penalty" ... ? They still give him the soddin penalty. It's ridiculous to think it's Suarez's job to own up to a poor decision, never going to happen. People need to grow up and move on.

After glancing at some of the media portrayals of Suarez today it's only cemented my view that the majority are treating him as a pantomime villain. Simply out to create a vendetta against the man at every possible opportunity, it's quite frankly pathetic and I can't wait until Suarez gets his name plastered over the papers again after the United game. It really must be exhausting being so jealous and full of hate.

I can totally understand Mansfield's frustration because in fairness there were some other "handball" moments within the game that appeared to go ignored, on another day the game may have been 1-1 before the Reds found a second but you still can't say whether that would have been enough facing a Liverpool side with Luis Suarez up front, if his hand didn't find the back of the net his foot eventually would have... There's a quote for ya!

The home side put up a valiant fight as the second half continued and eventually their hard work paid off. Matt Green found his side a goal from inside the area and sent the home fans mental. With 10 minutes still left to go there was still some hope for the stags but they weren't quite able to find there way to an Anfield replay and Liverpool walked away victorious.

Next up for Liverpool is only Manchester bloody United. And just in case you didn't know, guess who the ref is? ... Howard Webb. Should be in for some fun here!

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Saturday, 5 January 2013

Reds Face Stags In FA Cup

The home for Sunday's clash...
Image: merciatouristboard.org.uk
The Reds are off to the East Midlands on Sunday as they prepare to face their conference opposition; Mansfield Town in the FA Cup. After a run that saw them go all the way to the final last year, it's certainly a competition Liverpool want to stamp their mark on and they have a real chance to progress here at Field Mill.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are without Jose Enrique. I was gutted to hear that he'll be out for up to 6 weeks after his hamstring pull. Reds fans will also eagerly await to see whether Sturridge will get his first game in a Liverpool shirt. Mansfield from what I can find have no new injury worries and they also have a boost with Jake Speight and Richie Sutton being available.

The two sides have met only twice before back in 1970 for the League Cup. Mansfield managed to hold on to a 0-0 draw at home but the tie at Anfield saw the game end 3-2 to Liverpool.

Mansfield are currently placed 9th in the Conference but have played fewer fixtures than most of the sides above them, with 35 points they're still very much in with a chance of promotion via the playoffs. Liverpool on the other hand couldn't be much further away from the Nottinghamshire side, sitting 8th in the Premier League.

For fans of a conference side awaiting a club like Liverpool at your door there's bound to be excitement and I never mentioned in the blog post after the Villa game the chap who had travelled to Anfield... He worked in some sort of capacity for Mansfield, was on the 17 bus standing up near the front close to me and my fella and he kept mentioning that he'd come to suss us out before we went to "the best side in the Midlands" haha. I'd be surprised if that bloke sees this but if you do, give us a shout! #Banter

Stat Sandwich

  • The last time a non-league side knocked out Liverpool was in 1959 when we were beaten by Worcester.
  • Mansfield are 93 league places below Liverpool.
  • The last time Liverpool faced a non-league side in the FA Cup was in 2008 - Havant & Waterlooville
With the game on ESPN (which I don't bloody have) I think I might try to go out to watch this one though I'm supposed to be revising like a nutjob... This match has the build up and essence of that "magic" everybody talks about though and I'd also love to have a proper look at Sturridge if he gets his first game. I get the feeling there'll be goals and will punt for a 3-1 for Liverpool here.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Suarez, Sterling & Gerrard Steal The Sunderland Show

Suarez celebrates with Sterling...
Image: uk.eurosport.yahoo.com
Liverpool put in a superb performance at Anfield on Wednesday night as they topped off the festive season with a 3-0 win over Sunderland. Brendan was back on the sidelines after his illness whilst the likes of Suarez and Co were making the opposition feel sick as they took hold of the game.

In a game where Liverpool produced 27 shots and 16 on target, the pace and pressure was high immediately. It was a refreshing change to the sometimes unproductive passing regime that has taken hold of the Reds lately.

The first goal of the game came just before 20 minutes and it fell to our starlet Raheem Sterling to get Liverpool off the mark. Strength from Steven Gerrard firstly allowed him to get the ball to Suarez who then also showed his armour and with real awareness put a ball over to Raheem. Sterling knew exactly what he planned to do with this chance and he cheekily lobbed keeper Mignolet leaving Sunderland stunned.

It was a cracking goal and just proves the potential there is in Raheem Sterling, I for one am so pleased he signed that new contract, he's a talent we couldn't afford to lose.

7 minutes later and once again Luis Suarez was showing the sceptics that he doesn't always live up to his "diving" stereotype and often shows power and determination. After almost getting taken out on the right side of the box Suarez held his nerve and continued his run into the area, from an angle that most people wouldn't favour he somehow managed to fire in a shot and send Liverpool 2 in front. He was set up by Steven Gerrard.

Steven Gerrard in this game was just fantastic, he really put on show how he can take hold of a game for his side and help force them to victory. When he feels more free and when the lads are linking well with him he just goes mental, some of the passes on show from him yesterday, only he is capable of, what a captain.

In the second half Sunderland brought on Campbell to replace Sessegnon, Sunderland had a few flashes during the game but it was remarkable how strongly Liverpool were bossing the show.

Just after the 50 minute mark and Steven Gerrard was linking up with Luis Suarez yet again. A pin point pass straight into the box left Suarez with the chance to finish off the game and he did just that, 3-0 for Liverpool and even before the hour mark it was game over.

It was one of those games for Liverpool that made it look as though we'd finally found some sort of rhythm and purpose to our play. Too many games we've wasted chances or passed and passed the ball around to no avail, I'm not sure what changed last night but it was ten times better and with Suarez on the form he is I for one am very much looking forward to our next few tough away clashes especially the one at Old Trafford.

Next up for Liverpool though is their FA Cup tie at Mansfield.

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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Black Cats At Anfield

Here's hoping Brendan is feeling better...
Image: telegraph.co.uk
Liverpool welcome Sunderland to Anfield tomorrow and hopefully Brendan Rodgers will be well enough to oversee this one as the Reds look to take another 3 points in the league. It was a confident win for Liverpool against QPR but Sunderland perhaps pose a stronger threat.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are without the influential Jose Enrique who pulled his hamstring against QPR there is also the problem looming around camp of the illness that the manager has had, some of the players like Brad Jones picked up the virus too and it is hoped the rest of the side have escaped catching the illness.

Sunderland have no new injury worries except the absence of John O'Shea who like Enrique pulled his hamstring in the Black Cats tie with Spurs at the weekend.

Liverpool are currently placed 9th in the league whilst Sunderland are in 13th, 6 points behind the Reds.

The last time the two sides met was in September 2012, the game ended in a 1-1 draw with Luis Suarez and Steven Fletcher finding the back of the net. We have to go back to 1983 to find a win for Sunderland at Anfield.

Stat Sandwich

  • The Reds hit the bar or post 26 times in 2012.
  • Sunderland have scored at least 1 goal in their last 7 Premier League matches.
  • Suarez has more away goals this season than any other player; 8.

I'm hoping Liverpool can carry forward their positivity from the QPR game for this one because Sunderland are certainly beatable at Anfield. The missing Jose Enrique could cause some problems because he's been fantastic going forward for us but I'm sure the Reds will try to find another option. If Suarez plays like he did at the weekend then we're definitely in for some goals.

Happy New Year folks!

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