The Liver Bird  

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Reds On The Hunt For Easter Sunday Win

I wish I had this egg! Happy Easter folks!
Image: thefootiestore.co.uk

Liverpool make the trip to Birmingham on Easter Sunday as they prepare to face Aston Villa. The meeting between the two sides at Anfield was less than favourable for the Reds and after Liverpool's last match before the international break ending in a scoreline that matched their loss to Villa it will be interesting to see whether Brendan's boys can pull themselves together for this one.

Injuries for Liverpool mean that Borini and Allen are both unavailable. Pepe Reina should be able to start again between the sticks though which is a positive for Brendan Rodgers. Aston Villa are without Clark and Holmann but Paul Lambert will have full choice from the rest of his team.

The last time the two sides met was in December last year. Those who follow me on Twitter will know I rarely get to see the lads play but I managed to attend this game, unfortunately for me it wasn't exactly a brilliant one to watch. A real dire performance from the lads was only made a touch better with a Steven Gerrard consolation goal. The game ended 3-1 to Villa.

Liverpool's last visit to Villa Park was a bit more positive with the Reds winning the game 2-0, Craig Bellamy and Martin Skrtel both scored early goals.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have failed to win a game this season after conceding first.
  • Benteke has scored 6 in his last 7 for Aston Villa.
  • Only Man City have kept more clean sheets than Liverpool this season.

I was having a think the other day, mulling over what's happened this season and one thing that was blatantly obvious is that we seem to have solved one problem whilst creating another. Last season I distinctly remember crying out for a natural goalscorer, or at least some more players stepping up and finding the back of the net, now we have Suarez on top form, Daniel Sturridge and also the likes of Coutinho, our attack is far from a problem. 

I read a quote from the BBC yesterday that stated "Last season, only Barcelona had a greater proportion of their play in the final third than Liverpool." but importantly Barcelona knew how to find the back of the bloody net! So now Liverpool have solved the attacking problem, they seem to have created a problem with consistency.

The defence has certainly had it's off days but as stated in the stat sandwich we have more clean sheets than all teams bar one this season and so that's not the real problem, the real problem is that we can go and beat Spurs but lose to Southampton, consistency however is something that comes with time I suppose and as a Liverpool fan you begin to learn that patience is a real part of the job.

Nevertheless I think Liverpool will have learnt their lesson after the last time they faced Aston Villa and for Sunday's game I can see the Reds picking up all 3 points in a 2-1 win.

Enjoy the match folks!

P.s. For those that follow me on Twitter you'll know I recently visited Milan, I had a fantastic time and whilst we were there we did the San Siro tour, it's obviously not fully Liverpool related but I'm thinking of putting up a small post in the next week or so with some pics from the day so keep your eyes peeled.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Dire Defending In Southampton Loss

Coutinho celebrates...
Image: mirror.co.uk

Liverpool fell to a 3-1 defeat at St Mary's on Saturday afternoon and there's no hiding from the fact that sloppy defending and an all round poor performance led the Reds to their fate. Southampton were perhaps underestimated in the run up to this fixture but with Liverpool on such good form it wasn't hard to expect another 3 points, Southampton though were dominant and took full advantage of their ease in breaking through the Liverpool defence.

The Saints first goal came very early into the game, just after the 5 minute mark Liverpool found themselves trailing after a Schneiderlin goal from close range. It was an unexpected start for Brendan's side but with so long left to go nobody was panicking yet.

The first goal though highlighted a similar story for the rest of the game. The newly returned Martin Skrtel would play a part in a rather sloppy defence, don't get me wrong, I'm a Skrtel fan but it annoys me when people are quick to slate his counterpart Jamie Carragher just because he's burning a few more candles, in my eyes Carragher has proved he's still got what it takes and going on Skrtel's performance on Saturday afternoon, the number 23 will probably be back in the starting XI after the break.

Another talking point was the starting of Joe Allen over Lucas Leiva. A decision apparently made because Lucas picked up a niggle left fans wondering whether that was the real reason because we all know full well Allen himself is awaiting a shoulder operation. Either way, despite Allen's less than effective performance he wasn't as big a scapegoat as some people would have you believe, nevertheless for me, Lucas is always the preferred option.

Southampton found their second just after the half hour mark and it's safe to say Liverpool had offered little trouble in return. This time a goal from Liverpool fan and Southampton fan favourite Ricky Lambert to the bottom right of goal meant his side had extended their lead leaving the visitors with a lot of work to do.

Daniel Sturridge had a few half chances in the first 45 minutes but it was fair to say that himself and the influential Luis Suarez were a lot quieter than usual. It fell to Phillipe Coutinho to put Liverpool back into the game.

An original effort from Sturridge didn't find its way to the back of the net but the rebound fell kindly to an awaiting Coutinho who confidently scored Liverpool's first and only goal of the afternoon. It was a good time to score but Liverpool would need to ensure their defending in the second half was ten times better if they were going to get anything from this game.

The second half saw manager Brendan Rodgers make an immediate substitution replacing Joe Allen with Lucas Leiva. The defensive nature of Lucas should aid the Reds ability to block out the Southampton attack and whilst it helped it didn't quite complete the full equation.

A free kick from Suarez after the hour mark saved by Boruc meant Southampton were still safely holding on to a well earned 3 points. Liverpool had been stronger pushing forward in the second half but it wasn't good enough.

With 10 minutes left to go Southampton found themselves a third goal and this was probably the most embarrassing of the lot. You'd think after the first two goals our defence would have at least been on a higher alert but apparently not. Skrtel looked as though he was scared to even make a challenge and quite frankly it was frightening how easy it was for Rodriguez to get through. His goal from inside the area sealed the win for the home side and Liverpool would now have a lot of reflecting to do on that last 90 minutes.

It always amazes me how we can go from such a well oiled performance to a terribly shoddy one. It's clear consistency still isn't our forte and until we find a bit of repetition we won't be challenging to get back into the real part of Europe.

This game is definitely one to forget and perhaps the two week break has come at a good time for Liverpool next up for the Reds is Aston Villa away, another game you would think before kick off would be a 3 pointer for the Reds but with Villa in a buoyant mood after this weeks result and them needing all the hope they can get, who knows what might happen.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, 15 March 2013

Reds Look To Keep European Hopes Alive

It would be nice to see Sturridge on the score sheet on Saturday...
Image: liverpoolecho.co.uk
Liverpool are off down south on Saturday to face Pochettino's Southampton side. The Reds are heading into this game on the back of 3 wins in the league and if Southampton want to bolster their hopes of keeping out of the relegation zone they are going to need to put in a very good performance.

Southampton are currently placed in 16th just a point away from the drop zone whilst Liverpool find themselves in 6th place on 45 points. It's a long shot but the Reds are still mathematically involved in the race for 4th and so Liverpool will relish the chance at picking up another 3 points on Saturday.

Injuries for Liverpool mean that there is still a doubt hanging over Pepe Reina and so we could see Brad Jones between the sticks again. Southampton have no real injury worries at all and Pochettino has a full side to choose from.

The last time the two sides met was in December last year, Liverpool won 1-0 with Daniel Agger finding the back of the net. The last time Liverpool made the trip to St Mary's though was in 2005, the game didn't end well for Liverpool as they lost 2-0. Interestingly, the visit before that to Southampton ended in a 2-0 loss for the Reds too.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool haven't won 4 league games in a row since Feb 2011.
  • Southampton have won 3 out of the last 4 visits from Liverpool to St Marys.
  • The Reds have only scored 4 goals in the last 6 league meetings with Southampton.

Form for Liverpool is seriously at it's best and so I struggle to find a scenario where the Reds will lose this game however Southampton are capable of pulling off an upset as we have seen in their game with Manchester City.

The Reds have scored several goals in the recent fixtures and they haven't just been coming from main man Luis Suarez, with a real threat in attack I feel Southampton will struggle to deal with us and so I will punt for a 3-1 Liverpool win.

Enjoy the match folks!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, 11 March 2013

Suarez Wins Battle Over Bale In Spurs Win

Jamie Carragher played his 500th league game on Sunday...
Image: zimbio.com

Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool side showed real heart on Sunday afternoon as they fought their way past Spurs to win 3-2 at Anfield. Despite the Reds taking the lead via Luis Suarez the away side managed to find an equaliser just before half time. Thankfully for Liverpool though Spurs appeared to become a bit too complacent when they found their second goal and some concentration lapses eventually allowed Stewart Downing to equalise and Luis Suarez to win a penalty for Steven Gerrard to convert.

Liverpool had a rather familiar starting line up aside from the missing Pepe Reina who had a calf problem, Brad Jones took his place. Sturridge was also back up front for the Reds.

It was a lively atmosphere right from kick off at Anfield and there's certainly an air of positivity around the place at the moment. Slowly but surely Liverpool are moving in the right direction and the fans knew that if they could pull out a performance like they did against Wigan and Swansea then a win could be on the cards.

Liverpool's first goal came just after the 20 minute mark. Some lovely link up play from the ever impressive Coutinho and Jose Enrique left the Spurs defence wondering how to deal with the danger. A lovely ball through to Suarez from Enrique left the Uruguayan one on one with the keeper and his effort slid between Lloris and the post.

This game was always going to be about Suarez and Bale and it was fantastic to see Suarez get off the mark first. I also was particularly pleased because my bet was now underway, I had popped a quid on Suarez and 3-2 and we all know how that turned out! Haha. £50 in the bank.

As the first half went on Liverpool began to lose some of their grip and Gareth Bale particularly was getting more and more into the game. At 42 minutes Steven Gerrard jumped with Bale and made contact with the ball in his challenge, there was some contact with Bale too but he didn't half make a meal of it. His theatrics were quite frankly hilarious but it's just typical that once he'd decided to get back up he became a staple in his sides equaliser.

A cross in from Bale left Vertonghen with a relatively simple header, the Liverpool defence should have been more alert but at this stage there wasn't too much to worry about, half time was reached and the Reds were still very much in the game.

7 minutes into the second half and Spurs had found themselves a second again at the hands of Vertonghen, AGAIN assisted by Bale. A failed attempt from Carragher to clear left the Reds in real danger and before you knew it we were behind.

Before the hour mark Brendan Rodgers decided that Liverpool needed some extra help in breaking up play and so Joe Allen was brought on to work with Lucas Leiva, he replaced Phillipe Coutinho.

Just five minutes after the substitution and a poor ball back to the keeper from Assou-Ekotto left Stewart Downing with a chance to steal, he then finished by putting the ball through Vertonghen's legs. Liverpool were now back in the game.

Gareth Bale was still causing problems for a tentative Liverpool defence though and on several occasions the Reds had to retain their concentration in order to keep themselves in this. There would be no shame in a draw here but there was still life in the side yet.

And just after the 80 minute mark perhaps the liveliest of players Luis Suarez won a penalty after being taken down in the box by Assou-Ekotto. Up stepped captain Steven Gerrard and with a confident penalty Liverpool were now back in the lead. I went mental, not only because Spurs needed a good beating but because I was £50 up! All we had to do now was hold on for the last 10 minutes.

And we did! It was great display from Liverpool and despite the defensive errors they maintained the belief and put in the effort to beat a very good Spurs side. Suarez bagged yet another Premier League goal too and we moved closer to that unrealistic 4th spot, but, you never know!

Next up for Liverpool is Southampton away.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, 8 March 2013

Spurs Face Reds On Mother's Day

Suarez V Bale, game on!
Images: liverpoolecho.co.uk & guardian.co.uk
Liverpool welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Anfield on Sunday as the Reds look to provide a special gift for all the Mother's present. Most people would argue that Spurs and Liverpool hold the two best players in the league this season and it will be very, very interesting to see how Suarez and Bale fair in Sunday's fixture.

There are no new injury worries for Liverpool who will probably field a similar team to the one displayed against Wigan with perhaps the addition of Sturridge. I would personally really like Coutinho to start again. Tottenham may be without Aaron Lennon who picked up an injury against Inter Milan. Kaboul and Sandro are also out whilst Huddlestone and Dempsey have doubts hanging over them.

The last time the two sides met was in November last year Gareth Bale featured heavily in the game gifting Liverpool their consolation goal but also finding the net for his side, the game ended 2-1. The last match at Anfield was in February of last year where Liverpool held out for a 0-0 draw. Recent fixtures with Spurs have proved difficult for the Reds and they have failed to beat Tottenham in their past 5 meetings, the last time Liverpool notched up a win was in January 2010.

Form for Liverpool is pretty decent as they have only lost 1 out of their last 6 in the league, Spurs' form however is better as they haven't lost at all recording 4 wins and 2 draws.

Stat Sandwich

  • Luis Suarez is the third player to score more than 20 goals in a season for Liverpool, Fowler and Torres are the other two.
  • Bale could become the first Spurs player to score in 6 games on the trot.
  • The Reds have scored 53 goals so far this season, they have only scored more at this stage in 95/96 with 56 goals.

I'm very excited for this fixture if I am honest Spurs are flying pretty high at the moment and I would love for Liverpool to be the ones to disrupt their momentum, plus the Reds need to push all the way to the end of the season because you never know what might happen.

Coutinho proved against Wigan that he has the flair to dumbstruck any side and he linked up with Suarez beautifully, if Sturridge starts too Liverpool have some real fire power. The defence will need to be on full form as well though if we are to deal with Spurs and most importantly the ever annoyingly good Gareth Bale, I really don't like Bale, especially his stupid goal celebration but the fact is there is no hiding from how influential he has been this season and you can pretty much guarantee he'll find a goal.

At Anfield though and on a good run of form with the real potential for goals, Liverpool can do this and I'm going to punt for 3-2, call me crazy all you like but I'm popping a quid on that on Sunday haha.

Enjoy the match folks!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Hat Trick For Suarez In Wigan Win

Suarez keeps the match ball...
Image: itv.com
A well-oiled Liverpool side put 4 past Roberto Martinez's Wigan on Saturday and took all 3 points from the DW. Stewart Downing headed home Liverpool's first making it only his second league goal for the Reds and Luis Suarez was left to work his magic scoring a hat trick in great style.

There was no Daniel Sturridge for the Reds and once again Jamie Carragher was preferred in defence to the out of favour Martin Skrtel. Looking back after the result it makes you realise that there could have been even more goals because Sturridge would have surely found the back of the net in that game, we're in a comfortable position for a change when it comes to attack.

It only took the Reds a couple of minutes to get off the mark and it was Phillipe Coutinho impressing the masses. Some lovely skill from the ex Inter Milan player allowed him to play in a lovely cross to an awaiting Stewart Downing, the presented header was too easy to miss and Liverpool were 1-0 up.

Liverpool's second goal was even more impressive. Just before the 20 minute mark Coutinho found himself in possession once again, a lovely bit of play making allowed him to create enough space to set up Luis Suarez who timed his run perfectly and slotted the ball home for his first of the evening.

I was the first to admit that I couldn't forge an opinion on Coutinho when we signed him because I'd barely seen anything of him but for a small chap he ain't half bad!! Haha.

Following Liverpool's second goal Wigan managed to apply some pressure of their own. Shots from Boyce and Kone provided real danger for the Reds but some superb goalkeeping from Pepe Reina kept Liverpool very much in control of the game.

If Wigan had converted their attempts they may have thrown Liverpool off guard and so it was important the Reds kept their momentum, luckily, Luis Suarez knew exactly what to do when he was presented with a free kick after being taken down by Caldwell.

The Uruguayan has been immense this season and you can't help but feel confident now when he steps up for a free kick. Despite slipping over Suarez managed to curl the ball into the back of the net with the aid of a deflection. The Reds were now 3-0 up and it wasn't even half time.

Liverpool looked extremely comfortable when the half time whistle was blown and even when Wigan did find a breakthrough the defence and the brilliant Pepe Reina were dealing with any danger. With 45 minutes still to go Liverpool could almost relax but they weren't quite finished yet.

Only 3 minutes into the second half and the Reds found their final goal of the game. A bursting run from Glen Johnson allowed him to play in Luis Suarez who ran at keeper Al Habsi and ended by poking the ball between his legs and into the back of the net, it was a brilliant finish.

Luis Suarez is now top goalscorer in the league and it's nothing short of what he deserves! He's been superb this season and no matter what people say about him, they can't deny his sheer talent on the pitch.

Liverpool made it to 90 minutes without conceding and the reaction from the fans said how pleased everybody was with both the performance and the result. Ok, we have to keep in mind that this was Wigan (no offence to them of course) but it's encouraging to watch Liverpool put in two very good league performances in a row, all that's left now is to push as hard as we can and see what happens in the league so here's hoping it continues until the end of the season.

Next up for the Reds is Tottenham!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, 1 March 2013

Improved Wigan Welcome Reds

Martinez looks as though he'll be keeping Wigan safe again...
Image: telegraph.co.uk
After a short break the Reds are back in business on Saturday against Wigan at the DW. The last time Liverpool were playing in the league they emphatically put 5 past Swansea but with a gap in their momentum can they pull off a similar performance against Wigan away?

Liverpool's only real injury worry for this clash is with Daniel Sturridge who will be subject to a late fitness test. Fabio Borini and Martin Kelly are also still out long term. For Wigan they have no new injury worries but Ryo Miyaichi is still out.

The last time the two sides met in the league was in November last year. Liverpool kept a clean sheet in that game and put 3 past Wigan with Luis Suarez scoring twice and Jose Enrique also finding the back of the net. The last time Liverpool were at Wigan though they were unable to find a goal and the gamed ended in a 0-0 draw. Wigan on the whole have been quite resilient at home against the Reds recently. The last meeting before the 0-0 saw Wigan collect and 1-1 draw and the time before that the Latics won 1-0.

Wigan have only lost 1 of their last 6 games in all competitions and that was at the hands of Rafael Benitez's Chelsea. Liverpool have lost 2 of their last 6 in all comps. Wigan have scored 2 or more goals in 4 of their last 6, something Liverpool can match them on.

Stat Sandwich

  • Luis Suarez so far this season has had 100 shots, only matched by Ronaldo and Messi.
  • Wigan have only had one English player on the score sheet this season - Watson.
  • 6 out of the last 7 meetings between the two sides have seen less than 2.5 goals.

I personally feel that Liverpool have got this game covered. Wigan have been on good form lately and once again they appear to be pulling themselves out of contention for relegation but I feel Liverpool's recent performances will stand them in good stead even away from home.

It would help a lot if Daniel Sturridge did make the start but I get the feeling Luis Suarez will stamp his name on the score sheet for this one however I do feel Wigan will also find the back of the net. If I was going to pop a quid on this game I'd go for 2-1.

Enjoy the match folks!

Labels: , , , ,