The Liver Bird  

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Suarez Who? Reds Haven't Lost Their Bite

Henderson had a very good game for Liverpool...
Image: mirror.co.uk
It was an emphatic win for Liverpool on Saturday at St James' Park after the Reds found 6 goals without their influential forward; Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan has been all over the news this week and I don't need to fill you in with the details but Brendan Rodgers insured his side would be in the headlines for totally different reasons this weekend.

Liverpool started with Sturridge up front and the skillful Coutinho in midfield. Fabio Borini was also back on the bench which was another positive for the Reds. There was a boost for Newcastle too who had Tiote and Cisse back.

The game started extremely well for Liverpool who quickly got themselves off the mark via defender Daniel Agger. An assist from Coutinho allowed Agger to head home Liverpool's first near the 3 minute mark. It was a refreshing change to Liverpool's recent performances in the league that have ended in nil-nil draws.

Newcastle haven't exactly been playing the most brilliant of stuff lately and they barely got chance to reassess the situation before the away side found themselves another goal. This time it was Jordan Henderson with a goal from inside the box, set up by Daniel Sturridge. Henderson always looks so happy when he scores, I realise everybody does but you can tell with Henderson that it really means a lot to him.

Both Sturridge and Coutinho who set up the first two goals were very impressive in this game. They both proved what a partnership they could forge and after such a brilliant start their confidence only grew throughout the game.

I actually missed the first half and when turning up at the pub for the second the first thing I said was I bet you now we've scored two goals that I've missed nothing else will happen... How wrong I was.

The start of the second half saw two substitutions from Alan Pardew who obviously was aware of Newcastle's current dangerous situation in the league. Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran were brought on in an attempt to get the magpies back into the game.

Things went from bad to worse for Newcastle though as once again with barely a chance to catch their breath, Liverpool had found the back of the net. A cracking goal from Daniel Sturridge appeared as though it was destined to happen with his presence in the game and it was none other than Coutinho who set him up.

This was really encouraging stuff from Liverpool who looked a completely different side to the one we've seen of late. It's bloody frustrating though because I don't think you could find a better example of inconsistency, to finish this game how we did but then earlier in the season lose to the likes of Southampton? Well it's just baffling.

5 minutes later and Sturridge was at it again. This time with an easy finish after a set up from Jordan Henderson, the tap in put Liverpool 4 goals to the good and still with more than half hour left of the game.

Newcastle looked genuinely dumbstruck, they obviously knew this wasn't going to be an easy game but I don't think even Liverpool fans were predicting a performance like this.

Just after the 70 minute mark Brendan Rodgers took the opportunity to bring on Fabio Borini who has been out injured for a while, he replaced Steven Gerrard. I really like Borini I think his appetite for the game is fabulous but I'm the first to admit he hasn't scored enough since his arrival, however I knew he wasn't going to be a double figure man when he arrived. I actually joked that he wouldn't find the net when he came on but he shut my mouth pretty quickly.

Just a minute after he'd stepped on to the pitch he was assisted by Downing and with an almost toe poke sent home Liverpool's 5th of the game. He of course celebrated with his infamous dagger in the mouth celebration and hilariously apparently today The Sunday Mirror have said that this celebration was a nod to Luis Suarez, they obviously didn't follow him in his Roma days then, divs.

Shortly after the Borini goal Newcastle's performance was clearly grating on some of their players and a second yellow card for Debuchy saw him leave the field. With 10 men now on the pitch Newcastle had almost given up but Liverpool still weren't quite finished yet.

Another goal for Jordan Henderson on the 75 minute mark would complete the Reds' rout. A free kick awarded on the edge of the box allowed Henderson to send his effort all the way through the crowd and into the back of the net. It was a brilliant effort from Hendo.

Suso and Shelvey were brought on in the dying minutes but Liverpool had already settled the score here at St James' Park and at the final whistle the travelling Kop were clearly ecstatic with the performance they had just seen.

It's just a shame we can't play them every week!

Next up for Liverpool is the slight matter of the Merseyside Derby at Anfield.

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Friday, 26 April 2013

Reds Travel To Newcastle

Sturridge made a real impact when he came on against Chelsea...
Image: mirror.co.uk
Liverpool make the trip to St James' Park on Saturday as they look to end their season on a high even if it will be without the influential Luis Suarez. With just 3 games left after this clash it's important the Reds don't lose their focus because they still could drop out of the European places.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are still without long term absentees but Fabio Borini may reappear on the bench. The Reds are also obviously without Luis Suarez who starts his 10 match ban, Daniel Sturridge will most likely start up front though to be honest I'm not sure why he hasn't been starting anyway.

For Newcastle they are without Tim Krul and Slyvain Marveaux but their captain Coloccini is set to return. Tiote is also back for the magpies.

Newcastle are currently 16th in the league just 6 points off the drop zone. Liverpool are currently positioned in 7th on 51 points. Liverpool have lost just one out of their last 6 league games but their last 3 have all been draws. Newcastle have lost 3 out of their last 6 matches in all competitions, their biggest blow perhaps coming at the hands of Paolo Di Canio.

The last time the two sides met was on my birthday in November last year, Luis Suarez was on the scoresheet and the game ended 1-1. The Reds last visit to St James' Park ended badly with Pepe Reina getting sent off and Cisse scoring twice. The last time Liverpool won at Newcastle was in December 2008.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have failed to win a game in April so far.
  • Newcastle have played 32 different players this season the most from any side in the league.
  • Liverpool have been caught offside 97 times this season, that's the most from any league side too.

I must admit I'm not feeling too optimistic about this one, Newcastle have more fight and reason to win this game in my eyes and that will play against Liverpool. The Reds seem a bit disheartened of late and with the big blow of missing Luis Suarez it will be a tough game for the Reds. However I do fancy Daniel Sturridge to find a goal and if we score early I can see us getting a 2-1 win, I'd feel a lot more confident though if this fixture was at home.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Monday, 22 April 2013

Suarez Leaves Liverpool Fans Biting Their Tongues

Rest in peace Anne...
Image: sabotagetimes.com

It was an eventful day to put it kindly on Sunday in Merseyside as Liverpool prepared to applaud the memory of Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams and the victims of the Boston marathon whilst also welcoming ex manager and fan favourite Rafael Benitez back. As if the headlines weren't big enough before the whistle they'd soon swell up even further post match after the footballing public looked back on what appeared to be almost certainly a bite on Ivanovic from Luis Suarez. Pushing all of that aside Liverpool actually fought hard and picked up a good result with the game ending 2-2 and of course it was Suarez who found the winning goal.

I feel as though I should start with the Suarez incident really for this post just because it's such a pressing topic and to voice my opinion then get it out the way to do a match roundup would perhaps be a better order of things. 

The first moment that caused a reaction from me was when I saw Ivanovic sitting on the floor trying to tell Kevin Friend that he'd been bitten on the arm by Suarez. Suarez was in the box limping from what looked originally like a normal clash with the defender. My first thought was that Ivanovic was playing to the ref, any old excuse to get Suarez in trouble because we all know he's an easy target, I was wrong to think this of course and my opinion was perhaps coloured by a dislike for Chelsea but nevertheless Suarez had of course done this before.

The next thing we saw was a zoomed in replay and to my despair all you could see was Luis Suarez in the corner of the screen physically grabbing Ivanovic's arm and sinking his teeth in to it. I couldn't quite believe what we were seeing to be honest. What made things worse is that the conversation in the pub about Suarez biting someone was bad enough to start with but to be ending sentences with "again" after he bit somebody in his time at Ajax, well it's just unacceptable.

I have no idea what an earth his thought process is when he's deciding whether or not it would be a good idea to bite another player but he's quite simply a nutcase. There's people online attempting to find any ounce of an excuse to defend Suarez but I personally won't. I do also feel that people using the example of Defoe not getting properly punished for doing the same thing or the fact a bite doesn't injure a player is ridiculous, these people are totally missing the point. It doesn't matter if it hasn't injured somebody or if somebody got away with it before, it's completely and utterly wrong and any punishment Suarez serves will be completely deserved. The club today have announced he has been fined and they will await a decision from the FA.

Despite all of this though, just because Suarez has done something indefensible that doesn't mean I no longer want him at my club, far from it. Sometimes geniuses are flawed and it appears as though we have one of these characters on our hands I just hope he can learn to calm down a bit else we'll be constantly missing him through bans.

ANYWAY...

On to the game. A minutes applause for the inspirational Anne Williams opened proceedings and there were several banners displayed in her memory at Anfield. Shortly after the game kicked off Rafael Benitez also got his expected warm welcome as sections of Anfield began to sing his name. It was nice but strange to see Rafa back, you could tell he misses the place though.

Brendan Rodgers had started a similar XI to the last fixture but for me the most questionable part was why Daniel Sturridge wasn't starting again, I personally haven't really understood this decision and you would think in a game against his old club Brendan may have started him but Sturridge had to wait until the second half to feature.

The first half wasn't a brilliant one for Liverpool who started the game ok but quickly lost control with possession being lost left right and centre. It appeared to be a struggle to successfully complete a pass at times which was annoying to watch.

Chelsea made things worse for the Reds when they took advantage of some poor defending after a corner at 25 minutes. Oscar had managed to create just the slightest bit of space and his glancing header found the back of the net putting the away side ahead. Carragher made a late decision to follow Oscar out but it was already a done deal, Agger was also spotted discussing with Reina about marking Oscar but he never did so it was difficult to choose somebody solely at fault for the goal.

Fernando Torres made the start for Chelsea and unlike the one received by his manager, the Torres reception wasn't a very welcome one at all. He must have been pleased to have a mask to hide behind as boos rang out whenever he touched the ball and the likes of Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger made it their mission to stop him from breaking through.

The first half ended without any further goals but Liverpool certainly weren't out of this yet. Coutinho was replaced at half time by Daniel Sturridge and whilst I wanted Sturridge on I wasn't sure I wanted Coutinho off, however the substitution proved to be immediately effective.

With almost his first touch of the game Daniel Sturridge fizzed a shot from 25 yards but couldn't find the goal. 5 minutes later though and he had found it. A lovely set up starting with a ball from Carragher in defence to Downing, then to Suarez who played a lovely ball through to Sturridge allowed the striker to finish to the bottom left of goal.

Sturridge was a breath of fresh air in what had become a difficult game and with an equaliser now secured the Reds had that springboard to take the game to Chelsea. However things weren't set to pan out that way.

Shortly after the Sturridge goal Suarez was flailing around defending a Chelsea corner with one hand in the air, it was definitely a penalty and in fairness even before the later more serious incident, this annoyed me too. You don't put your hands up like that in the box. Eden Hazard successfully converted his penalty to put Chelsea back in the lead to the away fans delight.

Liverpool may have had some renewed strength in attack after bringing Sturridge on but it felt like there was a long way to go now. Suarez was clearly frustrated with conceding a penalty for his side and I can only imagine that this was the fuel for his resulting bite on Ivanovic, this was the next incident of note to happen really but I voiced my opinion on this at the start of the post. (Just to note if you have any of your own views I'm always interested in your opinions so drop a comment in match chat below!)

After the extremely controversial incident it was written in the stars that Suarez would somehow find his glowing side again and secure Liverpool a point, and that he did. A cross from Daniel Sturridge set up the Uruguayan who headed home for Liverpool in the 7th minute of stoppage time. 6 were added on but it's believed Kevin Friend added those extra seconds that became so vital to Liverpool due to the time it took for Juan Mata to leave the field at 90 minutes.

It was a good result for Liverpool considering what happened and as much as we all would like to focus on the positives the game will always be remembered for Suarez mistaking Ivanovic's arm for a stick of French bread.

Suarez has apologised to both Ivanovic and the fans/players/Liverpool Football Club since the incident and as much as this has to be appreciated it obviously won't be enough. There's people saying he's apologised for his mistake so let's move on and whilst I agree we should move on as Liverpool fans who want to see the right side of Suarez there's no denying that this wasn't a “mistake”, a “mistake” is buying the wrong milk not chewing someone's arm.

Next up for Liverpool is Newcastle United, don't be surprised if they all line up in garlands of garlic.

#IStillJustCantGetEnough

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Saturday, 20 April 2013

Benitez Back At Anfield

It's sure to be an emotional return for Rafa on Sunday...
Image: mirror.co.uk
Sunday will not only be a big game for Liverpool as they search to pick up all three points against rivals Chelsea but it will also mark the return of a very special man to most; Rafael Benitez. Whatever people's opinion of him he did a hell of a lot for this football club and I'm not afraid to admit that I love the man, I expect a very good reception for the man who brought the European Cup back to Anfield on Sunday but once the whistle is blown he and the fans both know he'll be a sworn enemy.

There are no new injury worries for Liverpool but there's still a long list of players out including Fabio Borini and Joe Allen. Chelsea are also looking pretty strong squad wise but there are slight doubts hanging over Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill.

Chelsea have lost 2 out of their last 5 fixtures in all competitions going into this game whilst Liverpool have only lost 1. Liverpool though have been on a bit of a goal drought, no goals scored against both Reading and West Ham was also coupled with a dire and very frustrating performance in both games. It appears that sides lower in the table and sides that will defend to the hilt are very much a stumbling block for us, Chelsea though will definitely attack and we always seem to come out in the big games.

The last time the two sides met was in November last year. The game ended 1-1 with Luis Suarez scoring towards the end of the game to seal Liverpool's point. Chelsea's last visit to Anfield makes even better reading for Reds, a 4-1 win for Liverpool left the Londoners pretty embarrassed. The last time Chelsea notched up a win at Anfield was in 2010.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool are 19 points better off than they were at this stage last season.
  • Fernando Torres has scored 14 goals in 75 league games for Chelsea, he scored 50 in 72 at Liverpool.
  • Suarez is one goal away from scoring 30 goals in all competitions.

As briefly mentioned above I feel Liverpool will really come out of their shell in this game, the last two performances were frustrating and weren't helped certainly against Reading by a superb keeper but we didn't fail to win through a lack of chances, perhaps just through a lack of conversion. When a team is so focused on blocking you out though then that isn't so surprising, Chelsea however will slip up in defence, all of their focus is on scoring and getting all 3 points so Liverpool will be able to penetrate gaps left and catch their defence off guard however Chelsea may do exactly the same to us.

I feel as though Suarez is definitely due a goal and with the 30 land mark hanging in front of him he'll be even more eager (if that's possible). The Uruguayan would love a goal on Sunday and I can see him getting us off the mark. For once I've not actually decided on a prediction yet for this clash but keep an eye on Twitter as I'll be sure to pop a quid on something tomorrow before kick off.

Enjoy the match folks! And if you're going, give Rafa an applause from me!

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Monday, 15 April 2013

Hillsborough 24 Years On


The TRUTH is finally out and justice WILL follow.

May the 96 Liverpool fans who tragically lost their lives at Hillsbrough rest in peace and may they never walk alone.

Always in our hearts & minds.


#JFT96

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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Chances Galore But No Goals In Reading Draw

An impeccably observed minutes silence at the Madejski...
Image: mirror.co.uk
Liverpool were unable to find the back of the net yesterday as they were faced with an outstanding performance from Reading goalkeeper McCarthy. It was another game for Liverpool where despite throwing everything they had there was no real plan B, no other route to take when things weren't quite going according to plan.

A strong side fielded by Brendan Rodgers saw Liverpool play with Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho in attack. It was a fairly good start for Liverpool really who fully utilised their strengthened attack namely the link up between Suarez and Coutinho. These two appear to click together like puzzle pieces and one always seems to know what the other is doing.

In a game that saw plenty of chances for Liverpool too many to discuss the first fell to Luis Suarez after a ball was fed through to him from Coutinho. Suarez as always was creating chances and if it wasn't for Chris Gunter on the line saving Reading's bacon the Uruguayan could have put the Reds ahead.

It didn't take long to realise though in this first half that Liverpool would have to create something special if they wanted to get anything past the impressive McCarthy. Denying Sturridge, Suarez and Coutinho before the half time whistle Liverpool needed to reconsider their options during their team talk.

Just after half time and Liverpool very nearly got the game underway unfortunately for Coutinho though he was ruled offside and the Reds were left to search some more for that elusive first goal of the game.

Reading during the first half hadn't troubled Pepe Reina and he was left relatively jobless but this would change in the latter section of this half when Reading began to find some footing.

Reina made some cracking saves to keep Liverpool in a game they should by all means have been winning but the game ran all the way to the whistle without either side finding a winner.

I hate matches like this because not only does it create a struggle when writing a post but it's so unbelievably frustrating to watch. Liverpool had 26 shots yesterday 15 of which were on target and not one found its way into the back of the net. Arguably Reading's keeper was the sole reason for this but there were times where on another day a shot would have found its way through or not trickled wide.

We still have a problem in terms of the lack of a real clinical finisher I think, I still like Daniel Sturridge and feel he could complete that job but after hitting the ground running you'd be a liar to be happy with his most recent performances in a red shirt.

With 7th place all we have left to hold on to we didn't do ourselves any favours on Saturday, add to that the ever increasing sourness of Everton sitting pretty above us and well it's turning in to quite a dire end to the season, I just hope that in our next fixture we turn things around.

And strangely enough I think we will turn it around because it's Chelsea and for some reason we play a hell of a lot better against a team that will come out and attack us and Chelsea most definitely will.

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Friday, 12 April 2013

Reds Ready For Reading

Can Gerrard gear us to victory?...
Image: todayonline.com
Liverpool make the trip to Reading on Saturday as they look to improve on their rather ineffective performance against West Ham. Reading are on a very poor run of form but even that doesn't help us decipher whether the Reds will be turning up as Jekyll or Hyde. Consistency has been a real problem this season but here's hoping a win is on the cards this weekend.

Reading are without both Jimmy Kebe and Hope Apkan the latter who suffered an ankle injury in Reading's last fixture. For Liverpool they are able to call on Downing again who is now fit after coming off against West Ham, Raheem Sterling though is unavailable through a thigh problem.

Reading are currently rock bottom of the Premier League and are looking for a miracle really to keep them out of relegation, the worrying thing is though, this is the type of situation and opposition Liverpool may struggle with, anything out of the unknown this season and Liverpool appear to struggle to create a new plan of action whether it be a team parking the bus or throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them so it will be interesting to see what happens on Saturday. Liverpool are currently in 7th on 49 points.

The last time the two sides met was in October last year Raheem Sterling scored the winner for the Reds. The time before that though Liverpool were on the losing side when Reading knocked us out of the FA Cup in 2010.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have found the back of the net in their last 10 league games away from home.
  • Reading have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 9 meetings with Liverpool in all comps.
  • Liverpool have won 61% of games this season with Carragher but only 14% without him.

I think after Reading's recent run of form it would be a travesty if Liverpool didn't manage to pick up all three points. I fancy Suarez to find his shooting boots for this one and hopefully get the Reds underway. The slip up against West Ham means Liverpool are now in a situation where they may have to fight for their right to play in the Europa League and so the three points are of importance.

Enjoy the match folks!

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Monday, 8 April 2013

Dire Draw As Reds Fail To Score

A minutes silence for the 96, it was the last home match before the 24th anniversary of Hillsborough...
Image: liverpoolecho.co.uk
Well it was a rather dire 90 minutes to endure for anyone sitting at Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool failed to find the back of the net and West Ham put everyone behind the ball hoping for a break. If anything this game proved that the Reds have no real plan B when a side faces them and plays the long ball, similar to Stoke, we appear to struggle to take anything from the game and just can't break through.

Brendan started a strong side with Suarez leading the line, Sturridge had to start from the bench although he featured early on after replacing Stewart Downing.

Coutniho and Suarez were the most lively in Red shirts and a very early chance from Phillipe forced Jaaskelainen into a save. At 25 minutes Daniel Sturridge was brought into play and it was soon clear Liverpool would need all the firepower they could get if they were going to find a way through the West Ham defence.

West Ham were gifted a chance just before half time when Carragher put pressure on Lucas who didn't get chance to make his pass. An interception from Carlton Cole left him through on goal but a last ditch block from Daniel Agger saved the day.

West Ham knew their aim as soon as they kicked off but praise must especially be given to James Collins who played extremely well for the Hammers and ensured Liverpool would have to really produce something special to break the defence down.

Suarez had a few of his special moments throughout the game, some shots from tight angles that he seems to love nearly caused an upset but it just wasn't his day.

An offside goal from Daniel Sturridge was the closest the Reds got to taking all three points not long after the hour mark and despite the introduction of Assaidi Liverpool couldn't find the extra bit of luck and had to settle for just the point.

It was another frustrating result from Liverpool's point of view, especially when we're now trying to keep 7th place instead of being relatively comfortable. We definitely have a problem when facing teams that aren't afraid to park the bus, hopefully that's something that can be worked on because if we want to push for 4th next season we need some form of consistency, you can't be a great team if you fail to pick up 3 points from games such as this.

Next up for Liverpool is Reading on Saturday 13th April.

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Saturday, 6 April 2013

Carroll & Cole Won't Make Anfield Return

Carroll can't feature on Sunday...
Image: guardian.co.uk
West Ham are the visitors to Anfield on Sunday as they look to really cement their stay in the Premier League. After coming back from a goal down to beat Aston Villa last weekend Liverpool showed real fight and with the Anfield crowd behind them you would hope to see a home win and all 3 points collected.

For Liverpool there are no new injury worries and although they won't be available there was some positive news this week with Fabio Borini and Martin Kelly spotted back in training. West Ham are unable to use Andy Carroll due to the terms of his loan agreement and another ex red Joe Cole will be unable to play, he remains out with a hamstring injury. The Hammers are also without Mark Noble.

The last time the two sides met was in December last year, in a game packed full of goals Liverpool were the eventual winners, the game ended 3-2. Joe Cole, Glen Johnson and Jonjo Shelvey were on the scoresheet for the Reds that day.

The last time West Ham paid a visit to Anfield was in November 2010. Liverpool scored 3 goals without return in that game. In terms of their record at Anfield the Hammers have failed to notch up a win here in all competitions for 50 years.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have scored 15 goals in their last 5 Premier League games.
  • Jussi Jaaskelainen has made more saves than any other keeper in the league this season.
  • Philippe Coutinho has made 3 assists and scored twice in 369 minutes of Premier League football for Liverpool.

I feel pretty confident going into this game Liverpool have only lost 1 out of their last 5 league games whilst the Hammers have lost 3 out of their last 5. One thing Liverpool have at the moment is a strong attack and so scoring goals on Sunday I don't feel will be a problem.

Also with West Ham missing Andy Carroll that could cause them problems as they haven't been finding the back of the net very often lately. For this reason I'll punt for a 2-0 Liverpool win, I might put a quid on that, depends how the Grand National goes today! Haha!

Enjoy the match folks!

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Friday, 5 April 2013

Rodgers On Suarez, Gerrard, Carra & Anfield

Suarez has been awesome this season...
Image: skysports.com
Like Thursday's post on the blog I've kindly been given quotes from Yahoo! for the second half of their interview with Brendan Rodgers. This time it's mainly all about the magical Uruguayan - Luis Suarez.

After being asked whether Luis Suarez was the most talented player he had worked with Brendan was a bit reluctant to make that claim saying it wasn't fair on other people he had and was yet to work with but he did say:

"What I am sure of though, is his warrior spirit and I love his humility, work rate, attitude to training and his desire to be a winner."

The neutrals will always have their negative opinions of Luis Suarez but I don't think anybody can deny his work rate and attitude, even on an off day when he hasn't got his shooting boots on you'll never find Suarez giving up, he chases down balls that everybody else has rendered pointless, he's always on full cylinders.

Next Rodgers was asked whether Suarez will be in with a chance of winning PFA player of the year this season:

"He will certainly be in the reckoning. His league goals alone should put him in with a great shout but you also need to look at his consistency throughout the season that makes him arguably the best player."

Obviously many people would bring up Gareth Bale too and as much as I dislike him they're obviously right to however in terms of consistency and goals scored I feel you have to punt for Luis Suarez.

Next the interview turned on to the topic of Suarez's villain status:

"I know what it was like when I faced him as an opposing manager" Brendan said.

"I always viewed him as a pest around the penalty area"

"When you know him as a person and as a man like we do here, you can see why so many people love him."

"It's not his job to be liked, he'll be respected because he's a top football player and it won't concern him too much if people don't like him."

"He is one of the most likable, most humble people I've come across."

The next part of the interview moved away from Suarez and on to Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

Brendan was asked whether this season had been Gerrard's best in terms of consistency and leadership he went on to say:

"It's been his best season in relation to the number of games he's played - he has played every minute of every game for us this season and as a leader of the team he has been immense. It has been a real privilege to work with someone of that calibre and quality."

Then came the topic of stalwart Jamie Carragher, how big of a gap would be left when he retires?

"He'll be a big loss because of the length of time he has been at the club."

"I will miss Jamie's drive and determination that he has shown since I've been here, and I know that is something he has been doing all his life."

Finally Brendan was asked about the redevelopment of Anfield and how important that would be to the club. He said:

"We have two main objectives; one is to arrive into the top four and the second is the redevelopment of Anfield. That will make us a bigger club financially and help us to compete more; we have to keep building towards that."

Once again these quotes were obviously not gained by myself and the reason I received them so early is because of Yahoo! so if you want to read more on their website see below.

For more insight from Brendan Rodgers and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to www.yahoo.co.uk/sport
 

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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Rodgers On Sturridge, Coutinho & His Start To Liverpool Life

Thinking time...
Image: guardian.co.uk
I don't usually make posts like this but after being given access to some nice quotes from Yahoo! I figured I should get something written up because I know it would be of interest to you readers! I'd like to point out that as always I'm not being funded for this, you know from looking around the blog that I don't even pair up with advertising at the moment let alone paid posts, it's just not my style.

With a few games left in the season it seems as though Brendan Rodgers will be able to steer his side to the Europa League but the early hopes of Champions League football have been dashed. It's been a bit of an inconsistent start from Rodgers but these things take time, he was dignified enough to realise early on that his original blue print of the Swansea set up wasn't going to work for Liverpool and some good signings plus some reverse psychology with the likes of Stewart Downing have allowed him to form a real attacking side this season. It hasn't gone perfectly to plan but on the whole I think you have to agree he's on the right track and we're all behind him.

This week Brendan has been talking about some of his signings.

When asked about Daniel Sturridge and his start for the Reds Brendan replied "He has settled in very well, but he still has lots of aspects of his game to work on in order to achieve what he wants to and to allow him to make the kind of impact that he wants."

I personally was very pleased by the signing of Sturridge because in my opinion he was exactly what we needed there were some doubters but I feel after his goalscoring start he may have silenced some critics and as Brendan says he still has things to work on and Sturridge is still young.

Brendan was then questioned on the ever impressive Philippe Coutinho and the height and build of the ex Inter Milan man was brought up. Brendan replied:

"He might be slight in stature but he's still got real power and mental strength too, plus he's a wonderful technician."

In terms of Brendan's start to Liverpool life he was asked about the fans reaction to his arrival as manager and whether he was pleased with how we have taken to his style.

"Our supporters have shown exactly why they are so well renowned - I've really felt and appreciated their support."

I think it's fair to say that it was a tough situation for Brendan to step into after Dalglish had just won a cup and being the legend he is, it was a hard place to come whoever took the job and as you all know Brendan perhaps wasn't my own first choice but that's one thing you always get with Liverpool fans - support (to a certain extent, Hodgson had his time) and Brendan knows that whilst he's here and implementing his plans there may well be a few moans but every Saturday by kick off, we're 100% behind him and the lads.

Another quote that popped up from Brendan during the interview which I felt was very interesting was: "What is also important, though, is that we are not held hostage to our history." he couldn't really be more spot on.

The second part of the interview is released tomorrow, if I get chance I will get another post up!

For more insight from Brendan Rodgers and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to www.yahoo.co.uk/sport


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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza - San Siro

Torres scores...
Image: liverpoolecho.co.uk
The last time Liverpool made a visit to the iconic San Siro was in March 2008, looking for their place in the Champions League quarter finals the Reds managed to overcome Inter Milan winning 1-0 after the home side had a man sent off, a typical Fernando Torres goal sealed the victory.

I've always had an interest in Italian football which is quite bizarre considering outside of Liverpool Football Club I show minimal interest in other teams and sides in England. There's just something I've always found intriguing about Italy as a country and its calcio. Plus if the stuff on the pitch isn't at its best there's always the bags of controversy off pitch that goes along with it.

So last week, I was lucky enough to visit the magical San Siro, a venue for not only our very own special European night in 2008 but many others. I decided to do this post because there is a relation to Liverpool here and I figured because I have a lot of readers from other countries, in a similar way to the This Is Anfield post it would be nice to give people a little insight because let's face it, unfortunately not everybody can afford to make that visit to Anfield or Milan.

If you are thinking about going to Milan (which I'd highly recommend though it's bloody expensive! Lol) then to get to the San Siro you just hop on the red line for the underground tram and get off at Lotto station. It's quite a long walk from the station to the San Siro but worth it to see the wall of graffiti! Haha.


The photo above was my particular favourite from the huge wall of graffiti I just couldn't stop laughing haha! There is some sincere hatred for Maradona from the Inter and Milan fans.


Above is the first real view of the San Siro that I got, it wasn't the warmest or brightest of days in Milan to be honest and so I am sure in a different light this image would appear more impressive, nevertheless the concrete structure of the San Siro is quite daunting as it is so maybe the dull light fits the photo. For me it's always the spiral like columns that I am drawn to when I see the San Siro on the TV, here you can begin to see the huge structures.


The next image shows a side angle of the San Siro and you begin to see the structure more clearly, I'd love to inform you which stand this is but unfortunately I can't remember what angle I came in from, I've realised as well that I didn't take as many snaps of the exterior of the San Siro as I should have but I can assure you it is an awesome sight.


Here you can see the roof of the San Siro, the roof was only added in preparation for Italia '90 along with 3 extra tiers, a fourth extra tier on the remaining stand was never added because of spacial issues with the neighbouring racetrack. I must admit for the daughter of a racing fanatic I had no idea the Italians were so into their horse racing.


Another image of the San Siro exterior, we walked all the way around it before finding the entrance to the museum and tour. You can't help but imagine what the buzz around the place must be like, especially on a derby day (Derby della Madonnina).


And here's the entrance to the museum where you can walk around freely until they call you for the tour, you can take as many pictures as you like but for some reason no videos in the museum but you are allowed to video the stadium. For 13euros I think it's a pretty good deal.


Above is a selection of trophies from the museum, again I didn't take as many snaps as I should have but predictably the museum is split into Nerazzurri (Inter) and Rossoneri (Milan). The museum is pretty good to be fair but I do feel as though they could do a lot more with it, one thing that frustrated me is that they had an honours board for Inter Milan but when you went to try and find the AC Milan one it didn't exist.


I did find something very interesting in the Inter Milan section of the museum though, a shirt donated by Robbie Fowler, I certainly wasn't expecting to see that. I also wasn't expecting to hear You'll Never Walk Alone but the familiar tune was played in the museum amongst many other football songs.


The above image shows a bronze statue of Giuseppe Meazza. Meazza is highly honoured in Italian football and was a real Inter Milan hero, towards the end of his career he played for AC Milan and so in 1980 it was decided the stadium would be renamed after him. Our tour guide indicated that most Inter fans will refer to the stadium as the Giuseppe Meazza whilst the Milan fans stick to calling it the San Siro.

For those that didn't know, the San Siro was originally paid for by Piero Pirelli (yes, the tyre man!), at the time he was the president of AC Milan and so that stadium was solely theirs. In 1947 though Inter Milan moved in after the war, they had previously played at Arena Civica.

The capacity for the San Siro I find myself a bit bemused on because my tour guide definitely said it was 79,000 but other various sources state just over 80,000 either way you have a ball park figure.


Another highlight of the museum, shirts from our final with AC Milan in May 2007. I may be mistaken but from walking around I didn't spot any mementos from our infamous win in 2005 but then again I don't suppose they'd want that on show! Haha.


Two iconic shirts on show in the Inter section, Gattuso on the right and a donated shirt from none other than Lionel Messi on the left.


My first real view of the interior of the San Siro, I was well excited at this point, I've barely been to any grounds in England let alone one of the most famous in football!


A view of the green section of seats. As you can imagine they couldn't really do what any normal stadium would and fill each stand with the colours of the teams instead they have a green and orange section and then a red and blue section. The red and blue obviously appealing to each sharing residents.


Our tour guide also told us that after they built the extra tiers they gave an upper tier of the blue and green sections to each club, ironically the blue that you would assume would be given to Inter was actually given to Milan. If you were going as an away fan to the San Siro, you would end up in one of these tiers (very high up!)


I knew quite a bit about the San Siro before visiting but one thing I was not aware of was that the orange section or the corporate areas where the most expensive seats are, they're mixed stands. Our tour guide used the example of the next game which was Inter V Juventus and she said that the stand behind us would be filled with both sets of fans, I was quite shocked to find there was a neutral area if I'm honest.


Close up of the blue seating. They were pretty comfy to be fair, the stadium is entirely seated.


Close up of the roof and one of the 11 columns that help hold up both the roof and extra tiers.


These seats were reserved for all the important people and they're white for a reason. Depending on whether Inter or Milan are playing they will be covered in the teams colours ready for the guests.


Thought I'd see what being a part of the prawn sandwich brigade was like...


The next part of the tour was to visit both teams changing rooms. There are 3 changing rooms at the San Siro, one for Inter, one for Milan and a third for the away team, they didn't show us the away changing room I can only imagine it's terribly bog standard.

The image above shows the Inter dressing room, the picture didn't come out very well but the large icon on the wall is a lit up Inter Milan badge, each of their scudetto's are also on the walls but for some reason plaque number 8 (to the left of the picture) was missing.


It's very interesting the difference between the two home team changing rooms. President Moratti of Inter requested his teams changing room to be very much "together" each player sits wherever they want and they sit together as a team on the benches right next to each other. I personally preferred this set up because the Milan dressing room appears to be created for the big shots.


Here is a picture of the AC Milan dressing room. Their President; Berlusconi obviously has very different ideas of how a changing room should be. The chairs were very comfortable and obviously expensive but they were also separated from the next player by wooden sections. For me this goes one of two ways, it puts the player in the zone with no distraction or it turns them into a selfish none team player, the latter of which is my opinion.


Here's another view from inside the Milan dressing room so you can get an idea of the segregated seats. The TV's above the seats as well are from what I can tell relatively pointless, it just displays the players number in case they forget where they are sitting! Haha.


Another image from inside the Milan changing room, unlike Inter who have a small logo on the wall Milan have this sort of impending doom light up oval, I suppose it's to ensure they don't forget who they are playing for but I definitely prefer the Inter Milan dressing room.

And that my friends is that. They took us into the club store at the end of the tour and I went straight to the Inter section, most people flooded to AC Milan but for some reason when given a choice I've always felt more drawn to Inter so I picked up a keyring which I collect, I did have a photo of it but I can't find it, will try to tweet it at some point.

Anyways, I hope you've enjoyed this post as it was a nice change writing it and if you're thinking of going to the San Siro, have fun!!!

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Monday, 1 April 2013

Benteke Summa That!

Gerrard was influential in Sunday's fixture...
Image: mirror.co.uk
Villa's big man up front may have given his side a first half lead but Liverpool remained composed and focused and after a lovely finish from Jordan Henderson sent them level the Reds were soon able to regain the lead via a Steven Gerrard penalty. The ever prominent Benteke though wasn't quite finished with Liverpool and in the dying moments would have rescued his side a point if he hadn't of been offside.

Reina was back in goal for the Reds and up front was Luis Suarez supported by the skillful Phillipe Coutinho, there was no place in the starting line up for Daniel Sturridge this week.

The game didn't start brilliantly for Liverpool some half chances and a lot of possession being lost meant it was difficult for the Reds to really impose themselves on the game. Villa's routine was clear before kick off, get the ball and get it to Benteke. The big man is more than a problem in the box and in this case even just outside of it.

An assist from Agbonlahor allowed Benteke to put his full power behind the strike which flew straight into the bottom left of the goal and past Pepe Reina. It was hard to justify that this goal was against the flow of play because Villa had looked in control in certain parts of the first half themselves.

Liverpool were now very much on the back foot because as mentioned in the blog's preview for this game, the Reds have failed to win a game this season when they have conceded first, they've picked up some draws but never all 3 points in that situation.

A quick return ideally was what was needed but Liverpool failed to find the back of the net before the first half ended. Luis Suarez as always was putting in all the effort he could but unfortunately for the Uruguayan he didn't really have his shooting boots on.

Luckily for Liverpool though the second half began perfectly with a very early goal from Jordan Henderson. With Luis Suarez dragging some of the defence with him as he ran into space Phillipe Coutinho was then able to play the ball to Jordan who was free, a lovely finish from Henderson sent the away end crazy. It was nice to see Jordan remain composed because for me a lot of the time he becomes nervous or hesitates, this time however he remained very collected to find his side the equaliser.

Just under ten minutes later and Coutinho who had featured heavily in the game missed a great chance to give Liverpool the lead. He did everything right but his final strike flew inches past the left hand upright.

The Reds need not have worried though because some trickery in the box from Luis Suarez just before the hour mark caused Nathan Baker to make the wrong decision and take the Uruguayan down. The resulting penalty allowed Steven Gerrard to convert and finally give Liverpool the lead.

Minutes later Steven Gerrard was portraying his heroics once again. A shot off the corner from Benteke was destined to find the back of the net but a goal line clearance from the head of Steven Gerrard meant Liverpool still had hold of all 3 points. A kiss from Pepe Reina signified how important the moment was.

Liverpool made it through the rest of the game relatively untroubled but the second minute of extra time left everyone with their hearts in their mouths when Benteke looked as though he'd found Villa a very important equaliser, I've never been so happy to see the offside flag! The full time whistle was blown a minute later and the Reds had successfully collected the win from Villa Park.

It wasn't a perfect game especially not to start with but the lads showed real determination to come back from a goal down, considering it's the first time they've got all 3 points this season after the opposition have scored the first goal as well then I'd notch that down as improvement.

It's hard to guess what might happen come the end of the season because we still seem to have a consistency problem but it would be nice to keep our spot in Europe and then push on even more next season.

Next up for Liverpool is West Ham at Anfield.

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