The Liver Bird  

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Fitness Problems Prior To Hull Game

Liverpool prepare to face Steve Bruce's Hull City Tigers on Sunday as the Reds look to tame the potential roar of the promoted side. The Reds were last seen in a very intense derby against Everton with Daniel Sturridge sealing a draw for Brendan's boys, unfortunately for Liverpool it looks like they will be without Sturridge for this one as he is forced to sit out with an ankle injury.

In other news, Liverpool are still without Jose Enrique and it is expected that Brendan Rodgers will start Jon Flanagan again in place. Other than that there are no new injury worries for the Reds but they will definitely feel the absence of Daniel Sturridge.

For Hull they are without Paul McShane and they also have doubts hanging over James Chester and Curtis Davies. Steve Bruce however will have a relatively strong side to choose from.

Hull currently find themselves 13th in the table and Steve Bruce has had some decent results with his side. Their form of late hasn't been brilliant but aside from their loss to Crystal Palace their defeats have come against established Premier League sides and there's no real shame in that. Hull however have won only one of their last six games, the victory came against Sunderland via an own goal.

Liverpool are currently in 2nd, still hanging on to Arsenal's coattails despite dropping points against rivals Everton. Liverpool have lost only one of their last six fixtures at the hands of the team they are chasing. The Reds however have been playing some good football it just appears there is a slight problem with the defence at the moment which needs to be resolved before it's too late to rectify.

The last time the two sides met was at the KC Stadium in 2010. Neither side found the back of the net that day and had to settle for a draw. The fixture against Hull earlier in that season ended much better for Liverpool though when they put six goals past Hull and conceded only once. A Fernando Torres hat trick, a Ryan Babel brace and a Steven Gerrard goal sealed the deal on that day. Hull's record against Liverpool at home isn't fantastic and they have never scored more than two goals against Liverpool at home in any meeting between the sides.

Stat Sandwich

  • 10 of Liverpool's 13 goals conceded this season have come during away games.
  • Crystal Palace and Sunderland are the only teams to have scored fewer goals than Hull so far this season.
  • Gerrard has scored three goals in his last three fixtures against Hull.

As always I asked you for your score predictions on Twitter for this game and it appears you are all very confident for this one...

I must admit I'm not quite as confident as some of you however I do feel Liverpool will score a few goals, I don't think that we'll manage to keep a clean sheet though as I feel Hull will get the odd chance to try and punish from set pieces and unfortunately unless something has changed I still think Liverpool are prone to mistakes in defence at the moment. For this reason if I was popping a quid on the game I would place it on 3-1, I also fancy Gerrard to find the net on Sunday.

Enjoy the match folks!

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Goals Galore In Derby Draw

It was an electric Merseyside derby on Saturday as both the Blue and Red sides of Liverpool found the back of the net on three occasions. An end to end game with neither side intent on defending a lead, it was a shining example for football in the Premier League from two of its most famous clubs.

Liverpool were forced to make some changes to their line up after the fitness of Daniel Sturridge was called into question and Jose Enrique had to be left out. Jon Flanagan got a big chance to impress in the Liverpool defence whilst for Everton they had youngster Barkley plying his trade.

I've started several match previews here on The Liver Bird this season with something along the lines of "the game started in a lively fashion" and it was certainly no different for this fixture!

Liverpool took just four minutes to get onto the score sheet via the magical Philippe Coutinho. His goal may not have been pulled out of a hat but it didn't matter, he was in the right place at the right time and made sure he finished well when the cross fell to him in the box.

The away fans went mental in the blue cauldron across Stanley Park and Liverpool would have struggled to start the game any better. For Reds fans at the moment it is blatantly obvious that we have the attacking threat to take on any opposition, even without Daniel Sturridge starting, Liverpool still scored very early on. Our problem however lies in our defensive abilities and perhaps consistency. With the shake up to the back four not adding any real confidence, it wasn't long until Everton found themselves an equaliser!

I haven't been the only one this season noting Liverpool's faults when concerning set pieces and I think several critics were making their voices heard once again after today's result. Everton after a set piece situation very similar to Liverpool's managed to find the back of the net via Kevin Mirallas, in an almost carbon copy of the Coutinho goal, the Everton man was once again in the right place at the right time and was dealing with a very nonchalant defence.

With the game held at 1-1 after less than eight minutes it must have been quite a shock for both managers who can't have prepared for this but yet unwittingly had prepared their sides for one of the most attacking filled fixtures of the season and certainly one of the most prominent in derby history.

Shortly after ten minutes later Liverpool found themselves with a free kick just outside of the box. As seems to be the trend with Merseyside derbies there was a lot of handbags and players were definitely getting stuck in. Luis Suarez wanted to make sure he made the most of this opportunity though and he sure did!

A superb free kick that curved graciously around the wall and into the bottom right of goal put Liverpool back into the lead and perhaps noted the only moment of the game where Everton dulled slightly. For the following duration of the first half the Reds managed to deal with the Everton pressure and it began to look as though maybe a win was on the cards, of course it would have been naive of Liverpool to assume this was the way the match was going to go and it wasn't long at all until Everton were forcefully knocking on the door again.

An unfortunate moment of note late in the second half was a terrible challenge from Kevin Mirallas on Luis Suarez. I'm the first to admit that Suarez can be a very good actor but it was quite evident from this situation that he'd been on the receiving end of a bad foul. The replay further instilled original notions and Suarez was left with stud marks on the back of his knee. I feel as though Mirallas was pretty lucky to remain on the pitch, his foot was extremely high, it was reckless and there was no way in hell he was going to get the ball. Whether hm getting sent off would have had a strong bearing on the game, I don't know but you do have to feel if it wasn't a "boy cried wolf" situation maybe the Everton player would have had to leave the field.

Early in the second half Everton suffered a blow when Leighton Baines was forced to leave play, he was replaced with Gerard Deulofeu. Shortly after their substitution Liverpool were presented with a very good chance to further punish the home side when Luis Suarez weaved his way through the Everton defence, a perfect pass to Joe Allen left him with an easy shot at goal but the midfielder instead put his effort wide. It really was shocking and I hate to get on the back of players but there really was no excuse for that one and Liverpool could have done with being 3-1 up instead of 2-1 up as we were quick to find out.

Just after 70 minutes Romelu Lukaku made his presence felt when he converted his effort after an assist from James McCarthy. Simon Mignolet did his best to deal with it but couldn't quite resolve the problem against his fellow countryman. Mignolet however could not be criticised really after keeping Liverpool out of danger on too many occasions throughout the match.

With Victor Moses now on the pitch and Daniel Sturridge entering play just before the 80 minute mark it was yet again evident that neither manager was content in playing for a draw. I was watching the match at work (inside corporate areas at Molinuex) and a lot of the neutrals watching the game couldn't seem to understand why we wouldn't just sit back for a draw. I on the other hand found myself thinking "Are you mental? This is the Merseyside Derby, of course we're playing to win! Not to mention the fact we're currently chasing Arsenal" to me the concept of playing for a draw here was alien and it was nice to see both managers really going for it even if the end result didn't favour either side.

At 81 minutes Romelu Lukaku put his side into the lead. This was the point in the game that really highlighted Liverpool's poor defence of late. There was a lot of complaining pre match about Jon Flanagan starting but I personally feel he did well over the 90 minutes on Saturday. The rest of the back four however had questions to answer, with the experience that they have they simply should have done better. Left by Glen Johnson, Romelu Lukaku was able to rise easily in the centre of the box and power home his header. With just 9 minutes on the clock left the Reds were facing the real prospect of watching all of their hard work amount to nothing.

Thankfully Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard had other plans.

With two minutes left of full time a lovely whipped in cross from Steven Gerrard was destined to reach the head of Sturridge who flicked his effort home and past a stunned Tim Howard. Liverpool had equalised and would not walk away empty handed, unfortunately you couldn't help but feel that we should have taken more.

It was a simply brilliant game, enthralling to watch but with the mistakes made and opportunities missed it is gutting to have drawn the match, of course you can't complain too much. Liverpool showed great fight and attacking presence it's just there's a real need to work on defensive play before it becomes too late.

The Reds still find themselves in second after today's results with United and Spurs only capable of amassing a maximum of 23 points this weekend there is still breathing space for Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool look to continue their fantastic start.

I asked you as always for your thoughts on the game on Twitter and I think you'll find there was a general consensus on the game. Thanks again to all of you who replied!

P.s. I was going to do a full post on my attendance at the football blogging awards but I have coursework deadlines this week plus I'm working two jobs and doing a week of work experience so I just can't see how I will fit it in.

I'd just like to say thank you to the Football Blogging Awards and Campo Retro for a brilliant night! The National Football Museum was a fantastic venue and despite not winning an award I had a top night as a finalist!

It was also a great pleasure to finally meet the likes of Gareth Roberts and Jim Boardman from The Anfield Wrap and also Paul and Chris from The Redmen TV! And not forgetting the brilliant LFCFansCorner who I never realised was so young (I'm so sorry I never caught your name)! A massive congratulations to both The Redmen TV and LFCFansCorner too who both won awards on the night, extremely well deserved!

Roll on next years awards! :)

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, 22 November 2013

Reds Aim To Close Gap On Arsenal With Derby Win

Finally! Another international break is over and we can breathe a sigh of relief after minimal damage injury wise occurred for the Reds. Liverpool have a huge game this weekend making the short trip across Stanley Park to Goodison where they will face Roberto Martinez's Everton. Both sides have had a cracking start to the season and it should be an exciting 90 minutes.

For Liverpool their main injury concern is with Iago Aspas who is out until early December. The Reds have doubts hanging over the fitness of Kolo Toure who suffered a muscle injury and there are also still questions on Gerrard's ability to play. The captain featured for England despite having a niggle and it is assumed he will make the start against rivals Everton.

The Toffees are without Alcaraz and they also have doubts hanging over Gibson, Vellios and Kone. The majority of Martinez's prefered XI though are available and so things could be worse for the blue half of Merseyside.

Everton are currently in 6th on 20 points and they have only lost once so far this season against Manchester City. Liverpool on the other hand are sitting in second, neatly tucked behind Arsenal on 23 points. Liverpool's current form is favourable having only lost one out of their last six games. Everton have also only lost one over the same time period but the toffees have also drawn their last two matches against Crystal Palace and Spurs failing to score on both occasions.

The last time the two sides met was in May 2013 when the game ended 0-0. In October last year the derby saw more goals with both sides finding the back of the net twice, an own goal from Leighton Baines got things underway for Liverpool and Luis Suarez followed quickly with another goal. On the score sheet for Everton that day were Naismith and Osman.

The last four derby games at Goodison have always seen at least one side score two goals. And I get the feeling this trend will be kept up on Saturday afternoon.

Everton have been playing very well lately and despite their lack of goals in their last two matches, Martinez's side are still fully capable of finding the back of the net against Liverpool, particularly from set pieces or corners which the Reds still appear to be struggling with.

Liverpool also have the capability of finding the back of the net, almost certainly. With the combination of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge up front, one of them must be on the score sheet Saturday. I would love to say that we will win this one but I have a feeling it's going to be a score draw and my prediction is 2-2. I of course as always hope I am completely wrong but I can definitely see this being a lively game.

Wherever you're watching it, enjoy the match folks!

(P.s. apologies for the short preview this week! I've had several coursework deadlines and have just been mega busy with work and The FBAs ceremony! Normal service resumed for the match report :)!)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, 10 November 2013

That's Amore!

Reds' fans certainly fell in love with Liverpool's performance on Saturday as they confidently beat Fulham putting four goals past Martin Jol's side. Amorebieta began the affair, with an own goal just after 20 minutes. Liverpool then followed up with a goal from Martin Skrtel and two from Luis Suarez. Fulham looked very dismal in this fixture and made it easier for Liverpool to put on a fantastic show.

Fulham began with as strong a team they could whilst Liverpool had made some changes that saw Daniel Agger reintroduced into the side. Glen Johnson was back too but there was no start for Jose Enrique instead Brendan Rodgers opted for Cissokho.

The game started well for Liverpool who cancelled out any initial efforts from the cottagers quickly. A tone was set for this game very early on and it was clear Liverpool were intent on scoring. Luis Suarez as always was lighting a spark and the addition of Philippe Coutinho was adding some extra excitement and options to the Liverpool line up.

The Reds found their first goal of the game at 23 minutes, a lovely ball whipped in by Steven Gerrard was met by the head of Luis Suarez, a second touch from Fernando Amorebieta though ensured the ball found its way into the back of the net. Liverpool had taken the lead, Suarez celebrated but he would have to wait until later in the game to fully claim a goal of his own.

One key thing to note almost immediately from this game was the effect of Steven Gerrard, we all know he's no longer quite the player he used to be, his Istanbul, Europe shaking days are perhaps behind him but he is still fully capable of commanding and bringing a team together. Some of his passes this weekend were simply sublime, throw in a bit of cheeky skill and it is clear that he certainly doesn't think he's lost it yet and neither do I, for those fans calling for some bench rest for him I say quieten down, a team with Gerrard in for me will always be a better one and against Fulham on Saturday he proved this.

Liverpool's next goal came just three minutes after their somewhat fortunate first. This time Steven Gerrard whipped in a corner and whilst Martin Skrtel perhaps shouldn't have been given the leeway, it was a fantastic finish from the defender with a powerful header to put the Reds 2-0 up.

Several pundits and fans alike had predicted a heavy win for Liverpool against the Londoners and I also shared this theory, I'm just glad I popped a quid on 4-0 too!

If Fulham were struggling to get a foothold early on it was looking as though all hope was lost now. The frustrating thing for Fulham fans is that their defence had made the Liverpool players' jobs a lot easier, in fact if it wasn't for the keeper Stekelenburg, things could have been a lot worse.

Liverpool's third goal of the game came with 10 minutes of the first half left to go. This goal was particularly special involving Gerrard, Henderson and Suarez. Some skill from Steven on the wing allowed him to seek out Jordan Henderson with a lovely pass, Henderson then trumped Gerrard with a superb ball timed perfectly through to Suarez on a diagonal run into the box. The Uruguayan then made it look easy as he put the ball past Stekelenburg from an angle and further cemented Liverpool's three points.

Fulham looked dumbstruck by this point but at least this goal was more down to class of opposition than level of effective defending. The away side were probably begging for the half time whistle whilst Brendan's side looked as though they could apply this pressure forever.

The second half saw Fulham make a substitution bringing on Ruiz for Kacaniklic. The substitution can't have helped Fulham much though as the ticker from the BBC read "Attempt saved, attempt blocked, attempt blocked" in the immediate section of the second 45.

Liverpool had no intentions of taking their foot off the gas just yet and Fulham did not look prepared to deal with it. A fourth goal for Liverpool just after the 50 minute mark turned this game into a rout. A classic ball through from Steven Gerrard who fell over in the process, was met by none other than Luis Suarez. Full to the brim with confidence he knew where this effort was going and his shot slid into the bottom right of goal.

Enrique, Allen and Moses made appearances for the Reds in the latter half of the game and continued to help Liverpool apply pressure. Some more chances saved by Stekelenburg meant the Reds would have to settle for just the four goals this weekend but by the final whistle it was clear both fans and players were extremely happy with this result.

Annoyingly for Liverpool a favour from West Brom was undone as Chelsea were gifted a very dubious penalty. The good thing for the Reds though is that they have helped themselves massively with this game, increasing their goal difference meaning they are still in 2nd with Arsenal to play Manchester United on Sunday.

It was an effortless performance from Liverpool one that we would certainly love to see every week. But we will have to wait for a while because there's another soddin' international break!

I asked you for your opinions on the game on Twitter and here are a few of the tweets I received, thank you to every body that replied.

P.s. If you liked this post, please give us a vote in The FBAs finals, I would really appreciate the support, just tweet this phrase: "I am voting in @TheFBAs for @_TheLiverBird as best #Female blog"

Thank you #YNWA

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, 8 November 2013

Reds Seek Anfield Win Over Fulham

Liverpool welcome Martin Jol's Fulham to Anfield on Saturday as the Reds look to get back on track after their loss to Arsenal at the Emirates. Brendan Rodgers welcomed Philippe Coutinho back on to the bench for the last fixture but it is hoped the starlet will start from the whistle this time out. Liverpool need all the attacking force they have in order to continue to apply pressure on the teams around them.

Still missing for Liverpool are Iago Aspas and of course Coates, the positive news though is that both Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique should be able to start. This is a massive plus I feel because in my opinion three at the back works a hell of a lot better with those two as wing backs.

For Fulham they are without Rodallega, Briggs and there is also a doubt hanging over Brede Hangeland. Also out for the Cottagers is Sascha Reither who starts a ban after a stamp on Manchester United's Januzaj.

Liverpool currently find themselves third in the league but only down to goal difference. Arsenal face Manchester United this weekend and so the teams chasing will be looking for a slip up from Arsene Wenger's side. Fulham on the other hand are currently sitting in 16th on just 10 points. At the same stage last season Fulham had amassed 17 points and were above Liverpool in the table.

The last time the two sides met was in May last year, Daniel Sturridge collected a hat trick that day whilst Fulham looked uninspired. Fulham's last visit to Anfield was also one to forget for their fans as they fell to a 4-0 defeat.

On the whole though Fulham's record at Anfield is not too bad they notched up a 1-0 win at the end of the 11/12 season and they have also fought out some draws. However this season is quite different, Fulham are not playing very well at all whilst Liverpool are almost doing too well in some senses, the Reds are certainly playing better than everybody originally expected, the problem is now Brendan Rodgers has set a precedent and a loss at home to Fulham just wouldn't do!

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have been in front in seven of their last ten league games.
  • Fulham have lost all five of their matches against opposition in the top half of the league.
  • Hendo has played every minute of every league game so far this season, last season at this point, he'd only featured from the bench.

I think you'd be slightly mad not to feel confident going into this one and it was clear from the score predictions you all sent me on Twitter that I am not the only one thinking the Reds will score a few on Saturday and safely collect all three points. With our front two of Suarez and Sturridge and the added bonus of Johnson, Enrique and Coutinho all slotting in I can't see anything but a win at Anfield.

Here are some of your predictions this week and thank you to everybody that responded!

Enjoy the match folks! And please if you have two seconds give me a vote in the football blogging awards finals! Just follow this link and click tweet :) -

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Ramsey Stunner Leaves Reds Reeling

Liverpool fell to a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates on Saturday as they Reds failed to make a botched up 3-5-2 formation work after a late drop out from Glen Johnson forced Jon Flanagan to take his place. The youngster along with Aly Cissokho struggled to deal with the strength of Arsenal down the wings and the eventual result was a poor one for the Reds. A change in formation in the second half for Liverpool still didn't help matters as our prolific forwards failed to find the net this time out.

It's a strange game to comment on because we actually didn't play that bad but then neither did we play well. Arsenal were extremely good and proved they deserve to be top of the pile at the moment but when you look at the goals conceded Liverpool couldn't really have done much about them, especially the latter.

In the run up to the game both Liverpool and Arsenal fans found themselves getting even more excited after watching Chelsea lose earlier in the day to Newcastle. A win for either side here would mean 1st spot and control of the league, the incentive could not be higher.

The majority of Liverpool fans pre match knew it would be a tall order for Brendan Rodgers' side to pick up all three points here but with the fire power of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez there is always a chance.

The match began at a very high tempo with both sides gunning for a positive start. Simon Mignolet found himself being called into action early on whilst Liverpool's Jordan Henderson found it hard to believe his luck when he continued a run into the box, space all around him, he appeared to be flustered by his choices and perhaps took his shot on too early. I really like Hendo but this is the one thing I always mention about him, his hesitation, if he just had the confidence to go with his first choice he'd be even better than he already is but he's still young and constantly improving and in fairness to Henderson he gave his all yesterday.

Just before the 19 minute mark Arsenal found their first goal of the night. A fast break caught Liverpool's wingback off guard as Sagna sent in a cross to Santi Cazorla. His initial effort smashed out off the post but his quick reactions were better than Skrtel's who could only watch as the resulting strike flew into the back of the net. It was a lovely finish from Cazorla and whilst Liverpool perhaps played dangerously allowing him the space in the first place, I struggle to see how a defence and a goalkeeper getting up from an initial save attempt are supposed to reposition themselves for a rebound. It was just a good goal and a bit unlucky for Liverpool that the rebound fell nicely.

Shortly after the Arsenal goal there was another situation that left Liverpool frustrated. A free kick awarded to Luis Suarez was taken quickly by the Uruguayan, the pass found Sturridge who set up Henderson and Jordan tapped the ball into the back of the net. I couldn't see what was wrong with it and I honestly think in some games it would have stood but Atkinson was adamant about booking Sagna, my thought was that surely he could have dealt with that afterwards but the referee has since come out and said that if he didn't deal with the situation at that time he would not have been able to book Sagna afterwards. I'm not familiar with the exact set of rules for this scenario but I do feel it was a bit harsh.

Of course, it's hard to say how much of a difference an early goal for Liverpool would of had in this game, I personally still think Arsenal would have gone on to win but it would have made the Reds' lives easier if they were level at 1-1 at this stage.

Increasing pressure from Arsenal in the first half eventually had Liverpool praying for the whistle. It was clear the original set up with the players available wasn't going to plan and something would need to change in order to try and make an improvement in the second half.

Brendan Rodgers decided to bring on the newly fit Philippe Countinho immediately for the second half in place of Aly Cissokho. The change resulted in a reshuffle in defence with Liverpool now going for four across the back.

Liverpool did not feel the benefits of their more secure set up at first because Arsenal found their second of the game just before the hour mark. There was no way Liverpool could have dealt with this one it was simply a cracking goal from the in form Welshman Aaron Ramsey. His strike was taken perfectly and he placed it just above the stretched hand of Mignolet and just below the bar. Sometimes you just have to stand back and say fair play and this was one of those moments.

Things already looked difficult for Liverpool but now they really had a mountain to climb. Philippe Coutinho as always was creating some space and some action but he was a bit rusty himself what with this being his first game back.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge may not have found the net on Saturday but they weren't playing badly either. Suarez particularly had his flashes as always and he caused Arsenal some concern on several occasions. A chance late on from an angle went agonisingly close to goal but trickled just wide and it was clear it just wasn't going to be Liverpool's day in front of goal.

A 2-0 loss at the Emirates for me as bad as it looks isn't actually too terrible. Arsenal played extremely well and deserved the win, the goals were hard to deal with and I feel if Liverpool were able to set up as they wished with Glen Johnson and perhaps also Enrique then the story may have been slightly different. Of course a win here would have been absolutely brilliant, even a draw but you can't fault Arsenal at the moment and so Liverpool must just hold their hands up, take the defeat and concentrate on their next game, after all the Reds are still very much in the midst of all the action which is exactly where they need to be when Arsenal too eventually have a slip up.

I asked you what your thoughts were on the game on Twitter and here are some of the responses I received...

Next up for Liverpool is Fulham at home.

Like this post?

Please vote for The Liver Bird again in the finals by tweeting:

"I am voting in @TheFBAs as best #Female football blog"

I really appreciate the support and I am thanking each person who casts a vote and also following them back from the blog's account!


Labels: , , , , , ,