The Liver Bird  

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Reds Look For Revenge Against Hull

After failing to get anything from Stamford Bridge on Sunday the Reds will now be looking to get the better of Hull at Anfield after Steve Bruce's side embarrassed the Reds earlier in the season. Hull have been playing some good football and Liverpool need to be careful in this fixture ensuring they respect the opposition.

Injuries for Liverpool have been increased but there are also some positives. Daniel Sturridge is expected to be back sooner than thought and Steven Gerrard will be subject to a late fitness test with a chance to start the game. The Reds have added Joe Allen and Mamadou Sakho to their injury list though and so Brendan Rodgers finds himself working with a thin squad.

For Hull, they are looking relatively strong with no new injury concerns aside from Robbie Brady who has a groin problem. Hull beat Fulham emphatically 6-0 in their last game and it is expected Steve Bruce will field the same side.

Hull are currently 10th in the league on 23 points. The Tigers have picked up 3 draws, 1 win and 2 losses in their last six matches. Most neutrals watching though will tell you that they were unlucky to lose against Manchester United and the other side they fell to was Arsenal.

Liverpool are placed in 5th on 36 points having won 4 out of their last 6 and going top for Christmas Day. The Reds however fell to rivals City and Chelsea away from home and so will be looking to get back on track again for 2014.

The last time the two sides met was at the start of December when Hull beat Liverpool 3-1 and Liverpool perhaps portrayed their worst performance of the season so far. It was definitely one to forget for Brendan Rodgers' side. The last time Hull made a visit to Anfield though, it didn't end so well for the Tigers. In September 2009 Hull lost 6-1 with Liverpool netting a hat trick via Torres, a brace from Ryan Babel and a goal from Steven Gerrard.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have won their last 6 home games in the league.
  • Hull have yet to win a Premier League match in January.
  • The Reds have scored first on 14 occasions so far this season.

I must admit I am feeling a bit nervous for this game because it feels like one of those fixtures that could turn into a real slip up however I am remaining positive. Liverpool have been playing some cracking stuff and are also confident at home, I feel we have enough to get the better of Hull and we could really do with those three points.

I once again didn't get chance to ask you for your score predictions, you know how it is over Christmas and New Year, plans go out the window! Apologies again.

Enjoy the match folks, ring in the new year but don't get too trollied! Haha.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, 30 December 2013

Chelsea Pose A Hazard Whilst Key Decisions Cost Reds

Liverpool were once again unfortunate to not get anything from a game against one of their rivals away from home. A performance that lacked a bit compared to their City display still left the Reds in a great position when they scored via Martin Skrtel just three minutes into the game but some poor refereeing decisions right from the off and a difficulty dealing with the likes of Hazard and Willian left Brendan Rodgers' side having to accept defeat.

Liverpool began the game knowing they had a weakened back four with Agger out of position having to deal with Eden Hazard who had switched wings. It wasn't an impossible feat but Agger was clearly going to need a lot of support if Liverpool were going to cancel out any attacks down this side.

The first moment of the game worth noting from a Reds perspective was the very early poor challenge on Jordan Henderson from Eto'o. His studs scraped down the front of Henderson's shin, Howard Webb saw it and yet, nothing happened. Part of me agrees that it may have warranted a red but one thing I know for sure, Eto'o was extremely lucky to walk away with just a quiet word!

The resulting free kick thankfully gave Liverpool some justice though as the Reds took full advantage. A cross from Philippe Coutinho found its way to Luis Suarez who between himself and the Chelsea defence managed to splay the ball into space, Martin Skrtel was first to reach it and he couldn't believe his luck when faced with an open goal. The defender turned his effort easily into goal and ran off celebrating as Liverpool took the lead.

It's a cliche and a cringey one at that but I definitely think in this instance there was such thing as "scoring too early." Chelsea had obviously set up to go out all guns blazing, just like Liverpool and the early conceded goal did nothing but add fire to their bellies. Liverpool tried their best but the pressure and impact the goal had on Chelsea pushing forward became too much to deal with and it wasn't long before Chelsea found an equaliser.

At 17 minutes some more fortune after a break from Chelsea allowed the home side to level things up. A slightly clumsy decision by Sakho sent the ball straight into the path of Eden Hazard who had made a run all the way from the right wing to the left of goal. His finish was brilliant to be fair and Simon Mignolet had no chance. Chelsea had equalised and there was still 70 minutes of the game left.

It didn't look as smooth as the City game but Liverpool despite the pressure from Chelsea were still creating chances of their own. Some of the link up play between the likes of Suarez, Coutinho and Henderson regularly caught the Chelsea defence off guard but the Reds couldn't quite find a goal as of yet.

Just after the half hour mark Chelsea found themselves a second goal and this time Liverpool could have dealt better with the situation especially when considering how close Mignolet got to containing the shot. Eto'o finished from close range for this one and it was frustrating for Liverpool who had been holding out the attacks including a sublime save from Mignolet earlier on to deny Frank Lampard.

At half time Liverpool still had hope, it would have been nice if Suarez could get himself free a bit more but Chelsea in fairness were doing well to keep him quiet. Another thing for Liverpool that was indicated in this match for me was the lack of good delivery. Pushing the Coutniho free kick that led to the goal aside (obviously) the Reds appear to be lacking from set pieces and it is usually down the the delivery. Some people criticise Gerrard as he's getting older but there's one thing nobody can deny him and that's consistency when delivering the ball and I personally feel we missed that on Sunday.

With no goals in the second half Liverpool also had to contend with the sheer lack in depth of their squad. Already dealing with an out of position defender, the Reds were forced just before the hour mark to make a substitution after Joe Allen was injured. The youngster Brad Smith was sent on to make his debut and whilst it was no fault of his own, this was too big a game a too wrong a time for him but Liverpool had to make the most of their situation.

Shortly before the introduction of Smith, Liverpool went agonisingly close after a free kick from Jordan Henderson left Sakho sending a header that smacked off the bar. Later, Chelsea created another chance via Samuel Eto'o but Mignolet stood tall and kept out the danger.

It was difficult but Liverpool knew they were still in this game, a correct ball to Suarez means danger for any team and so when he was involved with play in the Chelsea box later on there was bound to be problems.  I must first mention the Lucas tackle early on in the game that for some reason I  completely missed until seeing the highlights and Mourinho moaning but to be fair, he had a point in that situation and perhaps Chelsea too deserved a spot kick but that was at a totally different point in the game which would have led to perhaps a different 90 minutes all together, also, all Liverpool are asking for from Howard Webb here is some consistency, he made some poor decisions throughout the game and this was yet another one of them.

Howard Webb was standing directly in front of the incident, Suarez no longer had the ball but was attempting to reach it when Samuel Eto'o clattered into him sending him to the ground. Admittedly, Suarez always makes things look a lot worse than they are but Eto'o knew full well what he was doing there and Howard Webb cannot deny not seeing it so I would love to hear what his reasons were for not giving the spot kick which could have changed Liverpool's fortunes completely.

I hate hanging on refereeing decisions I really do but that's twice now in massive games for us that we've been shunned by the ref and it's not acceptable.

The game of course ended 2-1 and I think Chelsea just about desered it after putting on by far their best display of the season which I feel was partly brought out by Liverpool's attacking nous and bravery to attack from the whistle at the Bridge.

The positive for Liverpool of course is that they can once again take heart from their performance and whilst it's points you want, the Reds are also fortunate to still be in a decent league position having played all the big sides away from home already bar Manchester United. It's a marathon, not a sprint after all and there's no point getting down about anything yet.

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received, thank you to everybody that replied.

Next up for Liverpool is Hull at home on New Year's Day.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Reds Confident For Chelsea

After a brilliant performance despite a loss at the Etihad on Boxing Day, Liverpool find themselves in high spirits in the run up to their tie with Chelsea on Sunday. The Reds performance against City has made a few people finally wake up and smell the coffee and with the option of also strengthening the team, Liverpool could be right in the mix come the end of the season if they continue to play as they are.

Chelsea on the other hand are well positioned in the table but they haven't exactly been playing well. Of course in football it's always a bonus to be playing poor but winning games, however I feel on Sunday their run of luck may come undone.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they could still be without Jon Flanagan and also still out are Gerrard and Sturridge. For Chelsea they are without Ramires who picked up a fifth yellow card and so he misses the game but other than that they have a pretty strong squad to choose from.

Liverpool's form records them winning four out of their last six in the league with Chelsea also winning four, the Blues have also drawn a game though whilst the Reds have lost twice. Chelsea are currently placed in 3rd on 37 points, Liverpool sit below them in 4th on 36. A draw for Liverpool would be enough to leap frog Chelsea due to goal difference but the Reds will obviously be out to beat Mourinho's side.

The last time the two sides met was in April this year. The game is destined to be remembered for the wrong reasons involving Suarez but the Uruguayan ensured Liverpool walked away with a point by equalising in the 90th minute.

At Stamford Bridge Liverpool have a pretty strong record they have three wins and one draw out of their last five visits to the ground and so this will only boost their confidence.

Stat Sandwich

  • The Reds have only won one of their last six away games in the Premier League.
  • Jose Mourniho has lost none of his 69 league matches as manager at Stamford Bridge.
  • Liverpool have scored 29 goals in their last 14 matches in London.

I didn't get chance to ask you for your predictions for this preview due to it being so close to the City match report but please drop us a tweet with your thoughts on this game for the report! Apologies.

I personally have been saying that we will win this one 2-1 and I think if I get chance I'm definitely going to pop a quid on a 2-1 Suarez score cast. Chelsea may be going strong in the league but they haven't been playing well at all and for me it's almost destiny that Liverpool perish Mourinho's record on Sunday, we deserve to do it and I definitely feel we can.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, 27 December 2013

Reds Unlucky To Walk Away With Nothing From City

Liverpool could have, should have and nearly did come away from the Etihad on Thursday night with a result after an emphatic performance against title favourites Manchester City. The Reds did not shy away and caused plenty of problems for the home side but missed chances and mistakes let Brendan's side down and they were extremely unfortunate to walk away as losers.

With Flanagan injured Brendan Rodgers decided to field Aly Cissokho in his place. Suarez once again was up front as captain with the likes of Coutinho and Sterling in support.

The first major moment of the game was a terrible, terrible decision from the lines man. A lovely ball through to Raheem Sterling from Luis Suarez sent the youngster on his way, one on one with Joe Hart. A late flag from the linesman though indicated that he'd been called offside, it was only until we all saw the replay that the mistake and the gravity of it became evident. Raheem was at least two yards on side, it was just a shocking decision and Liverpool saw a perfectly acceptable goal disallowed.

I hate dwelling on decisions but this one seriously affected us. Thankfully Liverpool didn't get too disheartened by the call and just a few minutes later some lovely build up play had Raheem Sterling on route to goal once again. A Jordan Henderson pass to Luis Suarez was then neatly flicked on by the Uruguayan to Sterling who took the ball past Joe Hart and then allowed his teammate Phillipe Coutinho to convert the goal from an angle and send Liverpool into the lead!

I must admit I went bloody mental for the goal and I was sitting in a rammed pub in Wolverhampton with not too many Liverpool fans but it was a sign of how important this game was. My jumping around was emulated by the travelling Kop and Reds everywhere began to start thinking "we could bloody win this!".

Perhaps it was too early in the game to be feeling that way but Liverpool really were playing well considering they were missing Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge too I thought the Reds were doing brilliantly but it was obvious that City being so powerful and pacey on the break would also find a goal. It was just annoying that we would concede their equaliser via a set piece.

At 32 minutes City found themselves with a corner, whipped in by David Silva the ball found its way to Vincent Kompany who's header eventually found its way into the back of the net despite the best efforts of Joe Allen on the line.

Vincent Kompany to be fair to him had been ragged all game by Martin Skrtel and he'd continue to get ragged also, for me the only reason the referee didn't give Kompany anything is because he never complains and just gets on with it. I don't like hardly any players from other teams but I really respect Kompany and in fairness felt he somehow deserved that goal even if Liverpool didn't deserve to concede in that manner.

The game was now level but once again Liverpool looked confident and continued to apply pressure on City who were struggling to create chances directly, only on the break.

The next goal of the game really was heartbreaking for Liverpool, it came at a terrible time just before the whistle and what made it worse was the goalkeeping. A break for City saw Negredo attempt a chip, as the ball was travelling it looked as though Mignolet had it covered, as it reached his hands, it still looked like he had it covered but as if by magic Mignolet's mit appeared to turn to jelly and a strong hand turned weak as the ball trickled over him and into the back of the net.

I like Mignolet, I really do but I have no idea what he was doing there, he'd done the hard part all he needed to do was keep the strong hand or even catch it instead of trying too hard. I don't know, it just seemed as though it should have been simple. Everybody was gutted, including Mignolet but at least there was still another 45 minutes to correct the problem.

The second half saw Liverpool continue in a similar fashion to the first, it really was a great game for the Reds who should be proud in spite of defeat. Not many teams can create so many chances and hold their own against Manchester City on their own turf and if it wasn't for some silly mistakes and missed chances Liverpool could have quite easily walked away winners.

The second half saw Luis Suarez kept pretty quiet but he was still creating chances for the likes of Raheem Sterling who sent an attempt flying over the goal late on. Earlier missed opportunities from Sterling, Coutinho and Henderson all began to take their toll as the game pushed to 90 minutes and Liverpool began to slowly run out of ideas.

The Reds never gave up but it was too late to come back. Some defensive mishaps from Sakho in the second half also left Liverpool fans feeling very annoyed and rightly so, the Reds may not have managed to come back but they were always right in the game, a silly goal conceded would have buried the game for City in my opinion and so Liverpool did well to keep them out despite some lacklustre defending at times.

Another moment to note in the goalless second half was the booking of Luis Suarez, he basically saw yellow because of his reputation because his foot never touched Hart and Hart wasn't bothered either, they both shook hands and it should have been left at that really.

As for the penalty shouts I still feel we had something from the Lescott ruckus but as for the shirt pulling there is no way we deserved that after the way Skrtel has been behaving not only throughout the game but the season as a whole, one day he's going to get caught out and for me he needs to pack it in. I'm all for a bit of physicality in the box but ragging shirts constantly is a sign of a nervous defender in my opinion and there's no need for him to be nervous, he's a good defender but if he doesn't stop he's going to have some very frustrated fans to answer to.

Overall it's a weird feeling after this match, I actually feel positive about the loss. If we're being realistic any result at the Etihad would have been a bonus and Liverpool showed great tenacity and fight on Thursday evening, there is no way any City fan felt nothing but relief after that 90 minutes and for me we simply push that game aside and prepare for Chelsea because if we play like that, we'll bloody batter them!

I asked you for your thoughts on the game as always and here are a few of the tweets I received...

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Boxing Day Belter At City

Well, it's Christmas Eve and Liverpool are top of the table. I don't know about you but I don't need any other presents after that! On Boxing Day though the Reds have a massive game against Manchester City at the Etihad and if Liverpool could pull off a result here and then again at Chelsea, 2014 could be a fantastic year for the Reds!

The injury situation for Liverpool is still very much the same with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jose Enrique, Sebastian Coates and Daniel Sturridge all out long term. Update: There is a doubt hanging over Jon Flanagan. For Manchester City they also have some problems with Sergio Aguero unavailable along with Zabaleta, Richards and Nastasic.

I'd just like to apologise for forgetting to ask you to tweet in your score predictions for this match, I completely lost track what with it being Christmas and all but from what I can make out on Twitter a lot of you appear to be predicting score draws. I personally have been saying 1-1 for a long time but we of course could easily lose to a confident City side at home. Any points in this game though will be greatly received.

The last three meetings between the two sides have all ended in 2-2 draws. Two of these games were in the league whilst one was in the League Cup. Liverpool's last visit to the Etihad was the first of those three score draws and the time before that saw the Reds win 1-0 in the first League Cup leg. On the whole though, Liverpool don't have a superb record here but it's not terrible either and it always appears to be a hard fought game no matter what the scoreline.

Stat Sandwich

  • The last time Liverpool won 5 league games in a row in a season was in 08/09.
  • Manchester City are the only side so far this season yet to drop a point at home.
  • Liverpool's last Boxing Day win was in 2009 when the Reds best Wolves 2-0.

It's a short match preview this time as I'm pretty busy today so again I apologise but I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year! Here's hoping Liverpool can get the better of City and I'll meet you all back here for the match report on the 27th! Don't get too drunk! Haha

Enjoy the match folks!

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Top For Christmas?

Liverpool currently find themselves top of the pile after successfully beating Cardiff 3-1 at Anfield on Saturday afternoon. The Reds are nicely poised and with Arsenal to face Chelsea on Monday it's a very real prospect that kopites all over will have an extra present on the 25th seeing Brendan Rodgers' side in first place.

It wasn't as smooth a game as we have seen this season but nevertheless you find yourself unable really to complain after finding the back of the net three times and only conceding once. A substituted Flanagan seemed to have more of an effect on the game than predicted and momentarily Liverpool began to falter but the Reds held their nerve and saw the game out to 90 minutes.

Cardiff's real focus of course was on manager Malky Mackay, the Bluebirds made it abundantly clear that they were 100% behind their manager on Saturday with banners of "Tan Out" strewn across the away end. The owner of course did not seem one bit bothered but Malky Mackay can hold his head high as he refuses to resign and remains the bigger man in this situation. The friend of Brendan Rodgers was met with a warm hug upon his arrival at the dugout.

Cardiff began the game well under the circumstances and Liverpool were finding Jordan Mutch a bit of a nuisance during the early stages of the first half. With some attempts blocked the Reds were trying to switch control of the game and that chance occurred with a stunning Luis Suarez opener... Who else?

The Uruguayan who has just signed an extended and extremely lucrative contract with Liverpool was made captain again for this fixture in Steven Gerrard's absence. A lovely assist from Jordan Henderson allowed Suarez to smash his effort on the volley, sending the ball flying past goalkeeper David Marshall. Google "goal machine" and you're guaranteed to find Luis Suarez's smug face staring back at you but what's more remarkable for me this season is that I don't think I've seen him score a boring goal, they just get better and better.

With the Reds now having the advantage, control definitely switched to the home side. Cardiff had fizzled out a bit before Liverpool found themselves with two chances in quick succession just before the end of the first half.

At 41 minutes Luis Suarez showed us all his sometimes questioned unselfish side. A break from Liverpool allowed Suarez to carry the attack and at the right moment he slid the ball across to Raheem Sterling who converted with ease. Suarez in fairness had every right to have pop at goal and some will have even been annoyed that he didn't but I'm glad he set up Sterling who seemed joyous after the goal.

It wasn't all bad for Suarez either as moments later he would treat us all again to another simply fantastic goal. It's a standing joke currently on Twitter between Liverpool fans but I am genuinely running out of descriptive words for this man now.

Another beautiful assist from Jordan Henderson saw a back heel flick its way straight to Luis Suarez. His curling effort with some sting behind it flew gloriously into the back of the net and the Uruguayan had now surely secured Liverpool's much needed three points.

Ten minutes into the second half and Cardiff made a double substitution with Fraizer Campbell and Kim-Bo Kyoung replacing Gary Medel and Peter Odemwingie. Liverpool also made a substitution shortly afterwards bringing on Martin Kelly for Jon Flanagan.

At the time it felt like a fair move and there were no real complaints but the substitution definitely appeared to create some imbalance in the side and just a few minutes later Cardiff had found themselves a goal on the back of some pressure.

Jordan Mutch was left unmarked in the box after another Cardiff player successfully diverted Sakho's attention. The incoming cross from Peter Whittingham allowed Mutch to head home and convert for his side.

Cardiff now had some wind in their sails and whilst Liverpool continued to have a poorer second half it still appeared as though the lead was insurmountable for Malky Mackay's side. They did play well though, troubling Liverpool on numerous occasions but the Reds are all too familiar with these sorts of games now and thankfully it did not turn into a banana skin.

Brendan Rodgers and his side were delighted come 90 minutes when the win had lifted them up into top spot. It's so nice to be top of the league with nearly everybody still laughing at the prospect of us winning the thing because yes, it's unlikely but it's more achievable when there is zero pressure. Bring on your City and Chelsea, let's see what happens...

Here are a few of the tweets I received with your thoughts on today's game, thanks to all who replied!

Next up for Liverpool is Manchester City away on Boxing Day!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, 20 December 2013

Bluebirds Face The Red Bird

Well there may be Christmas cheer at Anfield this weekend but it's a different story for Cardiff fans and their manager Malky Mackay after owner Vincent Tan has essentially told the boss to pack his bags. It's quite frankly shocking the manner in which he has been treated and I'm sure Liverpool fans will support Cardiff in any chants they throw at their owners tomorrow.

Injury wise Cardiff are in a pretty healthy state with most of their team available however Craig Bellamy will be subject to a late fitness test, it would be nice to see him feature at Anfield to be fair. For Liverpool they are still without Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Jose Enrique.

Cardiff currently find themselves 15th in the league on 17 points whilst Liverpool stand in 2nd on 33 points. Cardiff have made a decent start to the season but their win last week against West Brom was their first in six league games. Liverpool on the other hand are on a run of three wins in the league and will certainly be hoping to collect another at Anfield on Saturday in order to keep the pressure on Arsenal.

No Liverpool fan will have forgotten the last time these two sides met yet. It was a fantastic occasion for the travelling Kop at Wembley as Liverpool eventually beat Cardiff on penalties to win the League Cup in 2012.

The meeting before this between the two side was also in the League Cup, this time at Anfield. Nabil El Zhar and Steven Gerrard were on the score sheet in that 2-1 win.

In the history of the league Cardiff actually have more wins than Liverpool in this fixture winning 16 out of 26 meetings between the sides. Liverpool have eight wins and there have been two draws.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have seen 16 of their goals scored by English men so far this season, more than any other side.
  • Of the games Cardiff have won this season in the league, they have all been via a one goal margin.
  • Liverpool have scored 14 goals in their last four Premier League games.

I asked you for your score predictions this week and I don't know if some of you have started early on the eggnog or you're just feeling extremely positive but here are some of the tweets I received haha...

I must admit I am also feeling quite confident about this one despite the fact it has all the makings of a banana skin. I however feel Cardiff will find a lucky goal so my prediction is 3-1. Liverpool really need to ensure they collect all three points at Anfield though as they prepare to face what could be two extremely important matches away from home against Manchester City and Chelsea.

Wherever you're watching, enjoy the match folks!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, 16 December 2013

Five For Reds As Boas Is Sacked

Nobody predicted it and certainly nobody expected it but on Sunday evening Liverpool successfully thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 at White Hart Lane. The Reds had failed to win there since 2008 and had managed to hand Spurs their worst defeat at home in 16 years. 

It was a Liverpool side without captain Steven Gerrard and the influential Daniel Sturridge but it didn't matter one iota as the Reds took to their stride immediately and embarrassed a Tottenham side well before they fell down to ten men. 

There were rumours pre match that Brendan Rodgers may opt to go back to a 3-5-2 set up that he has previously experimented with but in the end it was a back four consisting of Flanagan, Sakho, Skrtel and Johnson that made up the defence. In midfield the missing Steven Gerrard was replaced with Lucas whilst captain Luis Suarez led the line.

It didn't take long at all for it to become evident that Spurs were looking weak at the back. Liverpool started very lively as I feel you have to at a place like White Hart Lane but it wasn't supposed to look so easy for the Reds going forward.

The midfield had definitely won the battle over Andre Villas Boas' boys, especially the likes of Jordan Henderson who had an absolutely brilliant game. There's been much discussion over Henderson's performance and I for one am of the thinking that his hesitance that is sometimes present was absent during this fixture for the simple fact that the pressure of Steven Gerrard being alongside him was removed. Previously Henderson would be contemplating whether to just get the ball to Stevie and in the process he sometimes stutters, Sunday's game however allowed him to obtain some more responsibility and it worked wonders. Some of his passes were sublime and he was constantly in space, Hendo just needs to remember now to be confident with his own decisions, don't worry about Gerrard he can handle himself! Haha!

It was Jordan Henderson of course who would set up Liverpool's first goal. A lovely pass to Suarez set him on his way and with true composure Suarez took his time in creating his effort and turning his shot into the bottom left of goal.

Most fans were perhaps a bit sceptical of our chances of winning this game but I think everybody fancied Suarez to find the back of the net. What wasn't expected though was the complete lack of reaction from Spurs, it really was abysmal, Liverpool were left free to pressure the home side's goal mouth for as long as they wished. By the end of the 90 minutes Spurs had managed to reach a tally of zero shots on target, remarkable.

Just before the half hour mark the home side were faced with more problems when they were forced into a substitution after an injury to Sandro. Lewis Holtby took his place.

Liverpool's next goal of the game came in perfect time with five minutes left of the first half. Jordan Henderson and Luis Suarez were again the players involved in this goal. An initial attempt from Jordan was splayed out to Suarez who then saw his own effort splayed out to an awaiting Jordan Henderson who finished well to put Liverpool 2-0 up. I'm so glad Henderson scored because he thoroughly deserved it.

Spurs now had half time to attempt to recover from the situation, after all, a 2-0 scoreline didn't meant they couldn't fight back. An immediate substitution in the second half from Andre Villas Boas saw Fryers replace Naughton. With Defoe on the bench many home fans were wondering why he wasn't thrown in to the action but he never featured after Spurs used their final substitution on the hour mark bringing on Townsend for Dembele.

Liverpool were looking as strong as ever in the second half and it really was fantastic to watch. I'd mentioned before hand that surprisingly I was more worried about the Spurs game than the City and Chelsea ones later in the month but after watching this game you found yourself thinking "what the hell was I scared of?!" 

Shortly after the hour mark Spurs saw Paulinho leave the field after a frankly ridiculous challenge on Luis Suarez. His leg was practically above his own head and despite the impact not being full throttle, he studded Luis Suarez in the chest/ribs. I'm the first to admit Suarez is a good actor but there's no excuses for that challenge, you just can't do it.

Spurs were already seriously struggling and now down to ten men, things really did begin to get unbearable for them.

The next goal for Liverpool was a brilliant one for the fans. It's always nice to see a youngster doing well for your side and even more so when he's a local lad! A cross from Luis Suarez set up Flanno who finished emphatically and then proceeded to celebrate like a mad man with his teammates. It was a superb moment in the game and the Reds were now 3-0 up!

With less than 10 minutes left on the clock the Reds still were not prepared to take their foot of the gas and their efforts were rewarded when Luis Suarez with a cheeky chip at 83 minutes sent his effort over Hugo Lloris who by now must have been bored of picking the ball out of his net.

Five minutes later and Liverpool had scored again! This time it was Raheem Sterling who broke free to slot home the Reds' final goal of the game and complete the rout.

Discussing the goals is obviously the meat of most match reports but Liverpool were so good in this game that I could have easily written paragraphs on the woodwork being hit, the near misses, it was just a quality performance from Liverpool all round and just what everybody needed to get themselves into the Christmas spirit.

As for Spurs, yes I suppose they could try to cling on to the fact that they went down to ten men but most would agree that they were being battered before that point anyway, of course they have now lost their manager and so things only go from bad to worse for the Londoners in the run up to Christmas.

Liverpool however are nicely poised in 2nd with a brilliant goal tally. Next up for the Reds is Cardiff at home and we simply must win this one to keep the momentum going!

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and I got some great replies this week, here are just a few of the tweets I received and thank you for everybody that responded!

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, 13 December 2013

Tough Task For Reds At Tottenham

Liverpool get the festive period under way on Sunday as they prepare for a gruelling set of fixtures away from home broken up only by a visit to Anfield from Cardiff on the 21st. This weekend though the Reds travel to White Hart Lane to face Andre Villas Boas' Tottenham side.

Injuries for Liverpool for this one mean they are without the prominent pairing of Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge. The positive for Liverpool though is that Jordan Henderson has recovered from an ankle injury and Daniel Agger is also available after missing the game against West Ham.

For Spurs they are without Kaboul, Chiriches and Vertonghen. Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen will also be subject to late fitness tests after missing the game against Anzhi in the Europa League.

Spurs currently find themselves 6th in the league with 27 points. After a recent dry spell the Londoners appear to have got back into the swing of things with two wins on the bounce against Sunderland and Fulham. Tottenham have definitely looked less effective after losing star man Gareth Bale in the summer and whilst one man shouldn't make a team it certainly seems to have had an effect.

Liverpool find themselves in 2nd place after a win against West Ham and some favourable results around them. The Reds will also be hoping for a positive result from the Arsenal V City game to aid them in their efforts going forward. Liverpool have also notched up two wins on the bounce against West Ham and Norwich.

The last time the two sides met was at Anfield in March of this year. The game ended 3-2 with Luis Suarez, Stewart Downing and Steven Gerrard scoring for Liverpool and Jan Vertonghen collecting a brace for Spurs.

Liverpool haven't won at White Hart Lane since May 2008. The game that day ended 2-0 with Fernando Torres and Andrei Voronin on the score sheet (haha!). This is of course a worrying stat for Liverpool but it by no means indicates that Brendan Rodgers' side can't go out and get a result.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have 15 more goals and 11 more points than they did at the same stage last season.
  • Tottenham Hotspur have won more games away from home than at White Hart Lane this season.
  • The Reds have scored from set pieces on 14 occasions this season.

I don't think I'll be having a punt on this game but if I were going to place money on it I can see this being a score draw. As always I don't wish this to be the case, I would much prefer a win but I feel it is going to be a big ask of Liverpool to win at White Hart Lane. It is strange though because the other two difficult away games we have later in December I actually feel we can win, we appear to relish the challenge and style of play from the likes of City and Chelsea whereas Spurs seem to create frustration within the side and I don't feel they play in these sort of games with as much courage making it harder for Liverpool to pick at mistakes and break.

Liverpool will of course also miss the presence of both Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge but I definitely fancy Luis Suarez to continue his immense streak of goalscoring on Sunday.

As always I asked a few of you on Twitter to send in your score predictions and here are a couple of the ones I received...

Enjoy the match folks!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Reds Take 3 Points Whilst Teams Around Them Falter

It was another confident win for Liverpool as the Reds walked away with a 4-1 win over West Ham on Saturday. The visitors unwittingly aided Liverpool's victory with two own goals whilst Martin Skrtel scored for the Hammers at a point where the game could have ended very differently. Two late efforts from Suarez though (one given to him and one not) meant Liverpool had safely sealed the win and pushed themselves into 2nd place.

Liverpool started with a slightly different line up after Brendan Rodgers opted for Sakho in defence. West Ham on the other hand had a striker up front who hadn't scored in months on end.

It took nearly the full first half for a goal to enter the game and in fairness to West Ham they did have a few chances in the first half. Liverpool however were clearly the dominant party and it would surely only be a matter of time before the Reds took the lead at home.

The goal did arrive but it was gifted to Liverpool via a mishap between keeper and defender. Jaaskelainen didn't quite maintain a hold on the ball and a fumbling Guy Demel ran towards play to get involved but instead ended up turning the loose ball into his own net.

In the second half West Ham had to immediately make a substitution taking off Stewart Downing and bringing on Joe Cole.

Just a minute into the first half and Liverpool had found themselves a second goal. This time a lovely free kick whipped in by Steven Gerrard travelled all the way to the far post and was met by Mamadou Sakho who turned in his effort with his left foot.

A blow for Liverpool came shortly after their second goal when captain Steven Gerrard signalled to the bench after appearing to pull his hamstring. The update so far is still the same and the club are just hoping that after further tests it will prove to be minimal damage. Lucas replaced Gerrard.

Just after the hour mark West Ham found themselves right back in the game but via a Martin Skrtel own goal. It wasn't the best of decisions for Martin to fling a leg out in the manner he did when there was plenty of support and the goalkeeper was alert but I suppose you don't have time to fully think through those decisions. Nevertheless West Ham's goal did for a short while cause problems for Liverpool, confidence seemed to drop momentarily and West Ham with a bit more luck may have been able to level play.

Fortunately the Reds didn't keep their heads down for too long and their fight was ignited sooner rather than later. I'd like to point out at this stage the performance of Joe Allen, he often is subjected to stick from the fans and sometimes deservedly so but credit given when due he did a great job in midfield yesterday and almost made us forget about Lucas Leiva which is a hard task for any player currently at Liverpool.

At 80 minutes Liverpool had found themselves a cushion. A wonderful cross from Glen Johnson who was directed by Luis Suarez perfectly found its way to the Uruguayan. A lovely headed finish from Suarez further cemented his hero status in the league at the moment and the Reds now looked comfortable to take all three points.

Shortly after Liverpool's third goal West Ham saw Keivin Nolan leave the field after receiving his marching orders. I must admit I did feel the frustration of Big Sam because in comparison to the early Flanagan tackle, they were similar incidents and yet nothing happened to Flanagan. However, trying to find consistency in a referee is a rare thing at the moment and there's no denying Nolan's tackle was bad on Henderson.

At 83 minutes Luis Suarez was again causing havoc for the West Ham defence, twisting and turning left and right he eventually got a shot on which saw a big deflection from Joey O'Brien that sent the ball past Jaaskelainen.

Suarez celebrated with his team mates as Liverpool looked back on another good performance and another nice goal tally. Even better for the Reds, news filtered around Anfield after the final whistle that Manchester City had drawn with Southampton and Chelsea had lost to Stoke after a late Assaidi winner. Liverpool were now in 2nd with Arsenal to play Everton. Nobody was expecting that this weekend!

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received...

Next up for Liverpool is Tottenham away, a massive opportunity for the Reds I'm sure you will agree!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, 6 December 2013

Reds On For A Winner Against West Ham

After a brilliant if somewhat solo performance from Liverpool and Luis Suarez against Norwich midweek, the Reds will be looking to continue their streak against West Ham at home this Saturday. This is certainly the kinder half of December for Liverpool and so fans will be hoping for more of the same and another three points wrapped up this weekend.

Injuries for Liverpool are still the same with Enrique, Coates and Sturridge all out long term. For West Ham they have a few injury problems to contend with. Still out are Vaz Te and Carroll and midfielder Ravel Morrison will be unable to feature as he is serving a one match ban.

West Ham currently find themselves in 17th on 13 points. The Londoners are on a bit of a poor run at the moment having only won one of their last six games, this came in a match against Fulham at home. Liverpool find themselves in 4th place on 27 points and the Reds have won three out of their last six league games.

The last time the two sides met was in April earlier this year. The game ended 0-0 in a relatively quiet game. A 3-2 win for Liverpool in December 2012 was slightly more exciting though, on that day the three Red men scoring were also ex Hammers; Glen Johnson, Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Cole.

The last win for West Ham in the fixture came in February when they won 3-1 at Upton Park. Interestingly, three goals seem to have a significance for Liverpool in this fixture, the Reds have put three past West Ham in five out of their last seven meetings. West Ham have only won once in that time in the game mentioned above.

Stat Sandwich

  • Glen Johnson has scored in three of the last four games against West Ham.
  • West Ham have failed to find the back of the net in 8 out of 14 games this season.
  • Nobody has been ahead at half time more times than Liverpool so far this season.

I'm feeling confident about this result, the scoreline against Norwich will have done us the world of good and I definitely fancy Suarez grabbing another goal at least on Saturday. The defence also (if Brendan sticks to his decision) made me a lot happier against Norwich and so I feel they will be able to deal with any threat posed by West Ham at Anfield. 

With the home crowd behind them this should be a nice win for Liverpool and if I get chance to pop a quid on tomorrow I'm going to go with the stats about us scoring three goals and pop a quid on 3-0!

Enjoy the match folks!

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Suarez Show

In stark contrast to their shocking defeat at the hands of Hull, Liverpool completely turned their fortunes around on Wednesday night in a 5-1 rout over Norwich. The magical Luis Suarez scored four times whilst Raheem Sterling netted the fifth. The game sees the Reds remain fourth in the table with West Ham at home for their next fixture.

Brendan Rodgers made some changes to the starting XI for this one, namely the reintroductions of Daniel Agger and Joe Allen. Philippe Coutinho was also given the start which was music to most fans ears.

Norwich certainly appear to have found their "bogey team" in the Premier League and after this result you have to feel sorry for goalkeeper John Ruddy who must be sick to the back teeth of Luis Suarez.

The game quickly got underway for Liverpool who had a succession of efforts blocked followed by two Jordan Henderson misses early on. Henderson didn't quite have his shooting boots on but his team mate Luis Suarez had his laces firmly tied for this fixture!

The Uruguayan had already collected 7 goals against Norwich and he was well on to his way to extending his tally when faced with an opportunity just before the 15 minute mark.

Being Luis Suarez, it's too easy to do things by halves although this goal did nearly come from the half way line its self. Very similar to his goal at Carrow Road, Suarez spotted Ruddy slightly off his line and decided to take a chance at lobbing the keeper, of course his plan worked and his effort elegantly swooped over the keeper and in to the back of the net.

The Kop End went wild and the fans were over the moon with that goal, little did they know there was even better to come.

Suarez's second goal of the night came nearly 15 minutes later after a corner from Philippe Coutinho was flicked on by Steven Gerrard. Norwich were at fault here for leaving Suarez with so much space but it was still a tidy header from Suarez and Liverpool were now 2-0 up.

Norwich by this stage already looked deflated, they posed little threat in attack and were struggling desperately to deal with the oncoming Luis Suarez.

Liverpool on the other hand looked a lot more balanced. It's perhaps a little harsh to judge because there wasn't as much to deal with but I personally feel Agger and Skrtel gelled very well together and there's no reason why that partnership should not continue to be used for the foreseeable future in my opinion.

Suarez's third goal in my opinion was easily the best. The skill required to take the ball over the defender and then hit the shot on the half volley was just immense. This goal was a real pleasure to watch and a perfect way for Luis to seal his hat trick.

Of course the Uruguayan wasn't quite done yet though, just after the 70 minute mark he lined up to take a free kick awarded to Liverpool on the edge of the box. Everybody was suspected it but nobody actually thought that he'd score again...

But he did, a fantastic free kick swirled its way into the back of the net and Liverpool were now 4-0 up. Simply brilliant.

A few minutes later Norwich managed to find themselves a consolation goal and it really was just a consolation, Chris Hughton looked very disappointed come 90 minutes. Bradley Johnson converted for the visitors.

Finally Liverpool finished their rout with an assist from... yes, you've guessed it... Luis Suarez. The star man set up Raheem Sterling who slotted home the Reds' fifth goal of the game.

It really was a brilliant result for Liverpool, just what they needed after such a dismal display against Hull. With West Ham up next at Anfield too the Reds have a chance to begin another good run here as we head into the Christmas period.

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are some of the tweets I received...

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Liverpool Require A Win To Get Back On Track

Liverpool welcome the Canaries to Anfield on Wednesday evening as the Reds look to redeem themselves after a terrible performance against Hull at the weekend. Brendan's side looked completely lacklustre and it is assumed the boss will this time field a different starting XI.

Liverpool are of course without Daniel Sturridge who could be out for six weeks. The Reds are also missing Jose Enrique and Sebastian Coates who are out long term. Kolo Toure will be subject to a late fitness test before the game but there are many fans who believe he has earnt a seat on the bench for this match after his last performance.

For Norwich, manager Chris Hughton has quite a few bodies missing. Bunn and Wolfswinkel are both unavailable with ankle problems whilst Bennet and Snodgrass have knee injuries. Pilkington and Tettey are also out leaving Norwich in a bit of a pickle when trying to select their best XI.

Norwich currently find themselves in 14th with 14 points and it has been a mix bag of results for the Canaries so far this season. Norwich won their last match against Crystal Palace and they have also picked up all three points against West Ham, Stoke and Southampton. Their current form reads - LDLWLW.

Liverpool in case you didn't know, emphatically lost their last game against Hull. Liverpool fans find themselves hoping that this is just a blip but the Reds have also lost two other games so far this season. Current form for Liverpool reads - DWLWDL.

Liverpool have scored 10 goals in their last two meetings with Norwich. The last time the two sides met the game ended 5-0 with 4 different goalscorers and an own goal on the score sheet for Liverpool. The meeting before that saw Liverpool win 5-2 with Luis Suarez scoring that unforgettable hat trick. Steve Morison and Grant Holt scored for Norwich that day.

To find a win for Norwich at Anfield we have to go back to April 1994 when the Canaries recorded a 1-0 win over the Reds. On the whole though, Liverpool's record against Norwich is a strong one and they certainly need a win on Wednesday evening.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have only won one of their last four Premier League games.
  • Norwich have only won three of their last 25 away games in the league.
  • The last goal scored at the original Kop End was scored in Norwich's win in April 1994 by Jeremy Goss.
I asked you on twitter for your score predictions for this one but with it being midweek there wasn't as big a response to choose from so here are just a few of score predictions I received...

I must admit that I am quite concerned about this clash, it should on paper be a win for Liverpool but unless the starting XI is different and attitudes have changed then it will be more of the same I'm afraid. Philippe Coutinho for me needs to start and I also personally want to see Agger back in the defence. Suarez also hopefully will be given some more supply enabling him to remain in the danger areas more often instead of drifting out to help create attacks. My prediction for this one despite me feeling a bit worried about it being another banana skin is a 2-1 Liverpool win.

Wherever you are watching, enjoy the match folks!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, 2 December 2013

Tigers Roar To 3-1 Win

Liverpool fell to an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Hull on Sunday in what should have been a straight forward win for the Reds. With questions being asked over the selected XI by fans before kick off, come 90 minutes it was clear that Brendan Rodgers needs more than two signings in the January window. The Reds lacked creativity and the defence was sloppy to say the least, a Steven Gerrard free kick was the only thing to smile about as Liverpool had to congratulate Hull on an organised performance.

The Reds didn't take long to set a tone for this game, in a vociferous KC Stadium it appeared as though Hull were definitely out to cause an upset. The worrying thing was, even so early on in the game, too many of the Liverpool side didn't look bothered, simple passes even appeared to be a problem and whilst at this point it was annoying, the worry hadn't quite set in for me at this stage (that came in the second half).

Hull on the other hand looked comfortable, they had set up well and their defence had an Italian feel to it, Liverpool were certainly finding it hard to break through and Hull were happy to bide their time until a chance for them arose.

Eventually, it did. Just before the 20 minute mark Jake Livermore fancied a chance and took a shot at goal from outside the area, unfortunately for Martin Skrtel his leg created a huge deflection and with Simon Mignolet unable to do anything, the ball flew into the back of the net.

At this stage you kind of scratch a goal like that off, it was fluky and there was still plenty of time, Liverpool just needed to get themselves on the score sheet before half time. This looked problematic though as the Reds weren't exactly troubling the Hull keeper. However at 26 minutes Liverpool were presented with an opportunity when they were awarded a free kick.

Both Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez had eyes on the ball but it was the captain who stepped up to take it. His free kick was classic Gerrard and it weaved its way into the back of the net. The celebrations at this point made it clear that the lads obviously did care but the effort was not evident enough in play.

No more goals were scored in the first half and Liverpool barely had anything to shout about, Hull were still applying pressure on the Reds and our defence was suffering from miscommunication and fumbles left, right and centre, it really was quite worrying but fact was, it was 1-1 and there was 45 minutes left. Team talk from Rodgers, some early subs... Simple right? Well... not quite.

It's perhaps a bit harsh to pin the blame on Rodgers for a second half but whatever he said in the dressing room clearly didn't spur up any fire. As for the subs Coutinho was eventually brought on but most would agree it was left too late. An ineffective pairing of Raheem Sterling and Victor Moses left Liverpool relatively clueless down the wings and with Suarez having to help out to create attacks he had often left himself with too much to do, faced with no Sturridge in the box to supply either, it really was terrible.

At 70 minutes Hull had found themselves a second, David Meyler converted with a shot to the bottom left of goal. Liverpool's defence again was far from adequate and I must admit when first watching the game I flew off the handle a bit with Skrtel, after studying the highlights I have to hold my hands up and say that I was definitely focusing too much on the unfortunate mishaps of his, on the whole he certainly was one of very few showing some heart and fight. Closer inspection for me indicated Toure as being a real problem yesterday, countless occasions he was being a hindrance instead of a help and twice at least he actually tripped up Skrtel who was trying to deal with a problem, not to mention the point when he was playing the attacker onside...

However you analyse yesterday's game, one thing is for sure, it's high time Daniel Agger was back in the defence.

Shortly after Hull's second Liverpool did have a short spell where it looked as though they may just find an equaliser. This ended when Suarez almost converted a free kick but sent his effort just wide to the left of goal. The players were clearly frustrated but not as frustrated as the fans, it was like we'd ran out of ideas and just weren't really that arsed about getting back into the game, the polar opposite of the attitude against Everton.

At 86 minutes things got worse for the Reds after another Hull attack. A headed own goal from Martin Skrtel sealed the deal for Hull who were elated with their performance and so they should have been. Some are saying that Liverpool made Hull look good and yes, of course we did as we were bloody terrible but I think it's important not to take too much away from Hull as they were extremely organised and focused and they deserved the three points.

Liverpool on the other hand can only look back at that and completely forget about it in my book. I don't fully understand what happened, I'm always a person that refuses to believe one man makes such a massive difference to a team but we definitely missed Sturridge yesterday, however I'm still not sure that would have been enough for Liverpool as there was no real creation. I pray for the day when Liverpool finally sign a world class winger I really do.

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the responses I received from you, thank you to everybody that tweeted...

Next up for Liverpool is Norwich at Anfield on Wednesday and Liverpool must win this game. Currently in 4th, the Reds can't afford to lose more ground, especially considering we are yet to face Spurs, City and Chelsea, all away from home later this month.

Here's hoping this was just a blip but I fear Liverpool have hit the point where the daydreaming stops and the fighting starts.

Labels: , , , ,