The Liver Bird  

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

No Sturridge For Basel Tie

Liverpool prepare for their second Champions League fixture of the season on Wednesday night as Brendan Rodgers will pair his XI up against Basel's. Unfortunately for the Reds Daniel Sturridge is still unavailable through injury whilst Mamadou Sakho has not made the line up also due to injury but perhaps also down to his antics prior to the Everton game.

Also on the injury list for Liverpool are Johnson, Flanagan, Can and Allen. For Basel they are without Diaz who is serving a suspension and Ivan Ivanov (no that's not a typo) is also unavailable as a long term absentee. Finally ex Red Philip Degen is also out with a foot problem.

The two sides have met only twice before. Back in 2002 in the Champions League when Basel eventually knocked Liverpool out of the competition. Both games ended in score draws 1-1 and 3-3 respectively. Basel may have been a relatively good pick from the pot available but they are certainly no mugs and this will be a difficult game for the Reds away from home.

Stat Sandwich
  • Brendan Rodgers has faced Paulo Sousa twice already whilst manager of Reading. Brendan would later take Sousa's Swansea job.
  • Basel's overall home record against English clubs is W5 D2 L1.
  • Liverpool have never failed to find the back of the net in Switzerland having scored 14 goals over five games in the country.

Basel's first Champions League match was against the might of Real Madrid, they lost at the Bernabeu 5-1. Their last outing in the league this season saw them pick up a 1-1 draw against Thun however they confidently won their two games prior to this.

Liverpool on the other hand are coming off the back of a bit of bad form having drew late on in the Merseyside derby and lost to West Ham and Aston Villa.

I get the feeling it's going to be a bit of a slog for the Reds but I also think we'll manage to see out a win. If I was popping a quid on the game I'd say 1-0.

I asked you for your score predictions and here are a few of the tweets I received:
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Late Jagielka Strike Denies Liverpool Three Points

It was yet another rather frustrating afternoon at Anfield as Liverpool had to settle for a draw in the Merseyside derby. In a game that the Reds probably had the lion's share of, Everton didn't know when to give up and a simply sublime strike from Jagielka late on left the home side gobsmacked.

Sturridge despite the rumours was not fit enough to start from the bench and instead watched on from the stands. It was Balotelli up front for Liverpool and a surely knackered Raheem Sterling in an attempt to keep that much needed spark.

The first incident of the game occurred just after a minute when Gareth Barry made a very bad challenge on Adam Lallana and was booked in the process. It's common for crunching tackles to come in early on in a derby and so this was not surprising. Barry's continuation of risky play however was a bit shocking.

Before the focus returned to Barry though, the Reds were keeping the referee busy themselves. Lukaku was brought down in the box by Alberto Moreno in what I thought was a penalty but Martin Atkinson did not award the spot kick and the Reds were off the hook.

Shortly after this incident Raheem Sterling had an effort that clattered off Barry's raised arm. How he got away with this I seriously don't know! The ref was apparently trying to claim that Barry was trying to protect his head/face but his arm was above his head?! Everton were lucky here I think but considering the earlier Moreno challenge, perhaps things were level pegging regarding decisions at this stage.

Barry however just couldn't stop. Another situation followed, this time with the ex Villa player having a kick a Mario Balotelli for me this was easily another booking but once again, nothing happened.

I hate dwelling on decisions but a ten man Everton team would have turned this into a completely different game.

With Sturridge still missing and Sterling practically running on fumes, the Reds were certainly struggling. Efforts from Balotelli and Lallana though meant Liverpool were definitely creating chances but unfortunately not converting them. Balotelli had a decent free kick from long range but Tim Howard denied the Italian his first Premier League goal in a Liverpool shirt.

For Everton they were creating some breaks and issues for Liverpool but for once our defence was playing pretty well and dealing with any danger. Lukaku was the main man for Everton yet even he couldn't find the back of the net on Saturday.

Liverpool had to wait until the 64 minute mark take the lead and what better man to score in a game like this than captain Steven Gerrard?! He silenced his critics with a beautiful free kick and celebrated hand to ear whilst running to the fans.

Gerrard of course is a changed player, dropping deeper he is being protected by Rodgers to play at club level for as long as possible. Because of his new role, some knee-jerkers are quick to argue that he's past it, his legs have gone blah blah and whilst he may not have the effect he once had in the team I still feel he is an integral part of Liverpool Football Club. His passing and experience are valuable alone but his passion and determination to bring the team together to work as a unit is irreplaceable. Liverpool function better with him pulling the strings. At one point he will have to step down but for me that certainly isn't yet.

Shortly after the goal Liverpool had another great chance after Raheem Sterling whipped in a cross. Mario Balotelli's effort then smashed off the bar but closer inspection showed Tim Howard had actually made a save denying the number 45 yet again. Balotelli I thought did pretty well today, there are a lot of aspects to his game that go unnoticed but of course what people want is goals.

I still feel that he's going to struggle to score without a proper partner (Sturridge). Balotelli showed today the issues that arise when he's alone. For a starters there's no real supply coming in to him, his best option is a break from Moreno who has a brilliant cross but other than that I don't feel our man is very well supported currently. For this reason Balotelli then drops deep and finds himself drifting out of the box. He's receiving no service whilst he's in there so his natural reaction is to go and help retrieve the ball and get play going. Unfortunately this then raises issues in itself as he's not in the box when that perfect opportunity arises.

The same occurred last season if Suarez played a game without Sturridge. Suarez would hover in the box and have nothing whatsoever coming in to him so he'd drift out and try to help create something. The thing is, Luis Suarez is a creative and special player and so he could afford to do this because he'd probably collect the ball, dribble into the box and score.

Balotelli will retrieve the ball but usually opt for a pass. With no other forward with him that pass usually ends up with a midfield player who is then looking for a player in the box... Balotelli. It's a never-ending circle. Which is exactly why I much prefer Balotelli in a two up top.


Liverpool were keeping the final quarter of the game very much under control, or so it appeared! But typically there was some late, late drama to come. A ball splayed out to Phil Jagielka who clearly had one thing on his mind with the clock reading 90 minutes. He was prepared for the strike and with power and pace absolutely smashed the ball into the top right corner. It was a cracker of a goal and there was nothing Liverpool could do about it.

Everton had equalised and in some style and with just time added on left they'd done enough to steal a point!

It was gutting to watch but then you can't really do anything about goals like that, it's just soddin' annoying that it happened in the derby!

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

Next up for Liverpool is Basel away in the Champions League.

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Friday, 26 September 2014

Reds Gear Up For Merseyside Derby

After a mammoth session midweek against the might of Middlesbrough the Reds will be hoping things run more smoothly against bitter rivals Everton on Saturday. However, with a run of poor form recently and a real shaky defence, Everton are probably the last team Brendan Rodgers wants to be facing this weekend.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are without Allen, Can, Johnson and Flanagan whilst Coutinho, Henderson and Sturridge will be subject to late fitness tests. Everton are at a relatively good strength however Roberto Maritinez is unable to call upon Ross Barkley. Pienaar and Coleman could return to the bench.

Everton are currently 14th in the league on five points. The Toffees may always be a tough game for Liverpool but positively in the run up to this Derby they have only managed to win one of their last five league games, letting in 13 goals in the process.

The Reds are lounging around in 11th having lost three out of their last five league games. Their best performance so far this season was a 3-0 win over Tottenham.

The last time the two sides met was at the end of January this year. Daniel Sturridge got a brace that day in an emphatic 4-0 win at Anfield. The fixture at Goodison Park in November 2013 though was not a pretty sight, brilliant for the neutral but horrible for Reds and Blues alike as the game eventually ended in a 3-3 draw after a very late Sturridge equaliser.

Stat Sandwich
  • The Reds are unbeaten in the last 15 Merseyside derbies at Anfield. (All comps)
  • Everton currently have the worst defensive record in the Premier League.
  • Liverpool have lost four of the last six matches that Daniel Sturridge has not featured in.
I asked you for your score predictions on Twitter and here are a few of the tweets I received:

I must admit I have to completely agree with the tweet from Matt above. I can see this game ending as a high scoring draw. Both our defences are extremely leaky. The one thing that does worry me is that Sterling will probably be knackered. If Sturridge doesn't make the start we really need Sterling's magic to get something from the game. I also think Sturridge being back will boost the whole team and put Balotelli in a good mood!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Thirty Penalties But Reds Eventually Make It Through To 4th Round

In a joint record for the competition Liverpool were crowned eventual winners against Middlesbrough last night after the penalty tally read 14-13. A phenomenal end to a difficult night for the Reds who looked to have sealed things with a Suso goal late on only for Raheem Sterling to make a terrible pass, forcing Kolo Toure to concede a penalty.

Brendan Rodgers as expected started with a very different line up. Rickie Lambert lead the line with youngster Jordan Rossiter given his debut in midfield. Despite the assumption Boro would field a full starting XI manager Aitor did make several changes.

The game got off to a good start for Liverpool who only took nine minutes to convert. Attacking play from both teams eventually led to a break for Liverpool. Youngster Jordan Rossiter was awaiting outside the box and with a sweet strike sent his effort to the left of goal past the Middlesbrough keeper Blackman.

With the upper hand it was perhaps expected that the Reds would grasp a hold of the game at Anfield however Middlesbrough played extremely well and made things very tough. Their fans were top quality and spurred their team on immensely.

The second half saw the score still held a 1-0 but chances from Leadbitter and Tomlin meant Boro were beginning to pressure Liverpool. On the hour mark Mamadou Sakho was shown a yellow card for hand ball on the right hand edge of the box. For me, this was extremely harsh but the free kick was given and boy did Boro make the most of it.

Leadbitter whipped in the free kick and it was Reach who converted for the away side. Level pegging, it looked for a while as though Boro would go on to win this tie, Liverpool's unfamiliar XI were running out of ideas and whilst the spark of Sterling and Lallana was causing issues we were becoming too predictable for their defence.

With 15 minutes left of full time Rodgers decided to replace Lambert with Balotelli. A good move I thought as unfortunately Lambert wasn't having a brilliant game. Another youngster - Jordan Williams was also introduced for Liverpool, he replaced goalscorer Rossiter.

The full time whistle blew with the tie still level and on it went to extra time. As legs tired and Boro perhaps felt like they had more and more of a chance. The first stint of extra time led to no change. However drama would occur in the second.

A melee in the box saw Balotelli attempt to have a crack at goal but the ball flew out to Suso who struck with power and after a deflection his goal put Liverpool ahead! The glory was short lived though as 12 minutes later disaster had found its way back to Anfield.

As Liverpool fans, we tend to learn that nothing is ever done the easy way but nobody could have predicted the concentration lapse from our starlet Raheem Sterling. A daft pass back went straight into the path of two Middlesbrough players. With Patrick Bamford en route to goal, Kolo Toure simply had to do something, leave him and he's through on goal, go for the tackle and you risk a peno. And a peno is what they got.

Bamford converted to put his side back level and the tie was destined to end on penalties.

Now I've watched a fair few penalty shoot-outs in my time but this was bloody ridiculous! I won't discuss all of them because there's too soddin' many but as soon as Sterling stepped up, I knew he was going to miss, the earlier mistake had clearly got to him. Luckily though Liverpool fought right to the 30th penalty when Adomah missed his penalty.

Even the goalkeepers scored it was brilliant to watch yet slightly annoying when you've got to get up at 5:45am!

But, we made it. Now to rest up for the Everton game?!?!

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

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Reds Face Boro In League Cup

After a somewhat dismal week for Liverpool, manager Brendan Rodgers will be hoping his side can pick themselves up and progress past Middlesbrough in tomorrow night's league cup tie. The two sides have met on numerous occasions and were last drawn against each other in this competition back in 1998!

Liverpool are still in a bit of a rut with injuries however and with a Merseyside derby to contend with at the weekend it is expected that Brendan will pick an unfamiliar line up anyway. Rickie Lambert is predicted to get his first start in a Liverpool shirt.

For Middlesbrough they are without Whitehead who is serving a suspension but ex Red Daniel Ayala is available after serving a ban himself.

The last time the two teams met was in February 2009 'Boro actually beat the Reds on that occasion 2-0 with Xabi Alonso scoring an own goal. Their last trip to Anfield was in 2008, after taking the lead via Mido an own goal from Pogatetz and a very late Steven Gerrard goal eventually gave Liverpool the win.

Middlesbrough have picked up plenty of draws in their time facing the Reds at Anfield but the last time they picked up all three points was in November 2004.

Aitor Karanka's side are currently 5th in the championship having got off to a pretty convincing start. They've only lost one game away from home so far this season and that was against Leeds.

Stat Sandwich

  • The Reds have made it past the third round of the league cup in nine out of the last 12 seasons.
  • Middlesbrough have won five out of their last six away league cup matches.
  • Liverpool fell to a third defeat in in five Premier League games this weekend.

I asked you for your score predictions on Twitter and here are a few of the tweets I received:

The chance to field an unfamiliar team may well produce a good result here I think. I can definitely see Lambert finding the back of the net but would also be very surprised if Middlesbrough failed to score. They'll make it hard for us but I'm predicting a 2-1 win by 90 minutes.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!


If you've got a second, please vote for me and the blog in the football blogging awards. I've never pretended to be the world's best blogger and realise my content compared to some blog's is not "in depth" but I put a lot of effort into running this #LFC blog alone and I've barely missed a preview or report since I started this up in September 2009 so I'd really appreciate the support :)

Just tweet this - "I am voting in @TheFBAs for @LFCKirstyLFC as best #Female blogger." 

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Liverpool Left Shell-Shocked By West Ham

Liverpool fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sam Allardyce's West Ham team on Saturday after a ruthless start from the home side. The Reds barely had chance to compose themselves before the Hammers found the back of the net and things quickly went from bad to worse for Brendan Rodgers' side.

It took just over a minute for West Ham to get the game underway. A free kick from ex Red Stewart Downing was whipped into the box. Tomkins at the far post headed it back across goal and Winston Reid with another header from close range put the home side in front.

The Liverpool defence were all over the place. It's not a recent problem either but with the reintroduction of Martin Skrtel it was hoped he would add some stability however it was clear this new back four were still learning how to work together.

Five minutes later and West Ham were at it again. After Liverpool lost possession in midfield the Hammers broke quickly. An assist from Mark Noble allowed Diafra Sakho to have a pop at goal. It initially looked as though he was aiming for a cross but after spotting the goalkeeper's position Sakho sent his effort all the way into goal leaving Liverpool dumbstruck once again.

The Reds were well and truly flustered now, struggling to create any moves of any real purpose they shrivelled under West Ham's relentless attack. Attempts from Cresswell and Valencia caused more havoc for Liverpool but the Reds managed to keep the danger out.

All of this and we were only 15 minutes in!

At 16 minutes some handbags occurred between Balotelli and Adrian. The goalkeeper felt hard done by after being bundled over by Balotelli but there was hardly anything in it. Adrian's reaction to crouch over Balotelli and scream in his face was completely over the top but I was just thankful that Balotelli didn't rise to the bait. Adrian was clearly a fuse waiting to go off with Mark Noble attempting to calm him down.

At 20 minutes Brendan Rodgers decided he needed to make a substitution. Manquillo came off for Mamadou Sakho. This was obviously a move to protect Liverpool as too much action was coming down that flank but forgive me for not feeling 100% confident when Sakho was introduced.

Sakho is an ok defender but unfortunately he's just average. We don't really have a star defender at the moment in my opinion. Hopefully with time that will change.

At 25 minutes, Liverpool finally created a real chance. A ball from Henderson into the box was beautifully controlled by Mario Balotelli who brought the ball down, turned and shot with power, his effort crashed out off Cresswell but fell to a free Raheem Sterling who with a sweet strike put Liverpool back into the game.

The Reds had scored but they still couldn't grasp a hold of the game. West Ham on another quick break played through Kouyate, an alert Alberto Moreno was thankfully present to ease the trouble but he was then scissor chopped to the floor by the West Ham player.

Enner Valencia made a real impression on the game for West Ham and late in the first half caused trouble for an already anxious Simon Mignolet.

After a whirlwind of a first half, Liverpool opted to replace Lucas Leiva with Adam Lallana for the second. Those who regularly read my blogs or tweets will know that I'm quite the advocate for Lucas but I'll hold my hands up, yesterday he offered no real help. Lallana made an immediate impact when he came on and the team were definitley improved with his introduction.

Early in the second half Fabio Borini had the perfect chance to play in an encroaching Alberto Moreno but unfortunately the Italian opted for the shot. He wasn't too far off but he really should have squared it with Liverpool desperately looking for a goal.

Shortly afterwards Borini had another pop at goal attempting to loop it over the keeper but again he was off target. Another strike from the Italian from range was then saved by Adrian but the follow up from the keeper looked very cynical. Adrian left his boot high in the air and on replays was clearly looking at Borini when the challenge came in. After being booked for the earlier handbags with Balotelli, he was lucky to remain on the pitch in my opinion!

Just before the 70 minute mark Mario Balotelli managed to cut inside and lose his man, a strike from the left hand side just outside the box had power but Adrian saved well.

Liverpool had a decent spell at this stage of the game but crucially they could not convert their chances. The introduction of Lallana had allowed for more creativity but the Reds just couldn't find a goal.

To make things worse West Ham would remove any glimmer of hope for the Reds after a final goal in the 87th minute. Substitute Amalfitano was played through by Stewart Downing who had a great game for the Hammers. Sakho had mucked up a clearance to give the ball to Downing but Amalfitano remained composed to convert his right footed shot.

It was a very poor game for Liverpool who looked a shadow of the team that confidently beat Spurs recently. The missing Daniel Sturridge is obviously a big blow for Liverpool but this isn't an excuse. The defence is a huge problem currently and a lot of work needs to be done in order for these new signings to gel. Despite this I feel Moreno is still a massive positive for us.

I just hope Rodgers can get things sorted, I don't think anybody was expecting us to enter into another title race after all the new signings and the loss of Luis Suarez but I still expect us to end the season relatively well and at this rate we'll be slipping away from the top 4 with ease.

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

Next up for Liverpool is a tie midweek with Middlesbrough in the League Cup and then a massive Merseyside derby at the weekend!


JD Score Predictor

Top of the score predictor league is still my mate Josh (Brurgh), somebody please knock him off the top! Haha

In second place is "Forgotten Soldiers" on 43 points.

P.s. If you've got a second and you like the blog, please tweet "I am voting in @TheFBAs for @LFCKirstyLFC as best #Female blogger"

I'd really appreciate the help :)

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Friday, 19 September 2014

Reds Ready To Face Hammers

Liverpool travel to London on Saturday evening as they aim to thrive off their Champions League win over Ludogorets earlier in the week. Brendan will face Sam Allardyce's West Ham side who currently find themselves 13th in the league.

The injury list for Liverpool is still a pretty long one. Missing from action are Sturridge, Allen, Johnson, Flanagan and Can. West Ham are also without some key players as Carroll, Nolan and Jarvis are all unavailable.

The last time the two sides met was in April this year. Two penalties from Steven Gerrard saved the day in a vital fixture for the Reds who were right in the midst of a title race. I was on a flight from Manchester to Budapest when this game was on, it was absolute agony not knowing the score, when I landed I had a text from my brother just saying 1-1, luckily just before I could start balling another one came through saying 2-1 FT!

The last time West Ham beat Liverpool on their home turf was in February 2011. Glen Johnson scored a consolation goal in that game but the Reds lost 3-1. Overall Liverpool have good form against West Ham and in the last 10 league games there have only been two draws, both 0-0 affairs.

Stat Sandwich
  • Liverpool have scored in every game away from home so far in 2014.
  • The Hammers have scored four goals from outside the box so far this season.
  • The Reds have lost three out of their last five league matches when Sturridge hasn't played.

A big positive for me going in to this fixture is the fact that Martin Skrtel is back. Whether he will start I don't know but I personally feel a lot more comfortable when he's in our back four.

After the start to Tuesday's Champions League game I am really hoping that Brendan reconsiders his starting XI and opts to have somebody supporting Balotelli, I'd also like to see Lucas in the line up. Interestingly though, Brendan's line up for the Villa game and Ludogorets game would probably work better at West Ham due to it being an away tie, the set up may well suit that sort of fixture and so if Brendan does start that way I'll be more patient for this one.

With Balotelli off the mark I have to fancy him getting another on Saturday and I'm also hoping Raheem Sterling will find the back of the net. I'm at work tomorrow (job number 2 lol) and so I doubt I'll get chance to pop a quid on anything but my prediction for this one is 2-1 Liverpool.

I asked you for your predictions on Twitter and here are a few of the tweets I received:

 I had quite a few people tweeting in with 3-1 this week, let's hope you're right!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching.


On a side note, today the Football Blogging Awards have opened up to voting for blogs to reach the finalist stage.

If you get a second I'd really appreciate it if you could follow this link - and then click tweet, it takes two seconds and you will have supported an #LFC blog in a quest to try and win in the best #Female category.

Thank you!!!

P.s Those of you in the JD league don't forget to make your score predictions!

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Balotelli Off The Mark In Late Ludogorets Win

It was a difficult night at Anfield for Liverpool as the Reds prepared to return to the magic of the Champions League in front of a rousing Kop. Brendan Rodgers said pre match that he would treat Ludogorets as if they were Real Madrid and it's a bloody good job he didn't expect this match to be a walk in the park!

It was a poor start to the tie from Liverpool who initially just looked as though they were settling in to the game. However the Reds never seemed to reach full stride and as the clock ticked on, the visiting Bulgarians became more and more confident.

Liverpool offered little in front of goal despite having the likes of Balotelli, Coutinho, Lallana and Sterling on. Ludogorets were dealing well with any pressure and causing trouble by attempting to counter attack. A few half chances early on for Liverpool from Sterling and co quickly fizzled out and it became clear that this was going to be a slog of a game for Brendan's side.

The most positive thing for me from the first half was Alberto Moreno. What a star this man looks! He oozes confidence and can cross the ball. Something we have missed!

At half time if you follow me on Twitter you'd of seen me having a bit of a moan about the set up again. If you read the match report for the Villa game you will recall me discussing how I felt the team was unbalanced, that Balotelli needed somebody up top and that Coutinho, Markovic AND Lallana in the same line up was too much.

Well, here I was again, finding myself frustrated. So at half time I tweeted that I wanted to see Lucas come on. An unpopular opinion amongst most but I knew that the calmness of Lucas and his ability to distribute the ball from midfield would aid Liverpool greatly. Not only this but when Lucas is on Henderson is freed up immensely.

Just before the 70 minute mark Brendan Rodgers made a double substitution bringing on Lucas and Borini for Coutinho and Lallana. This for me was perfect. Borini may not be the best player in the world but he'll slot alongside Balotelli with ease.

I'm a big fan of Coutinho but he was just not on it last night, losing possession and all sorts and so replacing him with Lucas in my opinion massively helped the balance in the side.

And sure enough, once the changes had been made, things finally began to click into place for Liverpool. It took ten minutes to find the back of the net but we were so much better after the substitutions.

People get pissed off at Lucas because he gets booked all the time and fouls people, Paul Scholes made a pretty good pissin' living out of that?! It just frustrates me that people are quick to jump on his back, he does a job that nobody else can currently in our team and I personally am so pleased we still have him at our disposal.

The goal came at 81 minutes. Assisted by an Alberto Moreno cross Mario Balotelli struck a right footed shot into the back of the net. I went bloody mental and so did the Kop. I've never wanted a player to score so desperately!

I have a major interest in Italian football and Italy in general and so when I found out we were signing Mario I was over the moon. I just knew that in order for this to even have a chance of working he'd need a goal pretty soon. He's not a player who will use a lack of goals to drive him on, it would do the opposite but thankfully he's done it, in the Champions League on a European night in front of the Kop... Well in!!!

Just when the Reds finally thought they'd sealed this game, Ludogorets came straight back at them.

Nine minutes later the away side had drawn themselves level after a daft decision by Simon Mignolet. A signature quick break from the Bulgarians caught Liverpool off guard. What made it worse though was that Mignolet decided to come out of goal when he should have just stayed put. I've mentioned before how Mignolet frustrates me but there's no point dwelling on that now. They equalised and Liverpool only had time added on to deal with it.

There's no such thing as a European night at Anfield without drama though and sure enough, the drama came! Javier Manquillo was brought down by their hesitant third choice keeper in the box for a penalty with the clock on 90+1.

Captain Steven Gerrard stepped up to the spot as he has done so many times in a Liverpool shirt. And easily slotted the ball home to give Liverpool the win!

And that was that. We never make things easy do we?!?!

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

Thanks to everybody that tweets in, I might not always select you to feature but I always read them so cheers!

Next up for Liverpool is West Ham away.

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Monday, 15 September 2014

We're Back!

Tuesday 16th September 2014. Mark it in your diaries because Liverpool are back in the Champions League! The Reds last appearance in the competition was way back in December 2009 when they were beaten by La Viola at Anfield. Nobody could have predicted the length of time we'd be away but the five time champions are back and ready to take on the Bulgarian side Ludogorets.

Injuries for the Reds mean they are without Allen, Can, Sturridge, Johnson and Flanagan. Positively for Liverpool though Martin Skrtel is fit again however he is not expected to feature. Lazar Markovic is also unavailable for Brendan Rodgers due to a suspension.

Ludogorets' main injury issue concerns their men between the sticks. First choice goalkeeper Stoyanov is unavailable after being sent off in Ludogorets' play off tie with Steaua Bucharest. Now worryingly for the Bulgarian's their second choice keeper has also been ruled out with a shoulder injury and so they have had to call up 23 year old Argilashki who hasn't even started a league game.

There's no hiding from the fact that this is a real blow for Ludogorets but sometimes these situations create funny results with the keeper playing an absolute blinder. Here's hoping that's not the story on Tuesday night though.

Who are Ludogorets?
  • Ludogorets Razgrad are a Bulgarian team playing in A Group, the top division of Bulgarian football.
  • The team were only founded in 2001 originally under the name "Ludogorie FC"
  • "Ludogorie" means "region of wild forests" referring to the area of Bulgaria which they hail from.
  • Their nickname is "The Eagles" and in 2014 Lazio decided to present them with a live one.
  • Their ground "Ludogorets Arena" has a capacity of just 8,000.
  • They're about 200 miles from the Black Sea.
  • They had a decent Europa League campaign last season beating the likes of PSV and Lazio but losing out to Valencia in the round of 16.

I asked you for your score predictions for this one and here are a few of the tweets I received:

You all seem very confident from the tweets I've been reading and why the hell not? I think we've been fortunate having our first CL fixture at Anfield and after the complete mishap against Aston Villa I believe as a tweeter above says that we can get things back on track here.

I desperately want Balotelli to score, those who follow me on various social media platforms will see I finally had his name printed on my shirt yesterday. I'd just like to take the opportunity to once again thank everybody that joined my JD score predictor league and helped me win the gift voucher to purchase our third strip! Much appreciated!!!


Whilst I seriously want Balotelli to score, I'm not too sure he will. It depends on how we set up and to be honest I can't see Balotelli having the support up top with him. For this reason if I get chance to pop a quid on tomorrow on the way home from work I'm definitely having a go on a Sterling scorecast!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dismal Display In Villa Loss

Liverpool fell to a 1-0 defeat at Anfield on Saturday after Paul Lambert's Villa side found an early goal and protected their lead. With Sturridge missing and Sterling rested, Brendan Rodgers opted for a very different team and a very different set up for this fixture and unfortunately it just didn't work out.

The Reds began the game in a slow fashion. There was no real sense of urgency from the lads and for me the set up lacked balance. With the likes of Markovic, Coutinho, Lallana and co all jostling to collect the ball and push forward, it just felt like nobody was on the same page and this was immediately noticeable.

Balotelli leading the line for me was always going to be an issue because he's just not that sort of player, he needs support which is why the missing Daniel Sturridge is a bigger problem than just us lacking his goal tally.

A half chance for Liverpool to start with saw Markovic turn a header wide. It became evident though that Liverpool would struggle to get any action in front of the Villa net during this game.

Shortly afterwards Mamadou Sakho found himself having to deal with Gabby Agbonlahor. After conceding a corner, Sakho joined his defensive line to hopefully clear the set piece, however it was a shambles. Liverpool just weren't alert at all and the resulting corner eventually found its way to Agbonlahor who turned home his side's only goal of the game.

With such an early goal Liverpool of course still had the opportunity to get back into this game but Aston Villa were difficult to break down, remaining very compact. Shortly after their goal a free kick was awarded when Lallana made a bad challenge on Cleverley.

The free kick found its way to Senderos who was again left unmarked after roaming free for the earlier corner. It was just ridiculous, the defence were all over the shop. Another set piece followed with the Reds only narrowly avoiding more damage to the scoreline.

Late on in the first half Balotelli managed to hold the ball up well and play in Lallana but the ex Southampton man's effort flew just wide.

It just wasn't clicking for Liverpool and to be honest I just didn't like the way we had set up. I also was frustrated that Sterling wasn't starting. I can appreciate that Rodgers wants to look after one of his star men but for me he should have started the game and then came off earlier not the other way around.

Sterling did eventually appear in the second half for Liverpool and immediately lifted spirits. Aston Villa had been staunchly consistent in their defending and whilst the Reds had created some good spells with the introduction of Sterling, they just couldn't find a goal.

A corner in to Balotelli looked as though the Reds could be off the mark but the Italian couldn't quite get the power behind it to convert. The best chance for Liverpool was a Countinho effort after he weaved into the box and his strike smashed out off the post.

For me it was just a strange game overall. I've already mentioned my dislike of the set up but I was also annoyed when Balotelli was taken off for Lambert with Borini also coming on too.

Balotelli for me desperately needs someone up front with him. Yes, he had a pretty dull game and wasn't creating much but that's exactly why he needed Lambert to come on. I just didn't see the point in taking Balo off because he would have benefited from the introduction of Lambert. Borini being thrown in too just didn't make sense for me.

It felt as though Rodgers was testing the waters to some extent. He started a very different XI and then failed to try something simple at the end by playing two up front in an attempt to find that all important goal. It was just all a bit weird.

However, I must give credit to Aston Villa. They played their game perfectly, scoring early and defending well, holding on to those precious three points. They are definitely turning in to a bit of a bogey team.

For Liverpool it was a disappointing loss but if anything it shows the variety of players we have available, we just need time I think to figure out who works best where and with who.

One other thing that I picked upon is a lot of people groaning about Balotelli's movement. He was particularly lacklustre today but anyone thinking he's going to be a spring chicken needs to give up now. Balotelli is a lazy player, he hangs around and is often in the right place at the right time, it's what he does best. But crucially, he needs that support and when he has it, he will find goals. It's very early doors at the moment and here's hoping he can settle into his rhythm.

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

Definitely a result that we all would like to forget about and what better way to do so than getting ready for the return of the Champions League to Anfield on Tuesday night?!?!

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Friday, 12 September 2014

Balotelli Main Man In Villa Game?

Liverpool face Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday after an international break that created an injury scare for Jordan Henderson and left Daniel Sturridge unable to feature for the Reds for three weeks. With Brendan seething at England officials believing the striker's injury was preventable, it is now down to Mario Balotelli to lead the Liverpool line.

Along with Sturridge, Liverpool are also unable to call upon Skrtel, Johnson, Flanagan and Can. Joe Allen will be subject to a late fitness test. Aston Villa on the other hand are relatively strong with only Benteke and Kozak out.

The last time the two sides met was in January this year. The tie at Anfield finished in a 2-2 draw after Villa initially dominated the game finding two goals in just over half an hour. A goal on half time from Daniel Sturridge though was followed in the second half by a Steven Gerrard penalty.

Villa's visit to Anfield in December 2012 was a positive story for them after a Benteke brace and a Weimann goal gave the Midlanders a 3-1 win. I was there for that game, the first chance I'd ever had watching us in a Premier League game at Anfield... Pissed off I was.

Liverpool's overall record against Aston Villa is very strong but when losses occur they happen more often at Anfield.

Villa are currently third in the league after three games. Wins over Stoke and Hull sandwiched a draw with Newcastle which leaves Paul Lambert's side hanging off the coattails of Swansea in second.

Liverpool find themselves 5th in the table having beaten Southampton and Spurs. A loss to Manchester City though leaves them three points off the top.

Stat Sandwich

  • Steven Gerrard has scored 12 goals against Aston Villa.
  • Aston Villa are the only team in the league with more points than shots on target.
  • Liverpool's win over Spurs saw them collect their first clean sheet in eight games.

I asked you for your score predictions on Twitter and I received a load this week so here are a few of your tweets!

I'm feeling quite confident for this one and I'm gonna punt for a 3-0. We played brilliantly against Spurs and whilst the missing Sturridge will obviously have an impact I feel we have enough flair to score a few past Villa.

I really hope Balotelli can get off the mark too, excited to see him play once again, still can't believe he's a Liverpool player!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Monday, 1 September 2014

Moreno Stunner Seals Win

Liverpool served up another hammering for Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday as the Reds found the back of the net on three occasions with no return from the home side. All eyes were on Mario Balotelli from the off but it was Sterling, Gerrard and Moreno who got themselves on the score sheet.

The Reds did not take long at all to get into the game and trouble Hugo Lloris. An early move from Liverpool saw a cross from Daniel Sturridge travel all the way to Mario Balotelli, his header was saved much to the dismay of the travelling Kop. I really, really wanted that goal to go in as it would have been brilliant for Mario to score in his first game but it just wasn't his day goal wise.

Liverpool didn't have to wait much longer for their opening goal of the game though when just before the eight minute mark the Reds made a move. Initiated by Henderson who passed the ball to Sturridge, the number 14 then continued his run into the box and flicked the ball around to Raheem Sterling who finished with ease.

A long ball shortly afterwards that beat the defence to Adebayor made it look as though Spurs would be back in the game however the forward attempted a failed lob over the keeper.

Balotelli missed early on with a header and he was to fail again this time from a Steven Gerrard free kick. He should have done better really but failed to convert sending his effort to the right of goal.

Despite his misses Balotelli for me immediately added strength to our game. He was a presence in the box and offered support for Daniel Sturridge. A particularly nice moment occurred when Mario neatly back heeled the ball to Danny who then had a pop at goal.

Another incident in the Balotelli show saw him hold up the ball extremely well in his own half, his pass very nearly set up Sterling but after a dodgy clearance the ball fell back to him. It was a real slow-mo moment and then he went and fluffed his strike! Even Brendan Rodgers was laughing haha!

All in all though I think Mario had a decent debut.

Another ball that snook through our defence found its way to Chadli late in the second half but he sent his strike straight at Mignolet who saved well.

With the danger averted Liverpool entered the second half a buoyant side and three minutes in to it they were presented with a chance to increase their lead.

Dier stretched out an arm and made contact with Joe Allen in the box. Granted, Joe Allen went down very easily but Dier has no excuse there, flailing his arms about like that in clear view of the ref. A penalty was awarded and as calmly as ever, Steven Gerrard converted.

The next goal of the game was the real gem though. Just before the hour mark Alberto Moreno won the ball in his own half after a tussle with Andros Townsend. He then immediately began a run down the left wing, encroaching diagonally with no intent of passing to a following Daniel Sturridge. No, this was Moreno's time and with a stylish finish from an angle he'd scored Liverpool third. It was a bloody cracking goal!

Moreno was a part of a very different looking Liverpool defence in this game and they had a lot to prove. For me, aside from a few (quite a few) dodgy passes that brought on danger, they did very well as a unit. Most importantly, they kept a clean sheet! Currently though I still think I would have Skrtel in there instead of Sakho.

Late in the game Raheem Sterling almost created one of the best goals in a Red shirt if only he hadn't of completely mucked up his finish. He took on four defenders in the Spurs box, dribbling and weaving with ease and then when he was lined up with Lloris he seemed to just tap the ball to make an easy save, it was gutting!

Finally, a moment of grievance for Spurs fans when Adebayor appeared to have his shirt pulled by Lovren in the box and I do think they had a case to be fair but Phil Dowd thought differently.

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

Next up for Liverpool is Aston Villa at home but not before a long and boring international break!

Once again apologies for the delay on this post. Regular readers will know I almost always do my match reports a day after the game but never usually this late. I started my work placement today and so the post times could become a little more sporadic!

JD Score Predictor League 

STILL top of the league is my mate Josh - Brurgh but he's now being closely followed by Jay23 who is just three points away!

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