The Liver Bird  

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Leicester At Anfield On New Year's Day

Liverpool face Leicester on New Year's Day as the Reds look to continue their streak of good performances after a 4-1 win over Swansea.

Injuries for the Reds mean they are without Brad Jones, Joe Allen and Glen Johnson. A doubt still remains for Dejan Lovren too. Also unavailable to start will be Martin Skrtel who is suspended, it is presumed Kolo Toure will take his place. For Leicester they are without Paul Konchesky, Andy King and Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester currently find themselves bottom of the league having amassed just 13 points. They have lost five out of their last six fixtures in the league, winning their most recent game against Hull 1-0. Liverpool on the other hand find themselves in 8th on 28 points. The Reds have won three out of their last six games, losing one and drawing two in the process.

The last time the two sides met was at the start of December this year. The Reds got the better of Leicester in a 3-1 win with goals from Lallana, Gerrard and Henderson. In terms of meetings at Anfield, Liverpool haven't lost against Leicester since 2000, the Foxes won the game 2-0 that day.

Stat Sandwich
  • Liverpool scored four goals for the first time since March against Swansea.
  • Leicester haven't won back to back away games since November 2003 in the Premier League.
  • The Reds have scored seven goals in their last the league matches.
I asked you for your score predictions and here are a few of the tweets I received:
Apologies for the slightly thin on the ground preview today, I'm a bit under the weather! Here's hoping the Reds can continue their winning ways tomorrow and collect all three points against Leicester tomorrow.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Lallana Shines In Swansea Win

Brendan Rodgers steered his Liverpool side to an emphatic 4-1 win over Swansea at Anfield on Monday night as the Reds finally began to look like a side that could frighten the opposition and be successful in attack.

I'm the first to admit that when I saw the starting line up, it wasn't completely my cup of tea. Particularly because Balotelli was missing (you all know I'm practically in love with the man now so just leave me be haha) but also that fact Can was deployed in defence. I realise Can has played in this position before but I much prefer him in an attacking role and wanted to see him further up the pitch.

However, as is often the case with me, I was completely wrong to question that line up. It did take a while to find the first goal but once we'd broken the deadlock the Reds really began to get into the game and for the first time in a very long while we were genuinely exciting to watch. Can as well played brilliantly in his defence role, extremely calm and composed.

The first half consisted of a lot of possession for the Reds who appear to be very good at this yet struggle to make it count when it comes to converting that possession into goals. Swansea were not troubling Mignolet at all and in fairness their open attacking set up suited the Reds perfectly who used the freedom available to them perfectly.

Liverpool find it extremely hard to break down teams such as Stoke or West Ham who remain very compact and suck all the life out of the football, which is fine of course. Swansea however will not sacrifice the style of their play just to boost their chances away from home, which in a way is admirable, however their tactics played very much to our strengths and at 32 minutes Liverpool finally grabbed their first goal of the game.

A cross from Jordan Henderson on the right hand side of the box found its way to Alberto Moreno who had continued an earlier run into the box. His left footed shot probably sent every Liverpool fan wild but particularly me who had popped a quid on him to be the first goalscorer before kick off and in the process won £26 haha, I was well chuffed!

The second half saw Swansea make an immediate substitution bringing on Angel Rangel who replaced Ashley Richards. The Swans barely had chance to make their substitute count though as the Reds found themselves a second goal just five minutes into the second half.

A fortuitous moment for Adam Lallana arose when he decided to close down the keeper Fabianski. After a failed clearance smashed off Lallana, the resulting rebound found its way into the back of the net, much to the delight of the Anfield faithful.

Luck was definitely on our side for that goal but there was a growing air of positivity around Anfield, unfortunately for Liverpool though, these vibes were momentarily dampened after Swansea found themselves a goal just one minute later.

The Gylfi Siguurdsson shot sent the away fans crazy whilst Liverpool were left wondering how they'd been undone so easily. Just seconds ago we had a 2-0 lead now all of a sudden the Welsh side were right back in the game.

Nine minutes later though and Liverpool had found themselves a third goal and what a beauty it was! A cheeky little back flick from Philippe Coutinho set up Adam Lallana perfectly and with solid composure, Lallana finished brilliantly to put Liverpool 3-1 ahead.

It was a brilliant game for Lallana who deserves all the praise from last night. He hasn't exactly been given a proper chance so far in a Red shirt and he really came to life last night.

At 70 minutes things got worse for Swansea as Jonjo Shelvey had a lapse in concentration whilst defending a Jordan Henderson corner. His header sent the ball into the back of the Swansea net and gave Liverpool their fourth goal.

It was a fantastic game for the Reds who have struggled for a while now to truly make their performance count, convert chances and win games. However I do feel it's dangerous to assume that the Reds have turned a corner at this stage, as mentioned earlier, I feel Swansea's style of play definitely aided our performance and therefore I will not be counting my chickens before they have hatched.

However, it was a far better display from the Reds and maybe, just maybe I need to stop moaning about not playing with a striker (not gonna happen haha).

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:
Next up for Liverpool is Leicester, match preview available on the blog tomorrow.

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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Rodgers' Reds Face Monk's Swans

Liverpool welcome Swansea to Anfield on Monday night as they look for another win after beating Burnley 1-0 on Boxing Day. It's an extremely familiar opposition for Brendan who will relish the chance to get the better of his old captain Garry Monk.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are unable to call upon goalkeeper Brad Jones who is suffering from a thigh injury. Lovren, Johnson, Flanagan and Daniel Sturridge are all still unavailable too. Swansea are relatively strong squad wise with just Montero unavailable through injury.

Swansea are currently 8th in the Premier League, three points ahead of Liverpool who are sitting in 9th. The Welsh side have won three of their last six league fixtures, drawing one and losing two. Swansea have scored six goals in the last six games and conceded six.

Liverpool have also collected three wins in their last six league games, losing just one and drawing two. The Reds have scored seven goals in that time and conceded six.

The last time the two sides met was October this year in the league cup. A Mario Balotelli goal followed by a Dejan Lovren goal sealed the deal for the Reds that day. The last meeting between the two sides in the league was a bit of a goal fest back in February. Two goals from both Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge that day eventually gave Liverpool the 4-3 win.

Stat Sandwich
  • The Reds last three games at Anfield in all competitions have been draws.
  • Swansea have won just two on their nine away games in all competitions so far this season.
  • Sterling has scored three goals for Liverpool in his last three games.
I asked you for your score predictions and here are a few of the tweets I received:
Once again for me this will be another difficult game for Liverpool, made even more difficult in my opinion if Brendan Rodgers once again opts not to play a striker. I'm one of what appears to be an ever decreasing minority that actually wants Mario Balotelli to start tomorrow however even if our attacking issues were somehow resolved, we're so vulnerable in defence that every match we go into at the moment is an immense task.

Nevertheless, here's hoping for a win tomorrow.  Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Sterling Strike Seals Reds Win

Liverpool eventually managed to get the better of Burnley on Boxing Day after a second half Raheem Sterling strike gave the Reds all three points. A very dire first half left fans feeling a little more than disgruntled but our star man saved us as we struggled to make an impact in front of goal.

An applause was arranged on the five minute mark for the ex Burnley player and football pundit Clarke Carlisle who was recently involved in a car crash. Both sets of fans showed their support, here's hoping Clarke makes a quick recovery!

The first half for Liverpool consisted of a forced substitution and basically trying to soak up the Burnley pressure. Players like Ings and Arfield were causing issues for the Reds as chances smashed off the post and trickled wide.

At 16 minutes the newly appointed Brad Jones had to leave the field and was replaced with Simon Mignolet. It wasn't long before his comical errors reappeared either after a clearance attempt rebounded off Ings and could have easily created a real problem for the Belgian, fortune was on his side though and he got the ball away in the end.

Liverpool's best chance of the first half was a long range shot from Lallana that was easily saved, we were struggling immensely to create any real threat and to me that was no surprise without a striker on the pitch.

Late in the first half Mignolet managed to redeem himself slightly after a brave save to prevent Arfield from sending his side ahead.

The second half began more brightly for the Reds but I must admit I was a  bit baffled by Brendan's half time substitution. I definitely liked the idea of Can coming on but he replaced Kolo Toure and was forced into a defensive minded role? I just didn't like it. With the three at the back already struggling too it seemed a weird choice for me however, in fairness we did keep a clean sheet and go on to win so what the hell do I know?! Haha.

Our goal came on 62 minutes. After an unorthodox assist from Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling was set free. He timed his run perfectly, took the ball around the keeper and then slotted home his effort.

It was a relief for Liverpool who just didn't look like scoring. Thank god for Sterling ay?!

The next real incident of note for the Reds was a bizarre moment once again involving Mignolet. He simply allowed the ball to trickle over the line before clearing it, no idea why, completely baffling. The resulting corner for Burnley luckily did not result in too much danger but what the hell was he doing?

Rickie Lambert was brought on for Philippe Coutinho later in the game and the striker did have the ball in the net however it was ruled offside.

Overall it was a poor display for me however the Reds did win, keep a clean sheet and pick up all three points so there's no real point in moaning but there are so many issues still left to resolve for the Reds.

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:
Next up for Liverpool is Swansea on Monday night.

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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Burnley On Boxing Day For Reds

Liverpool line up to face Burnley for their Boxing Day fixture this year and Brendan Rodgers will certainly be looking for a win after a hard fought draw against Arsenal last weekend. A bonus for the Reds boss is the return of Mario Balotelli who was serving a ban for the last match.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are without Joe Allen and the usual list of long term absentees. Fabio Borini is also unavailable after picking up a red card against Arsenal. For Burnley they are without Stephen Ward and Michael Duff. There is also a doubt hanging over Matt Taylor who has recently returned from an Achilles problem.

The last time the two sides met was back in 2010. On the score sheet that day were Steven Gerrard, Maxi Rodriguez and Ryan Babel in the 4-0 win. Interestingly, the fixture at Anfield that season also ended 4-0 after a Benayoun hat trick and a Dirk Kuyt goal.

The last time Burnley got the better of us was after a win in the FA Cup in 2005.

Burnley currently find themselves 18th in the table having amassed 15 points. They've lost two of their last six matches scoring six goals along the way. Liverpool are sitting in 10th currently, also having lost two of their last six matches. The Reds have scored seven goals in that time.

Stat Sandwich

  • The Reds are currently on 22 points in the league. No side has ever finished higher than 6th after holding that tally at this stage of the season.
  • Burnley have only won one of their eight clashes against top half opposition.
  • Liverpool are in their lowest Christmas Day league position since the first Premier League season in 1992.
I forgot, once again to ask you for your score predictions however it is Christmas Eve so I'm sure you'll let me off! Haha. I personally for once feel quite confident that we can win this game, probably just a 1-0 or a 2-1 but I do feel we can push on from some more positive performances of late.

Wherever you are watching, enjoy the match folks!

And a very Merry Christmas to you all!!!

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Monday, 22 December 2014

Skrtel Saves The Day With Heroic Header

Battered and bloodied after an accidental boot to the head, Martin Skrtel at 90 minutes netted a simply glorious header to salvage a point for Liverpool on Sunday as the Reds pushed back into the top half of the table. In a game that saw the Reds dominate possession there were several positives to gain from this match as Brendan Rodgers looks for more of the same from his side over the Christmas period.

It was another typical Liverpool display for the majority of the first half as the Reds (again without a natural striker) managed to create several promising attacks but just couldn't find that end product. The likes of Markovic and Sterling in particular were causing issues for Arsenal who struggled to deal with the injection of pace.

Liverpool also had their own issues to deal with though as Brendan Rodgers bravely decided to field three at the back allowing Arsenal some freedom down the wings.

It was the Reds though who grabbed the first goal of the game and deservedly so. A right footed shot from the centre of the box saw Philippe Coutinho put his side into the lead with just minutes left of the first half. His emphatic celebration was mirrored by the rest of the team but the elation didn't last long.

Just a minute later up the other end of the pitch, the Reds came unstuck and some shambolic defending was put on show once again. As is often the case with Liverpool, difficulties arise in defence when we are attempting to deal with a set piece, as much as I like Martin Skrtel, he simply had to do better at this stage as Debuchy rose with ease over the Slovakian to send home a header and equalise for Arsenal.

It was a horrible time to concede after working so hard to find our original goal, with the lead now cancelled out, it was back to square one in the second half for the Reds.

The second half started much in the same fashion as the first for Liverpool as they once again maintained possession and attempted to trouble the Arsenal goalkeeper. At 50 minutes though an accidental kick to the head by Giroud on Skrtel saw the game stopped for six minutes and momentum was well and truly lost. Bandaged up and looking like a true warrior, Skrtel as always continued to play.

After the delay, it was Arsenal who bagged the first goal. An assist from Cazorla saw Olivier Giroud send his effort into the left of goal putting the away side back into the lead.

Down but not out, Liverpool refused to give in. At 70 minutes manager Brendan Rodgers decided to bring on Fabio Borini, which was a shock in itself because it's a bit of a standing joke that Brendan just doesn't like the bloke. Borini however didn't exactly do himself any favours in the 15 minutes he amassed on the pitch.

His first booking to be honest was a bit of a daft one, his challenge was perfect but I assume he received the yellow for "bouncing the ball". The fact is though when you've been booked you need to play with some caution and some intelligence, not by kicking Santiago Cazorla in the chest and henceforth exposing his nipple.

It was a shame for Borini but in fairness he made no complaints as he was given his marching orders. He just is desperate to do well for the club and lost his rag knowing this could be one of his last chances to convince Rodgers.

After the huge delays created by Martin Skrtel's injury earlier in the game, the fourth official had held up nine minutes meaning Liverpool still had plenty of time to try to collect something from this game. And at 90+6, that man Martin Skrtel popped up and put that bandaged head to good use!

As he rose for the corner everything went a bit slow motion for me because I had a quid on 2-2 and also a quid on Martin Skrtel to be the last goalscorer. When he smashed it into the back of the net I went bloody mental, I'd won £39 and we'd pissin got a point from the Arsenal game!

By the end of it all it probably was a fair result but you do have to feel that with a striker on the pitch, the Reds could have had that game in the bag very early on.

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

Next up for Liverpool is Burnley on Boxing Day!

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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Reds Kick Off Festive Period Against Arsenal

Liverpool will face Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday after successfully getting the better of Bournemouth in their league cup clash earlier in the week. Manager Brendan Rodgers will be unable to call on Mario Balotelli though who has ridiculously been banned by the FA for a social media post.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are still without long term absentees Daniel Sturridge and Jon Flanagan. There will also be a late fitness test for Dejan Lovren whilst Glen Johnson will remain out until January.

For Arsenal they have several injuries to contend with as Ramsey, Koscielny, Rosicky, Ozil and Arteta are all out injured. Late fitness tests will also be called for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott.

The last time the two sides met was in the FA Cup in February this year. Arsenal got the better of Liverpool on that occasion winning the game 2-1 with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski on the score sheet.

The last time the sides met in the league was a far better occasion for the Reds. Also back in February, Liverpool managed to put five past Arsenal at Anfield in what was one of the best games of our 2013/2014 campaign. A Martin Skrtel brace, a Sterling brace and a Sturridge goal saw Liverpool walk away victorious as Arsenal could only muster a consolation goal via Mikel Arteta.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have failed to score in five games so far this season.
  • Arsenal have only lost one of their last six matches in all competitions.
  • Liverpool's tally of 21 points is their lowest after 16 games since 1965 (based on three points for a win).
Looking back at that immense 5-1 win over Arsenal at Anfield back in February, it's very hard to accept the size of the void that exists between our performance level back then and our performance level now. Yes we realise the missing Suarez and Sturridge is a huge, huge part of this but I honestly thought we would be playing better than we are and winning some more games. It was never going to be easy but our season has been pretty dismal so far.

The win over Bournemouth however midweek will hopefully spur us on and get us into a bit of form over the Christmas period. Whilst Arsenal are a tough side at any point for Liverpool to play I do think that if the Reds can push on from their league cup win we may just be able to nick something.

Of course realistically, Arsenal are probably going to batter us. The plus side is Liverpool have the home advantage but the Reds need to ensure they take the chances that they will undoubtedly create. We may have been pretty dire this season but we have created chances, if anything it's our distinct lack of conversion that is the issue.

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

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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Reds Through To Semi Final

Liverpool finally got themselves back to winning ways on Wednesday evening as they put three past Championship toppers Bournemouth. A much improved performance from the Reds' attack allowed Liverpool to punish the Cherries early on after they missed some chances of their own. A second half consolation goal wasn't enough for the home side to spring a comeback and Brendan Rodgers' side are now through to face Chelsea over two legs in the semi finals.

A decent first fifteen minutes for Liverpool was almost scuppered by Bournemouth when a couple of real chances nearly enabled them to take the lead. The Reds though remained in control and at 19 minutes Liverpool had got themselves off the mark.

A lovely headed pass back across goal from Jordan Henderson fell perfectly to Raheem Sterling who made sure he finished well. Sterling is easily our star player but he hasn't been converting his chances of late and so it was brilliant to see him score, it's just what he needed especially with Arsenal coming up at the weekend!

Once again Rodgers opted to play without a real striker which to be honest I hate however against Bournemouth it was a lot more beneficial for us and almost made me accept the fact that he'd only started Lambert and Borini on the bench... almost.

A few minutes later and Liverpool were at it again. This time it was Lazar Markovic who managed to get himself into a bit of space in the centre of the box when the ball splayed out to him. A cracking strike sent Liverpool 2-0 up before we'd even reached the 30 minute mark.

It was a really bizarre feeling to be playing pretty well and scoring multiple goals at this stage. Of course, there was another whole half to go but I honestly thought this was going to be a tough battle for the Reds.

For the second half Brendan Rodgers made a substitution replacing Dejan Lovren with Mamadou Sakho.

Just five minutes into the second half and Raheem Sterling had found the back of the net again. A lovely right footed shot sent to the left of goal looked like it had sealed Liverpool's progression into the semi finals.

Bournemouth though were not down an out. Despite being 3-0 down they had created issues for Liverpool who still have several problems with their out of form defence.

At 56 minutes Dan Gosling converted for the Cherries. He'd been creating issues for the Reds for a while and deserved his goal. Shortly afterwards another effort from Gosling smashed off the post leaving Liverpool dumbstruck, with 20 minutes of the game still left it started to become a bit nervy for Brendan Rodgers' boys.

Thankfully though the Reds were able to safely see themselves through to the semi finals, only to watch Jamie Redknapp pull out Chelsea as our opponents! Oh well, at least it's over two legs.

I asked you for your thoughts on the game but for some reason the embed codes off tweetdeck are playing up and I can't add them into my HTML. Apologies for that! Please tweet in your score predictions for the Arsenal game though and hopefully we'll be back on track.

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Reds In League Cup Quarter Final

The Reds make the long old trip down south tomorrow as they prepare to face Championship side Bournemouth in the quarter final of the league cup. After suffering a 3-0 loss at the hands of Manchester United at the weekend and with rumours of dressing room instability Brendan Rodgers could do with a win tomorrow night.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are now too without Glen Johnson. Rodgers is expected to play Brad Jones between the sticks once again and after a good second half performance it is assumed Mario Balotelli will get a start up front. Bournemouth are in relatively good shape injury wise with manager Eddie Howe able to call upon a strong starting line up.

Bournemouth currently find themselves top of the Championship after a cracking run of form. The Southerners have not lost a match in their last 10 league games. Liverpool on the other hand find themselves 11th in the Premier League. Form over the Reds' last ten games reads: W4 D2 L4.

The two sides met not so long ago, back in January this year Brendan Rodgers' side drew Bournemouth in the FA Cup. Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge were on the score street that day. Prior to this the sides had last met in January 1968 again in the FA Cup. After the first leg ended in a 0-0 draw the second leg was played at Anfield where Liverpool were victorious in a 4-1 win.

Stat Sandwich
  • In seven seasons, this is just the second time that Liverpool have reached the quarter finals of the league cup.
  • It is the first time Bournemouth have ever appeared in the quarter finals of this competition.
  • Liverpool have kept just one clean sheet away from home in 11 games this season.
I think tomorrow is going to be a tough game for the Reds, even if Liverpool were on top form, Bournemouth are a very good side and will not be phased one bit by their visitors. I fully expect Bournemouth to score and as many of you tweeted in, I can see this one being a draw and then who knows!

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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Monday, 15 December 2014

United Put 3 Past Rodgers' Reds

Liverpool fell to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United on Sunday as the Reds had 19 shots but failed to convert a single chance. The first half saw the Reds play without a striker leaving a lot of fans questioning this selection. In the second half Mario Balotelli entered the fray only to see his efforts brilliantly stamped out by the goalkeeping of David De Gea.

For me, I didn't like the line up from the off. One thing I will credit Brendan for though is deciding to drop Mignolet and start Brad Jones. That was a brave decision from the manager and despite ultimately conceding three goals, I think Brad actually had a good game. I felt a lot more comfortable and less nervy with him between the sticks.

I just don't think you can risk playing without a striker. Yes, the likes of Lallana, Coutinho and Sterling are all skillful and attacking players but Brendan Rodgers is hiding behind the premise that this is a technically sound formation. Even some of the best teams in the world struggle to play without a striker, let alone a Liverpool side who are struggling to find the back of the net?! It was just a silly decision for me.

Some early pressure from Manchester United quickly turned into a goal for the home side. A confident strike from Wayne Rooney in the centre of the box put United ahead after a pin point assist from Antonio Valencia. The frustrating bit for Liverpool was not necessarily the goal but the fact that Valencia had broke past Joe Allen on the wing as if he wasn't even there. Allen had a poor game for me and to be honest if I'm fielding a player to protect our somewhat questionable defence it will always be Lucas in my book, Allen just couldn't hack it unfortunately.

The goal didn't do much for the Reds' confidence and to be honest, other than the odd burst from Raheem Sterling, Liverpool were seriously lacking in options. Sterling also disappointingly was off his game, some of his chances throughout the 90 minutes you have to feel he would of buried last season but it just wasn't happening on Sunday.

Another blow for Liverpool in the first half (depending on your level of preference for Glen) saw Johnson being replaced by Kolo Toure. Kolo however could not aid his defence when Manchester United found themselves a second goal shortly before the end of the first half.

Adding insult to injury Juan Mata was actually offside when he converted his header for United. Robin van Persie admitted in a post match interview that he did get a touch on the ball, flicking it on to an offside Mata. I don't usually get so worked up about these things but it was frustrating to concede in that manner because it could have been a different game if we reached half time just the one goal down.

For the second half, Rodgers immediately brought on Mario Balotelli who replaced Adam Lallana. I'm the first to admit I wear rose tinted glasses when it comes to Mario but to be honest, any striker would have been better than nothing. The original formation was just not working, we needed something to aim for and whilst I don't necessarily like Balo up front on his own it was better than having nobody there!

He has his critics but I think Balo did pretty well in the second half and Liverpool looked a lot better creating more chances and forcing De Gea into action. For me his shot that De Gea tipped off the bar was the most agonising. It was a cracking save. Another point to note was Balotelli's movement, I don't know if it was because he was feeling more excited because it was Manchester United but his run for the last real chance of his was brilliant, he was again unlucky to watch his shot saved by the underside of De Gea's knee.

Despite Liverpool having a much better spell they still couldn't find that all important goal and at 70 minutes Manchester United had sealed their three points. A dodgy defensive clearance from Dejan Lovren saw the ball splay directly to Robin van Persie who of course was never going to waste his chance, his effort put United 3-0 up.

This was the annoying thing for me, on another day that Lovren attempted clearance goes far away from any United player and on another day Juan Mata is called offside. Rooney's shot I take 100% but it's bloody annoying to concede in such a manner as the other two goals. We probably wouldn't have scored anyway but a game at 1-0 down is far more promising than 3-0 down.

Attempts were created from Liverpool in the dying minutes but as is so familiar now the Reds just could not score. I had a feeling we would lose the game but I never expected us to concede three to be honest. With Bournemouth in the week and Arsenal up next this is a very tough time for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers.

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

Next up for Liverpool is Bournemouth in the League Cup quarter final.

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Reds Prepare For Old Trafford

Liverpool make the short trip to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon as the two titans of English football prepare to meet for the 163rd time in the league. The two sides are far from titanic at the moment though as both Brendan Rodgers and Louis van Gaal have struggled to get their seasons underway.

Whilst Manchester United have come into a bit of form, Liverpool are still struggling after being knocked out of the Champions League by Basel on Tuesday night.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are still without long term absentees Daniel Sturridge and Jon Flanagan. Positively for the Reds though Kolo Toure, Adam Lallana and Mario Balotelli are all believed to be available for tomorrow's game.

For Manchester United they are without Chris Smalling, Angel di Maria and Luke Shaw. Already struggling with injury problems, the missing Angel di Maria is a big problem for manager Louis van Gaal.

The last time the two sides met was in March this year. Liverpool won the game 3-0 at Old Trafford after two Steven Gerrard penalties and a Luis Suarez goal. In the last eight meetings in all competitions between the two sides there have been no more than three goals scored.

It's always a pretty close affair in general when Liverpool and Manchester United line up against each other. Past meetings are sprinkled with 2-1's and 1-1's and I wouldn't be surprised if the result is similar tomorrow.

Liverpool currently find themselves 9th in the table and seven points behind Manchester United who are in 3rd. The Reds have won two games out of their last six, losing three and drawing one in the process. United however have won five out of their last six, losing just one game. Four out of United's five wins have been secured by just one goal.

Stat Sandwich
  • Liverpool have conceded 13 goals in seven away games so far this season.
  • Manchester United have won five league games in a row for the first time since Fergie retired.
  • Mario Balotelli scored twice against United in his last league appearance against them for Man City.
I asked you for your scored predictions and here are a few of the tweets I received:

I'm hoping we might just be able to nick a 2-1 win tomorrow but in all honesty I think we're going to get beat. A lot of it depends on the starting XI Rodgers decides to go with and at the moment there's no telling what that will be.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Basel Brush Liverpool Aside

Liverpool were knocked out of the Champions League last night after a forgettable performance against Basel. Absent from the competition for five years, the Reds in the end could only muster a win over Bulgarian side Ludogorets in the group stages. Despite an improved performance in the second half, after Lazar Markovic was given his marching orders at 60 minutes, not even a magical Steven Gerrard set piece was enough to spur the Reds on to a win.

It was an odd starting line up from Brendan Rodgers as he opted to field both Lucas and Allen in the midfield in a game that Liverpool were desperate to win. Pushing Henderson out wide in the process it was clear to many that this set up was not going to work.

The first half for Liverpool was a struggle from the off. Aside from an occasional dangerous break from Raheem Sterling the Reds looked lacking in ideas and were unable to break through the middle of the Basel back line. The Swiss side on the other hand were oozing with confidence, undeterred by the famous Anfield folklore.

At 25 minutes, Basel had found their goal. A wonderful strike from Fabian Frei left the away fans in mass celebration. It was only a matter of time before they found the back of the net and things were now even more difficult for Liverpool. The Reds knew from the onset that only a win would do however Basel also knew they could go through with a draw, they had the upper hand in every sense.

It was evident that Liverpool required some changes immediately in the second half. I personally was hoping for Coutinho to come on and replace Allen. Instead we got Moreno and Markovic. This decision baffled me initially to be honest. Firstly because Rodgers had put Moreno on, a man who will break regularly and put crosses into the box but then had taken off Rickie Lambert meaning nobody was in the bloody box! Granted Lambert wasn't massively effective in the first half but I just don't see the point of not playing a striker?!

Secondly, I'm the first to admit that I don't exactly have a lot of faith in Markovic's abilities, however as soon as he came on he fought hard, ran at players and made things difficult. His fresh legs were a breath of fresh air for the Reds but unfortunately, he wouldn't be on the pitch for long.

At 60 minutes Lazar Markovic was given a straight red card for poking Behrang Safari in the nose. I don't care what anybody says, that incident, never in a million years warranted a red card, it was bloody ridiculous! I honestly don't think we would have won the game with or without him but I was just so pissed off because of that decision, shocking stuff.

Fortunately for Liverpool going down to ten men actually had a somewhat positive effect on them. Tactics tend to accidentally go out the window when you lose a man and Liverpool were the better for it.

At 80 minutes Liverpool were awarded a free kick just outside the box. Step up captain Steven Gerrard. You watch him step up for a free kick in a match like this and you just pray that he can pull something out the bag like he so often does and boy did he. His free kick flew beautifully into the back of the net putting Liverpool right back in the game with 10 minutes left to save their place in the Champions League.

Some exciting play from the Reds in the dying minutes created some almost fruitful chances particularly when a Jordan Henderson header almost trickled over the line. Even Martin Skrtel was playing as a striker by the time the final whistle was blown! But the Reds just couldn't do it and to be honest after watching 75% of that performance, we didn't deserve to go through.

Brendan Rodgers once again has to take a proportion of the blame but the players also must sit down and take in that lack of desire and heart. It's just simply not good enough and with Manchester United to face at the weekend, things could become even more embarrassing for Liverpool.

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

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Reds Aim To Take Inspiration From Past Champions League Ties

There may be the small matter of an FA Cup draw later this evening but Liverpool have their eyes firmly on a very important tie with Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers' side must win in order to progress through to the round of 16.

With memories flooding back of that emphatic tie against Olympiakos way back in 2005 it's hard to fend off that magical Champions League spirit as a kopite at the moment, however Liverpool are struggling in both attack and defence and Basel will be a difficult side to deal with.

The added bonus of the game being at Anfield means Liverpool can relish in the unique atmosphere our ground provides but the Reds need goals to win and at the moment they're short in supply.

Liverpool's last meeting with Basel on the 1st October ended in a 1-0 loss. It's an interesting tie because the Reds simply have to attack which will undoubtedly leave them open at the back. Basel however can go through with a draw and so the desire to go all out may be restrained in order to tactically see themselves through to the next round, making it hard for Liverpool to break them down.

Injuries for Liverpool are still very much the same story with Sakho, Balotelli and Sturridge all out amongst others. For Basel they are without Ivanov.

Basel have won their last four games in the league and have score 12 goals in the process. Liverpool have won two of their last four, lost one and drew one. Goals scored - five.

I asked you for your score predictions and here are a few of the tweets I received:
A lot of the tweets I received were predicting a 2-1 Liverpool win and if I managed to pop a bet on tomorrow that's the scoreline I'll be going for. To be honest it's more wishful thinking than confidence I just hope that the combination of pressure and atmosphere will be enough to push Liverpool over the line and into the next stage.

I bloody love the Champions League and it's killed me having to wait this long to see us get back into it. To crash out now would be devastating for me and at the minute it doesn't look like we'll be returning any time soon!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

No Goals In Sunderland Draw

Liverpool kept only their fourth clean sheet of the season in a dismal attacking display against Sunderland on Saturday. The Reds managed just two shots on target whilst the black cats only managed only one. It was hardly a "must see" game for the neutral and whilst the Reds may perhaps feel happy they didn't lose another game, the fact is we should be doing much better against teams like Sunderland.

I didn't get chance to watch the game yesterday because I was at work and so this is just a match round up, no real opinions as I've only seen highlights and there weren't many highlights to mull over haha.

The first moment of note for Liverpool in the game came when Martin Skrtel played a risky tackle in the box. Sunderland perhaps had reason to question the call from the referee but Neil Swarbrick called no peno.

Coutinho from what I saw along with Sterling were the only real players of note for the Reds. A chance from Coutinho in the first half saw him shoot from inside the box but his effort was easily saved by Pantilimon.

Sunderland quickly followed the Liverpool break with a similar one from Wickham. The youngster broke all the way into the box but went down far to easily when challenged by the Liverpool defence.

A header from Wes Brown later in the second half flew over the bar and the ex Manchester United player should have done better.

The second half for Liverpool saw no changes and it was Lucas Leiva a man who is very shy of goals who would have the first real effort for the Reds in the second half. His long range shot however was again pretty simple for the keeper and Pantilimon once again kept out the danger.

At 66 minutes a rested Steven Gerrard entered the fray. Gerrard from what I saw had an immediate impact on the game with his passing and awareness but even a sprinkle of the captain's magic was not enough to help the Reds find a goal.

Perhaps the best chance of the second half fell to Coutinho. A simply sublime run from Raheem Sterling saw him weave his way down a significant length of the pitch and then into the box, his pass to Coutinho was perfect but unfortunately the Brazilian's effort was saved.

Shortly afterwards a long range shot from Gomez kept Simon Mignolet alert, it was a great save from the Belgian who had little to deal with really throughout the game.

Finally in the latter stages of the game, Raheem Sterling appeared to be taken down in the box, the cries for a penalty were not met by the referee however Liverpool perhaps had a case. As I always say though, in games like this I absolutely hate the fact that we have to rely on the possibility of a penalty to push teams aside, it shouldn't come to that!

Nevertheless, at least we didn't lose, which to be honest if it happened, I wouldn't of been surprised. A clean sheet as well is always a plus but this is perhaps a bit deceptive, our defence didn't have many attacks to deal with and so there is still a long way to go before we are secure at the back.

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:
Normal service will be resumed for the Basel game which I will definitely be watching. Tune in for a match preview tomorrow night!

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Friday, 5 December 2014

Reds Hope To Continue Winning Streak

The show of support last time we face the black cats...

Liverpool welcome Sunderland to Anfield on Saturday as they look to continue their winning streak. Having seen off Stoke and beaten Leicester 3-1, the Reds for once are feeling quite optimistic. With news this week that work will start on the Anfield redevelopment from Monday too things are looking rosy for the Reds.

However Brendan Rodgers knows all too well than to get ahead of himself and it's an important week for Liverpool who have Basel to face in the week also.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are still without Mario Balotelli (don't even bother bringing up today's news from the FA because that's a whole other blog post, follow me on Twitter for my opinions on that). Positively for Liverpool Philippe Coutinho is back and it's thought Jose Enrique may also feature as he slowly regains match fitness.

For Sunderland they have a big doubt hanging over striker Steven Fletcher whilst Sebastian Coates is ineligible to play against us.

The last time the two sides met was in March this year, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge were on the score sheet that day in a 2-1 win for Liverpool. The last time Sunderland won at Anfield was way back in 1983.

Sunderland currently find themselves 14th in the league on 14 points. They haven't won a game in their last four. A win over Crystal Palace in November was the last time the black cats picked up all three points.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have only kept three clean sheets so far this season.
  • Two of Sunderland's three wins this season have come away from home.
  • The Reds last five goals in the league have been scored by five different English players.

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

I really hope Liverpool can continue their run of form tomorrow. We haven't necessarily been playing very well but at the moment all that matters is the points!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Gerrard Scores In Leicester Win

That Steven Gerrard is past it lad... Except he isn't is he? After a vintage goal and more touches on his heat map than a teenager's iPad, Steven Gerrard proved exactly why he hasn't "lost it" last night as he helped his side to a 3-1 victory over Leicester.

It was a lively game for the Reds who perhaps should have performed better in the first half. The first concerning moment for Liverpool came after a rash decision from Simon Mignolet. The keeper was out on the left of the pitch and attempted to play the ball into his defence but made a silly mistake by feeding the ball into the path of a lurking Cambiasso. Realising his error, Mignolet scrambled back towards his goal and had probably a third of it covered. The veteran Cambiasso had practically an open goal but his effort fortunately for Liverpool drifted wide past the left hand upright.

It's always concerning when Mignolet makes a mistake, not only because he seems to do it far too often but it appears to knock his confidence within the game. Two minutes later he would suffer another knock.

After a build in pressure from Leicester Leonardo Ulloa found himself with a close range chance. His effort smashed off the bar but a floor bound Mignolet could do little to prevent the ball hitting off his back and into the back of the net. It was a horrible way to concede and at this stage it felt very much like Liverpool would quickly be switching back to their old familiar ways.

But four minutes later the Reds had found an equaliser. Some brilliant play from Rickie Lambert in the box allowed him to bring the ball down and pass to an encroaching Adam Lallana. The pair had linked up constantly at Southampton and it was another dream partnership for the goal as Lallana finished beautifully to put his side back in the game.

At the start of the second half Brendan Rodgers made an immediate substitution replacing Javier Manquillo with Alberto Moreno.

It took just eight minutes for the Reds to find their second goal of the game and it came from that man, the captain, Steven Gerrard. I much prefer Gerrard in an attacking and free role which is also one of the reasons why I like to see Lucas starting because Gerrard can then concentrate on going forward. In last night's match he was passing and moving like the Gerrard we all know and love and his movement into space for his goal was brilliant. A sweet strike from the centre of the box from Gerrard put Liverpool into the lead and he celebrated like it meant the world, pure passion.

Just after the hour mark Leicester had a man sent off. Wes Morgan was shown the red after taking down Rickie Lambert as last man. It was pretty needless really and Leicester were surely disappointed knowing at this stage they were still in the game.

Leicester may only have found the net once and via some good fortune but players such as de Laet and Ulloa were causing some issues for our defence. The fact that they went down to 10 men boosted Liverpool's confidence greatly and ultimately allowed them to make sure they picked up all three points.

The third and final goal of the game came at 82 minutes. An assist from Raheem Sterling allowed Jordan Henderson to score with a right footed shot from inside the box. Again, for me it's no surprise Henderson has scored again whilst Lucas is on the pitch. Lucas for me is underrated by many people, he does a job that often goes unnoticed.

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:
Next up for Liverpool is Sunderland.

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Monday, 1 December 2014

Reds After A Win At Leicester

Liverpool travel to Leicester on Tuesday evening, ready to face the foxes after finally picking up a win in the Premier League at the weekend. Leicester are currently bottom of the table having picked up 10 points.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are still without Mamadou Sakho and Mario Balotelli. Leicester have a few issues with the team as Nigel Pearson is unable to call upon Dean Hammond and Matthew Upson. David Nugent is also a doubt with a calf problem.

The last time the two sides met was way back in 2004 it was hardly an exiting affair though as the game ended 0-0. The last time Leicester beat Liverpool was in 2001, a 2-0 defeat for the Reds. The sides have met on a total of 88 occasions in the league. Liverpool have won 36 times, Leicester 33 times and there has been a total of 19 draws.

As mentioned in the opening Leicester currently find themselves bottom of the table. They have failed to win any of their last eight matches. The last time they picked up three points was against Manchester United, after winning the game 5-3 in September.

Liverpool on the other hand are in 11th however they are only seven points ahead of their opponents, sitting on a total of 17 points in the league. It's a stark contrast to last year's start to the season for the Reds as they find themselves a huge 16 points off the top spot they were chasing last season.

Stat Sandwich

  • The Reds have kept only one clean sheet in their last 10 away games in the league.
  • Esteban Cambiasso's goal against QPR was the first Leicester had scored in 503 minutes.
  • Liverpool's points total of 17 is seven fewer than they had at this stage last season.

Depending on the team fielded by Rodgers tomorrow, I am for once feeling a tiny bit of that thing called confidence. In all honesty if we can't collect three points against a side at the bottom of the table (no offence Leicester fans!) then something is very, very wrong. Yes we have our issues but we should be comfortable enough to grab a goal and three points.

That's by no means saying it will be easy because being Liverpool, we never make things easy. I fancy Lambert to score tomorrow and probably go on to seal all three points.

I asked you for your score predictions 
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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