The Liver Bird  

Saturday, 28 February 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Manchester City

Liverpool face Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday afternoon as they look to put their loss in the Europa League behind them. The Reds have been on fantastic form in the league lately but will face a tough challenge in Pellegrini's side.

Injuries for Liverpool have taken a bit of a boost with the return of Philippe Coutinho. The game however may be too early for Jordan Henderson and it looks like Steven Gerrard will also remain on the sidelines.

Mancehster City are very strong and Pellegrini is able to call upon a full sqaud with the return of Yaya Toure after he served a suspension and missed the Champions League tie with Barcelona.

The last time the two sides met was in August 2014. Liverpool fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of City and only found the back of the net thanks to an own goal. The last time the two sides met at Anfield was COUTINHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... sorry... was in April 2014. The game ended in an utterly brilliant fashion with a rather late winner from Philippe Coutinho.

In fact, Liverpool actually have a strong record against Manchester City at home, City haven't picked up a win at Anfield since December 2003.

Whilst our record against them bodes well at home I fear Liverpool will struggle on Sunday. We may have collected several points of late and be chasing down 4th but in my opinion our performances as a whole haven't actually been that good, luck has sometimes gone our way and I feel we may come unstuck on Sunday.

Not to mention the fatigue some of the players will be feeling after that monster game against Besiktas.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have not lost any of their last seven games at Anfield.
  • Manchester City have the best away record in the Premier League so far this season.
  • The Reds have had 14 different goalscorers so far in the league this season.

I apologise for the thin on the ground preview again folks but I've been mega, mega busy this week. This post is actually a scheduled one as I had to write this Friday night because I'm off to Cardiff tomorrow.

Anyway, here's hoping for all three points and an exciting game!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Lovren Misses Peno As Reds Are Knocked Out

It was a long old game for Liverpool on Thursday evening as they traipsed through 120 minutes of football only to crash out of the Europa League with the final kick of the game as Dejan Lovren failed to convert the Reds' all important fifth penalty.

It was a frustrating game to say the least and so this match report may not follow a usually strategic structure.

The first thing to note about the game, apart from the deafening noise from the Besiktas fans was the extremely attacking line up deployed by Brendan Rodgers. I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing, as a big fan of Balotelli and somebody who would like to see him be given a real chance in a front two, I was very pleased to see him paired with Sturridge. Not only this but Jordan Ibe and Raheem Sterling were also starting.

The issue though was that there were key names missing from midfield that I would prefer to see in a line up with those previously mentioned attacking players. As the match went on it became more and more apparent that we were missing some balance and would have benefitted from Jordan Henderson and/or Lucas Leiva in that line up in my opnion.

However, Liverpool had injuries and this also had an effect on the defensive set up with Dejan Lovren gaining a start whilst Kolo Toure took the place of Emre Can who moved into midfield.

The game was very dire to watch. I hate using the term "scrappy" to describe football matches but that's exactly what it was. Tackles were flying in all over the place and Liverpool were struggling to maintain possession in midfield.

Mario Balotelli had perhaps the best performance of the first half. Yes he got booked for a bit of a silly challenge but he showed discipline and did not draw any real attention from the referee again. For those who continue to protest that he doesn't "try" or "move" as an excuse to justify their dislike of him, they must have been searching for another reason last night because most would agree that Balotelli was the only one creating anything.

A few of his balls through to the likes of Sterling and Sturridge could have almost caused havoc if only the latter two had passed the ball or struck first time.

Of course though, this is Mario Balotelli, we can't possibly allow him to play 90 minutes of football or let him start to gain pride in his performance, oh no. Brendan Rodgers was inevitably going to sub perhaps our best player off but the fact that he didn't even acknowledge Balotelli when he left the field? It's just embarrassing.

So, on went the second half with little to nothing to write home about for Liverpool, instead Besiktas grew and grew in confidence and at 71 minutes the Turkish side had found the back of the net. It was a stunning strike from substitute Tolgay Arslan and the home side deserved to be in the lead.

It looked like a massive hill to climb for Liverpool from here and out and it sure was. Extra time despite some fresh legs on the pitch meant little to the Reds who had ran out of ideas very early on.

And so we went to penalties. I can't be bothered to analyse the first eight because thankfully they were all very good spot kicks. Tolgay Arslan scored Besiktas' fifth and the ninth of the evening but then the real craziness started.

It's the deciding penalty so who steps up? Dejan Lovren.

Now I'm not Lovren's biggest fan by any means, I didn't even really want to sign him, I just think he's an average defender, however he has taken the decision to step up for the peno. The real problem here is why has he gone up for the fifth spot kick. Whatever the outcome is, it's pathetic either way in my opinion.

Either, Brendan Rodgers has chosen him as fifth penalty taker which is just ridiculous OR Raheem Sterling has bottled it or another player "didn't fancy it" and so he's took the decision as a team player to go for it.

Dejan of course skied his penalty and to be honest he should have done better but he musn't feel too down because if we didn't play such a load of shite for 120 minutes we wouldn't have been in that position.

The sooner we forget about that game the better in my opinion and thankfully we have Manchester City on Sunday, the excitement for that should help us forget about a disappointing night at the Ataturk.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Besiktas V Liverpool

Liverpool travel to Turkey on Thursday evening as they prepare to face Besiktas in the second leg of their Europa League tie. The match at the Ataturk is sure to create a special atmosphere for the travelling fans who must be thankful that the Reds go into this match with a lead.

Injurys have taken a turn for the worse for Liverpool who will be unable to call upon Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Glen Johnson, Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva. Things aren't much better for Besiktas either who have doubts over Demba Ba after he picked up a calf problem.

The last time the two sides met of course was last week and Liverpool came out on top after a late controversial penalty was converted by Mario Balotelli.

Besiktas lost at the weekend against Eskisehirspor and in the process lost their place at the top of the Turkish league to rivals Galatasaray. Liverpool on the other hand picked up a somewhat lucky win over Southampton with Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling on the score sheet.

The recent injury news for Liverpool for me provides a perfect excuse for Brendan to finally opt to start both Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli up top together. However, I very much doubt this will happen, as always, I live in hope.

Whatever team he chooses I hope he opts to play at least one striker up front. Without the likes of Markovic or Coutinho on the wings I think Raheem Sterling would be very exposed up top.

Turkey is always a tough place to go but the Reds actually have a decent record against Turkish opposition and should go into this game feeling confident. Besiktas weren't exactly threatening at Anfield and whilst home advantage will play a part I don't think they offer a lot in terms of fire power. The potentially missing link of Demba Ba could also be a real boost for Liverpool.

Several fans are actually hoping that we get knocked out of this competition tomorrow night so that we can focus on the league. Whilst I can totally see the theory, for me any piece of silverware is worth going for. Liverpool are a big club yet apparently it's too much hassle to go for a cup whilst trying to nab fourth in the league? It's just an excuse in my opnion.

The added bonus this time of course is that if you win the Europa League you are automatically entered into the Champions League. Granted Liverpool also have a huge game against Manchester City at the weekend but we should have enough in the bag to focus on the league, FA Cup and the Europa League in my opinion.

Apologies for the short match preview this evening folks, I've been super busy this week and had a night job tonight so haven't been able to focus on the preview as much. Normal service resumed for the match report Friday night plus the winner of the #LFC wall sticker will be announced!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Monday, 23 February 2015

Reds Fight Off Saints To Close In On 4th

Liverpool somehow managed to collect a 2-0 victory at St Marys on Sunday afternoon despite having to soak up immense pressure from the home side. An early piece of magic from Philippe Coutinho put the Reds into the lead and Raheem Sterling was allowed to find a second goal at 73 minutes.

It was a rather strange line up chosen by Brendan Rodgers as Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno and Mario Balotelli were all sat on the bench. Replacing the injured Mamadou Sakho in defence was Dejan Lovren and it was safe to say most (not all) fans were questioning that line up, including myself.

It's no secret I hate playing without a striker but I was also disappointed with the missing Moreno and the fact that Lovren had gained a start. However, whilst our performance wasn't necessarily tip top, the team pulled off another big win and I have to give credit for that.

It took the Reds just three minutes to get off the mark when Philippe Coutinho created some space and had a pop at goal from range. His resulting shot swooped its way into the back of the net leaving goalkeeper Forster dumbstruck. It was a sublime strike and it was brilliant to see Liverpool score an early goal.

Southampton though, if they weren't already geared up enough booing the likes of Lallana and Lovren had definitely used this early goal as fuel for their performance. The decibels rose in St Marys as Ronald Koeman's side began their relentless run of pressure on the Liverpool defence.

Two early penalty appeals for Southampton almost gave them an opportunity to level things up. For the first challenge I think the Saints would have been very lucky to have been given that, however the second involving Joe Allen, I thought that was a penalty. Who knows how the game would have panned out if they were awarded that so the Reds were extremely lucky to watch the referee completely ignore the incident.

Another penalty shout this time involving Raheem Sterling could have gone either way for me so I wasn't too disgruntled to watch Kevin Friend turn down this appeal.

Another moment of luck for Liverpool came when Simon Mignolet was forced to race to the edge of his box to prevent an easy break for Southampton. An attempted through ball hit off Mignolet's chest as he appeared to be right on the line of his box and then came off his hands. It was a very close call for me but once again, luck appeared to be on Liverpool's side.

Add to this the continuing pressure from Southampton, ok, they didn't have that many shots on target but it felt like it would only be a matter of time before the home side converted.

Liverpool though stuck at it and fought hard. Into the second half and at 60 minutes Brendan Rodgers decided to bring Daniel Sturridge on, he replaced Adam Lallana who must have been pleased to escape the animosity from his former fans.

Ten minutes after the substitution the Reds finally found another goal giving themselves some breathing space. A poor clearance from Southampton allowed the ball to splay to a pouncing Raheem Sterling who scored Liverpool's second with a simple finish.

From there on in it was just a matter of maintaining the win for Liverpool and after fighting so hard to keep a clean sheet throughout the game they weren't going to give it up in the final 15 minutes.

It was a massive, massive win for Liverpool who are now in 6th place and just two points off Manchester United in 4th place. A real team performance and a victory when in all honesty we weren't playing at our absolute best.

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

Next up for Liverpool is Beskitas on Thursday evening.


The kind folk over at (Twitter: @beautifulgamewa) have allowed me to run a competition allowing you to win one of their fantastic wall stickers.

To take part in the competition simply tweet me with the hashtag "#lfcstickers" and I'll pick a winner using a random number generator on Friday 27th February after the Besiktas match report.

You can choose one sticker design of your choice, here is a range of the Liverpool designs available

Good luck!

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Southampton V Liverpool

Liverpool travel down south on Sunday as they aim to pick up another win in the Premier League away at Southampton. The Reds are currently on a brilliant run of form and have also picked up wins in the Europa League and the FA Cup recently. Can Brendan Rodgers get the better of Ronald Koeman though?

Injury news for Liverpool mean they are still unable to call upon captain Steven Gerrard who will be out for a while longer. Raheem Sterling though is expected to start after getting some game time against Besiktas.

For Southampton they are looking relatively strong as Ronald Koeman expects to see the return of Shane Long, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matt Targett.

Form wise Southampton are also in pretty good shape. They have only lost one in their last nine and that came against Swansea. Their last fixture in the league saw them draw 0-0 with West Ham. They have scored four goals in their last five league games.

For Liverpool they are unbeaten in their last nine. Their last league fixture saw a late win over Spurs and the Reds have scored eight in their last five league games.

The last time the two sides met was in August last year. The gamed ended in a 2-1 win for Liverpool with goals from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge. The Reds' last trip to St Mary's also ended well after Liverpool put three goals in the Southampton net with no return. Suarez, Sterling and Gerrard were on the score sheet that day.

In the three trips to St Mary's prior to the 3-0 win though, the Reds have notched up a hat trick of losses. Losing 3-1, 2-0 and 2-0 respectively.

Stat Sandwich

  • Jordan Henderson has 10 assists in all comps so far this season for Liverpool.
  • Southampton have conceded the least amount of goals so far in the league this season; 17.
  • Daniel Sturridge has appeared in away games five times in 11 months but has not netted in that period.

I think this could be a good time for Liverpool to face Southampton really, whilst they have slipped slightly of late Liverpool appear to be on the ascendancy.  We're working well as a team it just seems to be an issue to be clinical in front of goal and make our pressure truly count.

Playing a team like Southampton with a high tempo and loads of fluidity is fine as long as you score early on to cement your presence. The longer we face the Saints without finding the back of the net, the sooner they will be presented with a chance that they will ensure they convert.

Mario Balotelli may have caused an uproar this week which in my opinion has been blown out of all proportions but you can guarantee despite his heavy presence in the last three matches, he won't get a start.

Brendan Rodgers has already suggested he needs to continue to up his work rate but for me it just sounds like excuses. Mario has earnt a start but he won't get it.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Friday, 20 February 2015

Mario Fantastico, Mario Magnifico, Mario, Don't Take The Penalty Though

Just when I thought I could finally write about Mario Balotelli without having to somehow justify his ability, here we go again with penalty gate. If you weren't aware Liverpool actually won last night thanks to a Balotelli spot kick but you'd be forgiven for not realising that what with the uproar.

Rodgers fielded a strong team and stuck with his now cemented formation of three at the back and Daniel Sturridge up top.

The first half resembled almost every Liverpool game of late. Loads of movement, some real fluidity which, granted is brilliant to see however I personally find it very frustrating watching this style of play when you are forever waiting for an end product.

Liverpool have countless players with the talent to create space and make dangerous breaks but what's the point when you can't balance that with goals? I don't want to sound too harsh because we've been doing really well lately but I'd just much prefer to see us play with two up top sometimes.

The first half rattled on with the odd chance, an absolute screamer from Alberto Moreno stood out particularly but the Reds just couldn't get off the mark. Besiktas meanwhile positively for the Reds were looking very lacklustre. They're extremely reliant on Demba Ba and he only managed to trouble Mignolet on a few occasions.

The second half began in very much the same fashion for the Reds. Once again Brendan Rodgers stuck with his formation clinging on to the hope that we would eventually find a goal and to be fair, we usually do find a goal but on Thursday evening this wasn't the case.

Until of course Brendan realised he had to change something and brought on Mario Balotelli. I'm not a massive fan of Lovren but his introduction allowed Can to move forward and created a formation that I much prefer if I'm honest.

Balotelli's input was immediately noticeable, he was causing problems for Besiktas, winning balls and fouls left, right and centre. And contrary to popular belief he was moving, getting himself in good positions. At one stage you could be forgiven for thinking Sturridge and Balotelli had swapped places as a selfish goal obessed run from the former left the latter lurking in space in front of goal wondering why he hadn't received a pass. But that's alright, nobody cares when it's Balo, switch the roles there and you'd never hear the last of it.

And then of course, we're on to the penalty.

At 84 minutes Jordan Ibe was brought down in the box after being set up by a brilliantly timed Balotelli pass. Ibe needs highlighting here because despite not scoring he looks a quality player and is really growing with confidence, it's only a matter of time before he finds the back of the net. For me, seeing Balotelli, Sturridge, Ibe AND Sterling on the pitch was very, very exciting.

It was definitely a penalty, for once that isn't what everybody was arguing about. Instead it was all eyes on Balo. This is a man with an immense penalty record, slate him all you want he's as cool, confident and as calm as anyone from a spot kick and in my opinion if Steven Gerrard is not on the pitch Mario Balotelli should be taking the penalties everytime.

After making it clear to Hendo that he wanted the spot kick, there was no "snatching" of the ball as the papers would have you believe, there was a disgruntled conversation which ended with Hendo being very diplomatic and passing Balotelli the ball. Henderson needed to be challenged in my opinion and Mario Balotelli was right to stand his ground.

He of course converted a cracking penalty and had once again played a big part in Liverpool winning the game after featuring heavily against Crystal Palace assisting the winner and netting another winner against Spurs.

His spot kick had sealed the Reds the win but the debacle didn't end there. Captain Steven Gerrard with a few slips of the tongue chatted on ITV like he was in the dressing room. At a time when Balotelli is finally doing well and the team as a whole is performing well it seemed a bit strange for our usually perfect captain to be so divisive. I honestly think Gerrard's point was more related to the fact that Henderson was undermined and not that Balotelli had taken the peno but the fact is, Henderson needed to be undermined. I love Henderson but he should not be top of our peno takers list, no way.

Brendan Rodgers has thankfully (after being petulat post match and not admitting who the designated penalty taker was) now explained the situation. When Gerrard is off and Balotelli is off the penalty taker is Henderson, when Balotelli is on it's Balo, when Gerrard is on it's Gerrard.

Apparently there was some confusion because Balotelli didn't start the match but for me that's daft anyway because as soon as Balotelli comes on you should know as a team that he's your man for a peno.

I simply cannot believe the way this has been blown out of proportion, people are genuinely angry with Balotelli, there's fans who feel he was disrespectful etc etc and each to their own opinions of course, everybody is entitled to them. However I just don't get it, they ask for Balotelli to prove himself so he takes a massive decision to cause a bit of a dispute, own the penalty that his initial ball effectively won and put the weight on his shoulders to ensure, after all the stick he's been getting that he converts the peno and wins the important game for his club. He should be getting credit here but once again he can't win.

It's bloody ridiculous.

Anyway, the main point is Liverpool did in fact win and thank god because it's going to be hard enough playing in Turkey with a lead let alone without one!

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

Next up for Liverpool is Southampton.

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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Besiktas

The Reds kick off their Europa League campaign on Thursday evening as they welcome Turkish side Besiktas to Anfield. Liverpool will surely still be feeling the disappointment of dropping out of the Champions League to gain their place in this competition however silverware is at stake and the winners are also automatically entered into next year's European Cup.

Add to this a return leg at the Ataturk Stadium and fond memories of the Champions League will certainly be bubbling up for the Reds who need to get off to a good start on home ground.

Injury news for Liverpool is relatively the same, a positive for Brendan Rodgers however was the return of Raheem Sterling to training this week. It will also be interesting to see whether the boss will start Mario Balotelli after his involvement in Liverpool's last two wins.

The main injury news for Besiktas leaves manager Slaven Bilic unable to call upon his goalkeeper Tolga Zengin who has been ruled out for a month.

Besiktas are currently top of their league just a point ahead of Fenerbache thanks to a Demba Ba winner in their last league game against Bursaspor on Sunday. Besiktas have lost just one of their last five league games.

Liverpool are on a great run of form having won or drawn their last nine matches in the league. The Reds last league win of course was that 3-2 victory over Spurs.

The last time the two sides met was in November 2007 and who could forget that game? An 8-0 win at Anfield saw goals from Peter Crouch, Ryan Babel, Yossi Benayoun and Steven Gerrard.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have won their last three matches against Turkish teams.
  • Besiktas have met English opposition four times already this season.
  • The Reds won just one of their Champions League games this season.

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

I said as soon as we drew Besiktas that I wasn't necessarily looking forward to these games, not in terms of excitement, I'm sure they will be very entertaining fixtures but I can see Liverpool getting knocked out.

Slaven Bilic leads his sides very well making them tough cookies to crack and it's always extremely difficult playing in a country like Turkey. Whilst I hope we may be able to get the better of them at home at the minute I've got a feeling it's going to be a score draw and then a big struggle at the Ataturk.

However, I am very often wrong... Very, very often so don't lose the faith! Haha.

I'll almost certainly have a quid on Skrtel first or last goalscorer tomorrow, it's my new favourite bet and I may have a few punts on the scoreline, follow my Twitter feed for updates on that.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Reds Finally Win At Palace

Liverpool notched up a win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Valentine's Day for the first time since 1997. Love was certainly in the air as the travelling Kop celebrated goals from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana. Despite concerted efforts from the Eagles they didn't quite have enough in the tank to throw Liverpool off course.

With several injuries to cater for Brendan Rodgers was forced to select a slightly different team but it was always going to be Daniel Sturridge playing up top. Mario Balotelli was forced to settle for a place on the bench.

Things got off to a bad start for the Reds after Crystal Palace found the back of the net in just 15 minutes. The goal came after a sloppy defensive decision from the Reds when Martin Skrtel was forced to attempt a headed clearance whilst being pressured by Dwight Gayle. Unfortunately Skrtel couldn't get enough on the clearance, which allowed Gayle to produce a headed shot, Simon Mignolet saved well but the ball fell to Frazier Campbell who finished confidently to put Palace ahead.

As the first half continued Liverpool created chances via the likes of Lallana, Sturridge and even Joe Allen but the Reds could not find the back of the net. Whilst Palace were in the lead their meaningful attacks were few and far between however when they did get in the box they created real problems for Liverpool who had to ensure they kept themselves in the game.

Dwight Gayle as always was at the forefront of the Crystal Palace attack but he was also trying to make a name for himself as an actor on Saturday. A dive that led to Jordan Henderson receiving a yellow card was bad enough but he would later miraculously fall over again and almost get Daniel Sturridge into trouble.

As the second half started both sides made immediate substitutions with Liverpool introducing Mario Balotelli and Palace bringing on Puncheon.

Liverpool had struggled in the first half to break through the centre of the pitch and this was perhaps made more difficult with just a lone striker to aim for or pair with. I was of course happy to see Balotelli enter play and hoped that two up front would combat some of our earlier difficulties in the game.

At 50 minutes the Reds had found a way through. An assist from Jordan Henderson left Sturridge with the perfect chance to convert and with a lovely finish the striker levelled the game for the Reds. Its always fantastic to see Sturridge score and even more so when he's just coming back from injury. His traditional dancing celebration was hilariously attempted by Moreno too as the Liverpool fans at Selhurst Park celebrated.

The goal for Liverpool appeared to fluster Palace who took their foot off the gas and seemed more concerned with protecting the current scoreline than being too ballsy in attack. You had to wonder how long this defensive turn would last and whether it was a dangerous option for the home side. It turned out to be just that.

Just before the hour mark Mario Balotelli won Liverpool a free kick just outside the box. I've probably said this before but this is yet another positive about Balotelli that people often forget. Balotelli is always a target for the opposition, defenders cannot stand him, their focus is pinned on him, they want to bully him and piss him off. Not only does this mean you will end up with fouls won in dangerous areas but also it detracts the attention from Sturridge or whoever the other forward may be meaning they can cause even more damage. I honestly think given the chance Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge could form a pretty good partnership.

After winning the foul Mario Balotelli stepped up for the free kick. Those who followed him in his time in Italy will know he is prone to scoring some quality free kicks however on Saturday he went for a low powerful drive. His shot though caused enough havoc and as it was parried out by Speroni there was Adam Lallana to follow up and score the winner for the Reds!

Criticised in the week for not showing any emotion Mario had a beaming smile after setting up this one and Adam Lallana was chuffed. It was brilliant to see.

As the second half eventually drew to a close both sides attacking flair petered out and it was Brendan Rodgers who was able to walk away knowing his team's name would be in the hat for the quarter finals.

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

Next up for Liverpool is Besiktas in the Europa League.

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Friday, 13 February 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Crystal Palace V Liverpool

Liverpool travel to London tomorrow as they prepare to face Crystal Palace in the fifth round of the FA Cup. The Reds have a Europa League tie with Besiktas coming up soon but the FA Cup is perhaps Brendan Rodgers' best chance of steering his side to some silverware.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they will unfortunately be without captain Steven Gerrard for this tie who is out for three weeks after picking up a hamstring injury against Spurs. Also unavailable is Lucas Leiva while Jordan Ibe is cup tied. Raheem Sterling will undergo a late fitness test.

For Crystal Palace they are unable to call upon Jedinak and there are doubts hanging over the fitness of Sanogo and McArthur.

Crystal Palace are currently behind Liverpool in the Premier League sitting in 13th place with the Reds in 7th. Palace drew their last fixture in the league after a 1-1 draw with Newcastle whilst Liverpool notched up a late win over Tottenham thanks to a Mario Balotelli winner.

The last time the two sides met was in November last year. It was a sorry affair for Liverpool when the Reds fell to a 3-1 defeat at Selhurst Park. Rickie Lambert found the back of the net in just two minutes but it wasn't enough for the Reds to collect any points.

In the meeting prior to this, again at Selhurst Park it was even worse for Liverpool. In the midst of a title run and desperately needing a win Brendan Rodgers' side somehow managed to throw away a 3-0 lead to eventually draw the game. It was devastating to watch and that's not an exaggeration.

So on the whole, we haven't exactly been in brilliant form away at Palace of late. In fact, the last time we won at Selhurst Park was in 1997.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have only kept three clean sheets in their last 19 FA Cup games.
  • The Eagles have only won six of their last 29 matches in the FA Cup.
  • Sturridge has scored nine goals in his last 11 FA Cup starts.

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

I think it's going to be a tough but exciting game tomorrow. With so many injuries as well it's a good excuse for Brendan to try something new with the team, whether he will is a different story.

For me I am of course hoping to see Balotelli after his goal in the week. I think this would be the perfect opportunity to pair Mario and Sturridge together but once again I doubt we will see that.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Super Mario 3

Mario Balotelli scored the winning goal on Tuesday evening as the Italian secured all three points for the Reds in the 84th minute. In an end to end game Brendan Rodgers' side took the lead twice only to watch Spurs level the scoreline before eventually sealing the win.

The game started with electrifying pace as both sides created dangerous attacks. With possession being foolishly lost in midfield it became easy for both sides to break and it wasn't long before Liverpool took advantage and scored their first goal of the game.

After Simon Mignolet made a save at the other end of the pitch his resulting kick found its way to Daniel Sturridge, with Markovic to his left he laid the ball to him and continued his run. As Lazar squared up to take his shot I found myself wondering why he wasn't passing it however his somewhat tame shot found its way past Hugo Lloris who perhaps should have done better.

As mentioned in my preview I wasn't feeling very positive at all about this game but after starting in such a lively fashion it definitely felt as though Liverpool had goals in them. Unfortunately though, Spurs did too and it was a banker that Harry Kane would eventually score.

At 25 minutes he got his chance, perhaps aided by a momentary concentration lapse by the Liverpool defence, Kane created enough space to get a shot off and scored high into the middle of goal.

By half time the scoreline remained the same however chances were being created left, right and centre with both goalkeepers being called into action. Simon Mignolet had another absolutely cracking game in goal (brushing aside the dodgy decision to come out early on against Kane).

Daniel Sturridge who is still finding fitness was also unlucky on occasion, a cheeky back heeled effort late in the first half was particularly close, it would have been a fantastic goal had it gone in!

The second half started as a carbon copy to the first with both sides once again playing in a pacey fashion. This time it took Liverpool just seven minutes to find the back of the net.

A penalty awarded for a foul on Daniel Sturridge was converted by captain Steven Gerrard who was clearly elated to have scored what could have been a winner for the Reds.

As the game continued though Spurs themselves had another opportunity when they were awarded a free kick in a dangerous area. For me, it wasn't even a foul so I was already annoyed when the free kick was awarded but things got worse.

The free kick was whipped in with Harry Kane clearly standing offside, he was free however apparently to set up goalscorer Dembele without being spotted by the linesman. That goal just shouldn't of been allowed but it was and the Reds had just under 30 minutes to once again regain the lead.

As the minutes ticked by I began to hope that Brendan would actually consider chucking Balotelli into the mix. As we all know by now I am quite possibly his biggest fan, I have supported him relentlessly and just desperately want to see him do well. So when I saw he had been "awarded" a seat on the bench in light of the injury to Raheem Sterling, I had hope he'd get a chance to feature if the scoreline was right.

And the scoreline was right, like him or loathe him Balotelli has been known as a big game player and here was his stage. At 73 minutes he was introduced. At 45 minutes I'd already tweeted this beauty... haha
And, sure enough at 84 minutes Balotelli got his chance to silence his critics, well, at least for a few days. The Italian was in the right place at the right time (oh wait, that Balo lad doesn't move does he?!) and after a lovely cross from Adam Lallana he finished with ease to give Liverpool a massive win.

Needless to say I was absolutely over the moon, I'd jumped up in the pub and chucked my cider all over my brother and me fella haha it was bloody brilliant, I'm still smiling like a Cheshire cat now just thinking of it. I just hope now that he uses this as a positive and that we see more of the same. I totally understand he's not the easiest player to like but credit given when due, that was some quality game saving from Balo last night.

And that was that. Mario Balotelli of all people had just sealed Liverpool all three points. Superb stuff.

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

Next up for Liverpool is Crystal Palace in the FA Cup!

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Monday, 9 February 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool welcome Spurs to Anfield on Tuesday evening and will be hoping they can produce a better performance after a rather dire Merseyside derby at the weekend. The game will surely have its focus placed on the English strikers of both sides with Harry Kane banging in the goals for Spurs and Daniel Sturridge having recently returned for Liverpool.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are unable to call upon Lucas who injured his thigh in the Everton game. There is also a doubt hanging over Philippe Coutinho who picked up a knock in the same game. Positively for the Reds Adam Lallana could return to the side.

For Tottenham they are relatively strong squad wise and it is presumed that Pochettino will name the same side fielded in Spurs' Arsenal win at the weekend.

Liverpool are currently 7th in the league but have not lost a league game in their last eight. Spurs sit in 5th, four points ahead of the Reds and have won their last three league fixtures.

The last time the two sides met was in August last year. The match at White Hart Lane ended 3-0 with Sterling, Gerrard and Moreno all on the score sheet for Liverpool. Mario Balotelli played in that match... Remember him?! (Still clinging on to the hope he will reappear in the team).

The last meeting between the sides at Anfield ended even better for the Reds as Brendan Rodgers' side put four past Spurs in March 2014 with no reply.

Stat Sandwich

  • Gerrard has scored five goals in his last three league games on a Tuesday night.
  • Spurs have only won one of their last eight away games in the league on a Tuesday night.
  • Liverpool have only won four of their last 11 league games at Anfield.

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

I'm actually feeling pretty negative about tomorrow and I think Spurs are going to beat us. Kane is definitely going to bag a goal whilst Liverpool will spend 60-70 minutes just hoping that Raheem Sterling can manage to find a bit of magic.

Unless Sturridge starts the game I think we're already on the back foot. Very pessimistic today but there we go. Nevertheless I will probably still have my pound bet on Martin Skrtel to score haha!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Drab Merseyside Derby Ends 0-0

Liverpool came away from Goodison Park with just a point on Saturday evening as Brendan Rodgers' side once again created movement and strings of attacks but failed to score. Liverpool have been riding on the hope that Sterling or Coutinho will find the back of the net for several matches now and in the Merseyside derby it just didn't work.

It's no secret that I hate playing without a striker and whilst several fans keep telling me that this formation works, it is my opinion that it does not. Not with the personnel we are currently using anyway. Sterling for me needs to be placed in his natural position and we need to play with a striker. Whilst three at the back appears to have been working a treat lately also Mamadou Sakho is forever creating a lack of confidence with his poor ability to retain possession and choose the correct pass.

I don't want to complain too much because somehow, despite not playing brilliantly Liverpool are of course on a good run of form but I really don't like the set up at the moment and it annoys me when we're chucking on Sturridge and Lambert late on when they clearly have no time to create an impact.

Anyway... Back to the game.

The first half for Liverpool was littered with half chances from Raheem Sterling. As always his pace and skill caused issues for the opposition but Everton dealt well with the youngster. Unfortunately for Sterling whilst showing his prowess on Saturday he also showed his selfish side as he failed to pass to Jordon Ibe and Steven Gerrard on occasions that could have led to goalscoring opportunities.

He did however swoop in an early shot that deflected out to Ibe who was extremely close to converting a tap in for the Reds. Prior to this effort it was Steven Gerrard troubling Everton's keeper after a foul on Coutinho gave Liverpool a free kick.

The captain's effort went very close but Robles saved and denied the Reds the lead.

For Everton their best chance in the first half wasn't even really a chance. A cross from Coleman flew into the box and fell into the path of Naismith who seemed shocked the ball had reached him and failed to make anything meaningful with the chance for Everton.

The best chance of the game though fell to Jordon Ibe who was a ray of light for a predictable Liverpool side. A break from his own half saw him take on the Everton defence and with a powerful strike he was unlucky to watch his effort smash out off the post. It would have been a fantastic goal for the lad and a brilliant way to really bring the derby alive. But alas, we had to make do with more dire football in the second half.

Again it was Raheem Sterling having the most luck with the ball, a few shots from range were saved and it definitely looked like the Reds just weren't going to find the back of the net.

Steven Gerrard almost managed to make his last Merseyside derby a magical one in the second half with an acrobatic effort from a corner but a well timed block from Naismith prevented Liverpool from taking the lead.

Everton brought Barkley on late in the second half and almost capitalised on his introduction when he assisted Coleman who forced Simon Mignolet into action. The Reds keeper though was alert despite having nothing to do the whole game and ensured the match would end 0-0.

It was a terrible Merseyside derby to be honest, the most exciting moment was when Besic lashed out a bit at Jordon Ibe. Ibe was like, na I'm just gonna rise above it and walk off but then Henderson decided he fancied a ruckus and looked momentarily like he was going to kill Naismith.

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

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Friday, 6 February 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Everton V Liverpool

Liverpool cross Stanley Park tomorrow to face Roberto Martinez's Everton side in what will almost certainly be Steven Gerrard's last ever Merseyside derby. The Reds come into this game on the back of an FA Cup win in the week and will be looking to continue their current good run of form in the league.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they may be unable to call upon Lazar Markovic, Lucas Leiva and Adam Lallana who have all recently picked up knocks. Everton are without Pienaar and Osman whilst there is a doubt hanging over Tim Howard. The Toffees may however decide to call upon their happy chappy Aaron Lennon.

The Reds are currently 7th in the table and they haven't lost a game in the league in their last seven. Everton on the other hand find themselves 12th in the league having won just two of their last 10 league games. Their last victory came against Crystal Palace in January where Romelu Lukaku scored the winner.

The last time the two sides met was in September last year. A 1-1 draw saw Steven Gerrard open up the scoring only for Phil Jagielka to net a 90th minute equaliser. The last two meetings between the sides at Goodison Park have ended in high score draws.

In November 2013 the game ended in enthralling fashion when a goal in the 89th minute from Daniel Sturridge ensured Liverpool would collect a point. That game ended 3-3. Back in October 2012 the match ended all square at 2-2, on that occasion Everton scored three of the goals including an own goal from Leighton Baines. Luis Suarez was also on the score sheet that day.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have won their last five away games in the league and have kept three clean sheets in the process.
  • League fixtures at Goodison Park have seen an average of three goals a game so far this season.
  • This time last season Liverpool were eight points better off.

I would usually embed your score predictions here but I was pretty busy at work today and forget to send out the tweets to request your predictions so apologies for that but please do tweet in your thoughts on the game tomorrow for a chance to feature in the match report.

I'm really looking forward to this clash and I'm definitely gonna be putting some money on Gerrard to score. As for the game I think we'll just nick it probably a 2-1. Everton may not have been playing well but neither have we really, we've just been grinding out results. The Merseyside derby is always a tasty and difficult affair, here's hoping we can make Gerrard's last derby a special one!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Late Coutinho Stunner Sends Reds Through

A late burst of magic dust from our trickster Philippe Coutinho was enough to see Liverpool progress to the 5th round of the FA Cup on Wednesday night. The Reds eventually managed to beat Bolton after the home side netted a penalty in the 58th minute. A dismissal followed soon after for Bolton and Sterling found an equaliser pushing the Reds on to find their last gasp winner.

The first half was pretty poor for Liverpool with the same predictable outcome being put on display. Get the ball to Coutinho or Sterling and hope they can weave through and bag a goal. Problem was though that Bolton were not prepared to let us through and were more than content in creating attacks of their own.

By the end of the first half though, there was no real excitement and both goalkeepers had remained relatively quiet. The only moment of note really was a yellow card picked up by Danns that would prove to be vital in the second half for Liverpool.

At 53 minutes Liverpool replaced Adam Lallana with Jordan Henderson. Whilst the Reds continued their predictable attack Bolton began to gain more of a foothold through their skillful youngster Zach Clough. Bolton found their chance to take the lead at 58 minutes.

The penalty awarded to the Trotters was perhaps a bit of a soft one but Martin Skrtel did mistime his challenge as Clough was far too quick. With Eidur Gudjohnsen stepping up for the penalty there was no way the veteran was going to miss and he converted with ease.

The home side now had a renewed sense of optimism, at 0-0 they were still very much in the game and looked more like winners than we did but at 1-0 up they could easily hold on to this victory. Just after the hour mark though after a very poor and silly challenge Danns got himself sent off after a second yellow, much to the dismay of manager Neil Lennon.

With a ten man Bolton side now the opposition you would have thought Liverpool would quickly gain the upper hand but the minutes passed and Liverpool failed to make their attacking nous count. The introduction of Daniel Sturridge gave us some hope but still we just couldn't find the back of the net.

Then at 85 minutes just as it looked as though Liverpool were about to crash out, a lovely assist from Emre Can was bettered by a brilliant finish from Raheem Sterling. His effort flew through the legs of the keeper Lonergan and kept the Reds in the competition.

With five minutes left of the game it felt like we were destined to go to extra time but Liverpool kept the pressure on and eventually, in the first minute of time added on Philippe Coutinho popped up with an absolute beauty.

Assisted by Jordan Henderson the Brazilian saw an opportunity and with a sublime strike that flew high and then dipped low into goal he sealed Liverpool the win.

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

It was a good win for Liverpool but it was another pretty average performance really. Our results of late have masked a lot of our issues and whilst I am undoubtedly pleased that we have reached the next round of the FA Cup I do worry about our form in the long run if we are unable to convert our chances more often.

Next up for Liverpool is Everton!

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Bolton V Liverpool

Liverpool make the short trip to Bolton on Wednesday evening as they aim to make it through to the 5th round of the FA Cup. The first meeting between the two sides ended in a 0-0 draw forcing a replay at the Macron. Neil Lennon's side will fancy their chances at home to Liverpool but Brendan Rodgers will surely be determined to push his side closer to some silverware after being knocked out of the League Cup by Chelsea.

Injuries for Liverpool remain the same with just Brad Jones and Jon Flanagan unavailable. Steven Gerrard is set to return after being rested against West Ham and if he features it will be his 700th appearance in the Red shirt.

For Bolton they are unable to call upon Adam Bogdan and Darren Pratley. Doubts are also hanging over the fitness of Craig Davies and ex Red Emile Heskey.

Prior to the last meeting between the two clubs there have been 133 fixtures with Liverpool notching up 57 wins. The Reds' last trip to Bolton ended in a 3-1 loss with just Craig Bellamy on the score sheet. Liverpool have a mixed record on the whole against Bolton and at one stage they could have been considered our bogey team when they were in the Premier League.

Liverpool currently find themselves 7th in the league having recorded a victory over West Ham at the weekend. The Reds have not lost once in their last seven games.

Bolton are sitting 14th in the Championship at present, a last gasp equaliser from Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend prevented Neil Lennon's side from collecting another three points. Despite this Bolton have only lost two out of their last 10 league games.

I asked you for your score predictions and here are a few of the tweets I received:
Whilst I do feel the game will be difficult for Liverpool I'm feeling pretty confident for tomorrow's tie. After the disappointment of missing out on the League Cup final I think the team has been given a taste of what they can achieve. Liverpool are improving all the time and whilst we still need to convert our chances more often you have to feel with Daniel Sturridge probably starting from the bench, this issue will not be a problem tomorrow evening.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Sturridge Hits The Ground Running

Liverpool notched up a 2-0 win over West Ham on Saturday as youngster Raheem Sterling found the back of the net followed by a returning Daniel Sturridge. The long awaited return of the number 15 could not have been more perfect, a standing ovation as he prepared to enter play on the touchline was quickly followed by rapturous celebration as he found Liverpool's second goal of the game in style.

The first half for Liverpool was not brilliant in all honesty. The Reds were creating a lot of movement and West Ham offered little threat however we couldn't seem to find that final killer ball. Breaks from the likes of Coutinho and Sterling almost had the Hammers in knots particularly after a link up early on between these two.

A lovely back heel from Sterling fell for Philippe Coutinho, squaring up for the shot it looked like the perfect chance to take the lead however the Brazilian was denied by Adrian.

Another incident in the first half involving Sterling occurred when he appeared to have been taken down in the box. The ball however remained in the danger zone and this time it was Lazar Markovic in a dangerous position. Lazar however should have done a lot better and completely fluffed his shot sending the ball wide.

Things would improve for the Reds in the second half when after just five minutes Raheem Sterling finally found the back of the net. A cross from Alberto Moreno found its way to Sterling who laid the ball back to Coutinho, his teammate then fed the ball back to Sterling and with a confident finish the Reds were 1-0 up.

It was a well deserved goal for Sterling who as always had been our most effective player.

West Ham continued to struggle in the second half and it was possibly understandable considering the injury worries that were being created within this game for them. Things were difficult from the whistle for the visitors and it just got worse as the game went on.

A shot from Valencia soon after Liverpool's first goal was one of few chances for the Hammers and it wouldn't be long before they were punished again by the Reds.

Just before the 70 minute mark and having only been on the pitch for 10 minutes Daniel Sturridge decided it was time to let everybody know that he was back. Another break involving the brilliant Coutinho allowed him to play a ball out to Daniel Sturridge who was on the right side of the box. Oozing confidence Sturridge then took his chance from a tight angle and finished beautifully to score Liverpool's second and secure the Reds all three points.

It was absolutely fantastic to see Sturridge back but to see him score as well? Bloody brilliant! I was concerned that it might take a while for him to find his feet and get back to scoring ways which can then create all sorts of problems confidence wise for a striker but he seemed destined to score as soon as he entered play on Saturday. Oh and I cannot explain how happy I am to see us playing with a proper striker! We look a totally different team with him in it.

Late on for West Ham it looked as though they may have found a consolation goal when a ball was turned into the back of the net after a corner. The referee however decided that Simon Mignolet had been fouled and therefore the goal was not given.

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

Next up for Liverpool is Bolton in the FA Cup.

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