The Liver Bird  

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Reds Lose More Ground In Desperate Race For Fourth

image: dailypost.co.uk
Liverpool failed to find the back of the net at the KC Stadium on Tuesday evening as Brendan Rodgers' side were defeated 1-0. Steve Bruce was elated with his side's performance as the Tigers aim to steer clear of relegation.

I can't see myself going into much detail with this report to be honest as I fear it will simply involve me moaning and going on a right old rant. What I will say is that is was another disappointing performance from Liverpool.

The Reds once again had their fair portion of possession but didn't do anything with it. I won't hide from the fact that my main man Balotelli had a pretty poor game but I ask you to name me a player who had a good one? I just seriously get frustrated because the likes of Balotelli and Lambert are much better in a front two, it's pretty pointless to me to play them alone. With Daniel Sturridge injured I don't understand why Rodgers is so stubborn.

What also annoys me (I said I wasn't going to rant didn't I?... Soz) is that our wingers our too predictable and often selfish in my opinion. Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho are quality players but I wish they'd cross the ball sometimes!

The game did provide chances for Liverpool who had to watch failed attempts from Balotelli, Coutinho, Henderson and others. Ultimately though the Reds faltered when trying to find that final product and this hasn't been a recent issue, for me we've struggled to be clinical the whole season.

Hull found their first and final goal of the game at 36 minutes. Mario Balotelli ended up playing Dawson onside from a cross and the ex Tottenham man headed home for Hull. Even I will admit here that Balo needs to hold his hands up for that daft mistake however you can jog on blaming him for the whole shite game.

Hull fully deserved the win in particular I was very impressed with the likes of Elmohamady and Aluko. The latter of which was clattered all over the shop because we couldn't deal with his skill or pace, he at least on three occasions deserved a blatant free kick but the ref just shunned it.

Next up for Liverpool is QPR. It's disheartening to think that if we'd of beaten West Brom and beaten Hull yesterday we could be two points behind United.

I'm sorry for the MASSIVE downer but I just can't be arsed at the moment. I will however be arsed enough to write a QPR preview so please come back like...

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, 27 April 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Hull V Liverpool

image: footymad.net

Brendan Rodgers takes his Liverpool side to Hull on Tuesday and whilst there is sure to be eleven players on the pitch, it's uncertain how many will be in the stands. A boycott organised by Spirit of Shankly in response to the ridiculous variance in ticket prices for supporters travelling to Hull this season means there could be a lot of empty seats.

Steve Bruce has also spoken out on the matter today saying "We have to remember the average man in the street because they are the lifeblood of football." It's sad that such extreme action is required for the powers that be to stand up and listen but here's hoping tomorrow's boycott makes some sort of difference.

In terms of the game, more bad news has filtered through today as Kopites learned Daniel Sturridge would probably be out for the rest of the season. Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva are also unavailable while Alberto Moreno will be subject to a late fitness test. For Hull, they are unable to call upon Jelavic, Davies and Snodgrass. Also unavailable is Meyler who will complete a ban.

The last time the two sides met was in October 2014 when neither side managed to get themselves on the score sheet. A match between the sides in January 2014 ended in a 2-0 win for Liverpool, Daniel Agger and Luis Suarez were the goalscorers that day. The Reds' last trip to the KC Stadium however didn't end so well, Liverpool fell to a 3-1 defeat with just Steven Gerrard finding the back of the net.

Liverpool are currently 5th in the table on 58 points. The Reds have won three of their last six games in the league, drew one and lost the other two. Hull find themselves 16th in the table having won just one of their last six league games. 

Stat Sandwich
  • Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last eight away games in the league.
  • Hull have collected just 16 points at home this season.
  • Gerrard has scored four goals in six Premier League games against Hull.
With no Daniel Sturridge and a struggle in general to score goals I can't see Liverpool pulling off a brilliant win on Tuesday however I do expect all three points this time unlike against Albion at the weekend.

Hull are in desperate trouble lounging around at the bottom of the league with a hell of a run of games and will therefore be playing for their lives on Tuesday however it's exactly this reason why I think Liverpool will win. We can't handle sides that sit back and shut up shop, Hull are unable to do that on Tuesday, they must attack which will open things up for players such as Coutinho and Sterling who will probably find a way through.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Goalless Draw At The Hawthorns

Image via: thisisanfield.com
Liverpool were unable to find the back of the net on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion despite having 74% of possession. The Reds appeared to boss the game but were poor in front of goal and Tony Pulis' side kept out any threat with relative ease.

Mario Balotelli was given his first league start since November for Liverpool and whilst it was nice to see Brendan start a striker I thought he could have taken this chance to try a different system and offer Balotelli some much needed support. I'm not going to make excuses because aside from some flashes from Balo he offered little else but for me he can bring a lot to the side if played in a proper formation.

Balotelli's first real moment of note led to a free kick on the edge of the box for Liverpool. In Steven Gerrard territory the captain had to watch his effort travel just off target missing the top left corner. Another effort involving Balotelli would soon follow after he took a pop from outside the box only to see his chance follow the same direction as Gerrard's.

Really, they were the only moments of note in the first half. West Brom barely had the ball and Liverpool didn't create many chances at all but, as I say, Balotelli was involved. For the second half Liverpool began to bring some other players to the forefront of the minimal action.

A melee in the box soon after the second half had begun saw half chances from Henderson, Coutinho and Balotelli but the Reds were still unable to get any close range efforts past Myhill. West Brom managed to create some chances of their own in the second half with some pacey breaks.

A cross from the wing from Chris Brunt to Craig Gardner left the latter hitting the side netting. In fairness to Liverpool, one real positive from the game was the defence, particularly Dejan Lovren who for once had a very good game.

Shortly after the Baggies effort, at the other end of the pitch Mario Balotelli had linked up well with Jordan Ibe to play the youngster through into the box, unfortunately his strike smashed the cross bar.

Things got tentative for the Reds soon after when a messed up clearance from Martin Skrtel after a Morrison header left Lovren having to make a clearance off the line. Liverpool had fought hard to keep themselves in this game when it mattered but it still never felt like Liverpool were going to find that all important goal.

A long range shot from Coutinho late on flew just over the bar whilst McManaman for the home side went on a weaving run into the box, shooting from an angle but Mignolet saved.

It was probably destined to be a 0-0 from the off, after all this is a Pulis side who will do anything to prevent you from scoring. I don't have much to say about the game really just that it was pretty dire and that I wish Rodgers would consider playing two up top, especially now we have nothing to lose. To describe our overall game as "outstanding" too, it's just ridiculous in my opinion. How can you reinforce that performance as positive, granted we had all the ball but we did nothing with it I just don't think you should be using words such as "outstanding" in this instance.

Next up for the Reds is Hull away.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, 24 April 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: West Brom V Liverpool


Liverpool travel to West Brom on Saturday afternoon as they aim to put their last meeting with a Midlands side behind them. The Reds put on a dire performance in the FA Cup semi-final while the Baggies collected a good win away from home at Crystal Palace.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they will be unable to call upon Daniel Sturridge and Lucas Leiva with Mamadou Sakho also out. Adam Lallana will be subjected to a late fitness test for the Reds. West Brom are relatively strong with just three players out; Dawson, Foster and Andre Wisdom who is unable to play against his parent club.

The last time the two sides met was in October 2014. Lallana and Henderson scored on that day with a Berahino penalty sandwiched in between. The last meeting at The Hawthorns between the two sides was in February 2014 in a game that ended 0-0.

West Brom last notched up a win against Liverpool in February 2013. The game at Anfield ended 2-0 for the Baggies with Lukaku last on the score sheet. Overall Liverpool have a relatively good record at The Hawthorns however a recent loss in August 2012 saw the Reds lose 3-0 with Daniel Agger being sent off in the process.

Liverpool are currently 5th in the table, desperately clinging on to the minor miracle of sneaking a way into 4th. If the Reds want any chance at all of following that pipe dream they have to get past West Brom who are currently 13th on 36 points.

Stat Sandwich
If Gerrard plays it will be his 500th Premier League appearance for Liverpool.
Tony Pulis has never lost a league game as manager at home against Liverpool.
The Reds would be top of the league table if only goals from English players counted this season.

I’m not feeling very confident for this one and it may sound cliché but I feel the big loss at Wembley will have a knock on effect. The Baggies will be feeling confident after watching their local rivals tear us apart and with the home crowd behind them The Hawthorns can be a difficult place to play.

Add to this Pulis’ record as a manager against Liverpool and his preferred style of play and I feel Liverpool will struggle to break down the West Brom defence. This task will of course be made harder as the Reds are forced to play without Daniel Sturridge. I really wish Brendan would just try something different tomorrow, after all what have we got to lose really? For me, two up top would be worth trying but then I am rather bias here.

I’m not sure whether I’ll get chance to place a bet tomorrow but keep an eye on Twitter in case - @LFCKirstyLFC

P.s. If you missed it be sure to check out my Q&A with Albion Till We Die

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Liverpool Out Of FA Cup

image via express.co.uk
Liverpool fell to a heartbreaking FA Cup semi-final defeat at Wembley on Sunday afternoon as Aston Villa secured a fully deserved place in the final against Arsenal. The Reds were extremely poor in a game where Villa shone and showed real determination and desire.

The Reds looked lacklustre from the off and were struggling to make any promising moves as Villa zipped the ball around the pitch with ease. Liverpool who perhaps took their opposition for granted took ages on the ball and failed to penetrate the Villa defence with any real threat until scoring at the 30 minute mark.

It was a goal the Reds desperately needed as things began to look more and more difficult for Brendan Rodgers’ side in a game that really they should have had under control. The goal saw a link between Sterling and Coutinho, the latter  netting from inside the box after a deflection from the Villa defence. It was elation for Liverpool as they had finally sprung into action.

As predicted though, it wasn’t long before that man Benteke was creating problems. The striker who is no stranger to netting against Liverpool managed to put his team level after just six minutes. A right footed shot from the centre of the box meant Villa were right back in the game and the equaliser would be a huge blow for an already faltering Liverpool side.

It was particularly frustrating for me at this point because I cannot stand playing without a striker. We have scraped through many games this season via a bit of Sterling luck or some Coutinho magic and I’m afraid it just doesn’t cut the mustard, especially not in a big game like this. Liverpool looked lost, lacking in options and had completely lost the battle in midfield in my opinion. Something needed to change and quickly.

At the start of the second half Rodgers brought on Balotelli, it was 45 minutes too late in my opinion but then I would say that. However, to be honest I was quite surprised he’d brought him on so early. Balo perhaps didn’t have the most amazing performance but he instantly began to draw fouls, hold up the ball, win corners etc, it’s all positive for me and something that we were lacking in the first half.

At 53 minutes Villa found their second goal. After continuing their second half much in the same manner as the first, their constant pressure resulted in another top goal. A move involving Benteke, Grealish and Delph left Liverpool in bits as Delph netted with a right footed shot. It was a lovely goal for Villa and they fully deserved to be in the lead.

Liverpool had barely troubled Shay Given and despite there being 30mins left of the game it felt like a massive hill to climb in order to find an equaliser.

Then came the 77th minute wonder sub… That’s right Glen Johnson. Glen bloody Johnson.

Who the hell puts on a defender when you’re 2-1 down in an FA Cup semi-final?! I just don’t get it. This seriously pissed me off. I don’t care how shite you think Borini or Lambert are, at least with one of these on the lone Balotelli would of received some support. Glen did nothing, he added nothing. There are some fans saying he was brought on to push Can forward, yeah… so what? How does pushing a now moulded defender forward help you when you’re losing a cup final? It’s just daft in my opinion, absolutely daft. I’ve spent most of this season disagreeing with starting line ups and substitutions because I just don’t like his tactics but this one took the biscuit. It’s been horrible for me this season team selection wise as I’m never usually this negative but I just don’t agree with the set up half the time.

People argue the set up has won us games and yes it has but often through luck or one piece of brilliance in my opinion, not because the system is solid and works.

Anyway, the only glimmers of hope in the second half for Liverpool involved Mario Balotelli and Steven Gerrard. A Gerrard header that seemed to occur in slow motion as the thought of hero headlines loomed was blocked by Richardson on the line. This is exactly why you have a man on the post as without him, that was in.

Finally, Balotelli had the ball in the back of the net however he was called offside except he wasn’t offside was he, he was miles on. I’m convinced this decision was made on the basis that he had been offside on several occasions in the game, it was a poor call in my opinion. Whilst it is fair to say the Villa defence had stopped after the decision, you can never know what would of happened had the correct decision been made. I was obviously gutted here.

And that was pretty much that. Brendan Rodgers brought on Lambert with five minutes to go but what was the soddin’ point? Lambert may not be a brilliant player but he’s far from incapable of putting in a shift against Villa. It’s Aston Villa for god’s sake (no offence Villa), Lambert offers experience and much need support to a lone striker, himself or Borini should have been risked earlier in the game for me, it was just pathetic bringing him on with five minutes left, like a last minute “oh shite I better do something” call.

All in all I’m pretty pissed off as you can probably tell. That should be a game that Liverpool are winning especially when essentially there is nothing else to play for. I personally think Rodgers needs to take that result on the chin. It will be interesting to hear his comments in the coming days.

Next up for Liverpool is West Brom away.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, 18 April 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: FA Cup Semi-Final

image via C1 Photography

Wem-ber-leeeeey, Wem-ber-leeeey! We're the famous Liverpool and we're going to Wembely, Wem-ber-leeeeey... oh soz! It's match preview time innit? I do apologise only I've been MEGA excited for this match and it's all sort of bubbling over now. At 3pm tomorrow the Reds will line up at Wembley to face Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final. In a season that appears to be ending with the Reds just missing out on the top four (not set in stone yet) there is a hell of a lot riding on this game.

Injurires for Liverpool mean they are almost certainly going to be without striker Daniel Sturridge who has a hip problem. Also unavailable for the Reds is Mamadou Sakho whilst Adam Lallana will be subjected to a late fitness test. It is presumed that Mario Balotelli will return after a period of illness and positively both Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel are back from serving suspensions.

For Aston Villa, boss Tim Sherwood has quite a substantial injury list to deal with. The likes of Clark and Sissokho are out whilst Sanchez is serving a ban. Several players will be subjected to late fitness tests for the Midlands side with the influential Agbonlahor being one of the names on that list.

It's a shame Daniel Sturridge will likely miss out on this one as the striker has connections to the Aston area of Birmingham. Sturridge was speaking to BT Sport as part of its coverage of the FA Cup semi-final: "I went to a primary school in the town next to Aston. We played tournaments next to the Villa ground so we would go and look at the stadium."

The last time the two sides met was in January this year. I remember this game distinctly because Borini and Lambert were actually allowed to play and they both scored, see, playing with strikers does work! Haha. The last time Villa beat Liverpool was in September 2014 in a 1-0 win at Anfield. Priot to this Villa beat Liverpool in December 2012, I was actually present that day and remember Benteke being an absolute nightmare, Villa won 3-1 on that day with Gerrard scoring late on for the Reds.

The last time the two sides met in a cup competition was back in December 2002.  The league cup tie ended 4-3 with Danny Murphy, Milan Baros and Steven Gerrard on the scoresheet for Liverpool. Murphy's second goal of the game in the 90th minute broke the fans' hearts at Villa Park. The last meeting in the FA Cup for Liverpool and Villa was in 1996... bloody ell I was 7! Haha. The game at Anfield ended 3-0 with Robbie Fowler scoring a brace and Jason McAteer scoring the third.

An FA Cup tie in 1992 between the sides ended 1-0 for Liverpool and another meeting in the competition in 1988 ended 2-0 for the Reds. The sides have met on three more times in the FA Cup with Liverpool winning on every occasion. These sides have stacks of history and despite the records looking good for Liverpool you just never know what could happen at Wembley.

Villa have beaten Blackpool (1-0), Bournemouth (2-1), Leicester (2-1) and local rivals West Brom (2-0) on their route to Wembley. Liverpool on the other hand have beaten Wimbledon (1-2), drew with Bolton 0-0 then won the replay (1-2), beat Crystal Palace (1-2) then drew again this time with Blackburn (0-0) and won the replay (0-1).

The Reds never make things easy for themselves but they always seem to find a way through. Whilst Villa have travelled through the rounds confidently compared to their somewhat sticky league campaign, the Reds have failed to convince in the FA Cup really as narrow wins over what should be beatable opposition has seen them through. Nevertheless, it doesn't matter how you progress in this competition, simply that you do so. Liverpool may have been unconvincing at times but is is extremely hard to bet against them on Sunday.

For me, with the probable absence of Daniel Sturridge I am obviously hoping my main man Balo gets to feature however I am not holding out any hopes. The best I can probably wish for is for him to be on the bench but I guess I'll just have to wait and see. 

I'm extremely pleased Martin Skrtel is back as I feel our defence will be called into several dangerous situations. We know Villa have not been fantastic in the league but if that man Benteke starts and I'm assuming he will do, we need to ensure concentration and real determination is present in the defence, no mistakes, not now!

As for the debate as to whether Steven Gerrard should come straight back into the team, I think he should. Not only for the sentimental value and the fact he has the experience in this competition but also because I feel we have been missing some killer balls into the box and to our forwards. I love Coutinho and Sterling, of course I do but they are often wasteful and selfish with the ball. Steven Gerrard will always seek to play his attackers through and I think whoever starts as striker will benefit from this along with Coutinho and Sterling.

Stat Sandwich
  • Tomorrow's game will be Liverpool's 24th appearance in an FA Cup semi-final.
  • Five of Aston Villa's nine goals in their three FA Cup fixtures this year have been scored in the last five minutes of the game.
  • Liverpool have lost only one of their last nine FA Cup semi-finals.
I am so excited for this game I can't even describe it, it's a massive tie for me as I have long been treating the FA Cup as a must have for Liverpool as I predicted the top four may well be out of reach. I hate to say it but it's an important tie for Brendan Rodgers who will have to question his season if he fails to pick up any silverware and is unable to scrape into the Champions League places.

All I ask tomorrow is that the lads give it their all and be sensible. I can see the game going for at least 30 minutes without a goal and this is where Liverpool seem to make mistakes. In the meantime the opposition grow more and more comfortable, it would only take a flash from Benteke to put Liverpool on the back foot. In fact an early goal tomorrow would be brilliant in my opinion but I think as has often happened this season, it may take us a while to get off the mark.

I will certainly be popping a quid on Martin Skrtel to score my favourite... bet haha! And I will probably have a Balotelli scorecast at some point depending on whether he is included, keep an eye on my Twitter feed and I'll let you know what I have - @LFCKirstyLFC

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching, especially if you're at Wembley!!!

Watch the FA Cup Semi-Final between Aston Villa and Liverpool exclusively live on BT Sport 1 from 2pm this Sunday
(The above is a promo due to using quotes and an image from a press release.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Sterling And Allen Score In Newcastle Win

image via guardian.com

Liverpool picked up all three points at Anfield on Monday evening as goals from Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen gave the Reds their win. As the tabloids concern themselves with the extremely dangerous consequences of youngsters and helium balloons, Brendan Rodgers will surely be pleased with his side’s result as he aims to chase down Manchester City.

The game began with a poignant minutes silence to mark 26 years since the Hillsborough disaster. The minute was impeccably observed by both fans and the fight continues for justice for the 96.

The game got off to a very good start for Liverpool who quickly opened the scoring at Anfield in just eight minutes. A sublime finish from Raheem Sterling left Krul with no chance after he weaved his way into the box brushing defenders aside with ease. A goal was just what Sterling needed I think as no matter what is happening with his contract at the end of the day he’s just been a bit daft, he’s a young talented footballer and doesn’t need his own fans getting on his back, certainly not while he’s still at the club!

Scoring so early in the game, it looked as though Liverpool had got this one all wrapped up however things quickly began to slip for the Reds. Despite bags of chances and a lot of pressure on the Newcastle net, without an out and out striker Liverpool were struggling to convert. As the likes of Coutinho and Sterling continued to fall short of the end product Newcastle began to grow in confidence. Simon Mignolet was called into action on a couple of occasions but the scoreline didn’t change at the end of the first half.

The second half saw the Magpies continue their positive pressure, attempts from Obertan and Abeid early on ensured Liverpool had to remain alert.

Just before the hour mark Brendan Rodgers opted to bring on Fabio Borini. Now as we know, I’m all for playing a striker but to be honest I couldn’t understand why he didn’t just chuck on Rickie Lambert instead here. Luckily, it didn’t matter who Rodgers brought on because eventually Liverpool got their act together and found themselves a second goal.

Not before another humbling moment at Anfield though as Newcastle made a substitution bringing on Gutierrez for Obertan. After battling cancer and returning to football Gutierrez received a standing ovation from all in the ground and it was fantastic to see.

A few minutes after the substitution and Liverpool had scored their second goal of the game courtesy of Joe Allen. A shot from the centre of the box allowed the midfielder to celebrate with his teammates but this goal was definitely a big one. It felt like it was only a matter of time before Newcastle would equalise and dash any glimmer of hope left at grasping 4th.

The final real moment of note in the game was a horrific challenge by Sissoko on Lucas. Already booked for playing handbags with Glen Johnson, Sissoko went in with a rash challenge, studs up and straight into Lucas’ shin. It was bloody horrible. How he wasn’t given a straight red instead of a second yellow I don’t know but the main thing is, Lucas is ok.

It was an important win for the Reds who have to stay positive as you simply don’t know what will happen at the end of the season. Manchester City are capable of slipping but the Reds need to be on top form themselves.

Next up for Liverpool is the small matter of Aston Villa at Wembley in the FA Cup semi final!

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, 12 April 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Newcastle

image:liverpoolecho.co.uk
Liverpool welcome Newcastle to Anfield on Monday evening as they aim to get back to winning ways in the league after suffering defeat at the hands of both Arsenal and Manchester United recently. The Reds finally got the better of Blackburn to seal their place in the FA Cup semi final but can they collect a vital three points in the league before they head to Wembley at the weekend?

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are unable to call upon Mamadou Sakho who is out for the foreseeable future. Mario Balotelli is also suspected to be unavailable as he is out at present with an illness. Finally Adam Lallana will be missing as he nurses a groin injury. Positively for the Reds, Jordan Ibe is back and should be available to start.

For Newcastle, manager John Carver has several injury woes to deal with as the likes of Alnwick, Haidara and Tiote are all out long term. The boss is also unable to call upon De Jong who is recovering from a collapsed lung.

Liverpool currently find themselves 6th in the league having won four out of their last six games. The Reds are two points behind Southampton in 5th prior to kick off and will be hoping for a favourable result in the Manchester derby. However, if either side wins there’s only a points difference in what the Reds need to make up to break back into the top four, so no, I do not want Manchester United to win.

Newcastle are currently 13th in the league having lost five out of their last six league games. The Magpies have been struggling of late and with a temporary manager, appear to be struggling to find the form they maintained at the start of the season.

The last time the two sides met was in November last year when Perez grabbed a winner for Newcastle in the 73rd minute. Newcastle’s last trip to Anfield was one to forget as despite receiving an own goal courtesy of Martin Skrtel they had two men sent off and lost the game 2-1. Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge were on the score sheet that day.

Stat Sandwich
Jordan Henderson has scored four goals in his last five league appearances.
Newcastle have only scored four times in their last eight league games.
The Reds are unbeaten in their last 19 home matches against Newcastle in the league.

On paper this should be an easy victory for the Reds who will cling on to a lingering hope of finishing in the top four. However, the Reds have not played very well at all in their last three games in all comps, a bit of magic from Coutinho was all that saved our FA Cup dream while we faltered against United and crumbled under Arsenal.

The return of Emre Can will go some way to shoring up the defence but the Reds are still struggling somewhat to really stamp their presence in attack. Despite this the Reds probably will be fine, as we have done in several matches this season we will struggle to find an end product in the box and instead score a worldy. It just frustrates me that we don’t threaten with our strikers and in fact it worries me that such a reliance is placed on a lone Daniel Sturridge who is, as we know, injury prone.

I shall be placing a bet but I’m not sure what on yet so follow me on Twitter to get the deets - @LFCKirstyLFC.

In the meantime I hope you liked the preview and as always, enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Reds Through To Wembley Semi Final

image: theanfieldwrap.com

Liverpool progressed to the semi finals of the FA Cup on Wednesday evening after a 70 minute Philippe Coutinho strike was enough to see Brendan Rodgers’ side through. It was a tough game for the Reds who held a lot of possession but did little with it.

The game appeared to start well for Liverpool who quickly created chances via the likes of Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen. At 27 minutes though an already bodged Liverpool back four saw Mamadou Sakho leave the pitch with what looked like a hamstring problem. Kolo Toure took Sakho’s place in what turned out to be a pretty good move. Toure had a right mare against Arsenal however he is an experienced defender and these are the sort of games he thrives in.

For the majority of the first half it seemed as though Gary Bowyer had instructed his team to remain tight, keep hold of the scoreline and see what happens. Luckily for the home side nothing did happen as the Reds were wasteful in their efforts. Some long range Coutinho shots perhaps could have caused an issue if they were on target but Liverpool just couldn’t find that end product. Sterling was also frustrating as he insisted on taking too many touches each time he was in a danger area. Blackburn didn’t really trouble Mignolet in the first half only forcing the Belgian into a proper save once.

The second half though would spark a change in Blackburn who realised the Reds were faltering. Immediately Simon Mignolet was forced into two fantastic saves to keep his side in the game, first from Cairney then from Marshall.

Blackburn continued to apply pressure on the Liverpool net and at 64 minutes, manager Gary Bowyer opted to risk his forward Gestede. Anything could have happened in this game, he certainly could have done more damage to his injury however this was Rovers’ last throw of the dice, like ourselves it was all or nothing, Wembley or go home.

For a short while afterwards the home side continued to look the most likely to be going to Wembley, unfortunately for them, Philippe Coutinho wanted it more.

Just before the 70 minute mark a lovely piece of play involving Henderson saw Coutinho played through in the box, at an awkward angle the Brazilian smashed home a strike to give his side that all important goal.

To be honest it was about bloody time, 130 minutes of football against Blackburn and we hadn’t found the net? It does worry me sometimes our persistent refusal to try playing a different system. A lone striker often looks very lonely indeed in our line up and with Sturridge still getting back to fitness it was never certain he would help Liverpool on their way last night. Blackburn could have very easily bagged themselves a goal in that second half.

Sturridge in fact was replaced by Rickie Lambert at 85 minutes, I was quite surprised he didn’t appear sooner as it’s his sort of game. Thankfully he wasn’t needed but he could have been in great demand if Blackburn had received a bit of luck in the dying minutes…

At 90+3 the ball fell to their goalkeeper Simon Eastwood, my heart was in my mouth as he was given the space and time to turn and square up his shot. His resulting effort thankfully tracked straight at Mignolet who saved but there was some power on it, a slight angle and that would of bloody been in! I couldn’t have taken that, I could barely take a striker equalising at that point let alone the soddin’ keeper!

Thankfully the Reds managed to see the game out and mercifully the likes of Skrtel, Can and Gerrard will be back for that semi final against Aston Villa at Wembley.

Next up for the Reds is Newcastle at Anfield!

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Blackburn V Liverpool

image: ibtimes.com

Liverpool travel to Blackburn on Wednesday evening as they aim to secure a place in the semi finals of the FA Cup. The Reds are still attempting to recover after a disastrous defeat to Arsenal at the weekend and with rumours of dressing room bust ups also doing the rounds, it is vital that Liverpool are focused on Wednesday in what realistically is their last hope of any glory this season.

Injuries for the Reds mean they are still without Jordan Ibe whilst Mario Balotelli will be subject to a late fitness test. Brendan Rodgers will however be unable to call upon Steven Gerrard, Emre Can and Martin Skrtel who are all serving bans.

For Blackburn they are unable to field Jay Spearing who is cup tied, whilst doubts are hanging over the likes of Gestede, Hanly, Conway, King and Dunn.

Cast your minds back to early March and you will remember the first leg of this quarter final tie. The game at Anfield ended 0-0 leaving Liverpool with a trip to Ewood Park. Blackburn have the goalscoring talent to trouble Liverpool and in the midst of a poor run of form it could be difficult for the Reds on Wednesday.

Liverpool’s last trip to Ewood Park was in the league in April 2012. The game ended 3-2 with goals from Maxi Rodriguez and Andy Carroll. The last time the Reds lost at Blackburn was in December 2006, Benni McCarthy got the only goal that day.

Stat Sandwich
The Reds are currently third in the fair play table so expect some good behaviour!
Blackburn Rovers picked up their highest ever gate receipts in a game against Liverpool in the League Cup fourth round in 1994 (£333,000)
Rickie Lambert is the third most used substitute in the Premier League so far this season, will he feature on Wednesday?

I’ve been looking forward to this game for weeks but as we get closer to kick off I appear to be getting more and more concerned. It was already a blow knowing Skrtel would be missing from our original back three but to then throw in the fact Can will also be excluded? Well we’re in a lot of trouble at the back in my opinion. As mentioned previously, Blackburn have some quality up front and they will not think twice in order to punish any defensive mishaps.

Then there is Liverpool’s issue up front. Daniel Sturridge in my opinion has been rushed back, he surely has to start against Blackburn due to the importance of the game but he’s nowhere near full speed and its guess work as to whether he will have enough in the tank to create issues for Blackburn on Wednesday.

The positive of course is that Liverpool are experienced in this sort of situation, we tend to like to do things the hard way and hopefully, one way or another, the Reds will collect a win and cement their place in the semi finals with Aston Villa waiting for them.

I’m going to try and pop to the bookies after work although I can’t have my favourite “Skrtel last goalscorer” bet haha. Follow me on Twitter to see what I go with - @LFCKirstyLFC
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Reds Lose Ground On Champions League Spot

image via: guardian.co.uk

Liverpool fell to a disastrous defeat on Saturday afternoon as Brendan Rodgers was forced to watch his side lose 4-1. In a game that could make or break the Reds' season, it was always going to be a difficult task but surely not one that would result in a hammering.

Rodgers started with a very protective midfield line up consisting of Allen, Henderson AND Lucas. Whilst it was clear the aim was to protect the recently changed back three due to the missing Martin Skrtel, the overly protective set up had a massive effect on Liverpool's attack.

Raheem Sterling was chosen to start up front whilst Daniel Sturridge made the bench. Mario Balotelli who is apparently "injured" did not even feature in the line up.

Things started poorly for Liverpool who struggled to deal with Arsenal's immediate pressure. The Gunners were determined to set the pace and certainly flustered the Reds from the off. As the Reds eventually settled into the game refusing to let Arsenal through, they would find themselves regretting a great chance involving Markovic and Sterling.

A great break enabled Markovic to make a run into the box, his decision making though perhaps was not at its best. Either that or he didn't have the confidence to strike, whatever the reason he opted to make a poor pass to Sterling who with an outstretched leg just couldn't quite convert.

It was clear the Reds would live to regret their missed opportunities and it wasn't long before Arsenal punished. 

At 36 minutes the home side got their chance when Bellerin took a left footed shot from inside the box and swept it around Simon Mignolet. It was a real shame because Mignolet had kept the Reds in the game with two fantastic saves just moments before but the Reds were now behind.

Three  minutes later and Liverpool had a free kick in a dangerous position to deal with. This  is where Mignolet perhaps let himself down slightly after such a good start. The free kick from Ozil was a good one but Mignolet should have perhaps been placed better and failed to deal effectively with the chance.

And  so the Reds found themselves 2-0 down in the space of three minutes, yet there was still worse to come.

Just five minutes later and Arsene Wenger's side had found another goal. Alexis Sanchez had managed to create himself a bit of space just outside the box and with a fantastic strike had beaten Mignolet. The Reds were now 3-0 down before the stroke of half time after eight minutes of madness.

I never expected Liverpool to win ths game, I perhaps was clinging on to the hope of a score draw but I certainly never thought we would be battered. At half time it felt like there was no hope and with only a half fit Daniel Sturridge left on the bench to create any real sort of impact the Reds were ultimately doomed.

Sturridge immediately replaced Lazar Markovic at the start of the second half. The first incident of note for Liverpool would be a booking for Emre Can. At the time it didn't matter but a silly challege late on would see Can dismissed.

Whilst the Reds managed to keep out Arsenal for the majority of the secod half and created a few chances, they couldn't quite convert. Unfortunately for the Reds Sturridge was also barely able to get himself on the ball and it was surely an act of desperation from Rodgers to bring him back so soon.

A slight positive for Liverpool occurred at approximately 75 minutes in when Raheem Sterling won a penalty. I expected Sturridge to step up for this one but it was in fact Jordan Henderson who just about converted the penalty for the Reds.

For a short while the boost of the penalty appeared to spur Liverpool on, after all, one more goal atthis  stage could have created a very nervy end for Arsenal. The positivity soon faded though as a few minutes later Emre Can was given his marching orders. It was a silly challenge from Can who will now miss Liverpool's masssively important FA Cup tie against Blackburn on Wednesday evening.

Now down to ten men, the Reds had to deal with the ever increasing Arsenal pressure who clearly weren't content with just the three goals. A minute into extra time they found themseves a fourth. Assisted by Alexis Sanchez, Oliver Giroud was able to score from outside the box with a strike that flew into the top left hand corner.

This match was painful to watch. At stages it felt like Liverpool were going to be able to put a mark on the game but by missing vital chances it was always going to be an uphill struggle at a ground we rarely win at.

I've been prioritising the FA Cup for a long while now because I had a feeling it would be the only thing we had left to cling to. The  game against Blackburn now is huge, without a potential FA Cup win the season has been pretty terrible and who's to say it can't get worse?

To even have a snfiff of a chance of getting back into the top four Liverpool must hope United slip up. United are capable of a few slip ups in my opinion but in order for the Reds to stand a chance we must go on a near perfect run which I can't see happening.

Ah well, we may as well try to stay positive??? 

Next up for Liverpool is Blackburn in the FA Cup. A match preview will be available on the blog on Tuesday evening.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, 3 April 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Arsenal V Liverpool

Image via: mirror.co.uk

I'm back! Don't pretend not to be well excited...

You may have missed my blog posts here on The Liver Bird over the past couple of weeks, you may have not been arsed but I can assure you it feels bloody good to be back blogging and off we go with an Arsenal match preview! (P.s. I'm so glad I didn't have to write a report for that United game, 6am I was up to watch that... unbelievable!)

The Reds currently find themselves 5th in the table on 54 points after losing their first league game in 14 against Manchester United on 22nd March. It was a big blow for Liverpool who could have leap frogged van Gaal's side if they had collected all three points. Arsenal are sitting in third on 60 points having won their last six fixtures in the league.

Injuries for Liverpool have improved somewhat over recent weeks however the game may come too soon for Daniel Sturridge whilst Adam Lallana is also unavailable. The real problem for the Reds is the fact that both Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel start their three match bans on Saturday. Skrtel in particular will be a huge loss for Liverpool as Brendan Rodgers aims to forge an unfamiliar back three once again.

For Arsenal they have a few injury woes as Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Debuchy and Arteta are all unavailable. There is also a doubt hanging over Danny Welbeck who will be subject to a late fitness test prior to the game.

The last time the two sides met was in December last year. In a game that ended 2-2, Liverpool lost Fabio Borini in the 90th minute after he received a red card. I remember this game particularly well because I'd had a punt on Skrtel last goalscorer on his own and also a quid on the 2-2 scoreline. When Skrtel netted in the 90th minute I went mental! Haha.

At the Emirates, things become tricky for the Reds who have failed to win there in the majority of their recent visits. They did however collect all three points in August 2011 after an Aaron Ramsey own goal and a Suarez effort.

Stat Sandwich

  • If Liverpool can keep a clean sheet on Saturday they will set a club record of seven consecutive away clean sheets in the league.
  • Arsenal have found the back of the net in every one of their 22 league and cup matches at home so far this season.
  • The Reds have picked up 26 points in 2015, only Arsenal have picked up more (27).

I don't mean to bring the mood down but I'm not holding out much hope for a win tomorrow. We may be able to nab a score draw but I just can't see us collecting all three points on Saturday. With the missing Skrtel and also potentially a missing Daniel Sturridge I think Liverpool may struggle both in attack and defence at the Emirates.

Arsenal play some very nice football and as proven in the meat of the stat sandwich above, they know how to find the back of the net. Of course Liverpool can rely on their brilliant clean sheet record and here's hoping we can pull off another one but at present it feels like a very difficult task.

I will almost certainly be having a few bets tomorrow so follow me on Twitter to see where my money goes - @LFCKirstyLFC

In the meantime however be sure to follow my new venture @PuntCheeky. It's just a simple Tumblr blog where I will be posting betting previews for random football games. A betting preview for the Arsenal V Liverpool game will be available later this evening over on the Punt Cheeky Blog.

Retweets/shares and follows are very much appreciated as I try to get this blog off the ground and see where it takes me!

Enjoy the match folks! Wherever you are watching.

Labels: , , , , , ,