The Liver Bird  

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Benteke Strikes Again

Image via www.guardian.com
Liverpool picked up all three points at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday evening after Christian Benteke found the back of the net less than a minute into the second half. It wasn't a straight forward performance from the Reds but Klopp's side did enough to get the better of the Black Cats who managed three shots on target.

It was a very mixed game for Liverpool who began in a lively fashion and almost got themselves on the scoresheet when Roberto Firmino had to watch a cracking effort hit the post early on. It was a stunning save from Vito Mannone and proved Sunderland were up for a fight.

Benteke was rather quiet in the first half, suffering in my opinion from a lack of supply. For me, the only person really searching to come to the forward's assistance is Jordan Henderson and he had to leave the pitch during the second half. I don't have an injury update on the captain but I hope it's not too serious!

It was Jermain Defoe and ex Red Fabio Borini who went closest for Sam Allardyce's side within the game but Simon Mignolet was strong on both occasions. While Liverpool retained a lot of possession it never quite felt comfortable even when Benteke did find the winning goal.

Assisted somewhat unwittingly by Adam Lallana the Belgian timed his run well and finished neatly to score his second goal in two games. He's been getting a lot of stick lately and after missing a late chance one on one with the keeper it is easy to understand why people get frustrated but he definitely seems to be making the effort after having a heart to heart with manager Jurgen Klopp.

The early goal seemed to catch Sunderland off guard in the second half and Liverpool continued to apply the pressure with the likes of Coutinho and Jordon Ibe when entering play both having a pop at goal. In the final stages the home side raised some heartbeats after a very late corner saw the keeper come up for a piece of the action but thankfully Liverpool held their nerve.

Next up for the Reds is West Ham away on Saturday. Liverpool are now level on points with Manchester United and sitting 7th in the table.

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Sunderland V Liverpool

Image via nesn.com
Liverpool travel to the Stadium of Light on Wednesday evening as they aim to collect another win following victory over Leicester on Boxing Day. Jurgen Klopp has apparently had a "man conversation" with Christian Benteke so we can only assume that this will result in the big Belgian featuring up front for this one.

Other team news for the Reds sees Jordon Ibe available after recovering from a short illness. Still out are James Milner and Martin Skrtel while Divock Origi remains a doubt. Daniel Sturridge feels ready to feature but the manager has clearly stated he will not be rushing the striker back to the starting XI.

For Sunderland, Younes Kaboul is unavailable due to a hamstring injury and there is a doubt hanging over John O'Shea. Overall Sam Allardyce has a relatively strong squad to choose from.

Sunderland are currently sitting 19th in the league having lost their last four fixtures. They have won just three games this season, victory over Newcastle, Crystal Palace and most recently Stoke. Liverpool on the other hand are in 10th on 27 points. Form of late hasn't been perfect but the win over Leicester will have boosted spirits after a dire loss to Watford.

The last time the two sides met was in January this year, a single goal from Lazar Markovic after just eight minutes was all that kept the two sides apart. An earlier fixture in December 2014 ended in a drab 0-0 draw. The last time the Black Cats picked up a win against the Reds was back in March 2012, Nicklas Bendtner scored the only goal in that game.

Stat Sandwich

  • The Reds have lost their last two games away from home, failing to score in the process.
  • Sunderland have conceded 37 goals in 18 games so far this season.
  • In the last 22 meetings in the league with the Black Cats, Liverpool have only conceded 10 goals.
If Liverpool don't collect all three points on Wednesday then something is drastically wrong. Sunderland have been poor so far this season and despite picking up some good results against the likes of Stoke and Crystal Palace, Jurgen Klopp's side should really be beating a team like Sunderland. The issue however is that Sunderland under Big Sam play exactly the kind of football that Klopp hates; long ball. So far, he's also failed to deal effectively with teams holding an ethos similar to that of Sunderland so it should be interesting to see what happens. I'm hoping that the introduction of Benteke will go some lengths to helping resolve the situation.

Betting

Liverpool are outright favourites to win the match tomorrow and you can get odds of 8/11 with Bet Fred.

If you fancy Christian Benteke to find the back of the net on Wednesday, both Coral and William Hill are offering 9/2 for him to be the first goalscorer. If you think Sunderland may get off the mark first you can grab Steven Fletcher as first goalscorer at 10/1 with Paddy Power.

Do you think it's about time the Reds got a big win? If so, a winning margin of three goals is down as 8/1 with Ladbrokes.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 27 December 2015

Benteke Goal Seals Win Against Leicester

Image via liverpoolecho.co.uk
The Reds became the first side to prevent Leicester from finding the back of the net on Boxing Day as Jurgen Klopp's team walked away with all three points thanks to a Christian Benteke strike in the second half. In a game that most Liverpool fans were concerned about, the Reds actually looked confident against Ranieri's league topping side and ultimately deserved the win.

Klopp had opted to start a striker this time out which was refreshing to see because I personally think playing without a natural forward has been troublesome of late. I would have preferred to see Benteke chosen but it was Divock Origi who was given the chance to lead the line with Lallana, Firmino and Coutinho all in support.

Early in the first half it was Lallana and Emre Can who both ruffled Leicester's feathers after the former hit the side netting and the latter saw a stinging effort saved. Shortly afterwards, Origi made a decent break controlling the ball well in the box with pressure from the Leicester defence but he couldn't produce a goal. I can understand why Klopp chose Origi to start because the desire is clearly there from the forward and he definitely strives to make things happen with plenty of movement however when it comes to finding the back of the net, Benteke has the upper hand and for me he deserved to start.

Unfortunately for Origi an injury saw him leave the field at 41 minutes and on came Benteke. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had the injury not occurred, would Benteke have still been sitting on the bench way into the second half? Who knows.

Mahrez and Vardy have been immense for the Foxes this season but they were kept relatively quiet at Anfield on Saturday. Mahrez's best moment was perhaps on display after a weaving run outside the box was followed by a great shot which Simon Mignolet saved.

The second half saw a lovely chance for Benteke after a perfect cross from Jordan Henderson. The Belgian however headed way over the bar and would have to wait a while longer to find his goal. Just after the hour mark, his opportunity came. A cross from Firmino found its way into the box and Benteke scored with a neat finish to put Liverpool into the lead.

I definitely wasn't expecting us to beat Leicester and so I was happy simply to be level at 0-0, the goal from Benteke was a massive bonus and it was just a matter of holding on for the remainder of the game, not an easy task against Ranieri's current side!

Late in the second half a brilliant block from Can kept the Reds in the game and this was followed shortly after by some tension in the box when the Foxes sent up their keeper for a last ditch attempt at goal. The attempt backfired though when Liverpool managed to steal possession and make a break. With no keeper it looked as though Christian Benteke was certain to find the back of the net, but he didn't, he found Leicester's only defender which also meant, despite the linesman failing to notice, he was in fact offside.

It didn't matter though because the final whistle had been blown and the Reds had beaten Ranieri's boys. I never would have thought at the start of the season that a win over Leicester would be so massive but we need to ensure we take some real positives from the performance. A clean sheet and a win against this side is something no other team has managed so far in the league this season and they have only lost on one prior occasion.

A brilliant win for the Reds who will look forward to facing Sunderland now on Wednesday evening.

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Thursday, 24 December 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Leicester

Image via teamtalk.com
Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a cracking day tomorrow whether you are celebrating or not, more importantly, let's hope Liverpool can do the business on Boxing Day. There's one slight issue though, the Reds welcome league toppers Leicester to Anfield and after the results we've been picking up of late it could be a rather embarrassing fixture.

Claudio Ranieri was quoted this week saying "Leicester are Forrest Gump" and while it's quite clear the Reds can't put a run together, it's safe to say that life is very much like a box of chocolates, you never know which Liverpool you are going to get.

When travelling to Stamford Bridge and the Etihad the Reds have been simply brilliant. The likes of Coutinho and Firmino blinding the opposition and assisting Jurgen Klopp's side who showed complete control. Mixed in with the glory though has been plenty of despair as the Reds fell to defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Watford most recently. An extremely late equaliser was the only saving grace when West Brom visited Anfield in early December too.

On the other hand, Leicester are absolutely flying, losing just one of their Premier League fixtures and justifiably after losing to Arsenal, the foxes are sitting pretty at the top of the league for Christmas. Those who know me will be aware that I have a bit of a soft spot for Italian football so when I saw Ranieri was coming back I was one of few who was actually pleased to see him back, however I would never have predicted the effect he would have. He's been absolutely immense and it's so refreshing to see a completely different team mingling in with the cream of the crop.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are unable to call upon stalwart Martin Skrtel who will be out for six weeks. I'm pretty gutted about the missing Skrtel to be honest, I actually think he's a good defender unlike many, yes he's prone to the odd mistake but I can almost guarantee our defence will be worse off without him. To add to that, who the hell am I going to bet on? I put a quid on him to score first and last every single week haha.

The good news for the Reds however is that Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet should both be available for the clash on Boxing Day. For Leicester, they are unable to call upon Drinkwater and Schlupp who both have hamstring issues.

The last time the two sides met was in January this year, Steven Gerrard opened up the scoring with two penalties but Leicester found two goals themselves in the second half of the game. In the last six meetings in the league between the two sides, Liverpool have won on four occasions.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have kept just two clean sheets in their last 14 league games.
  • Leicester haven't lost an away games for nine months,
  • The Reds have scored 20 goals in the league this season, the fewest for teams in the top half.
I'm really excited for this game, for one because I want to watch Leicester intently but also because despite the fact they should absolutely batter us, knowing Liverpool, we will probably pull out a better performance. The higher the calibre of opposition, the better we play it seems. It will also be interesting to see whether Klopp actually starts a striker tomorrow after the ineffective set up away at Watford.

Betting

Despite Leicester's brilliant form it appears the lure of Anfield has forced many bookies to continue to label the visitors as underdogs. If you're the type to bet on the opposition to make a loss more bearable you can get odds of 3/1 with BetFred for a Leicester win.

The best odds at the time of writing for Jamie Vardy to score first are with Ladbrokes at 13/2 and you can get the same odds for Divock Origi to find the back of the net first with Paddy Power.

There's something in the back of my mind telling me to bet on a high scoring draw and a 3-3 scoreline is down as 50/1 with most bookies. Don't follow my tips though, they're truly shambolic haha.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Hornets Put Three Past Reds

Image via telegraph.co.uk

Liverpool had to walk away from Vicarage Road on Sunday afternoon with their heads firmly in their hands, which is more than can be said for the ball in Adam Bogdan's! The Reds got off to a shocking start after Mignolet's understudy began his first league fixture in disastrous fashion and things quickly went from bad to worse for Jurgen Klopp's side.

In a line up that lacked a recognised striker, it soon became evident that Liverpool were going to struggle to trouble the Watford goal whilst the likes of Deeney and Ighalo were immediately creating problems. After just two minutes, the home side got off the mark thanks in part to Nathan Ake but massively due to Adam Bogdan.

The corner flew into the box, Bogdan rose and I actually said out loud "well done Bogdan" or something to that effect because I thought he'd bloody caught it! But no, no he hadn't caught it, he'd dropped a simple catch and failed to retain possession on a second count as Ake made the most of the situation and put Watford in front. Some fans are questioning whether there was a foul on Bogdan due to the possibility of him having two hands on the ball but I just think that's a desperate cry for help, Watford took advantage of the situation and deserved the lead in my opinion.

The goal caught Klopp and his team very much off guard and unlike the majority of our away games under the new boss, the Reds seemed unable to string an attack together. Passing and possession was relatively good but there was no flair, no end product. Coutinho and Firmino who are usually lighting sparks all over the pitch were extremely uninspiring and it was Watford who led the play in terms of attack.

Just ten minutes after scoring their first goal, the Hornets had found the back of the net again. Ighalo this time broke through after some poor defending from Martin Skrtel. In fairness though, I also feel Bogdan once again has to take some of the blame because the low shot from that angle perhaps should have been dealt with better. Ighalo's effort however found the back of the net and Watford were now 2-0 up after just 15 minutes.

At 40 minutes Liverpool were forced to make a substitution when Martin Skrtel was replaced with Divock Origi. The injury to Skrtel created an inevitable change in defence and I personally feel Mamadou Sakho immediately began to suffer. Origi however brought a positive element to the game, he was making things happen and became a target for the rest of the team. Himself and Henderson for me were the only players really showing any sort of desire to get back into the game.

The second half began brightly for Liverpool mainly thanks to the addition of Origi but Liverpool could not find the back of the net. As the match trailed on, eventually at 70 minutes Jurgen Klopp opted to bring Jordon Ibe and Christian Benteke on. For me however this decision was left far too late. The favoured away line up of Lallana, Firmino and Coutinho up front works perfectly fine against teams like Chelsea and Manchester City who play openly and become exposed on the counter attack. It won't however, not in my opinion work against a side like Watford. For me, this is just part of the learning process for Klopp who is still adjusting to life in the Premier League.

At 84 minutes Watford put the final nail in the coffin after another goal from Ighalo. A lovely cross from Behrami found its way to Ighalo who headed his effort to the centre of goal.

It was a shocking game for Liverpool, the worst I have seen us play in a long while. Take nothing away from Watford though, they were brilliant and fully deserved the three points. Next up for the Reds is Leicester at Anfield on Boxing Day.

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Saturday, 19 December 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Watford V Liverpool

Image via thisisanfield.com

Liverpool prepare to face Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday in the last fixture for the Reds before Christmas Day. Jurgen Klopp's side just about managed to collect a point against West Bromwich Albion last weekend and will be looking for a more convincing result this time out.

Injuries for Liverpool mean Dejan Lovren will be unavailable. Also out is James Milner who has picked up a calf problem and of course Klopp is still unable to call upon Daniel Sturridge. For Watford, both Hoban and Gilmartin are injured long term and there are doubts hanging over Behrami and Prodl who will be subject to late fitness tests.

At present, Watford are 7th in the table on a total of 25 points, Liverpool are sitting just behind in 9th but a win would take them above the Hornets. Form wise, the Reds have won three out of their last six fixtures in the league whilst Watford have picked up four wins over the same period and have not lost in their last three.

The last time the two sides met was in January 2007 when Craig Bellamy and Peter Crouch got themselves on the scoresheet in a 3-0 win for the Reds. Both sides have faced each other on six occasions in all competitions since 1999 with Watford winning just once. The match in August 1999 ended 1-0 after Tommy Mooney found a winner for the Hornets at 14 minutes.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have only kept two clean sheets in their last 13 league games.
  • If league matches had ended at half time this season, Watford would be top of the league.
  • The Reds have collected 12 points in eight games under Jurgen Klopp so far this season.
I think it's going to be a difficult game for us on Sunday. Watford have been playing some good football and coupled with a decent run of form I think they will be well up for a clash with Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool this weekend. The plus side for the Reds of course is that they have been playing far better away from home but this could also be dependent on the line up selected by Jurgen who has new injuries to contend with.

Betting

Most bookies are offering evens for the Liverpool win on Sunday whilst Watford are around 3/1.

If you fancy Divock Origi to continue scoring, you can get him at 6/1 with Coral for first goalscorer. Philippe Coutinho is down with Bet Victor at 7/1 for the same bet.

In terms of scorelines, most bookies are offering 8/1 for a 2-1 Liverpool win, however if you think the game is going to end in a draw you can get 2-2 at 18/1 with bet365.

Finally, the influential Troy Deeney is down as 2/1 with Sky Bet to score at anytime during the game.

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Sunday, 13 December 2015

Dramatic Draw At Anfield

Image via www.mirror.co.uk
Liverpool collected a point at Anfield on Sunday afternoon in dramatic style as it was left to Divock Origi to find an equaliser in the 95th minute. An injury to Dejan Lovren meant close to ten minutes of extra time were played and the Reds ensured they made the most of it.

The first half for Liverpool began in a relatively positive fashion and it was clear as day that Philippe Coutinho was making a difference to the side. Some typical trickery from the Brazilian was on show and he perhaps should have done better when shooting over the bar early on. His efforts however were paid off at 20 minutes when his cross into the box found the head of Adam Lallana. A flick on to a poised Jordan Henderson allowed the captain to net the opening goal of the game.

The Reds may have celebrated but the elation didn't last long when just nine minutes later West Bromwich Albion had found an equaliser. I predicted in the preview that the Baggies would punish on the set pieces and that's exactly what they did. A corner into the box was dealt with poorly by Mignolet who made the decision to leave his line but was nowhere near collecting the ball, in the melee Dawson manages to find goal for Tony Pulis' side.

Things got worse for the Anfield faithful when shortly afterwards the visitors had the ball in the back of the net once again. A massively delayed decision from the linesman however resulted in the goal being ruled out for offside.

The second half saw both sides remain in contention for the best part of 20 minutes but it was West Brom who took advantage and the lead in the game at 72 minutes. Another corner, in-swinging and taken by Brunt found the head of Olsson who did well to gain the edge and find a bit of space. His header put the Baggies into the lead and it certainly felt at this point like they had the momentum.

Liverpool had brought on Ibe prior to the goal who replaced Philippe Coutinho but the Reds were forced into another substitution at 78 minutes after what looked like an horrific injury to Dejan Lovren. There was no malice in the challenge, definitely not, but Lovren was clearly in agony, screaming on the floor even when his teammate Skrtel came to help him out. We wish him well.

Origi was brought on to replace the defender and played a heroes role in the dying moments of nine minutes of extra time due to the Lovren injury. The Belgian did well to even hold on to possession after taking a tumble on his diagonal run towards goal but remaining upright he saw his chance to take a long range shot and with the aid of a lucky deflection he watched the ball fly into the back of the net to secure the Reds a point in super dramatic fashion.

It was a crazy game of football and whilst Liverpool didn't deserve to win I feel a draw was probably the correct result in the end. The Reds have received stick on social media from opposition fans for Jurgen Klopp's show of solidarity with the players bowing to the Kop at the end but I'm not really arsed what others think. It was regularly on display back in Dortmund and if it works there then it can work for us.

I'm not sure what happened during the match between Pulis and Klopp but it was a bit disappointing to see Klopp avoid the handshake. Things get heated sometimes I suppose, I'm sure there are no hard feelings!

Next up for the Reds is Watford away!

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Saturday, 12 December 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V West Bromwich Albion

Image via football.co.uk
Tony Pulis brings the Baggies to Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool look to get back on track. The Reds were beaten by Newcastle last weekend and managed just a draw in Sion for their midweek Europa League clash.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they should finally be able to call upon Philippe Coutinho who featured as a substitute in Switzerland. Captain Jordan Henderson has also returned to the team however Daniel Sturridge will miss the game. For West Brom, they are unable to utilise Stephane Sessegnon who picked up an injury against Spurs.

The last time the two sides met was in April this year in a drab 0-0 draw. Prior to this a match at Anfield in October 2014 ended in a 2-1 win for the Reds with Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson on the score sheet. We only have to travel back to February 2013 to find a Baggies win at Anfield, the Midlanders won that fixture 2-0 scoring twice in the last nine minutes of the game.

Liverpool have won four out of the last ten clashes between the two sides in the Premier League, there have been two draws and four wins for West Brom.

West Brom are currently sitting 13th in the table having won two out of their last six league fixtures, one of these victories came against Arsenal. Liverpool on the other hand are 10th at the time of writing, winning three out of their last six.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have scored just eight goals at home so far this season.
  • The Baggies have picked up 11 points away from home so far this season.
  • Coutinho has scored four goals in his last three appearances in the league for the Reds.
I don't know what to expect from this game to be honest, firstly because I haven't seen much of West Brom this season and secondly because I'm not sure what team Jurgen Klopp is going to play and whether they will have the fire power. With Coutinho back fit he surely must feature but playing the Brazilian with his compatriot Firmino and the addition of Lallana appears to be more of an away set up for Klopp. If he decides to start Benteke we could struggle with regards to a sufficient supply line though I feel this will improve with the return of Jordan Henderson.

I can see West Brom bagging a goal, Tony Pulis' sides are always very tenacious and I fancy them to net off a set piece but Liverpool to win the game 2-1.

Betting

Bet 365 are offering 5/1 for a 1-0 Liverpool win tomorrow. If you fancy the Reds to get a more convincing victory then Bet Victor are offering odds of 9/1 for a 3-0 win whilst most bookies are offering 16/1 for a 4-0 victory for Liverpool.

In terms of first goalscorers if you fancy Coutinho to score on his return the best odds are 6/1 with Bet 365. I will probably be popping a quid on Coutinho first in a 2-1, odds as it stands for that with Paddy Power are; 28/1.

I also had a quick look at the "to score two or more goals" markets this week and Roberto Firmino is down as 10/1 with most bookies.

If you're somebody who likes to bet on the opposition to ease the pain of a defeat too you can get odds of 66/1 with Paddy Power for Rickie Lambert to score two or more goals against his old club.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Friday, 11 December 2015

Reds Top The Group After Snore Draw

Image via theguardian.com
Well, that was a drab affair to say the least. The Reds may have gone through to the round of 32, topping their group in the process but they couldn't get the better of FC Sion on Thursday night after failing to find the back of the net.

It was a stereotypical group game from the Europa League and perhaps highlights why some fans get so frustrated with the competition but the positive is, the Reds are through and were also unbeaten in the group. The 0-0 draw doesn't boost confidence levels for the Reds who did utilise some key players such as Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho.

FC Sion were relatively ineffective during the game but obviously remained cautious as they sought to progress with Liverpool to the next stage of the competition. Some wild shots at goal from the home side perhaps highlighted by an effort from Mujangi Bia late in the second half meant Simon Mignolet had very little to deal with.

Liverpool perhaps put in a slightly better performance attack wise but nothing really of a serious nature. Long range shots in the first half from Can, Origi and Firmino set the tone for the night as the Reds failed to create many inventive attacks.

The main highlight was the link up between youngster Brad Smith and Divock Origi, on two occasions at least Smith whipped a fantastic cross into Origi but the Belgian failed to find the end product. It really was a dire game to watch resulting in very little to talk about for a match report! Haha.

Jurgen Klopp didn't appear too worried post match and I suppose he's right to remain calm, of course Liverpool should be beating sides like Sion but the fact is we've topped the group without having to strain ourselves and we can enter the next stages fresh and ready for what will hopefully be a more ambitious opponent.

Next up for Liverpool is West Brom at the weekend. If you haven't already seen it, please take a look at my Q&A with Albion Till We Die.

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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: FC Sion V Liverpool

Image via thisisanfield.com
After failing to beat Newcastle on Sunday afternoon the Reds will be hoping to get back on track with a win against FC Sion in the Europa League this Thursday. Liverpool have already guaranteed progression to the round of 32 but could also top the group providing they avoid defeat.

Injury news has been the top story for the Reds this week as over the past 24 hours Kopites were made aware that Daniel Sturridge has in fact picked up a hamstring injury. The severity of the injury isn't clear but it's a worrying time for Liverpool fans who find their patience levels wavering. Also unavailable for the Reds is Mamadou Sakho and Philippe Coutinho, however the latter did return to training on Wednesday.

For FC Sion they are unable to call upon Birama Ndoye who is suspended for this fixture. Moussa Konate has a fractured hand and so will not feature in this clash. There is also a doubt hanging over Martin Zeman who suffered an ankle injury recently.

The Reds first meeting with FC Sion in this year's Europa League back in October ended in a 1-1 draw. The teams have met just twice prior to this with Liverpool winning on both occasions and scoring a total of eight goals in the process.

Liverpool have won four out of their last six fixtures in all competitions but recently faltered at St James' Park in a 2-0 loss at the hands of Newcastle. FC Sion on the other hand have recorded just one victory in their last six in all competitions; a 2-0 win over Luzern in the Swiss Super League.

I'm not sure what to expect from Thursday's game to be quite honest, the performance against Newcastle was definitely one to forget and it's hard to predict the line up/mentality of the team considering the fact we have already secured progress. In theory it should be all three points for the Reds but without a supply line or supporting striker for Benteke and the missing flair of Coutinho, it may be difficult to find the back of the net.

Going off on a bit of a tangent, I've often mentioned placing bets in my match previews as I'm sure you will have noticed. I'm not a seasoned gambler, far from it but I do work in the industry part-time and have done for eight years, I have quite a bit of knowledge and you can usually find me popping a few quid on Liverpool games and accumulators. For that reason, I thought I would try to introduce a new section to my previews taking a look at the betting options for the game so here goes nothing...

Betting

Liverpool are definite favourites going into the game with Paddy Power and William Hill both offering odds of 13/10.

As for goals, the majority of the bookies are going with 9/2 for Christian Benteke as first goalscorer. If you fancy adding him to a 2-0 you can get odds on that scorecast of 30/1 with Paddy Power.

Divock Origi is likely to feature in the game and if you fancy a repeat of his hat trick against Southampton you can get odds of 80/1.

For scorelines, Ladbrokes are offering 5/1 for a 1-1 draw. A 2-1 Liverpool win is down as 8/1 with SkyBet and if you're feeling really optimistic several of the major bookies are offering 18/1 for a 3-0 win for Jurgen Klopp's side.

Keep an eye on my Twitter, I'll let you know what I bet on.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Monday, 7 December 2015

Reds Falter At Newcastle


Image via standard.co.uk

Liverpool failed to get the better of Newcastle United at St James' Park on Sunday in what should have been a straightforward match for the Reds. Despite not being awarded a clearly onside goal, Klopp's side can't really complain after a persuasive performance from the Magpies.

Liverpool began the game with Christian Benteke up front. There was no room for hat trick scoring Divock Origi or the recently returned Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson. While it is understandable the boss perhaps didn't want to risk the latter two so early after coming back from injury, I don't think the set up favoured Benteke who looked lost for the majority of his game.

I've said it over and over both before and since we signed Benteke, there is zero point in starting him if you aren't going to support him. I don't have stats for crosses yesterday but I can guarantee you it was a measly figure. Some argue that it is partly the striker's fault and that he doesn't move but I don't agree, he needs support and for me he'd get some of that by playing in a front two.

What was evident yesterday is that Klopp's favoured set up away from home definitely works better when Firmino had his compatriot Philippe Coutinho to play with. I also thought we missed Emre Can, a lot more than I was expecting in fact.

The first half resulted in no goals for either side and the Reds weren't evening threatening the Newcastle goal. It was frustrating to watch but as I said in the preview, McClaren had to get his side a win from somewhere and trust it to be against us.

We had to wait until just before the 70 minute mark for the first goal of the game. Unfortunately for Liverpool it was an own goal. I love Martin Skrtel and its horrible to watch him score yet another own goal but I felt like he had to stick a leg in after Lovren failed to deal with the imminent threat, he was just unlucky that he turned the ball into his own net.

Despite the introduction of Lallana, Sturridge and Origi the Reds couldn't get a real handle on the game. The most frustrating point for the Reds was having to watch a clear goal ruled out at 79 minutes. This bloody annoyed me I tell ya, it was a poor decision from the linesman, 75% of the Newcastle back four were playing Moreno on, it was bloody ridiculous. A goal there could have resulted in a completely different game but as I said previously, Liverpool can't complain too much based on their overall performance.

Three minutes into extra time and Newcastle landed their sucker punch. It was a lovely finish from Wijnaldum who capitalised on a break for the home side. It was a predictable end to a forgettable game for the Reds.

After watching so many teams drop points I thought for sure we'd get past Newcastle but it wasn't to be. Next up for the Reds is FC Sion.

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Saturday, 5 December 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Newcastle V Liverpool

                                                    Image via mirror.co.uk


Liverpool travel to St James' Park on Sunday, after putting six past Southampton in the week. The Reds look like a formidable force under Jürgen Klopp and are performing even better away from home.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are without Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can who is suspended for this game. Daniel Sturridge on the other hand could make his first start in the Premier League for two months. For Newcastle, they are without Mike Williamson who they have only recently recalled from Wolves where he was on loan. Tiote also looks to be a doubt for this fixture.

The last time the two sides met was in April this year when the Reds put two past a ten man Newcastle at Anfield. Our last trip to St James' Park ended in a loss when Perez scored at 72 minutes to seal all three points for the Magpies. In fact trips to Newcastle have not always ended kindly for the Reds but a 6-0 victory in April 2013 certainly stands out.

Liverpool are currently 6th in the league and depending on Saturday's results they have a real chance to apply pressure on the top four. Newcastle on the other hand find themselves 19th in the league having amassed just 10 points so far this season.

Stat Sandwich 
* Liverpool have lost just one out of their last 11 games under Jürgen Klopp.
* The Magpies have dropped ten points from leading positions so far this season.
* Sturridge has scored six goals against Newcastle.

It's very hard to see past a Liverpool win on Sunday but Steve McClaren's side have surely got to end their rut at some stage. It's always dangerous to go into a game assuming you are set for a win but with the way the Reds are playing, especially away from home, it's got to be all three points for me.

If I pop any bets on tomorrow I'll probably have a 3-1 and my usual punt on Martin Skrtel. Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Reds Stun Southampton At St Mary's

Image via telegraph.co.uk
In a game that started with a goal for Southampton after just seconds, it's hard to believe that Jurgen Klopp's side went on to put six past the Saints on Wednesday evening, but that's exactly what happened. Add to this the fact Divock Origi scored a hat trick, Sturridge scored a brace and Dejan Lovren actually played well... It does make you wonder if Klopp has some sort of magical hold over his team.

It was a phenomenal result for Liverpool who will surely fancy their chances of making it to the final at Wembley now after drawing Stoke in the semis. I personally was hoping for an Everton double header followed by City in the final but you certainly won't find me complaining about the draw.

The game couldn't have got off to a worse start for Liverpool as just 39 seconds in Saido Mane found the back of the net with a header. Assisted from a Bertrand cross, it was remarkable how easily the Saints found the back of the net. Southampton are a very good side and whilst there was plenty of time left in the game I can't deny that I was worried. Our line up wasn't exactly a regular XI and there were definitely some weaknesses that Southampton could exploit, it never happened though. In fact, Koeman's side seemed to just slowly crumble away.

Don't get me wrong, the disappearance of the Southampton threat wasn't immediate, they continued to attack the Liverpool goal but as soon as the Reds found their equaliser it was like the venom had been taken out of them.

At 24 minutes that equaliser came from the brilliant Daniel Sturridge. A beautiful long range pass from Joe Allen put the striker into the box, when Sturridge decided to take the ball wide to his left it looked as though he'd missed a grand opportunity but he kept his focus and finished from a testing angle.

It was just fantastic to see Sturridge back doing that famous dance, last week if you'd have scrolled through Twitter there were many trying to justify getting rid of him. Yes, he's injury prone but he can fire them home better than anybody in the league in my opinion and to come straight back for a first start under Klopp and play like he did last night? Just superb.

Liverpool's second goal came just four minutes later and it was Daniel Sturridge again. This time some delightful footwork from Emre Can saw him find some space, following with an outside of the boot pass to Daniel Sturridge, it was a glorious assist and an even better finish. The Reds were into the lead and unfortunately for Southampton, it was evident things were going to get worse.

Shortly after the second goal Saints found themselves asking for a penalty when Randall looked to have handled the ball. No decision was given and to be honest I think it would have been harsh but it does make you wonder sometimes, in a different game with a different ref that would probably have been given.

Just when it looked like Koeman could take his team to the dressing room with just a goal to make up, Liverpool took an out swinging corner via Adam Lallana. The ball bumbled out to an awaiting Alberto Moreno who absolutely smashed his effort home. On closer inspection however it was found that Divock Origi got a cheeky touch and who could blame him, he needs to prove himself to Klopp. Origi was awarded the goal.

The second half for Liverpool saw Daniel Sturridge leave the field and the introduction of Jordon Ibe at 58 minutes. Just ten minutes later and Divock Origi had found himself a second goal. A lovely through ball from Ibe set up the Belgian who netted with another fantastic finish which clipped the underside of the bar.

Southampton looked completely lost now, Origi was completely free with no pressure applied from the defence and the Reds weren't finished yet.

Five minutes later and it was Ibe's turn to get on the scoresheet. A lovely cross from Alberto Moreno was chested down by Ibe who gained space in the movement and struck home to put the Reds 5-1 up. It was unbelievable to watch. Saints by now had completely combusted, it must have been hard for Ronald Koeman who has undoubtedly built a strong side at St Mary's.

Youngster Brad Smith entered the fray for Liverpool at 76 minutes and it wasn't long before he got himself involved. Ten minutes later his perfect cross to Origi allowed the Belgian to head home a sixth for Liverpool and in the process seal a hat trick. No offence to Origi but there is no way anybody would have predicted a hat trick for him, not even himself! He had a brilliant game.

It was phenomenal to watch and it just goes to show that Klopp's impression on the club clearly goes way deeper than tactics. His relationship with the players is clear to see, the whole team from the youth players to regulars are absolutely buzzin and it's hard not to feel excited about the immediate future for the Reds.

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

Next up for Liverpool is Newcastle away.

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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

MATCH PREVIEW: Southampton V Liverpool

Image via telegraph.co.uk
It's the quarter final of the League Cup for Liverpool on Wednesday evening as they travel to Southampton to face Koeman's side. The Reds struggled against Swansea at the weekend but walked away victorious thanks to a penalty scored by James Milner.

With Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson back in contention it will be interesting to see whether Jurgen Klopp includes the players in this important fixture. Injuries however mean the Reds will still be unable to call upon Mamadou Sakho and it is unclear as to whether Philippe Coutinho will return.

For Southampton, they are without Jose Fonte after he picked up a knee injury against Man City. Despite this blow, Koeman has no other injury woes to contend with in the run up to this game.

The last time the two sides met was in October this year. The league game ended 1-1 thanks to goals from Christian Benteke and Saido Mane, the latter of whom got sent off just four minutes after his 86th minute equaliser. The Reds last visit to St Mary's ended well with Coutinho and Sterling securing a 2-0 win. We only have to travel back to 2013 though to find a win for the Saints at home after they beat us 3-1 in March of that year.

Over the years Southampton have picked up some decent results against the Reds and another strong season from the southerners sees them sitting 10th in the league table just three points behind Liverpool.

Southampton's current form in the league indicates they have won two out of their last six fixtures whilst Liverpool have recorded three wins. To add to this, the Saints come into this league cup quarter final having lost their last two fixtures in the league.

In the third round Southampton put an impressive six goals past MK Dons and recorded a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in the last 16. For Liverpool a 1-1 draw with Carlisle had to be settled on penalties and the Reds were extremely lucky to progress, the round of 16 saw them beat Bournemouth 1-0.

Stat Sandwich

  • If Liverpool progress it will be their third time in the semi-finals within the last five seasons.
  • Southampton have been knocked out in only two of their last 14 home games in the League Cup.
  • Benteke has scored in his last two games against the Saints, both in the league.
I'm genuinely quite excited for this game, it is after all a quarter final even if you're not a big fan of the League Cup, I challenge you to find me a Liverpool fan who doesn't want Klopp to be given the opportunity of leading his side to some silverware.

It will be a tough task for Liverpool who didn't look convincing against Swansea at the weekend. The positive of course, in a strange way is that this match is away from home. The Reds have been more confident on the road so far this season and Klopp's tactics seem to compliment away games perfectly at present.

If I put any bets on tomorrow I'll more than likely have something on a Skrtel goal but as for the scoreline I'm feeling optimistic and will punt for a 3-1 Liverpool win.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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